In Reflection

Considering tomorrow is the last day of 2016, I thought today would be a great day to reflect on this past year. I know a lot of people were disheartened this year and found it to be a rough year. I honestly thought it was one of my best, if not my best year yet. Let’s reflect…

January: I shaved my head in solidarity with childhood cancer patients. I had made it a goal to volunteer at least once a month. I started the year off with a major challenge. I took part in the St. Baldrick’s campaign, raising money for children afflicted by cancer. I faced some opposition, but also quite a lot of praise. I was happy just to do it. I wish I could have raised more money, but more importantly, I got the word out.

February: My next volunteer venture was donating blood, another first for me. I was terrified because I hate needles, but honestly it wasn’t that bad. I’ve even become a fairly regular donor. It’s a great way to help people and makes me feel pretty good.

March: I took my first ever trip to Florida. I drove, and it was glorious. I even went zip lining, despite my fears. I got to swim in the “ocean” (it was really the Gulf of Mexico, I was told, but in my eyes it’s the same thing), got to try a bunch of cool new restaurants, see some new cities, and visit family. What an amazing time.

April: Finally got me a gym membership and started putting it to good use. Admittedly I haven’t actually lost any weight, but I feel better about working on being healthier. Also, I got to see and meet one of my favorite rappers in the world, Spose. And it was on 4/20 of all days…

May: I don’t remember anything life-changing from May, but I don’t remember anything inherently awful either. There’s something to be said for that. I did start attending AAPC meetings regularly (I am a CPC [Certified Professional Coder])

June: I worked a lot in June. I was doing a lot of planning for my upcoming July vacation. The process was tough, but I knew what the rewards would be. Also got a last minute credit line increase from one of my banks. It’s like they knew I needed this vacation.

July: It was my birthday month. I went to see one of my favorite comedians, Tom Segura. I got to meet Tom Segura. Not even a week later, I got to travel a bit. I went to Chicago, I went to Seattle, I went to Portland. Freaking. Oregon. With my best friend. We had a week-long adventure, got to smoke legally, and even got to see Twenty-One Pilots, who just so happen to be from our home state. I got to touch the Pacific Ocean. I even got some shells and sand. Such a great time. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

August: This was a month of recovery. After July’s shenanigans, I needed a month to just chill out and relax. I got just that.

September: Finally got all the bills caught up from my trip and got everything back to where I needed it. That’s always a good feeling. I was able to help my boyfriend get a brand new car. That was exciting.

October: I spent a good portion of this month thinking and planning for my future. Made a decision to apply for a glassblowing class scholarship, and I got it. It was an exciting moment for me knowing that I had the class to look forward to in December and I didn’t have to worry about getting money to pay for it. I also got to see Jerry Seinfeld. Definitely a classic.

November: I got a raise and a fantastic evaluation. No one can argue with that, it was a huge help, especially around the holidays. I also trained to start volunteering at the Humane Society. What a great thing. I get to go snuggle with animals whenever I want. No complaints there.

December: I took that glassblowing class, which was a blast. I got a tooth pulled, which was a first, and a welcome relief. I joined a Buddhist community on Facebook and committed to attending the temple service to bring in the new year. I decided to have sterilization surgery, which went very well, and now I feel less anxious. I’ve been working hard to eat right and be stronger. I have been exercising regularly. I had a great Christmas and was able to give handmade gifts of glass and a painting. I got to make secret-family-recipe caramel corn with my grandma and cousins.

I really don’t have a lot bad to say about this year. Things have been working out well for me. I anticipate that 2017 will continue the trend, mostly because I intend on making it that way. Life is what you make of it. Your outlook determines how your life will go. Make it great. You have the power.

Namaste.

*~*MR*~*

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Don’t Make Me Look Stupid

I don’t really want to use this blog for rants about my personal life, but at the same time I feel like there’s a lesson in this. When it comes to relationships, I’m pretty open as far as letting you go out with your friends, letting you have “me time”, and letting you have your privacy. We all need that, and I have no problem giving it to you. I mean if we are in a relationship, we should be able to trust each other, right? At the same time, I’m not going to get jumpy if my phone rings around you, and I’m not going to be sneaky or secretive about where I’m going or what I’m doing. Most importantly, you as my significant other are going to come first no matter what.

So I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over 5 years and we have certainly had our moments, but overall things are pretty good. I’ll admit we are both getting older, so the physical part of our relationship is probably the thing that lacks the most–or so I thought. Lately, every time I try to have a serious conversation with him, he blows me off. He says we are “already on the same page” and don’t need to talk about things. I disagree with that, and him saying that already proves that we are clearly not on the same page. Even if we were, I still think it is important as a couple to revisit your goals and expectations now and then to make sure that you’re working toward a common goal. He wants nothing to do with that. I feel like I used to be able to talk to him about stuff, but now not only does he not listen, he doesn’t even seem to want to listen.

I recently had surgery so there are a few things I haven’t been able to do. Yesterday I was trying to be nice so I came up behind him and put his robe over his shoulders and proceeded to hug him. He freaked out and told me to quit looking over his shoulder while he was reading his messages on his phone because he “doesn’t like that.” Well, he has never had a problem with me looking at his phone before and the main point is that I wasn’t even looking at his phone, my face was buried in his shoulder. I couldn’t even see his phone if I had been looking at it, I didn’t have my glasses on. He usually says he doesn’t care if I look at his phone because he has nothing to hide. Now all of a sudden there’s a problem.

The phone wasn’t the first issue. Lately he has been pointing out all of the girls he finds attractive. He doesn’t touch me for months and says he’s just not all that interested, but now he wants all these other girls. I don’t want to be nitpicky, and I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but this is getting ridiculous. If you want to go be with someone else, go do it. He says he tells me about the attractive girls because he is “letting me into his mind and I should feel special that he tells me instead of hiding it.” Well guess what? I don’t feel special. I feel like I’m constantly being compared to these other girls. Now I’m not a 10 and unfortunately over the past couple years I’ve kind of let my body go (mainly because I got comfortable sharing in his eating habits), but if that is a problem, just say it!

I don’t know if he’s messing around, and I really hope not, because that isn’t something I forgive. If I find hard evidence of that, his stuff will be out on the curb in no time. Either way, that isn’t the biggest concern. My big problem is his way of trying to make me look stupid. It’s infuriating. I try to be a good person and not smother a person I am with. I try to give them the same space and trust that I expect. When you exploit that trust, whether you are doing something wrong or not, that bothers me. Don’t flip things around when you get caught doing something you shouldn’t. Man up. Be an adult. Own your actions. Don’t get mad at me because you are exchanging inappropriate text messages with an ex-coworker (who also happens to be in a relationship.) I can’t think of anything that I feel the need to say to someone that couldn’t be said in the presence of my boyfriend.

I’m not a child, and I certainly don’t need to be treated like one. I don’t need to second guess myself. They say if you have a gut feeling than it’s probably right, and I definitely have a feeling that something is up. If that is not the case, than he should be proving to me that there is nothing going on. At this point, I see him doing the exact opposite. If something is lacking in our relationship, I don’t see why we can’t talk about it and get things back on track. If not, keep your nose out of other people’s business and work on your own. Like I said being attracted to someone else isn’t my problem, that happens to a lot of people. It is about how you handle it, and how you treat those around you. If you don’t want to talk about it, that makes you the child, not me. All the while, you have this smile on your face saying, “Haha she doesn’t even know.” It’s just wrong, and for the record, I do know. I’m just choosing not to act right now. I know you’ll dig your own grave with this one. You can’t keep things a secret forever. I just know one thing, if something really is going on, you better get out before I find out.

*~*MR*~*

New Year, New Religion?

I was raised Catholic. I attended Catholic school through eighth grade. I got to a point where I tried really hard to be the best Catholic I could be. I became an alter girl, I joined the choir, and I helped out in the Church in whatever ways I could. My parents (namely my mother) became disheartened with the church and decided to try something else. We tried a variety of non-denominational churches, Lutheran, and finally Methodist, where we ended up staying and being baptized.

Again, I tried to stay involved with the church, because I liked it at the time. I volunteered a lot running an after-school program and food drives. It was fun, but as I started getting older, I started questioning a lot of the church teachings. Methodist really wasn’t all that far off from Catholicism as far as I could see. Essentially most of the principles were the same or similar. Worship God, don’t steal, don’t murder, ect. The don’t steal and don’t murder parts made a lot of sense, but it was the worshipping God that just didn’t line up for me.

Now I definitely feel like there is something larger than us, but I have a hard time believing that there is some guy up in the sky who judges us and loves us, and makes all of these rules for us. I don’t think “he” cares if we worship “him” or anything like that. I believe that higher power lies in nature and natural order. If I could equate God to anything, it would be electricity. Electricity is in our brains, it changes the atoms of matter, it flows through everything. In my opinion, “God” is simply our interconnectedness.

I claimed to be an Atheist for a while, because I didn’t see God in the way that most religions do, but really that didn’t describe it since I still believe in a higher power. I went with Agnostic for a while, because I couldn’t line up with anything else, so I guessed that saying “I don’t know” was the closest I was going to get. Either way, I really didn’t care what I called myself, but “religious” wasn’t one of those things. I was into philosophy, and the questions alone were enough for me, I didn’t have to have the answers.

Religion has always fascinated me, especially how people flock to it, and even more how people will turn their backs on what seems like the right thing to do just to defend it. I mean look how many people have been killed simply in the name of God! I still believe there are underlying reasons behind these kinds of killings, but there are always those groups that will strive to make their position make more sense by throwing God into the equation. Anyway, my fascination with religion has caused me to do a lot of reading and research on religions simultaneously with my philosophy research. In this reading, I discovered Buddhism.

Of course I had heard of Buddhism throughout my life, but it was pretty basic. I knew about this Siddhartha Gautama guy, and enlightenment, and meditation, but aside from that, I knew nothing of what Buddhism had to offer. Buddhism is a religion of peace. It is barely a religion at all, and it turns out that some Buddhists practice other faiths as well. Some have even said that Buddhism has made them a better Christian. Buddhism doesn’t have a distinct God or gods, and there is no heaven or hell. Everything is based on reducing your attachment to material things, realizing your interconnectedness with everything else, and radiating compassion for others. The more good things you do, the more good things come to you. It sounds right up my alley.

I continued reading and diving deeper into the religion and I continue to find myself being pulled and drawn to it. I want to be a Buddhist, and I want to be darn good at it. I found a Buddhist sangha in my area and I plan to attend a service on Sunday, the first day of the new year. I thought what a better way to start a new year than by joining a new group of people with likeminded views? I have spoken with a few members of the sangha as well as the abbot and I am very excited to attend. I had thrown off religion for so long but I think I have finally found a place where I belong. I have skeptical family, but those family members know nothing of Buddhist practice. I intend to show them through my actions how wonderful Buddhism can be.

Ever since I made the commitment to the Buddhist way of life, my outlook has changed. That isn’t to say that a negative thought doesn’t come along, or that I don’t do something that is not in line with my beliefs sometimes. I am new to this. The great thing about Buddhism is that there isn’t some damning action that removes you from salvation. Buddhism is all about getting better and improving yourself. If you do something “bad” it is your job to learn from it, understand why you did it, what harm it caused, and make a vow not to make that same mistake again. Buddhism is about growing and becoming a better person, and I love that.

I’m excited to start a new year with a new religion. These past few weeks I have been preparing myself for my practice and easing myself into the Buddhist way of life. I have been writing out my goals and what I expect to gain and lose from my practice. I have been integrating small parts of the process into my daily life each day. I have been practicing yoga (before I had surgery, but I had to take a slight break), meditation, and trying to be more mindful in everything that I do. It is amazing how hard it can be to actually focus on every action before you do it and while you are doing it, but when you do, you find yourself making fewer mistakes and actually enjoying what you do. Even the simplest things can be enjoyable if you allow them to be.

I am glad I finally opened my heart and allowed myself to accept a religion. I guess it just takes finding one that truly sparks a fire in your heart. I hope that all of you reading this find what you are looking for, whatever it may be. Just remember, true happiness isn’t found in things, but within your heart. Namaste.

*~*MR*~*

 

Merry Freakin’ Christmas

Well, Hello there. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, whatever it is that you prefer. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, it’s hard to deny that this day isn’t ordinary. I’m not Christian anymore, but most of my family celebrates Christmas, and I figure why not just use it as a day to practice generosity, which helps me along my Buddhist path as well. I love giving. It makes me feel good. While receiving is always nice too, the older I get, the more joy I find in giving other people the things they enjoy.

I really did have a great Christmas today. It was the first one in a long time that I didn’t have a ton of things to do. I worked last night, so I was able to sleep in until about 11am, at which point I got up and made some cinnamon rolls (my Christmas tradition for years). As the rolls were cooking I scooped up my children (the two cats, of course) and brought them their stockings and gift. They got treats and toys, which they gave a polite sniff-over and then left alone. After they were done, my boyfriend got his gifts, which he loved. One being a pretty funny Chick-Fil-A calendar (with a card that gets him something free each month in 2017) and a bucket full of car care items to help him take care of his new car that he got a few months back. He liked it. I’m a practical gift person. I know how nice it is to get something you can really use. Frivolous gifts can be fun, but I think it is better when you get something you don’t have to feel guilty about.

My present is still in the mail somewhere, so maybe I’ll get it Tuesday when we go celebrate with my parents. Regardless, I’m not worried about it.  This may be the first year I haven’t had something to open on actual Christmas Day. It really didn’t bother me one bit. I was happy to see my cats playing and my boyfriend excited about getting to keep his car in good condition. I ate my cinnamon rolls, colored a picture of the Buddha while the boyfriend played Call of Duty with friends, then I took a nap before getting ready for work. I didn’t have to rush anywhere, I was with the people who are closest to me, and I got to spread joy. It felt really great.

A lot of people I work with are bummed out that they have to work on the holidays. We work at a hospital, so my answer back to them is that there is literally not one person in this building that wants to be here. The truth is we are lucky. We get to go home at the end of our shifts. Many of the people here will never go home. Some that will go home will never be the same again. Some are missing their families, some have no family to miss. Some are the families of sick people who are carrying around the burdens of their loved ones. The best we can do is come in here and show some compassion for these people. Some of them are not easy to deal with, I’ll give them that, but again, none of us want to be here, and they are in a worse place than us. It is our job to give them the best we can.

Now let’s get ready to bring in that new year!

 

*~*MR*~*

Bah Humbug

Hey there.

I took some time off as I’ve been in a little mental slump lately, turns out my mental state doesn’t care much more for this cold weather than my body does. Anyway, I’m not here to bore you with my personal problems, I’m here to rant.

With Christmas coming up, every day I hear someone else complaining about having to spend money. A friend of mine told his girlfriend that he had to go out and buy wrapping paper because although he had a ton at home, none of it was Christmas themed. Are you kidding me? Someone is going to rip it to shreds and throw it away within minutes of seeing it. Use newspaper for crying out loud!

I guess what I am really trying to say is that corporations have ruined society. Everyone thinks they have to go out and buy the newest, prettiest, most expensive thing they can find just to keep their loved ones happy. I think that is ridiculous.

First off, why do we feel the need to buy excessive amounts of presents for people anyway? You can’t buy love. Why can’t we just appreciate the presence of those around us? I constantly hear people talk about how they don’t want to buy something for this person, or they feel like they have to because that person gets them something every year. If you insist on getting something for someone, why not make it something homemade or something that will truly mean something? This year I painted a picture for my dad and I’m giving my mom a few pieces I made in a glass blowing class. I know they will love them and I didn’t have to spend a dime. I work on art all the time, so I already had the supplies, and as for the glassblowing, I was taking the class anyway. And if you really don’t care for someone enough that you have no desire to get them anything, why do you feel obligated to do so? Because society said so? I say hogwash.

Another thing that bothers me is people who spend hundreds of dollars on presents for their newborn baby. You realize baby has no clue, right? If you really want to make an impact, get them a few books for when they are older, contribute to a savings plan for their future, or buy some extra necessary items that you might not otherwise be able to get. This endless supply of meaningless toys has got to go!

Personally, I have gotten farther away from Christmas every year. My goal is to be a generous person throughout the year and truly be there for my loved ones. I don’t base my worth on whether I got someone the best present, I just try to give them my best presence. I try to do things all year-long when I can instead of strapping myself to buy a bunch of disposable gifts for one time a year.

If you want to buy gifts for loved ones, I get it. Sometimes you just want to spread some extra cheer. The key is, stay within your means. I will never understand why people will practically take out a second mortgage to support their Christmas habit, and the whole time they will complain about having to spend so much money, and how they hate shopping, and no one appreciates anything, ect. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. If your loved ones can’t understand that, maybe they need a little reality check anyway. Don’t turn your kids into spoiled little brats who expect everything. Maybe get them one or two meaningful things, but there’s no need to go overboard.

Now if you are one of those Buddy-The-Elf types who just can’t help themselves from going around spreading holiday cheer and you have the means to do so, I’m certainly not telling you to stop. What I am telling you is that if you decide to go crazy, don’t complain about it. I don’t want to hear about how you aren’t going to be able to afford the rent now because you got your 4-year-old the new iPhone. I don’t care that it took you 2 hours to find a parking spot at the mall. Guess what, don’t like it, don’t go! I don’t know why you would go out holiday shopping around the holiday time and expect the shops and roads not to be crowded.

And what is with all the rude people around the holidays (well, anymore all the time)? I thought this season was supposed to be about love and giving, not disdain and bitching. My goodness, people! Going out around the holidays almost guarantees getting screamed at, cussed out, trampled, hit, or becoming the latest victim of road rage. Can we all just give each other a break? That’s what I want for Christmas; some peace and quiet.

Do what you need to do, but let’s treat people with respect. Let’s not let a holiday that is supposed to be based around cheer and happiness turn us into monsters. Appreciate the things you get, and even more important, appreciate those who love you. Presence is the greatest present of all!

*~*MR*~*

Blood is a Myth.

Sorry, I took a few days off. I’ve been on vacation from work, and feeling a little down lately, so I needed some time to recharge. In my time away, I witnessed an event that really gave me something to come back and talk about.

All my life I have been one of those, “blood is thicker than water,” people. I’m really not sure how I ended up that way, considering my family’s constant feuding. I really believed there was something special being genetically connected to others. The older I am getting, the more I realize that is horseshit.

My mom’s childhood story sucks. Second youngest of six, parents divorced when she was young, and somehow she managed to be the one that stepped up. Dad wasn’t around much after that, and Mom was out looking for love in all the wrong places. Getting drunk and guilt tripping the kids was my grandmother’s forte and it’s pretty obvious that it took a toll on my mom. For whatever reason, she has grown up thinking that she owes her mother something huge.

My mom would have done anything for my grandma. She took her car away from me at age 19 and forced me to purchase a brand new one just so grandma could have a car following her car accident. She paid grandma’s bills. She furnished the woman’s apartment. Finally, she took her in under her roof, totally rent free. I told her it was a bad idea. I knew what grandma was going to do. She would become a total dependent. She wouldn’t do anything for herself because she didn’t have to. There is nothing wrong with the woman. Perfectly capable, makes more money per month off of social security than I do working. Any decent person would offer to chip in, or pay for food, or at least clean the house. She couldn’t even let the dog out. What a crock.

I predicted all of this, and watching it unfold before my eyes both broke my heart and took a load off of my shoulders to know that I wasn’t being harsh and unreasonable, just realistic. All of my grandma’s sarcastic commenting and inability to lift a finger in the house led to my mother’s demise. Finally she realized how draining her own mother could be. She couldn’t take any more. She told my grandma she didn’t want her there anymore and we could all help her find a new place. My mom tried to handle things as civilly as she could, knowing that she never should have made the move in the first place. My grandma proceeded to tell my mother that she did not want her [$1500] couch [that my mom is still paying for] back when she moved because she didn’t like it anyway. And my uncle said he’d get her a new one. As small as that seems, it was the last straw for my mom and she lost it. She even screamed at my grandmother to get the fuck out of her life in the middle of an apartment parking lot. She demanded that my grandma get a hold of one of her other children and leave her house immediately. My mom was bawling. She didn’t want to have to end things that way, but her mother disrespected her and her family for the last time.

What kind of mother can’t accept the kindness of her own children? How can your child give you everything and it’s never enough for you? My mom even said, she hasn’t done as much for me, her only child, as she has for her mother. Her mother never deserved anything from her, yet she expected it. I was proud of my mom that day for respecting herself enough to remove herself from that toxic situation. I can only hope she continues on that path, as it is hard to watch her get her heart broken over and over.

All I’ve learned from this is that blood doesn’t mean anything. People who support you and respect you are the most important. We all need to have people in our lives that have our back. It’s a tough world out there, and its even tougher when you are constantly being beaten down. I hope all of you reading this can find your people. Get out there and connect. People have gotten so far away from others that we don’t know how to treat each other anymore. Please get out there and practice compassion, and by all means, start at home.

*~*MR*~*