Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Life Is An Oprah Episode - Regret, Remorse, Forgiveness, Holding on and Letting Go

The title of this posting is a mouthful, but, I believe Regret, Remorse, Forgiveness, Holding On and Letting Go are interwoven.

It's easy to get lost in endless speculation. So today, release the need to know why things happen as they do. Instead, ask for the insight to recognize what you're meant to learn."
-Caroline Myss

I love Tapestries.  If someone were to weave a Tapestry of my life, I would want only a small corner to be reflective of any negative experiences I have had.  But,  truthfully,  my personal history threads would be woven, colorfully, with both light and dark throughout the piece.  I used to think that some people escaped darkness in their lives.  You know, no family crisis, no financial issues,  no broken romances, no health issues, etc.  But, as I matured, I have come to know that no one is immune to life tragedies.  Our experiences are different for sure, but the key is how we manage the downside; of how we see  light reflected in the darkness.  Think of a stained-glass window.  In the daytime, we see light streaming through exhibiting all the bright colors that tell a story within that window.  When is is nighttime, or in darkness, we look at the same window, only to search for a glimmer of light which will only come  from the inside.   I know what I have always known - that whatever point we are in our life, whether light or dark, things always work out for the best.  We are exactly where we are supposed to me, this very moment, with who we are supposed to be with, or who we are not supposed to be with.  It is that simple.

Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you. - Illusions by Richard Bach

Regret.  I think we all want to live a life without regret.  I have said this a million times.  The truth is regret is nothing more than human nature wishing we made a different decision. While some choices we make have minimal consequences if things do not turn out the way we want them to, many choices are life-altering.  I have always been decisive and have little tolerance, or rather, patience, for those who take forever making a decision; for those afflicted with  analysis paralysis.  Drives me crazy.  One of the things that I regret is that I did not write sooner.  I have always had words locked in my head, yet I was afraid to free them; fear of not being heard (or read) or because the words were scattered and always looking for a path.  Pursuing a career in journalism was too daunting; I had not developed skills necessary nor the discipline to simply complete tasks.  Case in point, I have two unfinished books.  Regret is constant.

Remorse.  The difference between regret and remorse is the sorrow that follows a choice we wish we did not make.  And, usually the choice we made is shameful or has hurt someone.  Even ourselves.  I have given considerable thought to this; what am I remorseful about?  Remorse is very much aligned with guilt and self-resentment. I  am a kind person and I try not to judge people.  For me, to be simplistic,  I always feel shame when I judge someone harshly or if I am ever unkind.  It happens when I am stressed or feeling less than.  My words can be biting; my tolerance for what I consider stupidity, becomes taxing.  I am a work in progress.

Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not just acknowledging someone who has wronged/hurt us by accepting their apology.  In some cases there is no apology.  It is about letting go of the anger and resentment we feel for their actions, and more than is about wishing them well.  I struggle with forgiveness, yet know for sure, it is the only way to live a healthy life. In the past few years, I searched for ways to forgive.  How do I forgive the person who raped me?  What about those who lied and cheated on me? The person who owed me a huge sum of money?   How do I forgive myself? Family members, workplace,...hurts on many different levels.  In my mind I had forgiven these things because I had accepted what happened and moved on.  But, that is not forgiveness; I had not really wished anyone well and still held on to a lot of the pain.  I discovered a technique I used about a year ago.  I imagined all those who hurt me; who caused me great pain and sorrow, all standing around in a large circle together, arms interlocking, all holding balloons.  When the moment came, I set them all free, attached to the balloons rising in the sky, disappearing into the abyss.  All with good wishes.  It may seem childish, but, I assure you, this exercise worked for me.  Forgive.  It is the only way to be free.  

Holding on and Letting Go.  Life is a series of letting go.  Of people, of places and of things.  Holding on is simply staying stuck when we should let go.  No where is this more evident than in relationships.  Or would be relationships.  I have said this before - that I have held on to bad relationships longer than I should have, and let go of good ones sooner than I should have.  I was involved with someone for many years and it was a dead end relationship.  What began as a friendship for several years, ended up as a love affair. We had great times, but, the fact was, he was married, so it was a dead end.  I do not write this with a sense of pride, nor with shame, and that may be difficult for some to understand.  I may write about it in another blog, and, I am not searching for judgement.  For now, it is just the facts.  I held on to the relationship for a long time.  I loved him; I did not analyze it every time we were together.  It ended more than once, but, finally I let go. Without tears, because, it was time.  It does not mean I do not think of him, and miss him, but, it is done.

A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed, it feels an impulsion....this is the place to go now. 
But the sky knows the reason and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons. - Illusions by Richard Bach.

I am glad to be back blogging.  Life got in the way.  Until next time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Life Is An Oprah Episode: A Rant

disclaimer:  Any posts written by me are my beliefs, my feelings and my opinions.  It is not my intent for any individual or individuals to change how they feel or what they believe about any given topic.  

I am a Democrat.  I have many friends who share my views, and many friends who do not.  In fact, I probably have more friends that are Republicans, not Democrats.  I do not hold that against them, and I believe I share that same courtesy. Since we are in the middle of an election year, we are inundated with propaganda, and quite frankly, I think everyone is a little nuts.

In support of Obama, he did inherit a huge mess, with the economy and with a war we had no business being in. He did.  If it were someone else, they would have inherited the mess.

It is delusional to assume that any other individual in office, namely, McCain, would have been able to make progress at an accelerated pace and solve all our economic problems in less than four years.  For me, I am not impressed with any of the Republican candidates.  Mitt Romney IS out of touch with the average American. And, he still cannot answer a direct question about how he feels about equal rights for women.  I have little regard for Newt Gingrich; does not really matter, he is basically out.  And, Rick Santorum?  Seriously?  Ideology from the middle ages; good thing for us he is out, but he did provide some pretty good bantering from feminists.

The past few months have been a roller coaster ride from the Republican groups.  I believe, wholeheartedly, that the GOP is (still) waging a War On Women, especially regarding health issues.  Here in 2012, we are still arguing over rights for women, wanting to change the definition of rape, limit access to safe abortions, some states wanting to invade a womans body by performing vaginal ultrasounds pre-abortion, and other health related areas.  When the Catholic Church raised a ruckus about insurance companies paying costs relating to contraception, make no mistake, this was a Political issue; a money issue.  The Catholic Church employs many non-Catholics and those employees are not forced to follow Church doctrines on birth control.  I am a Catholic, and I was outraged with the rhetoric that followed.

When I read posts on my Facebook about how this country was founded on Religious freedom, etc, and how we are screwing it up, it makes me a little crazy.  Look, we HAVE religious freedom in this country, but, that does not mean we have to be governed by any religious edicts.  At the time our country was founded, women were also considered property of her husband and her identity did not exist. When I read posts about how Capitalism is now compromised, and that government wants to control all aspects of business, yeah, I go a little nuts.

Yes, we need and should have Universal Healthcare.  Scream Socialism all you want, but, we already have government Medicare/Medicaid, Welfare, etc...the problem is, very few of us have access to it.  Scream Socialism all you want, but we have been and continue to be, held hostage by Insurance companies, Pharmaceutical companies and the Oil companies.  We had Capitalism at it best, but, somewhere along the 60s and 70s, and by the 80s it became something else.  Capitalism turned into Corporate greed, essentially, eroded what Capitalism was supposed to be. The ratio of pay between a corporate CEO and average worker is anywhere between 300:1 to 475:1, depending on the study you read.  But, the facts are  the gap between CEO/Executive and average worker is huge and getting wider.  Small businesses have suffered as a result of high costs and lack of tax breaks that large corporations enjoy. That is where Capitalism is today.

On Immigration.  Yes, I think we need some sort of Immigration reform, but,  it needs to be a dignified process that does not separate families who have been here, working, for many years.  For those that feel the immigrants, mostly Mexicans, have taken jobs away from Americans....let me state this.  They are not taking jobs away; they are taking jobs that some Americans do not want,and,  because the employers of these jobs prefer to hire workers that they know will accept pay below minimum wages, in cash,  and where they do not have to pay benefits.  Next time you pass a construction site, you will see mostly immigrants banging nails into houses that they probably could never afford, or hope to afford by doing what they are doing.  Yes, some are here and cause problems, but most are hard working men and women who want a better life for their families.

On Guns.  We need to get guns off the streets.  When I read posts about our rights to bear arms, etc,  how Guns do not kill people, people kill people, my blood boils.  What and where is that logic?  People with guns kill people.  Reminder:  the Bill of Rights were written without considering the future crazies looking to buy a Saturday night special or an Uzi submachine gun.

Education.  Why is this not the most important issue? We should  have the highest quality education offered in public schools in all neighborhoods, not just in expensive zip codes. Parents should not have to fight to get their kids into desirable schools; they should all be equal and desirable.  But, they are not.  Our school systems are a mess because politicians have been paying more attention to the stock market, rather than investments in our children.   Honestly, we pay sports figures huge amounts of money, yet, pay paltry wages to those who shape our childrens lives and to those who keep us safe and secure.  Teachers. Cops. Firemen.  I love Derek Jeter, but even I, am appalled by his salary.

Although I began this rant about being a Democrat, I am not fooled by any party and their attempt to manipulate all of us.  I do not think we are done yet; I am frustrated with the way things are, but, remain hopeful for the future.  Because it must get better.

On a lighter note:

Here is a plug for one of my favorite things:  Eyedews....Yes, I love them, and hope you give them a try.

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Life is An Oprah Episode - Figuring It All Out

Happy New Year!  I know it's been a little while since I last blogged, but, I am getting my groove, seemingly on strike, back.  I could say it is an intellectual interlude, however, there may be some disagreements to that sentiment.  I would also like to say I've been on a spiritual journey, reassessing my life and reflecting on the past year ready to move ahead.  Yeah, I'd like to say all that, but, that would pretty much be bull s***.  Like everyone else, I'm just trying to figure it all out.

@Alec Baldwin.....I totally get why you did not turn off your phone, as I too, have become addicted to Words With Friends.  Is there a twelve-step program in my future?  I started playing around Thanksgiving.  At first I was playing the game as I used to play Scrabble; identifying words I really did know the meaning of and rarely using a dictionary.  Now, I place letters on the board and wait for the word to be accepted or not.  That in itself has become a whole new game for me.  Usually, I have between eight and eleven games going at one time, and more than one with the same person.  Because I have so much time during the day, I have my ipad app downloaded, have the notification sound on; I'm ready all the time.  You know how it is said that when girlfriends spend a lot of time together they all get on the same cycle, well, no matter how many "friends" I am playing with, for the past few weeks, everyone has signed on and started playing with me almost at the same time.  It's quite funny.  I won't hear from anyone nearly all day long, then suddenly, I'll get notifications from four people within minutes of each other.  Most of them are in different time zones, some men, some women.  Funny.  

So, I started thinking, is playing this game sort of a metaphor for my life?  And, how many games do we all play?  What I discovered while playing Words With Friends is that I forgot how competitive I can be.  I hate to lose.  Or, do I hate for the other person to win?  Always a gracious loser in any sport I've played, this game is more about working with the hand you're dealt.  Again, metaphor. 

I don't know anyone who does not play games.  Life games. 

When I worked for American Express I was at the height of my "game".  Being in sales was a great deal of fun and I had a lot of success -- for a while--.  I would often be having conversations with friends and laughing when speaking about my job and how I was always "on".  I called it playing Corporate World.  Imagine my regular gig of doing sales presentations, selling their products, always impeccably, professionally dressed in my "amexblue" suit, usually an Ann Taylor or Ralph Lauren thing.  When I finished the meeting or presentation, I could read the body language of my audience and know, within 95% accuracy,  if the sale was going to close.  Why? How?  My best game was there.  When the markets changed, so did the game, so what worked before wasn't working anymore.  Game ended.  So did my wardrobe.

Is there a tougher game to play than in relationships?  I do not think so.  Boy, this man/woman thing. Or, man/man or woman/woman thing.  I bet if we all put a nickel in a jar for each time we have said we are looking for a relationship with someone that does not play any games, we could support a Third World Country.  That's hysterical to me.  We may not mean to do it, but, we play.  And, in most cases, the stakes are high.  Yet, so many people are afraid to risk, so the game played is that we take a time out, or give ourselves a penalty.  Remind yourself of when you were attracted to someone and never let them know, always expecting them to read your mind.  Or, better still, assume you can read someone's mind and know what they are thinking.  I have learned, finally, not to do that.  I draw conclusions based on actions.  Or, based on non-actions.  It's still a game, after all.

Finally, the games we play with ourselves.  C'mon....we do this.  You know how we all have those days when everything goes so well, you think the stars are finally aligned in your favor; you smile all day and all your relationships are clearly defined. No. Me neither. Let the games begin!  Freud had the original model for it, but, we can take it to a new level.  Yeah, it's about the ego.  Hide our feelings, pretend we don't feel things, show our feelings, manipulate others to feel's all there on a daily basis.  It's our dress code.

My resolution this year is to follow my heart.  Which for me, means, trying hard not to play any games (except the really fun ones!)  I resolve to be open and honest, take some risks, even if it means doing something I later think was foolish. " Better a fool for five minutes by saying something, rather than a fool for life by not."  Sorry, I don't remember who said that, and I am probably paraphrasing as well.  But, the idea is not to have any regrets.  We all know that life is short, we all say that, all the time.  Let's just try to live everyday as if we really believe it.

Best wishes,  everyone.  Take care of yourselves, inside and out.