Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Finding peace where there is none


Let's face it. We need peace the most when it's hardest to find. Silly humans. Always longing for what's missing, rather than opening our eyes to what's actually there. I raise my hand in guilt. I have been there so many times. I mean, a house filled with 10 of your closest relatives isn't exactly peaceful. Or so it might seem.

Our house is slowly “clearing out” now. It may be a little too quiet. 

Once upon a time, I wished for this very thing to happen. And OK. Ya. It is a relief in some ways. The workload is definitely decreasing. Whew! What a crazy whirlwind it's been!

But something really great came out of the experience of having most of my descendants under one roof. I really did learn to find peace where there is none. And not surprisingly, I found it within myself and grew it outward, just like I'm always telling everyone else to do.

It all begins with you, you see? Because whatever you tell yourself about a situation, that's exactly what it will become for you. You create your own reality and therefore, you can also create your own peace. It's all about the attitude, boys and girls.

There was a time when I was beside myself dealing with the mess, the confusion and the utter chaos of having multiple generations share one home. I was cranky, negative and playing the sympathy symphony to anyone who would listen. And my sense of peace reflected that negativity. I was miserable.

Because I made myself that way.

Then, somewhere along the way, I took my own advice and started seeing things differently. Just look at all the beautiful people I have in my life! How could I not? I started appreciating them for who they were and not who I thought they should be. I started seeing how society had made me expect things of them that no mere mortal could accomplish.

Heck, even I'm not that perfect. Ha!

I said to myself, “My friends and family love me so much. They're always there for me, good bad or ugly.”

Of course, part of that was because they lived with me 99% of the time. Tee Hee! Whatever. We are still a close bunch, despite our diversity and the fact that due to the modern world's demands, we didn't have much choice but to do the roommate thing.

Anyway....

While peace starts within you, it can also spread to permeate your whole life, bathing you in sunshiney goodness even in the most difficult, trying situations. The trick is simple. You just have to believe your life is great and it will be.

Yup. When it comes to bringing peace amid chaos. positivism is absolute magic. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Taking the eight-fold path – The right view


My last post explained why I'm studying and following the principles of Buddhism on the peace path now. In this post, I'll be talking about taking my first step over again, with the purpose of aligning my path based on those principles.

First of all, I was delighted to find that Buddhism refers to our life journey as a path. This is fundamental in my belief system as well. Enlightenment, or whatever you may call it does not happen overnight, as we are flawed individuals with many obstacles cluttering our paths.

I've been studying Buddhism through a reputable online study guide. The following is a quote from that guide.

Note: For your greater understanding of the context, the paragraphs in the guide, previous to the quote describe the human struggle to overcome obstacles and the general negative human conditioning that prevents us from achieving a peaceful life.

The path to liberation from these miserable states of being, as taught by the Buddha, has eight points and is known as the eightfold path. The first point is called right view -- the right way to view the world. Wrong view occurs when we impose our expectations onto things; expectations about how we hope things will be, or about how we are afraid things might be. Right view occurs when we see things simply, as they are. It is an open and accommodating attitude. We abandon hope and fear and take joy in a simple straight-forward approach to life.”

So, my first step on my new peace path has to do with perception. How do I see the world? Am I seeing and accepting it as it truly is or merely how it has been presented to me over years of conditioning? Am I muddling it with my own jaded expectations and preconceived notions of how it should be? It's vital that I grasp this before moving on. Because unless I learn to see the world for exactly what it is, free from my own notions, I begin my path with a lie that escalates as I go, rendering my entire journey fruitless.

From this moment on, I will be working on taking each experience at face value, passing no judgment, accepting what is. I will have to realize that many of the things I “know” to be true, simply aren't as they have been presented to me. I will have to accept that the things I expect from the world may never come to pass. Some things may never get better.

While that may sound defeatist, it excites me that by leading a peaceful, more accepting, more realistic life, I may actually have the power to bring about a sense of calm that I have never experienced before. This is due, of course to the fact that, like most people, my view of the world is one cluttered with the aforementioned conditioning and unrealistic expectations.

By also detaching myself from the “responsibility” of carrying all the burdens, pain, suffering and mental anguish (caused by trying to control everything around me, people included, in the hope of finding the peace that already exists inside me) from now on, I will simply accept the existence of unpleasantness as a part of life. Because it is and always will be.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Why study Buddhism?


First of all, for those concerned with my spiritual well being, there is no need for worry. Buddhism is a philosophy of life that can be practiced along with any religion, not that I follow one anyway. It accepts all and excludes none. 

That last bit being is main reason for my interest in it. I have never been one for exclusion, cliques or even overly patriotic behaviors as I believe each and every one of us to have equal value, regardless of our racial heritage, origin, orientation, location, beliefs or standing in life.

I also believe, as you know, in living a peaceful existence, as far from the trappings of a materialistically inclined society as possible. I find doing so to be liberating, rather than limiting as some might believe.

I am a realist. A believer in seeing things as they are, rather than as how I wish them to be or perceive them to be, based on hearsay, dogma or tradition. I find that when I am able to leave those preconceived notions behind, much of the blockage is removed from life, so that I may freely navigate “my” path and reach “my” goal of greater understanding and unity.

I believe humans are naturally flawed human beings. However, I also believe, that with practice and focus on kindness, goodwill toward others and acceptance, we can learn to overcome our more negative characteristics.

All this being said, accepting and overcoming while remaining serene and positive is not an easy task for me. It's especially difficult, as a bit of an anti-socialist, to leave “me” behind and meld with the greater energy/good.

I need guidance on “my” path and the guidance I have chosen is Buddhism. This is because Buddhism very closely resembles “my” own beliefs.

Why do I keep putting “my” in parenthesis? Well, folks, it's complicated. On the one hand, knowing “my” true self, short-comings and all is vital for my journey. On the other hand, accepting the fact that we are one, there is no self-containment in life and that “my” duty is not merely to the illusion of self is “my” eventual goal.

So, friends, “my” peace path is in a bit of a do-over right now. One that might take a lifetime to travel. I am now following the guidelines of the eight-fold path laid out in the principles of Buddhism. Why? Because it makes sense. Because I believe it's the key I've been seeking, in fact, that many of us have been seeking.

Buddhism seems, at least on the surface, to be a solution to revealing the cause of the restlessness, anxiety and common woes of all mankind, so that we may heal and live lives free of undue worry and fear. It offers freedom from the burdens that living in an unnatural, human created society has placed on us.

In short, the study and practice of Buddhism speaks to me like nothing else ever has. It seems to coincide with my own beliefs like no other philosophy or principle ever has. Not only that, it does not seek to limit, but to guide me on what I know to be “my” right path.

Why study Buddhism? Because it rings true, does no harm and seeks unity, not division. That's good enough for me.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Soul Suckers and the Peace Path


Everybody knows one or has one and as the saying goes, “There's at least one in every crowd, so if you don't know one, it's probably you.” Soul suckers can be people. They can also be things. Whatever sucks out the core of your soul, no matter how hard you try to maintain your integrity and composure is a soul sucker.

The most frustrating soul suckers are those you can't easily walk away from. You know. Like the job that you need in order to pay the rent, the house with the cheap mortgage in the place you don't really want to be or even those ever present, constantly needy, but much loved individuals you just can't bring yourself to give up on. They all have their merits. But still, they're sucking the very life out of you.

How can you possibly make your way down the peace path in one piece with them incessantly draining your energy?

Ha! Tell me and we'll both know.

I do have a theory, though. Naturally. I'm chock full of theories just waiting to be tested. Here's how this one goes:

I plan to let the soul suckers carry on with their nasty business. That may not sound like a viable solution, but here's the kicker. I plan to change the way I react to them as well as how much I let them get to me. I also plan to stay away from them, whenever necessary or possible.

As “they” say, “A stands for attitude.” In my case, that's as in adopting a new one. In other words, let them do their worst and I'll put my energy into being the best me that I can be, in spite of their quest to destroy me.

Which, in my opinion, is all we can do in any case. We can't control some of the people, events and circumstances that impact us. We can't change some things in life. But we can definitely control and change our own choices and our own lives. So, that's what I'm off to do. Will it work? I don't know, but I think if I put my mind to it, maybe it will bring me a little closer to peace of mind.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Facebook Light


I'm still totally over scrolling through Facebook for hours. No worries on that score. There's too much life to live. And staying away entirely for a bit really gave me some perspective. But I do have a hard time giving up the aspect of keeping in touch with friends in an efficient manner, much for the same reason. Life is short and that's why I'm now doing “Facebook Light.”

What I mean by this is that when I get a chance, I'll scroll through for a few minutes at most, see what my friends and family are up to, lend support, comment positively, etc. And that's about it. Every once in a while, you might see an auto post from something I've written or a brief positive post.

And while I'm OK with others posting as they wish, I'm kind of done with getting too detailed about my personal life, feelings, politics and other beliefs on Facebook. I don't mind my friends knowing about my life, it's the trolls and advertisers I have a problem with. It's simply none of their business how I live and I intend to keep it that way.

Isn't it nicer to learn news through someone reaching out to you personally, than by seeing a public post on Facebook anyway? Kind of makes you feel like someone cares enough to give you a piece of their time, right? It does me anyway. So, I figure, I'll do the same for others.

It's nice to go back to the days of personal communication sometimes. Or all the time. LOL Heck, I might even write my Mom a good, old fashioned snail mail letter. She loves those!

Yup, Facebook done as per usual just doesn't have the same feel as good old fashioned, one on one, face to actual face interaction with a real human being. It also pales in comparison to a heartfelt letter someone thoughtfully composed just for you and penned with their own two hands.

But you know, it isn't so bad just hopping on Facebook once in a while to say hello, post an encouraging or inspiring message and ignoring all the assorted animosity, etc. Stay only a few minutes, scroll, scroll, scroll past the madness, don't create any grief myself and leave everyone, myself included, with a smile is the plan.

Yup, "Facebook Light" works for me right now. Life is so hard. Why not make it a little less full and a little more positively productive?

Now, I'm off to try and figure out how to weed my garden with a claw for a hand and a body that refuses to get up once it's down. LOL Another benefit of doing "Facebook Light." Things actually get done.

Well, most things, anyway...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dream or do – My move – Just do it?


I once heard it said that dreaming is more enjoyable/satisfying than doing because once you remove the fantasy, reality kicks in. And reality is not quite as polished. Well, you know what? I'm OK with unpolished. Dreams can only take you so far. And while dreaming is certainly a pleasant pastime, doing is the stuff dreams are made of for me.

Huh?

I guess what I'm saying here is that I'm tired of sitting around waiting for someone to wave a magic wand over this mirage of an existence that modern society has us pandering to. Pretty darn tired of watching loved ones waste their life away on the non-existent American dream. (Let's face it, the only place that ever happened was in our heads anyway.)

I'm sick of hearing how people miss the good old days when things were like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. Because they never have been.

We glamorize the past when we reminisce. We leave out the negative aspects of living “back in the day” because they're unpleasant to think about. And so, we go around with this jaded view of past decades that makes us long for “the good old days” we have conveniently placed in the forefront of our childhood memories.

And let's face it, part of the reason we fantasize about the good old days is because we are now adults, dealing with adult issues, which is something we didn't have to face as a child.

However....

We all know that there is something to be said about the simplicity of the past. You know, life in the times before everyone became so involved with their gadgets and devices. The times when we actually talked to each other, face to face, all the time, because that's all there was.

Ya, I do miss that. It did exist.

Good thing I figured out how I can bring it back.

Yup. Because, as it turns out, the disappearance of simplicity in my life was my own darn fault. I had my face in my phone and computer just as much as everyone around me did.

No one took the good old days from me. I took them from myself when I stopped living in a way that brought me peace. My disdain for the modern world was blinding me to the fact that I was becoming an integral part of it. That was the real problem.

So now, rather than preaching to everyone else about their detached behavior and lifestyles, I'm working on my own.

Now, you may miss something else entirely, about the days before technology, but I miss things like playing cards and games, doing jigsaw puzzles, creating not so great (sometimes totally crappy) works of art and making things for my home. Those things never made me especially rich or famous. But they did make me happy. So, as a part of my peace path, I've gone mostly off social media so I can have the time to pursue them daily again, rather than just on rare occasions.

And you know what? It's contagious, this actual, RL (not virtual) face time instead of Facebook thing, that is. Today, my oldest grand-daughter and I are going to refinish some old beat up furniture together. We're going to live our own lives instead of watching other people's lives on television or social media. And what's more? We're excited about it. Really excited.

I hope it's the start of many more peaceful pursuits in the real life zone for us. I hope we have so much fun that we inspire the people around us to do the same on a regular basis. Because, folks, as I am learning more and more, we can't change the whole world overnight. But we can certainly change our own little piece of it.

So... Dream or do? What is my move?

I move to make my dreams of a simpler, non-virtual existence a reality and ignore the social pressure to Stepford wife my way through life like a zombified, insane, brainwashed, “good” citizen. After all, no one's going to do it for me. And if I sit around waiting for society to change before I change? Well, you've seen those skeleton memes, right? I have no desire to become a skeleton while waiting for anything.

Ain't nobody got time for that and I have less time than most!

Dreaming of a different kind of life? I highly recommend you do something you love, that brings you closer to your dream every day, my friends. Who do you want to be? How do you want to live? Be that. Do that.

Now!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Something you don't know about empaths


There is something about deeply feeling people you likely haven't been told. And if you have one of these people in your life, it's important that you be aware of it. Empaths generally walk a peaceful path, however....

Empaths can be surprisingly vengeful when wronged or used.

Empaths are highly sensitive and caring individuals. They normally have your best interests at heart, for sure. They can also turn “evil” when you have loaded them up with too much for too long. If you become destructive, disloyal, negative or violent, they will see right through your “cleverly” disguised manipulations. They know you inside and out. Sometimes, better than you know yourself.

Empaths know their way around your head because they are right in there with you. Don't take that lightly. Empaths can play games you didn't even know existed when they've been wronged. They are experts at both emotional healing and emotional warfare because they experience constant emotional input from absolutely everyone they encounter daily.

They know your secrets and they will use them to destroy you if they feel taken advantage of.

So there you go. Empaths can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how you treat them. And they know everything about what makes you tick. That makes them a powerful force.

If you have ulterior motives, tread carefully around the empaths in your life. Treat them with the respect they deserve. They will nurture you through those bad times with great enthusiasm and insight. However, they will also turn on the unappreciative in a heartbeat.

Literally, oh snap!

Putting it all together – Seeing the light


Lately, I see something incredible happening. It's being revealed to me that everything I believe or experience is a puzzle piece in a wonderful landscape that represents who I am, where I've been and what I stand for. But that's not it, exactly. Let me continue.

It's all connected. Everything I believe, that is. It's all bringing me to where (and who) I'm supposed to be. All of it.

Now, some of the pieces of my life seemed unrelated to each other in the past. But as I learn and grow, the puzzle picture and the relationship between the pieces of my life and my varied beliefs gets clearer daily. And I know that I will be more than OK. I know that who I am is whole and right and good. It always was and always will be.

It's such a beautiful and complicated realization that I find it hard to describe.

Even the “bad” bits of my life have been pushing me toward this realization. So, it must be important, yes?

Is it fate?
Was I born with all the clues?
Is my destiny to put them together?
Once I do, what does it mean?
Have I arrived then?
Does it signify what I should be working on?
Or is it a sign that since I have seen the truth, I'm ready to depart this world?

I don't know the answer to those questions. But for me, the beauty of realizing that all my beliefs, experiences and ideals are connected, like a brilliant message to my soul is it's own reward.

I don't know if I can accurately describe how this “enlightenment?” makes me feel or even exactly what it means because it's just too big for that. But I'll try.

It feels like finding myself except that now I know I was never lost. I can see that I was being guided to this place. It feels like I have been on an incredible journey and come out of a cave into the sun.

I know. I sound a bit like a nut job, right? But I swear, it's all true.

And you guys, all this outer stuff we spend hours and hours dwelling on daily? The “trappings” of a mad society? Pondering what to do, who to do it with, whether we are worthy or successful, etc.? Well, it just doesn't matter. Because we are perfect exactly as we are. We always have been. The inner stuff, that's the stuff dreams are made of. And we have always had that since the day we were born.

It doesn't cost us a dime because it has always been ours.

I believe that if we can manage to find and grow our respective “lights” at the end of the tunnel we should shine them out into the world without ulterior motives or selfishness. Why? So that others can see to find their own way out and therefore be connected in light, rather than stumbling in the dark confusion of a “normal” self serving thought process.

Yes?

It's not me, it's my meds


Ha! Do you feel me, chronic illness peeps? Oh boy, when I was on high dose prednisone, I was an argument waiting to happen. And not just any argument, either. I was on fire with burning emotion, resentment, jealousy and just plain old meanness. Hormones had nothing on me. I was dealing with feelings I didn't know how to deal with at all, because I'm normally a very mild mannered, soft spoken person.

Stop laughing.

I really am.

That's why when prednisone got a hold of me, it all came pouring out. Years of frustration. Years of “being nice” and holding things in. Yup everything that had been bugging me for the last 40 years came bursting out in tirades of epic proportions.

It was anything but peaceful.

I'm sure it's much the same for other introverted people taking steroids and other toxic wonders for chronic illnesses.

Which brings me to my point.

Folks, I'm not asking you to let people abuse you because their medications or painful, exhausting illnesses are turning them into monsters. But do try to understand they, personally, are not the cause. They are not evil incarnate, just because they sound like they need an exorcism.

They're in pain. A lot of pain. Unimaginable pain. They're not screaming in pain because it's a daily occurrence they deal with. You won't see their pain, but believe me, you don't want to. And those meds! Holy crap! Mother Theresa would freak on some of them. I'm serious.

I did not recognize myself when I was on meds. I was literally a different person altogether. Some days, when I have to high dose to to flares, I still am.

But inside, I'm still the same old peace loving happiness guru, even if it doesn't show. I am not the enemy. I promise.

Thinking outside of societal norms


The society we're raised in has a weighty influence on our everyday life and decisions on how to live it. It can be very difficult to lift that weight and think independently. However, I recommend that you do it, at least occasionally. Seeing things from an unburdened perspective will, more often than not, reveal many hidden truths.

Free thinking has been invaluable on my peace path.

You may also find, as I have over the years, that some societies are very, very good at convincing you to do the wrong thing, while making you think it's right. Unfortunately, ours has become one of them. Don't get me wrong. I love my country. I am happy to be here. But I'm not happy about how we as average citizens are often taken advantage of by those in power.

In fact, in my opinion, our society is swiftly becoming nothing but a giant machine designed to generate money for a chosen few riding on the backs of the many.

And they do manipulate. They do it through newscasts, through media, through advertising, through paid promotion of businesses that they have an interest in, etc. etc. etc. They do it through others who have been manipulated to believe they are doing the right thing. Herd thinking is a powerful thing.

They even do it through social media, you guys. Where did you think those memes came from? Sure, some are just for fun but others are designed to manipulate you into thinking a certain way. And if you see them enough, they become so common place that you begin to believe in them for that reason alone. Social media can be informative and enlightening. It can also be dangerous and dishonest.

That's just one reason that independent, unbiased thought is so important.

Bear in mind too that some powerful, yet misguided individuals even manipulate by telling you that you are being manipulated by those who are actually telling the truth and trying to help you see the light.

All this can have you so overwhelmed that you are more susceptible to the lies. And that's exactly what “they” want.

Think about it. Here in the good old USA, we are taught many basic principles that just don't hold water. They don't mirror the truth. And yet, we go right along with them, mostly out of habit, tradition, forced patriotism or previous long term societal brainwashing.

For instance, in this country, it's subliminally suggested to us that religious people are morally superior to non-religious people. Many people believe it, but it's simply not true. It's actually a mixed bag, isn't it? Some religious people aren't moral at all. Some are somewhat moral. Some are very moral. The same is true for non-religious people. Morality depends on the individual, not their religious persuasion.

Also, this country was based on freedom from religious persecution and freedom from forced allegiance. Yet, we are taught that patriotism means blindly and exclusively adhering to one common religion and one common way of thinking.

That's an example of dictatorship, not patriotism!

We are also taught that cow's milk does a body good and beef is what's for dinner and coal is clean. There are multi-million dollar campaigns designed to promote these ideals for profit. In actuality, milk is designed for baby cows, not humans. Beef is highly polluting, depletes our resources and isn't all that great for us. Coal is very, very dirty.

However, all three of those things are promoted heavily and generating huge profits for those who have an interest in them, as well as those in the government who help spread the lies.

So, what else does society ingrain in us that simply isn't true? Even if you don't believe the examples above, you should do a little factual, unbiased research of your own. Why not start thinking for yourself, outside of everything you've been conditioned to believe? What's the worst that can happen? You learn something you didn't know?

But how do you know the difference between the truth and a lie designed to manipulate you into thinking a certain way? Well, that's the tricky part, isn't it?

How I do it is by asking myself a simple question. Is a bigger profit being made by the person responsible for spreading this info and influencing me to think and behave this way? If the answer is yes, well, that's when I start analyzing it, independent of what I've been taught.

Now, sometimes when I do this, I find that despite the fact that someone profits, the information is good. But honestly, most of the time, I find that the reason I am being influenced so heavily is to disguise a lie as the truth so that someone can profit from it.

Now, I'm not telling you that you have to believe everything I believe or that my way is the only way to live. What I'm saying is that a little deep thinking, independent of society is good for all of us, no matter our beliefs or way of life.

Free thought: It does a mind good.

This positivist struggle is real, but I got this

So, I'm working hard to create my positive aura. I'm literally exuding sunshine and happiness. But wait, what's that? It's the negativity fairy paying a visit to my peace zone. She has inadvertently flown into my joyful airspace and she is packing heat. Her missiles of relentless resentment, anger, conflict and general foreboding have burst my happy little bubble and torn it to shreds.

My friends, it seems no matter how hard I strive to be positive, there is always someone waiting to shoot down my plane. Unfortunately, it's usually someone I can't exactly ban from my life. And so, while my days always start on a positive note, which I try my best to hold on to, other forces are doing their best to make sure I lose my grip.

The endless bickering, complaining and downright negativity of some people makes it a very real struggle for me to remain positive. And you guys, my little ball of sickeningly sunshiney, sweet as pie, do no harm, mother's love, happiness is HUGE! I am literally bursting with positivism and determined to stay that way.

I will prevail. Because remaining positive is high on my peace path list of priorities. The way I look at it, I can choose to be miserable or I can choose to be happy. We all can. So, even though the struggle is real and the road is long, my peace of mind is worth the price.

Hit me with your best shot, negativity. Because not only will I withstand you, I may just turn you around. After all, negative people crave peace too. Even if they don't know it yet. 

Be careful. If you're not careful, you might smile, Felicia.

Finding peace in a crazy capitalistic world


A related, connected thought in my "leaving Facebook alone" journey.

Last night, I opened the door of my house to go for a drive and my phone immediately chimed, “light traffic in your area.” No. Just no. I've had enough of this bologna. Enough of the prying eyes. Enough of the constant sales pitches. Enough of the greed. Enough. How can we find peace in such a crazy, intrusive, busy-body, capitalistic world?

And yes, there has always been crazy stuff going on. I know that. And yes, there are times when technology is a friend to me. It's just that I'd like to be the one to choose when that happens, rather than having it shoved down my throat 24/7. If I need a traffic report, I'll ask for one. Otherwise, I'd like to just live in peace, OK?

If smart phones were really smart, they'd know to leave me alone and that I'm not in the mood for their incessant intrusions. Ever.

And.... turning off system notifications now.

Because that's how we find peace in this crazy capitalistic world. Little by little, bit by bit, we decide what our tolerance limits are and make adjustments accordingly. It's not going to change, you guys. In a capitalistic society, we will never have what we really need, no matter how large our bank accounts are.

We have to change our character, not our station in society in order to find our place of peace. Because what we need can't be found in a vault. It simply can't be bought.

So many illustrations I could use here. So many. Stopped going on Facebook last week sometime. Still have messenger on my phone so I don't lose touch with all the great friends I've found there. Just don't go to my “news” feed any more. It's too manipulative is the thing. Too intrusive. Too negative. Too one sided, no matter which “side” you're on.

Facebook is not a victim-less application.

And then, there's another aspect. Some of us weren't really made for the kind of life they're pushing on us now, on or off social media. Some of us really could live in that cabin in the woods. A lot of us would be OK without the trappings of modern society. Problem is, we're not allowed to live simply any more. It's not up to us how we choose to live.

Social media and mass media work together to make sure we are obliviously occupied, while our pockets and brains are picked clean by the powers that be. It's the American way. Or maybe I should say, it's the U.S.A. way, since we do not have exclusive rights to this continent.

At any rate, things have been developing in this direction for a lot of years. You see, that's how it works. Brainwashing doesn't happen overnight. It's sneaky. It's subtle. And suddenly, you have no choice but to go with the flow.

Or do you?

Facebook – It just doesn't matter


Last week sometime, I started not going on Facebook to further my peace path journey. I decided that none of it really matters to me except the people on it. My friends matter a great deal to me. We've weathered many storms together over the years. But Facebook itself? It just doesn't matter at all. At it's core, it's a business, you guys. And some of the things it's in the business of doing are downright ugly.

Facebook is invasive. It knows what you and I are doing every moment of the day. Why? Well, in some cases, we tell it. Because, as it turns out, we really are that “special kind of stupid” mentioned in meme after meme after meme.

And even when we don't share much at all, Facebook steals our browsing history. Advertisers, the powers that be and even our exes can find out everything they need to know about us through Facebook as well. Sometimes it might mean hacking our pages, friending our friends and scrolling through our messages. But they are a determined bunch. They will find a way.

That's right, you guys, thanks to Facebook and other social media giants, our private lives have evolved into a highly effective, highly profitable public commodity. And much like conventional societies, Facebook society has manipulated us to the point where we don't even see the manipulation any more.

Well, some of us do.

And when we do? What do we do about it? Sadly, most of us just let them. That's right. Just like we have let big business and the banking industry tell us what to do for the last, oh, let's say, a couple hundred years? Don't kid yourself. This is no democracy we live within. It's a subtle, hostile takeover of our lives, our thoughts, our feelings, our values and everything that we hold dear.

Every society has been, since the beginning of time.

And what of those of us who have awoken? Well, it's inevitable that those people are seen as nut jobs, conspiracy theorists, etc. by the “herd” we have become. To the point that, some of the manipulators are clueless as to their own participation. They're pawns, just like the rest of us.

So, now, what do we do about it? To a certain extent, we do have to cater to whatever society we live in. After all, one has to live. And in order to live/breathe/eat/survive these days, we need to make a buck, don't we? There's just no way around it.

But we certainly don't have to allow Facebook and other social media giants to monopolize our time, do we? We have no obligation to them whatsoever. Because, while many of our friends, acquaintances and business contacts can be readily communicated with on social media, “they” forgot one tiny little detail.

Our social media “friends” can also be interacted with in person. We don't need Facebook for that.

How about this? We have used social media as a tool to find these people. Now, we can reject the calamity it has become by leaving it and keeping them. Facebook – It just doesn't matter. Only the people matter. And we can all get together without social media.

Tables are turning, Felicia.

Nothing like a day of Facebook to...

Folks, I wrote this one a few weeks ago, before the nagging feeling that being on Facebook was becoming a constant psychological tug of war culminated in me staying off it for a bit. However, even though this one is old news, as thoughts go, I'm sharing it and a few successive posts on the subject. I'm now in a pretty good place with this issue, having spent many hours writing my way through the struggle.

The peace path is a bit clearer, now. My past ramblings seem irrelevant and outdated to me, but since you weren't there for the journey, maybe they'll be of interest to you.

So here you go. My thoughts, circa 2 weeks or so back....

Nothing like a day of Facebook to....

What? Lighten the mood? Worsen the mood? Show you how lazy you are or how ridiculous modern life is? Meh, maybe a little of all of those. But also, there is nothing like a day of Face-booking to make you decide to stop Face-booking altogether.

So what gives?

Well, you know, you guys, sometimes it's just time to move on. And sometimes you just get to the point where you realize that Face-booking all day is not a constructive or particularly meaningful use of your time. And that you lack the self control required to use it moderately.

But then, we have the actual leaving. Probably best not to think about it, because if you do, well, let's face it, you probably won't go through with it. Because there a a half million things to consider. You know.

What about all those people I've become friends with who only know me on Facebook?
What about those old classmates I found here, years after leaving school?
What about those family pictures and updates I'll miss?

They get me every time.

Then, I tell myself that I can do this. I can be moderate. I know I can't, of course. Oh, maybe I believe it initially until the next all day Facebook marathon occurs. So, at this point (which is now a couple weeks ago, remember?) I am still pondering my next move where the book of faces is concerned.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Are you a victim of social media judgment?


Aren't we all? Forging a peaceful online path often means circumventing the trolls. I recently posted the following three paragraphs on Facebook, inspired by a meme, but there is so much more to this thought process. So, I decided to expand my thoughts here.

Not so much about me, sometimes I'm a bit too much of an open book. LOL But please remember, some people choose not to put everything about themselves on the book of faces or speak about everything in their lives publicly. This is not to look "perfect" or because they're being "fake" but to retain their right to privacy. We all have struggles and we all make mistakes. Not everyone is comfortable sharing theirs.

And (partially about me) don't assume someone is a "bitch" because they have a public meltdown on a bad day. We all have bad days and none of us know everything about anyone. Maybe, like in my case, they were on meds. Maybe they lost a loved one that day. Maybe their boss or someone close to them hurt them to the core that day and something you said unintentionally, reminded them or aggravated them further.

There are a lot of people getting in touch with folks they haven't seen in years on here too. Keep in mind that they have likely grown, learned and changed since then. Try to take people for who they really are, rather than what you expect or remember them to be.”

Are you a victim of social media judgment? If you are, don't feel alone. All of us have been at one time or another. Even the person who's judging you. In fact, that may be what prompted them to be hostile toward you in the first place. Ironic. But true.

And Facebook in particular seems to have taken on a more hostile, less peaceful tone in general. It's not really what it was intended to be in the beginning, is it? Rather than just being a way to keep in touch and get to know people, it has also become a sounding board for anything and everything that bugs us, keeps us awake at night or touches us.

Sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes, not so much.

Facebook has certainly brought awareness to many and given us a podium on which to spread said awareness. You know, so that they can choose for themselves what to do about it.

Choose is the operative word, though, isn't it? It's important to realize that our social media friends may not share our beliefs and that not everyone who shares their beliefs is trying to brainwash us either. Just because I post what I believe, well, that doesn't mean I expect everyone else to agree. That would be ridiculous.

I also see a lot of defensive comments on my posts and others when nerves are touched or opinions clash. I'm certainly guilty of that myself, although I am working to improve that.

It's that very aspect of social media that makes some of us think that maybe we were better off NOT being aware of absolutely everything in real time. However, NOT knowing also means not having the opportunity for positive, peaceful change in my book.

If you agree, do try to remember that not everyone feels that way. And whether someone else agrees with you or not, as long as they are not harassing or belittling you, they have a perfect right to their own opinion. Yes, no matter how misguided it may be in your opinion.

On a side note, I have also noticed that no matter your opinion, you can now find at least what looks like irrefutable evidence to support it simply by googling it. Now, that doesn't mean said evidence is always accurate. That's why it's important that we do research on both sides of the coin, not believe everything we read and use our heads for something besides a hat rack, as my parents were fond of saying.

But above all, stop passing judgment on people, based solely on their social media posts. Because, as the meme that inspired this post says, “Just because I don't always share my troubles, doesn't mean I don't have them. At times I may be fighting battles you know nothing about.”

Be kind everyone. Help each other. Lend a hand. It's the good stuff. In fact, it's the only thing that really matters. The only thing you leave behind is memories. And as has been said, try your best to make them good ones.

But if you don't, well, apologize, forgive and start over. Because nobody's perfect. Not even you.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Of course you care what people think


Don't be ridiculous! We all do. Otherwise, you wouldn't keep talking about how you don't care what people think at all. It may be hard to admit, but if you didn't care about the opinions of others, you wouldn't be so focused on them. They'd be insignificant in the scheme of things. You wouldn't be wasting energy talking about them.

No worries. You are not alone. Goodness knows, I've spent my fair share of time worrying what other people think of me. I believe we all do, to some extent. What a waste of precious moments! I still catch myself doing it from time to time when I pound out a rant on the keyboard. I guess you could say that I'm even doing it right now, while trying to prove my point.

Which is:

News flash 1: Nobody really cares how you live.

Yes, there are always naysayers, bigots and gossips, but deep inside, most of their criticisms really are more a reflection of themselves than you. Some of them may even be trying to impress you! Everyone is mostly focused on their own life. It's basic survival instinct.

News flash 2: Other people are not picture perfect.

Neither are you. Neither am I. And that's OK. Because who knows what perfect means to any of us anyway? Everyone has their own idea of perfection. We're all striving for something unique.

On a personal note:

I'm one of those weirdos who hides nothing in public forums. I am who I am. At least I've always portrayed the me that I think I am at the time, anyway. I change. I learn. I grow.

I even regress sometimes. Sometimes that part of me isn't pretty. I can be a little bossy, extremely opinionated and pretty relentless when it comes to my pet causes.

Yes, I have issues, but honesty isn't one of them.

It bothers me so much when people purposefully create an alternate personality for their public life. Good heavens, people, let the uglies out to play. They're dying for some air and they are a part of who you are. They're also your best teachers. Give them some credit! Be real!

It's OK if you're not the “perfect” everything, even by your own standards. Stop being so hard on yourself.

No one ever has been or ever will be perfection personified. You will always have critics, even if they only exist in your head, as is sometimes the case.

So what?

Who cares?

Be proud of your crazy and wonderfully fallible bits!

The truth shall set you free.

Always being worried that someone will discover who you really are, on the defensive, hiding your imperfections or playing the victim to raise sympathy is an exhausting way to live.

Why not just celebrate your life? Enjoy it! Revel in it! Laugh at yourself publicly. Be relate-able. Be genuine. Be imperfect. Stop looking over your shoulder for disapproval. But mostly, start approving of yourself in all your beautiful and horrible glory.

Do that and I promise you, other people's opinions can't touch you. At least not where it counts.

Be at peace with yourself inside and out!

Yes, even when neither seems very pretty.

How to drink more water


It seems a bit silly, the title, doesn't it? I mean, just drink more water, right? And yet, sometimes our old habits prevent us from doing so. Being at peace requires being healthier. Part of that is drinking more water. So what I've done, and hopefully it will help you in your quest to drink more water too, is to create new habits that make it hard to forget to drink the water.

First of all, I make it pleasurable. The best way to make it pleasurable for me is to have the best tasting, most chemical free, heavy metal free and contaminate free water possible available to me in a convenient way. We now have a 10 stage water filter attached to the kitchen faucet. So we have fresh, clean water available anytime we want it.

Not everyone can do this. I get it. Been there. A lot. But if you can't swing the 10 stage, try a filtering pitcher. You'll be glad you did. The taste difference alone is worth it. And honestly, due to having to replace the filters so often, the 10 stage is actually comparable and cheaper over time.

Now, for those habits.

Every time I crave a drink, with the exception of my morning ginger tea, I drink water instead. I even drink a glass of water before my tea in the morning. Why? Because, chances are, if I'm craving any kind of drink, what I really need is water. If you're wondering, the ginger tea is medicinal. It helps me with pain and inflammation, thereby keeping my need for meds minimal. Otherwise, I'd be drinking water exclusively at this point.

I've also made a new habit of drinking a glass of water with every meal. It helps to build new habits around old ones. They stick faster. So, since I was already having a drink with each meal, either water or something else, I've simply switched to drinking water every time.

Adding water to other routines fills out my daily requirement. Having a glass of water upon awakening, or just before bed, for instance. I now take water with me every time I get in the car as well. And of course, I take water when we go on walks or on nature based trips. I even take it if I'm just sight seeing. Needless to say, I bring the awesome water.

Taking water with me on the go keeps me from buying unhealthy drinks or bottled water. I don't like buying bottled water. Those plastic bottles take more water to manufacture than what they contain. Isn't that crazy? Plus, of course, there's the environmental consequences of all that plastic. Yuck!

I'm going to close with an observation here. You know, I kicked the soda pop habit a long time ago. But I was still fighting those cravings. That is, until I started drinking more water. As it turns out, what I was really craving was good old H2O. Now, I don't know if that will hold true for you as well. But maybe if you're still fighting a soda pop or energy drink habit, drinking more water will at least reduce your cravings.

Happy Hydrating!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Breaking up with Facebook, etc. etc.


Facebook is a strange mistress, isn't she? Talk about your love/hate relationships. This one is both deadly and fabulous. One minute you're chatting with someone who has literally made your day. Next minute you're in a full blown battle to the death with some utter troll who has effectively ruined it. 

So, what I'm pondering today is this: 

Is it even possible to leave Facebook? Should I? Because lately, I've had it up to my eyeballs with the naysayers, negativity and pointless conflicts that go on there. And yes, I must admit, a big part of what I don't like about Facebook is my own insane reaction to it.

You know, because I'm nuts. Certifiable, you guys. I'm not crazy enough to worry about, just world weary. Meh, we're all a bit loopy these days, from what I see. Society makes it impossible to be sane. Too many expectations. Too many rules, both spoken and unspoken.

Every day, they make more rules. Like there's a shortage or something. What? Somebody slipped on a banana peel? That's it. No more banana peels allowed. And so on. Who can keep up with all these rules? Not this crazy chick, that's for sure.

I've been mulling this over for literally months.

As an aside thought, it kind of has to do with a realization I had about the fact that we are too far away from our natural world. So much so, in fact, that we call it nature and talk about it like we're not a part of it.

You know. It goes something like this:

“Ooh, Ah, I love nature”

“Fool, You are nature! You are a natural being. You are a part of nature. It's not something to admire from afar. It's something to participate in”

Now, I'm not considering stripping naked and wandering the woods, living off nuts and berries because of this, you guys. I'm not that crazy. Besides, no one wants to see that. 

What I am considering is getting back to the way I used to live. Life before I went public. That is, life before Facebook, etc.

Because that was my best nature, you know? It was peaceful. I wasn't on a peace path because I was already at peace.

Wasn't it great, you guys? Wasn't it fun to live life fully and not feel obligated or excited to report all the highlights to all your Facebook friends? And I hate to admit it, but wasn't it great when you didn't know everything that was going on everywhere in the world all the time or how screwed up your country really is?

Because, let's face it. The world in general has always been screwed up. We just didn't know about the extent of it. We didn't know that the U.S. government, or should I say, the banking/finance/big business system (because that's who really governs us) has always been corrupt. 

We didn't know a lot of things before the internet came along. Or maybe you're smarter than me and you did. Never presume.

I won't call it the good old days because the good old days didn't exist for most people. Unless you were white as the driven snow and well off. And frankly, considering the ignorance involved, I'm glad I was neither.

Nevertheless, I feel like I was somewhat better off before social networking. Oh, you bet I've made a lot of friends that I wouldn't trade for the world. Admittedly, some might occasionally unfriend or un-follow me, due to my big mouth which doesn't seem to know when it's time to close up shop. I might even do the same to them. Ironically, for much the same reason. Ya, I said it.

And there you go.

This is who I have become and where I'm at. This is my dilemma. This is what happens when you mix the capacity to obtain instant information with someone who actually cares and thinks independently of the herd. They turn into monsters, you guys. Social networking has created a monster and it's me.

And maybe I could handle that. If it was just me, that is. I know my own crazy. I know how to deal with me. But here's the issue. There are scores of other crazed Facebook created monsters out there, just waiting to pounce, should I say something that sets them off. 

Plus, this is social networking. Not exactly a fitting place for an introvert with HSP.

Isn't that ironic? Because, from what I can see, there are a lot of us on there. And man, are we upset! 

What are we upset about? Everything! Why? Because the world is a mess, like always, but now we know about it. And, we introverts, who never had a voice before are letting out every frustration we've ever had and arguing with everyone we never had the means with which to argue with before.

It's both wonderful and awful at the same time. But we love it, don't we? At least when we're not hating it. Which for me, is most of time, with exception of the first few minutes I open that social network window to see what's happening in the world.

So, where do I go from here? Do I kick social media right where it hurts? Do I shun it forever? I have no idea. Because even though I'm not inherently social, some of the friends I only know on Facebook have shown themselves to be genuinely caring, loving and kind. What would I do without them?

I guess it boils down to social media having me right where it wants me.

Bloody hell, life is complicated for this simple girl. It's a good thing I know peace, tranquility and simplicity are best found within. Because the outside world is sadly lacking these days. 

Particularly on Facebook. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When nobody knows your name


Ha! Has it ever occurred to you just how many people use a name other than their own on social media? Some are trying to stave off the stalkers and trolls. I used to use my pen name exclusively for that reason. But at one time, this left me so confused about my identity that I even considered changing my “real” name to my pen name to suit who I have morphed into.

Too funny! After all, everyone grows and changes with time. That doesn't mean we need a new name every time we have a spurt. Glad I realized that in time. LOL

I stopped using my pen name exclusively when I realized I was actually thinking of myself as Jaipi. Many of my writer friends still think of and address me as Jaipi, even though they know my “real” name now. Frankly, I'm thinking of dropping the pen name altogether, to avoid future confusion, but it's so deeply ingrained now. Sigh.... 

I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm the same person, no matter what people refer to me as. We all are. Changing your name doesn't change your history or your identity. It just changes your label.

I'm curious. If you know someone in person and on Facebook who uses a made up name for whatever reason, do you call them by their “real” name or their “fake” name? And if you use their made up name, pen name or what have you on Facebook, isn't it weird to call them one thing there and another thing in “real” life?

It's kind of uncomfortable and confusing for me, personally.

But check this bit out. I named my daughter after my sis, out of respect for all the support she gave me when I was coming up. But on social media, my daughter uses her pen name exclusively, just as I once did. And even though I once did the same, it still has a weird feel to it.

I mean, I chose her “real” name out of love. I thought long and hard to decide on it. It's what I have called her in “real” life for almost 40 years. So, having to call her by her social media name is strange. Stranger still, is when I have occasion to talk to other people who only know her pen name, because that's the only name they know her by so I have no choice. You feel me?

On the other hand, my daughter doesn't have my sister's “real” name anyway. Because my sis didn't like her real name, which is decidedly old fashioned. (Like my daughter, she was named after her aunt.) But unlike my daughter, her given name is one most modern people would not want to be saddled with. LOL

Does this all make me a hypocrite? I mean, the fact that I accept my sister's name change, but can't wrap my head around my daughter's name change? Probably. But nevertheless, that's how I feel.

Is all this name business just a tad too confusing for anyone else? Maybe it's just me, but I just feel like there should be less focus on names and more focus on life and living well. It certainly would be more peaceful and less confusing.

On the path for peace, there are many seemingly insignificant little pebbles like this. Gonna just shrug this one off and kick it to the curb. After all, whatever my loved ones call themselves, they're still the same person to me.

A rose by... Well, you know.