What I Did Today


(Note: This is a political post and could be offensive to some readers)

While I have never thought of myself as very political or extremely patriotic, I do vote and care about what happens here in this country. That’s just because I’m a caring human being in general, most the decisions I make in life, big ones anyway that involve ethical decisions, are geared around trying to be kind and trying to think about the ‘bigger picture’ beyond just me.

Because of this I’ve made lifestyle choices that have often made me seem odd or have put me far from mainstream America. This is fine by me. Live and let live, as long as we are all respectful of each other.

Of course you guessed by now that my ‘politics’, if I have to label myself, is liberal. For many years I didn’t claim either party and simply considered myself Independent, but this just seemed, well, simply too non-committal to me. And I knew I would never affiliate with the Republican side, so one day I decided to become a Democrat. No surprise there, right?

I’m not an over the top Democrat though. Like I said: politics isn’t my schtick.  I’ve lived with Republican Presidents, Senators, Congressmen and all the decisions that they make too. I understand that being an American means: you vote and sometimes your ‘side’ doesn’t win. And then you deal as best you can. You continue to be the best person you can regardless.

But this time it’s different. This time the election has left me cold. It isn’t just a Republican that has won, but someone altogether different. Someone who so many of us simply can’t understand how our fellow Americans wanted as our President. It’s simply baffling….and scary.

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As reports come out now about his personality (narcissist) and his capabilities (turning democracy into kleptocracy), my years of being a side-line player in our political system is becoming harder to be. I am a pacifist at heart, so plunging into the heart of a heated protest is not my style, but I also am a strong believer in our right to be heard.

Today for the first time in my entire life, I wrote political leaders in my state. My Governor and my two Senators. I’m compelled to do something to bring attention to the freight train barreling toward our democracy. It subtly and over time, can be dismantled without anyone really being aware. Unless we are diligent and proactive. Standing by hoping it will ‘go away’ or just play itself out, is a dangerous thing to hope for against someone who is so full of himself as this president.

I’m sorry if I have offended those of you who support this person. I only ask that you look beyond your personal needs (and I know they are real!) to the man behind the words. Many men just like him spouted big words and went on to do horrible things. It’s about personality here, ethics, greed, morality, neediness, hate and ego to name a few. It’s not about political party. He doesn’t represent a political party, or me, or you. He represents himself, his family and his own desires.

This is a very dangerous thing for the head of any country!

So be aware, be kind to others (even if you don’t agree with them), think beyond yourself, read real news (not on Facebook) and notice what he does and doesn’t do, really listen to his words!

Everything important here is at stake. Truly. For ALL of us.

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Sponges


In one of my karmic lives, I must have been a sea creature–specifically some sort of sponge-like aquatic marine form no doubt. There I was, a mulitcelluar organism filled with pores so the water could just flow through me. As the oceans currents would flow around me, whether turbulent or calm, I sucked up the salty stream going my way.

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Well, not quite an ocean stream…

Now, in this life time, it appears I continue to suck up most things that float nearby me. The energy that is around me, whether positive or negative, seems to sink into my pores like a sponge out of water. It absorbs into me, even if I am trying hard to deflect it with the best of my defenses: meditation, positive self talk, exercise and simply just being happy myself.

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This doesn’t absorb water, it explodes with it from build up pressure!

As long as I can recall, I’ve been chided for not have that tougher skin, that shield to bounce the bad ju-ju of others off me. Nope, I never could do it successfully for very long. In fact, many years ago I would actively try to save every soul until (finally) I learned this was a lost cause and slowly ruining my soul.

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My ruined soul??

But even working hard to create my own bubble–with my absorbent nature–stuff seeps in and I find myself struggling to stay afloat, focused, energized and positive myself. It’s often the chameleon effect. I try to stay upbeat, but it becomes slowly draining and the sponge, more and more full of water, can hold no more. Simply wrung out.

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Just blending in…..

When being in an environment that is consistently difficult, trying to stay afloat is like treading water to exhaustion. Nothing can float forever and eventually one dips below the surface and, well, disappears. One loses oneself no matter how hard you try.

This isn’t what I want. If I once lived below the ocean, while a beautiful and wondrous place I’m sure, I am now a creature of light. It’s where I belong and am meant to be. Some days I feel like it’s hard to be around others because of their energy…but maybe it’s because I just haven’t found my tribe yet.

Meanwhile, I rejuvenate when I’m alone, work hard not to absorb when around others and continue to keep my head above water following the sun while looking for my island.

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Ahhhh….peace….someday? Maybe?

Who Do You Want To Be?


I have two subjects to approach here today, but they are quasi related I suppose and they both have to do with people and personality traits. Not only am I a great observer of personalities, but I am often boggled by the way people can act!

Trying myself to be a fairly kind respectful person whenever possible, it never ceases to amaze me when people find these attributes beyond their grasp. Mind you, these are not people who are back-woods, uneducated, illiterate people who have never been given the opportunity to learn how to act within group situations. No, rather, they are often pretty normal (by any familiar standards) folks who apparently just never learned any manners.

I often wonder if maybe it just does come down to this, or if it runs deeper? Why is it that someone can walk into a room, walk by one person and ignore them as though they are invisible, and then greet the next person as though they are their long-lost wealthy Uncle! It baffles me!

This rudeness prevails where I work from the management down the pee-ons. Many of these people would see themselves as very self-important, sporting high paying (but uninteresting) careers. They swirl around with arrogance possibly not caring that anyone is hurt or bothered by their holier-than-thou attitudes.

But for me, while I am chided that it shouldn’t bother me, it does for the very reason that I feel that we are all on this earth together and equal. It’s a matter of justice for me and that’s the crux of the matter. None of these people are better than me or anyone else for that matter. Whatever they believe and the fact that they teach their children to feel the same way is why superiority, prejudice, hate crimes and other equally negative human seeds breed within us. And I can never just ‘not let it bother me’ for those reasons.

The other issue was a debate I had about confidence vs. arrogance. When does one turn into the other? I believe it can be a fine line, especially as perceived by others. It has much to do with how these two auras are presented.

The debate was surrounding being confident as a paramedic and never letting patients know you are not. But it was told to someone coming from someone I have always thought of as arrogant. There lies the rub. So, has he just been confident all this time? Well, if so, why have so many of us thought the other? Delivery.

One can be confident while being kind and not appearing superior to others, especially to ones peers. I think that’s key. And being confident doesn’t preclude when you don’t know something, admitting it but finding the right answer. I understand not falling apart (which can happen to the best of us), but we pull ourselves up and learn from it.

Arrogance, on the other hand, is that feeling that one is better than someone else. That they can do the job better; you’re not needed so get out-of-the-way; I’m superior and the like. This is what I have felt from this particular paramedic. We call it the “Paragod” syndrome. I’ve tried very hard not to adopt this persona in my career.

Am I always confident? Probably not. There have been calls that have stumped me for sure, but I do my best. But I can safely say, no-one would call me arrogant and for that I’m grateful.

So all in all, I suppose we are all complex and multi-layered. But in the end, we’re all really the same. We all came out with the same material. It’s up to us what we want to do with it. We can be rude and arrogant, or we can smile, say hello and be kind and respectful to everyone we meet. It’s really just up to us. So who do you want to be?

 

 

 

Filling My Dance Card


There has always been this weird thing about me, but I am feeling it so much more clearly in my golden years. It’s the dual part of me that is part loner, part socialite. It’s the oddest thing and at times creates great conflict within me.

Sometimes one of these personas claws to the front and that will be the cloak I may wear for a while. If it’s the loner woman, then I feel very at odds if I’m in large groups for some reason. No-one would really notice this, because I always had a pretty good way of hiding this fact.  But I would feel myself draw in on myself, sort of like a movie character fading out of scene. I was there, but not really.

When I’m feeling the opposite, then I literally can’t stand being by myself anymore. I start hunting for connections of all sorts: one on one or larger. My personality becomes bigger than life and when I’m in a group I seem to draw people to me. I once took a test of “How Charismatic Are You” and I scored off the charts. And a friend once told me I do this “Marilyn Monroe” thing where I just turned on the sex appeal-just like a switch. I believe that’s this part of my dual personality.

These two sides clash and so it becomes hard for others to know who they are dealing with at times. Most think I’m warm and friendly. It’s the side I try to put forward. But I really tend to see myself as very comfortable alone, and sometimes even preferring it. It may come from being raised an only child–and a latch-key kid at that! I spent many, many hours with nothing but my imagination for a companion.

As I get older, it get scarier to think about living alone the rest of my life. I have many friends all over the country. I make friends easily and keep them. Talking to strangers is something I’ve always done, maybe because I grew up in New York City where personal space is much closer than New England where I live now. It’s harder to make friends here I find. And definitely harder to find intimacy. Or maybe it’s me? Maybe my need to be alone so much is detected and can’t be incorporated into a relationship?

I would think by middle age most people would need lots of personal time and space? This doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. I’ve learned how to balance my social desires and my “I vant to be alone” moments much better than years past. It used to be that I might shut down or close people out because these times crept up on me.  But now I realize that my need for internal quiet is simply a necessity for me and I can identify them maturely.

In analyzing myself (which I do ad nauseam), I could link the fact that I was abandoned by my birth mother quite young to the fact that I learned to be a loner at an early age. It was a survival technique I suppose. And yet I also had to learn to be social in order to survive within the environment where I was left so people would care for me. So this constant internal juxtaposition has always been at play.

I’m currently in a place, as summer reaches its apex and we plummet towards fall then winter, where I don’t want to be lonely during the cold days. So I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and find a community and make some new friends…hopefully. I’m going back to the Unitarian Universalist Church in a nearby town to see if I can stir up anything. I used to go there years ago, and was a member of a UU church when I lived in Upstate NY. They are welcoming, liberal and socially active. And that’s the other thing: I want to be more socially active. Time to walk my talk more.

So, no more sitting around weekends feeling sorry for my lonely self. Time to take this charismatic personality and step out into the big world (or small town) and say “here I am!” Hopefully the other self won’t come creeping around and try to steal the show while I’m filling my dance card.

Nurture vs. Nature


I have often pondered the question of whether it is someone’s genes or their upbringing that makes them who they are as a person.  Obviously it is a bit of both, but I mean, what is it primarily? Being adopted and having an adopted child, as well as birth children, this topic has always fascinated me. I’ve been an observer of people my whole life, and this dynamic is one thing I like to watch (as much as it is possible), while contemplating what I have learned about myself over the years.

For many years I held the belief that nurturing had the far greater influence on who we were to become as we grew up into adults. But as I’ve become an adult and as all my kids have, I’ve very much changed my mind. Now I’m very much of the mind that genes play a far bigger role in who we are as people. And this is why we can look at one family with multiple kids and see totally different outcomes.

Certainly there are many factors at play as well as genes such as birth order, life situations as the children grow up, and experiences that each child may have also. But I still believe that what is within us shapes us. So there can be two siblings within the same family with markedly different personalities.  I’m sure we’ve all seen this to be true!  We sometimes wonder how it’s possible, and even wonder if the ‘milkman’ may have visited!

I know for me personally, there were traits about my first 18 months that I did not know about until after I was about 50. Some were environmental for sure, but others were inherited most likely. I’ve never been anything like my adopted mother, much to her chagrin. She gave me and taught me many wonderful things, but I was who I was regardless. My personality, traits, desires, attitude could never be swayed. It was all in there imprinted already. This is why adoptees long to meet their birth family. To ‘see’ the gene part of themselves.

The same with my daughters. My adopted daughter came to us at two years old. She was our foster daughter for a while and only saw her birth mother occasionally. But she was completely shaped and there has been nothing to really change her all these years, much as we tried. Much of it was ‘nurture’ damage from before, but also I truly believe it was in her genes to act and be a certain way. She is now an adult and has a chance to make choices and still chooses to be exactly the same way as though she never left her original home. It is interesting how she is taking much the same path as her birth mother.

And my other two girls are completely opposite. One is like me and one like my ex-husband.  They are four years apart with my adopted daughter in between. For sure they had different experiences growing up, but they also had totally different personalities right from the get go. And continue to be different souls now. Their genes seem to have created who they are at least as much as how they grew up. Even in-utero they were different!

I’m sure specialists would argue both sides and say I’m wrong. They would say you can take a baby and raise it a certain way and within that environment it’s personality would be shaped. But I still feel that baby’s being is already tucked away within its cells waiting to open up like a flower. The environment is just the soil in which the seeds of the human ‘bean’ grow!

But I am no expert and these are only one middle-aged woman’s observations. I would love to think we can shape anyone with love and caring, but I’ve come to believe this just isn’t so. I think we just are who we are. And while love and caring are always preferred, some kids that grow up in abusive homes, still come amazingly healthy! And within the same household you see another child that is destroyed by this abuse and no amounts of love from somewhere else will ever repair them.

I know I’m over simplifying and I’m not an expert or a psychologist. It surely takes many things to make us who we are as personalities. It takes the code in our genes, our experiences, how we grew up and then as adults how we choose to be. But I’m going to stick with my unscientific observation and say that what you are born with is ultimately who you basically will be. Whether you will be a optomist, pessimist, introverted, extroverted, talkative, quiet, shy, outgoing or whatever. It’s all there from the beginning. Add a bit of luck, love and life and hopefully we turn out to be the best us we can be.