Amber: My Sister Through My Eyes

amberAmber’s life began on June 28, 1975.  As soon as she could walk and talk, her enthusiasm for, sweetness to and curiosity about other people were immediately apparent.  She never knew what a stranger was, if you turned your back on her for a moment you were sure to turn back and find her striking up a conversation with whoever happened to be passing by.  I can picture her as that little girl and I can picture her by her mothers side always wanting to help, the true personification of Mothers little helper, always wanting to be of service.

These two qualities that defined her as a child, the interest in others and the genuine desire to help them and make their lives easier, continued to define her, no matter what hardships she endured, throughout her life. 

There was another side to her greatest strengths, as is so often the case with all of us, they were also her greatest obstacles.  Amber’s selflessness and self-sacrifice caused her to perhaps give too much while not asking for enough in return.  The great stores of energy she drew on to work an increasingly demanding and exhausting job, while raising her kids, and caring for her family were eventually drained.  Her body was more frail than she realized and her will alone was not enough to sustain her.  In addition her innocence and her complete lack of guile which allowed her to see and expect the best in others left her vulnerable to hurts, a heart like hers could not make sense of, and she at times blamed herself for the failings of others.  But no matter what the cost she would not abandon that innate loving kindness and sweetness.  

It is no wonder that, as her health began to fail and she could no longer keep up with the demands of her Title Insurance job, she went back to school to work in healthcare.  After graduating first in her class she decided to pursue working with cancer patients and in that she found what she considered to be her true calling.  She choose healthcare because she cared deeply and passionately about all those who crossed her path and because she had suffered she had vast stores of empathy and compassion for others who were suffering.  She became a true friend to her patients and their families and she liked to think that she, in some small way, shared their burden and by doing so made it lighter.  When her health continued to deteriorate to the point where she could no longer do that job she mourned it for the rest of her life.

Even this loss did not take away her sweet spirit and she continued to pour her love and care into her children, her family and her pets.  She became quite active on social media and was a tireless cheerleader for others, always striving to make them feel loved and celebrated.  She was, in the last months of her life, contemplating writing a book in order to share her triumphs and tragedies, letting people know they were not alone and still trying to help as many people as she could.

Amber’s life had its hardships and was far too short, but all those that knew her felt blessed by that knowledge. Her sweetness , her kindness, her innocence, her lack of guile and her generous heart were so special they could not be ignored.  She is gone from this world but her influence remains with us and if we can, through her example, open our hearts to love freely and to treat each other with compassion and forgiveness, she will have achieved her true aim in life, she will have helped forever all those she loved.

Amber’s life ended at home surrounded by people and animals she loved, her parents, her son and her beagles.  She will be so sorely missed.

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Can I Read MY Book, Please?

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(Hahaha, Philosophy Sunday on a Thursday! Thought I’d shake it up a bit!)

I love reading. I always have. My mom taught me how to read before I went to kindergarten; before I was five years old. She encouraged this passion, and I indulged in it to an almost ridiculous degree. In fact, if and when I did get in trouble, my mother threatened to take away my books, hahaha. That was the trigger, the threat, that I would need to get myself in line.

I have tread the literary waters a bit, but the genre my attention gravitates toward the most is the fantasy/horror/paranormal romance bit (are you surprised?). Dragons, unicorns, fairies, ghosts, vampires, and werewolves–these are the creatures I desire in “my world”–the world in which my imagination thrives. Magic and mayhem, death and eternal life, frightening situations and battles to the death. A world where true love–for forever love–exists, flourishes, and never dies–even if they have to battle through hell itself to save it.

Hmmmm….I wonder why I have such high expectations for my love life….

I love reading. I love books. I love traversing the various paths of the fictional wonderland illustrated in the pages. I escape into my books. I fall in love with the characters, and crave to know the ending of their story. I love how books highlight the necessary information–how the good authors will only tell you something if it is important. Irrelevant information is not included, unless it is simply a tool to take you in the wrong direction to give you a surprise ending. I love that. I love the foreshadowing. I love getting little snippets of one’s past, bestowed like gifts so you may understand the character a little more; fall in love (or hate, for that matter) just a little bit more.

I love relating to the characters. I am currently reading the final book in the White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter. In the first three books, Alice in ZombielandThrough the Zombie Glass, and Queen of Zombie Hearts, Ali Bell was the star. Written in first person, you literally saw the world through Ali’s point of view. I thought she and I were two peas in a pod….until I started reading the fourth book, A Mad Zombie Party. In this book, the viewpoint changes, and multiplies. Now we are seeing the world through Frosty and Milla’s eyes. Thought to be secondary characters–I mean, Frosty is Ali’s boyfriend’s best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend, and Milla is the rival “gang” leader’s little sister–a gang I wasn’t even aware of really, until the third book–they suddenly take center stage, and I’ll be damned if I don’t relate to those two even more than I did with Ali Bell.

See, with Ali, she had lost her entire family in an accident that she felt was all her fault. Blaming yourself for a loved one’s demise–whether it be literal death, or something just as life-altering–is a gig I have been playing for a long time. I blame myself for my mother’s death, my grandmother’s death, my brother’s addictions, my father’s health… Whether or not any of it is valid is beside the point. That is the way that I feel and it is a heavy burden to carry. So I connected with Ali in that sense. Also, at the time I began this series (about two months ago), I was embarking on a new love affair, and the connection between Ali and violet-eyed Cole seemed to be on par with mine. (I’m sure that this didn’t help during the inevitable end of my love affair. Cole and Ali were “meant to be” in their world. Even when they broke up and eventually got back together (ok, Cole never let her go, and again, awesome books let you know why he did what he did)…part of me is still waiting for the reconciliation in my life, and I find that expectation painful.)

Cut! Bring in the next feature, and you have Milla and Frosty. Milla seriously messed up in the third book. In fact, Queen of the Zombie Hearts, ends with a strong feeling of hatred towards little Miss Milla! And Frosty, a volatile character to begin with, has gone off the deep end by succumbing to his shattered heart. I connect with both of them. Frosty doesn’t want to cheer up, because to him that would be doing the memory of his loss a disservice. To actually live without that person is a gross injustice. It has taken me a long time to realize that that is what I still do with my mother. I will forever be the sad little girl who watched her mother die, if I cannot find the desire to live without her. Truly live. As far as Milla goes, she committed to the horrific plan that was literally the cause of Frosty’s pain, for an excellent reason–in an effort to protect her brother. Of course this resonates with me, since my brother is my “air”–I need him in my life! I’d do anything for him.

Another reason I identify with Milla–guys tend to hit it and quit it. No one ever stays. And although Milla has a decently strong concept of her self-worth–she knows she’s pretty dang awesome, especially with zombie slaying–her self-image is tarnished by these boys’ rejection. Yup…I get that. Can you really be that awesome if people are willing to leave you? It makes you focus on your faults and hold yourself accountable for every wrong deed you have ever committed. (So bad if you’re the type of person who takes the blame for everything!) See, even the universe thinks you deserve nothing but loneliness; punishment for your crimes against humanity!

Which, in my usual roundabout way, brings me to my point. Can I read my story, please? Funky’s Story, The Story of Rachel Campbell? Can I know the important clues, the relevant incidents, that will lead me to my destiny? Which signs am I supposed to follow? What can I do to get what I want, and is what I want actually what I need? What I deserve? Do I not deserve it? What is my life path?

I have been avoiding blogging. First, because I was wrapped up in my new love affair; then because of the violent end of that love affair. I knew I would write about it, and I am, of course, but hopefully I do it in such a way that it doesn’t leave me more broken.

See, with this one, the signs were there. Ok, ok, I can find the signs anywhere, let’s be honest. I can fall in love with someone’s potential loooong before they deserve it, and long before I will even admit to myself that I am in love. If you have read any of my blogs before, then you have a basic idea about “the ex”, “the one who hurt me the most”, “the one who hurt me first”, and the one who is just plain mean. Now there is the recent one, the legend, that I am just having the hardest time getting over.

So earlier this year, as some of you know, I was fed up with the reconciliation with both the mean one and the one who hurt me first. I was also fed up with my self-imposed celibacy, so when I received my invitation for a wedding in another state, I decided then and there that I would be getting some tail. Little did I know it would be the best man, and that I would actually find out he’s amazing.

We meshed right away. Our conversations were good, and we seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. We had similar beliefs, similar experiences, and similar “life goals.” Granted, those goals weren’t the healthiest of ambitions, but we were on the same page nonetheless. I’m not sure what he thought about me, but I just thought he was one of the sexiest men I had ever seen in real life. (I should have realized then that I was already trying to fall.) I had gone into the situation thinking it was a one-time affair (both times that vacation, I thought it was a one-time thing…hahaha), but lo and behold, we actually lived in the same state. In fact, we lived 16 miles away from each other.

Looking at this from an avid reader’s perspective, (and an incurable hopeless romance enthusiast) this was the first really big sign. How do I travel to another state, to find a guy that actually lives near me? And even there, guests at the wedding asked us if we were together, because we “vibed” so well. (I think it was the fact that my hair matched his hat, hahaha!) Maybe if we stayed out there, we could have lasted…because all we did was come back home to the demons we so forcibly left behind…

I didn’t expect him to call when he got back, but you can bet I was waiting with bated breath, hoping that he did. Well, he did. The connections continued. In the stories I read, introducing someone to your friends is a pretty major thing. Well that was the first thing he did, and it was an afternoon of “your girlfriend” jokes, and me being awkward and shy around his people. Then the next call came, and the next. Turns out we also have similar political views, and we have some of the same darkness running through our veins. We could hang.

Then came the BIG signs–the ones that I consciously look for/ recognize: His hometown state is the same one that my uncle was from–the only man my aunt ever loved. Also the state that my BFF is currently residing and where she met her hubby. (You can bet that I imagined us traveling up there together to visit both of our families.) His initials are the same as the actress who plays my all time favorite television star. He is into motorcycles. We both have a degree in video production from the Art Institute, and we both are doing nothing with it. We both also have the same pipe-dream for what we would like to do with that degree. Music, movies…we clicked. He also had the sense to hypothetically worry about his parents possibly dying–something I encourage since I know first hand that it can and will happen, and it sucks. Best to mind those relationships while you can.

And we talked about the big stuff too. Like marriage and children. I’m not sure how long it has been since I have touched on that subject with you all, but I recently have come to the conclusion that I desire neither. My world lost four children this year–two did not have the chance to really grow even inside the womb, but it still hurts. And the other two…one was a three-year-old who drowned, and the other was a month old and passed from SIDS. I had only met one of these kids once, the three-year-old; but their parents are important enough to me that every single one of these deaths hit me like a pile of bricks. If I can’t handle my friend losing their child, then how can I possibly attempt to bring my own into the world? Point being, I won’t. Mr. Legend had the same viewpoint, essentially. No marriage, no kids. I mean, that right there was the real kicker for me, because how are you supposed to tell a man that you desire neither his name nor his seed?

But something went wrong. Somewhere we lost it. But here I was thinking, subconsciously mostly–it really hit me when he broke it off–that I had found the one. Not even two months together, and I have to admit that I honestly had that thought. And the end was violent (not physically, but emotionally. It was meant to wound, to sever) and mean. Not as mean as it could have been, but I was so confused by the ending to begin with, it crushed me. I was seriously angry too.

But it has been a whole month without him. If he missed me, he would contact me, right? Granted, I miss him and I have behaved myself admirably! (Ok, I did send the last three messages, all unanswered. Two at the end of our fight, and one on the day of the only date he ever planned for us, and took away. I couldn’t help it then. I can now, because even my pathetic-ness has limits.) But I can’t stop missing him…

And this is where the desire to read my own book comes in. I want to know what I did wrong. I want to know if I misread the signs. Because this one felt different. Oh, I know, “they always feel different!” I’m not the only woman/man/human to have ever felt like this one is different, that this breakup is wrong…but it just feels sooooo wrong! I know I am also obsessed with wondering why. I have been asking the universe for years why this world works the way that it does. Why people suck so much. Why do I have the life that I do? But I also know that, because I don’t get the answers I crave, I blame the universe–fate–for hating on me! I feel like Perseus in The Clash of the Titans, sometimes. The whole, “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle,” makes me want to scream, “I am not Superman!!” However, I am beginning to realize that this is a problem as well…how can fate reward me if I don’t have faith in its plan? If I don’t trust it not to screw me over?

So, is it me? Was it my own self-fulfilling prophesy that started the end? Was it him? Did I miss the red flags? Am I ignoring them? Focusing on the good? Yes and no. My scale of bad differs from most, and do really try to focus on the good. Was it the fact that I can’t not find myself attracted to an addict of some flavor? (Again with the signs–and this one Lollipop disagrees with wholeheartedly–I feel like my one is an addict, because that would explain why I have soooo much experience with addicts. Lollipop feels that I don’t have lasting relationships because I only date addicts. But I get addicts, despite my lack of qualifying addictions.) Am I still too hurt from my mom’s passing? How can I expect someone to feel like they can’t live without me, if I want to live without me?

Can I just read the test, so I know what lessons I should be learning? Skip to the ending and just scan it so I know what to look out for? Or can I scan his book so I know how he really felt?

Was it fated to end as such?

Ugh…needless to say, this past month has been rather hard on this old heart. (I turn 32 real soon!!) However, I will say that the entire month and a half long relationship was a good thing. A necessary thing to happen. It has stirred up some stuff in this noggin, and maybe ripped a band-aid off of my heart–I had promised myself that I wouldn’t feel that kind of loss again, after my mom died. It seriously surprised me that I grieved for Legend. It is actually nice to know that I can feel that way for someone who is not my mother, lbvs. It is nice to know that I am capable of falling in love with someone who didn’t know my mother at all. Or even know me when I had my mother.

Just give me a clue to get to the end of this chapter, please…

 

Dissecting Understanding Part X: Lover Not A Fighter

 

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It has been awhile since I have written a Philosophy Sunday post, but a lot of stuff has happened in the meantime…

It seems like an odd topic, considering that it is Independence Day Weekend, and it was nothing but fighting that allowed us to keep this awesome country of ours! I probably should be writing a blog about just how awesome this country is–but with all of the political hullabaloo…I’m just not into it, lbvs! (Laughing but very serious.) So love it is…

I fall in love very easily. And not romantically, either! (Hahaha, you could potentially wait years for me to even admit that to myself!) I fall in love with people easily.

In my heart of hearts, I love people. I know that I jokingly say, “People Suck!” quite frequently–and sometimes they do!!–but overall, people are my favorite hobby. I love how different they are. I love to meet new people, to try and figure them out–why are you the way that you are? I like to find people from all walks of life, just to see what their stories could teach me…

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I’ll own up to a little bit of prejudice in this area, however. The people I really love are the weirdos, the eccentrics, the artists, the musicians, the nerds…and I am a total sucker for darkness. This, of course, can make for an awkward conversation: “So tell me about the worst thing that ever happened to you and how it has affected your life…” Lucky for me, most of “the weirdos” have all seen tragedy, thus making them weird!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love every single weirdo I have ever met–I have met some seriously interesting people!! (Most of them at bus stops.) But for the ones who do manage to slip underneath my wall…they tend to be very beautiful–at least in my eyes.

I love a person with an expanded consciousness–someone who can’t actually “think inside the box.” I love a person unafraid to stand up for what they believe in (as long as they’re not an a-hole about it). I love a person unashamed of their art (without being pretentious). I love a person who is unable to hold strong opinions because they are too busy learning new things, and seeing both sides, to really have the ability to commit to a limited point of view. I love people who see beauty in the world around them. People who would rather get lost in a forest than a mall. I love a person who believes in themselves. I love a person who has seen the devil and has lived to tell the tale. I love your scars. I love the messed up people. The people who have tried to drown their sorrows, and the ones that still do.

I love the imperfect people…

I came to the realization that I am not perfect a long time ago, and I never strive to be. I am definitely the type of person who wears my weirdo on the outside, so that you are aware of it’s existence as soon as we meet.

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~Lydia Deetz—Broken, Beaten, and Scarred But Not Giving Up via Facebook

 

We are all imperfect, and we should be unashamedly so!

So here is your challenge: try to love people instead of judging them and fighting them on their beliefs. This doesn’t mean that everyone then becomes a part of your world…no, not that. I just mean that you should take a moment, take a breather, and just appreciate that person for the effed up individual that they are…because everyone is beautiful…

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Famous in a Small Town: Kyle

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If you are a follower of my blogs, then you will know that I have recently fallen in love with my small town again. I have had a love/hate relationship with my town for the entirety of the almost 25 years that I have lived here. Recently, I have discovered that I appreciate the quiet, the open space, the abundance of wildlife, and, in my case, the virtually drama-free state of my little cultisac. I mean, it is already well-known that Colorado is one of the coolest states ever, (that is why so many are flocking here), but there is so much more to the red-state than the majestic Rocky Mountains, our Superbowl 50 Champions: The Broncos, and legalized marijuana! Sometimes it may seem to be hard to find, but nestled away in little pockets all over the state, are these tight-knit small-towners who have known each other for most of their lives and still tend to cluster, still think of each other as family–The Elizabethians!!

Now I am absolutely sure that my small town isn’t the only group of people who still claim their hometown friends, still live with their hometown friends, and who only seem to party with their hometown friends–no matter what city they are in, or whether they intentionally ran that far away just to escape the hometown friends! Despite everything, Elizabethians still tend to travel in packs. We gravitate towards each other, and we cannot seem to escape nor forget. There may be different groups scattered here and there, but when we gather, we GATHER!! And I love it.

Me “loving it,” wasn’t always so. It was another of those love/hate aspects of being an Elizabethian. But, like several other characteristics that I had once loathed about my town, I have very recently come to absolutely adore this quality. How? Where? At one of the most unlikeliest–or at least surprising–of places: A fellow Elizabethian’s funeral.

Exactly one month after I passed the 6-year anniversary of my mother’s death, the Elizabethian community suffered another loss–Kyle. (I will not include his full name, nor his picture, out of respect for the family’s privacy.)

Kyle was honestly the most genuinely joyous people that I had ever met. Witty, outgoing, and a bright engaging goofy smile that you just couldn’t help but return. He was a jokester, and he had a knack for making people laugh despite their best intentions. His own laugh was hilarious all on it’s own–a pure chortle that just invited returned giggles. Even when he was getting into trouble, he’d manage to make the authority figure laugh, or smile, or at the very least, take away their fire so as to make them slightly guilty instead, that they have to punish such a likable guy. In fact, the former in-school-suspension-supervisor was the pastor for his funeral, and there was nothing but love from his lips. Yes, pastors are supposed to only spout love, but knowing this man personally, I could tell that he genuinely liked Kyle. But who didn’t? Kyle was golden. A truly beautiful soul. Obviously not perfect, but just one smile or stupid joke, and he could melt the coldest heart, ease the most bitter pain.

The turn-out was utterly amazing for this guy! It was a sizable church, and we had it packed! A lot of people had to stand. A lot of tears. A lot of familiar faces. But what really surprised me was the generational span of Kyle’s mourners.

Three years separated Kyle and I in age, maybe four in grade, but I was not the oldest of his high-school acquaintances, and Kyle’s age group definitely was not the youngest. If I had to venture a guess, I would say at least twelve years of Elizabethian graduates attended! I mean, I am Class of ’02, and I recognized some of my brother’s class, which is Class of ’10, and even younger. How can a person be loved by that vast of an expanse of ages? Because he was Kyle. And because we are Elizabethians. And this particular faction of alumni, is one of the largest and close-knit. I cannot even begin to comprehend how many hugs I gave and received yesterday. How many, “Oh my gawd! How have you been?” ‘s that I heard. It was beautiful. And I know that there were a few bad feelings for particulars–grudges–that have endured throughout the years for a few of this giant group of people, but it did not matter. None of that mattered, because of Kyle. At least, that is what I think. We were all united in the loss of Kyle, and we were united in remembering Kyle for the type of person he was.

I’ll admit, I was not as close to Kyle as most of the people there (I was on the outskirts of the cool kids until my brother initiated me once he became a cool kid, hahaha!). Kyle and I rode the same bus. However, what got him a permanent place in my heart, was that he never forgot me and never turned on me. Whenever I saw him, I was rewarded with his bright goofy smile, and an embrace that made me feel like I was loved and cherished. Maybe he really did love and cherish me–or maybe he was just that awesome, that he made everyone feel loved and cherished. Which in turn, made people love and cherish him. Never before have I seen such an amicable anything (least of all service), with that diverse of a crowd. Yeah, we all know each other, but still…

So Kyle, you have once again performed an act of beauty–you made me love being able to call myself a part of this particular crowd of Elizabethians. We probably are one of the craziest groups–wild and weird and down for whatever. Thankfully, by putting ourselves in the situations that we have, we are even more connected because we have seen each other at our very worst, and we still have love. Thank you Kyle. You will be sorely missed by so many hearts. To truly know you, was to love you. Just can’t help it.

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Goodbye Pat and Goodbye 2015

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I have never been so relieved to have a year come to an end!  For the most part it was a good year but the end was one of the roughest times of my life.  The whole month of December was kind of awful for a myriad of reasons but the toughest moment came the day after Christmas when our good, family friend Pat passed away.

My family moved in with Pat who was around fifty at the time, when I was a little girl.  We had just moved back from California and had no money, no prospects and no where to live.  Pat was at that moment, and for the rest of his life, our guardian angel.  He was unfailing kind and generous, sweet and playful.  He was the best of friends and the best of people.  He lived with my family for the rest of his life and died in his own bed at my parents house.

He was what some might consider an unremarkable man who lived a remarkable life, filled with tragedy and loss and ultimately redemption and love.

The thing that was so very remarkable about Pat once you got to know him  was how happy he was with so little.  In our modern view, the gifts that life gave him were so pitifully few, he was never in love (the one date he ever went on ended with getting kicked out of his house for dating) he never had children or a high powered career, he wasn’t famous, he didn’t change the world.  And yet in all the time I knew him he never shed a tear (he said he had cried all his tears when his mother died), he never complained about the life he was given, he never forgot to say thank you for even the smallest gesture of thoughtfulness.

I’m not really sure if understanding the life he lived makes his unfailing contentment more or less amazing.  He lost his mother at age seven and was sent to an orphanage with his brother.  A couple of years later he lost his father as well.  He continued in the orphanage until he was adopted by some cousins but even that  was shortlived and he time and again ended up homeless on the streets of Detroit.  He though about becoming a priest but was disillusioned by the hypocrisy he witnessed while working around the order.  He went into the army and was one day away from shipping out to Vietnam when he contracted double pneumonia and was eventually given an honorable disability discharge.  He had a mental breakdown a few years after he left the army and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent some time in an institution.  He moved to Colorado and ended up buying a house for his beloved poodle Blackie.  That was the only reason that he bought the house because he wanted his dog to have a home and a yard and so he provided them.   Some time later he started going to the church my father worked for and that was how we met him.  When we moved back from California, homeless and desperate, we found out that his dog had died and he was terribly lonely and heartsick over his dog’s passing.  The pastor of the church thought it might be a blessing for him to have some companionship and it was undoubtedly a blessing for us as well.  From that day on he was a part of our family.

Time and again life gave him obstacles and problems that he saw for what they really were, gifts.  The pneumonia that wrecked his lungs and was the foundation for a life time of lung problems wasn’t a curse it was the blessing that saved him from the horrors of war.  The death of his beloved pet was the reason our family came to stay and he finally got the love and friendship and the home that he had never had.  It didn’t make him bitter that life had been so hard because he knew the worst that could happen, he’d lived through it, and the qualities of character and personality that caused him again and again to seek a life of service and a purpose in helping others, helped him to remain happy and positive and unfailingly grateful.

There have been so many lessons I’ve learned from Pat in our life together but his last lesson and gift to me (and one that I needed more than ever as I dealt with the loss of him) was that this too shall pass.  Pat lived a life blighted by pain and suffering for the first two thirds of his time on earth but the last third, though it maybe didn’t make up for or remove those lost years, did give him something he’d always wanted, a home, a family and unconditional love.  I imagine it would be all but impossible for me to experience the amount of loss and devastation  in my life that Pat suffered but even if it did, the memory of how he dealt with that loss and the knowledge that it did eventually get better will stay with me through anything.

So goodbye Pat, I loved you and I will always miss you.

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Dissecting Understanding Part IX: “Let It Go…”

Yes, “Let It Go.” Not just an overplayed song from one of the most popular Disney Movies ever, but also a rather clever turn a phrase that has been apropos for many an occasion.

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Anna and Elsa at our Frozen Winter Ball

However–even though I just helped Lollipop put on her “Frozen Winter Ball” barely a week ago–I am not talking about that particular interpretation. I’m not talking about awesome ice powers, although it would be cool! I am not talking about letting go of something that you have been hiding and suppressing for far too many years, and raining it down on people with fairly tragic results. If I were to equate my “ness” with Elsa’s powers, then yeah….tragic would just about cover it.

No, in this case, I am talking about simply letting it go. Stop trying to keep a lid on it, stamping it down and burying it–only to have something trigger it and have it flung at unintended victims who usually only have a very small part in that original hurt.

I am an angry person. I am a grudge holder. I am so full of hurt, pain, and anguish at the injustice of what we call existence, that it still surprises me when someone accuses me of being “such a nice person.” If you have read any of my previous blog posts, then you have an inkling as to why this is so. But even I can admit that my biggest problem is love–love lost, unrequited love, the death of a loved one, not receiving as much as I give…yup.

I am also a Leo, a lion. One of the biggest things a Leo has in common with their real-life counterpart? Pride. Of course, I wish it was like the animal kingdom, and I just got to love and protect my family and homies while I laze about in a field all day…but no. Leo’s are loyal and protective, but they are also vain and sensitive. When someone hurts my feelings, they hurt my pride–in my old age, my vanity is not as secure as it used to be. Instinctively, I want to either rage at them or never speak to them again, until they allow me to rage at them and I am 100% sure they not only understand my reasoning, but they fully admit to being in the wrong. The whole, “I’m right, you’re wrong!” mentality.

problem

However, that is what this entire “Dissecting Understanding” section is about…why there are so many misunderstandings, and why we should let it go even though we may be so sure that we are right. We are all different. We are all going through our own tragedy. We all perceive the world through different eyes, and therefore we will never honestly be on the same page. It shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, it should be celebrated. My mama always liked that saying about how boring it would be if we were all the same. I mean, what would the internet be with debate and ridicule (haha, I wish we could live without debate and ridicule!) The point is though, that we are all different, unique, beautiful, and right in our own way–and the world would be frighteningly dull if it were otherwise.

2015 has been a year of learning for me. A year of forgiveness. It started with forgiving “the one who hurt me the most.” No, he did not let me say all that I wanted to say, nor let me rage at him until he admitted that I was right and he was wrong. Nope. It just so happened that I got into an argument with his brother, and his response to my raging was such that it made me re-question everything. He cracked a joke about my rage–long enough after so as not to anger me further, haha–by showing me a meme of a giant ream of paper with a title that said something like: “What’s wrong, Part I…” Haha! Yes, my 47-part angry text message had no affect on him whatsoever. He actually had the audacity to say, “I didn’t read it. I’m not that guy…” Now for some of my friends, that response classified him as the worst kind of person, hahaha. But for me, it triggered a kind of acceptance.

He really is “not that guy.” He isn’t wired that way, and neither is his brother. There was no possible way that I would ever fully get my feelings across to them. And, seeing as I know their father, it’s not going to change. So it came down to, did I want these two out of my life? No, I didn’t. I mean, they cannot really get out anyway–we have too much history. Like they have tattoos for my mother, type of history. Now I could ignore them and hate on them whenever they came around, but that didn’t make sense either. Turns out, when I let the anger and the hurt go, I supremely enjoy their company. I love them, and we are a weird sort of family that I don’t want to lose…

Since then, several old hurts have suddenly reappeared in my life. It has really been a will tester. I mean, I said I’d let it go for “family,” but what about these guys? Are they “family,” friends, or just persons of interest at one point in my life? Do I want to forgive them? Well, that question I answered with a, “Yes!” But the next question would be, do I want them to stay in my life? The answer to this question differed between all of them.

One, I accept that he is the way that he is–a critical, judgmental, a-hole who has always seen the glass half-full and that the person who poured it is obviously an idiot. That being said, I have faith that he could change his perspective and go on to have a very happy life, if he chose to do so. But we will never move beyond this level of friendship (which is pretty bare minimum) because he does do more harm than good in my own life. I want him to have a better life, but I cannot change his life for him. However, I forgive him, and he no longer has that power over me. He also does not have the power to guilt trip me into doing what he wants. Being the giant push-over that I am, I have decided the best approach to reigning that quality in, is to ask myself, “Will I allow this person to guilt trip me? Do they deserve it?” It has been working so far…

Two, I forgave her, a couple of times, hahaha!! This particular friend is a lot to handle; but I think that her and I can work it out. She is an energetic ball of pure sunshine (until the storm comes) that will make it her life’s mission to make sure you are out there having a good time. How can you not want someone like that in your life?

Three, I forgave, but he is not in my life.

Four…well that is the hardest one. And probably the most important one. He is the first of my major grudges….if I forgive him, all of the other grudges will be forced to fall apart. There would no longer be a “What’s Wrong Part I…” The flipside to that coin is, if I forgive him, I could love him, which of course scares the hell out of me! Four is still recent, still confusing, still secret, but is probably teaching me the most.

See, that is the thing about grudges and resentment–there is already a layer of emotional debris that is compounded upon with every new heartbreak. Anything even similar to the original is added to the pile, and suddenly you are seeing patterns everywhere. “All men/women are the same.” <—is probably a better reaction than mine—->”This is your fate. You don’t deserve more.” Either way, it is a perfect set-up for failure. Like most self-fulfilling prophecies, stuff usually turns out the way you intend for it to. And I mean that in the deep metaphysical sense, not the lies we tell the front of the brain to keep our heart from speaking it’s piece.

I am always on edge, waiting for the next shoe to drop, the next person to screw me over–probably in the exact same way that they, or someone like them, has done before. Well, I’m over it.

My New Year’s Resolution is to “Let It Go.” Let go of the past. Let go of the pain, the hurts, the loss, the arrogance, the anger, and most especially the fear. Fear holds me back a lot. Fear of rejection, death (of others, not my own), unknown, fear of looking like an idiot. But the fear is there because of my past and because I am holding onto it. This cycle has to break at some point. So, 2016–> 16=1+6=7, the faith and truth seeker. Sounds like a great year to come to terms!!!

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Happy New Year!!!

Dissecting Understanding Part VIII: Perception

per·cep·tion
pərˈsepSH(ə)n/
noun
  • the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. “the normal limits to human perception
  • the state of being or process of becoming aware of something through the senses. “the perception of pain
  • a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. “Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public

 

I would like to discuss the third bullet on this Philosophy Sunday.

(Mini-note…”Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public”??? That sounds mighty ominous!! Is that why that horrible show about that one iconic family is such a hit? Because that is Hollywood’s perception of the tastes of the American public?? What a sad state of affairs….)

Perception is a fickle and capricious beast! As a whole, society’s perceptions are seemingly in constant flux–at least that is my perception–shifting from one point of view to the next, one extreme to the next, more quickly than the blink of an eye. As individuals, we seem to be either a stick-in-the-mud-sticking-to-my-guns type, a que-sera-sera type, or a “sheeple” who ebb and flow along the most-popular-perception-at-the-moment type. Perception is weird.

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It has been argued that, essentially, there is no reality–only everyone’s individual perception of reality. And since perceptions are a lot like opinions–everyone has one and everyone’s is different–it is hard to argue the existence of a one true reality. Also, like opinions, everyone seems to be positive that their perception is the right one.

This battle that perception causes, is, in my opinion, the biggest contributor in any argument. “You said this, this is how I perceived it, and now I am mad. ” Followed with a, “Yeah, I did say that, but it means this to me, and I cannot believe that you could perceive what I said in such a way.” Or, “This is how my people perceive the world. This is what we believe in, and we are 100% right, and you are 100% wrong. Therefore YOU change your opinion!” Followed with, “Well that doesn’t make any sense to me and my people. Obviously you guys are crazy, and unless you change, you will be destroyed.”

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To dial it back to a more mentally manageable level, how does perception affect your day to day life? For myself, I find that other’s perceptions of me seem to vary quite a great deal. Being one who strives to be the walking epitome of “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover,” it is a personal goal of mine to contradict those perceptions. I want to look like a veritable badass, but in reality I am sweet, almost too sensitive, and pretty friendly. I want to look cool, but really, I am hardly “on fleek.” I can be a punk, a geek, a goth, an emo, a slightly unprofessional-looking professional, a rocker, a furry, a valedictorian and the class clown–but in reality, I do not fit fully into any of these categories.

Sometimes the perceptions of different social groups surprise me! In my group of hooligans, although I am one of the oldest, I am one of the tamest. One of the least experienced, and kind of a puss when it comes to some of the more “hardcore pastimes.” (For example, the mosh pit! I have never been in one!! Or fighting–I have never been in a fight, even though several people have tried to start one with me.) However, my stories being told at the museum where I work–man! People seem astounded by my badassery!

perception16075-how-you-are-isnt-always-as-important-as-how-youre-perceived

I do kind of feel that reality is based on your own perception. And your perception–your world-view, if you will–can be changed. Therefore you can change your reality. However, you cannot force someone else to change their perceptions. What are perceptions made of? The thoughts, opinions, nature/nurture, and reactions of the individual. I cannot see the world through your eyes, because I was born with mine; and visa versa.

Although I am sure the governments of the world would like us all to be on the same page, I don’t think there would ever be an agreement on who, in fact, carries the right belief. I mean, we purposely have different perceptions in the United States–because that is what democracy is all about! Therefore…is world peace possible? Is there a way to collectively alter everyone’s perceptions? In that case, would there need to be one single answer? Would it not be more simple to just agree to disagree? I am rather against a “sheeple” mentality, so I do not think a single collective perception would be ideal, but what do I know? Only the reality that I perceive…

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