Monday, July 29, 2013

Achieving Success

Me circa 1993 Full of Hopes and Dreams
As I approach my 20 year class reunion I reflect on success and achievement, as we all do at some point or another in our lives. What did my young girl self think success was? What were her dreams? Well being a shy and somewhat insecure girl, my aspirations were modest. I just wanted to be able to have a “normal” home, get married, have a decent income, just to fit in with what I perceived as societal norms.
Done, done and done. And yes it made me happy…for a while. As I grew older and looked at what I thought success was it became hollow, not what it appeared to be. I saw so many people breaking their backs at a job they hate just to make ends meet, to have a new car, and a better house…more, more of everything please. This did not suit me at all.
And as it does sometimes, life threw me and my family a curveball. My husband lost his very good job he had had for many years, and our main source of income. We both slipped away into panic, fear, and despair. The economy was in the dumps and it did not look good for us.  
But then, we looked at each other, we looked at our children, happy healthy and whole, we looked at our lives and what we had built so far, and how much of our lives were still ahead of us, and we stopped clinging to the hollow “American Dream”.  We let go of the fear, and said so what if we have to live in an apartment again? So what if we can’t drive new cars? Our lives are filled with family and friends whom we love and whom love us. We have healthy bodies and healthy children and we can get by.
So it was then we decided we weren't going to kill ourselves dumping our energy into that hollow existence any more. I worked more so my husband could go to school, he loved it! He grew and expanded his mind. He started a small home business with his newfound free time and we had plenty of time to spend with each other and our family. Things were tight, but we did it. He graduated and was never so proud of himself and I was proud of him too, he found a fun and fulfilling job providing us with enough income to get by comfortably, and I took over the business, allowing me to stay home and raise our boys.
My point is this, I think we cling to things, literally “things” and make them far too important. We Make them status symbols, or examples of our “success” but what success really is, is the relationships we build, the energy we send out to the greater masses, a positive attitude toward what life hands us, because even when it seems like a horrible and painful thing, there’s a gift in there to be found.
So when we thought we were being destroyed, we were really being offered a chance to rebuild, in a way WE wanted to. We changed our views of success, and achievement and now live knowing that each precious moment that we are alive, and happy and positive…is a success. Being a successful person is being true to ones self, looking in the mirror every day, or at least most days, and saying “what do I have to be happy for?” and being able to have a good answer, a personal answer, an answer that is all yours. Not a comparison to the neighbors or your brother or anyone else you think has “more”. Yes, it's cliche but it's true, success is "being" happy not "finding" happiness, and that is found inside yourself, no amount of money or things will ever do that for anyone. Yes, it's nice to have nice things but is not a requirement to live a successful life. I hope every single one of you find success.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This Little Light

This is what kept me up last night.
With all the things that have been in the news lately I have been noticing a trend. It seems that there is such a great underlying of mistrust and fear of differentness.  Divisive politics with social programs, class warfare, right and left wing squabbling, race relations, the recent tragedy of the Zimmerman verdict polarizing people along racial lines, but there have also been some good things too, such as legalizing same sex marriage in Washington State, but this also polarized points of view. Has there been an escalation? Are these growing pains? I hope we are moving in the right direction.
I don't understand how we can have so much fear, and even hate and violence toward our brothers and sisters. Why do we need to litigate laws to deprive others of their rights? Why do we act out with violence and hate speech? It seems so simple to me, to accept our differences, it is what makes us all beautiful. The one thing that makes us all the same is our humanness. Our desire for love, acceptance, respect, and freedom. 
Is it intrinsic to our nature to distrust and fear differentness? How did we get here? How can we stop teaching fear? Someone recently said to me something their father always said to them “different is not wrong it’s just different.” Why can't we all accept and even embrace this?
I know no one is immune to prejudice, I know I have those negative messages go through my head, but I try to let them pass through, recognize them as what they are, and try to change my thought processes for the next time. We are all fallible but we don't’ have to let that rule us.
I sincerely hope we can grow as a society to love, respect and cherish our neighbors, black, white, gay, straight, right or left, male, female, young, old and everything in-between.  I know it sounds cliché but this is what I hope our reality could become. 

As the children’s Gospel song says, “This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine”  We all have a light. 

Monday, July 8, 2013


Wow.  I am just blown away by the wonderful support I have received for my writing.  Especially with last week’s blog. If I had to compare writing and publishing publicly to something on the physical plane it would be this. Suddenly you are caught naked in the middle of the road, completely exposed and vulnerable to the rain, wind, and sun. It’s terrifying, but you can't just stand there for the entire world to see can you? But then, as you become accustomed, you realize how good the rain and wind feels cooling your skin start to notice how the sun gently warms you. You begin to feel  liberated and free, and that is a thrilling feeling. That’s what it’s like. Terrifying because you are exposed and exhilarating because you are uninhibited.
I have never had any formal training for writing; I did take a few literature courses in a community college mostly from pure love of the written word. What I do know is writing, as a form of self expression is not only natural and therapeutic for me, it’s almost a need. I have been writing for many years and I have my ancestors to thank for the example. My great grandfather wrote, my grandfather wrote, and my mother mother writes. I can remember laying down in bed at night and hearing my mother tap tap tapping on her Brother  typewriter my grandpa sent her because we had no electricity. This was high tech for her compared to the pen and paper she had been using for so many years. I loved that sound and understood even then that it was something important for her.
So thank you Great Grandfather for your influence in my life and your collection of Louis L'Amour books I still treasure.
Thank you Grandfather, for your encouragement and example of writing for the love of writing. And  for keeping our history for us.
And thank you Mom, for the years of support and for loving me and encouraging me even when some of my words must have been painful for you to read.
And finally, thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to read even one of my ramblings, the many of you who stopped and made a thoughtful comment, shared my writings with others, and encouraged me to keep going. It means more than you know.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hypocrisy and Our Great Nation

I feel the same about patriotism as I do about religion. It seems full of hypocrisy and fallacies.  Religion is brimming with mythology and misinterpretations and so are the commonly accepted ideas about the founding of “this great nation”.
There’s nothing like growing up in a commune to illustrate all the bold faced lies in religion, how it’s used to control and manipulate others and even to profit financially from. I turned completely away from religion, I would say about 5  years ago when I realized that any pretense on my part to believe there was some omniscient being micromanaging people’s lives and making judgment  on right and wrong was ridiculous. I just didn’t believe it; the white Christian theology we are fed from the cradle does not reflect the true diversity that is represented on our planet earth.  It is a narrow and condescending belief system that when closely examined by a critical mind cannot hold up to scrutiny.
This is also how I feel about patriotism; we are saturated by images of the mighty “Red White and Blue” and fed false ideas about how “Free” we are. I find many of these beliefs false. We are governed by a somewhat heavy handed government; we eat drink and sleep what our mighty democracy feeds us. When we speak as a people it takes a herculean effort to be heard over the influence of the all mighty dollar, and white male Christianity.
White Christian America and everything that goes with it, is offensive to me, and I'm sure my views will be offensive to many of you.
But consider who really built this country. It was the determination of a few souls fleeing their homelands seeking FREEDOM from condemnation; they fought tooth and nail to scratch out an existence for their belief in freedom. It was the First Nations, making sacrifices of their own freedom and their way of life. Suffering the humiliation and heartbreak of having their land and culture raped. It was on the backs of all the immigrants who came here seeking freedom. The struggle of the Chinese, Irish, Spanish, Mexicans, Africans and Jews. All of these vastly different cultures poured into one nation, with the same goal, to live free, to be free to believe and live how they see fit.
So reflecting on this I see America as needing to go a long way yet to meet its goal of true freedom. When we have erased bigotry against gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation, when we no longer have laws polluted with religious ideals, when we are really free to live without condemnation and our voices are heard over and above the clamor of the dollar, then I will we patriotic.   
And before I receive a lambasting for being critical of our Great Nation, please know, yes I am grateful for being here, and not in a country where suppression of human rights are even more egregious and abused.  I am simply stating my opinion on where we are, and where we need to go. Thank the universe I am free to write this.

Happy 4th whatever that means to you.