Sunday, August 16, 2015

Double Standards, Situational Ethics, Trust and Forgiveness

I have had a lot of deep conversations in the past couple of weeks with a few dear friends.  Have I mentioned my circle is small?  It is.  Impeccably small.  Why?  Because I do not trust people.  Why?  Because I have been conditioned in my life to not trust people.

You see, I believe that as a whole, and this topic is widely debated from most people I discuss it with, that society suffers from situational ethics.  I read the book in college in one of my many psych classes and although the author is a self proclaimed once Christian turned Atheist,  he had many legitimate points that stuck with me and made perfect sense.  Again, we are all human and we are all deserving of our own opinions and ideals in this world, in this one life we are given, so I am not trying to project my beliefs onto anyone else.  However, let me explain.  I am a Christian.  Do not doubt this.  However, I do believe in situational ethics.  This means that people in general base their decisions on situations rather than the root of their Christian belief system (or lack thereof).  It means that people base their decisions on the consequences and the situations that they are in that justify those actions taken.  For example:  We do not steal because why?  Because it is morally wrong or because it is illegal?  This reason varies from person to person.  Don't believe me?  Take an anonymous questionnaire and analyze the results.  Trust me.  What about finding someone and beating them to a pulp?  Most of us would never even think about beating up another human being, however ... if the situation becomes one like a person's home is invaded, their children are hurt, they were involved in a wreck or harassed continually ... well then, the ethics change because the situation changed it.  Make sense?  The basis of situational ethics is that the majority of society is good.  Humble.  Kind.  Giving.  Understanding.  Even from culture to culture or religion shifts ... people are innately good, right?  Situational ethics is the belief system that people are inherently good because of consequences of being otherwise.  So the basis of this belief lies the question of, "Are people inherently good?  Or are people inherently bad but suffer from situational ethics?"  Now I am going to pretend you are pondering those two questions.  Because how could you not?  People do not steal, do not kill, do not pillage, do not do a LOT of things because of the consequences that come with them. Every action has a consequence.  But when people do commit something such as those ... they have an excuse or a motive because of a "situation" that they were involved in or placed in unexpectedly.  Hence, situational ethics.  So ... that being said, people can suck sometimes.  If they didn't we would not have killers, abusers, molesters, hit and run accidents, homeless women and children from abused homes, drug dealers, embezzlers, thieves, etc.  The list truly goes on.

Double standards?  Simple.  We all experience this and even commit this in our lifetimes.  It is a rule that is unfairly applied to different people or groups in different ways.  PLEASE please do not confuse double standards with situational ethics.  They are different.  Most people apply double standards to suit themselves or an argument they are making.  We see this a lot in relationships.  How many of you have been in a relationship with someone (whether it be friendship or romantic or even work related) where the individual is acting in a specific manner yet twists it to look sugar-coated all the while diminishing you for doing the same thing or less.  Let's see ... I be you have all heard (unless you are like my parents and married for decades), "Do not talk to that person anymore.  You cannot have friends of the opposite sex." All the while in the same conversation they tell you, "No they mean nothing to me.  It is different.  I have known this person my entire life.  They are like family."  Ummmm, double standard much?  This is one small example of how this is projected.

So ... let us just say that I simply do not trust people for my own personal reasons and that it does not affect my life in the vast form of living, but in regards to my circle ... it does.  So my circle is very small and very tight and I like it that way.

Now, on to forgiveness.  This has been the topic of so many conversations that have been brought to me in the last couple of weeks.  I have a few friends and loved ones that just simply cannot forgive certain people in their lives or past lives that keep rearing their little heads.  People tend to come to me with this topic a lot.  I think it is because I have adapted my life to the ability of forgiveness.  For me, forgiveness does not mean that you have to be their friend, you do not have to meet them for coffee, you do not have to invite them to social gatherings, you do not have to like them and you do not have to smile at them every day, but by forgiving their moment of human stupidity and their obvious undesirable choice(s) ... you release yourself from so much stress and anger and sadness that peace naturally comes.  Believe me, it has taken me many MANY years to learn this and be able to apply it to my life.  I try to teach my children this and pray that it becomes as natural as breathing for my friends and family.  I read in a book once that forgiveness doesn't mean that you have to like that person or what they did but it means you remove your imaginary hands from around their throat and can relax and breath.  Believe it or not, forgiving another person adds years to your life.  YEARS people.  Who would not want to have a few more years to enjoy their loved ones, travel, sing, dance, paint ... whatever.  We have one life to live and one life to enjoy ... why not add a few years to that life?

Just because I do not trust people, does not mean that it deteriorates my life.  It does not diminish my joy.  It just means that I enjoy people and social settings without letting everyone invited into my personal life on an intimate level.  I can enjoy anyone and visit with anyone, but you will not know my desires and passions and fears and what has broken my heart or even what has truly mended it back together.  But forgiveness?  Forgiveness will diminish your life if you lack the ability.  Reaching that point does not happen over night, it does not happen by the next season or even the next year.  But working on it and choosing to have positivity in your life increases your ability to forgive those that hurt you.

I always tell my children, you cannot control how someone else sees you, how they think of you, how they treat you, how they talk about you.  But you can control how you see yourself, think of yourself, treat yourself and feel about yourself or even tell yourself how amazing you are.  We control our own happiness and our own joy.  Others contribute to it but do not allow them to control it.

When you refuse to forgive someone else you are allowing them to control your happiness.  Don't.  There is a reason they are no longer a part of your life, and if they are still a part of your life, then there is an even bigger reason that forgiveness is necessary.

Do not let someone else suck the clean air from your breathable space.

"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future." ~ Paul Boese

How does this all tie together?  Easy.  Trusting people is difficult for most of us because most of us have been hurt beyond recognition.  The reasons vary but the root is the same.  Pain.  Personal pain.  People act out according to their situational ethics or their double standards.  Forgiveness heals ourselves.  It is for you, not them.  It would be wonderful if we could forgive others as quickly as we expect God to forgive us, but we are human and it does not work that way.  However, we are all works in progress, right?  Besides, one day, just like I have in the past, I will more than likely hurt someone else with a word that is said harshly or a look that is hurtful or a secret that falls out of my mouth.  I pray it does not happen, but I know it will because I am human.  When it does, forgiveness is the first thing I will be seeking.  Please give it to me.  I will you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Burning Embers ...

Richard Siken is quoted as saying, "Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly flames everywhere."

I love this quote for so many reasons.  We love others.  These 'others' are known as our children, our significant others, our spouses, our parents, our friends, our pastors, people that we come into contact with that make an impact on our lives and even ourselves.

This quote speaks life if you truly pay attention to the words.  "Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly flames everywhere."  Now, I am not accurately certain as to the meaning that Siken has behind these few written words, but what I know is how they make me feel.  The words themselves awaken a fire within myself.  This could be quite possibly because I have an addition to words.  Or #wordporn as you will see me hashtag on my favorite quotes.  I am a self proclaimed book drunkard.  Words are life.  Now, Love ignites so many responses and reactions within each of us and those actions vary from person to person.  But, in the end, Love truly ignites a passion within us all.  Passion is powerful.  Passion drives us into bravery and confidence and heightened energies.  Love is powerful and mighty and is believed to conquer all.  Much like a dragon.  Love awakens that passion and fierce energy within us, much like a dragon taking flight ... next thing you know ... flames are everywhere.  Our energies are literally everywhere we turn, in everything we do, in everything we say ... and it is all ignited by love.

It has taken myself years to allow my inner dragon to feel comfortable in flaming up my own world.  A place where the abundant Love that I have in my own heart, within my own soul ... has found an opening into my little existence in this world, and it has created more joy than containing it for myself.  I have always been able to help my children throw flames and feel I have been able to encourage my dearest friends to let theirs free as well, but there is something about finding that comfort zone and crossing that boundary into a land of "self flaming".

"People come and go.  Some are cigarette breaks and others are forest fires."

The people we have in our lives affect our passions and our releases.  Some encourage us and some squash what little bit of air we have that could fuel the sparks into flames.  As Dylan Moran stated, "People will kill you over time and how they'll kill you is with tiny, harmless phrases like 'Be realistic'."

It is amazing how many of us allow ourselves to be murdered over time.  We allow our souls to be gutted and blown up and shot and stabbed and poisoned ... little by little by little, until we no longer recognize ourselves.  It is important for us to feed our souls with encouragement and with love and laughter and respect and affection.  Once we are hurt it is difficult to heal and we all know it is impossible to come back from the literal dead, but soulful and spiritual death can be reversed.  The fact is you have to remove that negativity from your life.  Any aquaintance of it.  Because once you begin that process of healing and igniting your inner fire, the slightest bit of poison will set you back.  Remember, it is over time in tiny harmless phrases.  You cannot get over something until you accept and admit that it hurts you.  Once you can admit that to yourself then you realize it is time to walk away.  Negative energies resonate much louder and faster than positive.  (One of my best friends, Trudi, reminds me of this daily.  She has a beautiful soul.  If you know her you are blessed.)  It is important to increase the positive energies into your life so that you can squash out the negatives.  Sometimes this means removing people that have been in your life for as long as you can remember and sometimes it is going to be someone you have recently met.  Once you begin a path of cleansing you can usually spot personalities that you need to cleanse away fairly quickly.  Remember, you can meet somebody tomorrow who has better intentions for you than someone you've known forever ... time means nothing ... character does.

We are all on our own individual path in our own existence on our own individual journey's ... each of our seasons vary from one another's.  Our experiences are not identical.  Our emotions, our chemical balances and imbalances ... all different.  We cannot second guess how the next person in line will react to trauma, joy, death, love, humor, joking, backstabbing, unfaithfulness, calming mechanisms, vocalizing or even affection.  We all crave the same substances in life I believe.  We want to love and be loved.  This begins with ourselves.  If you do not love yourself, how can you allow someone else to love you?  If you do not forgive whatever is in your past, how can you expect someone else to accept what you tell them?  If you do not create a place of peace and joy within your heart, how can you expect another person to want to place a piece of their heart in yours and reside there for any length of time?  If you cannot smile when the world gets difficult, how can you expect someone to share your tears when you truly need to cleanse your soul?

"I think I fall in love a little bit with anyone who shows me their soul.  This world is so guarded and fearful.  I appreciate rawness so much." - Emery Allen

Once you begin placing soulful and joyfulness within your life, your inner circle may become smaller but it will increase in value.  When you remove the toxicity from your life you will find yourself more energized, laughing more and even noticing the stars at night more than ever before.

Once you come to a place where "Love always wakes the dragon and suddenly flames everywhere", then you have come to a place where igniting your passions, your dreams and goals and aspirations in this life are at a fruitful point in your journey.

When this happens ... look at your children.  Look at your significant other or spouse.  Look at your parents and your friends.  Look at those rare interactions in your life where someone is making a difference in yours.  Look in the mirror at yourself.  Tell all of them.  Tell yourself.  "I love you with the fire of a thousand suns." (- a.e.)  Because those are the individuals that are a portion of your flames spewing everywhere.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Tolerance is simply the willingness to "put up" with something.  In particular the existence of opinions or behaviors that are not necessarily ones that you agree with.  This is an allowable amount of variation of a specific quantity.  Now that I have given you the direct definition of what tolerance is ... I want to bring up what it means in society per my personal experience.

Tolerance in some societal regions (most actually) means "Do what I want you to do, Think how I want you to think, Be how I want you to be, Live how I want you to live, Act how I think you should act, Listen how I want you to listen and PLACE your true colors on the back of the proverbial rainbow burner."

Does this sound like tolerance?  Nah ... because it is NOT.

Tolerance SHOULD be the appreciation and respect you have for others and them for you in return.  This does not mean that you have to agree.  It in no way means that you have to live your life and make your choices in reflection of them.  It just means that mutual respect and support is present between you.

Tolerance is found in raising children, work ethics, choices of residence, choices of schools attended, the choice in a romantic relationship, the choice in who you are friends with and how you spend time with your friends, in how money is spent and saved, how clothing is folded and the choice to adhere to specific diets and eating or exercise habits.  Does your friend spank their child when you would simply discuss the issue with your child and give them time out?  Does a coworker complete the same job duty in a different manner than you but still complete it properly?  Does your friend or family member choose to move to a city instead of a small town?  Does your friends child choose a junior college when your child chooses a major university or overseas studies?  How about does someone you care about spend all of their income tax return on vacation instead of saving or investing it?  Do they go on a shopping spree?  Do they live check to check and spend all that is left over?  How about clothing? Is it folded or hung perfectly or left in a basket and fluffed in a dryer before it is worn clean?  Do they eat healthy all of the time and exercise regularly or do they enjoy cake and Dr Pepper and only work out occasionally?  Does your friend drink a glass of wine socially when you choose to not drink at all?  What about racial issues?  What about religious issues?  What about musical issues?  Yes musical ... do you only listen to Christian music while the other party enjoys hip-hop or alternative or even heavy metal?

These are only a few topics that tolerance comes into play with.  Tolerance is found everywhere in every situation in every thing chosen or discussed.  Tolerance is a part of our decisions and consequences as individuals (not just adults but children as well).  When tolerance is not present it leaves so much room for negativity.  When peace and respect and appreciation are not present the window is wide open for irritability, judgement, hate, arguments and broken ties with people we care about.  Some things can be repaired and others ... well there is no coming back from them.

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs.  Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others." - John F. Kennedy

"Love is not just tolerance.  It is not just distant appreciation.  It is a warm sense of, 'I am enjoying the fact that you are you.'"  - N. T. Wright

There are, I am sure, many areas of my life that tolerance has been required from those that love me, but I assure that it has been mutual at some point in time.  I do not sugar-coat realities to my children.  I speak the truth and am always real with them, age appropriately of course.  I do being true to myself well.  I am not abrasive or hateful but I am "black or white" with no grey.  I love big or I do not love at all.  I am your friend 110% or we are acquaintances.  I mind my own business and only give advice when it is asked for or detrimental to the safety of another person.  I have dated or been married to a variety of personalities.  Why?  Because I get to know the person without regard to appearance, employment, athletic ability, musical choices, movie preferences or even favorite foods or social activities preferred.  I am a small town girl with a city heart.  I see and love the benefits and joys of each.  I do not judge people who choose jobs that I would never want to work, I do not judge people for dressing in a way that I would never have the courage to dress, I do not judge people for choosing relationships after one has ended or in the most unexpected places, finding love.

Some people say that I have a large tolerance for others and at time too large of a tolerance.  How can our tolerance be too large?  I find myself being judged by individuals ... as I am sure we all do.  I wonder if those who judge truly remember what it is liked and how it feels for people to ASSUME they know about their lives?  Because we all make choices for ourselves based on our own life experiences.  Our choices have reasons and most people, in fact the majority of people, have NO clue what those reasons are.  I have been told numerous times lately that if a person does not pay your bills, does not invite you to their home regularly for meals or prayer or friendship, does not come to you when they know you are in pain or hurting, does not reach out to you often as a friend will and should, then that person and their intolerance does not matter in retrospect of my life.

"Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting."  - Sydney J. Harris

This is one of my favorite quotes.  People as a whole (and I am guilty of it as well because we are all human and it happens) boast of themselves silently when they are intolerant.  It nonverbally puts it out there that you are better than the other person and that your ways are a better option or choice to make.  I believe choices are individualized.  I believe we are in the year 2015.  I believe our parents raise us to be better versions of themselves and then trust us to make our own choices.  I believe that we all have our own best interests at heart.  I believe that we love and be loved and that if we have tolerance it DOES NOT mean we allow others to walk all over us or judge us or discriminate against us.  I believe it simply means we take the high road of choosing to be happy.  Choosing to better ourselves.  Choosing peace and equality and to be treated like-mindedly and that in the end when tolerance is present people open themselves up to a version of life, a beautifully colorful version of life that wasn't possible before.  So much more love and laughter are present when tolerance exists.  Possibilities are present where they weren't before.

So ... my challenge to you is to begin developing a larger tolerance within yourselves towards others.  To create that boundary that shows others that if they implement intolerance towards you that it does not penetrate your happiness, your well-being, your way of life any differently.

Tolerance is love.  Tolerance is peace.  Tolerance is happiness.  I choose those three elements in my life.  Do you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Art of Making Wishes ...

"A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy, a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim." - Maya Angelou

I love this quote, not because I feel that few women are wise, but because it merely states that wishes to be made, healthy wishes, include no enemy's and not becoming a victim.  This has been a lesson that I have learned both physically and emotionally throughout my life.  This began at a young age of 14, for details that we will not discuss here. (at least not for this blog) We all encounter events in our lives that begin to shape who we become as adults.  Hell, even as adults we are continuing to be molded and shaped into newer versions of ourselves.

As a child growing up, my Granny Tator would buy Aquanet hairspray for me so that I could spray the giant dandelions in the field in front of her house.  All joking aside, these dandelions were the size of baseballs and some getting as large as softballs.  I loved them.  They were magical to me.  The field was filled with them.  She would buy 4-5 bottles of this stiff hold hairspray so that I could "freeze" my wishes into place.  Texas winds get relentless and if a large gust hit, these majestic dandelions would flutter off into what I believed to be oblivion as a child.  These were my possible wishes being completely annihilated by something that I could not see, but that I could feel.  So, Granny Tator would buy this hairspray and we would spend what seemed an eternity spraying my future wishes into place ... protected.  It did not matter to me if they were flowers or weeds.  We simply protected them because I loved them.  I wanted to protect my field of wishes instead of them getting lost into "nothingness".

As I have grown into an adult, life has surely shaped me into something that I never thought possible as that one moment 14 year old girl and the next moment a 14 year old woman.  A woman who felt like a victim.  A woman who felt she had an enemy.  A woman with a secret so large that she felt she would shatter but she continued to bear on her own for three years.  A woman who faced what she thought was her largest heartache at the age of 19 when she buried her first love.  A woman who faced fear at the age of 20.  A woman who ended up facing her largest heartache at the age of 22 when she was told her baby would not ever be born alive, would not ever take a breath, would not ever squeeze her fingers, would not ever be cuddled and never hear a lullaby.  A woman who became pregnant again and then faced the most terrifying day of her life and focused on protecting her unborn child at the age of 23.  A woman who experienced her first divorce at the age of 24.  Her second divorce at the age of 29. A woman who picked herself up after that second failure, hearing that she was damaged goods, that she had no light left inside of her to shine, that she would never accomplish what she wanted to so many years ago, that she could not survive as a single mother and take care of her children.  A woman who found herself again, a woman who finished school, with not just one degree but THREE in just under five years.  A woman who found joy in life.  A woman who, no matter the trials and heartache and pain, focused on the two miracles that blessed her life during those two failed marriages.  Two souls that were flowers in her bed of weeds.  Two blessings that kept a woman focused who would have wondered off and possibly become completely lost.  A woman who watched her daughter bury her father at the age of 9.  A woman who at the age of 32 made the choice to trust again, to see if love was real.  The same woman who had been beaten, broken and bruised.  A woman who had been left alone and had the back that promised to protect her, damage her very being.  Trust is not a luxury this woman has to give.  But, after two years of something that appeared to be real and trustworthy, I became a woman who experienced her third divorce at the age of 34.  A woman who thought she had met the monsters of this world and conquered them, just to discover they still exist.  A woman who is raising two children with rare blood disorders, a daughter with Celiac and who heard the words that her own daughter will never "naturally" be a mother at the age of 11.

A woman who realized her own independent strength is greater than any other strength in the universe.

You see, wishes can be completely annihilated by things we cannot see immediately, but by things that we feel.  No matter if the wishes are beautifully created dandelions or if wishes are beautifully created desires of the heart.

Life beats us down.  Life literally pulls the rug out from underneath us.  Life is ruthless.  Life is damaging.  Life is bitter.  Life is cranky.  Life is a jealous bitch.  But ... life is beautiful.  Life is sweet.  Life is fruitful.  Life is magical.  Life is filled with passion.  Life is filled with joy and music and dancing.  Life is worth celebrating.  LIFE and the goodness that fills it are worth far more than the scum that comes with it.

If you read this, and you are doubting the existence of granted wishes ... think of the dandelions.  Just because your wish did not come true, just because it blew away before you could set it in stone before puckering your lips and gently blowing them yourself ... does not mean that life did not grant a wish somewhere, to someone.  It just wasn't your time yet.  When a wish comes true ... it will be worth it.  Think of your wish, your self worth, your desires in life as if they are the most beautiful perfect diamond in the center of the ugliest and dirtiest coal.  You do not slam it, you do not crush it, you do not destroy that coal for you will completely annihilate your diamond.  Let your wish sparkle and shine in the dark for a while longer.  One day, it will be obtainable, it will surprise you when you least expect it, it will sparkle into existence right before your eyes and you will be astounded by its beauty.

The art of making a wish requires patience.  It requires trust when you feel you have none.  It requires you to believe in yourself.  It requires hope and joy and inner peace.  It requires that you dig deep and KNOW with every fiber of your being that if it literally blows free of your grasp that it was not the wish you were meant to obtain and that it was merely one you would have settled for.