Living through an American Recession

Dealing with never ending life changes. Who says making lemonade is the best thing to do with those lemons life throws at you?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"There is nothing to fear, but fear itself." - FDR

The argument arose the other day about whether or not WalMart was good for business in smaller communities. The pro and con list grew and grew. One thing that stuck out was the statement,

"If their employees were treated so poorly, nobody would work there."

Once upon a time I believed that. I've walked out of jobs that were unfair with their borderline illegal labor isuses and just plain crapy business ethics and I always hoped my co-workers would do the same. But time and time again the morral went south, people complained and moaned but no one said a word. They took it like dogs!

Why are people so beaten by employers? What are we so afraid of?

"What are ya gonna do?" with their heads hung low.
In our independently thinking nation the cumulative united we stand, divided we fall moto has become empty words of bullshit submitting to fear. I asked many of my co-workers involved in illegal paycheck dockings and why they never said anything? They didn't want to rock the boat because they "liked their jobs."  Being in a small town there is nowhere else for these people to do what they like, make the money that they make to afford the lifstyle they are accostomed to. Problem is, the employer knows that.

A monk once told me, "There are only two emotions, fear and love." We've separated the word fear from all the others, even though they all start with fear. Greed, envy, anxiety, anger, aggresion, control, sadness, lonliness, depression, loss, etc. Why do people drive fast? Anxiety? Fear of not getting somewhere on time? Adreniline rush? Why do we yell at our spouses? Anger towards our boss, money issues, someone else hurting you in the past? Why do we find the need to accumulate things, money or people?

We're not affraid of jumping off the roof. We're affraid of what might happen. We're not affraid of telling our boss he's doing something illegal. We're affraid of loosing our job and not paying our bills and we're certainly not affraid of toilet paper, but of running out.

What are you affraid of that is causing your state of mind? I talk with friends sometimes that are angry or depressed because of the loss of a loved one whether through death or break up and the same pattern exists, they won't let go and move on. I too have been through that phase and it's human nature to want answers as to why, from friends, a god or who ever. There are no answers, it just happened and there is nothing anyone can do to go back in time to change anything. All you have is right now and the future. This is all you got. We can choose to sit and ponder the situation or we can move on to other things.

Reflection helps us move on, to hopefully not repeat destructive patterns. But how long do we go over things insanly in our minds before we accept things and live?

I always encourage people not to pass their fear off on others around you. Everyone is on their own path, dealing with their own fears, trying to enjoy life and follow love. Love does conquer all. Fear can not exist in the face of love. If anxiety has crept in during love, then fear is there, not wanting to loose what you've got. You are not enjoying love. Light can not exist in the darkness. If you light a match in the dark, dark is gone. They can't exist together.

Find love inside you and remember that feeling when you do anything. FDR said a lifetime of words
"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself."

Holiday Greetings...Such confussion...

I got a good laugh the other day as an old aquantance of mine made a comment on his facebook page telling everyone, in his kindest regaurds to have a wonderful holiday. His post read as follows:

"Merry CHRISTmas! If you don't like it, you can kiss my Jesus loving a**. I'm sick of all these idiots taking Jesus out of the holidays."

As the wheels turned in my head, along with my eyes, I couldn't help but to remind him of the decorated tree in his living room, the Santa on his profile picture, the antlers on his dog and the many other "commmercial" things surrounding his "CHRISTmas" that he is contributing to. Christmas attacted many diverse groups of people, religious and not. Think about all the things that are NOT Christmas which fuel the "commercialism" of this holiday.

Christmas trees & decorations, lights, home decorations, candy canes, wreaths, mistletoe, snowman, a magic performing, psychic Santa Clause, elves, flying reindeer,
The only thing Christian about Christmas is the nativity and why you celebrate it.

 I also couldn't help but remind him that Christmas is not the only holiday between November and January, and living in such a melting pot of what America has become it only makes sence to include everyone in this joyful message.

Hoidays such as:
Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day (St. Stephan's Day), New Years Day and the Epiphany.

As I searched the internet for origins to such greetings as "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" I noticed two common threads.

1. That the terms were meant to include EVERYONE as to not assume the person you are greeting observes any one particular day.
2. That the Christians seems to be the only ones offended by anything other than "Merry Christmas".

My personal opinion on holiday greetings comes from a point of respect and tollerance. I believe a "Happy Holiday" or "Season's Greetings" is an appropriate greeting if you are unsure of what they observe. A specific greeting such as "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" should be shared with those you know celebrate that holiday. Why would you just randomly say "Happy Kwanzaa" to someone who may be Jewish?

However you decide to greet someone this holiday season is up to each of us individually. Observing a day or time of year is special to us all as humans be it a birthday, aniversary, or religious day it's a time of reflection and rememberance. A smile and a wish for someone to have a happy day, whatever day they decide to observe is the point. There is nothing more to it than that...

"Talking all the time isn't necessarily communicating"

What a great line Jim Carrey spoke in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. As a woman I laughed out loud, literally because it rang so true to us "communicators". How many time have I heard

"You know you talk all the time?"

"Do you ever run out of things to say?"

It's taken me 20 twenty years to figure out why I never shut up. I used to ramble about everything and get upset when no one cared what I had to say. I finally graduated through the "I did it again" after leaving a conversation phase into the "Emm, you're doing it again" stage. Being aware you do something is 90% of the battle, figuring out how to adjust it and follow through is actually the easiest part. We just make it difficult because our brains are on auto pilot making seem hard to change a behavior.
"Is there anything you don't know?" hmmmmm....yup, lots. I realized my imput on things just made me look like a know it all when actually I know very litte, or a little about a lot?

Why do we ramble on and on?

1. Nervousness/Anxiety?
    a. This just makes you look like you're on drugs. The "what the hell is she on" opinion...

2. Insecurity that someone won't like us or think we're stupid?
    a. This on can be fueled by someone elses pressure to "be the best"; competitiveness, not wanting to let someone down.

3. Control issues?
    a. See #1 or #2

4. Verbally working out our own internal mental dialogs getting other's input verifying we're right, or ok?
    a. Looking for that confirmation that our actions or thoughts are right. We love when others chime in with us and all agree on something unless your're the devils advocate and just love to stir the pot and enjoy a good debate.

5. Etc.
    a. Insert your own context here.

Ok, so I fit most of them. I've found that if I smile alot, listen and put in my two cents only when someone asks "what do you think" I seem way smarter (cause none knows what you're thinking), and people like you much more. I've realized that I don't need anyone to "verify" my actions, viewpoints or thoughts on anything and if I need to "work shit out in my head", then that's where it needs to stay.

The best therapy I've found is literally talking to myself. As I drive in the car, clean my house or any other alone time I find . I believe we all know what we need to do, we can survive alone just fine. Hell, we seem to have everyone elses shit figured out, so we can figure out our own.

They say our brains can think 25,000 wpm, speak 120-180 wpm and hear & comprehend 300 wpm give or take depending on the person. Can you see where anxiety can take it's full run of the situation if we get stuck in our heads? Talking helps slow down that 25,000 wpm process in comprehensable information so we can work things out.

I remember one of the many classes I took on personality types that two simple groups stood out when in a conversation. The "data" collectors, those who want all the details of something. The "touchy feely" people who could care less about the details and are just interested in how that shade of blue makes them feel. When you recognize these two types it makes it a little easier to know when you give 'em all the info you got and when to shut up and smile.

Helpful tips:
1. Try to see what type of person your communicating with. Technical, emotional, etc.?
2. Find the groove of the conversation. Talking loudly to a quiet person overwhelms them.
3. Smile and listen. Talking all the time and informing people of your knowledge inhibits your learning.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Empty your cup

A few months ago I found it upsetting that my own cousin unfriended me on Facebook because I commented on the guy that claimed the "rapture" was going to happen on a specific date and time. Being an evangelical Christian she was upset that it didn't happen. Being a non-believer I just couldn't buy it...

Why does this bother me? I mean who really cares about Facebook anyway. The deeper I thought about it the more I understood what my dad was saying all his life. "Never talk about politics or religion or get too deep in conversation with anyone."  To some degree, he's right. If you speak your mind or opinion you take the risk that no one will like what you have to say and never talk to you again or attack you. But you also run the risk of gaining a close friendship.

My father always talked about "light" subjects such as tv, books or movies. It's probably the only reason he had a hundred people at his funeral. How many of those people would have shown up had they known what my dad really thought? Is it really any of their business what he really thought?

I'm learning that certain types of relationships have zero need to know about what we really think. Clients, co-workers, neighbors, grandma, or complete strangers? Nah... I've made the mistake of assuming that one slip up of an opinion that stirs a disagreement means you are out of the club, they don't like you anymore. I've come across very few people in my lifetime that can discuss disagreements, move on and still be friends.

 I used to think it was intolerant to distance yourself from people you may not like but I'm starting to be aware that life is too short to be around miserable, unhappy people who love to criticize and be mean. You know those people you have to listen to their endless ramblings that you disagree with but are afraid to speak your opinion without fear of ridicule or argument. Yeah, I'm a non-confrontational personality... I would rather listen than argue.

So in turn I filtered through my Facebook page and blocked people that constantly post disrespectful and intolerant  negative comments. If you spend all of your time with negativity you leave no time for the positive. As the Buddha says, "When your cup is full, there is no room for any more." Freeing up space in your life allows for the deeper more meaningful people to find you. Keep the "light" conversations for work.

Thanks for sticking up for, us?

I remember a day at the spa when a woman came in for a massage. She whispered to the owner that she didn't want a black therapist. As I looked at the older, white woman I couldn't help wonder what her reasoning was behind such non sence.Then I looked at the owner to see what his response would be. He graciously moved her appointment from the black therapist to the white therapist. Oh by the way, this happend in 2011!

Being professional I said nothing at that moment. As the lady made her way down the hall into her massage I had a word with the owner. His defense was that he will "do anything to accomodate a client and avoid loosing business." Huh...

"Causing the therapist to loose her commission, tip and possibly a future client is ok?" I responded.

As I continued to tell the owner how displeased I was with his catering to such disciminitory behavior and not standing behind the excellent service HIS black employee would provide for the client. I told him, "Then why did you hire a black employee?" His eyes got big and replied with legal issues about such a thing.

"HA, then why cater to such low brain thinking? Why disrespect your employee in such a way? Matching a therapist to a client is based on availablility & modality, right?"

The conversation ended as he ho humed down the hall...

Later that afternoon the employee that lost the massage came to thank me for "sticking up for, us." I was a little confussed by this comment but said thank you with an "I think" conotation attached, although I understood her seniment and smiled. I told her that I was not "sticking up to you" but sticking up for human rights. Our service has nothing to do with our sex, religious beliefs, race, weight, hair color, etc. As a member of the human, earthling race I can't imagine why one would assume a massage would be any different based on any of the above.

Categrozing people separates us. Remember, we are all human before we are black or tall or Jewish or blonde or whatever we identify with. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why I left the church

As a middle class kid in California I grew up in Sunday school and private Christian academies hearing the same biblical stories over and over again and reinacting historical events every Christmas and Easter. My mother made the greatest mistake, or should I say, good deed by subscribing to National Geographic Magazine and Discover, two of the greatest travel and science magazines in my opinion. I would read them cover to cover which lead to curiosities in the bible that did not match with what science said. "Somebodies not right here." Yeah, I was one of those kids constantly asking questions.

"What about the dinosaurs? If the bible starts at the beginning, where are they?" "6,000 years old?" Certainly a planet full of giant, freely roaming, people eaters would have made a line or two somewhere. Among a million other questions I had that never got answered, I just didn't understand.

Our family changed churches like people change the oil in thier cars. Every three thousand miles we were in a new church. Never understood what the hell they were looking for, but I got drug along and boy was it a ride. Some were quiet and mumbly, some were jumping and falling on the floor rambling in the "ancient languages", stand up, sit down, kneel, sit again, some yelled and spit and some made everyone wear funny dresses and no make-up (it was the devil). Some liked music while other condemed it, some believed the bible word for word and some made up their own rules. They all agreed on one thing at least, that all the other religions were going to hell and the other denominations were "just so mislead."

Every holiday or family get together was filled with religious fighting and yelling. Dad was a catholic, mom an evangelical and my uncle, dad's brother a Baptist minister. Never a dull moment here. "Whooo" They hated it when I would interjected with my silly comments like "Aren't you all fighting over the same thing?" I was shushed quickly and reminded that I did not know anything. I know enough that at the expensive Christian Academy they were paying for I was taught that God was loving, kind and that Jesus taught compassion and peace and you guys are none of the above.

Later in high school learning tollerance of our fellow classmates I had made some good friends. Turns out some of them were gay, lesbian, pot smokers, science nuts and so forth. One day while in church with two girls I grew up with, the minister was ranting and raving, pacing and sweating shaking his bible in the air... blah, blah, blah..."Have we not heard this story 700 times?" Then out of the blue, "The gays, the lesbians, the criminals and the pot heads. You can tollerate them but never be friends with them. We don't invite these people into our homes or to sit with us at work. They are not welcome here." Certainly I couldn't unfriend my buddy because she liked girls? This pissed me off. "How uncompassionate, unloving and mean."  I had had enough.

A few years later I found a church near where I had moved. It took one Sunday of listening to them harrass me for working at K-Mart. "K-Mart sells pornography and we don't shop there." They skoffed encourageing me to quit. "Soooo, don't buy pornography." I told them. Needless to say I was not invited back.

I spent the next 10 years or so studying other religions. "Maybe I was in the wrong one." I thought.  Turns out they're all the same, different characters, same story, same arguing, same fighting. "We're right and they're wrong." They all say the same thing. They would teach the "bad things" about other religions in our church. "If God is love why are people so mean? Why this, why that." Not one answer I've ever gotten from any clergy EVER made a lick of sence to me. "NONE of this is logical!" It's like reading science fiction, no, fantasy. Science fiction can actually be invented.

The real fun started when I studied psychology. Oh boy, the God gene. The mind is incredible. The more I learned, the more I started to understand how man uses religion to manipulate the minds of men. Deepak Chopra was right, religion is for the weak minded.

It's extremely difficult to explain to someone why your not religious. "Ya got about 3 days?" Now I can't say I'm Atheist because making that statement would convey that there is no God. My best guess based on my current understanding of the universe is that it is highly improbably that one entity rules over all and is responsible for everything that happens to me or where I will end up when I die. My measly human brain cannot conceive other parallel universes or "knowing" that I will end up in some grand place if I'm an obedient minion here on earth and listen to the church. THIS is why they don't encourage scientific study, the more educated you get the more their crap starts to stink.

I have had friends tell me they "know" there is a God because they have felt it or had experiences. Well my friend, so have I. The sad part is that churches promise to satisfy everything the human mind is looking for, so we feel satisfied and happy. Hell, we don't have to search anymore, we're home. Truth is we are searchers and explorers by nature and the church is not what we are looking for. But it pacifies the need to belong to something, some group or organization that shares our like minds and won't judge us.

Everyone on this planet wants peace and fairness. Do we really need an organization to tell us to love and be kind to our neighbor? To love our family unconditionally? To help those in need or do what is right? Truth is, almost all prisoners claim to be religious. Fear and control is the shackle around ones heart and soul, release that and there is nothing left but love. Pandora's box to some degree. Would you steal a hundred bucks to feed your family if  you knew the judge would say "I forgive you son" and let you go? Taking what doesn't belong to you is not right, even if the "judge" forgives you.

I think any person who travels the earth or even his own town showing and teaching love and compassion is a saint. Jesus, Gandhi,  Buddha and so forth are examples of compassion of the human experience. They were peaceful people with the same goal in mind.

Educate yourself and never stop asking questions
Open your heart and look inward not outward.



Well it finally happened. I got unfriended by my own family on Facebook. Why does that bother me? It bothers me because as a society we are no further advanced socially than thousands of years ago. Ok, so we've learned a little more tollerance for our fellow neighbors but that's about it. It really made me think about myself.

Are we that despirate to find others like us that we unfriend, people whether in real life or on-line that have a different point of view than us? We meet people in various places with similar interest and chat it up about said subject. I suppose being family wasn't enough to stay friends. But as soon as we start digging a little deeper, the shallowness rises. "Oh, she's a _________." (fill in the blank). What's worse is when you actually become friends with the person and they "unfriend" you becuase of something you like or don't like later down the road. Why are we so judgemental of each other? We have conquered prejudice, or have we, abolished slavery, or have we, and learned to love thy neighbor, or so it seems. It's all superficial bullshit!

We embrace individuality, but judge them when they do. We encourage free speach, but throw stones when they speak. We've seen them come out of the closet to be harrassed and beaten. We are still afraid to speak our minds or show who we really are. So how far have we actually come? How boring life would be if we sat and just compaired likes and dislikes with the response of "me too." I guess it takes some sort of intelligence to respect, listen and try to understand the other persons point of view. I personally find it fascinating to understand why a person feels the way they do, believes in something,  or why they enjoy something I find boring. It opens my mind to possibilites I may have never imagined putting any prejudged ideas at ease.

I guess I still struggle trying to understand why a person would smile at one but not the other or help one and leave the other hungry. Find love in your heart for any human, just because they are human.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Empty Nest (party) Syndrome

So it dawned on me the other day, my son is 18 and on his way out the door, or so I thought. It seems there's always something else to do or some unforseen hang up that keeps him on my skinny income. I mean, I make good money but not enough for the kitchen clearing he can do.So why is the empty nest syndrome they talk about that's supposed to be so lonely an empty next rave party at my house? Yeah bitches, freedom at last. Now don't get me wrong I love him more than anything in the world and he's the best damn kid a parent could ask for he just needs to get a move on, mamma got shit ta do.

Now I grew up an only child as he is also an only child, but we couldn't be more different. He's very family oriented and can't wait to have kids and get married. I can't wait to live alone for the first time in 25 years! He's a homebody, grounded and routine. I'm freespirited, moving and hate being indoors too much. We balance each other well, being so opposite.

I honestly can't wait to go into the kitchen and find ALL the food still there, use my computer when I want to, not have to borrow my own car and find all the shit I left still in the same spot I left it. WTF! No more getting stuck with the last 3 squares of toilet paper, "turn down the music mom, gees", fighting over tv shows, or the zillion "what's for dinner" texts. My couch won't smell like stinky teenager and my dog will finally get some rest from the years of harassment.

What the hell with I do? I'll tell you what the hell I'm gonna do.... For starters I'm gonna have a nice salad for dinner, just a fucking salad. No more 4 course meals or trips to fast food. I'm going to take a bath with every waterproof sex toy I own all at the same time. Then I'm going to swagger down the hall butt ass naked, cause I can, and lay on my bed and maybe even stop off in the kitchen for a cup of yogurt that is still in MY frige, full of MY fucking food. Fuck yeah! And when I have a hot flash in the middle of the night I don't care who see's my ass sticking out of from under the covers. I might even do a naked dance in front of the webcam with my friend just for a laugh.

Ahhhh, freedom... So here's to all those empty nesters out there enjoying THEIR lives once more. Cheers!