Where is the love?

I know I’ve said before that I’m tired of politics, but I just can’t let this one go. This travel ban that has been put in place is absolutely making me sick. Now I’m not in agreement with illegal immigration, I think people should do it the right way and pull their fair share in this country, but what is happening to immigrants now is absolutely ridiculous. The people that Trump is trying to ban are entering the country legally…or at least they were. There are a variety of issues with this ban, and I feel the need to express my opinions on them.

First off, a ban on immigration from “terrorist countries” is going to do about as much good as a ban on guns. If a person is a criminal and they want to hurt people, they aren’t going to care about some stupid ban. They will find a way in and they will do their damage. And what about those immigrants from any other country that wants to do harm? They’re still allowed in. Or what about American citizens born and raised here who want to commit harm? Dylan Roof, James Holmes, Timothy McVeigh, Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold, those were all white guys. What exactly are you trying to prove here? The only people this is hurting are the ones who are already terrified for their lives, the ones who want to do good, and the ones with goals and dreams that are now being put on the back burner.

I get trying to prevent illegal immigration, because for one, it screws up how our country runs. Our tax rates and whatnot are based on the amount of services that need to be provided for X amount of people (not saying the government does a great job with that either, but that’s how it’s supposed to work). Undocumented individuals throw that number off. I am all about people coming here legally and working hard to achieve their goals though. A number of my friends and co-workers are immigrants and they are wonderful people. I can honestly say that their contributions have had a positive impact on our society. What I don’t get is how Trump thinks building some stupid wall (they build tunnels now, ya know…) or banning immigrants is going to fix these problems. The immigrants coming in legally are helping us to be the melting pot that we claim we are. Honestly looking back at history, this country has always marginalized one group or another, but we claim to be a diverse culture, and this is completely reverting.

Another issue I have with this is how it is tearing apart families. Its not like these people had any warning. Some of them were in the middle of a flight back home to their families when the orders were signed and they had to turn around and go back to where they came from. We’ve done a lot of work to attempt to prevent discrimination in this country and now we are multiplying the discrimination. It’s pathetic.

I just feel like this is a start to something much larger, and it scares me. Who’s next? I watch a lot of documentaries and I feel like I’ve seen this before. This is how some of the darkest periods in history have begun. I don’t know what we can do, but we have to do something. We need to stand up for human beings. My heart hurts right now, and usually I don’t get very emotional. I want to see us pull together as one people and make this right. I have hope, but it’s running out. Let’s not destroy what we claim we are building. Please wake up America. Don’t let this nightmare become our reality.

*~*MR*~*

Outpouring

It’s been a little while since I’ve written because I’ve had a lot going on this past week or so. I’m not entirely sure what I want to write about, but I know I can’t stomach anymore politics, I don’t want to shove my religion in your face, and quite frankly, I’m so tired right now that I don’t even know why or how I’m typing this. Either way, I don’t want to leave you hanging or thinking I’ve disappeared, so I’ve decided to write a bit about the past couple of days.

My boyfriend’s grandfather died last week, and the funeral was Friday. Unfortunately, the funeral was in Pittsburgh, which is about a 4 hour drive for us. I had to work Saturday at 7pm, so it was going to have to be a pretty quick trip. I love road trips, but boy do I hate being rushed.

So after incorrectly Mapquesting the directions (he had the “avoid toll roads” button checked) my boyfriend started panicking because the website told him the drive was almost 7 hours. He started freaking out and saying we would have to leave by 4am to make it to the funeral. I knew something wasn’t right because we’ve been to Pittsburgh plenty of times, there’s no way it would take that long. When I figured out what was wrong, I recalculated and got it down to just under 4 hours, which was perfectly fine. After that was all sorted out, we grabbed our bags and hit the road.

When we got onto the Turnpike, I looked at our toll card and noticed the tolls had gone way up. $13.75 just to get out of Ohio. $7 to get into Pennsylvania. $13.50 to get back home (you don’t have to pay when you leave PA, and we were able to exit one exit earlier than where we got on to save $.25). If I remember correctly, it was almost double what we paid the last time we made the trip. I knew it went up, but geez!

The drive wasn’t bad, it snowed a little, but there really wasn’t a lot of traffic or tie-ups, so it was pretty much smooth sailing all the way. We made it to the hotel, got ready, and were off to the funeral home.

Mind you, JT and I have been together 5 1/2 years, but there are still a few elusive family members I haven’t officially met yet. They’ve all seen my name and face on social media, but that’s about it. JT’s uncle came up to introduce himself, and of course my social anxiety kicked in. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to say it, either I’m JT’s girlfriend or JT is my boyfriend, so it came out, “Hi! I’m Mariah, JT’s boyfriend!” I thought the rest of the family was going to bust a gut. JT’s sister thanked me because she said that she was about to start bawling from her built up emotions and instead I made her laugh. I didn’t live that down the rest of the weekend, and I’m sure it will be a joke for years to come. Good thing I have a great sense of humor too!

After the slightly awkward introductions, there was a short memorial service and then it was off to the church for the real funeral. As my followers know, I’m a Buddhist now, but I wasn’t always. This was the first time I’ve set foot in a Methodist church in about 12 or 13 years. The pastor said a lot of good things and then we sang a few hymns. I forgot what it was like to sing church hymns. I grew up in a Catholic choir, so I’d done my share of singing in church, but it really felt good to do it again. The teachings of the church don’t appeal to me so much, but the beauty of the togetherness really does something.

We drove to the cemetery for another small service there and I realized I’d forgotten something. In our haste to leave that morning, I had put on my sweater, grabbed a matching shawl and ran out the door. I didn’t think much about standing outside, just bolting from car to building. I didn’t have any kind of a real coat. The cemetery chapel wasn’t heated and it was about 24 degrees. Thankfully it was a short service! I did learn that my shawl is surprisingly warm though! As long as you don’t catch a draft underneath, it gets the job done!

Back at the church, the uncles busted out guitars and sang some of their dad’s favorite songs. JT’s dad was catching a cold, so he wasn’t up for much singing, but we all had fun just watching enjoying the performance. They are a musical family, so you can’t go wrong with a free show.

We spent some time with the family, and then all of us 3rd generation folks went back to the hotel. We grabbed some drinks and had our own little party. JT fell asleep pretty early, so I hung out with his sisters, had some beers and decided to go play Cards Against Humanity in the hotel lobby where we were joined by a few folk from another funeral party. Before we knew it, it was 5am. I knew I needed to get some sleep, I had to be to work in 14 hours and we still had a big day ahead.

I got up after about 3 hours, ate breakfast, and got ready for the day. We went back to JT’s grandpa’s old house and spent some time there. We shared stories and looked at pictures and laughed a little. JTs dad took us all out for lunch, and then we had to start our journey home.

When I say I went to Pittsburgh this weekend, friends and co-workers keep asking me what for expecting something fun. When I say I went for a funeral, they get uncomfortable and apologize. The truth is, there is no apology needed. This weekend’s funeral was exactly what a funeral should be. Certainly there were tears and sadness, but overall it was about celebrating life. I never got to meet Papa J, but I heard stories and saw pictures, and I could feel the love outpouring from his family this weekend. Everyone had a story or a memory to share, and despite the sadness, I would say there were more laughs and smiles than tears. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone, but really it’s not goodbye. Every time you see someone slurp their soup a certain way, or hear a comment about someone walking by that triggers that memory in you, that person is there. When you are about to criticize a person and you stop to ask yourself “What would Papa J do?” you are consciously keeping that person in your heart. Our bodies aren’t the end of us, we leave a legacy.

The most important thing we can do for a person after they pass is to keep their memory alive. Of course you’re going to be sad for a while, that’s natural. The truth is you can’t grip that sadness too tightly. Let it meld and bubble over for a while, but then you have to let it go. Let that person live on through you and you will never be lonely a day in your life. I love when memories of a lost loved one find their way up to the surface and surprise me. I know that person still lives, somehow.

All I know is I want my funeral to be as happy of an occasion as possible. Just like Papa J, I want people to play music, share stories, and laugh! Crying won’t bring me back to life, but remembering will. I’m really glad I got to be there for JT and his family this weekend. It meant just as much to me as it did to them. Life is about finding the good despite the bad, and I’d say we did that. RIP Papa J, and thanks for the memories!

 

*~*MR*~*

Beginning of a New Era

So tomorrow is the big day. The United States Presidential Inauguration. I really don’t know how to feel about it. I’m not a Trump supporter, I certainly didn’t vote for him, and I think a lot of his policies are sketchy at best. Not to mention the fact that he doesn’t seem to know when to shut his mouth.

There is so much controversy surrounding the issue, and like I said, I’m just not sure how to feel about it. Trump has clearly said some less than savory things, and I’m not particularly thrilled with some of the people he has added to his cabinet. Might I also add that I didn’t care much for the Democratic ticket either, and I don’t think I’d feel any less on the fence than I do now, even if for different reasons. The problem I have is that it is hard to discern how much of the controversy is caused by Trump himself and how much is just media uproar put out there to divide the American people. At this point I just don’t know. And if our government is supposed to work the way it claims, he won’t be able to do anything too drastic without the people’s approval, right? Although if the people voted him in, it’s possible that they are “drastic” themselves.

Either way, I know all of these protests have been organized and people are in an uproar, but my issue is this: I protest actions, not people. Trump isn’t in the hot seat yet. He can talk all he wants, but I don’t think much of it until it turns to action. Remember when he said Mexico was going to pay for the wall? That’s not happening now. Just because he talks doesn’t mean he will do. I’m ready to watch and see. The minute he tries to put some racist law in place or declares unnecessary war, or does something extreme with the budget, I’ll be the first one on the protest lines. Right now, I think we should just sit back and give him a shot. The people spoke, and this is what they wanted. I’m willing to watch and see before I make any rash decisions.

I don’t trust this man, and I’ll be watching him while constantly on high alert. If he tries to do something that I feel is bad for the American people, I will fight. Until then, I’m going to let him be. I’m not celebrating his presidency so to speak, but I’m not boycotting or protesting him either. Let’s see what happens. I wasn’t an Obama supporter either. He did a lot of things that I totally disagreed with, but he also did some things that I supported 100%. At the very least, hopefully Americans will take this as a learning experience and really stand up for the right things. It’s clear to see that our country has hit a point where we are quite divided on what the right things are, but I have hope that we can all come together and make things better for everyone. We don’t need to be so divided. Just because we don’t agree on something doesn’t mean we can’t be compassionate and mind our own business without hurting others. For example, that’s why I’m pro-choice ( I do disagree with late-term and partial birth abortions, however). Personally, I don’t know if I could go through with an abortion. When I look at other people I understand that I don’t know their situation. I don’t know what they are going through, and I certainly don’t know their thought process. I trust them that they know what is best for them. I trust that with the help of their doctor, significant other, family, friends, ect. they can make the right choice for themselves. Being pro-choice doesn’t say I “agree” with abortion or “support” abortion, but I do support the human beings that have to make those decisions. If a person cannot express themselves, eat on their own, breathe on their own, ect. they can appoint a power of attorney to make healthcare decisions (including withdrawing care). I believe that essentially a fetus is in this position. The fetus cannot function on it’s own without the mother’s support, and if she feels it is best for whatever reason to terminate that pregnancy, I’d rather see her do it before the child is born and neglected.  Personally I’d rather see someone make better birth control decisions before pregnancy, but it’s not my call to make once that happens. I don’t have to carry, birth, or raise that child, so it isn’t my call. That’s how I feel about just about any issue. I trust the human beings involved to make the best decision for themselves, and as long as they aren’t infringing on someone else, it isn’t my call to make.

I want the best for this country and it’s people. I don’t think the best thing for this country is to be divided and against each other from the beginning of this era. I think we need to pull together and love each other rather than separating. We can do it. We have the power to overcome adversity together. I want to see the people be strong and raise up the way I know we can. We don’t need violence and hatred, we need love and compassion. I challenge all of you to be compassionate. Go out there and love someone just because. Don’t go protest the inauguration, come together with the hope that our country can achieve something great. We can do it, I believe in us.

*~*MR*~*

Finding Your People

So I used to be a very “friendly” outgoing type person, but as I’ve gotten older, for reasons unknown, I’ve kind of retreated into my own little shell. Mostly I’m ok with that. I like being alone, and more importantly I like being left alone when I have something I want to do. My problem arises when I have to go somewhere or something exciting happens.

I have pretty bad social anxiety, which I can usually fake around until I get comfortable, but its more irritating for me than anyone else, I think. When I’m going somewhere new or with a new group of people, I always like to have a buddy with me just in case I start bugging out and need someone to ground me. I’ve been trying to force myself into new situations to get better at dealing with these things, and I’m not sure if it is helping with the anxiety, but it is definitely making my life better in the long run.

When something exciting happens,  the first thing I want to do is gush to someone about how amazing life is. Nothing sucks more than having amazing news and no one to share it with.

I was never really concerned with finding friends, I just figured I was fine in my shell and I could handle things on my own. I had my couple of close people to lean on like my best friend and my boyfriend, but they have their own lives, so I can’t expect them to carry the brunt of my existence as well.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I started attending a Buddhist temple in my area. From the moment I walked in I felt connected with everyone there. The more I go, the more familiar I’m becoming with people and the easier it is to open up and connect. I don’t feel like I am being judged there, as I do in a lot of other settings. I have been contemplating formal membership there, but I didn’t want to just rush into things either. Today, I made the leap. I joined the temple officially.

There’s just something about finding a group of people that really speaks to your heart, and when you find those people, it is important to take the opportunity when it arises. I could play around for years making excuses of why I can’t do this or that, but when it comes down to it, you either need to shit or get off the pot! Well, today I shat. I shat out all of those negative feelings, doubts, concerns, and whatever else I had going on and made a decision. I’m on this path now and this is where I’m going. If someone doesn’t like it, they better get off the train because I’m on the true path now.

I’m realizing the importance of being around like-minded people. You won’t always find them in a religious organization, maybe a sports team or a book club is more your style. Maybe you would prefer a knitting circle or craft meet. Whatever you do, find your passion and embrace it. It is so much easier to be the person you want to become when you have others supporting you in your journey.

No matter how anti-social you may be, I guarantee you can find your group out there. If I found mine, you can find yours. Best of luck on your journey…

 

*~*MR*~*

The Winds of Change

It’s been a few days since I’ve written because I’ve been contemplating the various topics that I wanted to discuss and nothing really jumped out at me. Over the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about moving and traveling and I feel like that is something I need to discuss here.

I was raised by parents who essentially were born and raised in the same place (my father moved a few hours south for college, but came back after graduating and losing his retail job he had there). My parents are the type of people who have always held a job, no matter how much they hated it, and they have always been hell-bent on security. Being raised by them, I admired their work ethic and became very much the same way. I’ve always held a job, and always keep my debts as my priority. As I’m getting older and seeing the ways other people live, I am finding out how much people like my parents are missing out.

I’m not saying to ignore your debts by any means. I think it is important that we all not only stay on top of our finances, but also learn to live within our means. I used to think that I would be a lot happier if I won the lottery, moved to a beach house, and never had to think about working another day in my life. I’m finding myself disagreeing with this proposal more and more each day. In theory, a massive beach house would be great. In practical terms I have to think about cleaning it, furnishing it, and what I’m going to do with all of that extra space I don’t need. Sure, I could adopt a lot more pets having a place like that, but there is a lot of upkeep that would keep me from things I really want in life. Also, I want to work, even if it is just a little bit. Sure it would be nice to have enough money that if I wanted to take a trip or something I could, but really I don’t want to have too much. When you have too much extra money, you start attracting a lot of shady characters that will use you to get your money. You also have taxes and other things you have to deal with when a lot of money comes your way. Not to mention all the temptations for things that you could otherwise easily stay away from.

I know a few people who have moved to relatively far-away places and at the time I remember kind of laughing at them because I thought it was silly and irresponsible to move somewhere without having a real solid plan to stay there. Sure, these people got jobs and places to live, but they really didn’t know how long things would work out, or what would happen if their roommate moved out and they couldn’t afford it, ect. I was pretty much taking my mom’s view on this. How could you move somewhere with such uncertainty?! It blew my mind. The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I agree with my friends. Why not take a chance? Why not broaden your horizons when you are able?

Now I don’t recommend doing this when you are in debt further than the eyes can see, or if you have people like small children that depend on you, but do what you can to stabilize yourself to a point and then go! So what if you only get to live in Hawaii for a few months? You got to live in Hawaii! So what if you move back to your hometown after your husband graduates law school in Florida? You got to spend a few years in the sunshine! We as a society are so focused on working for material means that we forget to focus on our own wellbeing and needs. It is amazing to get out there and get a new perspective on life. If you have a chance to do that, you shouldn’t let trivial things hold you back.

The truth is, I am way too bogged down with bills right now to do any of this. I wish I would have had the thought process I have now when I was younger instead of trying to please my family. I am working hard on getting my debts paid down and not spending money on frivolous unnecessary things so I can start building toward a freer future. The reason my friends were able to do these things is because they weren’t tied down to student loan debt, car payments, and other completely unnecessary weight. I’m working on getting my situation to a point where I can be more free to go as I please. The older I get the more I realize that I don’t want a job for prestige or excessive amounts of money, I want something fulfilling that also gives me a means to live. I don’t want a huge house, I want a roof over my head and a yard to grow my own food. I don’t want a lot of things, I want a lot of experiences. I want to enjoy my life to the fullest, not keep trying to get more, more, more.

Happiness has changed for me. It is no longer a goal or something to be attained, it is something I work on every day. It is a process and most of it comes by giving myself a chance to see the world differently. Whether it is moving, traveling, taking a class, learning a new skill, reading a book, or doing art, you have a chance to take a whole different perspective. Everything is changing, everything is new, nothing is what it “used to be.” Find joy in that fact. Find joy in the fact that you can experience things just as they are right now. You won’t be able to do that any other time. If you can do it, do it now.

*~*MR*~*

 

Personal Growth

Recently I’ve ventured out of my comfort zone by signing up for a few classes that I thought I would enjoy and making plans to attend certain events that I had otherwise kept away from. I always used to make excuses like I didn’t want to go alone, or I couldn’t get off work, or I didn’t have the money. Lately I’ve been trying to push myself to do these things because that is truly the only way to grow.

My most recent venture is a 10-week glassblowing class. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but knowing I have an unpredictable work schedule stopped me from signing up. This year I said screw it and signed up anyway. Somehow I’m going to figure it out.

Most of the Mondays aren’t a problem, but two of them are. I put in my requests, but was told that unless I can figure something out with my coworkers, chances are I can’t have those days off. Funny thing is that I usually have no problem getting days off but now that I legitimately have something I want to do for myself, it has become a problem.

The lady that does our schedule asked me if this class was for any kind of school credit. Apparently if I was enrolled in school,  I could easily get the day off whether there was someone to cover or not. I have a problem with this. How is a school class any different than a class to better myself as a person? Learning is learning and whether it is sponsored by a university or an art museum should be irrelevant. I think it is important to learn all that you can. Skills and experiences are a great part of our human existence. I work for a university as it is, you would think they would be for all learning, but clearly they are not.

I don’t know how we are supposed to be able to work a job (I’m technically part time, by the way, for this very reason) and maintain any sort of individuality. When your place of employment doesn’t want to give you the time you need to grow, it is very stifling. I have to work at least a little bit just to keep a roof over my head and food on my table. When my own creativity is snuffed out by my job, it really hurts me as a person. Some people may think I’m being silly because it’s “just a glassblowing class” and not something that is “necessary” to live. What really is necessary to live though? In my opinion, it is those types of classes that make living worth it. If all I can do is work and sleep, what is the point in existing? Some people may say I could take the class at a later time, but if not now, when? How do I know my work schedule won’t continue to be more strained? Maybe in the future I will have other projects I am working on and this will have to go to the wayside. I understand that we need to be present in our workplaces and that jobs have to be done, but somehow it shouldn’t have to be at the expense of our livelihood.

I am working hard on not needing to rely so heavily on work in the corporate world by saving money on what I buy and getting bills and debts paid off. Someday I hope to only have to work on occasion to make ends meet. There are so many things I want to do in order to fulfill myself as a human being and sitting at a desk all day isn’t one of those things. I don’t mind contributing my part, but I need to have time for me as well. I think we all need that. Most of us are lacking parts of ourselves simply because we don’t have a way to work on those things. I think we as a society need to find ways to better include personal growth into our workplaces and society in general. We shouldn’t have to suffer in order to benefit some corporate greed. There has to be some way to make education in any form accessible to workers everywhere.

If we aren’t allowed to learn, how can we be expected to be? Growing as an individual person will make us all better workers, better family members, better friends, and better humans. I think we all deserve that, and even more, I think we all need it.

*~*MR*~*

Information Overload.

Usually when I sign out of my Hotmail account, I spend a bit of time browsing the MSN homepage. Sometimes there are some interesting ideas out there, and I really tend to love the travel section so I can get some ideas of where to try to go next. Along with all of those good and fun articles, I also find a lot of garbage. I’m not ripping on MSN here, that’s just an example, but there is so much bullshit out there!

I always see an abundance of articles out there on losing weight, celebrity issues, how to solve all of your money problems, ect. Most of it is pure trash. If one well-written article could solve all of your problems, I guarantee that almost all of us would be skinny, healthy, emotionally stable, and financially responsible. The fact that most of us are not that way just proves how much crap is really out there.

As far as losing weight, it takes different things for different people. Just because you “eat these five foods” or do some special diet or exercise regimen doesn’t guarantee that you will lose weight. Even if you do lose weight, you may not be doing it in a healthy or sustainable way. People who truly want to lose weight and maintain a healthy body need individualized instruction from someone like a doctor or trained fitness professional to help them figure out exactly what they need. There is no miracle pill or special rule that will guarantee (healthy) weight loss for everyone. All those articles do is make people feel bad that their approach isn’t working. Many of those articles use scare tactics to get people to do or avoid doing certain things. If you read all those articles, you will probably never want to eat again! Everything causes cancer or inflammation, or disease, so reading those articles will only increase your anxiety, which is probably counterproductive to weight loss anyway!

All of the celebrity drama is probably my least favorite. Most of these celebrities literally do nothing productive, and yet they take up so much space in the media. Now if you are telling me how celebrities are working toward helping their communities, or donating to charity, those things make me happy. Hearing about the demise of stars with substance problems, or who’s getting divorced is really not productive for anyone. Those people have their own problems that they need to deal with among their own family and supporters. And if all of us “normal” people cared as much about those in our families and communities maybe there wouldn’t be such domestic turmoil. Again, most of this is just another distraction and anxiety-causing racket that people need to get away from. It’s destroying our society because everyone is comparing themselves to these people who clearly have different lives than the rest of us. We all need to stop comparing and work on ourselves.

The money articles are a riot. They all tell you how to save money and cut back on spending, but how does that help someone that is literally scraping by to eat? If you can’t even afford your basic necessities, there is no way you can just throw 20 bucks in a shoebox every week. It sure would be nice, but it’s not practical. Again, everyone is comparing and finding themselves upset because they can’t fit into the box. If they can’t save that money, there must be something wrong with them. At least that is how a lot of people see it. Or some will say things like “even if you can’t afford to travel, do it anyway.” That isn’t exactly a practical approach. Sure, maybe if you cut down on your morning coffee for a while you might be able to save up for a couple days at the beach or something, but you have to be realistic for your means. There are a lot of people who already can’t afford the morning coffee in the first place, and what about them?

I’m not saying these articles shouldn’t be out there or that they should be censored, I’m just saying the writers really need to learn to present things better. Most advice isn’t one size fits all, and it doesn’t work out the same for everyone. Writers need to target their audiences a little more specifically, and us as readers need to not be so gullible. Most of the time I will just buzz right by articles because it sounds like hogwash from the beginning. Targeting your audience ensures not only that your article will be read, but that it will make a positive impact. So much of the information out there is garbage that when you find something real, oftentimes you are still skeptical. I don’t think we need a government or a censoring bureau or anything else to tell us what should and should not be printed, but we the people need to demand that the information out there have some sort of quality. When we find this kind of garbage, don’t pass it on to your friends before you do some research. Don’t just start following a diet plan because an article said it would be good for you. We need to do our own outside investigating and start calling out these articles with falsehoods. We need to stop accepting so much garbage.

We are overloaded with information because nowadays anyone can post anything and claim it is fact. If we stopped reading trash, held writers accountable, and had discussions about material we found instead of blind following, it would be amazing what we could accomplish. Information overload desensitizes us and clouds our views. If we decide to stand up to garbage information, eventually it will start to go away. Of course we will never be able to eradicate it all,  but we should strive to start somewhere. We need to get to a point where we can trust a majority of the information we see instead of having to be skeptical. And boy would I like to see people cut down on the gossip information. Let people live–oh yeah, and stop making people famous for no reason! Let’s try to help humanity instead of destroying it.

*~*MR*~*

2017. It has arrived.

So I started off the year right. I attended the Buddhist temple as I said I would. I woke up to get ready and found my boyfriend puking his guts up in the bathroom. I could tell right away that he wouldn’t be attending the service with me. I thought for a second and considered not going because I’ll admit I was a little scared of going alone. I didn’t really know anyone, I had only talked to a couple of temple members briefly online, and I’m not exactly what you would call a social butterfly. I quickly reconsidered. This is my spiritual path, no one else’s. While I would have loved to have him by my side, I felt it was important for me to go whether he went or not. I had already made soup for the potluck party after service, and I intended on bringing it. As I was leaving, I glanced at my phone and iPod but decided to leave them home. I was going for spiritual fulfillment, not to play on my phone or be distracted. I told the boyfriend that I wouldn’t have my gadgets, so if he needed something he would have to wait until I got home. I put my fears aside and ventured toward the temple. This was a little after 10am.

When I got to the temple, I set up my crock pot and looked for someone to help me with beginning instruction. I found a temple member who showed me the ropes for a while before formal instruction began. There were 4 or 5 of us newbies, and they showed us what was up. It was such a relaxed environment and I felt surprisingly comfortable there. I didn’t have any of my usual distractions; no phone, no internet, no books. I spent a lot of time looking around, taking it all in, and surprisingly, talking to others. It was fun to share my experiences with people who have been through much of the same.

Service began, and we had a beautiful year letting go/year beginning ceremony. It was very powerful. We did a Dharani  chant at the end and I could literally feel the energy of everyone in the room flowing through. It was absolutely beautiful. I was moved like I have never been moved during a religious ceremony. I actually felt something. I was having a hard time finding a comfortable position for sitting, but that is part of the practice. Luckily, they are very flexible, and no one was judging my squirming presence. I know it will get better with time.

After the service we had the potluck, enjoyed some good food and fellowship, which was nice. Such a comfortable and laid back atmosphere. The potluck led into presentations about temple groups which was very inspiring. They have these things called affinity groups which are basically groups of members who enjoy doing any of many things and gather to practice those things together. They don’t necessarily have anything to do with the religious services. They have a Dungeons and Dragons group for crying out loud! They also have things like recovery groups, family groups, and some were even talking about starting things like a knitting group or flow arts group. Everything is about living your practice and spending time with those who are practicing just like you. Being around supportive like-minded people on a regular basis can be helpful.

I stayed for presentations, ate some food, and finally decided to pack up and leave. I got in my car and noticed it was already 3:15. I had been there 5 hours. There were no clocks, and since I didn’t have my phone, I had no idea how long it had been. I was enjoying myself a lot and felt my spirit come alive. I could have stayed all day, but I wanted to get back home to share my joy with my boyfriend.

I got home and told him about my experience. I want to go back, and hopefully next Sunday he will be able to join me. I kept to my social media limit and stayed on for only 2 hours yesterday. My boyfriend and I played a few games of Yahtzee, which was great. It was nice to finally have that interaction that we haven’t had in so long.

I’m really trying this year. I want to be better, I want to improve my being, and I want to radiate positivity to others so that they can feel joy too. I know it’s only the second day of the year, but I like to think I’m well on my way. Sure there will be stumbles along the way, but I’m happy being where I am right now. This is the right road, and I will continue to travel it.

*~*MR*~*

 

Bring it on.

So yesterday I went through and itemized some of the good things that happened in 2016. Each month had at least one positive thing to be said. That’s not to say there weren’t bad things, or at the very least challenges leading up to the good, but I see no need to dwell on those. They happened, I made it through, and somehow, I am better for those events. But enough about 2016. In just a few hours we will be ringing in the new year right here. All I can say is welcome,  2017. Hopefully the universe continues to be good to me. No matter what comes my way, I intend on making it benefit not just me, but everyone and everything. Every moment holds a lesson, and if we can all make ourselves better from these lessons, we can really make a difference.

Now I don’t do “resolutions” so to speak, but I will make a list of goals and things I want to work on for the year. I like to have some kind of outline of the things that I want to do and work toward. In light of these things, I want to share them with you all. Sharing my goals ensures that other people know what I am working toward and hopefully will help keep me on track. It’s very easy to shirk your responsibilities when the only person you have to answer to is yourself.

My first goal is to enhance my spiritual life. I am starting the year by attending a Buddhist temple for the first time. I have read much about Buddhism and started practicing on my own. After years of straying from religion, I think I am ready to come back on a different path. This year I want to be a part of Buddhist fellowship and learn to grow with the help of a strong community. I want to read more books, practice yoga, and make sure that I make time for meditation practice.

I want to make more time to work on art this year. Not only is it a great release, but it ends in something beautiful, and something that you can show that you worked on. I intend to continue glassblowing (hopefully I get into the next class I signed up for, I’ll find out soon!), I would love to spend more time painting, and also start making jewelry. While I love doing these things for fun, I would love to be able to sell some of my pieces for extra money. Getting better with practice will help me get to that level.

I really want to work on learning a new language this year. Maybe more than one, who knows. I’m very interested in ASL, Russian, and Arabic. I intend to at the very least start diving into the basics. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll be able to take an actual class.

I want to be kind to my body. That doesn’t mean that I want to do some fad diet or overdo it at the gym, I just want to make sure I go to the gym on a regular basis. Or at the very least take a walk or go swimming. I want to eat better food and spend more time reading ingredients and learning to choose better ways to fuel my body. I want to increase my water intake and make more time for sleep and relaxation. Those things really need to be prioritized in today’s busy world. If you aren’t well rested and well fueled, it is a lot harder to have the energy you need to get things done. So many of us, me included, skip out on rest and taking time for good food in order to get more done, but we tend to forget that we are only making things harder on ourselves in the long run.

I want to travel more. Even if it is just a little day trip a few hours away, I want to see what else is out there. There are so many things to do and places to see, I feel like it is our duty as human beings to experience as much as we can in this world. When there are so many exciting things that are close to home and can be done fairly cheaply, there is no reason why I couldn’t at the very least make it to some of those places.

This is the year I plan on moving out of the area I was raised in. I need to experience that kind of change and get away from some negative influences in my life. It’s time to explore.

It is very important to me that I spend more time outside. This kind of goes along with taking care of my body, because spending time outside definitely involves some walking, and the fresh air certainly can’t hurt.

Along with my spiritual practice, I also want to practice mindfulness as much as possible. I’ve been getting better at it, or at the very least getting better at realizing when I am not doing it and bringing myself back. Living in the moment is important, and it helps you learn those little lessons that life has to teach you.

I’ve done a lot of volunteer work this past year, but I intend on doing even more this year. It is very important to me to share my talents with others to improve lives. I don’t have a lot of money to give, so giving my time is important to me.

I plan to pay off at least one of my major debts. Some people go over the top and say they are going to pay off everything, but I know that is not realistic. I would be happy just to wipe out one of them this year.

Again with the recurring theme, I want to bike and walk more. Not just for my body, but also for the environment. If I don’t really have to drive everywhere, I really shouldn’t just do it out of convenience. Plus it saves money to use alternate modes of transportation, so that is always a plus as well.

I want to focus on ways to improve my relationships. Mainly with my boyfriend, but with others as well. I want to be able to communicate better and be in sync with each other’s goals. Again, this doesn’t just apply to my romantic relationship, but with friends, family, and co-workers as well. I want to be a better human being, and it takes work!

I definitely want to limit my time on social media. I decided to start with two hours per day. There is no logical reason why any one person needs to spend more than 2 hours per day scrolling. I know I do it now, and when I think about it I realize how much I could be accomplishing without it. I don’t want to put it away completely, because social media does have a few redeeming features, but ultimately I want to put real human interaction first again.

I want to take a class on something new. Maybe it will be one of those language courses. Maybe it will be a jewelry class or a different glass technique. Maybe it will be an academic course. Who knows?! I just want to be able to learn and grow.

I want to do more DIY projects. I made my own shampoo and body wash today. That’s a start. I want to be able to repurpose products and save time by doing things myself. Sometimes it can even save money, depending on the project. It gives me a sense of pride knowing I can do something by myself.

I want to be kinder to the environment, not just with my mode of travel, but with the products I buy too. I want to focus on buying more sustainable products, local products, and things that benefit the environment instead of harming it. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know if global warming is a natural occurrence or if we have something to do with it, but regardless it never hurts to take care of the resources we need to live.

My last goal is to try to shop local whenever possible. It is harder and harder to find local shops because they struggle to compete with the big box stores that take over everything. I want to try to make a conscious effort to shop local when possible and support those in my community. If we all help each other grow, it will make everyone’s life a little better. I don’t need a government or a legal system to force me to help others, I should do it on my own. We all need a little help sometimes, and what better way to pay back than to help someone else in need?

So that’s it, that’s what I want to do with this upcoming year. I want to focus on being better, whatever that may mean. I challenge you to do the same. Let’s make this world a better place in 2017!