Freedom of the Past

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the “stuff” that weighs you down.” ~ Toni Morrison

Everyone has been hurt by someone in their lives. Perhaps someone has hurt us so bad that we harbor a resentment towards them. The only way to get past resentments is to forgive that person – not for their benefit, for yours – so you can move on to the future.

When my husband wanted a divorce, I was SO ANGRY at men I swore I was going to stay single until the day I died. My other best friend, a male, heard me saying this to someone and told me I would change my mind. Somewhere between me saying that and what happened was something I hadn’t expected. A man I’d been friends with for a few years started talking to me more often. Somehow between coffee dates he snuck into my heart when I wasn’t looking.

There was just one problem, my heart, angry as it was, still belonged to my ex husband. I realized I couldn’t go into another relationship with the weight I felt in my heart. I needed to forgive my ex husband for all of the hurt I felt. Forgive, not forget, for me, not for him.

When I began to forgive, I started to feel the weight fall from my shoulders and heart. I even spoke to him in a civil tone of voice. Do I miss the good times? Of course. Do I want to punch him in the nose? Hell yes! Do I miss him and want him back in my life? Definitely not. After a little while my heart healed and I was open for love again.

Thought for the day: We must learn from and forgive the past so we can live in the present and can look towards the future, whatever it may hold.

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The State of the Union

“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will” ~ Abraham Lincoln.

On Tuesday night, January 30th, I decided to watch the State of the Union Address. Not because I support this president and certainly not because I wanted to listen to some stuffy speech. No, I watched it to see if the Democrats were going to stay sitting and not clap at all the whole time and to see if the mainstream media was going to twist the president’s words like they always do. I actually hoped that they would all prove me wrong, but alas, my hopes were dashed.

When President Trump said the African American and Hispanic unemployment rates were at the lowest they’ve ever been, the camera immediately panned over to the congressional black caucus and Hispanic Democrats. Not one of them stood. Not one of them even clapped. On the other side of the chamber, the so called racist, bigoted, misogynistic Republicans stood, clapped and cheered vocally. If you’re JQ African American citizen or John Doe Hispanic citizen who recently got a job and you’re happy about it, how do you feel knowing that the elected officials who you voted for are sitting in disapproval but the elected officials who are demonized are cheering – for your success? I know I was disheartened to say the least and I’m not a minority.

To the millions of Americans who saw $1,000 and $2,000 bonuses, your 401K plans soaring, a pay raise, etc, I ask you, do you consider any of that “bread crumbs”? Sure, the top 1% is getting more money out of the tax cuts too, but you are too. For those of us who live paycheck to paycheck these bonuses and changes mean the difference between our utilities being shut off or not, getting eviction notices or not and being able to retire and enjoy life rather than working until we’re 70 or 80 years old.

In the moments after President Trump’s speech and the following morning, I witnessed examples of bipartisan opinions. The news played a segment of the speech then I heard comments from both sides of the media. One example is, “He didn’t unite the country at all, he divided it more.” Really? Did you hear the same speech I heard? I noticed he frequently said “we”, “us” and “our”. They broke down unifying words vs ego driven words – he said “we” 129 times, “our” 104 times and “I” 29 times. Whether those numbers are 100% accurate, I don’t know, but I was able to pull up a transcript of President Trump’s speech. In between one applause and the next, I counted “we” 13 times. I’ll let you be the judge whether he was unifying or dividing.

I’m not going to go into a rant over this and list all the other stuff I see or how ridiculous certain people are acting. Many people hate President Trump for different reasons. Their minds are dead set on hating him no matter what. I will say this tho, if you are going along with what others tell you about this president, I encourage you to do a little research. Read articles that are right and left leaning and include neutral articles. Listen to President Trump’s speeches. And perhaps most importantly, do all of this with an open mind. If you question that he or his campaign staff colluded with Russia, seek the proof of this. If you question that he’s a racist, look for examples of things he’s done or said that show it. When you follow the crowd, you are a sheeple – a combination of sheep and people. Sheep are easily led to one place or another.

My spiritual mentor once said, “Follow your Path to the Water…Gather your Water upstream from others, so you are gathering Pure, unpolluted Water. Others may try to show you where to go for Water…Each one of us needs to find our own Spring,our own well, our own Source of pure Water…unpolluted, with no additives…” His quote applies to this situation. If you choose to do your own research(gather your own water) as opposed to listening to what others tell you(being shown where to go) about President Trump, you might be surprised by the results.

Thought for the day: Don’t believe everything you’re told. Sometimes people lead others where they want for other reasons that are impure.

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Forgiving

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” ~Dr Martin Luther King Jr

When we forgive we stop feeling anger toward and stop blaming someone who has done something wrong. We don’t necessarily go up to the person, bop them on the head and say, “I declare you forgiven!” Of course if it were that easy none of us would hate anyone. Sometimes we need to forgive them in our hearts.

We can ask ourselves what we did to cause what happened or did we say something wrong or unnecessary? Could we have avoided what happened? This helps us look at our own actions to help us see our role in the situation which helps us grow. Sometimes no matter what we did or said could’ve changed the outcome and we need to accept this.

If we cannot forgive, we end up resenting whoever hurt us. This is a poison that slowly kills us from our insides out. Eventually we become bitter, lonely people because we trust or love anyone including ourselves. One thing we can do to help ourselves is say a prayer. The prayer doesn’t need to be big and fancy. Just something asking your Higher Power to help you to find forgiveness.

Thought for the day: “Free of Resentment Prayer” (Your Higher Power’s name), free me from my resentment toward ______. Please bless ______ in whatever it is that You know they may be needing this day. Please give _____ everything I want for myself. And may ______’s life be full of love health, peace, prosperity, and happiness as they seek to have a closer relationship with You.

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Acceptance

Written August 15, 2016(edited 2017)

“Acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being EXACTLY the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” ~ Anonymous

Just so nobody gets mixed up on the definition of acceptance, as a friend of mine says, let’s get out the dictionary. Acceptance has 3 different yet similar meanings; 1) the act of taking something that is offered, 2) the act of accepting with approval; favorable reception, 3) a disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations. Today I’d like to share on the third definition, a disposition to tolerate or accept people or situations.

I’ve been told that if I’m upset about something I’m probably having a hard time accepting it. As I think about why I’m irritated today, I realized what it is that I don’t want to accept. Life. I’m not accepting of how my life currently is – aka life on life’s terms.

For a number of years after I hurt my back I was pissed off because I couldn’t work. Part of my decision to not work was because it was to difficult physically and mentally. Some days the pain was so bad it affected my thinking. I resented myself for the decisions I made that led to the injury and leaving the workforce, rather my reason for leaving. I even resented my Higher Power for not answering my prayers for healing. At the time I didn’t want to accept my reality. I didn’t want to accept that even tho the injury was an accident, I did not listen to my doctor’s advise to take it easy which made the injury worse. I didn’t want to accept that I was disabled at an early age. Least of all, I didn’t want to accept that I would probably have pain for the rest of my life.

Today I have come to accept all of that including the bad decisions I made. I’ve even come to accept that my Higher Power guided me to and thru everything for a reason. Maybe it was a way to set the gears in motion to remove certain people from my life so that new people could come in. It could’ve even been to teach me what I needed to learn so that I’d be able to help others in a different way than I had for many years before all of this. It could’ve even been to prepare me for what I am going thru now.

As I write this, it dawned on me that the way I feel today is how I felt when I hurt my back. Pissed off and depressed because I have little to no control over what’s going on in my life. I hate physically feeling an 80 year old woman in a 45 year body. I forget that I have tools to move from a lousy mood and into acceptance. I can pray to my Higher Power and ask for the strength to accept that He has His reasons and a plan for me. I can also do a gratitude list when life gets to hard. It may not make everything OK, but it does help me to find good stuff within the bad.

I also need to remember some damn sayings that have helped me in the past. I call them “damn” sayings because they remind me of the Spiritual Principles that I try to live by, especially when I don’t want to. Principles like acceptance and perseverance. Slogans like “This Too Shall Pass, Just for Today, and the one that makes me crazy, “Check Your Motives”(simply because I don’t want to do it)

There are the little things that I can do too, like going for a drive, play in the garden and write. I can also remind myself that I have no control over anything outside of myself. I have no control over you, your actions or your feelings. I have about as much control over you or anything else as I do when it rains, snows or if the sun comes out. All I can do is accept what is and let go of the rest.

Thought for the day: If you are having a bad day and you’re feeling angry or sad, look inside yourself to see what you may not be accepting. Try doing any one or all of these things, you may begin to feel better. Acceptance becomes a little easier and your problems don’t seem quite so bad.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

A Cult of Victimization

Written December 16, 2016(2017)

“We live in a society of victimization, where people are much more comfortable being victimized than actually standing up for themselves” ~Marilyn Manson/Brian Hugh Warner

I must admit, when I was looking at quotes for today’s topic today I didn’t want to use this quote because of the author. He is an artist in music, words and even paint. Tho I’m not a fan of his music, or his stage persona, some of his literary work piqued, my interest. But he is not the topic of my post today. His words are. I also didn’t mean for the length. I just started writing and couldn’t stop.

***WARNING! The content written may offend you. I assure you that the following is not sugar coated B*** “stuff”.

The American Dream has always been to get married, live in a nice house with a white picket fence, 2.2 children, a dog, and to be successful. This is the dream of citizens currently here or immigrants who’ve come here or the ones wanting to come here. My generation and countless others before me, were always told something like, “Study hard and work hard in life and you will succeed.” While this is still generally true, some people simply quit trying, often after one try at it.

Throughout American history there are countless examples of people who’ve worked hard and were knocked down more than once. If that happened these people pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, put their big boy/girl pants on and tried again and again. Look at any popular musician. Do you think that any one of them was just plain lucky and sailed from playing or singing their first note straight up to stardom? Hardly. Actors and actresses in any type of performance had the same ups and downs. Virtually everyone of them started out from humble beginnings – no matter what kind of music they play, acting gig they have, or what color skin, their creed or sexual preference, or even if they were a citizen or legal immigrant. Most all of us came from humble beginnings and when we were knocked down we got back up. Most of us didn’t blame anyone or anything for our failures. That is until now.

In society today we seem to have a culture of victimization going on. Let’s break down those 2 words for a moment. From the Dictionary (.) com site, culture is “the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another and this transmitted various ways from one generation to the next.” Victimization is defined as “causing someone to be treated unfairly or made to feel uncomfortable. It’s a feeling of adversity as a result of being a victim whether it’s real or perceived.”

Whether it’s perceived or not, we have a lot of people who say that because of their skin color, sex, sexual preference, citizen status or even their religious background they aren’t succeeding. They believe that they don’t get a job(even tho they are not qualified to do said job) because they are of a minority group. Then, if they get turned down just once, they quit trying all together and sit around moping saying, “I can’t get a job because I’m black/red/female/gay/Catholic/Muslim etc, etc” Or they decry “white privilege” It doesn’t occur to them it’s because they may lack the education or the experience needed for whatever they were pursuing.

I blame this line of thought on a couple of things. In our schools today, no matter what the competition is it’s not just the winner that gets a trophy. The child that loses also gets some sort of a trophy too. I vividly remember in school that I could get a letter jacket if I took a certain number of music classes before I graduated. I came up 1 semester short because of a class I needed to graduate. The class was only available at the same time as my music class. Consequently I did not get a letter jacket, a letter or any sort of prize period. I didn’t go around pouting and blaming it on the school’s rules and I certainly didn’t start a protest. I simply accepted that if I wanted to graduate I did what I had to do, even if that meant I wouldn’t get a letter jacket. Lesson? In life there are winners and losers. If you do not win, you practice and you hone in your skills to win the next time. Quoting a social media quote, “Suck it up buttercup.”

Another reason for this culture of victimization I feel is because of these “safe spaces” or whatever you call them. I believe I’ve written about them before. One of my social media friends, Jessica, said this one time, “Controversy causes growth and growth causes controversy”. Controversy is a dispute where there is strong disagreement. I can’t count the times I’ve argued vehemently with someone. Typically I back down but I look up the information about the topic to see who’s right. In the process I learn something. When I learn something I’m growing. There are a couple people in my life that I butt heads with…quite often. Thanks to them, I’ve looked up information about the topic and discovered that they were correct and I learned why they were correct. The controversy between us caused me to learn and grow. If you’re in a “safe space” you don’t hear about anything that is controversial or offensive and consequently you don’t learn. You end up feeling entitled and victimized your whole life.

This reminds me of a song that came out when i was a teenager in 1988 called “Cult of Personality” by a band called Living Colour. A cult is most commonly defined as a religious group that is 1) Exclusive. They may say only what they know is the truth and everyone else is wrong. 2) Secretive. Certain teachings are not available to outsiders or they’re presented only to certain members. 3) Authoritarian. A human leader expects total loyalty and unquestioned obedience. Bottom line is a cult refers to a group of people who are being led by a very powerful person(or idea) that follows whatever that leader(or idea) tells them to do. Does this sound familiar?

The song talks about famous leaders that used their charisma, words, and attitude(their personality) to lead a nation or use their ideas for what they believed. It is used in this song because the powerful people mentioned in it led a nation to follow their beliefs. They name opposites just to show the pros and cons of being in this “cult of personality”. Mussolini, Kennedy, Stalin and Gandhi all led people in various ways(I’ll let you look them up 😉 ).

The only way to not fall into the trap of victimization is to start by not blaming other people, places or things that made things difficult for you. Next, accept your circumstances whether they’re good or bad. Once you’ve done that, do the footwork needed to get to a better place in your life. The American Dream isn’t completely dead. It’s still possible if you work hard, persevere thru the hard times and most importantly – don’t give up.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

“Cult of Personality” by Living Colour(1988)

Look in my eyes, what do you see?
The cult of personality
I know your anger, I know your dreams
I’ve been everything you want to be

I’m the cult of personality
Like Mussolini and Kennedy
I’m the cult of personality
The cult of personality
The cult of personality

Neon lights, Nobel Prize
When a mirror speaks, the reflection lies
You won’t have to follow me
Only you can set me free

I sell the things you need to be
I’m the smiling face on your TV
I’m the cult of personality
I exploit you, still you love me
I tell you one and one makes three

I’m the cult of personality
Like Joseph Stalin and Gandhi
I’m the cult of personality
The cult of personality
The cult of personality

Neon lights, a Nobel Prize
When a leader speaks, that leader dies
You won’t have to follow me
Only you can set you free

You gave me fortune
You gave me fame
You gave me power in your God’s name
I’m every person you need to be
I’m the cult of personality

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Hate and Resentment

Written January 2, 2017

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~Malachy McCourt

These are the basic definitions of these words; 

  • Hatred is a very strong dislike of a person, place or thing, and
  • Resentment is holding a grudge. 

Both of these feelings can affect our minds and especially our bodies in all kinds of negative ways. Depression, headache, indigestion, heart attack and strokes are just a couple of ways. Sometimes these feelings cause us to lash out in all kinds of negative ways. So, while looking at this quote, when we hold on to that anger and pain, we are in effect taking poison. As we take that poison into us, we are the ones that die, rather suffer. Not the person we have these ill feelings for.

Another way to look at it is to imagine carrying a load of rocks. Imagine yourself walking down a road carrying a bag. When any of the following happens, put a small pebble in that bag: a driver cuts you off, the cashier is going to slow and you’re in a hurry or any other little life irritants. Now, imagine that any or all of these is a large boulder. Put a boulder for any of these big life situations in that same bag: you discover your lover is cheating on you, your boss fires you for something your coworker did or any other big thing in life. I bet that bag is feeling pretty heavy right about now. Each time you hold onto a grudge, rather develop a resentment, you add another pebble, rock or boulder to your load. How long can you carry that load before you hurt yourself somehow? How long before you snap on someone inadvertently or you become a bitter old person?

“Yea but you don’t understand that what ‘so and so’ did really hurt me or made me really angry etc…” Actually,  yes I do and I’ve held a grudges for years against other people. I think my longest was 20yrs. I was very angry at a former supervisor who lied to another supervisor about my work performance. This prevented me from working in the other department.  

“Well I’ll show her!” I’d said. I went on vacation and never went back to work. Every time I saw this supervisor at the store or some place, my anger toward her came flooding back.

Ten years later, I went back to this company for another job but they wouldn’t hire me because I left my previous job there with no notice, no nothing. Needless to say my resentment that I thought I had resolved had come back with a vengeance. I realized I needed to resolve this and move on from it.

A dear woman that was in my life at that time helped me to get passed it. She told me to pray for the person. At that time I told her she was bat shit crazy. “What?!? Pray for that(enter “choice” words here…)?!?” I decided to give it a try. Hey, it couldn’t hurt, right? What happened next has helped me get thru even more trying times since then. I slowly but surely got passed my anger and onto growth. I was actually able to forgive this person in my heart, even tho I haven’t been able to bring myself to say, “Hello” when I’ve seen her since that day

Later, when those really trying times came up, another dear woman told me about The Resentment Prayer. Saying that prayer gives me the direction, rather the words to say besides, “Please help me to forgive…” By saying these words, these simple words, I have learned how to forgive other people who’ve hurt me. I have since been able to drop a few boulders and miscellaneous sized rocks. I definitely feel better

…so I thought until recently.

Lately I have had a couple of people who have seriously wounded me by their words and actions. Why have they done this you might ask? Unresolved issues from the past. I posted about this sometime ago. I was able to forgive some things these people have done in the past but these last couple things? Well, let’s just say that any prayer, let alone the Resentment Prayer are not working.  

So what is a person supposed to do when someone hurts them so bad that it kills them (sometimes literally) on the inside? First off, you can start by looking at yourself and what your part was in the situation. If at all possible, make amends to that person. Don’t just say, “I’m sorry for…” because that may make the other person either think or actually say that “you sure are sorry…you’re a sorry S.O.B.!” You need to say something like, “I apologize for doing/saying…I was wrong. How can I make it up to you?” Next, keep saying the Resentment Prayer(see below). The more you do it the sooner you’ll begin to feel that forgiveness in your heart.

Finally, if none of that works, and you fear what you might say or do, write about it. You can do this and couple of ways. You can write what’s called a No Send Letter. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. Write what you might say to that person but don’t give the letter to them. After you write it you can either keep it (not recommended because you’ll just relive those feelings over and over) or you can burn it in a safe way. Preferably outside.

You can also just plain journal. Write whatever comes to mind kinda like I have been doing when I do some of these posts. After some time passes, you and the person you once hated can try to sit down again and talk. If for whatever reason you two can’t speak to each other and someday down the road you look back on your journaling, you will see how much you’ve grown since you first began writing.

Thought for the day: Free of Resentment Prayer – God, free me from my resentment toward ___( fill in the blank)_____. Please bless ___( fill in the blank)_____ in whatever it is that You know they be needing this day. Please give ___( fill in the blank)_____ everything I want for myself. And may ___( fill in the blank)_____.` life be full of health, peace, prosperity and happiness as they seek to have a closer relationship with You.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Words from Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Written September 22, 2016(edited 2017)

As I sit here in my comfy chair and my comfy clothes trying to find my inspiration to write, find myself disturbed, disheartened, and with a very heavy heart. I am sitting here with a cup of coffee in my hand and a kitty on my lap while I’m watching yet another prayer vigil that turned into a protest and then turned into a riot.

Today it’s going on in another town, in another state, but over the same narrative. Another black man was shot by a police officer. Justified or not, armed or unarmed, white officer or black officer, whatever the case may be. I have to say, my heart aches for the members of community who are held hostage by the violent protesters, the store owners who are having their stores looted and vandalized, the police who are risking their lives to protect their city, the victim and his family, and the protesters – both the peaceful and the violent ones.

I’m also not just referring to this protest in this city. I’m referring to protests in all cities in all states and all races. I’m not going to sit in my comfy home and pretend to know or understand the pain, frustration or raw anger that everyone feels. What I do know is this, a man named Dr Martin Luther King Jr lived in a time when race relations were much worse than today.

It makes no difference if it’s African-Americans being shot by police officers and feeling systemically oppressed. Or even the Native Americans gathering in prayer to protect the land from the oil pipeline. I’ve seen whites and other races mixed in and standing arm in arm with the rest of the protesters and protectors.

In Dr King’s day that’s something you probably would’ve never, ever seen. So tell me, to those who are violent protesters and the leaders who either condone it or the ones who ignore it all, I’d like you to consider something. If a mother NEEDS to go to a store to get food for their family or your family member NEEDS their heart prescription at the drugstore in the morning or the next day or so, how can they do it if you looted, burned down or otherwise vandalize that store? Why, why, why do you destroy your own city over this? Do you not know you are hurting yourself and your community more than it already is? Or if you’re one of those paid agitators from outside the area, would you like it if this by happened in your community?

As I said, I’m not going to pretend to know or understand your life. I’m not even going to sit here and let word vomit spew from my mouth. I am, however, going to ask everyone involved if you know who Dr Martin Luther King Jr was? We all know the name because there’s a holiday named after him, but do you really know anything about him? More importantly, do you know what he stood for?

If you don’t know I recommend you look him up. Until then I would ask that each of us put ourselves in each others shoes. How would you feel if you were a police officer, or worse – the officer who fired the fatal shot? What would it feel like if you were an honest, hardworking member of a community being held hostage by the violence? What if you were the business owner who put their whole life’s savings into their businesses only to have their store broken into and cleaned out. What would you think and feel then?

If you felt like you were unjustly targeted by police how would it feel? While you contemplate those answers please read some of Dr King’s words that he wrote, spoke or both. Let’s put down all of our weapons, including our mouths, and open up our minds and a dialogue to discuss how we can stop the violence and begin to heal. If not for yourself, think of your children and all future generations

Dr Martin Luther King Jr (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

1. We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

2. We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.” ~Dr Martin Luther King Jr

3. People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

4. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.

5. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.

6. That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.

7. We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

8. I have decided to stick to love … Hate is too great a burden to bear.

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