Posted in Life

Could normalcy just be a “feeling?”

What exactly is, normal?

adjective

  1. 1.conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Once upon a time, it was normal to think you can sale of the edge of the Earth. Infanticide was normal in the Sparta, because if an infants couldn’t survive in the wilderness they were “defective.” It was normal for females to begin birthing children at the start of menstruation. Slavery was normal. I am sure you too could come up with numerous things that were once, “normal.”

The deviation of anything that is common place could throw an individual completely off and make them feel out of whack. Normal is an illusion. It is subjective.

Who decides what is normal?

In this post modern world, normalcy is a rapid cycling fad and a parody of itself at best. We are living longer, having babies later while maintaining a six foot personal space perimeter in public and demanding to see people’s medical history before interacting with them. We are bombarded with of images by the millions, assaulting our senses on a daily basis, and the conditioned response to “want to be the things you see” has transcended from commercial advertisements to social media platforms with no reprieve. If it isn’t a billboard, it’s a jingle between music streams. If it isn’t a commercial on regular television it’s two 15 second car insurance commercials before viewing your how-to video. If it isn’t a pop up ad in the right column while reading your email, it’s a pop up ad in your social media feed. It’s everywhere praying on that need to feel “normal” – what ever that may be at any given time of the day.

Who is considered, normal?

I guess it depends on where you are and who you ask, right? Normal is an elusive theoretical personification of the zeitgeist of any given society. It can be aligned with morality or abstracted and convoluted. It is a gang mentality of sorts that is fueled by a feeling – an emotion… a yearning to “confirm” to feel safe and in sync. How can one truly ever sync in a rapid cycling fad? Once you get the hang of it, you find yourself back at square one. Normalcy is a dangling carrot before our eyes. Normalcy is a hamster wheel to “keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians (if you will).”

Posted in Life

Ports in the Storm: Support or Abort?

We can find ourselves a port in a storm where we want to shelter our loved ones. It’s a natural reaction to feel hurt as a result of them hurting. Some circumstances can drag out certain storms for extended periods of time. It can batter all parties involved. The emotional and psychological pain a storm causes impacts the supportive loved ones as well. The peripheral damage can yield separation and even severance of ties.

It is important to note that when trauma happens there is the primary party whose storm this is, and the secondary party who is providing support and love and comfort throughout the ordeal. Navigation through storms are not clear cut or simple. It can be quite complicated and equally frustrating to the secondary party – particularly when the primary party decides to take a path that puts them square in harm’s way. This change of course can drive a wedge between the primary party and the secondary party; in response to a change in course, the bewildered second party may react in a way that is perceived as victimizing the primary party all over again. This can create a decomposition of relationships.

How do we avoid it the decomposition? Take note of what is actually happening so that the amount of emotional/psychological investment is tempered. If this isn’t done, it’s easy for the energy from the chaos to take up root in the secondary party and support may be strained. The following things need to be considered:

Is this a venting session?

Is every solution suggestion is shot down or ignored? If you find your self trying to encourage a proactive stance in your loved one and they don’t seem receptive to it, don’t push it. They just want you to listen and aren’t ready to make any moves. Just listen. Solutions are not welcome here at the moment.

Are they re-calibrating another approach/attempt?

Are they talking about the situation like they are able to fix it? Some people like to give it the old college, grad, and post graduate try. Who are we to criticize? If this is the case and your loved one wants to run through plans A-Z and 1-3, co-pilot, and try to influence with practicality. Some people are “fixers” and where there is a will there is always a way – or at least many ways to try and they will exhaust them all before giving up. Keep in mind, we are not obligated to the exhaustion by association.

Is the narrative being presented in a way to influence support?

If things are not adding up and pertinent details are being left out to incite sympathy, it is a clear indication that a loved one does not want a solution but to shift the focus in a way that absolves them from having to make any efforts to address the problem or admit their role in the situation at hand. Maybe they are not ready. Maybe they just don’t want to. Maybe by convincing you, it’s a means to convince themselves, thus buying time to continue the carousel ride. Proceed with caution, listen, and do not pour all energy into half baked scenarios because feelings are fleeting and as the plot thickens, points of view may cause drastic pivots.

Are they emotional but unwilling to let go?

When emotions run high, many things are said and done: allegation, declarations, ultimatums, declarations, vows, promises, threats …etc… and once the storm is over and the emotional flood subsides,… it back to being all good until it’s not. This is the termite that eats away the emotional support of loved ones because there are but so many rinse and repeat cycles a support system can endure. If it is clear that a loved one is in the rinse in repeat cycle, reassessing how much emotional/psychological energy you are willing to invest is crucial because it’s easy to get caught up in the storm and lose oneself in it. Nothing good can come from that. One cannot pour from an empty cup and if a rinse and repeat situation is draining… withdrawing for a little self care is paramount as no one can pour from an empty cup.

Closing thought

Some of the hardest decisions to make is whether to stick it out or walk away. It can be excruciating to watch a loved one go through some of life’s most difficult moments. It’s a delicate dance between empathy and practicality. The head and the heart must be of equal measure to provide support. If one supersedes the other, pulling back may be the healthiest option.

Posted in Life

Notes to Strangers: addiction to shittiness?

There is a plethora of toxic relationship dynamics that, if gone unaddressed, can become normalized. This dynamic can essentially rewire perception, reality, and world view dramatically. Although, it is clear it is unhealthy, it is still accepted. This can become very dangerous because when a healthy person comes along offering healthy unconditional love, it can be rejected as boring – or perceived as there is something wrong with the healthy person because they are giving love, attention, support and loyalty without requiring a long journey through hell walking barefoot across broken glass and hot coals.

The more one suffers does not demonstrate how much one cares. While there are sacrafices to be made in relationship dynamics, suffering and putting up with shitty behavior does not validate the love for another. Love is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured. Naturally, challenges will come along but if the entire relationship dynamic is an incessant challenge, then… what is the fight really about? Is it that there is a compulsary attraction to the relationship and all the negativity that comes with it?

Posted in Life

What I have learned in 365 days

We are already three months into 2021 and when I look back, it is crystal clear that I am not the same person I was back in March of 2020.   Enduring the past 365 days with all its trials and tribulations was not easy for anyone.  Although it seems like a decade has passed, along with it, is a world view I had not given much thought too and the short list of gratitude that I had.  Challenges abounded at every turn both intrinsically and extrinsically.  There was no area that was not left shrouded in the cloak of mundane responsibilities or the platitude of “there aren’t enough hours in a day.”  Gradually, hours became days… for many of us, it seemed as though we had time on tap.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We had time to think about all things we wanted to do but never did.  We had time to think about the things we wanted to say but never said.  We had time to think about all the things we do for the sake of doing them.  We had time evaluate whether we are living up to our potential. We had time to contemplate our purpose. We had time to inspect all the cracks that began to show in our relationships and motivations.

With that in mind, as we gallop toward reopening, I find myself contemplating how I will reallocate my time.  I find myself thinking about what matters most and being mindful of squandering my time for fruitless outcomes that ultimately make me feel unpleasant and drained.  I find myself making concrete plans to do the things I always wanted to do as opposed to thinking of these things as abstract ideas that hypothetically take place in the obscure future.  I find myself looking at the time that I have as the most cosmically valuable asset and intent to invest it in ways that will mature my well being and those around me – mind, body and spirit.

Posted in Life

Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!

Despite our longings to break out of categories and labels, we find ourselves circling back to self identifying or boxing ourselves into a “type” or characteristic trope. More often, we aim to be the most overused type or trope, thus, abandoning our own unique qualities that may be attributed to another. Such is the case with the Alpha personality. One can be a leader, a go getter and a tough contender despite not being an “Alpha” personality.

Many identify themselves as Alpha personalities. Although some may display such traits, they may not necessarily be Alpha personalities as there are more than just Alpha personalities or Beta personalities. Neither personality is better than the other.

Each personality has its positive attributes that are unique, valuable, and essential to their social spheres. Each stand out respectively. Whatever your characteristic attributes may be, accentuate them. Hone your attributes – all of them. Not just the ones that fit into a desired type or characteristic trope.

Posted in Life

Notes to Strangers: Looking Back

Ever look back and say, “WTF?”  As time passes, we don’t realize how much we deal with or are going through as we are going through it.  Coming out on the other side after having been through so much seems like just another day, when in fact, it is post completion of an obstacle course of trials and tribulations that require intensive mental and emotional gymnastics to conquer with very little time (if any) to process it all.

What better time than now, to look back and say, “Wow, I’m still here.  Thank you, God?”  Life’s kinks, twists, and turns require a perseverance, resilience, and strength that many of us do not realize we have.  Even after it’s over and the dust settles, it may seem surreal.  It may seem like it wasn’t you; but lo and behold, it was you amidst the vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear.  Despite the adversity, you overcame.  You are here now.  That is something to feel good about. Way to go, you tough cookie, you!

Posted in Life

Unforgiveness: Purloiner of the Heart and Soul

In relationships, arguments and fall outs are inevitable. People we love may not be likable all the time. Seeing that love is a verb and sometimes requires action that include but are not limited to: compromise, understanding, patience, communication, and forgiveness … the latter can be either what nourishes relationship vitality, the lethal blow that severs the relationship, or twisting knife that perpetuates a toxic dynamic.

Unforgiveness is interesting because it is often misconstrued as a character trait. It can also be misconstrued as being strong. In actuality, unforgiveness is the worm at the core of the soul. It is an emotional parasite that syphons our life force. It is parasitic in nature because it takes a lot of energy to maintain while it purloins precious time that can never be recovered.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

How does unforgiveness manifest? How does it grab a hold of us? This excerpt so eloquently sums it up: “many people who have been hurt feel insignificant and powerless; therefore, they try to get their need for significance met by withholding forgiveness. Unforgiveness gives them a sense of power and superiority. If you were ever betrayed by a friend, for a time you may have felt powerless to stop the pain.”June Hunt

Time does heal, if you allow it; but the tricky thing about unforgiveness is that it requires us to relive the trauma that caused it. It creates a negative feedback loop that we subscribe to and if gone unaddressed, it can lead to bitterness. Bitterness, over time, becomes the norm and can be quite oppressive hindering the ability to thrive in life. While it may seem as though it is harder to forgive and let go, on the contrary, it takes more energy to hang on to the transgression because holding on to the transgression requires fuel. It requires the long painful trip down memory lane and reignition of that initial hurt.

How do we STOP the pain?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Forgiving, much like love, is a verb. The pain must first be addressed irregardless of having received an apology. Making peace with the past, and recognizing that what transpired is in the rearview, and choosing to move forward and focus on today is paramount. It is a personal choice to choose the here and now and rebuke what happened because nothing can change the past. It is a personal choice to choose to take control of the here and the now and seek to bind up the emotional wounds. In making these decisions, we empower ourselves to be able to look at the situation through the scope of our current selves ; With what we know now versus what we knew then, the perspective will be quite distinct from our former selves – and that is a start!

Posted in Life

Notes to Friends: You’re Doing Great

2020 has been quite the wild card of epic proportions.  This year forced every single one of us outside our comfort zone.  Many of us had to learn to adapt in situations that were completely out of our hands.  We had to have faith.  We had to trust the process. 

Lots of blood, sweat, and tears were shed.   We had to keep moving forward despite the tremendous amount of anxiety and fear.  We may not be completely out of the woods, but we are, in fact, still here.  It was raw: going back to the basics, and being reminded of what we have and what matters most to us in this world; feeling more connected than ever despite having to remain 6 feet apart.  

2020 forced us to take a long hard look at our lives as we know it and ask ourselves if we like what we see.  The shutdown made it so that many of us had nothing to do but answer the question.  And here were are with 64 days left.  That is 1602 hours, to be exact.

I just want to say to you, friends:

You are doing extremely well persevering through uncertainty, adversity, challenges and sometimes dark moments. You are extremely strong and I’m thankful for you. Whatever lies ahead, you will get through it just the same way you got here!

Posted in Life

Taking Responsibility: The Plank In Our Own Eyes

Being hurt by a loved one or someone we care about is inevitable. When we feel slighted or emotional about a situation, we come from a place of hurt. We defend our feelings and indignation without being able to see the situation at hand and how we arrived to this point. It becomes difficult to acknowledge the side of the party that hurt us and the part we may have played in the situation because, by acknowledging the other side, we feel somehow it may devalue our pain some how. This is not true.

If we truly care about someone who hurt us, it is important to take the time to try to understand how the situation came to pass. Trying to understand the situation and how it came to pass does not necessarily mean taking full responsibility for what happened. It is identifying the key components that contributed to the outcome.

Taking responsibility for our contribution to the situation can open a dialogue that can possibly facilitate and understanding where as the conflict can not only be resolved but wounds can heal with the knowledge that all parties will make a concerted effort not to repeat the situation. Of course, it’s easier said that done, but getting familiar with removing these planks from our own eyes, help cement the relationships that we value most.

We all have our own planks obstructing our ability to see clearly in many situations when it comes to how we interact with others and our relationship dynamics, but with cause and effect, we must realize that before we address how someone behaves toward us, or how they have hurt us, we must examine ourselves. If we still cannot quite understand others’ point of view, then we must put our pride aside and be brave enough to address it with that person – not others. Go straight to the source, and be open enough to listen and receive what the other party has to say regardless of whether we may agree. If we ask someone why they had done something, we must hear them out and not devalue their thoughts and feelings by trying to defend our pain.

Taking responsibility requires the abandonment of our pride, excuses, and need to be right. Nothing loving, positive and fruitful can come from the planks of pride, excuses, and the need to be right.

Thank you for stopping by.

Posted in Life

The Path of Introspection: road least traveled

in·tro·spec·tion/ˌintrəˈspekSH(ə)n/ Learn to pronounce nounnoun: introspection; plural noun: introspections

  1. the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes. “quiet introspection can be extremely valuable”

The road least traveled is the road into our hearts and minds. Perhaps just as frightening as public speaking, it’s often avoided until we cannot anymore; by that time, we are usually in our twilight years taking inventory of our lives and the impact and purpose that we had throughout or, it could be onset by the death of someone significant that had a huge impact on our identity.

The road can be rocky because along it may be things that we chose not to think about or we may find wounds that had not completely healed. Revisiting these experiences or emotions seem scary because the possibility of having to feel how we felt way back when could be likely. Because of this, we go on in our daily lives living it and ignoring the path. Truth is, when we do this, these experiences and unhealed wounds influence and bleed into our daily lives and relationships. We do things subconsciously to pivot away from feeling or experiencing these things. Many times, how we pivot away is what causes disruption and conflict in our lives. The more we try to avoid pain, disruption, and conflict, the more we bring it about.

The journey of introspection is the most important journey in life.

Whatever it is that we are ignoring or hiding from finds a sneaky way of veering its hideous head in multiple aspects of our lives. This concept isn’t new, but definitely provokes thought; especially if you are interested in growing and evolving. When I think about the path of introspection, I think it is a way to find your whole self. It’s an introduction to aspects of ourselves that need some attention/integration into who we are now. The answers of why we do the things we do are found there. It’s what navigates us through life and the sea of emotions, reactions, and distractions that come with life.

The best thing about the path of introspection, is that we will find a beacon of light and a new understanding of ourselves, where we are, our place in this world and where we want to be or go. Things begin to unfold for us in ways that had not happened before. Gaining understanding of who we are and what we want out of life is a crucial part of the trajectory of our live. As much as it scares us, it is the most valuable journey we will ever take.

Take the path of introspection as many times as you need. Get to know yourself and heal yourself. Purge what’s no longer needed and merge what’s necessary to empower you and make you the best you that you can be.