Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fighting Like Mother Teresa

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."  -Mother Teresa

I am reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Cancer Book, and it sucks, mostly because I could be part of this anthology now, and not because it's written poorly.  It's actually very good.  This quote from Mother Teresa, so fluidly placed at the beginning of chapter two, is the first thing that makes me sick to my stomach.  Is that what is happening to me?  Should I be honored by the massive amount of chaos that is my life?  Well, I'm not.  And if you're up there, you can stop anytime.

I haven't prayed for a long time.  In fact, my spiritual journey kinda stopped after Ryan died.  I let it all go.  Didn't seem to be doing me much good anymore.  Recently, though, eastern philosophies, as opposed to religions, have peaked my interest and I signed up for a class on Buddhism.  But I have had a spiritual setback, from which I don't know how to bounce back. That day I laid, strapped in so tight, on the table, going in and out of the huge dunkin donuts looking sign they call a PET scan, I prayed.  I cried inside, and maybe once or twice outside, and prayed the whole time.  I didn't know to whom, but I did it with my whole body and my whole spirit, every piece of energy that I was in those moments, prayed.  It was the first time I was scared, really petrified.  This machine was going to tell me my future, and it was capable of destroying me.  I don't know if I was extremely tired, or the radiation was affecting me, or if something else was going on, but I went in and out of consciousness a lot in that hour.  And when they unstrapped me, and helped me off the table, I was as sick as I had been up to that point.  I felt like I was bargaining for my life. 

In  college, the story of Job was assigned to me more than anything else.  I wonder sometimes if it wasn't for a reason.  For those of you who don't know the story of Job, he was God's most faithful servant on earth, and God had blessed him for his faith.  Satan challenged God with Job's faith by saying, anyone whom you would bless so much would be that faithful to you.  It's not fair.  So God came back at Satan and said, if I took everything away from Job, he would still be just as faithful.  And God did just that.  He took everything, little by little, leaving Job a jobless, family-less, unhealthy mark of a man, until he finally said, as in the final words of Jesus himself, why have you forsaken me?  God killed his entire family.  He destroyed his business in a warlike manner.  He ostracized him and covered him in disease.  I sit and I think, this story sounds all too familiar.  I used to say, there was nothing that could shake my faith.  It was grounded in truth.  I don't say that much anymore.  What kind of egomaniacal monster would destroy someone to prove a point?  To make himself feel better about being loved?  I've been in codependent relationships before.  They never work out. 

I want it to.  I think it's odd how in my most frightening hour, I called out to a deity I hadn't spoken with in some time.  I have questioned, since that day, why I did that.  And I am working on an answer.  I am certain I will never get it.  I don't believe that when it comes to our spirit, we will ever know the truth.  It's there, we are more than physical beings.  We are more than just an intellect.  Emotions, energy, motion, is more than just matter; it's more than just pointlessness.  It has to be.  I believe my spirit is greater than my body.  I believe it existed before me.  I just do. 

But then I wonder why?  Why hasn't any of my deceased friends or family ever tried to contact me, comfort me, make me feel like things will be ok?  Why haven't they made it a point to let me know they have passed on, that they are ok?  Surely they loved me enough to want to comfort me.  Or maybe it doesn't work that way.  What if Freud was right, and religion was a hapless method that humanity created in an attempt to fill a void within us that life hasn't been able to touch?  Three thousand gods have been created in the history of mythology.  Are we really that imaginative?  Are we that perpetually incorrect?  Were none of them real at all? 

I am sure the answer will elude me my entire life.  I don't actually wish to find the answer to one of life's greatest questions.  I don't assume that much greatness for myself.  It's insurmountable for my feeble mind; I have enough going on.  In my life, I have taken on more scars than most of the people whom I know; all I've ever tried to figure out is why.  Why must I be the one who gets the burden of these crosses when others move so smoothly throughout their lives and never understand the weight of a real struggle.  I know so many of these people.  And I trust, that they truly do not know me. 

I wonder what it would be like to get to know someone on such a level.  But my general disposition has always been a little lethargic and dark.  I have days where my optimism consumes me and I want to implode and let it flow through me as if it were my own blood.  But it doesn't last.  I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies and mind over matter.  I believe my mind has caused the majority of my own problems in life.  It has caused the depth of my disease.  Ignorance is bliss.  And many of those whom I know who flow through life with little problems under their belt, don't reside inside the curse of constant reflection and the perpetual inward turn.  Sometimes, my mind, my ever so exhausted, blackened, scarred mind, envies them.  Sometimes, it's pity.  I'll continue on, knowing too much instead, thank you. 

So what do you do when you are in the midst of a spiritual, financial, physical, emotional crisis?  When every single part of your life is turned on its head and you have zero answers?  How do you face each day and assume to be okay, relaying calmness and self-sufficiency to those with whom you interact?  There's only one answer to that, Fearlessly.  Any other option ensues more chaos than is already in play in your life. 

That doesn't mean that you can't have mini-breakdowns in your private moments and break things will ball bats inside your own mind.  It's healing really.  But the only outlook you can have on  your life is fearlessness.  Anything else is going to get you killed, sooner. 

I guess it has come easy to me.  No, I don't know why.  It's just a mindset.  I dive into anything.  When I first got diagnosed with cancer, I immediately went online and researched the hell out of it.  Doctor said not to, but how could I?  I know that about 130,000 people each year get diagnosed with melanoma, mostly females between the ages of 19-29, and that about 10,000 people die of it each year.  90% survival rate, I'll take it.  Knowledge is your greatest asset in any situation.  Beating something, anything, has more to do with what you know and how you apply that knowledge than it ever has been about trusting allies, though they're nice to have.  I trust my doctors, I honestly do.  But I also know that they're busy and overwhelmed, and deal with this so much, that it is depersonalized to an extent for them.  If I don't ask the questions that plague me, I may never know the answer.  There's trust, and there's dependence.  Never make yourself dependent on anything or anyone.  No one is available all the time for you, except yourself.

Yes, I've lost friends and family.  I have dealt with health issues perplexing to the greatest medical minds of our time.  I've been beaten by the same hands that have held me in their most gentle state and felt safe through the night.  I have confronted suicide in the face and fought it off.  I have had my heart broken into miniscule pieces by indestructible forces.  I have been left alone for so long, that I have become almost awkward regarding attempts at communicating with others.  And I am still here.  I may have a heart only capable of beating, rather than loving; a life capable of moving on, rather than existing in the moment; conversation capable of type, rather than small talk; and memories capable of giving me stepping stones rather than comfort and glee, but, still, I am here.

I don't assume to know the reasons why I am given so much to overcome.  I only know how to overcome it.  Whether it is tests from a deity, the randomness of life, karma at its best, or my mind defeating my body, I continue to fight for my life every day.  I know that essentially, it is pointless, but I appreciate a good piece of art, and artful conversation, the love of an animal, the triumph of an underdog, facing a new challenge, the memories of loved ones, and, the best and the worst of it all...the hope of something greater to come.  Even if it never does, at least I can say, I was here, waiting for it, faith in hand, fight in my back pocket, always ready. 


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Living with No Regrets, But I Haven't Done It All Just Yet

Facing one's mortality is an exhausting experience.  Every day you begin to think of things differently that you ever had before.  What about this, what if I do that, what if, what if.  Frankly, I'm worn out.  The topic of regrets alone is enough to overwhelm a person with a functional life.  Yes, I'm still functional.  I think.  I suppose that would require outside affirmation.  But in terms of regrets, I've always felt like I have lived my life on my own terms.  There are just a few things that I'd wish would have gone a little bit differently.

I wish the concept of family would have meant more to my own.  I believe everything turns out the way it is supposed to; otherwise I would have been declared utterly insane years ago.  However, at this point, even the small things seem superficial when it comes to family.  I don't mean they don't matter; rather, they are no more significant to me than any other relationship.  Maybe that is a good thing.  I am 100% certain that my lack of a family has allowed me to appreciate my friends on a deeper level than most.  I do endure a severe amount of compassion towards those whom I love.  But I always hear people talk about family as if it is something "more than" and I often wonder what that is like.  Maybe I already know.  I just don't know that I know. 

I am also 100% certain that it is why I never had children of my own.  Family was never a priority.  It wasn't required to know love; it wasn't required to feel happiness; it didn't seem to offer any additional benefits to life.  So I refrained.  I don't regret it.  I am entirely positive I would not have lasted as a mother.  Though I am motherly to a fault to those whom I chose to love, I do not believe that I have the concept of full time relationships built within my making. 

I wish I would have learned the true meaning of respect for others at a younger age.  Being a handful is an understatement when you are referring to my behavior as an adolescent.  It wasn't until I was thrown into the bowels of society to fend for myself that I realized the importance of the utmost respect of others and begin to act accordingly.  Regardless of whether or not you depend on others, you do depend on others.  I am one of the more independent people I know, and I depend on a TON of people to make sure my life continues to run "smoothly."  Ha, that was comical to even type.  But you know what I mean.  I need to make sure that I don't have a bad reputation.  I need to know that people can view me as dependable.  I have to ensure that I am hirable, trainable, and valuable in the workforce so that my life may continue on at the level of independence which it currently does.  Respect is key.  One must honor the nature of each human being which they encounter; one never truly knows what purpose that person is about to serve for you. 

I wish I had opened up and loved more people earlier, the way that I do now.  I am surrounded in my spirit by the love of so many that it seems worthless when I look back on the days when my heart was sealed off, my mind was closed, and I thought I was content with what I had.  Even though having more people in your life means, directly, that you will have less time with each, it is a remarkable feeling have nonjudgmental, pure, non-discriminate love and desire for the people who are in it.  Before, it seemed as though everyone who came into my life was scaled and graded based on what I might need them for.  How ridiculous I feel now realizing that about myself.  Had I known the amazement of loving people simply for who they are, and how they contribute to the world, rather than just my own pin-dot sized life, I would have jumped on that bandwagon with fury.  Since my mind has been opened to clean, unadulterated love, I have met more people, smiled more often, laughed harder than imaginable, and felt encouragement about myself, than I have known for the culmination of my life.  Me, the one who never thought she judged anyone.  Truly, though, I didn't.  I shut out everyone equally. 

These days though, I quite literally SEE people in a different light than ever before.  Everyone has a glorious purpose to love and be loved.  Everyone has a beauty within them that shines, if only you are looking for light.  What I had been doing is accepting people who complimented the person who I was, again, on my terms.  It left out so many opportunities for memories and tenderness, love and chaos, charm and spiritual enrichment, that I am left wondering, does anyone feel this way?  Does anyone know what it means to want nothing from anyone but for them to love one another?  My heart aches for it.  And its an utterly indescribable notion.  The notion to not judge someone at all, for any reason.  We are all we are; flawed, confused, hungry, tired, scared, alone, pessimistic, chaotic fucked up masses and yet we are all the same in that right.  None of us get it right all the time.  None of us get it right half the time.  If we could see that, and come together with our renewed sense of humanity, the entire world would change in an instant.  Yes, I am idealistic enough to believe that.  I never said I thought it was plausible.

I wish I had stayed single through my 20's.  Maybe now I wouldn't be too jaded to try again.  Marriage ruined my concept of romantic love, the exact opposite of its purpose.  Got to love irony.  Now all I have left to idolize is natural love, the love of a friend, the love of a laugh, the love of a pet's affection, the love of memories.  To think of entering into a romantic relationship with someone at this point in my life seems, self-defeating at best, torturous at worst.  It isn't that being loved by someone doesn't cross my mind.  It certainly does.  I am human; the human condition rests upon the precept of being matched perfectly to another and acquiring affirmation of one's complete worth and total value from the perspective of another's mind, heart, soul.  I logically know that this idea, is just wrong.  To chase after it, to me, would be to live in a way that is counterintuitive to my ideologies.  But maybe, just maybe, had I not gotten married too young, in a state of rebellion against my family's wishes, and struggled to make life work in a codependent relationship for the better half of a decade with someone who knew only how to love himself first, maybe I would be able to let someone love me today.  Maybe I wouldn't have to face this world alone.  Maybe someone would show me the compassion I wish to show others, and provide to me the idea that my life has remarkable value. 

I wish I had been better to my body.  This is hard to rest all blame entirely upon myself.  Habits start with children and we weren't an exceptionally healthy family.  Hot dogs and macaroni and cheese (I'm not knocking it, it's still one of my favorites, I just refuse to eat it), were a staple in our home.  Pop was always accessible and continues to be a thorn in my side to date.  I have underwent hypnosis, twice, in an attempt to get off the stuff.  It is my greatest vice.  Nothing works.  Though I know my mind is great and powerful, I do not allow it to conquer this irreparable condition.  I eat more cheese than any one person should, weekly.  I eat more often that I should.  I know that.  I'm bored, what can I say.  I absolutely love to cook and try new foods. Ree Drummond is the greatest she-devil who has come around in ages.  But I do love healthy food.  Again, if I had someone to cook for, maybe this wouldn't be an issue.  However, as a single woman, it is wholly pointless to buy healthy (aka expensive) food, thinking that you will make it all before it goes bad.  You won't.  You will waste hundreds of dollars a month and eat out anyway.   I don't care how many different ways someone tells me to cut the recipe in half, it's always too much food.  I give in.  I'm fat.  Live with it.  It hardly makes me a bad person.   

Now this one, eh, I could go either way.  I wish I had saved more money.  Do I really though?  I have always done what I have wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and have had an excellent time in the process.  If I had saved more money, I would have done less, but bigger things.  Maybe I had been to Europe already.  But I wouldn't have had the greatest shoe collection of any of my friends, or the tattoos I wanted which enable me to experience immediately gratifying catharsis on any number of topics, now imprinted on me like art.  Who is to say which is the better bargain?  I have always had more; smaller, but more.  Being cheap has allowed me to go to Niagara Falls, Put-In-Bay, Virginia Beach, and five concerts all in one year.  Or, I could have done none of that, and went to Italy.  Who knows.  I don't regret what I have, but I want what I don't yet have.  My only solutions is having both, and that just doesn't work.  I am selfish in that I require immediate gratification of a need almost at onset; saving isn't compatible with my needs.

I wish I had understood the basis for gossip during the times it affected my life.  Being a child is difficult.  We seek affection and affirmations from so many different sources.  Gossip is an attempt by young (immature either by age or intellect) people to forge a connection with someone through sultry admittances or tales that negatively affect another person's sense of worth.  Granted, the strong can survive a tale or two, and having a healthy perspective on one's own contributions and status in society will easily eliminate any impact the aforementioned gossip may have attempted to soil; but that is rarely the case during the times in which it is in play.  Gossip hurts; find friends by being a decent human being instead.  They'll last longer anyway.

I don't want it to seem as though I have a ton of regrets.  There are things you just cannot control in life.   You have no way of knowing that they will eventually affect you or make you feel a certain way.  I wish I had said I love you more often and to more people.  I wish I was stronger in the face of adversity.  I wish I wasn't as quick to anger during certain situations in my life.  I wish I had answered the phone. I wish I had walked away.  I wish my list couldn't be nearly as long as it would if I would type it all out for you.  But it is.  And there is absolutely jack shit I can do about it now.  Except, let it go.

Try not to dwell on regrets.  Life is always set on a certain path, but with each choice you make, a new road is carved out for your consequences to venture upon.  It will never be more than you can handle.  It will always be worth it.  Take the time to reflect on your life so that you may understand the why's of your choices.  Regret as little as possible.  Live by your standards and die with a smile on your face.   

Monday, December 14, 2015

Best of Luck to Us All

In 2004, living in the hell that Ohio calls Toledo, I began testing for lymphoma.  The doctor said the word to me within a two minute conversation without asking me any questions about anything!  Casual as they come.  I was 24 years old.  I think of how the world has changed and I'm dumbfounded.  In 2004, when you took an HIV test, they had a five page questionnaire they took you through like a multiple choice test, including questions like, have you ever engaged in sexual intercourse with animals including but not limited to primates.  Then you wait three days on the results.  Three grueling, horrifying, nauseating long days.  I don't care how safe you think you are, waiting three days makes you feel guilty, sick, and utterly distracted.  So when I go to a doctor's appointment and some of the first words out of his mouth are, "we're going to test you for lymphoma," all of the same feelings came rushing back to me.   Mortality.  How many times must we meet?

Eventually, meaning, five years later, my official diagnosis, (since 2005 I had the diagnosis of "mixed connective tissue disease" which means they knew it was autoimmune, just not sure which one) of scleroderma came back.  Again, it felt like a death sentence.  Today, when you take an HIV test, they swab your mouth and you wait 20 minutes and know your fate.  It took five years to find out what was going on with me from my first visit to the doctor.  I blame it all on moving to Toledo.  If you go to hell, part of hell will return with you.

Lying on the first couch I ever bought, so proud of that, it was black leather of course, binging on some tv show I was obsessed with then and have no idea what it was now, I noticed my lymph node was terribly swollen in my neck.  Not being sick, or having felt sick anytime lately, I went to the doctor, because I had free insurance through the university.  "We're going to test you for lymphoma."  Super.  Thank god when my next appointment came around, he was in Maui or somewhere absurd and I was transferred to a female doctor who knew a little more about handling patients with care. She tried, and luckily identified enough about me to get me on the right track.  And then, my contract was up with the school, which meant my insurance ran out, and I moved back to Cambridge.  Start all over again.

Found a rheumatologist in Zanesville; she's the one who gave me the "mixed connective tissue" diagnosis and began putting me through a myriad of medications basically as a trial and error methodology.  Then she transferred to somewhere in Pennsylvania.  I got notified by a letter in the mail.  The person who took over for her diagnosed me in my first visit.  I love him.  I saw him for seven years.  He has since moved on as well.  I have no luck with physicians. 

I have had general practitioners, rheumatologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, oncologists, gynecologists, hematologists, cardiologists, I mean, what else is there?  Here I am, at 35, adding to the list.  Next week I get a surgical oncologist.  I don't have a problem with that.  I have been lucky to know so many doctors who are committed to their craft.  What I have a problem with is requiring such a plethora of medical personnel in my life!  I know people my age who don't even have a dentist.  I can't fathom the peace, or ignorance, of that life.

But after days like today, I almost understand my fate.  I've done nothing.  I do nothing.  Life will be taken from you when you take advantage of it.  Life requires motivation.  I believe I have lost most of mine.  Life requires love and purpose.  Life has beaten me to an inch tall thumbtack waiting to impede the soles of others' mobility. 

I try to write, nothing of worth comes out.  I try to do, my brain restrains my motions.  I try to think, life gets in the way.  I don't want to think about this life.  My life.  When someone comes to me about their own life, I beam positivity and motivation.  I apparently do not credit my own with the value which I do others'.  So at this point, I must ask myself, is my mind deteriorating my body, or is my body creating the rot that resides within my mind? 

I believe the purpose of life is to love and to give of yourself until there is nothing left to give.  I believe it with all that I am.  I believe that work is a way to manipulate us into feeding the upper pendulum of society.  I believe that kindness is the only thing that will allow you to feel free.  I believe that if you love something, you will only gain from the experience, if you do it selflessly.  I believe the world is now designed to mechanically deteriorate our brains to the point of maintaining our life and unteach us how to live it.  I believe their forces are much stronger than ours.  It takes someone special to conquer the obstacles they have erected against us all. 

Where does that leave me?  Still contemplating that.  I have cancer at 35.  It's getting redundant.  My adulthood has centered around doctors.  I know more about the Hippocratic oath than most premed students.  I've had nearly every single brand of insurance that is currently offered.  I can recite my twenty four pills in both generic and brand name forms.  I can talk to any doctor like a champ, and get "good question" as a response from most.  I'll always have medical debt.  I have as many "health" apps on my phone as I do shopping apps.  And I've had my will and final wishes done since I was 25 years old. 

What a bleak and dark perspective on my life, right?  I don't see it that way.  I am strong.  I am prepared.  I love to crochet. I love to watch marathons of tv shows I was obsessed with when they were on tv in real time.  I love reading three pages of a book and putting it down then playing solitaire for hours.  Then picking up a completely different book.  I adore the smell of English lavender and hate French lavender.  How are they so different?!  I love making travel plans, and I'm completely obsessed with checking out different hotels.  I think swimming might be the greatest thing to do in the entire world.  And I couldn't give two shits less how I look in a bikini, because I'm wearing one regardless.  I love learning.  Anything.  Absolutely anything.  I am a knowledge junkie.  Give me something new to learn everyday and I feel complete.  It's all I crave.  Information.  Give me what you got.  Because of that, I know this much is true:

; My story isn't over.  It may not be exciting.  It may not be uplifting to most.  I may not have anyone to share it with, and to some of you, that makes it worthless.  But to me, it's not over yet.  I have meaning to find.  I have meaning to provide.  So in the deeply poetic words of my television soul sister Max, from Two Broke Girls, know this, "I'm fine.  I'll always be fine."  Life's never been easy.  But it's almost always worth it.  I wish us all the level of success we see for ourselves.  Best of luck to each and every single one of us. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

If I Could Accomplish Anything At All...

If I could accomplish anything in the world, it would be to teach people how to not hate.  Love is so much better.  In my own life, the things that I have been hated for include being poor, being redheaded, being sexually promiscuous, being outspoken, being smart, being on drugs, being friendly to the less desirable class of people, being happy, being myself.  I’m sure I could think of more, and I am certain there are things I am unaware of, but that, was actually kind of exhausting. 

There is always someone willing to hate you for whatever it is you are doing at the time.  I just had a stint with cancer.  I am sure someone hated me for that.  That, I was asking for attention, or that I was getting attention that they wanted, or something else equally absurd.  I know that there were some that hated that I told everyone and made it public rather than keeping it between close family or friends.  But really, I don’t mind.

I heard an old adage years ago that said something like, “if you’re not being hated for something, then you’re not doing it right.”  I believe that is true simply because of the way human nature works; however, that doesn’t mean I think it’s right.  I also heard one that goes like this, “I am not competing with anyone; I hope we all make it.”  I prefer the latter. 

But how do we get to a place of loving one another continually, including ourselves, rather than putting envy, jealousy and hate out into the world for others to feed off of?  It’s not an easy process that is for sure, but it is possible.  And take it from me, it’s just like anything else.  You have to practice. 

Jealousy and envy are two of the ugliest emotions a person can have.  Mostly, because they often are being taken out on someone who has little or no control over what it is that you want.  I have struggled with these over the years, plenty.  I come from meager means, to say the least, and was inadvertently made to feel as though I was quite special.  My ego did not match my means.  I felt shorted, like the world was making me work for things I should have been given naturally.  I won’t go so far as to say I was unattractive, but looks will only get you so far, especially if your personality boasts an idea of being owed. 

The older I got, the more I saw people who came from backgrounds similar to mine, but seemed to have their shit together.  One friend of mine in particular has always managed to make me feel dreadful about myself, on accident of course.  I had it easy, I was smart, I was relatively attractive, I could make people laugh, I could talk to just about anyone, I, consequently, didn’t work hard for a whole lot that I ever had.  This girl, she busts her ass all the time with motivation I will never be able to wrap my head around, and she has a life to show for it.  I love her and I am so proud of her and though I used to harbor some jealously toward the things she was able to accomplish, I now honor her effort and take pride in the fact that she is my friend. 

When I finally was able to come to terms with the fact that I was a jealous person, it was an ugly, black day.  People often questioned me as to why I didn’t do this or that.  Why I wasn’t somewhere else, doing something great.  The potential is there.  The work, isn’t.  I have made poor choices in my life.  I have made lazy choices in my life.  I have received the life I worked to get.  And surprisingly, it’s been hard.  I believe the reason it’s been so hard, is because it isn’t the life I am meant to have.  By that I don’t mean that I am meant for wealth and fame and beautiful things.  I mean that I am meant to be happy and joyous and surrounded by love.  Yet for now, I am not.  Though I see things changing every single day.

Hard choices came first.  I was in a profession that made me miserable.  In addition to making me miserable, as hard as I tried, (and I did try here), to find a sense of integrity in the financial industry, it just isn’t there in big enough segments to be able to live off of it.  You can feed the system every day with your effort and it will take it and chew it up and spit it out.  The financial industry is for the dirty, devious, and deceitful at its worst, and for the completely apathetic at its best.  It took a decade of my life, and a whole lot of my fight, but I finally realized, I wasn’t going to change the system; rather, it was only changing me, at least, suppressing me.  In order to save my soul, (yes, I believe that’s true), I had to get out, and move on.  That meant two things, starting over financially / professionally, and removing a certain sect of people from my life.  Of course, a lot of hate came from that decision. 

Upon leaving the bank, I made myself a promise.  I would never again hide who I was, or what I wanted or needed from this world, for anyone or anything.  I would wear what I want, look how I want, and do what I want.  This concept of professionalism isn’t a look, it’s an attitude, and I’m well equipped with the ability to treat people correctly.  But people have such a massive misconception of me because of the professional fa├žade I had to put into the world to keep my job in the industry for so long.  And I don’t mean to say that there are no good people left in the field.  I met some.  They are stronger than I am because I couldn’t split my life into two pieces anymore.  Freedom rushed over me and I began doing what I wanted.  It has been such a sweet release.

I have been working as a temp in order to try and figure out what it is that I want to do with my life.  Well, I’ve always known I am a writer, but I need a day job.  It’s a struggle when your heart is in a place that won’t feed your life.  But at least now, I write. 

While this transformation has been taking place, I have also been making small steps in redirecting my thought process and taking it away from hate and jealousy and putting it on the path of love.  Immediately, I cut out everyone who I felt would be a negative influence.  Over the last year, I have been reintroducing people into my life as I have let go of some of my own issues.  A major lesson one must learn is this:  you cannot control the way a person feels about you; you may only control the way you feel toward them, and, subsequently, how you act toward them.  If a person hates you, that doesn’t mean they have no place in your life, or at least, they may not need eliminated from it.  Rather, it may be a chance for you to embark on a quest for truth.  Learn what it is that you have done to create such negativity.  If you come to the conclusion that you are not at any fault, then let go and move on.  If you are able to look deep into that looking glass and see an error in your ways, then you have an amazing opportunity for growth, and remorse.  Always apologize for the wrong you have done.  Even if the other person won’t, or isn’t yet willing to, accept it.  You are responsible for the emotions you emit to the universe.  If you do not transmit remorse, then you are allowing the hate to feed.

Once you know you have done what you can to remove the negativity from your spirit, then you have provided an open space for love.  This is the purpose for reintroducing people into my life.  Not that I want anything from them, but that I want them, the negative space they occupied or supplied, eradicated.  I have to take charge of changing the path of my thoughts.  If I can allow someone to be around or be inside of my life and not allow my positivity to be stolen by their existence in it, then I am doing it right. 

The most effort I can make is this, every time a thought leaves my lips, allow myself to process what it was.  Be conscious of my words.  It’s a struggle.  My sarcasm knows no bounds.  It’s almost as natural as breathing to me.  So this is a BIG effort.  But, I have done it.  Every time I speak, I think, “what kind of an impact might that have on the person it was directed to?”  If it is a negative impact, then I retract and redirect.  If it is positive, then I let it fly.  If you continue to make this effort, it will become more and more natural to you, and you will be able to stop the harsh words before they come out at all. 

Jealousy, envy, though, are different monsters altogether.  Like I said before, I was meant to feel like I was entitled to a certain lifestyle because of the way I was raised.  I put forth some effort into my life, and expected the rewards to come.  But things kept getting worse.  It wasn’t until I walked away from everything I knew, that I became aware of the hindrance life had on me.  Like Fight Club teaches us, “it isn’t until you walk away from everything, that you are free to do anything.”  There were so many strongholds on me that I wasn’t aware of.  Abusive relationships, work I hated, negative people who thought that appearances were everything, guilt from things I had done in my own past, ignoring myself and my spirit.  I let it all go.  The standards of others no longer have an impact on my day to day life.  When you live your life according to the standards of others, whether it’s your friends or your society, you are driven by a source of envy, a need to keep up with others, rather than a desire to meet the demands of your life, your soul.  And when we aren’t feeding our own soul, we will never be able to find anything fulfilling in the least. 

Today I stand and say, I live by the desires of my own heart, and that which I believe is the best and most progressive path for my existence.  I believe in other people and their potential.  I promote rather than suppress.  I live instead of exist.  I have taken time to learn who I am and what my soul desires.  Eastern philosophy, specifically Yogi principles, have taught me more than I could ever envision.  Our energies are everything.  We must honor them and progress with them.  Meditation allows us to live in the moment and honor that which is surrounding us.  We are not promised another.  There is no room for jealousy in such a place.  We have all we need within us.  Namaste-the divinity within me, honors the divinity within you.  We are all the same, made up of the same energies, moving toward the same existences.  Our paths may vary, our intentions may deviate, our words may falter, but our lives will always end up the same.  Knowing what I know now, jealousy is pointless because we’re all the same.  Hatred is pointless because we’re all the same.  I love myself.  And I love you as well.  Namaste my friends, my brothers and sisters.  May you know the depth of the love you all possess. 



Monday, November 23, 2015

The Problem with Morality? It's a Battle We All Lose...

We've heard it all before, "I don't have a problem with God, it's religion."  "I don't have a problem with people who are Christians, Muslims, etc., it's the church."  To some extent, there is truth in these sentiments.  Religion has taken on a very divided state in our culture, and in cultures around the world.  My question is, do we really need it?

Can God, or even just morality, exist without the influence of religion?  Can we figure out, without someone telling us the answers, the difference between right and wrong?  I say yes.  In fact, by definition, NOT being able to know the difference, puts you on a slippery slope for being diagnosed as "clinically insane."  Therefore, even our judicial system, which has a baseline for everything they do locked in Christianity, in the USA anyway, declares that you MUST know the difference between right and wrong, or else, you are not deemed worthy of living freely in our society.  You will be institutionalized.  You will be medicated.  You will not be able to learn the difference.  But you will no longer be a threat to the rest of us because you will no longer be free to make the choice between the two. 

Yet, once a "clinically insane" person is out from under a doctor's care, they are not able to be forced to medicate.  Thereby allowing the cycle to continue.  We have set our institutions up to free and consequently, protect the morally abject.  It is those of us who DO know the difference between right and wrong who are sentenced to institutionalization when we screw up.  Oh well.  No one ever said the judicial system as fair.  Wait...?

Truth is, we all "sin" if you even believe in the term at all.  Let's go this route.  We all commit moral ambiguity.  Every day. And will continue to do so.  For the rest of our lives.  Religion is merely the institution concocted to point it out to us, blame us, guilt us into not doing it again. 

Each religion, however, believes we will pay for what we do regardless.  In Christianity, "you will pay for the sins of your fathers."  Well that doesn't seem fair.  As one movie explained this concept, if a diseased tree bears fruit, will not the fruit bear the same disease?   My father is an alcoholic.  I am not an alcoholic.  This doesn't work for me.  I have never been an alcoholic, nor have I ever had much of a taste for alcohol, other than the occasional college binge, and some wine here and there.  I have never been dysfunction because of it.  My house doesn't smell of stale beer.  I have never lost a job over it, a friend, or even my car keys.  The sins of my father are not my responsibility, nor are they my burden.

In Hinduism and Buddhism, Karmic law states that the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence (lives, consciousness) is viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.  (We often look at karma as being much more immediate; however, true karma is meant to affect you in your next life, not another person, and typically through reincarnated payback). 

Islam, and I kinda like this one, sets forth a "hierarchy of sins" if you will, and so long as the good deeds of your life outweigh the bad ones, you're solid.  Doesn't this bode well with most of us?  I mean, if we're all born into "sin", moral confusion, or what have you, shouldn't we at least not have it count against us if we're trying to make a positive effort?  If not, we've failed before we've had a chance to begin.  Hence, the precepts of Christianity. 

No, I am not a Muslim.  Allah forbid I declare such a thing in our current state.  (That was a joke).  No, I am not a Christian.  I have a hard time believing that a God above would spend one's time pointing out our wrong doings all the while supposedly telling us to love and be good to each other.   With all that negativity coming at me, I have a hard time focusing on what is right!!!
No, I am not a Buddhist.  Frankly, I just don't know enough about it to make such a declaration, other than the fact that you may not convert to Buddhism in the midst of life and be accepted into the "religion"; rather, you must be born into it in your next life.  So, there goes that one. 

What I claim to be is an educated and moral human being.    I know what's right and wrong.  But I'm screwed.  So, I have decided to stake claim in my morality and tell the rest of the world to Fuck Off.  Christian standards would have me stoned to death because according to them, I have literally broken every single Old Testament Commandment they outlined.  By my standards, I adhere to the teachings of Jesus.  Love, without expectation, and give of yourself freely.  According to the Koran, I have long since broken any moral code allowing me to claim the religion my own by way of being able to read the doctrine itself.  So be it.  Buddhism, simply by declaring that it itself is not entirely a religion, rather a way of life, appeals the most to me. 

Christian thought created a building that brought people together to worship in the way of the holy book; immediately there was undeniable discord.  The church, the one church in existence, split.  Again, and again, and again.  Currently, there are approximately 34,000 different CHRISTIAN denominations in the "united" states alone.  This cracks me up.  A moral code that is not up for debate has divided itself over 30,000 times.  NEXT.

Islam believes in peace and tradition.  There are five major sects of Islam, each of which is divided further into levels of extreme / neutral adherence.  Not quite 34,000, but still, if each of these is divided by the level of extreme interpretation, it's easy to watch the news at night and realize we have no concept over the differences in Islam.  The Koran itself would not condone the acts of groups such as Isis, just as the Bible would not condone acts of Ten Commandment Killers we have become familiar with in movies like "Seven," or television shows like "American Horror Story". 

Buddhism claims a total of five sects.  Each sect disagreed mostly on the path to enlightenment, rather than what the end goals themselves are.  Divided as they may be, nirvana, zen, enlightenment, the end result is the same.  The divisiveness has rarely caused controversy, other than in the initial separation, and arguably, there has never been a war erupt in the name of Buddha. 

As a child, we grew up with, what is safe to say, no religion.  Sure there were the occassional bouts of church-going, I assume, when we children randomly asked something or did something that required the attention of a god.  But it quickly faded.  A five year old with more curious interests than sunday school accomplished very little.  That is not to say that there aren't religious people in my family.  One set of aunts and uncles spend five days a week in church.  They were ridiculed often out of apparent hypocritical acts of life.  (Though I agree, we are all hypocrites.  Life changes too frequently for us not to be.  It is a word I find worthless.)

Growing up, different events made me become interested in the fascination of one's attachment to religion.  Freud stated that an emotional void in each of us has enabled us to create the religions that have manifested in our society as an attempt to make us feel whole, and even hopeful.  Interesting.  There were also particular things that occurred in my personal life that made me question whether or not I should be paying attention to a higher calling.  So I began to investigate.  For those of you who know me, know my educational pursuits are rather "obsessive" to say the least.  I read the Bible.  I read the Koran.  I read tons of books arguing various positions on both.  I began to meet local Christians who sparked my interest and thus I went to church.  It felt right.  I got baptized finally, in 2010.  Shortly thereafter, very shortly thereafter, I realized I made a mistake.  Church, organized religion, is the problem with maintaining faith.  Only if one is able to stay blind to the pretentious nature of the church can one remain within it.  And that, is defeating the purpose. 

According to Christianity, all sins are the same in the eyes of God.  Well then, since they're all the same as far as degree of devastation, I decided to pick the ones I like and stick with it.  If they're all the same, then why not embrace what you're good at?  We're all set up to fail anyway, right?  I've chosen fornication and cursing.  The Bible mentions cursing, maybe, twice, and not necessarily the words I use today.  Some have said that cursing is for the person who doesn't know what else to say.  Actually, my vocabulary is quite extensive, and I have no problem expressing myself in less vulgar terms.  I enjoy the catharsis behind the vulgarity.  That's all.  There is no intent to harm another, there is no violence or aggression behind the majority of it.  Just...release.  As far as fornication goes, if sex is reserved solely for those attempting to procreate, then every single person you know in this moment on this day is guilty of fornication.  There is not one person alive now who reserves sex only for an attempt at having a child.  Except maybe those insane Mormons on tv with 20 some kids.  They don't know the difference between right and wrong.  I'm just waiting on the episode with the padded room.

Either way, there is no intent of having kids on my watch.  There is no interest in me to be married. So call me a common street whore if you must, those of you set in your old testament ways.  I don't mind.  If I can't have children, am I to be deprived of the act which god himself apparently gave us the ability to perform?  Not buying it.

The intentions of my heart are pure.  I intend no harm to anyone.  Even those I loathe.  My enemies get no aversion from me.  I am a person of peace.  I chose not to murder.  I chose not to fight.  I chose not to lie.  I chose not to steal.  And on and on.  What I chose to do is something that "Religion" has not taught me.  I chose to be positive, and to do. 

When we focus on the teachings of religion, the things we learn are constantly focusing on the negative.  Don't do this, don't do that.  Few and far between are the passages telling us to be good, love one another, embrace your fellow persons' differences, lift each other up.  Yeah, that guy Jesus talked about it toward the end.  But when, or how often, do your religious peers or administrators focus on Jesus?  We spend so much time in our culture pretending that we are on a "sin hierarchy" and therefore, mine are less exposed than yours so I can judge you publically, that we forget to do any good for each other. 

I am tired of listening to Adam and Steve arguments and Muslim extremist being made the face of Islam.  Religion has turned into one of the biggest sources of hate, negativity, and outright judgment and evil that the world has ever seen.  My religion is right, yours is wrong. That means I am better than you and you're going to hell.  Wake up people.  We're already there, and your moral compass paved the way!

If the peace and love inherent in the world's religions were actually our goal, then where is Buddhism in the West?  Where is peace in the middle east?  It isn't sexy, it doesn't sell, it gives us nothing to watch at night, it requires no belittling of one other because we feel good about the fact that we didn't do whatever the big horrifying story of the day is. 

So back to my original question: Can God, or even just morality, exist without the influence of religion?  I charge you with this answer, only in the absence of religion in its current state is it even possible.   I live a moral life, by my standards.  According to religion, I am destined for hell, because I cuss.  The fact that I can't pass a homeless person without reaching into my pocket and handing them what I can, doesn't matter.  The fact that I have volunteered my time at various organizations for the past 15 years, says nothing.  My continued donations to charities are irrelevant.  My genuine acceptance of every type of human being in spite of their moral state, does not reflect on my character.  I give when you ask.  I love when you don't.  My carcass will burn, because religion says so. 

Morality exists within us. We need only to be guided by our own heart.  It is the voice inside that heart that starts the cycle of love, which hinders the acts of depravity.  Judgment, when no one is perfect, to me, sets as the greatest evil I know.  Live by the moral code written on your heart; let no one tell you your worth. 

I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies.  "No one fits in one hundred percent of the time. Not even you. Why would God make us all so different if he wanted us to be the same?"  Ponder that next time someone tries to stifle you, or, when you consider doing the same to someone else.  Peace, love, and enlightenment people.  That is where we find our worth. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Losing the Game with Humanity; This One's Gonna Hurt

Yes, this one's gonna hurt.  Thinking about writing it hurts.  But, I am who I am.  Thoughts don't stay inside my head.  They're much too implosive. 

I'm losing in the game of life and I don't really know why.  I've always been losing, I've just sometimes caught a case of hope and carelessness that the future has seemed worth it in my mind.  But nothing has changed really.  Not a thing in my whole life, other than having new stories of struggle and despair to tell others about.  Others, being people who aren't overly invested in my life.  Others who will feel sympathy, momentarily, then become thankful they're not me.  I'm glad to be of help, honestly.

I have a few friends who seem as though they've been around my whole life, and probably will be.  It's nice to know people can be loyal to you.  My ex-husband taught me a lot about loyalty.  He loved me, he said, in a way he could never love anyone else, for over twenty years.  (Granted, he didn't teach me much about honesty, but loyalty, yes.  I believe they can come separately).  I feel he was sincere.  I think I got the best out of him.  I only wish I could say the same in return.  I was a lousy wife.  Though he probably got the best of me too; I don't think I've ever been so committed to someone. It lasted a short time, but when our marriage fell apart, I knew I would never be able to have that sort of hope for another relationship again.  I just knew.  No one would ever love me as much as he did.  I've only had two since then.  And a few encounters.  No hope.  No expectations.

Recently, there was a man in my life.  We kept it to ourselves, I thought, because we didn't know what we were doing.  I've realized though, he was probably ashamed of me.  I'm not exactly at my best right now.  Unfortunately, it was the first time I had hope again, but for no reason.  The hope wasn't about any expectation I had, because honestly, I've maintained that I have none, for anyone in my life.  Simply put, I had hope that for the first time in a long time, I was free, able to be myself, and enjoy time with another person, authentically, time with someone who was so much like me, in the good ways, that life was going to be ok.  I hadn't laughed so much in, I don't know how long.  I hope (there it is again), at least, that he knows that.  There were no nerves, only us, naturally.  And then he was gone.  I got no explanation, no words.  I got nothing.  You never feel so lost than when in a constant state of misunderstanding. 

Such is seeming to be, the story of my life.  I get nothing.  Day after day, I turn inward on myself, criticizing all I've done wrong, and all that I've lost.  I do it, at this point, because I have to admit, it has to be something about me, and not them.  I see functional people every single day, drawing others in, being close to friends and loved ones, building relationships and moving forward.  Me, on the other hand, I lose something new every day.  Even if it's only respect for myself.

Yes this seems to be a depressing blog.  But I have to admit it.  I'm no good at being close to people.  Maybe I never learned how. 

Maybe my level of openness, which was an attempt to create real bonds with people, is what turns them away.  People have a hard time with honesty, myself included, or else this wouldn't be so hard.  Looking in the mirror for very long, you begin to see every flaw and wrinkle, every blemish and bruise.  But it's all I ever do, turn inward, because I'm the only one ever here.

I was told that when I was a child, I would often wander off on my own, fearlessly, barely walking, but moving on, not waiting or asking anyone to be at my side.  Family would lose track of me, only to find me somewhere lost, happy as could be.  When I got a little older, we moved around a lot, and schools changed on the regular.  I made new friends, some of whom I have to this day.  As a teenager, the rebellion set it at its greatest platitude and I made sure I was THE nonconformist to end all nonconformity.  College, it took me a few days, and I had forged bonds that would last me to this day with people I hold close to my heart.  Though I was the unlikely character in their stories; I was the non-religious girl at a Catholic school, with a mouth that never shut (literally some of us talked through the night for what seemed like days on end), among peers who did what they were told and never heard of someone like me.  I was lucky to be accepted by them all.  

For years, there was hope.  It seemed like my life was actually going to be worth a damn.  I was going to be significant, somehow.  I don't know where my path changed, or what really went wrong.  All I know now, is that I'm sure of nothing, know not where to go, or really, how to be in this life some days at all.

Since Michael and I were together, I've lost contact with a lot of people.  That's what happens in abusive relationships; they cut you off from others so that you become dependent upon them, for everything.  While I am rarely comfortable in groups, I will be the one who is the loudest in a crowd.  Go big or go home.  I can speak in front of hundreds with no problem, I can carry my own one on one, but get twenty or so people together and I become utterly dysfunctional and perfectly awkward.  But it's gotten to the point that I wonder, am I really functional one on one.  I've lost track because there are so few chances to see my ability, or lack thereof. 

What I want, or wanted, from this life, differs from no one.  I wanted the chance to be myself, the chance to be happy, the chance to be loved, authentically.  I wanted to matter, to be close to someone like no other, and some moderate success in displaying my gift to the world.  I wanted peace, inside of myself, a future that warranted progress, and people who would fight for my time.  I wanted friends who were sincere, loves who were true, and freedom to be truthful in the middle of the day, when few others could.  I've always had the guts to be strong.  Being weak is where things go wrong.

I admit it.  I suck at this game.  I am an ideas person. I start things.  I never finish them. I create bonds, I never see them through.  I am a lousy friend, a lousy partner, and lousy idol for discipline.  Life has taught me to fight, not to win. 

Where do I go from here?  I have no one close enough to me that I am any type of priority.  I understand that.  I am an afterthought.  Ouch.  That was a painful thing to put into print.  But it's true.  I am no one's first thought, last thought, daily thought.  Everyone in my life has someone greater, bigger, closer, truer, more meaningful, more precious, more sacred to them than me.  Can you imagine how hard it is to face each day, knowing you are no one's everything?  And yet my heart has been broken often, because I have been so willing to make the people in my heart, the direction of my soul. 

I wonder if the disease, the diseases, I'm fighting are a gift, an out, an easy way for me to slide away unnoticed.  A way I can disappear, fighting a brave fight, and giving me one last battle to take on.  Is it my time to go, since all my bonds have seemed to have fallen by the wayside?  Other than my cat, what is it that I am fighting for?  Potential?  Possibilities?  Dreams?  Hope?  I just don't know if I am that person anymore.  How long can a person fight and walk away with no victories?  How long can a person be in battle before they give in!

I have matching tattoos that say "battle,"  and one that says "brave."  They are my favorites because I feel they are truer to me than any of the others.  I've always been in battle, and I've always moved forward, brave.  I had no reason, no one to lean on, and no answers as to why.  But I did it anyway, because I felt like there was something more, something greater coming for me.   I've lost sight of that though; I feel, sometimes, that these battles have been misread, and that I was to take them for what they were all along.  I was stronger than they expected, lasted longer than believed, and held on longer than most.  I was supposed to lose, a long time ago. 

I don't mean to make anyone sad.  Life simply comes to a point when you have to ask yourself, what are you fighting so hard to hold onto?  I used to just be strong.  Now I teeter-totter between the strongest and the most desperate person I know. Though truthfully, there aren't many I know enough to stake any claim in that as an acceptable means of measurement. 

Is it possible that this mentality is just ingrained in my being, even if my spirit hasn't been able to accept it fully?  Is it likely that I am ruined and accept my fate as an isolated, dysfunctional, loving member of this rotting world?  I seek no answers; my belief in them currently does not exist.  I see no resolution; there is none to be had.  Regardless of which way this ends up, know this of me:

If I gave you my time, then I gave to you a piece of my heart.
If I gave you a piece of my heart, I wanted nothing in return, only for you to accept it as a gift.
If I gave you that gift, then you will never leave my thoughts.
If you're in my thoughts, then you're in them every day.
Every day I think of you, it's a day I love you more.
By loving you more, you become part of my soul.
As part of my soul, I will take you with me wherever I go.
Wherever I go includes if it's no longer here.
If it's no longer here, then I will shine on you from above.
If I shine on you from above, then it's so you'll be able to see in the dark.
If you see in the dark from my light, then you move forward in a place of love.
In a place of love that I give you, is meant to pass on to someone you want.
Someone you want, if it was never me, is someone so lucky to have known you.
Because to have known you, is all I ever wanted.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Finding Out You Know Nothing About Life, One Day At A Time

And it finally happened.  I have cancer.  Great. 

This isn't the coursing through your veins, destroying your organs kind of cancer.  Well, I guess I don't completely know that yet.  But every kind of cancer is the omg what the hell just happened kind of cancer.  It's "malignant melanoma". God why can't they name this shit something at least appealing to the ear.  Why does it have to sound so ugly and undesirable!  My uncle survived it four times.  I'm pretty sure I'm a little bit stronger than him.  My grandmother survived it once.  I know I'm stronger than her.  So I have few worries, at least, for now.

I am 35 years old.  Alone.  Losing my job in six weeks.  And now I have to go in for invasive surgery to try and save my life.  I don't even know if I should be writing this because I am not sure I have had enough time to process that statement.  How do you continue on with day to day activities knowing that this is growing inside of you, knowing how ever many people you have known have died from various cancers, knowing you have no control, and not let it consume your mind? 

I have no idea how. 

So what in the world can come out of this experience to make it valuable for me, for you?

The first thing that I know...People often say that life is short.  I don't believe that.  Life is long.  We just block out all of our wasted moments.  Think of all the times you have said, "this day is dragging on forever," or "I'm so bored," or "I wish there was something to do."  Or even think of what it is that you do with your time.  Sitting idly by the tv, soaking in the tub (though I don't consider this wasteful, personally), twiddling our thumbs in the hope that something will happen TO us.  Well, I am here to tell ya, plenty has happened TO me, and frankly, I'm over it.

I want to be responsible for things happening, not the object to which things happen.  I want to live, not exist.  I want to create, and no just maintain this life.  I have always felt that way.  I just don't know how.  This blog has helped me do that though.  I see how many people read it; I get the random comments.  I will never know if I have impacted anyone, through this or just in life in general, but it is my hope.  I try to be positive, honest and open, and educational.  Yes, I've been called "preachy, blunt, bitchy, rude," etc., etc.  Will that ever stop me?  If you think that isn't rhetorical then you don't know me very well at all. 

So I do say life is long, our own lives.  When something happens to someone else, we are courteous in saying , life is too short.  But we squander by so many missed opportunities every day, it's astounding.  I know I'll get pity for this, but I don't want it.  I have been lazy most of my life.  I know people don't generally see me that way.  But I know my mentality, trust me, I'm lazy.  I've always worked, sure, since I was fourteen.  All through school, all through life, I have worked.  Typically I've worked two jobs at a time. This is the first time in my life I have only carried one job, and I'm working 50-70 hours a week.  I always play on that my jobs are mentally stressful though, so it appears to have significance. 

Truth is, I don't feel that way.  I have watched more moments in my life go without any significance whatsoever that I am now ashamed.  It won't change, but I recognize it.  I am an idle mindset; I am a writer, not an actor.  I am an office worker, not a laborer.  I manage, I don't "do."  My spirit, though, wears me out.  I wish I knew what to do with it.  It is so driven that I feel like I will implode one day.  Maybe this is what's happening.  I am not good at mentally processing information, stressors, emotions, ideas.  I've always heard of dissociative disorders. I've always assumed that's why I am so physically present in this world.  (Don't laugh at that).

I encourage you to not be like me.  Honesty is necessary, but maybe I am kidding myself.  My honesty, my blunt ways, are always pushing people away.  Maybe people in general are not prepared for open books.  Maybe they need to skim the cover and assume to know the plot, going on always in partial darkness, missing the key twists, flashlight in hand just in case. they want to go back and read a chapter in the middle of the night.  I can't change my ways though.  My honesty is so ingrained I catch myself off guard at some point, most days.  I'm okay with that.  But I miss people.  I miss Audra and Jamie, Missy and Ryan, Sara and Amy, Paluga and Dustin, my grandma and the rest of the family.  I miss all of the wonderful people who have come through my life and been removed from it for one reason or another.  I miss being close to people, having secrets, knowing these moments aren't wasted because they're laughing with a friend.  We all know that kind of bliss is incomparable. 

Audra and I once spent three hours at Sprint transferring phones over and going through the whole process; we literally had the best time just laughing and joking.  That, my friends, is the only thing in life you need.  Someone who will make the dullest moments into the greatest memories.  If you have someone like that in your life, keep them.  Cherish them, because not everyone is capable of that. 

What exactly is it that I am feeling?  Not as much as I thought.  I think my life is in such a state of internal chaos most of the time that death never feels very far away.  God, I don't mean it at all that I think I am going to die! Most people just see it that way.  The big C, it's named for a reason.  We all know those who have succumbed to its forces.  My grandpa died at 50 from lung cancer.  Well, it went into his throat, mouth, brain.  He was on a ventilator and the family eventually pulled the plug. My uncle died at 16 after battling leukemia for three years.  My great aunt died from colon cancer a mere month after her diagnosis.  It's too widespread not to have seen someone undergo treatment, go into remission, have it come back, and finally be taken away.  But, on the flip side, it's also so widespread not to have seen someone undergo treatment and live out the rest of their life in the clear.  I'll take my odds.

Physically, yes, I am in pain.  It has been interesting.  The amazing amount of discomfort I am enduing, makes it nearly impossible to NOT think about it all the time.  I had a mole on my back; I won't indulge you in the details of the grossness of it all, but needless to say, I knew something was wrong.  Finally, after about six months of questioning it, I went to the doctor.  Two days ago.  Now, lesson one, if the doctor calls you back within two days, prepare yourself before you accept the call.  You should know it's not good news.  The nurse was so over the top sympathetic (she was quite stoic in the office) that her change in tone had me more concerned than had she maintained her carelessness.  "Now honey, don't google it too much, because it's always worse than it really is.  We are so glad you came to see us (I'm wondering if it's not for the paycheck), we just can't tell you.  If you have any problems you call us and we will get you in immediately."  A doctor's office. Really?  I've dealt with enough doctors to know.  Lesson two.

The part where it gets tricky, insurance.  They want to send me to the "best professional in the area," University Hospital, Cleveland.  Yeah, I'll just bet he takes my insurance.  In the meantime, I'll make sure to hold my breath while I wait. 

While I wait........

While I wait, I'll chalk it up to yet another beautiful life lesson brought to you by the loving hand of Ms. Mother Earth.  It's as if she wants me to know it all.  That may have come from a place of dormant anger.  All I can picture is the scarred up back and legs of my uncle who went through this three times (the last time I saw him) and how disfigured he became.  Only if he would show you would you know, but still.  To think of skin graphs and mapping and removing skin from one place to move it to another, it's just all a little much for me right now to not be slightly angry about it.  Hell, I always figured it would be colon cancer for me. 

While I wait, I will continue to plan my trip to Europe, my concerts in the summer and fall, I will look for a new job, keep budgeting six weeks at a time, somehow assume I will be here for thirty more years.  I will keep buying things I don't need, contemplating the most complex notions, loving my fellow person, and honoring the divinity within myself.  I will keep on investing in my future, planning out new blogs, reading ten books at a time, and trying to make new friends.  I will always look for new ways to lead, love, laugh, and share.  I am never going to stop passing on knowledge, giving my spirit away, hoping for the best, and remembering as much as possible. 

While I wait, I will open myself up to you, even more so than before, making sure you are with me during this journey.  I will continue to be honest, sharing as much as you want to know (probably more), and keeping my head high.  I will fight the good fight, become every clique known to man, and be as dramatically hopeful as I know how (maybe I'll reach normalcy).  While I wait, I will encourage you to take advantage of a few of those idle moments, and do something great.  Love someone harder, laugh longer, leave work at work, and kiss your family goodnight.  Learn something new, pass on a lesson, love with all of your might. 

Life is long.  But, that's a good thing.  There's so much to be done. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ending the Indifference: Accepting Your Family for Who They Are to You

November 1st-the holiday season begins. . . the most bittersweet time of year.  I absolutely love it all, and yet I have no reason to, according to most.  I usually spend it alone, if not working for someone with a family, with my cat, the ultimate spinster iconic image, eating take out, watching Hallmark, and alternating between smiling and crying like an idiot.  Going back and forth between memories and hopes, pictures and movies, past and future, reality and wishes.  I sit, paralytic, in a state of battling despair and bliss.  Not because anything catastrophic ever happened during the holiday season to me or my family.  My great-grandmother did die on Thanksgiving, but I was one, so it hasn't impacted me much.  More so because when you love the holiday season as much as I do, spending it alone with memories of better days, is one of the hardest things a person can manage to make it through. 

Recently, a friend expressed some aggravation to me about spending a holiday with ALL of the family.  It's just all too much, too many, too loud, etc.  I kept my hurt inside.  There's no reason to make someone feel bad over something they have no control of.  I haven't had a traditional "family meal" in over ten years, and by most of your standards, more like twenty.  But it's never gotten the best of me.  I still sit, whether its Buddy the Elf, or Jenny McCarthy pretending to be the daughter of Santa Claus, and I enjoy the beauty and love of the season that surrounds me; even if it isn't directed toward me, I relish in the notion of what others are receiving.

When I was a child, family came together so often, at least every Sunday, for a dinner, that it seemed as though that's how family's interacted.  Sometimes there were members from hundreds of miles away.  It was noisy, full of hugging, story telling, second and third plates, laughter. 8mm slides and photo albums, and always plans for next time.  And this was just our Sunday dinners.  Our holidays were comparable, drawn out over many more hours though, with games, more kids, and no expectation of it ending anytime in the near future.  As a kid, you couldn't have asked for anything more.  Sure, sometimes when the slides went on a little long, or the stories were about things you didn't understand, it might get a little boring, but me, I always tried to hang with the adults, even if I was at a complete loss.

I remember specifically, one very special year, my grandma's cousin (at the time, somewhere in his 70s) visited for the first time, well since I had been born anyway.  He had worked for the government and was rarely around.  His breeding had taken off in his day and the sizable mass he had embarked upon this earth kept him away, into the midst of his own line of kin, most of the time.  But he was fascinating.  I tried so hard to keep up!! I had heard, in my eavesdropping attempts as a tot, many wildly ambitious stories about that side of the family and knew this would be a treat.  He had written two books, written a message to my grandmother in both of them, signed them, and sent them to her.  I had never read them (they were about his years spent living in Africa while he worked for the government) but always saw them sitting around the house like beacons of light and considered him our family's very own star!

His work for the government lasted decades.  Many years ago, he and his wife had a child who had passed away young.  She is buried in Arlington cemetery.  My distant cousin was considered an honorable man.  This had occurred somewhere around the time he was working in the White House under JFK.  To even put this story in print seems outlandish to even me, though I heard it all with my own ears.  There wasn't much he would ever divulge about his time there, as he said he couldn't, legally, but he did tell us of the time he met Marilyn Monroe, the first time, and helped to sneak her up a secret stairwell in the White House to visit with the president.  He confirmed nothing; only those details.  It was the FIRST time he met her, and they snuck her in to visit JFK.  I felt like I was in on a national secret!  He went on to speak more of his time in Africa, not about his work, but about the geography, the landscape, the people, the life he led.  I was enthralled.  I think I blacked out in an imaginary world at some point because I remember very little after that.

I wrote to him once in my adulthood.  He sent a picture of his massive family and wrote a very kind, long letter in return.  I always felt my family was very kind.  They were story tellers, always getting at someone, or reminiscing til the sun went down.  I suppose, now that I write that, that maybe I do get it honest.  There are pictures of us renting out the banquet room at the Holiday Inn, people dressed to the nines and smiling so authentically.  It was magical.  At least, I thought. 

Holidays went on much the same for a little while.  Though we had no rockstar present on a regular basis, we did have tradition.  We always had a "starter party" at home with the 4-6 of us, then moved it to one of the grandparents houses, because kids need to be with their grandparents on the holidays. . . especially Christmas!  Christmas Eve, I believe was always the most magical.  My uncle was a police officer, my grandma was a big kid, and I was the ultimate spectator.  If you are a local, you know that the Green family always put together a Christmas sleigh which accepted toy donations for the needier families in the area and the police department helped them pass them out on Christmas Eve because it was always such a huge undertaking.  My uncle was usually one of the Santas who went in a side car off route to cover some of the overflow.  My grandma was one of the ones hanging out of her front door to watch the sleigh come through her neighborhood and throw out candy as though it were the Macy's parade.  She adored Santa Claus more than a six year old at the mall for the first time.  It was her favorite day of the year.  Plus she was always more than proud of my uncle for the things he did.  She wanted to be supportive.  (Though she claims to still believe in the big man).  Who knows.  But we always had Kennedy's donuts and Domino's pizza on hand for the night, waiting for the sleigh, watching Rudolph, the Grinch, and Frosty, opening one present, and trying, unsuccessfully to sleep, while granny basted a turkey all through the night.  The smell didn't help us get to sleep at all!  Just Magical.  What is better than junk food, pizza, toys, cartoons, grandparents, giving to the needy and staying up all night as a kid! Umm, nothing.  

As a child, everything is loving and easy and uncomplicated.  Because children are filled with love, and live a simple life.  As an adult, truths are no longer hidden from you, and people begin to be more than honest, because adults are full of disappointment and live a dramatically overwrought life.  Once I was a teenager, our family dinners were holidays only, sometimes birthdays, and sat approximately 5-10 people.  Total.  It was quieter, shorter, and a lot less enjoyable.  By the time I became an adult, there were five of us left, the only ones who regularly spoke, and we sat most of the day in silence, or, if someone was feeling particularly joyous, listening to many of the same stories we already knew.  It always kind of broke my heart a little.  But I was happy to have what I had. 

Ten years ago, I began spending holidays with my ex-husband's family.  It was big and loud and full of second and third plates as well.  Reminded me much of my own.  A little more snobbish, but still.  It was family that wanted to be together even if I wasn't included as anything more than a bystander.  (In-laws).  That went on for the next five years.  Then we move on to my most recent ex's family.  Much more like my own, except often more alcohol involved. Oh well.  That lasted me three years.  I still had a family; they had their own traditions.   I was happy to be part of them. 

For three years now, I have "celebrated" the holidays alone.  One year in college I had to; I was stuck without a ride home after I totaled my car, but the intentions were all still there.  Five years ago the family that I did have moved to Florida and we haven't spoken since.  The reasons for which I will not embark upon now.  Holidays aren't supposed to be complicated.  Most of the holidays though, I have worked, willingly, because I know it's important to be with your family.  I enjoy giving that ability to others who work in places who don't respect the concept.  But even alone, nothing has changed for me.

I still watch Elf, Rudolph, The Grinch, and every tacky Hallmark movie I can because there is nothing better than the feeling of holiday love.  Nothing.  I still gorge myself on second and third plates and reminisce on the good times, repeating stories and memories in my head.  I have my own traditions I suppose.  Yesterday I saw Christmas lights on someone's house.  I smiled.  Embrace the season whoever you are!  Don't let the neigh-sayers get you down!   

But in my house, there are no Christmas decorations or cards in my mailbox.  There are no presents under my non-existent tree.  There are no long distance phone calls wishing anyone a happy holiday.  There are no leftovers, carols, donuts or sleighs.  My holidays exist only in the spirit that I bring. 

It's not always utterly void of any human emotion, however.  My mother, god bless her, teaches me so much about myself.  The need to be alone sometimes, I get it honest.  Her kids are full-fledged adults, she shouldn't have to cater to anyone.  And I don't expect it at all.  Sometimes she provides the food.  She always provides the support and love.  I respect her notions.  I have no complaints. It isn't the idea of being around someone or having something to do on the holidays.  It's knowing that it was once meaningful and picture perfect, and choices had been made to change that.  The possibility is there, yet no one makes a move.

I have a pretty sizable family too.  My mom's side is set with unlimited numbers of cousins.  My dad is one of twelve kids, all of whom have 3+ of their own.  How is it possible that I sit, each year, without my family, without tradition, without stories, without any love at all? 

People make choices in their life that often impact more than they're willing to think of.  Forgiveness isn't in the vocabulary of so many, let alone within their abilities.  My family turned out to be full of disregard, hostility, and devious ways I wasn't prepared for.  I have forgiven them all.  I had to.  I was becoming one of them.  Looking back, I see the patterns of cutting people out after an argument, walking into rooms where people were fighting, and whispers around the corner.  I hate that my memories became tainted.  I'll always long for the days of disbelief. 

In this life, there are so few people who are willing to stand up beside you regardless of what you do and declare, I love this person no matter what.  Most of the time, when there is, those people are part of your family; their blood courses through your veins and they have had a say in the person you have turned out to be.  Those people are to be cherished every day of your life; you can't fake love like that. 

If I could tell you one thing, and have you listen to me, it is, accept their love every chance you get.  You'll never be able to manufacture it from someone who doesn't belong to you.  I can't create a picture vivid or stark enough to walk you down my path.  But I assure you, you don't want to feel it for a day in your entire life.  Christmas spent alone, speaking to no one, is potentially the most desolate, hurtful thing a person can feel.  You wouldn't think, but to know that during the one day each year when people are practically required to be together, that there is no one who chooses to be with you, not even your bloodline, it can empty your soul.

So you will never hear me complain about early Christmas lights, or even ones left up after the new year.  You will never hear me moan about too much to eat at the holidays, (though that's most days), too many Christmas ads, traffic from parades or the absurd amount of people in the stores.  I will never bark back at anyone who says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays; any sentiment is acceptable to me.  I will never turn down the offer to work for someone who has a family to reach out to, or refuse to proudly display any card I receive, even if it is on my door alone.  I will never walk away from the ability to volunteer or turn away someone in need of holiday cheer.  I am that person, full of it to give.  And while we complain that it is too commercial and superficial around the holiday's, I accept that; it is our attempt at being together, and those intentions are what counts most.  It is what we have been taught; it is all we know.  

This post is not an attempt at a pity party or any motive comparable.  It is a request, to love your family, accept what you have, and love that you have it.  Everyone has people in their family that they can't stand, wish would not be so obnoxious, feels as though they have to give advice to, or is too negative to be around.  So what.  Accept them.  You may be the only one who does.  All I am asking is that this year, this holiday season, every time you feel a little disdain, you feel a little uncomfortable, you feel a little indignant about being around so much chaos, think of those who wish they had your problem.  Think of those sitting alone with their cat, happy as can be to have memories to hold onto, when no new ones are to be made.  For once, love the ones you are with.  One day, you will be, without. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ending the Darkness: Learning to Walk in the Light

It's hard to even believe I can write this when I think of my life.  But it's easy to realize why I can, once I do look back.  I have never been so happy, because I have walked for years under the darkest of clouds and finally took note of what it is to seek out the light, and walk where one can see life.  I've never been given a free ride, never given an easy way out, and never taken the common path.  Some of the things I've endured break weaker women; so I know to carry those wins, those scars, with pride, because I am alive today to share them.  Today I want to talk about the difference between light and dark, and why they're both worth living for, and recognizing them while you're there. 

There is such a stark contrast between where I am right now, and where I was just six months ago.  In May of this year, I got robbed at the job I thought I would retire from, lost said job, came up on the one year anniversary of the death of a great love, began the loss of a decade long sisterhood, had a beloved friend tell me we couldn't speak anymore, and couldn't have felt like there was less to live for.  When I attempted suicide, I was so incredibly full of pills and alcohol that I don't even remember telling my friend that I was doing it.  But her sister lived a block away, and was at my house in minutes.  I couldn't tell you the conversation we had, I only know that she was there.  For about a week straight, I continued to try.  I didn't tell anyone again.  And I don't remember much.  I just laid there, trying to die, knowing it was the only way to end the pain I would suffer forever. 

After two weeks of this drudgery, I got a new job, felt no different, but got up and went to work anyway.  Some days I went in a less than sober state of mind.  I wasn't clear of my dark sanctuary; I wasn't attempting to be.  I simply stopped trying.  Quickly, anger filled the space of my misery and I was fueled in an entirely new way.  I think of "White America," by Eminem (he filled a lot of my empty time during these days) "so much anger aimed, in no particular direction, just sprays and sprays".  I have typically been able to maintain a certain sense of level-headedness, consequently, my anger manifested in rants to myself, body aches from the masses of tension I kept inside, and facebook posts that never became specific enough to hurt anyone directly.   Some hurt for me, and reached out, which made my anger grow.  It caused me to, however briefly, face the person I had become.  Of course, I rejected the notions and kept on the same. 

During this time I went on allowing myself to feel shame for everything wrong I had ever done, feel pain for the hurt that was done to me, and wallowed in the pity that I developed for myself.  I had the worst life of anyone, ever.  I am not exaggerating when I say, I believed I felt more pain than anyone could ever reach but me.  I began to feel comfort in this dark world I built for myself.  Everything was pain, and pain was absolutely everything.  I expected it, I nourished it, I wanted it with me so I knew how to live.  I was martyring myself.  I can only laugh at the sheer hypocrisy of it all now.  The majority of my pain was self-inflicted; the pain that wasn't, was from causes endured by everyone in life.  But how did they all seem to let it go?  Did I truly believe I felt things more deeply than others?  Or was I just weaker than I thought, not knowing how to survive in spite of it all?  "This black cloud still followed me around."

This went on for sometime.  I withdrew almost entirely from life.  Possibly even, entirely, other than work.  No one wanted to speak to me anyway.  Looking back, I can understand why.  But this anger, this sense of nothingness, gave me a freedom, a gift, I will never lose, and will always keep close in sight.  I began doing whatever in the hell I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it, in whatever ways I wished.  I thought I always had, but in reality, I was only trying to.  And only ever in the negative aspects of life.  This gift gave me the freedom to do all of the good too.  I don't mean it to sound as though I went out and spewed every piece of garbage that crossed my mind. What I mean is that I felt free to tell people the absolute truth, and I do; I felt secure enough to tell people exactly how I feel about them, and I want to!  I say "I love you," more freely because I mean it more deeply.  That's something in all my life I have never been able to conquer.  And it's amazing.   

From here, I spoke the way I chose, to whom I chose, and let go of the stipulation that people had to like me.  I didn't fucking care!  For god's sake, I didn't like most people, why on Earth would I expect them to like me, when I was more outspoken, more deviant, more cross with them than they would ever consider being toward me!?   What that did for me though, I will never in all of eternity be able to articulate.  The idea that you can live your life the way you want, and disregard the pressures and expectations that society has imbued upon you,  and still be a functional, loved, and loving member of that same society, what a concept!  What a perfectly immaculate freeing concept!

From there, things slowly began to change.  When I say slowly, I mean I didn't even see it happen.  It's only in my reflection that I recognize the change.  I continued to mourn Ryan and Sara, daily, without the will to stop.  This was my biggest issue.  I know I focus on that a lot, because it has literally had the greatest impact on the path and direction of my life than anything, any other event ever has.  Two great loves gone.  How did I deal with this new notion that love can break my heart, and I get no choice of closure?  I faced my own mortality, head on, and by choice.  I began to write down my final wishes, plan my death to go my way, ensure that my plans were known to those who might be responsible for seeing them through.  I wrote my final letters to those of whom I had unfinished things to say.  I researched death itself, not in a spiritual or nostalgic way, merely a "what happens to you when you die," kind of way.  I know now that writing everything down the way you want, doesn't even matter.  Your kin, the ones handing over the check, can make whatever changes they want.  I learned that some of the greatest contemplative minds in history had outstanding perspectives on the inevitable.  I learned that it's a pain that never changes.  And I learned that one day, I will be that pain for someone, no matter what I do. 

What an eye-opening way to see the world.  One day, I am going to be that pain for someone, no matter what I do.  So I had better make it count, right.  Sara was the light of your life if she were in it.  When she was happy, you were happy.  Her laugh could out reign any sadness.  Ryan had a smile that was truly contagious.  People say that, and you always wonder if it was true about someone.  But with Ryan, anytime he's talked about, it's his smile that people go on and on about.  Neither one of those things will ever be erased from my memory.  And that makes me blissfully happy.  I have memories of them that are insanely beautiful, and they're mine.  What kind of memory do you want to be for those you love?  It's already going to hurt, because they love you.  I am making the choice, that when they are able, they will have things to smile about instead of a life wasted, to be grieved over.  I will be no one's "what if" story. 

A couple of things I did when I prepared my final wishes was to look at the expert wordsmiths on their descriptions of living, and ultimately dying, and see if anyone could detail the things I wished.  A couple of poems that changed everything for me include Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, as well as Death Shall Have No Dominion, and Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant.  A few songs include Alanis Morissette "That I Would Be Good," Jewel's, "Angel Standing By," and Pink's, "Beam Me Up."  The healthy perspective that each of these gave to me on death, and postmortem, astounds me each day. 

Do Not Go Gentle:  Each type of man nearing the end will know one thing about his life, that it was worth fighting for, even if he didn't do it right.  (Lesson: Everyone wants a second chance; no one will ever get it.)

Death Shall Have No Dominion:  Once we're all gone, we lie together as one, unrecognizable, the same, becoming part of the earth, to breed new life again.  (Lesson:  We are all equals; and only in death are we finally free to become part of everything.)

Thanatopsis:  There is nothing to fear in death, for it comes to us all, kings and noblemen, slaves and the forgotten.  Do not forget mother nature nourished your life, in death you shall nourish her begotten.  (Lesson:  We all have the same fate, and we will end up together, with our mother, continuing on forever, only in death.)

"That I Would Be Good": It is my hope that even in my most hopeless state, that I will be good enough; that at my worst, there will be someone who imparts to me, the grandest love.  (Lesson:  No matter the superficial quotas life throws at us, we all want the same thing, to be good enough for love.)

"Angel Standing By":  Spirits are manifestations of love that never turn to dust; love is at our side in every moment, waiting for when they're needed by us.  (Lesson:  Those you love are always with you, as an angel, waiting only for the moment upon which you call them.)

"Beam Me Up":  Death breaks us all into two separate livelihoods, one staying, wishing for another moment with you, and one which moves into your heart, void of anything but good.  (Lesson:  When someone we love dies, part of us goes with them; we never get it back, nor would we want to.  This is our way to stay together.)

Some of these voices are from many years past, teaching us that death is only an event in our lives that moves us on to another stage where we shall play our part.  Some of these are contemporaries, trying to grapple with the concept itself, teaching us that love and light, while we are able to feel it, are the only things that matter.  Take heed and know, that as we all endured birth, falling as we learned to walk, teen angst, terrifying 20s, loss, love, heartbreak, and all the other stages of life, that we will all most certainly endure the next, in death. 

Whatever the cause of your darkness, be it someone's death, loss of another kind, even a loss of the self, knowing that light is waiting to shine on you as a fact, is one piece of wisdom I can give to you all.  I was in the darkest hole of life, making it my home, comfortable enough for many a year stay.  I had no interest in coming out.  But sometimes it's inevitable.  Life forces you out in its own way, and in light, the new begins to grow.  As I came out for things like work, doctor's appointments, birthdays, etc., I began interactions with people in my new, honest, naked state of being.  The raw appeal I exposed to so many had a way of attracting that new growth in my life.  The right people stay; the weak go away.  The new blessings come from a place unnamed.  All I can tell is that now, in my life, I am surrounded by love and light, and I owe it all to the dark dwelling I carved out for myself and breathed in for awhile. 

When I talk to you about love, what I mean is this; love is an unconditional state of acceptance, of knowing you play a part in the life of an equal, a positive approach to existing for someone else's benefit.  Never in love do you do something with the hopes of receiving a reparation; only in love do you perform the grandest moments, become an utter servant, with the hope of merely impacting the other's life in a movement toward light.  Unconditional.  Look it up.  It is the only true way for love to exist.  It isn't romantic, though sometimes it ends up that way; it isn't familial, though familial love is typically what we relate to the unconditional (doesn't always work that way); it isn't friendly, though it should always exemplify the utmost etiquette.  Love is simply a method for giving yourself away, making sure someone has a part of you, until you are empty of even yourself.  Love is a verb, an act, a way to live, not a noun, not a thing you possess and take from someone to keep locked up selfishly for your own will.  Live in love and life will bring light, and death shall have no dominion over you.   

This blog is my manifestation of having accepted these facts.  My name, manic mortality, allows me not a sense of morbidity, as some have thought.  Rather, I am ecstatic about the fact that I can move on to an even greater stage of living, through death, and I am strong enough to face it head on.  My fear is gone.  I have only hopes that in my life, I shed some light on those who cross my path, and in death, I become part of something even more beautiful; a farmer's garden, a florist's greenhouse, a child's tire swing, a weeping willow, shade for a pet neglected by the mortal and left out in the heat alone.  There are so many possibilities.  On Earth, in life, I will be but a woman, of a certain type, to change and come unhinged from time to time.  In death, I will be endless.  Isn't this a stunning notion for us all?