Wednesday, October 31, 2018

I'm at complete peace with my imperfections


And I have a lot of them. So do you. So do all of us. Because human beings are, well, human. We are inherently imperfect. We can't help it. We can and should try to improve ourselves. Absolutely. But unless we accept and embrace what we believe to be our own imperfections, we will never feel whole.

Why is that? Well, in some ways, that answer is simple. In others, it's quite complex. So, let's begin with simple. There is “good” and “bad” in everything and everyone. That fact creates balance. And balance is necessary for survival. No one is all good or all bad. Taking away our imperfections completely, makes us less than whole.

And now, for the real complications. The terms “good” and “bad” are not easily defined as the definitions are not the same in everyone's mind. So what some people see as your faults, may not be faults to you and the reverse is also true.

Not only that, but “good” can come from “bad” in the form of lessons learned. That renders mistakes and imperfections a catalyst for self improvement.

So, there are times when things seen as your imperfections can be of benefit to you. Imperfections can be strengths or weaknesses, depending on the circumstances.

And what separates you from others? What makes you different? What makes you interesting? Certainly your strengths do. And those strength can be born of either your positive qualities or your perceived imperfections, which are sometimes one and the same.

My imperfections are not evil and unless they involve thoughts, words or actions that do harm, neither are yours. They simply exist. They simply are. That's why I accept my imperfections and yours as well. Now, that is not to say that I will stop working to improve myself or that you should stop working to improve yourself.

It's just that accepting yourself entirely, imperfections included is the only way to begin being the person you wish to be. Change cannot come without first having awareness and acceptance. And that's true, whether you're speaking of the entire universe, the world or just your part of it.

I'm at complete peace with my imperfections as I move forward to make positive changes. Because if I don't know my whole self or allow myself to wallow in shame for the things I am not proud of, how can I hope to make improvements?

A not so peaceful Halloween tale

Night Terrors

Shawna woke to find herself shivering in the bushes. Her dress was torn and muddy. Rain pelted her exposed limbs. Slowly, she became conscious. A chill ran through her as she remembered the events that brought her here. She felt something trickle down her face and realized it was not rain water. Blood was seeping from a gash in her forehead. She couldn't move and didn't dare breathe. He might find her here, crouching in the night shadows like a wounded animal.
Her head was spinning. Her legs, pinned in an awkward position. Shawna remembered twisting her leg as she dived for shelter. She contemplated her situation. Experimentally, she moved and winced with the resultant pain. She wouldn't get far on that leg. Still, the train station was less than a mile away. There would be others there. Witnesses that would prevent him from harming her further. Lights to keep him at bay. Plus, there were the trains. A way out. Perhaps she could make it, traveling from tree to tree to avoid being seen. She had to take a chance.

Shawna knew she must act quickly while she still had the cover of night for protection. Carefully she began stretching in an attempt to return circulation to her other limbs. She rubbed her arms vigorously in an attempt to warm them. Regrettably, the damp night fog had settled into her bones. Shawna's eyes were becoming adjusted to the night. She peered out into the blackness. No sign of him, but that didn't mean anything. He was a creature of the forest. He knew how to remain unseen. Still, there was no other choice. She slithered from her hiding place as silently as she could manage.

Keeping low to the ground, Shawna crept to the nearest shelter. A tree had fallen about ten yards away. She thought that by laying beside it, she might blend in with its spindly shape. Pain shot up her injured leg with every forward movement. She thought about the trail her dragging foot might be leaving for him, but it couldn't be helped. The hounds would smell the blood too. Without hesitation, she tore a strip from her shredded hem. It would have to do. Shawna tied the fabric tightly around her wounded forehead. Then she heard them in the distance.

It was the hounds. At least, she reflected, it was an ironical blessing. She could hear them and that was good. Kent wasn't afraid of her. He could make all the noise he wanted. He was the hunter and she was his prey. He was an animal now. His only thought was to silence her. She knew what he had become. This wasn't her first encounter with the beast. Her fingers instinctively felt for the scar above her right breast. That was where his fury landed the last time. This time it was worse. She was running for her life. Shawna could feel the certainty of death upon her. Its hot steamy breath whispered tauntingly in her ear.

It hadn't always been this way. Once there was laughter and joy. He used to hold her hand and talk of their future together. Then there were wedding bells and a honeymoon trip to Fiji. They would make love for hours, languishing in the sun. The thought of Fiji made her slight body shudder once again. She remembered the eyes of the beast as it chased them through the jungle. Then, her devoted husband sacrificing himself as a decoy so she could get away. They found him days later on the outskirts of town. He was incoherent and covered with long gashes, but alive. Then came the nightmares.

It started on the plane trip home. Kent woke in a cold sweat, fighting animalistic urges she was unaware of. Once they arrived home, it continued to worsen. The nightmares increased in frequency and intensity. Each time she became more and more afraid. Of course, everyone assumed he was traumatized from his experience in the jungle, including Shawna herself. Until he began hurting her. He had become someone else. He had become the very beast he saved her from. He still looked like himself but his eyes betrayed him. She had left her beloved Kent in the jungles of Fiji. The beast had taken his place and he wanted her dead.

The hounds were closer now. Shawna knew she would have to chance using her injured leg if she were to make it out alive. She would need a crutch. She felt around in the darkness until her hand came upon a decent sized fallen branch. She placed the end against the tree for stability. Gingerly, she lifted herself up, wincing in pain. The branch gave a little with her weight. She had no time to find another. It would have to do. One agonizing step at a time, she began her journey. She was jolted from her nightmare when something came crashing toward her through the forest. Shawna fainted and crumbled to the ground.

In her dream, Shawna was running. This time she was the predator. Her prey was alluring. She could smell it's fear. It was young and tender. She longed for the taste of it. The smell filled her nostrils with desire.

She awoke in a sweat. Someone was sponging her forehead. She lay on a bench in the train station. A young man looked into her eyes, inquiringly. He was saying something about running from a beast in the woods and carrying her to the station. Her blood was still hot from the night terrors. The lights burned her eyes. She could still smell her prey. She glanced at the little girl seated next to her and smiled sweetly.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Face-booking on the peace path


Now, maybe you're saying to yourself, “She's joking, right?” After all, I am very outspoken on social media. But what exactly am I outspoken about? Peace, love, acceptance and compassion are always at the core of my posts.

If I display any animosity toward certain behaviors, those type of posts will now be restricted to my own page. There's no point in trolling around just to stir up trouble. Oh, I've done it on occasion when someone works my nerves or ignorance rears it's ugly head. But now I'm making a concentrated effort not to.

And yes, I am big on making folks aware of their less than kind tendencies with my posts. You know, the habits and behaviors that are so socially ingrained that nice people don't even notice they're participating in them?

I figure that I would want these things pointed out to me so I could lead a kinder life, so why wouldn't everyone else? But again, this is mainly on my own page or on the pages of those who are in agreement with me.

I'm sorry folks, I just can't condone practices that are less than compassionate toward humans or other animals. It's not in me. However, I really do have faith in the good character of all my friends, which is why I believe they would want to know if something they do or say is hurtful to someone else.

I certainly would.

I have noticed that sometimes, certain of my friends are offended by the thought of being compassionate above all. I can't help that.

How silly is that, BTW? Why be so hell bent on sticking to tradition or so set in your ways that you prefer not to see the truth or consider ways to improve in the future? That just makes no sense to me.

Blinders and rose colored glasses are not my style, Compassion reigns supreme with me, even when it necessitates changing my own stubborn ways and re-routing my own way of thinking.

Mind you, I'm not saying that I'm picture perfect. I have weathered my fair share of social media battles. I have been guilty of stirring the pot, sometimes with serious vigor. But there's something about making an effort to live a kinder life that has prompted me to do better in that area.

Anyway...

I am making a special effort toward peaceful interaction on Facebook these days. Social media is here to stay. And as admittedly antisocial as I am, I still want what little conversation I do engage in to be pleasant for all concerned.

I'm not commenting negatively on other people's pages any more. If I have something to say that I can't not say, I'll say it on my own page instead.

If you view my posts frequently, you may or may not have noticed that I also now avoid lumping, grouping and categorizing people in my posts. That includes not sharing memes that condemn one political group or another. Because folks, we are all so much more than the labels we are given. Sorting people out this way feels a bit too much like bigotry to me.

I'm still a bit judgmental, I admit it. I'm working on it though. I'm constantly working on self-improvement. It's important to me to be fair and kind.

I can't help being human, of course. I do and will slip up sometimes. In fact, I have done so, big time in the past. More than once. A lot of the time it has taken me more than once to learn my lesson. I probably have a ton of failing and growing to do in the future as well. Still, I try to look at my mistakes as learning experiences and I apologize when apologies are due.

I've stopped truly “falling for” anything mass media, big banking, big business or mainstream political parties spew without first doing a little unbiased research. And generally, if the “news” coming out makes someone a huge profit, I tend to pass on it. I'm looking for truth, not propaganda. That's true, BTW, even when the news is slanted toward my views.

For the most part, I scroll past anything that causes me to shake my head without comment. You know, anything that isn't based in compassion or impacts me in such a way that I completely lose my own compassion. However, I do reserve the right to post my disdain on my own page.

However, I'm trying my best to see that said disdain is now directed toward the action, not the person. With the exception of certain individuals who consistently display tendencies of hatefulness, animosity, cruelty and general rudeness with no remorse. Because then, I figure, something has to be said. Silence is often seen as license and acceptance. People are not going to change if they don't have to.

One last thing and maybe I've said this a lot but example is the best teacher. That goes for everyone from toddlers to seniors. Whatever aura you project surrounds you and spreads to others. So, by being firm about supporting compassionate behaviors and using that same compassion to promote them, I hope to influence others to do the same.

I have always believed in being the change I wish to see. Still, sometimes my actions have fallen short of that goal. Patience is not a virtue I possess in quantity. I have a short fuse when it comes to those who promote or project hatred and exclusion.

So, I'm working the path of peace, one step at a time and trying my utmost to do so with kindness in mind.

Making peace with zero page views


I've been in love with writing since I first learned to form letters, make words from them and put those words together to make legible thoughts appear on paper. In short, since I was about 5 years old. Back then, I didn't care who read my thoughts. Surprise! I don't care now either.

I write for myself. If no one reads what I write, well, that doesn't make it any less valuable to me. I also don't care if my grammar is picture perfect or my punctuation is on point. I write how I talk. It's legible enough. It's not completely off. And anyone who doesn't like it doesn't have to read it. So there!

If all that makes me sound a bit narcissistic, well, I don't care about that either. People can think what they want because I also don't judge the way others write. Practice makes perfect and maybe they're not there yet. Or maybe they're like me and don't care if they ever get there. Ha!

I have a lot of blogs that nobody reads. They make me about a penny a month. OK, maybe a little more. But hey, since I don't ever cash it out, I might have a whole dollar by now. Woo-Hoo! Celebration time! Maybe I could frame it and hang it on my wall.

Meh, who cares? I think the almighty dollar gets enough air time. I save my decor space for family photos and other things that really matter. Like dream-catchers, tapestries, artwork, various handmade dangly things, cute signs and such. Most of which is truly “unprofessional” and maybe a bit sloppy. I love it!

And sure, there is an off chance that someday, someone, somewhere will find that either my meanderings or my artwork warrant a deeper look. Maybe there's even a ,little monetary compensation in my future. Still don't care. Besides, likely that would mean writing/creating the way everyone else thinks I should; conforming to consumerist demand, etc.

Nah, I'm happier just the way things are. Doing what I love to do, the way I love to do it. No promises. No demands. No battlefield. No blood shed. No deadlines. No editors. No rules. No pressure. Just the freedom to write/create as I wish.

I'm at peace with my non-existent page views. In fact, I prefer them. They represent my freedom to be who I am. They reflect my true self, good, bad and ugly combined. They empower me like no amount of money ever could.

And you can take that to the bank.

Be careful who you call a snowflake

 
People, when will they ever learn? These days it seems that anyone who gives a rat's behind about anything is labeled as a snowflake. To which I say, “Not so fast, good friends. Being kind is not so easy.” Being a “snowflake” is a lot more of a challenge than being a hard ass or ignoring the wrongs and la dee da-ing through life because they don't impact you directly.

Personally, I'm at peace with being a so-called snowflake. Here's why:

Compassion is not a cop-out. Kindness takes strength, perseverance and dedication. Sometimes it even means finding the good in those who seem to be made up of 99.9% evil.

Compassion involves standing up for the rights of all, including those who don't agree with you, are misguided, cruel or only seem to care about themselves. 

These days, being compassionate even means putting yourself in danger. Because for some reason, people who lack compassion are offended by those who believe in it. 

In contrast, it's quite easy to put yourself first and walk away from things you'd rather not admit are happening. It's easy to be hard. It's easy to ignore. Cognitive dissonance makes life simple for those who are not strong enough to face the truth. The real snowflakes are the ones who haven't the strength or courage to worry about anyone but themselves.

And trust me, I would love to distance myself from the evils of the world. But not enough to live every day sheltered from the harsh realities of life in a society gone mad.

Why not just enjoy life and let the chips fall where they may? I'll tell you why not. Because if everyone in the world ignored injustice, justice would cease to exist.

Someone has to care enough to take a stand against bias, exclusion, cruelty and hatred. Are these people snowflakes? I don't think so. Quite the opposite, in fact. Those are the folks I want in my corner. They are strong and capable with hearts in the right place.

On the other hand, I suppose you could side with the bullies of the world. They seem to be strong, don't they? But that's just it. They only appear to be strong. Their resilience and confidence are lacking, Which is why they have to put others down in an effort to inflate their own egos.

And, final point, guess what? Not all those you call snowflakes have had an easy life. Some have had to push through hardships that would do a lot of people in. So be careful who you call a snowflake. You might be handing them a doubly disrespectful insult. (Disrespectful of both their beliefs and their long, hard struggle to get where they are.) And the resulting blizzard may be more than you bargained for.

Because compassionate people are the majority in this country, folks. And history has proven, they will, quietly and effectively over-rule your agenda of fear mongering, hatred and exclusion every time.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Burn, baby burn!


Sometimes attaining inner peace involves environmental cleansing. I'm not speaking of the environment as a whole, just my own corner of it. OK, maybe there's a greener way to purge my personal space of ancient paperwork. Still, ceremonial burning is highly satisfying, isn't it?

I have a lot of paperwork to purge. I don't own a shredder. I can't afford to pay someone to shred all these old documents I pulled from my file cabinet.

So, I say, burn, baby burn!

It's been interesting cleaning out ten years worth of files. The clutter in there was clogging up my to do list as well. And when my list gets too long, it blocks me from attaining peace. Plus, I just don't need the stuff. Well, most of it.

I did find a few gems in the files. A lot of my old journals and handwritten notes. Some poetry that I forgot that I wrote. And I found one really cool thing.

It was a Christmas gift from my Mom, sent to me long ago. A booklet of her writings. It's mostly poetry to loved ones. I remember reading it when I first received it and loving how it revealed her innermost feelings.

When I was growing up, kids weren't really privy to the feelings of their parents. Oh, sure, there was love and lots of it. Still, our parents didn't really confide in us. Or at least not in me or in as much depth as in poetic ramblings.

Anyway, it was fun to read, for instance, poems my Mom wrote to my Dad. (She referred to him as Herbie.) How very in love she was with him! It also gave me a window to their life before kids. Shocker! They had lives before us!

Needless to say, I won't be burning my Mom's poetry or any of the other sentimental stuff in the file drawer.

But as for the weight of unnecessary paperwork, up in smoke it goes. I offer it to the Gods of cleansing and purification. In doing so, my mind becomes clear and peaceful. “To do” becomes “to done.” The ashes settle gently on the peace path behind me.

And forward I trudge with renewed conviction, at peace with the ashes of my past floating across the back yard.

Life isn't fair and that's a good thing


I don't pretend to have the answers to everything. If I did, I suppose my life would be a lot easier. Still, I think a few important things have been lost through the generations. Mainly what's been lost, I fear, is the ability to deal with the ups and downs that life throws at us.

People today seem to think the world owes them respect, decency and  kindness. And that there are certain rights everyone is born with. I suppose that last bit is due to the wishful thinking of our founding fathers. But it's not real, you guys. Nothing society tells us is real.

In actuality, nature is not fair. Life is not fair. And those who expect it to be are destined to have a hell of a time dealing with it the way it really is. They don't have the tools for that. It's not their fault. They were simply never taught the realities of life.

Life is a lot of struggle mixed with a little happiness to soften the blow. It has to be that way, you know. Those struggles strengthen us. They keep us humble. But most of all, they provide the contrast we need in order to appreciate the good times.

Now, I was raised in the country and I do mean in the country. I am not from a small town. We lived across from a dairy farm in the middle of nowhere. There were a lot of us and we were not monetarily wealthy.

We had pea soup and corn bread for dinner a lot. It was tasty and healthy and I still love it. We had a garden. We worked for our food by shucking those peas, harvesting other veggies and helping around the house. My Mom put dinner on the table every night. It wasn't always pea soup. It was always humble, nutritious and inexpensive. If we didn't like it and didn't eat it, well, we'd be really, really ready for breakfast next day.

Because there was no alternative.

We didn't order in or eat fast food. We didn't eat out. We sat at the dinner table, talked about our day and enjoyed each others company. After dinner, we played board games until bed time, which was when the sun went down. If it was summer, we played outside. We were never bored.

We worked hard but we also knew how to have fun. Sometimes we would all pile into the car and go to the beach. In winter, we grabbed our sleds or whatever else would slip down the hill and made our own fun. We skated on the neighbor's cow pond in the winter.

We invented our own brand of fun. I'm told that one time, when the garden flooded, we plugged up an old bathtub to use as a boat, therefore turning a tragedy into a good time. I was pretty young, though. I don't really remember it.

I guess you could say that my childhood was a series of events that were largely based on turning old, beat up straw into shiny, new gold. Which is, I suppose, why I'm so resilient to this day. Practice makes perfect, as they say. That is not to say that I'm perfect. Nope, far from it.

But I do know this. If you shelter your kids from everything, kissing all their boo-boos and catching them every time they fall, well, they never have a chance to learn those deep down, ingrained lessons that struggle and misfortune bring, do they?

In other words, it's OK to let your little darlings skin their knees and develop the resultant, protective scabs on their own. In fact, it's more than OK, it's necessary. Strength comes through adversity. And strength, my friends, is vital to survival.

I'm at peace with life being unfair, In fact, I'm glad it is. Because if it wasn't, I wouldn't be half the person I am today. A lot of us wouldn't. So, when life knocks you down, take your licks, patch your skinned knees and let those lessons give you strength to carry on, a little wiser than you were before. That's what life is all about. 

Isn't it beautiful?