God, Opinions, Our Forefathers, the Internet and MY Sandbox
My own personal version of, "Hi. Welcome to my blog."
Please excuse by tirade but...have some CLASS!
What happened to actually thinking about what you say, before you say it?
Thursday, December 5, 2013
8:30 PM Shauna No comments
As I sit her on this unseasonably cold San Antonio night, with the wind howling outside of my windows, the cursor on my screen beckons me. And, like the song of a mystical siren, I answer her call like an obedient servant. And, as I sat down to write tonight, about some completely unrelated things, I find that I just can’t run away from a thought that has been plaguing me for the past few days now, – try as I might – and that thought is simply this: “Am I better off today than I was a year ago today?”
So Close, Yet So Far Apart
Seasons change, people come and go, and typically you look back over several years and see diminished patterns fall in favor of new behaviors and experiences. Usually, it takes years. For me, this one time, it took only one.
Then to Now
When I started 2013, I remember making a pact with a friend. It was a simple vow. A promise that 2013 was going to be “our year”. Yet, as I sit here in my office, in a partially demolished house, ravaged by a fire last summer, I can’t exactly say that 2013 was “my year”. That is, if I were to measure this past year in successes alone. There was a lot of pain, a lot of heartache, a lot of loss, a lot of remembering things probably better off forgotten and made peace with long ago. Yet, as this year draws to a close, I can say that I’ve learned more about me, and those nearest and dearest to me than I ever thought I would. Still, it’s me I learned about the most.
This year made me grow up a lot. It made me face a lot of things I had been hiding and avoiding for a very long time. This year taught me a renewed perspective, made me value recognizing self-defeating behaviors and attitudes that didn’t work; that were worn out; that were tired; that didn’t deserve to see the light of day. This year became a chrysalis, of sorts. And, while I’m not nearly done with me yet, I can say that this 21 days of pain experiment has been exactly that…painful. But, in a good way. After all, pain can oftentimes just be weakness leaving the body, be it mental or physical. This exercise has forced me to expose my demons and let the skeletons in my closet roam freely. And, somewhere in all of that, I began to find a peace that I cannot adequately put into words, even in the midst of total chaos.
From Now to Then
I have no idea what 2014 holds. However, I’m not naïve enough now to say it’s going to be my year, but it is going to be a year I intend to get the most out of. Then, rise and repeat each year after that. As the clock ticks closer to my 35th year on this big blue marble, a co-inhabitant of yours on this planet, as another year ebbs and flows, Father Time brings both promise and the promise of pain; we are also afford opportunities to create new memories, to clean slate the broken, to repair the spoiled, but even more than that, to fall down and get back up all over again.
Looking back, with the right mindset, often provides us all with the strength we need to look forward, and then take the first step in that direction.
So, to answer my own question: “Am I better off today than I was a year ago today?” The answer is simply, yes. Probably for the first time in a long time, the answer is yes. Because, over the five years prior to that, I was slipping into the cavernous darkness of my own mind a little more day by day. And, it was by sheer grace and luck that I was gifted the right people, at the right times during those years, to help me see the light I needed to claw my way toward some sort of salvation. Some of them remain, others fallen away. Yet, all of the memories have brought me to a place of peace where I can say I wish them all happiness, and I am truly thankful for everything they taught me, good and bad.
It’s Never Ending
And maybe my climb won’t ever stop. Maybe yours won’t either, but I believe that unless we acknowledge the darkness, we will never be able to truly appreciate the light. So I’m ending 2013 like this: I’m deleting all of the old messages, the worn out welcomes, the things that serve no good and I’m using from today on, to work toward something better, something more. After all, I never was one for New Year’s Resolutions anyway. So, in my mind, there is no better day to start than the one you’re sitting in right now. Because a little planning and a lot of faith can take you pretty far in this world, I think. And I’d rather start moving forward right here and right now as opposed to 26 days from now.
Of course, my challenge isn’t over yet. I have nine more days until I can say I have completed the 21 days of pain challenge. And, if the next nine days prove to be like the prior 12, I fully anticipate more lessons to be included in them, but those lessons won’t include the baggage I have been carrying, and it will not include the rocks I’ve placed around my own neck.
So, what about you? Are YOU better off than you were a year ago today?
Sunday, December 1, 2013
6:59 PM Shauna No comments
So over the past two days I got to thinking – I know, you’re probably not shocked by this – about how one’s social media life impacts the actual life you lead. In fact, I think…no, I know, that people build up images and profiles of others based solely what they see online. Sometimes those things are accurate, other times they aren’t. I think that in the midst of oversharing everything, maybe, sometimes, we forget the beauty of under sharing things as well. Maybe that’s the trouble with people today…even me.
The Stress of Social Media
Sometimes, the pretentious prowess of social media can stress people out. You look at all of the posed photos, announcements and declarations, that maybe, just possibly, you believe those to be “normal things”. In fact, maybe they are now. Perhaps that is where our generation is headed…a generation full of transparency…but should we really and truly head in that direction without looking to what the past has taught us?
I approach most things in life methodically, with a purpose in mind…most days. However, I, like you, am human and subject to screwing up…sometimes more than I would care to admit to. I have made mistakes on social media that not even the “delete” feature can ever really take back. And why? Because, I think for someone like me, who prefers a life in the corner, a life in the shadows, it’s easier to interact at arm’s distance; easier to say things you don’t mean, or easier to say things you do. Yet, in all of that, the person to person interaction somehow becomes lost; devoid; changed. Maybe that is what we (and me too) are missing today…
As much as I (personally) enjoy my “corner” moments, being a spectator of life as opposed to an actual participant, I have to wonder why there is a disconnect between social media and reality. If you are one way in life, but another online, does that not speak to who you are more than who everyone else is? If it’s so easy to say or do things online that you would not otherwise do or say in person, doesn’t that speak to our own inadequacies?
Or…maybe I’m overthinking a virtual realm, because for me, it’s simple: what you see is what you get. Sure, I don’t share everything…because not everything needs sharing, but, at my core, I think that what put out there is a large part of who I am, because I’m not really afraid of what anyone else thinks…good, bad, ugly or indifferent. And, while I struggle often and daily with my own insecurities and in trying to navigate a world that I was not entirely prepared for, I know that I’m trying…and I’m trying really, really hard…even when I fall down, and even when I’m sorry for the fallout that causes others. I am far from perfect, and I will probably always forever be far from perfect, but my flaws and failures define me just as much as my successes do, I think. And, for each of them, I’m grateful.
So here is the endgame…
Who are you? I mean…really? Who am I…really? Perhaps sometimes we need to revisit that idea in order to shape our own reality, our own vision of tomorrow; a way to make it better than yesterday.
In the end, does it matter more what we shared, or what we chose to hide?
Friday, November 29, 2013
9:46 PM Shauna No comments
In my 21 day challenge, it’s been five days since my last blog. And let me tell you, it’s been a jam packed five full days of learning. However, out of the lessons I have taken in over the past five days, nothing has stuck with me quite as strongly as holding on to letting go.
They, whoever “they” are, in their infinite wisdom and know-everything-ness, say that in order to live a truly happy life, you have to let go. You have to let go of expectations, of past hurts, of regret, of pain. Yet, as I found myself cleaning my house tonight, dusting off old photographs and remembering days gone by, I also remembered that sometimes you have to hold on to letting go.
It’s Never the Same Twice, Unless It Is…
Again, “they” say that lightening never strikes twice. Yet, if that were true, how could lightning strike more than once in the depths of our own souls? For me? Well. I’m merely a spectator in this world sport. My role, it seems, is to write about the exploits and moments of others. Yet, I find happiness in the lightning strike of my role…in a way. And I think I find the most happiness in it because lighting strikes for me, every day. And honestly, who could ask for a better lot in life than to watch lightning strike three or four of five times in the lives of others, and be able to share that with the world? To put a voice to it?
Yet, I Digress…
Life, I think, is an exercise in holding on to letting go. You have to hold on tight to the concept, the idea, and the ideal in order for it to mean anything at all. And this becomes a daily struggle, a daily discipline. For, as hyper-critical as I might be of those around me, I am vastly more hyper-critical of myself, and letting go, for me, has become a daily, sometimes momentary, struggle.
There are those among us who believe they have all the answers, those who walk among us as normal human beings who think that they have life sewn up like a box of tricks and can open it at their disposal. They can’t. Nor can I. Nor can you. Because just when you think you have it all figured out, you are smart enough to realize that you don’t. And, if you are really, really smart, you will realize that you never will. And, the only real lesson you can take with you at the end of the day is holding on to letting go, how well you did it and how freely you loved.
So, if I had one tiny bit of wisdom to pass on, as I go through my journey it’s this: Let go. And hold on to that. As hard and as tightly as you can.
Embrace what you can embrace and allow what you can’t to flow freely like water through your soul. Then, and only then, will you find a peace.
Hold on to letting go. Be water.
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” ― Bruce Lee
Sunday, November 24, 2013
9:41 PM Shauna No comments
As I was trying to come up with what to write about on day one of this 21 day challenge, I found myself the very grumpy recipient of a mental block of Herculean proportions, and it was slowly driving me to the brink of insanity. See, that’s the thing about us writers…we brood, and we never tell anyone why we brood, because brooding, all too often, is part of our creative process – one of the reasons I am a difficult person to know, and an even more difficult person to love. I thought I knew what I wanted to say. I kind of, sort of, had a vague idea swirling like snowflakes on an Alaskan drift in my brain, but I really didn’t know…not really. I even went to so far as to reach out to my challenger for a thought, and even though he replied with a great answer, I (as usual) have chosen to go my own way, based on what inspires me in the moment. And what is it that inspires me in this moment? Simply this: Fodder.
I have never been one…
To back away from a good argument. In fact, I will often go toe to toe and tooth and nail with anyone whose subject matter isn’t logical, isn’t worthwhile and isn’t (at the end of the day) the right thing to do. And who am I to decide these things? No one really. I’m just a writer, a blogger, a wordsmith, a merchant of prose, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a woman, a person, but I am also a person who approaches life with much more humility than what you might expect.
However, I will say this: If I have been blessed with anything, it’s been one of the rockiest paths of life that anyone has ever dared walk. I have seen and experienced things that would level most people, so, when I see petty arguments, disagreements and random judgments about poignant things like love and gratitude, my blood begins to boil. When I make simple requests of people who should trust me, to simply trust me, to trust my process, and to trust that I know what I’m doing –even if I am not ready to share it yet --, I need them to understand one thing: Those of us who have escaped hell never let much else bother them after that, but, even more than that, we don’t like discussing it. All the same, if you push us, you run the risk of losing us forever. Because those us of who have escaped hell, also understand something else: We don’t ever want to be drug back to it. By anyone. Ever.
Understand the fight…
There is a war that wages within each and every one of us. A war of good versus evil, of selflessness versus selfishness, a battle of will versus desire, a challenge of change versus comfort. A daily fight of not succumbing to a narcissistic generation, where we value our own words and opinions over everyone else’s. You see, everyone can teach us something, even a pauper in a poor coat can give a king a lesson. And this is the fight, and a fight we all need to acknowledge, just as I am acknowledging my own struggle with these things, right here and right now. We need to take the fodder we see in others, internalize it and realize that it give us the fodder to keep fighting the demons we so desperately want to hide within ourselves. And, when we understand that, we begin winning the battle, we begin understanding ourselves…and with that, gaining a better understanding of the world around us. Then, finally, we understand what love is. And love is simply this: It’s being so angry with someone that you have nothing left to say right now, but loving them anyway, up close or from a distance. Because love, you see, is unconditional, or it does not exist at all. That includes loving ourselves.
And finally this…
There isn’t always an antagonist and protagonist in your story. In fact, sometimes you play both roles, and you don’t even acknowledge it, much as I do. So, the next time you feel compelled to share a thought, a rant, a meme or drop a bit of life advice out there, think about this for one moment: Which character in yourself does it feed? The antagonist, or the protagonist? Then, remember, that you become the self that you feed, making it all that much more important to select wisely. Because I am committed to choosing wisely on my 21 day journey…wiser than before, anyway. Because antagonist or protagonist, I also recognize that I am a work in progress (a humble one) until the day I die. So are you. So which one do you choose to feed? Will you acknowledge the pain you feed? The desire you ignore? The passion you fight? The unparalleled capacity you have for self-love and selfless love? Select wisely, my friends, and if you dare, join me in this 21 day project. Find yourself and acknowledge your demons for 21 days, and see if you can’t do it for the rest of your life…and maybe just find that when you do, you see a new and better self-emerge….rise.
For you attract what you are, and if you want greatness in your life, you must aspire to be just that…greatness…even if no one else quite understands it…yet.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
5:57 PM Shauna No comments
As I sit here in my home office on this particularly rainy, cold and gloomy Saturday, I am enjoying a cup of hot coffee in solitude, while watching the raindrops dance seductively outside on my windowpane. I find myself fascinated with their teardrop tango, staring at each individual droplet, watching each become intertwined in a soft, tapping medley. Yes, I digress. I am watching these because, ultimately, I find myself doing one thing I know how to do best on this particularly dreary Saturday: dissecting my latest ‘challenge’, chewing it up in the bear trap that is my brain and preparing to spit it out in prose.
The message read simply: “You are nominated as subject number one in my 21 days project.”
The second I read it, I felt a smile cross my lips, because the 21 days concept is something I taught him awhile back.
So What’s With the 21 Days?
It is agreed upon by a vast consortium of psychology experts worldwide that it takes 21 days of doing something before that “something” – whatever it may be – becomes a habit. For this particular challenge, my 21 days is finding a path to all-encompassing gratitude and love, by doing something each day, molded around these seemingly simple concepts that are (truthfully) anything but…
Yet, let’s break it down…
I think there are multiple layers that cross the surface that weaves together the tapestry of just about anyone’s “authentic self”. So, in order to really do this challenge the right way, I realized that I had to break myself down, layer by layer and examine what I found on a deep level, at each layer.
There are multitudes of people out there who think they know me, who think they know you, who think they can somehow speak to the manner of person you are, the sort of person you were or the type of person you are becoming. Thing is, they can’t. And sometimes, you have to shut out all of those voices from your head if you are really going to be able to understand the one relationship that will always matter most…the one you have with yourself.
So here goes nothing…
First, I broke down what I think my better qualities are. I have a good sense of humor, I love to laugh, I try to be generous, thoughtful and giving. I am a hard worker and I believe that I am a fast learner. Then, of course, there is the better part of my dual self where I try to see the best in people, until they show me differently. All in all, it didn’t seem too bad at the end of the day.
Then, I broke down my darker self, the side of me that can be selfish, boastful, downright arrogant, unforgiving, unrelenting, intentionally and unintentionally difficult, moody, difficult and bad-tempered.
Once I broke it all down, I realized…
We all have dual selves. No one I have ever met in my life is all one thing or another. If they were, they would (quite frankly) be boring and disingenuous. Then, I realized something else. All too often, we base our judgments on fragments; those we create and those we hear, and from those tiny, well-placed or equally misguided fragments we make decisions. And maybe, just maybe, that isn’t the best thing to do. Maybe, just maybe, we don’t know anyone’s heart as well as we might think we do. Maybe, just maybe, we all need to stop taking life advice from every meme we read on social media or, even in a blog – like this one…yes, I’m calling myself out…and my meme addiction.
Then, once we have realized that, we also realize that all moments in our lives all equally and unequivocally conspire to our “right here, right now”
A year ago, I had been invited to go on a radio show, to interview to be a writer for a major television network. Unfortunately, I had to cancel due to some family issues, thinking that it was going to be a temporary situation. It wasn’t. -- Things have a crazy way of unraveling sometimes.
Originally, that was going to be “my shot”, my chance, my escape, as it was. And, as challenging as it was for me a year ago to let that “golden ticket” slip away, I sit here today, realizing that had I ran after that opportunity, I wouldn’t have learned some of the lessons I needed to, I wouldn’t have learned from some of the relationships I had learned from; both those destined to stay and those destined to leave. I wouldn’t have the people in my life that I have now, and as I realized this, I realize that life is really just a massive conspiracy of moments. Moments that are drawn to give us not always what we desire, but what we need, when we need it, for as long as it takes for us to learn whatever lesson we are supposed to learn in that moment – forming an all new conspiracy therein, and rinsing and repeating until we either chronically ignore our destiny, or, even more frightening, embrace it.
And, when we realize this, we begin morphing into something different…
Maybe we have to break ourselves down from time to time if we are really going to understand the seemingly simple concepts of love and gratitude. You see, I don’t think we can really ever show either to the world until we first love ourselves, really love ourselves, warts and all, and are grateful for the things that make us better, and even grateful for the things that don’t…because those things teach us, keep us humble and bring us all back to the realization that we are all human at the end of the day.
So this time, I’m approaching my “challenge” as Subject number One, a little differently…
This time, instead of overwhelming myself with spreading the concept, I’m going to take a journey inward, and take some time in blissful silence to learn how to love me, without a safety net; sans a big, fuzzy blanket of self-imposed security. I’m going to make myself get a little uncomfortable. I’m going to walk through something, and hope and pray that the same person doesn’t emerge on the other side, hope that a better one does.
I’m going to take some time to realize that I’m grateful for what makes me strong, and what doesn’t…what I struggle with and what I don’t like about being me. And, I think, that after this 21 day project, I will have learned a lesson that has many times before been presented to me, but each time, was just wearing a different set of pants. Because…I really haven’t learned it yet.
So here is the end game…
Over this 21 days, as I talk about the peaks and valleys that each new day dawns with its miraculous sunrise, I am going to focus on a single concept: an example is better than words, and there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or to be the mirror that reflects it. Really, over this next 21 day exercise, I’m going to take an opportunity to break myself apart, and then, share that in my blog…because if I have learned anything from my writing experience, it’s that if you can share your story in an empowering way, it changes things. Sometimes, it even changes you…warts and all.
Let the 21 days begin, and a new conspiracy of moments might be born.