Monthly Archives: June 2012

My opinion on opinions. Or something like that.

(This a complicated subject that has taken me an inordinate amount of time to write about.  Please forgive any bumbling and incoherent ideas here.  I’m a work in progress.)

I’m a bit riled up about something I keep hearing/seeing on the Internet:

“What other people think of you is none of your business.”

My response to this is, “Oh?  Really?”  I don’t know who said this (Frankly, I don’t  care), but this seems to be in response to that thing that happens when we worry about what other people think of us.  You know, that thing where you start making other people’s opinions more of a priority than your opinion.  As I was researching this statement, I ran across a blog post where a person stated that worrying about another’s opinion is encroaching on someone else’s property.  That’s an interesting notion, but I am not sure I completely agree.  My problem with this kind of statement is that it general enough for people to take too far in the wrong direction.

Having an opinion is part of being human.  You know, “I opinionate (I know, not really a word.  Just go with it.), therefore I am.” Or, something like that.

Here are some facts about opinions:

  • Opinions are like the Force.  There’s a light side, and a dark side.
  • There’s no such thing as a neutral opinion.
  • Opinions frequently smash together like atoms out of control.
  • Opinions can be either helpful, or non-helpful.
  • Helpful opinions can inform and uplift another person.
  • Non-helpful opinions can tear down and disenfranchise another person.
  • Everybody’s got a million of ’em.
  • Some of us (ahem) are more opinionated than others.
  • Some of us (again, ahem) share our opinions more frequently than others.

Need I say more?

The notion that other people’s opinion are none of my business because it’s their intellectual property seems like an overreaction to idea that another’s opinion shouldn’t define who you are.  Yes, only should define who you are.  Yes other’s opinions are just their opinions.  People do use them to hurt, control, and destroy other people.  Those opinions should be ignored, and are none of your business.  But those opinions aren’t the ones I am talking about.

I find  other people’s opinions of me helpful.  Even the bad opinions.  I tend to view other’s opinions as an object I can hold in my hand.  I can look at, ponder it’s meaning, and put it down on the nearest horizontal surface.  It matters to me what other people think of me.   Here’s why: if I am doing something that is a problem in my interpersonal interactions, I need to know so I can work on it.  I need to wonder what other people think of me, because there is always room to grow.  This part of the human need for social order.  We have to define our place, and our contribution to the society we live in.  If we are not actively contributing, or worse causing disruption in, to the society we belong to, we are limiting our capacity  to be fully part of that society.  One has to be discerning and honest about themselves to consider another’s opinion of them.  One needs to be willing to face their own weaknesses and downfalls.  One has to be humble enough to admit to the need for change.

So, don’t swing too far in the wrong direction.  Consider other’s opinions without taking them in and letting them run like schoolchildren with scissors waving frantically in the air.  Make them behave themselves and reveal truth to you.  Talk to those opinions and form your own conclusions.  Make good, honest changes in yourself based on those truths.  Let other’s opinions help to define how you react to the world.

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If you are visiting here, why not leave me a little note to say, “Hi!”?  I’ll say, “Hi!” back!

Take a risk. Be free.

Today is Friday.  Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker (a.k.a The Gypsy Mama), hosts a writing party at her site.  She calls it a writing “flash mob.”  She gives us a one-word prompt.  We write about that word for five minutes straight.  Without editing.  Without backtracking.  Without worrying.  The only other rule is to and encourage other Five Minute Friday writers.  So here goes….

Today’s word is Risk

Go!

Every step a person can make towards a better day, a better week, a better life is worth the risk.  Risk will always be part of the equation to do something new.  I risk my perceived happiness.  I risk being uncomfortable.  I risk pain.  I risk embarrassment at my failures.  I risk losing people in my life.  But, the risk is worth it if it means that I will be free from the chains of my past.  Able to do the things I was meant to do.  Able to walk through life unfettered.  Able to genuinely smile and say “I’m doing okay”.  Able to move to the mountains I was meant to move.  Falling down when I take a risk is okay.  It’s part of the process.  It’s part of life.  It’s  not the end of the world.  It’s not the final sentence in the story.  It’s not death.  It’s just a moment in time.  It’s just a temporary setback.  It’s just a risk.

Stop!

See you on Monday!

Sometimes….

I try to write when I feel inspired by something I heard or read.

Today, I got nothin’.

And I’m okay with that.

So I am just going to spout out random thoughts on overcoming.

Sometimes overcoming something simply means just letting it slide past you as you wave with your favorite drink in your hand that has one of those little umbrellas you like to stick in your hair.

Sometimes overcoming something simply means just going back to sleep.

Sometimes overcoming something means sitting on the couch with your knitting needles and a cup of tea and having a chat with your problem.

Sometimes overcoming something just means letting it be.

Sometimes overcoming something means sticking you fingers in your ears and saying “Nananananananananana”.

Sometimes overcoming something means meditating, or praying because that allows you to focus on something else for a while.

Sometimes overcoming means taking a leap of faith in yourself, in God, and in others.

Sometimes overcoming means letting go of the stranglehold you have on yourself.

Sometimes overcoming something means simply being nicer.

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What does overcoming something look like to you?

Don’t let the fire-breathing dragons of life intimidate you into a case of the “I Can’ts”

I’ve had a bad couple of days.  This is mostly what I felt like:

Meet my alter-ego, Mrs. Viking Grumpy Pants.

Blog writing was right out.

However, because I cannot shut this brain of mine off, I have been thinking about a conversation I had with a friend on Sunday.  She didn’t say exactly what was going on in her life, but she did say she just couldn’t take anymore pain and suffering.   She just couldn’t go on anymore.  She wanted to give up and give in.  I did my best to encourage her to not give up, to trust God’s process, and to get back on track.  In other word, she is trying to make some changes and keeps getting knocked down.

Let’s be honest, most of our habits need to change.  Especially the emotional habits that constantly put us on the edge of a cliff.  That cliff you can’t see because you’re too busy making butt impressions on the couch.  Habits grow neurons in our brain that settle in with their favorite treats to watch a movie and refuse to budge from that really comfy couch because  you made an excellent indent where their butt goes.  Habits are familiar.  Habits are comfortable.  Habits are safe.

Making changes is a lot like fighting a fire-breathing dragon.  It’s difficult and it can be painful.  I mean, after all they have that nasty habit of giggling at me when I attempt to hack my way through their hard, scaly skin.  And the fire.  Need I say more?

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

When faced with this, it is easy to want to give up.  I mean after all, falling down repeatedly on  your face is a painful (and embarrassing) experience.  Why would any sane person keep doing something that hurts, right?  If you’re not careful, this kind of thinking can give you a case of the “I Can’ts”.  As in “I just can’t do this anymore.”  As in “I can’t face the pain anymore.”  As in “I can’t change.”  As in “let’s just give up and let the dragon eat us, m’kay?” (Ok, that last didn’t technically have “I can’t” in there, but you get my point)

Yes, making changes is difficult and painful, but not impossible.

That’s right I said “NOT IMPOSSIBLE”.  (I shouted that in case you didn’t hear me.  You’re welcome)

It requires work, determination, sweat, blood, tears, grit, toughness and any other “You Can Do This” adjective you’d like to throw in there.  If you keep at it,  you’ll get there eventually.  That dragon does  have it’s weak spots.  You just have to keep looking for them.

Because the pain and difficulties associated with change are a price worth paying to get you out of your butt-impression making half-life.

I promise.

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So, tell me about one of  your fire-breathing dragons…

The post in which I cut enablers some slack. Sort of.

As the result of my “fat cats are fat because they are lazy post”, someone suggested that Fluffy has an owner, or as my friend called the owner, an enabler. And the enabler is to blame.  My response to that is, well, yes, and no.

(side note: Fluffy is a cat.  Fluffy cannot be responsible for herself.  Fluffy’s owner is definitely to blame.)

So, let’s define what an enabler is according to my friend, and yours, the New Oxford American Dictionary:

enable |enˈābəl|verb [ trans. ]give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something : the evidence would enable us to arrive at firm conclusions.

  •  [ trans. ] make possible: a number of courses are available to enable an understanding of a broad range of issues.
  •  [ trans. ] chiefly Computing make (a device or system) operational; activate.

The term enabler is particularly prevalent when dealing with addicts.  And I’m not just talking about drugs and alcohol.  I’m talking about any behavior pattern that serves as a buffer or as numbing agent against psychological pain.

An enabler is someone who gives someone else the authority or means to do something.  In other words, you want candy, an enabler will buy you candy.  They do this for many different reasons.  Some enablers enable addictive behavior because they want to keep the peace.  Some like feeling like they have power over someone else.  Some enable because they feel they have no choice.  Some enable because they feel special and important.  And the list goes on.

The impression I get from hearing other people talk about enablers is that the enabler is to blame for the addict’s problems.  “If only Tom would stop enabling Carrie’s behavior she would stop”  is rather rampant idea.

I believe that is only half true.

In my humble opinion, enabler’s are not solely to blame.  Enabling behavior is only half of the picture.  Here is what enablers are actually doing:

  • Encouraging bad behavior (directly, or indirectly)
  • Supporting bad behavior
  • Helping bad behavior
  • Making it easier for the addict to engage in addictive behavior

Notice I didn’t say that enablers are forcing the addict to engage in addictive behavior.  Because, it’s still the addicts choice.  They still  can choose to do what they want to do.  The addict is allowing the enabler to enable.

I believe enablers and addicts are in a symbiotic relationship.  Each feeds the other BS in a cyclical manner.  Both suffer equally from their sick behavior with similar delusions.  In other words, the enabler and the addict are both to blame.

Encouraging an enabler to stop enabling is still the right thing to do.  They should stop.  But that will only take care of half of the problem.  Be aware the addict will still engage in addictive behavior whether an enabler helps or not.

So, encourage the enablers in your life to stop enabling.   Show them how their behavior is hurting themselves and the person they are enabling.  And, hope for the best

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So tell me, how have  you encourage others to stop enabling?

The Conundrum of Comfort

My computer is about 5 years old.  I have the same screen, mouse, and keyboard. I am used to how the arrows keys seem to stick a little when I push them down.  I am used to the dirt that seems permanently stuck in between each key.  I am used to the fact that the trackball on my mouse no longer works.  I am used to the fact that my mouse pointer frequently “disappears” on my screen.  Not to mention the vertical lines that are randomly spaced on my screen.  I am used to it because this is normal.  And normal can be comforting, no matter how bad normal is for me.  Because it’s what I am used to.  It’s comfortable.  Sometimes I don’t even see the lines when I’m watching something on the computer.

See the lines? Perhaps I should be annoyed.

I really can’t do anything about my faulty equipment because of our faulty financial situation.  Replacing computer parts is expensive (especially because I have a Mac).  Even a new mouse cost $50, which is a huge sum in this house.  That’s equal to a tank of gas, or a few groceries.  So, I tell myself it’s not a big deal.  I do my best to ignore the faults.  I pretend they aren’t there.

My room is pretty crowded what with rather large primates and pachyderms hanging about, making themselves comfortable on my furniture.

Looks comfy. Doesn’t he?

I do the same with my emotions.  I get comfortable with my little faults.  I tell myself that a little selfishness is okay.  An outburst of anger towards my husband may be wrong, but’s it the way I am (right?).  My seemingly impossible-to-eradicate depression can’t be stopped or changed.  Somehow my personality quirks are comforting, even if they are wrong.  The chambers of my heart and mind can be pretty crowded too.

He’s a little hard to ignore.

When it comes to our little faults, we decide that there is nothing we can do about these things, so we get comfortable with them.  We invite them over for tea.  We snuggle up on the couch with our little faults and watch a good movie.  We share our favorite snacks.

But, being comfortable with the little faulty things in our lives just leads to us becoming like a fat cat…lazy. We never work at changing our thoughts and behaviors.  We let the dust collect on the rather large animals taking up space without ever questioning why they are there in the first place.

The opposite of this  is (you know I just had to say it) deciding that things are going to be different.  Making a choice for change.  Believing that living a half-life is not worth the comfort that familiarity brings.  We  have to kick that gorilla and elephant out and lock the doors of our minds and hearts.  We have to decide we want to live a different life.  We have to decide that life is worth living to it’s fullest.

So,  make that first step.  Take inventory of yourself.  Be honest.  Embrace change.

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So tell  me, have you ever seen an 800 lb. gorilla?

Five Minute Friday

Hi!

Go and meet me on the flip-side of my personality and read my Five Minute Friday post.  The Gypsy Mama hosts this every Friday.  Five Minute Friday’s are stream-of-conciousness writing where we unfetter ourselves from the expectations of writing. It’s okay if don’t want to.  Here’s a nice picture for you to look at instead…

Go ahead and laugh. You know you want to.

Expecting Glory…

Today is Friday.  We write free and bold and with out self-editing.  For five whole minutes.

Today’s word: Expectation

Ready?

Set…

Go!

Expectation.  Is it bad? Is it good? I don’t know.  Expectations often lead to disappointment and embarrassment.  Expectations often lead to sadness and despair.  We want what we want.  We expect good things to happen, then they don’t.  We expect God to take care of us…and He does.  Expectations of God are a tricky thing.  He never promised us a rosy life, but He did promise that He would always be there.  He did promise that he would always walk through “it” with us.  He did promise that He would carry us when we needed Him (whether we knew it or not).  He did promise that give us just the right amount of strength and grace to get through the storms in life.  Those are expectations we can take to the bank.  We can cash in those promises.  We can expect to survive this life as we walk with expectation into the next.  We can expect that God will show up in our deepest, darkest moments.  We can expect that he will do what He says He will do.  Because He is Who He is.  He is the Creator of the Universe after all.  He is what least expect Him to be and more.  He is mother and father to us all.  He is gentle friend and firm counselor.  We can expect the best from Him.  We can expect to shine out His glory in our life.

The “pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-or-I’ll-kick-your-butt” post

I saw this on Facebook today:

What Mr. Shaw has to say almost seems like a contradiction.  I mean, how can making mistakes be honorable and useful in life?

Some people just cannot stand failure.  For those folks their life equation goes something like this:

Trying + Failure = I’m a loser at life.

Because in their mind, failing is wrong.  No doubt, life, or their parents, taught them this.  These are the same people that say “Win at any cost” or “Failure is not an option.”  Those people are devastated by failure.  Those people sink into depression and despair and bitterness.  Those people are actually failing in life.

We don’t want to be THOSE people.

I could quote you how times geniuses of the last 100 or so years failed at something, but you already know about them (How many times DID Edison fail at making a useful lightbulb?).  But, let’s talk about failure and what it REALLY is, and what it really is not.  Let’s get out our dictionary, shall we?

fail |fāl|verb [ intrans. ]1 be unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal : he failed in his attempt to secure election | [with infinitive ] they failed to be ranked in the top ten.

  • [ trans. ] be unsuccessful in (an examination, test, or interview) : she failed her finals.
  • [ trans. ] (of a person or a commodity) be unable to meet the standards set by (a test of quality or eligibility) : the player has failed a drug test.
  • [ trans. ] judge (someone, esp. in an examination) not to have passed.

2 neglect to do something : [with infinitive ] the firm failed to give adequate risk warnings.

  •  [with infinitive ] behave in a way contrary to hopes or expectations by not doing something : commuter chaos has again failed to materialize.
  •  ( cannot fail to be/do something) used to express a strong belief that something must be the case: you cannot fail to be deeply impressed.
  •  ( never fail to do something) used to indicate that something invariably happens: such comments never failed to annoy him.
  •  [ trans. ] desert or let down (someone): at the last moment her nerve failed her.

3 break down; cease to work well : a truck whose brakes had failed.

  • become weaker or of poorer quality; die away: the light began to fail | [as adj. ] ( failinghis failing health.
  • (esp. of a rain or a crop or supply) be lacking or insufficient when needed or expected.
  • (of a business or a person) be obliged to cease trading because of lack of funds; become bankrupt.

noun

  • a grade that is not high enough to pass an examination or test.

PHRASES: without fail absolutely predictably; with no exception : he writes every week without fail.

ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French faillir (verb), faille (noun), based on Latin fallere ‘deceive.’ An earlier sense of the noun was [failure to do or perform a duty,] surviving in the phrase without fail.

Interestingly, the antonyms to fail are “pass (as in pass an exam), thrive, work, improving, support.”

Okay, enough of that.

What failure IS:

  • Not reaching your goals
  • Falling down and scraping your hands and knees on life’s asphalt
  • Things not going as planned
  • An option
  • Losing a battle (not the war)
  • A learning opportunity

What failure is NOT:

  • The End of World (as you know it)
  • The losing of the war
  • The last chapter in the book
  • The period at the end of the sentence
  • The Grand Finale
  • A reason to quit trying

The two premises I want to focus on are “failure is a learning opportunity” and “failure is not a reason to quit trying.”  With very few exceptions, I firmly believe every problem has a solution and a way out.  Sometimes it takes more work to get there than other times.  Which is where “failure is a learning opportunity” comes in.  Seeing failure as a learning opportunity requires a certain outlook on problem-solving and critical-thinking.  It requires  you to believe that failing at something is OK.  As in, it’s OK.  As in, don’t be such as crybaby, or a wuss.  Because when you try something and fall down and scrap  your knees, you can pause and take a moment and and ask yourself, “What did I learn from this experience?” and, “What can I do differently next time it try?”  Then, you CAN try again.  And again. And again. And again.  Until you find the solution to your problem.

If you quit the first time you fail, what will have gained?  In my book (and apparently George’s book too) you have failed.  With a big, fat capital “F”.  If you’re happy being stuck there, then by all means, stay there.  But, if you’re like me, living a half-life kidding ourselves that we are REALLY living, when in fact we are not, is not an acceptable lifestyle choice. If deep in your heart of hearts you know that you need to keep going, then pick yourself up by your bootstraps.  Or, I’ll kick your butt.

Just ’cause your bigger than me doesn’t mean I can’t kick your butt.

Deal?

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So tell me, when have you failed at something?

Laziness is like a fat cat

I knew a fat cat once.  She had a genial disposition.  She’d let you pet her and would rub her fat little body all over your clothes.  But, she could barely get around on her stubby little legs with that huge belly in the way.

Okay, maybe she didn’t have the beer and TV remote…

She was content to eat food, use her litter box, and pretty much sleep the rest of the time.  In other words, she was lazy.

lazy |ˈlāzē|adjective ( lazier , laziest )

1 unwilling to work or use energy : I’m very lazy by nature | he was too lazy to cook.

  • characterized by lack of effort or activity : lazy summer days.
  • showing a lack of effort or care : lazy writing.
  • (of a river) slow-moving.

2 (of a livestock brand) placed on its side rather than upright : a logo with a lazy E.

DERIVATIVES

  • lazily |-zəlē| adverb
  • laziness noun

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: perhaps related to Low German lasich ‘languid, idle.’

When  you look at Fluffy here, don’t you feel kind of sorry for her?  Do you feel kind of sorry for her?  Do you feel the urge to smack her owner senseless?  Are you asking yourself, “How could she let herself get this far?”  Do you feel the urge to take charge and put her on a diet?  How about if you look at yourself?  Do you have the same feelings?

If yes, keep reading.

If no, definitely keep reading.

When dealing with our own emotional difficulties, it is easy to become fat and content on the food of our own delusions.  We can pretend that all is well.  We can tell ourselves that changing is impossible.  We can say to the world, “But I was born this way!” and get out our beer and watch some TV.

Because, avoiding the truth is easier.

Deep down inside, we know the truth.  We know that the lazy, selfish manner in which we conduct our lives is not good for ourselves, or for the world we live in.  We know that living in a place of anger isn’t good for our romantic relationship.  We know that isolating ourselves isn’t good for us.  We know that our addiction is probably killing us.  We know that depression is keeping us from engaging in life.

Changing takes work.  It takes discipline.  It takes falling-down-in-dirt-and scraping-your-hands-and-knees-then-getting-back-up-again determination.  It takes recognizing and being honest about our own failures.  It takes will and perseverance.  It takes training.

This is who I’d rather be. Wouldn’t you?

Don’t be like that fat cat, happy and content on the gluttony of your willingness to  just eat and sleep and poop.

And never do anything else.

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Tell  me, do you know any fat cats?