I keep seeing these things going around Facebook. You know what they are, because you’ve seen them too. Stuff like:
– “If you’re an American and a Christian, you’ll do/believe/say X.”
– “The Democrats are fools because of such-and-such.”
– “Republicans are idiots because fill-in-the-blank.”
– “Liberals are the devil’s spawn because…”
– “Conservatives are bigoted blah-de-blahs…”
So, I am here to say this:
Stop it. All of you. Those of you that are creating these Memes, GIFs, and Posts, AND those of you who are re-posting them. I include in this request our Elected Officials who are posting rude, obnoxious, and vitriolic Tweets.
KNOCK. IT. OFF. Seriously.
Creating and perpetuating stereotypes like these is unhelpful, inaccurate, and only worsens the division that is tearing apart our country on every level.
Throwing around insults is not something done in the spirit of cooperation. So, to those of you on Facebook and Twitter I know and love, I’m telling you this behavior is beneath you. And from our elected officials who are acting this way, it’s not only appalling and hugely unprofessional, but should not be tolerated by those of us they supposedly serve.
Whether I am Christian or Jewish, Muslim or Sikh, Buddhist or Atheist is NOT the sole indicator that I am or am not a compassionate and loving person.
Whether I am a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, or Socialist is not the sole indicator that I do or do not care deeply about the well-being of our society, healthcare, children, abortion, poverty, social security, LGBQT rights, global warming, or any other important current issues.
What I AM is a Human Being, living on this planet, in this country, with other real, live, Human Beings. People who breathe, and live, and work, and struggle, and love, and raise families, just like I do.
– Having compassion for others is how I was raised. It is what a large majority of us are taught from infancy.
– Being proud of my country is what I was taught.
– Living in harmony with my community is what I was taught.
– Having RATIONAL discourse with others who may or may not agree with me is what I was taught.
When we stereotype and sling insults generalizing a portion of the population, what we are doing (intentionally or unintentionally) is dehumanizing OTHER REAL PEOPLE. This makes it easier for us, because “they” become a faceless mass to spew our anger and frustration on. We cease to look at those we target as other people, who may also be angry or hurting. The Internet has been fantastic for helping us do this. We never have to face anyone we bully and dump on anymore and can remain oblivious. Safe in our anonymity behind computer screens.
What we seem to have forgotten is that the way we carry and present ourselves sets the example for our children. THEY see us all the time – there’s no hiding who we really are. How will future generations act, and what methods will they use to problem-solve in the future, based on the poor examples we are giving them now?
We are not solving anything using current methods, and potentially causing vast amounts of hurt and damage to our people, our government, and to our country as a whole. Your actions MATTER, on a daily basis, whether you realize it or not. So please, think long and hard about what you are putting out into the world.
Because what goes on the Internet lasts forever.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess…
Yes, that is one kind of story. But that is not what I mean by the title of this post.
Stories are everywhere. On television and movie screens, in books and magazines, and told by parents and grandparents to children all over the world. They flow around us as we walk down the street, ride the bus, or sit with friends in coffee shops. Snatches of conversation or bits on the radio that catch our attention, books on a long commute, or amusing anecdotes shared among friends and coworkers.
But stories are much more than amusement, or a way to get our kids to fall asleep each night. They make up the very fabric of our lives. They can spark imagination, connect us with our ancestors and neighbors, teach lessons and values, inform who we are, and have a large part in shaping our identities. Stories are how we relive memories, and how we fit ourselves into the context of the world around us.
They are wonderful, awesome, and powerful things.
So, if the stories we tell are so wonderful, why do I say beware? Because we build our truth around them.
If you tell your children bedtime stories each night, would you rather read them books about wonderful adventures with confident heroes, and happy endings, or books about scary monsters who terrify sad, scared, and powerless victims? If you are smart, you’d choose the wonderful adventures! Young children have especially vivid imaginations. Your child is going to picture himself in the hero’s place. He will think about the story, role play with it, and most likely dream about it. With the scary book, he will also think about it, role play with it, and dream about it. But those dreams will come in the form of anxious nightmares, and who needs that? Nobody wants their kid waking up at 2am in tears!
We still operate very much like this as adults. We imagine what things would be like “if…”. We dream and role play. And we internalize the stories that our parents and people close to us have told us all our lives. Those stories could be “you are caring, you are loving, you are intelligent”. Or, they could be “you are so stupid, you never get anything right! How could anybody possibly love you?”. As a storyteller, you have great power in your hands – to either build people up or break them down. You have the potential to foster kindness and tolerance, or hatred and malice. And you both consciously and unconsciously choose these things continuously on a daily basis. In what you do, what you say, and even what you think.
Yes, you are your own storyteller. The stories you tell yourself are just as important as the ones you tell others. They can work to your benefit, or they can sabotage you. You can tell yourself lies until you believe they are truths, or twist truths so far out of proportion you believe they must be lies.
Beware the stories you tell. Weigh their truth and measure their potential impact. Choose wisely. Your stories have more influence than you realize.
In my last post, I talked about intention versus attention. So, let’s further the discussion, and talk about purpose. We’ve all thought about it. Usually, as a young teenager or when going off to college, the question is “What’s my purpose in life?”. Or, if you have been reading self-help books for a while, it’s “Am I living my life on purpose?”. But what exactly does that mean? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of purpose is:
1a: something set up as an object or end to be attained: intention
b: resolution, determination
2: a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution
Reading this may make you wonder about the definition of on purpose, which is:
by intent: intentionally
Which leads to looking up intentional:
done by intention or design
And then, intention:
1: a determination to act in a certain way: resolve
2: import, significance
3a: what one intends to do or bring about
b: the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered
4: a process or manner of healing of incised wounds
5: concept; especially: a concept considered as the product of attention directed to an object of knowledge
We could go on looking up definitions all day, which might or might not lead to greater clarity. Judging from above, it seems purpose as a concept has different meanings to different people. Questions reflecting this may be:
- What is the end result that I want to obtain for my life, either in the short- or long-term?
- What is the course of action I must take to execute my goals?
- What things and goals are most important or significant in my life?
- Where do I want to direct my attention, and what knowledge do I wish to obtain in doing so?
- What has God called me to do so I may be of service to others?
All of these questions are perfectly valid. And with self-reflection, any or all of them serve as a sound compass to guide one’s life by. So, why do we find it so difficult to figure out? Why all the angst?
Personally, I think we get so stressed because we only expect there to be one answer – one purpose. In reality, as we change and grow, shouldn’t our purpose change also? Isn’t there always more knowledge to gain, more people to serve, more goals to reach, and more actions to take? If life were totally figured out, and our paths set in stone by the time we reached eighteen, most of us would have many years of boredom and stagnation before reaching the end of our lives.
Figuring out our purpose is not is not a one-and-done. If we can get ourselves to the point of realizing periodic reevaluation is necessary, welcome it, and even relax into the process, most of us would be much better off. In other words, rinse, lather, repeat, then breathe!
Have a great week!
This morning, I came across this great blog post – https://whenwomeninspire.com/2018/02/21/intention-vs-attention-laurie-buchanan/. I highly recommend reading it!
The post is fairly short, to the point, and really gets you thinking. In it, guest writer Laurie Buchanan talks about the difference between intention and attention. This is something I am willing to bet most people don’t think about much. And the difference between the two is huge. Simply because if you only have the first, you are merely a dreamer. But if you apply the second, you are a doer, an achiever.
I realized as I was reading Ms. Buchanan’s post that my business progress has been so glacially slow due to lack of attention. I have the best of intentions, but the action I have been putting into making them a reality has been too minimal and scattered.
I do make things, yes. Lots of beautiful things. Making is action towards my goal, but it’s minimal. Why? Because just creating does not get me where I ultimately want to be. Customers are not going to drop out of the sky simply because I have beautiful pottery or quilts stored away. Where I currently need to put my attention is into finding reliable, proven resources to help me learn to run a business properly. Furthermore, I need to put more effort into marketing myself confidently – instead of avoiding it, and selling myself short because of doubts or insecurity.
So, do you have an area of your life that could use some attention? Are doubts and insecurities holding you back? Or are you currently applying your attention to wrong things for your desired effect? Are you an entrepreneur, an author, or a world traveler wannabe? They say a habit can be made or broken within 90 days. Let’s all go out into the world and make achieving our dreams a habit!
Find something that inspires you, and have a fantastic day!
So if you are an American woman in your forties, like I am, you may have seen a recent article called “The New Midlife Crisis” (http://www.oprah.com/sp/new-midlife-crisis.html). Even if you don’t follow Oprah.com, it has been getting shared through Facebook so quickly you can practically see skid marks.
The author, Ada Calhoun, asserts that women in their forties are going through midlife crises – a term that was previously reserved for middle-aged men. She’s got examples and statistics to back it up, too. Ms. Calhoun states that the reasons for this are multi-fold – environmental, societal, psychological, and even medical. But, because of women’s historical need to “keep it together”, the manifestations of the female midlife crisis can be much quieter than a man’s – almost secretive or insidious. So, people around us have no clue what’s going on, or why we are doing things possibly considered erratic or unusual. The quote I think best sums up the feelings she describes is the following:
“Midlife is when we need to take care of everyone else while we are our most tired, to trust ourselves when we’re most filled with doubt. What makes it worse is that many of our midlife fears are well founded. We may, in fact, die alone. Our marriages may never improve. We may never get the number of kids we hoped for. We may never save enough money to make the retirement calculators stop screaming. We may never do a fraction of what we thought we would do in our career.
At 4 a.m., this is the loop in my head. Then, I remind myself (again) of how insanely lucky I am. It could be so, so much worse.”
The article explains why so many 40-something women I know are making changes in their lives, with varying degrees of risk. Starting new hobbies, traveling to exotic locales, changing careers, starting businesses, freelancing, writing blogs, and so on. It may also explain why people I know who have been together for twenty years or more are splitting up. We are looking for fulfillment on a deeper level, sometimes without even knowing what that means for us, or the far-reaching repercussions it may have.
Now, while it is a relief to know that I am not alone when feeling this way, I wonder… is this a purely American thing? Or is it going on in other countries where economies and lifestyles are similar? Could it be that the freedoms and choices we have really made things worse, and more pressure-filled, instead of better? Are women in cultures with less choices and freedom experiencing midlife crises as well? Furthermore, what can we do about it? Identification and discussion may be the first steps, but without follow-up, it’s hollow and ineffectual.
On the up side, the author does state that these feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction eventually change with age. But do you really want to wait until your 60s or 70s to feel better about your life? That’s an awfully long time to wait it out!
I thought “The New Midlife Crisis” was a fascinating read, and personally it resonated pretty strongly. But do you agree with Ms. Calhoun, or do you think she’s making a mountain out of a molehill? Is this something that women around the world are dealing with today? If you suspect you are going through a midlife crisis, how are you handling it? Let me know what you think.
Hello, everyone, and a Happy Easter this weekend to those who celebrate!
Since it has been ages (yet again) since I have posted, let me give you a quick rundown of what’s been up. Unfortunately, not much. 2017 ended on a high note, but so far 2018 seems to be a series of minor disappointments thus far.
- Pottery – There has been none made. My wheel is collecting dust by the inch at this point. It makes me sad to think about.
- Sewing – I have completed almost half a dozen quilts since my last posting, and actually sold a few. Yay! Also, more commissioned quilts coming in the near future.
- Life in general 2017 – The high point was that we spent Christmas in Germany (possibly a post on this in more detail later). It was my first trip to Europe, and it was *wonderful*! People were kind, travel was smooth, and the food was outstanding. Our layover on the way there was in Paris, and I have never tasted a better croissant. I cannot wait for another trip! Hopefully, our next one (2019?) will be to Ireland, which has always been on my bucket list.
- Life in general 2018 – Nothing exciting to report so far. Life goes on, work goes well (thank God!), and I am forever trying to find more time and more motivation to make things. We are gearing up to house hunt in the fall, so hopefully being in a house rather than an apartment will allow for more crafting room. I also have some ideas that have been percolating for a while for a Young Adult novel.
And so, that’s it, in a nutshell. Onward and upward! For those of you in a similar situation as I am, don’t give up! We can do this, right? Rejiggering things so that we have more time, and ample cash flow to pursue our passions can’t be *that* hard, can it? 😉
Stay safe, well, and happy!