Tuesday, October 20, 2015

In Search of Happiness

Maybe I’m too optimistic in my belief that ALL of us want to be happy, that happiness is something we all strive to achieve. If my theory is true, why then do so many of us sabotage our own happiness? Why do we unknowingly restrict ourselves from enjoying anything and spend our whole lives looking for something we think we’ll never find? Even if we allow ourselves to think for one minute that we were meant to experience happiness, we believe happiness is like the elusive butterfly – fleeting.

Many of us live on the opposite end of the spectrum from happy. We are bitter, angry, spiteful, jealous, and depressed. And if somebody suggests that we can be happy, we provide lots of excuses to show them how wrong they are. Who can argue with us when we cry about the loss of a parent, a spouse, a child, a home, a job, or a car? We have no reason to be happy, we explain.

Even years later, after we remarry (a drug-abusing alcoholic), give birth to more children (we can’t afford to raise), live in a home (that is too small for our family), have jobs (that don’t pay our bills), drive a car (that lives in the repair shop more often than on the street), we complain bitterly and hold fast to our reasons, or more accurately, our excuses, to explain our relentless unhappiness. Happiness was obviously not meant for us. 

If we had what we wanted or needed but currently don’t have, we explain, we’d be happy. Money, for example, for most of us, would make us happy. We don’t need extreme wealth, though prosperity would be nice – we just need enough money to pay our bills, take a trip, and buy a few luxuries now and then.

So we cling to our belief that others were meant to be happy. We think our lives are worse than anyone else’s life. We think that everything we do is worthless and meaningless. Nothing matters anymore, because everything we do is never good enough. We’ll never be able to support our families, we’ll never find the job that could pay our bills, we’ll never have that child we always wanted, we’ll never … (the list goes on and on).

We think that even if we could pursue our passions (we don’t have enough money to quit our jobs), or if we were wealthy (that will never happen) or if more people supported us and believed in us (our families and friends are about as supportive as stretched out pieces of elastic), maybe THEN we’d be happy. But some very wealthy individuals who have pursued their passions and have had the support of family and friends are still so unhappy they feel their lives aren’t worth living. So you wonder, what’s the point?

STOP! Just STOP! Let’s reexamine our thoughts. We have just invited a a hoard of negativity to enter our spirits, which are now filled with so much self-criticism, hatred, pessimism, and pain that they have hardened to a point where no positive energy can enter. That protective wall we’ve built around us serves only to keep all the negativity inside, smoldering and festering, until we become one giant inflamed sore. Happiness tries to get in, but our walls are too thick, and we’re too stubborn to allow it entry.

And many of us drown ourselves in alcohol and fill our bodies with drugs destined to make even the most positive among us sink deeper into the pits of hell. 

We need to stop abusing our bodies. We need to stop poisoning our minds (and the minds of others who look to us for guidance). We need to open up our hearts and allow the possibility for a little bit of happiness to enter. 

If we don’t, we become bitter old hags with permanent scowls on our faces, pushing away every good thing that comes our way, because we don’t believe that good things can happen – for us. We have convinced ourselves to believe we don’t deserve to be happy, even while that little voice inside us tells us that we do. Why pay attention to that lying, conniving voice when we know that its purpose is to trick us? We are living proof that nothing good happens for people like us. And we compare our heartaches and devastating losses to those of others. 

But comparing ourselves to others is a recipe for disaster. We all follow our own paths, our own loves, our own passions, and what we believe to be our own destinies. Being on my path makes me no better or no worse than you. My progress in life, while connected to yours, in no way is meant to intimate you any more than your progress is meant to intimidate me. 

We are all at different levels of spirituality, emotional maturity, intellect, and physical development. Would you compare your phase of emotional development to that of a teenager? Would you condemn the teenager for not knowing how to regulate his or her hormones? Would you criticize a baby for not knowing how to walk? 

Sadly some parents do, and babies, while unable to comprehend our words, understand and interpret very well our emotions. Inherent in that infant is the ability to stand upright, but our criticism and harassment cannot force Baby to stand before Baby is ready. 

Why then do we force ourselves or our loved ones to travel paths we think they should travel at the pace we think they should move when they are not ready? Why can’t we recognize that our friends and family members are on their own paths and at their own stages of development? If more of us supported and encouraged others – and ourselves – to travel the paths we were meant to travel, more of us might find happiness.

We also need to stop thinking of ourselves as sinners. To feel that we were born with sin and that we have to spend the rest of our lives ridding ourselves of the disgusting filth that embodied us from the moment we were conceived, we place ourselves in a type of Hell from which we may never escape. 

Isn’t sin nothing more than succumbing to temptation? How can a newborn be expected to resist temptation? – Even if the baby was born with sin, how can a defenseless infant be expected to resist temptation? And how can we be born with sin that is supposedly already a part of us unless we brought it forth from a past life? 

Are we to believe in a punishing God and that God is still punishing all of us for the sins committed by Adam and Eve? Maybe we need to rethink our purpose in being on this planet. Maybe the time has come for us to recognize that we have choices. If we believe in the teachings of the Bible, we know that ALL OF US were given Free Will! And because we make our own choices, others make their own choices as well. 

Sometimes their choices put us in danger. Sometimes their choices hurt us. Sometimes their choices kill our family and friends. But so do our choices affect them. Are we always making informed choices? If God took away our Free Will, our ability to choose, would we then be happy? Would we be happy living as robots, unable to make our own choices, because they’ve already been made for us? Why bother living at all if we can’t decide how to live our own lives? 

We have to accept that we have the ability to choose our thoughts, even when others humiliate us, degrade us, and behave in ways that make us miserable. 

As I was in the midst of writing this piece, my mother called to tell me that her grandson (my nephew) would soon be moving and that she was trying to find somebody to take the wall unit that she and my dad had given to him. I had just been telling one of my granddaughters, who had spent the weekend, that I needed a large wall unit to hold all my crafts. 

So when the subject about the shelves arose, I jumped at the opportunity to take something that once belonged to my parents. I told my mom I wanted it and she immediately went on a tirade. “You are NOT getting it. And where would you put it anyway? You are too unstable! You never stay anywhere long enough! How can I expect you to be living anywhere for very long when you move constantly?”

While her reasoning made no sense to me (what difference does moving make?), I understood (but didn’t really understand) that she wanted a stable environment for her very expensive shelf unit. Later, when I talked to my son, who will be taking the shelf unit, I learned that my mother had told him that she knew I was angry with her and that maybe she shouldn’t have been so honest. Those words knocked me off my feet. I found myself even angrier, and I plunged into a depressive state that took a couple of days to dissipate.

Why? I have a tendency to become depressed (usually over lack of money, though), and I always have to resist depression. My mom has never been to my home and she has told me that she will never visit my home, because she won’t drive this far. The problem would be solved if she would spend the night, but she refuses to spend the night. She has no idea how much space I have or why I would want the shelf unit in the first place, etc. But more importantly, she lashed out at me for – what? Why was she angry with me for wanting to take the shelf unit she no longer needed or wanted? 

And how could I continue writhing an article about happiness when I was now so miserable I couldn’t think happy thoughts – at all – in my depressed state of mind? My thoughts went back to the mom she was to me 6 years ago. If I had asked for the wall unit then, she would gladly have given it to me. I had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer, had to go through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, and she was so terrified I might die, she would have done anything to make me happy. 

But, I realized, because of past psychologically devastating family situations, once the cancer treatment was over, our relationship would resume its stasis. I was back to my designation as the unforgivably weird and unstable renegade in my family. 

And then it hit me – happiness isn’t always an easily achievable state. I needed to understand that fact if I was going to continue writing this article. I’m also reading Dr. Wayne Dyer’s, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life. Even if my mother was trying to impart to me the message that I was incapable of caring for anything, even something nobody wanted, I had to learn that what my mother, and others, think about me, is really, according to Dr. Dyer, none of my business. 

Though we try to overcome our sadness at things others say about us, though we may become depressed when people who are supposed to love us act as if they are fully intent on “putting us in our place,” wherever they think that place is, we have to recognize that sometimes angry, miserable, or even just critical people will come along to challenge our attempts to be happy. 

What I’ve learned and what I continue to learn, is that we can’t allow others to threaten our happiness. Whatever my mother’s reasons were for not wanting me to take the wall unit, I had to let go of my desire to make sense of her adamant stronghold about me being unstable. She may go to her grave thinking I’m inept, but I refuse to go to mine believing her.

What I have also learned over time is that we can’t always change what happens around us and we can’t always change what happens to us (though we have some control over what precipitates certain events that occur, like tempting fate by texting/drinking and driving). We can change our reactions, our perceptions, and our beliefs. We can choose to affect our destinies by following our own desired paths, even while others are standing on our paths, intent on pushing us over the edge.

Ignoring them isn’t always an option. Maybe they are our parents, our children, our siblings, or our best friends. But we can choose our reactions to them. We can understand that maybe they are limited in their abilities to move along their own paths, because they’ve been stuck in one position for so long, they don’t know how to proceed. Maybe they’re so focused on us making mistakes they can’t see their own blunders. Or maybe they think their job is to guide us along our paths at the expense of their own journeys.

We can also open our minds to other possibilities. Maybe we brought our sins into this life from a previous existence and the reincarnation theory, “What you reap, so shall you sow,” is playing itself out. Another example for opening our minds is the study of Vedanta, a type of Vedas philosophy, which tells us that, “our real nature is divine. God is our innermost Self, an underlying reality that exists in every being. Religion is therefore a search for Self, a search for God within. We don't need to be ‘saved.’ At worst, we are unaware of our true nature.” (See Source 1 below.) 

Another explanation for Vedanta appears here (Source 2 below): “Vedanta is one of the world’s most ancient religious philosophies and one of its broadest. Based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India, Vedanta affirms the oneness of existence, the divinity of the soul, and the harmony of religions. Vedanta is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism; but while Hinduism includes aspects of Indian culture, Vedanta is universal in its application and is equally relevant to all countries, all cultures, and all (religions).” (What I like about the Vedanta philosophy is that Vedanta treats Christ and spiritual teachers from other religions with equal respect.)

If we learned to accept that happiness is obtainable, we would want to explore the truth that resides in all of us, that we were born with a divine nature, an acceptance that would change our belief about who we are. Believing we are divine does not mean that we are sinless. We are human, after all, but believing in our own divine nature opens our hearts and minds wide enough to recognize that God truly does reside within us! 

Isn’t that what even Biblical scholars have been teaching us all along – that God resides within us – that we don’t have to search outside ourselves to find God? How can we be born with sin if God has dwelled inside us from the moment of conception? And if God co-exists with sin, why do we pay more attention to the negative aspects of our nature (the sins we and others choose to commit)? Why can’t we focus more on our divine nature (the God within)?

One explanation is that we allow greed, anger, gluttony, lust, envy, pride, and sloth (the seven deadly sins) to control us. To combat those sins, we need to replace greed with generosity, anger with compassion and kindness, gluttony with temperance, lust with self-control, envy with empathy and love, pride with humility, and sloth with action. (See Source 4 below.) And maybe we need to start paying attention to little things that we tend to dismiss when we are in the throes of negativity, those almost unrecognizable moments of joy, like this one:

One year, when I was working two part-time jobs, going to school full time, raising my three youngest kids, and getting them to all their after-school activities, I sat in a Dairy Queen parking lot on a beautiful Spring day, waiting for my youngest daughter to get her free ice cream cone (a coupon prize from one of her teachers). Her siblings were with friends and I was trying to relax before I had to return home to wrestle with homework – theirs and mine – and figure out a way to pay the bills. I had been arguing bitterly with their father over the child support he was supposed to pay in keeping with inflation, but he refused. 

Instead, though for eight years the cost of living had risen dramatically, he continued to pay what he paid eight years before. I calculated the difference between what he had been paying and what he should be paying to be the weekly cost of two gallons of milk, a box of cereal, and a loaf of bread. My frustration over his refusal to obey the courts put me in a terrible state of mind. Though I kept praying for some relief, though I kept asking for a miracle, I was always choking back tears, always ready to pound my fists into my steering wheel, my floor, the walls, or even my forehead. One time I flattened a ring on my finger because I had pounded the floor so hard, crying out to God and blaming Him for putting me in such a state of poverty, that I couldn’t get the ring off my finger without using a pair of pliers. 

So, while my daughter stood in line, waiting for her ice cream cone, I stared out the window and, once again fought back tears as I tried to enjoy the weather and not let her see the pain I was in or the frustration I was feeling.

In that moment, a little girl, who was maybe 3 or 4, came up to my driver’s window as her dad looked at me through the front window of my car. She handed me a handful of dandelions, and, in that moment, my heart melted. The little girl didn’t pay my bills and she didn’t entice my X to pay child support, but she came in answer to a prayer. Unbidden, she offered me something my own children had given me numerous times before, a handful of dandelions. 

In that moment, I felt something crack open inside me. I truly believed that this child had been sent to me by God, who I imagined was telling me, “Open your hand. Accept this gift. And open your heart. Remember this moment with joy. Many more will come. Recognize them. In time, you’ll understand that true joy brings happiness.”

My life didn’t change dramatically or immediately. I still found myself getting fired up over my X and his refusal to accept responsibility for his children. And I still fought with creditors over bills I couldn’t afford to pay. But I felt a shift of energy inside me and I never forgot that little girl and her gift.

Today I am happy. I live at just above (yay for small steps) poverty level and I live on a strict budget, but I am happy. Through the sale of my manufactured home, I was able to buy new furniture (my kids grew up with nothing but borrowed furniture). 

My true joy, though, comes from spending time with my kids and grandkids, from visits with friends and family, from the change in seasons, from finding a skein of yarn that I think would make a nice project, from watching new episodes of NCIS or Criminal Minds, from knowing I have a plethora of movies and shows I can watch on Netflix, from walking on my treadmill, or from finding time to read a book. 

Most recently, I began a new business, Crystal Butterfly Creations Message in a Bottle. Will it thrive? I don’t know. My happiness doesn’t depend on whether or not this business succeeds. My happiness derives from knowing that I have talents and skills I can share with others. My happiness comes from knowing that God resides within me and that I can connect with that Source of Happiness and Joy every minute of every day if I open my heart and my mind to recognize the positive energy I draw from that Source – from God. I just have to remember, even in times of sadness and frustration, that God is there waiting for me to notice that Fountain of Joy within me.

Life has never been easy for me. The struggles oftentimes have been insurmountable, just as they have been for everyone else. We can’t expect to remain in a blissful state 24 hours every day. We all encounter frustrations and tragedy that require our attention and zap our energy.

But we can trust that life is cyclical and that “all things must pass,” including our own lives. So while we’re still alive, let’s start enJOYing those little things that bring us JOY right now, today. Let’s learn how to be happy by following our own paths, encouraging and supporting others to follow their own paths, and guiding them along their paths, trusting that we are all where we are meant to be. 

Let’s support others who have fallen off their paths and who have ignored the God within them. Let’s help others realize their talents and skills, and let’s encourage them to share their gifts with others. I leave you with this quote from Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Controversial Discussion on Drug Abuse – We are Lying to Our Kids About Drugs

So many programs and drug rehabilitation centers are devoted to helping kids and adults recover from the devastating effects of drug abuse and/or alcoholism.

So with all we've been doing, why is nothing working? Why are kids still abusing drugs and alcohol? 

If you believe some of the documentaries floating around about how the government is controlling the drug cartels, or maybe government is being controlled by the drug cartels, you might think our kids have no hope.

But I think we've been looking at drug abuse incorrectly. We've been lying to our kids by telling them that drugs are bad. Why do I think that? Rather than discuss my feelings in this blog, I'm going to direct you to another blog that discusses – in detail – Why What We’re Telling Our Kids About Drugs Doesn’t Help Them. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Relationship Problems? Answer This One Question and You’ll Know What To Do!

We all experience occasional relationship problems, whether they are with our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, significant others, or friends. And most of the time, we are able to resolve those problems, because deep down, we know our loved ones truly love us. 

But sometimes we really don’t know that – or if – they love us, because we’re insecure about their love for us. When our spouses, who chose to marry us, for instance, don’t act lovingly toward us; when our mothers, who birthed us, but maybe suffered from postpartum depression or were raped and never told us, don’t act lovingly toward us, how can we not rush to judgment and assume they may not really love us? We can’t – and don’t want to – consider that our moms might have been too afraid to love us due to impossible-to-believe circumstances that led to our births – or even to our conceptions. And as far as the partner with whom we chose to spend the rest of our lives is concerned, some of us wonder – did we marry a psychopath?

Many of us have dads who neglected us, siblings who assumed the role of being our harshest critics, and children who grew up to take an unfamiliar path – not the one we guided them toward. They refused to follow our directions, because they chose their own paths – and we think, how dare them! Why don’t they love us?

Or do they?

The road we travel is long and comes with so many twists and turns, we sometimes can’t help but get lost, and we can’t help but decide that others are lost, too, because they didn’t choose the right path – our path. Not every life is mapped with signposts to help us along our way. The road to a healthy relationship is filled with all kinds of hurdles and missteps. And if we don’t watch where we’re going, we may find ourselves in a ditch.

One of the problems some of us encounter when it comes to our own relationships is that our perceptions of the people to whom we relate is actually distorted; we think people don’t love us, because they don’t fit our image of what a loving parent, spouse, etc. should look like. We sometimes refuse to recognize that just because somebody is angry with us, for example, their anger doesn’t mean they hate us. The less mature among us take every bump on the relationship road as a sign – or as an excuse – to end the relationship, especially when it becomes too difficult to handle, rather than look at our problems as opportunities to grow the relationship and progress ourselves and our loved ones spiritually. 

We need to face our challenges and overcome our obstacles if we want our relationships to succeed. We need to recognize that just because loved ones are angry with us today doesn’t mean they will throw us out of their lives forever tomorrow. Most situations are transitory, and most problems can be resolved if both partners participate in resolving the issues.

Some situations require us to understand the meaning behind the actions of others. A mother loses her self-control, for instance, when she sees her teenage daughter dressed inappropriately. The daughter sees the outrage as a blow to her individuality. She has no clue that the clothes she wears entice predators and invite unwelcome advances. The teenage brain isn’t yet equipped with the ability to recognize that someone who lavishes the teenager with attention is actually a predator pretending to be a teenager – or an actual teenager with a hidden agenda.

Vulnerable teenagers don’t want to believe that the “young” boy or girl who acts adoringly attentive and loving toward him or her online is actually a 60-year-old pervert working an intricate dance of seduction designed to entice girls or boys away from the safety of their homes into his house of horrors. So the mother comes off as being hateful, when in fact, she is concerned for the welfare of her child. But teenagers often don’t understand the consequences of their actions – until it’s too late. 

Some relationship problems require more loving effort on our part than we’re equipped to handle – raising defiant teenagers, for instance. I highly recommend reading Discussing Teenage Defiance by James Dobson, Ph.D. The article offers some helpful advice for dealing with defiant teens.

Another example of an all-too-common relationship problem is abuse in its many forms, whether physical, emotional, or sexual. When a husband or wife comes home every night and berates and humiliates his or her spouse, those actions are not the actions of a loving soulmate. People who love each other act lovingly toward each other. Actions speak volumes. The same holds true for parents. If we love our children, they need to know through our actions and through the way we look at them that we love them, and NOT in a sexual way.

Too many children live in fear these days – in their own homes. (Living with an abusive parent or alcoholic can be terrifying for adults, so imagine how living with one can destroy a child.) Children can’t escape the constant trauma unless someone saves them from the abuse. No child should have to live in fear. If you are a parent who is providing a home for a child who lives in constant fear, whether due to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, the relationship you form with that child will be damaged, possibly beyond repair, and your child will grow up distrusting you and everyone else. 

Some parents can’t move their children away from the situation, because they’re too afraid themselves to leave the abuse. In those situations, parents need to reach out for help from organizations that offer help, because staying with abuse and subjecting your children to abuse is also abuse, and if you love your child, you’ll force yourself to move out of your “comfort” zone – your child’s private hell – into a safe environment. If you are a parent of a child who is being abused by your spouse, you are not showing love to your child if you force him or her every day to experience ongoing terror.

Other less traumatizing events contribute to children never feeling safe in their homes, too. I never felt that my dad loved me, for example. My mom used to say that he loved me, “in his own way.” I learned to hate those words, because I never understood what she meant. He daily criticized, humiliated, and degraded me. I learned to hate myself and I eventually accepted that I was stupid, ugly, and unlovable. It took me decades to overcome my insecurities. 

Then just recently, after my father died, a dear friend talked to me about her mother, with whom she had had a strained relationship. From her I learned how to view my relationship with my dad differently. 

When he was a young man, my dad had saved a lot of money, so much money in fact, that his mother and father took his money and drove the entire family from Illinois to California to live. They never paid him back and for the rest of his life my father resented his parents for stealing his money. While my sisters and I were growing up, my father became rather stingy with his money, refusing to buy even underwear for us, because he didn’t think they were necessary since nobody saw them under our clothes anyway (my mother insisted though).

His (what we all perceived to be) stinginess changed when my sisters and I became adults. My father would often throw money our way and it never occurred to me that, because of his relationship with money and because he always resented his parents for stealing his money and using it to take care of themselves and my dad’s four siblings, money was my dad’s way of showing affection to us.

So does the possibility exist that the person who you feel doesn’t love you actually does, but doesn’t know how to show it the way you need it to be shown? We always assume that the people who love us know what we need to feel loved by them, but you’d be surprised by how many people have no clue how to express their love for us. 

Over the many years I have lived, I have learned that we all have a responsibility to tell our loved ones in concrete terms what we need from them so they will know how to love us. Sometimes a show of affection, such as holding hands or hugging is all we need to feel loved. Some of us need to hear the words, “I love you.” But if we never tell our loved ones what we need from them because we feel, “they should know,” we’ll never receive the affection we want from them. 

Then, of course, the materialistic among us (the superficial ones) need things to know they’re appreciated. If your loved one says he or she needs material objects to prove you love your partner, get out of the relationship now, before s/he cleans out your bank account with demands for material “affection.” That kind of “love” won’t last. If she or he is your child, start now to teach your child the true nature of “value.”

Forgetting the materialistic “lover,” let’s say we tell our loved ones what we need from them and they ignore our requests. Do we assume they don’t care? Maybe. Maybe not. Some people have a hard time saying, “I love you.” Some people aren’t comfortable with hugs. And yet, some people really don’t know how to love. 

If you are always the one putting forth effort to maintain the relationship and you’re getting tired of the lack of reciprocity, you more likely have a master/slave relationship than you do a familial one. Maybe the time has come for you to take an inventory of what you have given to the relationship and compare what you have given to what you have received from the relationship. Because if the people you love don’t respond at all to your requests and if they don’t even try to make an effort to act lovingly toward you, maybe it’s time to excise them from your life.

And yet, because we look at things from our own perspectives, we don’t always see things as they are. We see things only from our own point of view. Taking ourselves out of the situation and placing ourselves in other’s shoes is not always possible, but we really need to examine our situation objectively to get a better perspective. 

Let’s say a smoker husband lives with an asthmatic wife. Though she suffers tremendously and though they spend a huge amount of money on medications and hospital visits, he refuses to give up smoking in their home. She gives birth to their baby who also develops asthma. Surely the father will give up smoking in the home for the sake of his own baby’s health, the mom thinks. But he doesn’t. 

Does that mean he doesn’t love his baby? I don’t think jumping to that conclusion is fair. But I do think that the man is selfish and stupid because he is jeopardizing the health of both his wife and his baby. He probably thinks, “This is my house and I can do whatever I want to do in MY house.” 

He sees his wife’s “demands” as a power ploy, because he’s too invested in himself to consider how his actions might impact another human being, even if that being is his own offspring. What matters to him is HIM and him alone. Everyone must bow to his wishes. In his mind, they don’t show him the respect he demands, and to him, everything is about respect – respect for him. Egocentric, selfish, and immature individuals place the needs and wishes of others beneath their own wishes, even when their own wishes jeopardize the health and sanity of others. We don’t want to believe that our parents or our spouses are so focused on their own needs and wants that they could care less about our needs and wants. 

How can we be sure if they love us? 

If you wonder about whether or not you should exert any more effort into your relationship, especially when you feel drained and exhausted from working so hard to maintain it, ask yourself this one question – do you feel loved? If you honestly feel loved, you can resolve any relationship issue. If you don’t feel loved, ask yourself why you are maintaining the relationship.

Loving parents, siblings, spouses, and friends are supposed to bring out the best in us. They are supposed to encourage us to use our talents and intellect to our best advantage. They are supposed to celebrate our victories with us and comfort us during our failures. They’re not supposed to judge or criticize us. Though we may not be aware of what we need from them, the best relationships challenge us to be our best selves. They don’t allow us to take the lazy way out of working toward becoming the awesome people we were meant to be. 

Oftentimes, giving up on important relationships means giving up something of ourselves. Sometimes we need to put forth more effort, especially when those relationships are important to us. We don’t want to regret decisions we make today, because they will negatively impact us in the future, and we might have a hard time forgiving ourselves if we don't at least try to mend a broken relationship.

So take a look at your significant relationships. Do you need proof that someone loves you? I once asked my ex-husband if he loved me enough to give up beer. He glared at me and hours later brought home a case of it. I had my answer (hence, the “ex” status).

Well, let me tell you a little secret I learned that day – if you have to ask for proof, you don’t feel secure in your relationship. And if you don’t feel secure in your relationship, you either have some personal issues that need attention, or you have valid reasons for feeling insecure. Men and women who accuse their spouses of cheating on them, for instance, are usually later discovered to be cheating themselves and therefore accuse their spouses of what they are guilty of doing. If you feel you need proof that your spouse loves you, he or she probably doesn’t, or you need to figure out why you feel so insecure.

Relationships require effort to maintain, but those efforts should be made with every intention of improving the relationship; they shouldn’t leave you feeling exhausted every time you expend the effort. If you’re giving, giving, giving, until you have nothing left to give and if your partner or loved one expects you to keep giving, giving, giving, without appreciating you or acting lovingly toward you, maybe the time has come to let go of the relationship.

I’m not saying you need to “get” something every time you “give” something, because maybe all you need are feelings of joy, triumph, exuberance, and a heart filled with love when you’re with your loved one. If those are your feelings, you’re relating well, but if all you feel is depression, anxiety, guilt, or anger, you either need to change the way you relate or stop relating completely.

Sometimes you’re just with the wrong person. I knew a couple once who brought out the absolute worst in each other. They fought constantly and everyone around them wondered why they were still together. Then the guy (who was a friend of my ex’s) met somebody new, and his behavior changed dramatically, so much, in fact, that he acted like a different person. The new woman in his life brought out the best in him and he suddenly became friendlier and happier. They later married, had a couple of children, who are now grown, and they are still happily together.

Before you decide to sever ties with people who matter to you, step outside of yourself and look at your situation from the other person’s point of view. So many of us hold such hatred in our hearts because of a perceived wrong, and we hang on to the anger and hatred. It eats away at us from the inside out and we experience all kinds of physical problems and emotional distress because of it. We become distrustful and bitter.

What we need in those kinds of situations is to learn one of the most important aspects of any successful relationship – how to forgive, because by not forgiving, we persecute ourselves. None of us is so perfect, we can’t forgive imperfections in another. “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” (Lewis B. Smedes) 

Sometimes we don’t want to appear vulnerable and we think that by offering our forgiveness, others will take advantage of us. “We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it's absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” (T. D. Jakes)

Forgiving also requires fortitude. “It's not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” (Tyler Perry) 

And at some point, we need to realize that only when we are capable of forgiving are we truly capable of loving another human being. 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.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

We all deserve to be loved and we all deserve to be loved the way we want to be loved. Ask yourself if you are doing everything possible to help your loved ones feel loved. Are you doing something every day that lets your loved ones know how loved they are? If you are, you are contributing positively to your relationship. If you’re not contributing to the success of your relationship, start now to repair the damage. Love has no time limit and is always awaiting recognition.

If you’re experiencing relationship problems, learn how to solve them with the people who are part of the problem. If they love you, they’ll want to work on the relationship too. If they don’t care, leave them (unless they’re your children). And remember, you’ll know if your relationship is good if being in it makes you – and the person who is relating to you – feel good about yourself and each other. And if you feel hurt by a relationship that is not working out, learn to forgive the other person and allow both of you to heal from the pain.

Working on relationships with people who matter to you builds character. You’ll both benefit from the time and effort you put into strengthening the bond you had with each other.

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.” (Thomas Merton) 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TransJenner – The Bruce Jenner / Caitlyn Jenner Controversy and What We Need to Understand

We have a habit of assigning categories to people. The way we perceive them to be is the label we assign to them, whether or not we are correct in our presumptions. And they’d better fit our perceptions of them or we’ll cast those traitors aside, or even worse, crucify them!

How dare anybody fall outside what we believe to be reality! The way we grew up most likely defines us in our early years, whether we grew up Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or some other way. And, as a result of our upbringing, too many people believe that anybody who doesn’t belong doesn’t deserve to exist on the same planet as they do. 

And though we supposedly mature, many of us never question our upbringing and we blindly pass on our beliefs to future generations. Why question anything, even if we feel our brows crossing in confusion, when questioning nothing is so much easier than having to think for ourselves? 

The divisiveness between this religion and that religion, between this political party and that political party, between this sexual preference and that sexual preference, has become so tiresome to me that I cannot understand why so many people hate so many other people, merely because they are different! I really am very tired of all the haters out there who hate either because they learned from their parents or teachers how to hate or because they were so used to having others think for them that they were – and are – incapable of thinking for themselves.

Ask some of these haters why they hate, and you’ll hear, “Because I just do.” Or you’ll hear, “That should be obvious.” The “I just do” groups will take you on an endless loop of “I just do”’s every time you ask why, and you’ll never learn the real reason (because they don’t really have one) why they “just do.” The “that should be obvious” groups, when you ask, “what’s so obvious?” taunt you with derisive comments to let you know that you are supremely stupid for even asking the question.

Well, here’s what I want to know. Upon what do you haters base your beliefs? Were your beliefs handed down from generation to generation and you adopted them because you felt you had to believe what your parents believed? Or were you too afraid to think for yourselves? Does anything in the history of you back up your reasons for your beliefs?

I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no understanding of transgenders. Nobody I knew was transgender and nobody I had ever met was transgender. As a matter of fact I never knew they existed until the mid-1970s. And the only way I learned about transgenders was because an endocrinologist from the hospital where I worked wanted to explain to those of us who made appointments for various clinics at the University of Chicago, how the transgender process worked. 

In addition to seeing an endocrinologist (for hormone therapy), future transgenders had to also see a psychiatrist and a surgeon, and transgender individuals had to convince all of those doctors that they firmly believed they were born into the wrong body. If the potential transgender individual could convince all doctors that he or she was in the wrong body, the doctors would begin the transition. 

Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror – every day – every day of your life – and seeing an image that feels foreign to you. Though your anatomy tells you that you belong to one sex, your mind and spirit feel that you are supposed to be the opposite sex. 

For a period of time, when I was around 11 or 12, I thought I looked like a boy and I hated myself (for more reasons than just looking like a boy). Though I didn’t know it at the time, I suffered from a type of body dysmorphic disorder that caused me to see myself in a very negative and disturbing light. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a boy looking back at me and I hated him. I thought that I looked masculine and ugly.

Nothing about my body looked feminine to me. I was flat-chested and I felt undeserving of affection or attention. I also didn’t feel loved. I was tall for my age, too, the tallest kid among all 6th graders in my school – yes, even taller than the tallest boy – and I was disproportionately skinny. At 5’3” I weighed only 63 pounds. Though my bones were tiny, and under my legs sat a pair of Barbie doll feet, the way I felt about the way I looked was so wracked with insecurity, I was depressed and suicidal all the time.

Like many insecure people, I hated myself. But don’t get me wrong – never once did I want to be a boy or feel that I was a boy – I just thought I looked too much like a boy that I thought I would never look feminine, and that was not the image of myself that I wanted to present to the world. 

Maybe that’s why I have so much compassion and empathy for Caitlyn Jenner. If I awoke each day feeling as if I was in the wrong body, I couldn’t imagine living a lie 365 days a year for 64 years – just to please everyone else. 

Depression and suicidal thoughts, though, are not reasons for changing sex. But feeling that you are a member of the opposite sex and having felt that way since you were a child might just be one of those things doctors look for when determining whether or not you might be a candidate for a sex change. 

But why is somebody else’s personal challenge any of our business? Why are we so consumed with what others do and why do we feel the need to mock people who don’t fit our definitions of what a “real man” or “real woman” is supposed to look like? I see so many people crying out to everyone who doesn’t fit their image of what everyone else should be like, look like, or act like, “DON’T be YOU! Be what WE want you to be!” 

Every shade of skin color, from the palest white to the darkest black exists on this planet. The shapes of our faces, features, and body sizes differ. Our interests differ as well. But, unless we were born with body deformities, we all have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, one nose, one mouth, and one heart. Some of our interests are similar, too. So in some ways, we are also the same.

Why do we feel the need to hurt people for being different? Does our incessant need to shame others result because we feel embarrassed by them or because we feel uncomfortable with them? Seems to me that our discomfort is based on things we don’t understand and don’t want to understand.

Macho dad has a son who prefers music to sports. Dainty mom has a little girl who would rather play baseball and basketball than Barbies. Mom and Dad feel uncomfortable with their offspring, so they do everything in their power to change their children, instead of learning how to appreciate the beautiful human beings they brought into this world. 

What many people don’t understand is that by pushing others to be someone he or she is not, we bully that little boy and that little girl. And by judging people who live their lives in accordance to the way they want to live their lives, we bully them with our condemnation of them through our words and the way we look at them. Our forceful bullying backs these kids into corners where the only way out is through denying who they really are and hating themselves because they’re not allowed to be themselves.

We can guide our children, and they will follow if we are leading them down the path to themselves, but if we bully them down a path that takes them so far away from themselves they feel lost and alone, we hurt their chances of ever being successful and happy. We should all want to experience joy in our own lives and we should want our sons and daughters to feel joyful too! By taking away parts of themselves they enjoy, we literally take the joy out of their lives.

So much of what goes on in this world is a mystery to me, but I won’t jump on any bandwagons to promote my beliefs just to be popular with others who agree with the common consensus (or more accurately common misperceptions). Why can’t we look beyond the little box we’ve placed ourselves into and really see the world, not as we want to see it, but as it really is.

What I think needs to happen is for all of us to develop compassion and empathy for whatever we don’t understand. And we need to understand that we don’t need to understand everything. But we do need to appreciate that our fellow human beings may be interested in things that differ from our own interests and that different isn’t code for dangerous, toxic, or evil.

One person erects buildings, another designs them, while another sells them, and still another repurposes them. One person creates fabric and yarn, while another designs patterns for using that fabric or yarn, and still another weaves that yarn or sews that fabric. We can’t possibly do everything ourselves, unless of course, we want to live so simply we are able to pitch a tent and we know how to live off the land.

For me, because I can’t do everything by myself and because I prefer to live indoors, I appreciate builders, plumbers, electricians, carpet layers, furniture makers, machinists, computer programers, herbalists, scientists, auto mechanics, crafters, artists, musicians, and writers, because most of them are different from me, and they know how to do things I don’t know how to do or don’t want to take the time to learn. And yet, in many ways, they are also the same.  

Over the many years I’ve lived, I’ve learned to appreciate – and embrace – differences. I’ve come to understand that we all come into this world with a variety of talents and abilities. And we all come into this world with a sense of ourselves. Though we may not be aware of what we bring with us into this life, I also firmly believe we all have a purpose. Some people make it their mission to destroy our souls, and, without them being aware of the destruction they cause, they also destroy themselves and the world in which we live.

How much better all of our lives would be if we would just learn to encourage and support each other in ways that would benefit each other and this Earth. We are often blind to truth because we’ve learned lies for so long, we embrace them out of habit. Over the centuries, many men and women have been tortured because their beliefs differed from what everyone expected them to believe. How many people tormented scientists who believed our Earth was round when everybody insisted it was flat? How much of what we are learning today will be proven to be incorrect in the future?

We are so bigoted and filled with so many prejudices. We think we are more intelligent than those who argue with us. We forget – or maybe we choose to ignore – what love really means. We need to open our minds to all the possibilities around us, and we need to learn how to truly love each other!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Bible quotes came from Open Bible

UPDATE: Just read an amazing article entitled, Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America: There is a growing anti-intellectual dumbing down of our culture. Maybe our lack of intelligence is contributing to our lack of compassion and empathy. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

How to Get Rid of Annoying Habits

Developing habits doesn’t always have to be a negative experience. Showering every day, for instance, is a great habit to have, as long as you don’t shower compulsively all day long without a good reason for showering several times a day.

Some habits, though, are not good for you, and you need to know how to rid yourself of them.


You’ve been wanting to quit smoking for years, but pulling out a cigarette, lighting it, and then putting it in your mouth and smoking it has become a ritual you can’t seem to escape. That hand-to-mouth habit has become so unconscious that even the possibility of quitting could cause you to bite your nails, chomp on the skin around your nails, or exchange one bad habit for another – overeating, for instance.

Breaking habits is difficult. One year one of my daughters decided she wanted to quit sucking her thumb. (The Stress of a 6 Year Old Thumbsucker) She tried everything she could imagine to break her habit. What finally helped her? Read on. 


What’s the first thing you do when you come home from work? Grab a drink and then another and then another and still another? 

You know you need to quit, but the thought of breaking your habits causes you immediate stress. How can you stop drinking when alcohol soothes you so well? But does it really? Do you find yourself becoming more depressed as time goes on? You know that drinking isn’t the solution. Alcohol is a depressant, after all. But what else can you do? How can you find that peace you crave without drinking? Isn’t pseudo-peace better than no peace at all?

The really sad thing about drinking is that, even though you know you’re damaging your liver and other organs, you really don’t care enough about yourself to change your drinking habit. Maybe you don’t want to join Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), because you don’t want anybody else to know you’re an alcoholic (sorry – they already know). Or maybe you’re not ready to admit you’re an alcoholic. If you knew how many others struggled the same way you do, you might be more willing to join AA or at least to seek help.

Binge Eating and Overeating

One of the hardest habits to break is binge eating and overeating. You can avoid alcohol and cigarettes, but you can’t avoid food. However, you don’t have to eat more than your body needs for survival. You can learn to reduce your intake and curb your appetite with healthy options. That philosophy of reduction and replacement has already worked for many people, and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. 


When I was in my early 30s I started taking an asthma medication that required me to eat something before I took it. Unfortunately I had to take that medication at bedtime. So though previously I had never snacked before bedtime, I quickly developed a habit of eating late in the evening and it became a habit that lasted long after I needed the medication.

To alleviate my “need” for snacking, thanks to the inspiration I received from my youngest sister, I reduced the amount of food I ate. Reduction helped my sister lose 40 pounds of unwanted weight after the birth of her first baby. All she did was cut her portions and, with just that one technique, lost all the weight she wanted to lose.

Solutions for Getting Rid of Annoying Habits

Drinking, smoking, and especially eating are probably the most difficult habits to change. But substituting alcohol for something else isn’t as difficult as you might expect IF you can get the same high from another enjoyable drink or a different activity. Changing your drink of choice for juice, water, tea, or coffee with added flavorings, such as vanilla (for coffee and tea) or lemons (for water or juice), might at least tempt your taste buds into drinking something healthier. But if your need to get high outweighs your need to get healthy, you need to investigate alternatives for mind-altering activities – not substances.

If you have a drinking problem, avoid places of and occasions for drinking. If one of those places happens to be a wedding that serves alcohol, tell yourself beforehand that you won’t imbibe and value yourself enough to keep your own promise to yourself. Remember, if you give yourself permission to drink only one, and you know you can’t stop at one, you’re setting yourself up for failure by drinking “just one.” Value yourself! Don’t drink at all.

Teach yourself how to replace your old habits with healthy new habits. If you find yourself grabbing a handful of M&Ms before bedtime, first cut your portion to 2/3 of what you normally eat, then cut it down to 1/3. The point is to satisfy your craving without giving in to your habit.

Meditation and running are said to offer a kind of high that is more beneficial to your body than drinking or smoking could ever be. If you learn how to meditate, you might discover that you will receive a feeling of euphoria again and again without that nasty hangover. 

Engage in activities that you might never have considered. Instead of grabbing a glass of wine, investigate potential sources of joy. Where do your interests lie? Have you ever thought about taking a class on jewelry making or woodworking? Don’t just think about it. Investigate how you can DO it! 

What about online games (other than gambling games)? How about investing in an iPad to play other types of games or puzzles? Can’t afford it? Make a choice to quit your habit and at the end of a month, or however long it takes you to replace the money you normally spend on your habit, reward yourself with a new toy with the money you save!

Ask yourself how much money you spend each month on your habits. If you buy a cheap bottle of wine every day, for instance, you’re spending about as much each month as an iPad would cost you. Translate that amount into something you can buy yourself that will replace your habit. Even Xboxes, Wiis, or PlayStations are worthwhile expenses if you enjoy playing games and you think you can quit your habit. You can even play online with friends who have the same game. Or you can dance or exercise using the Wii or a DVD!

Step out of your comfort zone. If you’re used to visiting the same casino or the same bar or the same restaurant, find a new place to haunt. Change is difficult for a lot of people, but if the change could ultimately result in your life moving in a positive direction, allow yourself the opportunity to change your life! Join a club you might be interested in joining. All kinds of clubs exist for all kinds of reasons. Or connect with people who share your interests and activities – aerobics, dance, Bingo, Bunco, golf, fishing, acting, writing, crafting, building, sculpting, painting, volleyball, soccer, cards, board games, and so many other interests could be shared with other people. If you’re drinking, smoking, or binge eating, you’re in a rut, and only you can get out of it!

Can’t find anybody to share activities with you? Look online. Ask your other friends if they know anybody who shares your interests. Open a group on Facebook or some other social networking site, and start your own club. Connect with like-minded individuals. But beware of scams and sites like craigslist; however, if you need to start there, make sure you guard yourself. (Related reading: How to Detect a Scammer When You Get a Reply from an ad You Placed on Craigslist

Exercise and Your Health

You don’t have to commit to an hour every day. Even five minutes a day can change your life and your attitude. When I was a kid I loved to cartwheel around the block. I loved to run. As I got older and my physical limitations prevented me from engaging in those activities, I had to change my ideas of exercise. I bought an exercise bike and a treadmill. But to be honest, I rarely use them.

I stretch, though. I use is a product called a Back Bridge that allows me to stretch my back. I call it my Chiropractor in a Box. Because of my back and other problems, the ability to stretch my back on the back bridge has allowed me to walk for extended periods of time without pain. I also occasionally lift weights for a few minutes several times a week.

The trick is not to look upon exercise as exercise, but to consider it fun. Stretching has benefits and when you exercise for even a short time, you’ll automatically feel better about yourself. If your knees are still working and you enjoyed jump roping as a kid, add jumping to your exercise routine. If you can afford a FitBit, invest in one. Or find a pedometer app for your phone that will allow you to keep track of your steps. You can challenge yourself every day to move! Bending, stretching, walking, dancing – all movement is beneficial.

Healthy Eating

As soon as somebody suggests eating healthy foods, the majority of individuals, especially those who indulge in sweets, think they must replace their meals with flat, tasteless, cardboard-tasting products. But something exists in one grocery aisle right now to help your food taste better – spices. Try adding them to your meals.

Fruits, vegetable, whole grains – yes, you’ve heard before about the health benefits of eating them, so if they are boring to you, spice them up! Unsure of which spice to use? Check out the Quick Guide to Every Herb and Spice in the Cupboard, located on the linked web site, and educate yourself about ways to improve the taste of your food. 

Another suggestion for healthy eating is to eat slowly so you can recognize when you’re full. Many of us continue eating long after we’re full just because everything looks so good. If you can’t stop, it’s because you are eating too quickly. Savor each bite!


Contacting friends through social media is not the only way to stay connected. BE with your friends. Meet in the middle if you must, but get together and communicate. You form relationships by RELATING! Read Want to Meet Some Online Friends? Use the Meet in the Middle Tool! for information on how to find the midpoint between your address and the address of the person you want to meet! I’ve used it and I’ve met some great people! 

Your Mind

Sometimes our focus is too often on our problems and not enough on solutions to fix those problems. We admit to ourselves, “I drink too much”; “I eat too much”; “I need to quit smoking.” But what we need to ask ourselves is HOW to quit our habits. What can we do TODAY to stop? What methods can we use to break our habits and employ healthier lifestyles? We need ACTION, not thought. “It’s the thought that counts,” doesn’t count when it comes to changing our habits!


Your habits are ruled and fueled by your behavior.  The way you conduct yourself, the way you behave is the image you present to others. Only YOU can change your behavior. Only YOU can find the right tool to fix your problem. What will it take for you to break your habits? How will you change your behavior to reflect those changes? Inspiration and help are everywhere. All you have to do is look for it.

Want to know how my daughter broke her thumb-sucking habit? She made a choice. She decided to quit. She resolved to quit. And she challenged herself to live up to her own expectations. 

Be your own hero! You can do it too!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why Are We All So Power Hungry?

We like to categorize ourselves, don’t we? I’m a Christian. I’m a Muslim. I’m a Democrat. I’m a Republican.

But we don’t stop there, do we? We have to assign a quality to our categories. Of course, we designate the category in which we belong as being the best place possible for anyone to be; therefore we give it a positive label.

But we assign a negative connotation to what we believe is the opposing category. Then we look for proof that our category is supreme. We read hateful blogs that demean our enemies and we use those – often erroneous – assumptions as proof that our category reigns above all others.

If a category that differs from ours wins in some way, we feel defeated. Those damn gays got away with a marriage victory, gay bashers say. 

But while we bask in the glory of our power hungry minds, we often categorize people incorrectly. Muslim haters, for instance, believe that all Muslims are extremists, willing to commit suicide by bombing innocent bystanders. They don’t want to believe that suicide bombers and extremists are in the minority. Nothing you say to them will convince them that their beliefs are based on inaccurate assumptions.

So I have to ask, WHY are so many of us so stupid?

WHY do so many of us believe nonsense and then use that nonsense as proof that we are right and they, whoever they are, are wrong?

Remember when the entire country was fixated on the birth certificate of President Obama? Even when proof finally established that Obama was born in the United States, Obama haters continued their rampage until the birth certificate fiasco died a natural death. 

But the hate continued, so haters placed their hateful energy into other reasons – again, often incorrect – for hating Obama. They didn’t hear both sides of any argument being presented. They didn’t want to. They had already decided that they never wanted a black president in the first place (never mind that half his genes came from a white woman). They needed to hang on to the hatred, so they came up with their own conclusions based on what they wanted to believe to be true.

So many of us are followers, incapable of making our own decisions and coming up with our own philosophies. We become so imbedded into our own belief systems – without researching the truth – that soon we believe our lies, and our lies become our truths. Because we believe that we alone hold all the correct beliefs, we no longer seek or need proof. We just want somebody to back us up, even if we’re wrong.

Why? Because to feel right is to feel powerful! And the more powerful we become, the more in control we feel. We can be another Hitler! All we have to do is find just one other person who believes as we do, preferably somebody vulnerable who won’t fight us, gather more followers, design our own manifestos, require our followers to obey our commands, and we can decimate an entire culture to help us feel even more powerful!

WHY do we feel the need to be more powerful than the people we perceive to be our enemies, and why do we place people who are merely different from us or just have different beliefs than we do in opposing camps? Gay is not the opposite of straight, People! Democrat is not the opposite of Republican! Christian is not the opposite of Muslim!

Our VIEWS may oppose each other and our PERCEPTIONS may differ from those of others, but we don’t need to pigeonhole opposing views and perceptions into enemy camps. At a time when we NEED each other, we ignore that need and act so hateful toward each other that we create enemies in people who could be our friends. 

We are NOT enemies. Why do we feel the need to war with each other? We are ONE species – homo sapiens – with a variety of beliefs and interests! Why can’t we accept our differences, embrace them even, instead of constantly feeding our own power while sucking the life out of our fellow human beings? Some of us still believe that in order for US to feel better, we’d better berate, humiliate, denigrate, abuse, and ostracize THEM.

Would life be better if we all had the same hair color, skin color, eye color, height, weight, heritage, intellect, and interests? Should we be clones of each other? 

If we can’t stop the internal war that is raging inside of us because of our hatred for others, our negative energy will destroy us. We will act like dictators who rape the minds and souls of others with our incendiary, soul crushing, and warped belief systems. 

Instead of reading hateful commentary written by people who just want to get a rise out of us and who spout opinions based on inaccuracies, why don’t we first get the facts? Let’s stop spreading lies. Let’s stop fueling the fires of hatred. Instead of watching videos that purport to tell the truth, let’s educate ourselves on editing techniques, so we don’t fall victim to the lies those video makers want us to believe. Instead of basing our views upon the views of others, let’s research original sources. 

How many times have I found myself in a discussion based upon a speech I heard or documentation I read with somebody who watched only a partial feed or read only a comment based on the commenter’s ideas? Those edited pieces came from people who weaved together a semblance of the truth to create a lie, but the person arguing his or her point, stands by the false version of what could have been the truth if the whole truth had been presented. When I present my side of the argument, I am vehemently opposed. But when I ask, did you hear the entire speech or did you read the entire document, I am met with a, “No, and I don’t plan to. I already know what I need to know. I hate so and so. I just hate him (or her)!” 

Want to feel powerful? Get rid of negativity. Educate yourself on deceptive advertising techniques. Learn how media create lies. Be a role model for your loved ones. Stop spreading malicious lies. Be loving! Be kind! Show some love!