View Me As a Cautionary Tale

I am far from perfect. In fact, I can count on both hands all the comments I have received in the past which point out my flaws. Here are a few:

“You and your sister are so selfish.”  – My father in the 1980s
“Why do you have to be such a bitch?” – My Sister in the late 80s
“You don’t care about anybody but yourself.” – My mother (pretty much all the time)
“I may have to love you, but I don’t have to like you.” – My maternal grandmother
“You need professional help.” – A High School teacher
“All I can think of you is a liar. I cannot trust you.” – Ex-fiance
“You’re not a good enough person to be a girl scout.” – My mother when I expressed interest in becoming a brownie
“You can be so nice and generous sometimes but then so hurtful and severe for no reason.” – Internet acquaintance
“You’re the worst mother ever!” – My son after I said no to something
“I couldn’t give a crap about you. I’m done.” – My current husband
“You are mercurial.” – Professional colleague
“Remind me to never get on your bad side.” – Professional colleague
“You’re such an asshole.”  – High School peer

These are the things the brave ones said. I am sure when my ears ring there are hundreds of other like statements in which the cowardly say behind my back to others. I have always cringed when hearing the positive remarks about me because I know otherwise. I would like to think I am a good person underneath it all but, I know I am human and I make horrendous mistakes and lapses in judgment. Sometimes out of stupidity, hedonism, or as a response to a hurt that I am dealt.

The one thing that I wished I had done was get to know my family more deeply to see the kinds of mistakes they’ve made in the past to know I am not a one of a kind asshole. My maternal grandmother on her deathbed alluded to a similar life with the statement “Heaven can’t take me and hell won’t have me.” One had to wonder what would prompt such a self judgement. Was it the guilt over the mental and physical abuse she dealt to her family over the course of her life? Or was there something oh so much more heinous?

I’ve worn much of my bad qualities as a badge of honor, deeply believing that if I was a truly good person I would die young. So keeping evil just enough to keep me living longer.  Breaking 9 of the 10 commandments and succumbing to all of the deadly sins at one point or another, shows I am far from perfect.  Since I know that I failed in really learning the human side of my elder family members, I can safely guess that my child will fail at that task as well. Although he has seen some of me at my worst to know where I fail, I wish to show him all of it so he understands what not to do in life.

I’d like to think that all of us have elements where we serve as a cautionary tale to others. Failures in which we are not proud and have dealt hurts which cannot be undone. But somehow I think I am part of a smaller faction on the outside looking in.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

You won't get too far in life without this one key principle –

If you want respect, you have to give respect.

I've seen some disturbing aspects of your personality which I'm astounded because I didn't raise you this way. But when you want to get your point across, you have to allow yourself to hear others' points of view –

  • Even if it differs from your own
  • Even if that person has misinterpreted what you said
  • Even if that person is misinformed

You respect them and give them a chance to speak.

Relationships are give-and-take. If you want to good relationships you must be willing to meet them halfway. If you cannot do that, all of your relationships will be broken, damaged, or simply not there. One cannot survive on superficiality.

I listen to your remarks to others with words like "stupid" or "ignorant" and I'm shocked. All I can think is that the receiving end of those words regard you as close minded, hotheaded and disrespectful. They will close off to you because they feel they cannot speak to you. Like I do.

If you want someone to listen to you you must allow them to respond, to react, to offer input. Even if you simply want to vent, they're going to want to give you some supportive commentary or give you another point of view to you calm you down. They may even want to give you some perspective -a story of their own to share so you may see a different solution. You've got to give people value.

The less you give in respect the less you receive. It's a road of bitterness and loneliness and heartache if you continue this path. I only say this because I know.

You may think you know everything at this point in your life, but I can tell you from experience, you don't. You're constantly growing. You're constantly evolving. What you think you value now is not what you're going to value 10 years from now.

I had a lot to say in our conversation tonight that I was not allowed to say that I felt was valuable for you in your frustration –to hear constructive ways to solve your issue. I believe that I have enough life experience to help you advance your career and improve working relationships if you would only let me share.

For example: You're in a shit job assignment right now and although it seems like you may be stuck there forever, you're not. My coworkers had heard about the can assignment and felt only positive that could come from this; which is more experiences and more opportunities if you do well. The more times you say "Yes" the more times you will get opportunities. You can't look at these as punishments. You have to look at these as putting your time in and doing your best to shine in the eyes of your employer. You want to become irreplaceable. Some aspects of your job will be humbling and it will challenge your pride. Go at these with determination and dependability and you will be rewarded.

If you feel that you are at a dead end and you know people who were there who got out you ask them how. Network with the people in the positions where you want to go so you can get there too. If you remain negative and resolute in the fact that your stuck, you will be stuck.

Your attitude is everything and people notice positive attitudes and reward those. If you are negative and complain they noticed that too and they will not reward. They will ignore you. You can be like the other guy and quit but then you shut the door and burn a bridge and that looks bad for your future work experience. You need to overcome challenges with a go-getter attitude to get far.

The thing is there are hundreds maybe even thousands of people just like you who can do that job and maybe do it better than you and you can be replaced. That has to be in the back of your mind every day you walk into work. You need to be able to demonstrate to your superiors that you are worthy of this job and any other job task they assign you.

Just because this job is a grocery store position and you feel it's beneath you; it is a job. It pays you money you probably can't get by sitting in the basement playing Overwatch. Your work history is your reputation. When called for references, your prior employers will speak about the kind of worker you are. You want to behave in a way every day that assures that that recommendation will be glowing.

Pride in the Name of Love

I've had a second meeting today with the very excited couple to cover any additional wishes for their wedding ceremony. Our last meeting I felt I was prepared and ready to help the couple celebrate their special day. As I spoke about the commitment to each other and the gravity of the solemn vow I could see their faces squidge up as if I said something foul.

After being married for 18 years, and witnessing the ups and downs of each statement of commitment it seems appropriate to remind this couple of the gravity of the words "I do". There is so much behind each aspect of the wedding vow.  So many marriages fail because there is a light undertaking of the dimensions to which each aspect of marriage can take.

When you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with "the one" You must ask yourself if you are in for what it really means to take them in

Sickness and in health –

The health is the easy part. But sickness is the stickler. Think about illness, This could be anything from man flu to ALS. Could you bathe them when they cannot? Can you change a feeding bag or a help clean an infection a the site of their colostomy bag? If they have a stroke, will you be willing to care for their basic bodily functions? If they suffer from depression or addiction will you be there by their side every step of the way to recovery? Will you drive them to the hospital when they suffer from an appendicitis, or a heart attack? Will you be their advocate during cancer treatments? Will you be there if they are admitted to hospice care? Will their well being be as important as your own?

Richer or Poorer –

One might thing the richer part would be easy but the management of that wealth and the responsibilities that entails can end a marriage as well. What if your spouse is a spend thrift? Can you work with them to learn better habits? If one or both of you lose your jobs can you work together to tighten your spending and recover?  If your partner is too frugal can you live with the meager budgeting without fighting over the money?

Honor and respect-

This one seems like a no brainer because you love that person right? It often times erodes when the consideration behind the relationship is missed. It takes only a few tiny errors, like missing their napkin when setting the table, or not taking up their laundry but only your own, to failing to listen to them when they just need an ear. These tiny things build up to erode the honor and respect of your commitment. Where one may feel invisible or not valued over the years. Thank yous missed, hugs not given, time together not spent all build up to a rift in a marriage.

Keeping only unto them until death do you part –

Again the early stages of the relationship the couple might think "This will never happen to us, because we love each other so much" Though all it takes are the rifts in the prior vows to drive one or the other to toward someone who fills the void or shows value that is missing from the relationship.

Most come away from the the wedding day thinking "Hooray! This is us~ we've done it. Married for life!" But marriage is a journey and it takes work to keep it fresh and loving each and every day of your lives together. Early in the relationship that whistle when they breathe due to a deviated septum was cute and endearing but after 157680 hours of life together hearing that whistle might be less cute and endearing and more like a Chinese water torture. Can you work with that for the rest of your lives together?

Squidging at the emphasis of the gravity of the vows and being entirely sure of your commitment means perhaps the gravity of the vows are not fully understood.

Working on your marriage is expected every day. And being strong enough when you are at a point where it becomes hard to come to a therapist and ask for help is not admitting defeat but admitting you love each other that much to keep striving to keep that love alive.

One thing too… there are no roles in the marriage and no such thing as 50/50 all the time. Sometimes it is 80/20 or 90/10. If you have that expectation when you go into it your partner better be on board.

By the time you set foot at that altar in front of your celebrant, you be quite sure you and your intended have gone over all the possibilities of your life in marriage, kids/no kids, last wishes should life support be in question. Leave no stone unturned.

Take Heart

I was having dinner with a friend- both of us still reeling from the sudden death of a mutual friend – when she said this…

“We are surrounded by such strong women and I fear that I deliberately do that so I can hide from the fact that I am not strong at all.”

The thing is, I have always regarded this friend as strong. I clumsily tried to explain that we all feel that way, that the people around us have it all together; when in reality, they are filled with the same doubts and fears as we have. We are all just muddling through and carrying our respective burdens and responsibilities in the best way we can.  I feel like I diminished it by lumping it into an “everyone feels this” category.

She said she wanted to be more because our dearly departed friend was just that. (More) With each passing of dear friends, I make that same commitment to take on the same qualities of the person I have lost in order to be better than I am.  But somewhere down the road, I am just me and it is overwhelming to do what I commit to do.

I can be who, intrinsically, I am with small changes  – but like New Year’s resolutions; those memorial resolutions get lost in the same way.

I don’t think our friend would want us to go changing in an effort to honor her memory. She befriended us for who we are and loved us for all we were.

Comparing ourselves to others by our perceptions is what fuels unrealistic self-expectations which ultimately causes undue self-loathing and stress when we fail to meet our goals.

The phrases,

“I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in”
“I don’t feel like I fit in with anything.”
“I feel like I’m faking it and someday people will figure it out if they haven’t already.”
“I am drowning most of the time barely treading water these days.”
“I am not a nice person underneath it all”
“Do others just perceive me as full of shit?”

These are not unfamiliar sentiments by anyone. We all have these feelings. We have to take heart that the person next to you, or sitting across from you on the mass transit vehicle has thought these thoughts too.

When you’re walking through life and observing those around you who seemingly have it more together than you, take heart – the key word there is “seemingly”.  We don’t know their whole stories as they do not know ours.  What motivates their actions, reactions is fueled by things we do not know, histories and such.  So relax and take heart, just do the best you can in the way that you can.

If I could just….

Having a moment of sentimentality today. And I think back to the film “The Guardians of the Galaxy” and how the mom’s playlist (mix tape as it were) was an integral part of the piece. So I thought what would my mix tape I would hand off be?

So I thought of some titles:

Renaissance’s ‘Carpet of the Sun
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piY4mt4F9xg

The Monkees’ “Randy Scouse Git’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejw_LOi-nhk

The Moody Blues’ “Question’
www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQwnYtZNC-0

Jane’s Addiction ‘Been Caught Stealing’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrwjiO1MCVs

Fastball’s “The Way’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0wfu3tOrtQ

Dream Academy’s ‘Life In a Northern Town’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YablrXxFCc

The Thorns’ ‘Think It Over’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayx_cTtWUU4
The Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4PN7Xbexq4
Crosby Stills and Nash’s “Teach Your Children’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztVaqZajq-I
Paul Simon’s ‘The Obvious Child’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HKNAhAxMAk
Todd Rundgren’s ‘I Love My Life’
Michael Franti and Spearhead’s ‘Sound of Sunshine’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oId40fbUKSs
Cat Steven’s ‘Peace Train’
Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘I’m A Getting Ready’
Frank Turner’s ‘Recovery’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1L5zJ2afLs
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ ‘Home’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHEOF_rcND8
Tuneyard’s Water Fountain
Midnight Oil ‘King of the Mountain’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuC_k51NUqU
The Fixx ‘Driven Out’
Bob Marley and the Wailers ‘Three Little Birds’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaGUr6wzyT8
Frank Sinatra’s ‘Three Coins In a Fountain’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEdKYB47Q-U
Ella Fitzerald’s Cover of ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYEeAOTIQ2c
The Smith’s ‘Suedehead’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEq8DBxm0J4
Beck’s ‘Mixed Bizness’
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdqKQRhi6qU
Ohio Players’ ‘Love Roller Coaster’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VH6yD8zobM
Al Green’s ‘Love and Happiness’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqqAnjY2Rmo
Chicago’s ‘Saturday in the Park’
Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Stand’
The Staples Singers’ “Respect Yourself’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9Rk7PGbsfs
In Living Color ‘Cult of Personality’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xxgRUyzgs0&list=RD7xxgRUyzgs0
Indigo Girls’ ‘Closer to Fine’
Talking Heads’ ‘Take Me to the River’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RHZEzVUBPk
Alice in Chains’ ‘Man in the Box’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAqZb52sgpU
XTC’s ‘Dear God’
Belle and Sebastian’s ‘Expectations’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf10McR_-8c
Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0AKJMGxwpE
Metallica ‘Nothing Else Matters’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tj75Arhq5ho
The White Stripes’ ‘We Are Going to Be Friends’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTu5ltfX2dw
War ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DmYLrxR0Y8
The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0ODA2N7fA0
The Isley Brothers’ ‘It’s Your Thing’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMimqfJVedE
And then for fun…
The Superions’ ‘Fruitcake’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwxcFmToim8
Judgement Meme

To those sporting those Judgiepants…

Prejudice noun /ˈprejədəs/

Prejudgment, or forming an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case.

So many types to mention but I want to address the one most are guilty of every day. One of which does not come up when you google ‘Types of Prejudice’. I reckon I consider this type as Prejudice of Condition.

Lately, I have observed this prejudice first hand. But I was not a stranger to it in the past. Back then it enraged me. Now? Not so much. But it does disappoint me.

So what is prejudice of condition? Let’s explore some examples.

Take Sally for example, she wears decent clothes, holds a steady job; but recently, has indicated that she is having cash problems. Those around her judge her statement as disingenuous as she always has what appears to be nice clothes, perfectly manicured nails. “Hell, if she can spend the cash on clothes and manicures, she’s not as skint as she says. What a liar!”

No one knows she was forced to max her credit card to pay for unexpected repairs on her car, she does her own nails and her clothes are from a charity shop.
____

Another example comes in the form of a meme which has circulated on facebook timelines for several years now. Even I have shared it to remind those around me to be less quick to judge.

“You can’t see my problems, you can’t see my pain. You don’t understand the thoughts going round in my brain. My illness is not visible, it’s not on display. But it’s a battle I fight with each and every day…”

For those with chronic illness, including me, we endure each day knowing we will have good ones and just plain horrible ones. We never know what the next day will be. Our minds are preoccupied with what this could very well be and we fight the fears with the mantra that it may not be since the tests were negative the last time. Just because we continue to fight– to appear normal — doesn’t mean our situation is made up or any less real. We want normal lives, and we will do what we can when we can. We live with what we have and try to make the best of it even in our worst moments.

It is sad to discover someone close to you is judging based on their definition of what sick should look like just because you canceled plans when you weren’t feeling well enough to cater to them. Because after all, it is all about them.

____

Finally, the last example is the one I think I am most susceptible to committing and being the target at the same time. Judging personality based on visage. I have resting bitch face. I know what it is like to be judged by my relaxed demeanor. Some people find me very off putting due to my expression. I haven’t minded too much because the introvert in me is kind of relieved.

But I have been very guilty of doing the same. Not just with people with resting bitch face, but with others whose outward appearance seems intimidating and I assume they are cold or abusive in nature when actually they probably are super kind and warm.

It’s a terrible thing, prejudgements. Because in these judgements we prevent caring relationships to be formed or maintained. Be wary of your quick to conclude thoughts when dealing with others. Remind yourself of how it feels to be judged without the full information.

Be good to yourself but practically so

In today’s society it seems that “Keeping up with the Jones'” is the norm. But the Jones’ we don’t know their story as much as we do our own.

I wrestle with the choices I made to live well beneath my means despite what banks told me was within my means. Had I listened to them I would be a giant stress ball worried about money all the time. Instead I chose to choose practical means which allowed the small indulgences every day. (Like eating out regularly, having that treat purchase every now and then and knowing I had a padding in my account for any emergency)

We could have bought the house in the 200K arena but would have lived on boxed mac and cheese nearly every day to keep afloat.

I wanted the luxury car but chose the practical options with the high mpg and the exceptional safety rating and reliable trade in rate to keep protecting the finances.

I look back on it now and wonder, should I have risked it all with testing the limit for my vanity? And I have to say no.

But…

If I had to do it over, I would have chosen to set aside money instead of going out for more vacations. Travel to wonderful places. The one regret I have in life is that I did not explore enough. I did not take the time off when allotted to rest and take care of me.

I worked so very hard for 30 years with no stamps in my passport. Not many great travel memories.

What I recommend is that you do that very thing. Take vacations — make memories outside of the day to day. Get out of Dodge as much as you can.

Life is oh so short; and at this time in your life that means little, but when you are nearing 50 and realized you haven’t really lived– it will be the one thing you recommend to others.

Go to concerts, to shows, to museums, to natural wonders. Take in what delights you.

Eat well. Not stupid. Make sure the food you put in you is nutritious and full of flavor and excitement. Feed your body too. Do not let the stress of life or the lack of time allow you to make poor choices. That is not to say you cannot have that delicious prime rib or the burger that tops all burgers, but do that sparingly so. Your wellbeing depends on keeping your nutrients high and the carcinogenic, artery clogging crap at a low.

But remember to always have cake. Never pass up an opportunity for a good slice of cake.