“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Unless it’s Facebook (or some other social network) and then all bets are off. — NOT Ernest Hemingway
Fight and you may die, run and you will certainly live at least for a while and dying in your beds many years from now would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom.
What are you fighting for?
What are you fighting against?
Marriage equality or DOMA?
Corporate entitlement disguised as “religious freedom” or do you believe that Corporations are people.
The Affordable Healthcare Act.
Women’s rights pro or con?
Maybe you are fighting Monsanto.
Maybe you are fighting to save your marriage.
Maybe you are fighting to end a bad marriage.
Maybe you are fighting cancer.
Or terrorism either from within or without.
Or maybe, just maybe, you’ve buried your head in the sand and aren’t fighting anything at all, but just surviving. Maybe all you want is to go home and live because you are afraid of the cost.
My question though is, is that really living?
Hiding the truth.
We all want freedom.
Freedom from tyranny – where ever we find it. We want the freedom to make our own choices, live our own lives, and express our opinions without fear of retribution.
If the truth really does set us free as they say, why do we live in the land of the free and the brave, yet want freedom at the expense of another?
Freedom has a cost.
It carries a price.
So does hiding.
We can sleep in our beds and live (and lie) or we can fight.
“Careful ladies, the saints are watching.”
To which I reply,
Thank you for the warning.
Let them watch.
I’ll be honest, when my friend shared this video (via his blog – Save a Cactus Hugger) with me last week, I sat down and cried.
I didn’t cry because I’m such a fan of these two men. I am (and you my readers know that, probably ad nauseum I’m sure.) but that’s not the point. I think this video shows courage, and great humility. Robert Downey Jr has proven himself to be a class act all the way around.
I’m not sure why it made me cry really. My reaction was so strong emotionally that I’m forced to look at it and find out. Yeah me, another Fantastic Growth Opportunity. (AFGO as my friend calls it) – I know that I’ve had many periods in my life where I’ve been overcome with a severe case of dumb-butt and have needed to face that in myself. And while I’ve been blacklisted for serious infractions like admitting I’m a more of a Ben and Jerry’s Fan than a Dairy Queen Gal, I have fortunately been spared the limelight of these two men’s lives.
Not that I haven’t necessarily done worse.
I just never got caught. Or if I did, it never made the nightly news or cover of People Magazine.
Maybe I cried because I’m one of those women who loves alcoholics to death — literally sometimes. (To point, if our eyes meet across a crowded room and my heart starts doing 280, chances are pretty good they either have a flask in their pocket or a criminal record. Which is in all honesty how I landed up in a 12 step room to begin with. I was raised to believe that I am personally responsible for other people’s bologna and it took a few years to let go of that responsibility, one clutched controlling finger at a time.)
Maybe I cried out of self pity? I have several alcoholics in my life who have yet to accomplish (on a personal level) what I witnessed here.
Maybe I cried because I know so many who left the room before reaching this place of hope and real forgiveness.
Or maybe I cried because I’ve been around 12 step rooms for so long and I honesty wish church were more like this and it isn’t always.
No matter, I love the video and believe that Robert’s actions show great class, love, and humility – not to mention courage and so do Mel’s. These men are a great example of true friendship — we should all be so blessed.
I used to think I had 1,001 reasons to hate men, turns out I have 1,001 reasons to hate one man and the rest of the poor saps just caught the shrapnel. — Fisher’s of Men.
Fisher’s of Men is not a new story that woke me up one night wanting to be written. It’s a story that really began in a home for unwed mothers in Utica NY in 1965 and is working it’s way to resolution with every new step, every new discovery and every word I write. It’s a story that has to be written and desires to be told. It’s a story that is almost universal in nature and bigger than me. It’s story that I have been asked to share on stage since I was 14. It’s also a story that I thought I could write during National Novel Writers Month. 50,000 words. Piece of cake I thought. I’ve discovered it’s also a story that can’t be wrapped up that neatly yet.
The first few days, the first week even the words flew off my finger tips onto my keyboard and into my hard drive. I know everything there is to know about her, after all I created her. I’ve eaten, slept, and breathed her into existence for over 47 years. I know her inside out and backwards. She’s a mix of things, sinner and saint, lover and fighter. Porcupine and Pollyanna. She’s full of self-knowledge and yet it avails me nothing. My protagonist doesn’t resolve. Every story has a beginning, a catalyst and resolution. She needs to resolve in order for the story to be complete.
When I couldn’t make her resolve, I ran to my cove in order to be alone and find my ending. I firmly believe that every writer should have a body of water to live near or at least visit. There is truth in water and it’s boundaries. And if you are lucky and listen closely the wind will catch it’s truth and carry it to you. I spent the weekend wandering the boundaries of my cove hoping to find clarity when the truth hit me square in my gut with such force it almost took my breath away. My protagonist doesn’t resolve because I don’t. Fisher’s of Men isn’t a piece of fiction, it’s my life story. It’s me. Until I resolve, my story will remain in a state of crux.
One of my writing buddies spoke this weekend about how her word for 2013 flew in the window and jumped up and bit her. Much like the wands in Harry Potter that choose the wizard, certain words choose the author, not the other way around. That’s what happened to me. I’m not ready for it, I have no idea what to do with it, but here it is. My word for 2013 is RESOLVE.
This will be a word of rich depth, broad meaning, and many layers. I looked it up. Like me, it’s meanings are wide and varied. One of my favorite definitions so far the the transitive verb, to solve an equation again with new values. That has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Maybe the whole reason Kat(that was her name) and I don’t resolve is because we’ve been using the incorrect values in the equation.
2013 – is going to be a year of recalculating.
I’ll be honest, some days I feel more like my old self than I do my new. Some days the old me emerges out of nowhere and I wonder if I’ve grown any at all. Thankfully, feelings aren’t facts.
The old me was really really cute, and man did she know how to work it. I still do and I hate it. As much as I hate how good I am at cute, there was a time when I hated being called out on it even more. And yet, I have a mentor, and a multitude of friends who when seeing my “cute self” try to push her way around, call me out on it. A lot. I am learning to appreciate that even if it hurts. That’s what happens when you hang out around 12 step rooms for too long. You learn to appreciate things you used to resent. – Like the truth. It took me a long time before I ever allowed people to tell me the truth. While I’m selective today about who gets to, I still allow it because I know I need it from time to time.
“I’m cute and I know how to work it!” Said no self-respecting woman, ever! —Tweet This
Playing cute is a lack of trust as well as a lack of respect both for ourselves and our victims.
My cute self got us in a butt load of trouble when I was younger. So much trouble in fact it cost me the respect of my co-workers, friends, and myself. What made me change? A man. An honest one at that.
Do you know what he said to me?
“Don’t get me wrong darlin, I love my wife. I just think we’d be good in bed together.”
I didn’t feel very cute after hearing those words come out of his mouth. Actually, I never felt more alone, hurt, and ashamed in my life. My cute self had behaved us into a really nasty corner and I felt stuck. I’d pursued him, if I’m being honest, under the guise of we work together, we should hang out. What’s the harm in that? Not that he wasn’t willing, ready and able, but I digress. Every time we hung out after work was at my invitation, never his. And we rarely hung out in a crowd, it was usually just us and a couple of beers.
My excuse at the time “I thought we were just buds. I never saw that coming, HE’s the jerk, not me.” — It took me a few weeks (okay years plus a few 12 steps, sponsors and finally a flat on my back moment of surrender) to stop lying to myself. Even though I wasn’t willing to admit it at the time, deep down, I didn’t want him to love his wife, I wanted him to love me. Now that the truth was out, I couldn’t lie, I couldn’t pretend and boy did it hurt.
The truth is, they always love their wives and you and I deserve better than meaningless table scraps. We deserve the whole banquet and yet due to moments of extreme stupidity, loneliness, lack of self-esteem or what ever you want to blame we are easily tempted to settle for so much less.
Instead of being the kind of woman that brings out the whole man, we play the cute little girl who can manipulate boys and nobody wins.
“I love my wife…” I heard these words more than two decades ago, and I have never forgotten them. My life changed that night.
Yes, I turned him down. Just in case you were wondering. Not that it matters really. It still cost me my job eventually. I also cried for weeks. Cute stopped being fun. It stopped working. Cute wanted love, not a cheap one night stand with a married co-worker. I had to kick her to the curb if I was ever going to get what I really wanted and kick her to the curb I did.
The problem I have with Miss Cute Self is she likes to make an appearance every once in a while just to see if she’s still got it. That’s when my brain kicks in and tries to tell me that I will never change.
I have a news flash, my brain lies. For one thing the committee that meets are a bunch of drunks, misfits, co-dependents, floozies, and stone throwers. They are the nay-sayers of life and live to prove that I’ll wind up homeless and rejected tomorrow if I’m not careful. They like to wring their hands and show slides from the past. They like to try to prove that what tripped me up yesterday will surely trip me up today and I need to stay in my little cocoon and keep up my old tricks in order to survive.
Every time my brain rehearses the past to take away my present reality, I lose the chance to grow. Committees are just dementiated liars. (I made that word up – my committee suffers from memory loss and warped perceptions of reality.) I don’t care how many times I hit replay on that DVR’d memory, it’s going to be foggy. Did I say this or that? What did they really say? When did that really happen? All I get are sound bites and nothing more. Just enough really to want to cling to my old habit, old hurts, old resentments, old anger, whatever.
I miss out on so much when I let the committee have its way with me. When I get lost in my mind as I’m prone to do, I need a referee. I need an advocate. I need Christ to take over and set things straight. Once I have that, I can ignore them when they call. Unlike my committee, God doesn’t keep score. I’m told in psalm 130 that he keeps no record of our sins. I think that’s fantastic. He’s not some boogie man in the sky waiting to strike me dead or hold me to account for my past — he covered that with the cross.
There are still old habits, old behaviors, and old memories that trip me up from time to time even today. That doesn’t mean I haven’t changed or grown. It doesn’t mean I have to keep doing those things either. When I catch myself in an old behavior (or have an old behavior pointed out by a friend) I can choose to react and behave differently right this minute. Yep, I’m back to choices.
I have friends who believe in me enough to tell me the truth. Sometimes it’s a “yeah you, you so got this!” and sometimes it’s things like, grow up, quit being a victim, don’t manipulate me, and take responsibility for your choices.
I don’t have to crumble when someone points out something I know to be an old behavior surfacing. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t have to allow the committee to take over with their doctored evidence. I can own it, apologize and move on. And it’s over and done with. I love that.
Sometimes there are tears because it hurts. Hurts is okay. It means I’m alive. Allowing myself to be open enough to these friends is a good thing – and a somewhat new thing. Ken Davis said it well in his book Fully Alive, If you choose to move forward in your quest to live fully alive, you will fall, it will hurt…and it will be worth it.
I have friends who love me enough to help me kick her to the curb when they see her and I love that. I don’t need to be cute with them. I just need to be me.
Contrary to what the committee says, I don’t need my cute self in order to survive anymore nor do I have to stare at my past and believe I’m never going to change. I have changed and that is good news.
What old habits trip you up? Do you let them define your day? How do you change?
From Elements of Your Life on Facebook
My word for the year is breathe. My word for September and October is choices.
Everything I do is a choice. Owning my choices is a sign of being a grown-up. I’m not always a great grown-up. Some days, I would rather shift blame than face myself. That’s a choice too, though not a productive one. We don’t have to grow up. We can choose to blame our past, blame others or circumstances and stay stuck as a victim OR.. we can find freedom. That too is a choice.
Some choices I’ve made this month.
I’ve made some private choices as well and rather than discuss those, I’ll simply carry them out. Every day is a choice. We can choose to stay stuck, or we can choose to grow and move forward. What choices are you making today?
*Old habits that cause pain – sounds like a great blog topic for later this week.
Making myself nothing to suit others is not humility; it’s ego and lack of trust. When I make myself small to “help” someone else feel like they are important what I’m really communicating is I think I’m too big for you to handle and you are too weak to see my greatness. Real relationships require real honesty. If I cannot allow myself to be fully me when we’re together, am I really allowing the other person to be all they can be? Of course not.
Making myself nothing is just another mask for fear. Fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real. What are we really afraid of when we do that? Rejection? Failure? Pride?
We get caught up in the lie that we are being too prideful if we boast (talk) about our accomplishments. Really? Isn’t playing small prideful as well? Yes, we can be very prideful in our ability to make ourselves small — I see it all the time in church. We get hung up on thinking that playing small pleases God. No it does not.
God did not create us to be small nor did He create us to fit in. We are created in HIS likeness in order to make a difference in this world. We cannot make a difference if we are playing down to nothing.
Making myself nothing so that other people can feel like everything is about manipulation and control. It’s about people pleasing and being liked.
Let go of the control.
Be who you were created to be and make a difference.
You can do it.
I believe in you.
You can’t find your voice if you only let others speak for you.
I love the photo from istock. The person in the middle standing out in red with their arms in the air seems so freeing. A visual “ME! I’m here!” in a sea of beige. It speaks to me and so does the quote about letting others speak for me. I think I’ve spent most of my life handing off personal power and pieces of my identity for peace.
I’m only on week two of my voice studies and my brain is already overflowing with Ah Ha moments and inspiration. The assignments have been relatively simple really and yet scary at the same time. I have an Associates Degree while everyone else appears to have a Masters in Lit or higher – heck yes I’m comparing. It scares me.
It’s no coincidence that I would find a writers voice class in the same season that I am questioning my own beliefs about life in general and wondering whose voice really transfers over. Is it my voice people hear or is my version of someone’s expectations? Since I don’t know the answer, I believe that is a question worth exploring.
My journaling goes beyond the lessons these days as I look at why I choose certain phrases and where opinions come from. Am I being rebellious? Am I being afraid? Am I being a parrot? or Am I being me?
Writing has become enjoyable again. They don’t know me. There are no expectations of specific character and behavior. I have the freedom and permission to try on voices like a teenager tries on clothes. There’s no box to fit into.
This class is as freeing as the day I learned how to do stand up — granted I hope and pray writing produces better results. Or maybe the fruit that seed planted *is* growing. Maybe stand-up is just another part of the path of finding myself again. Once I learned how to tell jokes on stage – kill or die trying – other things (like going back to being a Democrat) don’t seem nearly as formidable. I’m eyeball deep in Republicans, trust me when I say that changing back is a bit formidable. Other questions do arise however:
Can I swear?
Anne Lamott does.
I remember the first time I read Traveling Mercies and I saw the F-word. It knocked my sensibilities right out of my socks and caused me to double-check the jacket. Yep, she’s a Christian. My eyes lit up, I giggled and looked around wondering if anyone had heard what I just read. Then something magical happened, my soul settled deep into my reading chair and by the end of the book – I wanted dreadlocks too.
Wanting them and actually getting them are not the same thing. Trying them on for size? Totally worth it. I just didn’t know how I was going to do that. I finally had my chance while on a cruise with some new artist friends and had my hair braided on the beach in Costa Maya last Spring. They lasted all of 12 hours. Dreadlocks aren’t me after all — the wires kept poking me. I finally sat straight up in bed at 2 in the morning and spent two hours taking them out.
I don’t have to copy someone’s look or voice or opinion to fit in. And if I do then they aren’t my tribe.
I don’t have to be Anne Lamott or ee cummings or CS Lewis to be a writer. I don’t have to live off of someone else’s faith to be a Christian either. I just have to be wholly me whatever that entails.
If you are looking for a what not to say to an audience of mostly men, I can give you a list.
There are three things men cannot easily recover from.
The rules for this particular night were simple, keep it PG. I played by the rules and stumbled upon an unwritten understanding that women shall not tell the truth in front of men. Out of 7 comic only 2 of us were female and neither of us made the finals.
There is a difference between killing on stage and dying.
I died Saturday and I’m okay with that.
My set isn’t for men, it’s for women. The judges were male and they did not like me.
While a more experienced speaker will look at their audience and adjust accordingly, I chose to stay the course and be myself. Was that the right call? Not if I wanted to win. Fortunately, I didn’t go there to win a contest. I went there to defeat fear. In staying the course I beat the voice in my head that insists that if I continue being myself, I’ll be alone. Misplaced safety nets are detrimental to my well-being.
Just as a child cannot receive self-esteem by being given A’s for effort alone, neither can I. Confidence comes only as an after effect of facing down my fears and doing the unthinkable.
Being fully me sometimes comes with a price, like losing a contest. And yet the joy my inner woman shows every time I allow her to be heard is priceless.