13 December 2010

None of that stuff matters

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second most important commandment is this: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.  There is no other commandment more important than these two.
Mark 12:30-31 

At first glance, there are just two simple commandments 1. Love God. 2. Love your neighbor.

Look again, folks.  There is, what I like to call, "Commandment 2.5," and here it is: Love yourself.  There's an inherent assumption that you already love yourself in the rather obvious way Mark quotes Jesus as saying, "love your neighbor as you love yourself."  Would anyone who practices real self-love please stand up? << Please stand up. Please stand up.  (now bob your head like the real slim shady) >>

This can be tricky with our culture constantly bombarding us with messages that we aren’t skinny enough, strong enough, popular enough, pretty enough.  Or that we don't have enough.

It's tough when everything in the inbox bears the subject line: you *need* this in order to be whole and happy.  

And I would be remiss not to mention the fact that no one but you can hear your inner self-talk, your internal dialog.  Actually, this makes it pretty darn easy to *not* love yourself, especially if you're a good southerner, well-versed in hiding your feelings and wearing a pretty mask.


Hey you.  Sit up straight.  Shoulders back.  Listen up.  

None of that stuff matters.  

Now love.  Love matters. Seeing, feeling, and believing in the furious and passionate love that God has for you << Here's your disclaimer: I am a follower of Christ- totally stuck on Jesus (not the church as an institution, but Jesus as a dude who turned everything upside down in the name of love). You need to know that I appreciate and respect all the ways that God manifests God-self for each and every human being past and present on this planet.  I live comfortably in the gray area.  I mean it when I say that we don't have to believe alike to love alike. >>. Let me repeat... what's included in that, "Stuff That Matters," list?  Seeing, feeling, and believing in the furious and passionate love that God has for you... knowing- in the deepest way of knowing- that there's nothing you could do to make God love you any more or any less.  You love yourself as a perfectly whole child of God with your numerous imperfections.  Then, you turn right around and love others.  

So in the end... like really in the end << let's be honest, folks: there's a 100% death rate- none of us are getting out of this alive >> relationship – it’s what counts in the end.  When I think about the big, BIG picture, it's not how much cool stuff I have, or the incredible accomplishments I’ve achieved or might still go on to achieve.  What matters, like in a real, authentic, big deal kind of way, is whether or not I showed kindness, lived lovingly, and actually chose to give a shit.  << please excuse the profanity.  I tend to drop S-bombs on an as-needed basis only when deemed appropriate.  For real, I don't intend to be offensive. >>

I like what Don Miller has to say about the importance of loving others.  In his book Blue Like Jazz (pages 145-146), Miller asks a friend if marriage is all that it’s cracked up to be.  His friend responds like this:
“No, it is so much more than I ever thought it would be. One of the ways God shows me He loves me is through Danielle, and one of the ways God shows Danielle He loves her is through me. And because she loves me, and teaches me that I am lovable, I can better interact with God.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that to be in a relationship with God is to be loved purely and furiously. And a person who thinks himself unlovable cannot be in a relationship with God because he can’t accept who God is; a Being that is love. We learn that we are lovable or unlovable from other people,” Paul says. “That is why God tells us so many times to love each other.”

This whole "love thing" starts at home, folks.  LOVE your family.  LOVE your parents.  LOVE your siblings.  LOVE your spouse.  << Psst.  Here's another secret: DISAGREEMENT and LOVE can, in fact, co-exist. Conflict is healthy, people.  Dealing with conflict won't untie us. Coming through a conflict will actually unite us. >>  And for the love of God, LOVE your kids.  Don't ever let your kids doubt your love for them.  The moment they do- especially for you dads out there- you're undercutting their capacity to understand God's love as the love of a FATHER.  Many faith traditions refer to the love of God as the love of the Father.  Frankly, for all the dads in all the world, that's a really high bar.  Step up to the plate and love your kids.

I don't have a clever conclusion for this post.  So I'll offer a Don Miller repeat.  Here we go.

"... We learn that we are lovable or unlovable from other people,” Paul says. “That is why God tells us so many times to love each other.”

And here are just a few pics of *some* of the people in my life who show me that I'm lovable by loving me.
The hubs and his dad, love me like I've been theirs all along.

Not much compares to the unconditional love of a puppy.

Some of my faves.

Feelin' the love from the fam (not from the 4 identical Ramses II statues)

Dad and S- bottomless sources of love for me.

Sisters are a great gift.

Love love love these 2.

Love love love these 2, and Ale too.
My sister the ninja.

A-- a stable force in my life for a long, long time.

07 December 2010

Don't read this. You won't laugh.

My friend Mike has a sense of humor that is yet to be rivaled.  He comes up with stuff that I swear is original. As in, he has fresh thoughts that literally, metaphorically, and emphatically have *never* been thought before.  His FB status updates generally make me stop and scratch my head.  I could never hide him on my newsfeed.  

Over the last couple of weeks, more and more people with a Facebook account switched their profile pic to a favorite, beloved cartoon character as a way to raise awareness of child abuse or attempt to stem child abuse (or something like that).  

While this sounds nice in theory, I think that volunteering at your local family homeless shelter, spending time with victims of domestic violence, serving in your child's classroom, or mentoring as a big brother/ sister to a little brother/sister are all practical ways to accomplish what "changing your profile pic to a cartoon" attempts to do.

That's my mini-soapbox, directly and clearly communicated.  Here's how my friend Mike communicated his opinions on the matter, from a giant Tide box with a megaphone that danced circles around all of us.

**Warning: Contains Profanity**

Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Hey! Childhood Obesity is really a problem for our culture! Show your support and change your FB profile picture to a vegetable from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB until December 12th. Join the fight against fat kids!!- copy & paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same.

Sunday at 6:35 p.m.

Hey! Senior Abuse is really a problem for our culture! Show your support and change your FB profile picture to a favorite elderly person from your childhood. The goal? To not see a wrinkle-free human face on FB until December the 33rd, Two Thousand and Sand...Also, Alzhiemer's is also crappy also!! Hey! invite your friends and pets and lamps to do the same! Declaration of Independence!!!

Sunday at 6:43 p.m.

Hey! Rodent Homophobia is really a problem for our culture! Show your support of our fluffy gay friends and change your FB profile picture to a favorite small homosexual mammal from your childhood. The goal? To not see an un-whiskered cute little gay face on FB until December 58th, 500 B.C.!
What are numbers? I don't know!!

                   Comment at 6:43 p.m. I'm a small male chipmunk that likes other small male chipmunks in a sexual and romantic fashion!! Declaration of Independence!!

Sunday at 6:53 p.m.

Hey! Illiteracy is really a problem for our culture! Show your support of words and stuff and change your FB profile picture to a favorite word or sentence that you just can't understand! The goal? To not see a comprehensible written thought on FB until December the 101st, Two Thousand and Pie! How the hell am i typing this?!?! What am i typing? i can't read!!! Incleration fo Depeneneanence!

Sunday at 6:56 p.m.

Okay, sorry- i just had to get that out of my system. carry on. :)

                   Comment at 6:43 p.m. My therapist says this is healthy. i'm not sure. i'm a little scared my digital self is going to get tarred and feathered and run out of FB city. oh well...the gay chipmunk made me giggle.

Sunday at 7:18 p.m.

Hey! Random Causes That Seem To Crop Up Out Of Freaking Nowhere are really a problem for our social networking culture! Show your support of support and support by changing your FB profile picture to a picture of your FB profile picture...picture! The goal? I have no freaking idea, but let's do it anyway!!! I'll see you all on December ∞, 2ThousandAndœ∑´®†¥¨ˆƒ∆∫˚!!!!

                   Comment at 6:43 p.m. My Brain is melted!! Declaration! Independence! What?! Support!!!!!

Sunday at 7:20 p.m.

Okay, NOW i'm done. man... why can't i just change my pic to Darkwing Duck and call it a day? No one is marching in your parade, underdown... shut the hell up and play farmville...

Darkwing Duck

02 December 2010

The anatomy of a bad day.

There are days- believe it or not- when I have my own little pity party. Sometimes it even lasts all day.  

One of those days was recent, so I started thinking- perhaps sharing some insight and shedding some light would be healthy and appropriate for us all.  So here goes.

Rejection.  It was the theme of the morning.  Here's the thing we don't always realize: in every interaction and in each context, we give clues that convey either rejection or acceptance to the person we're interacting with.

This particular day started with the dog. << Mind you, it was a rainy day and the dog never likes to go outside when the sky is spitting anything. >>  I get up, shower, get ready for work, make coffee-- all the while calling the dog with statements like "come, ready, let's go outside"-- all of which are cue words that he's been trained with from the beginning.  

And all to no avail.

So I tried some different, unconventional statements like "get up lazy butt, wake up, c'mon-you can't hold it all day, you don't eat 'til you pee."

Grouchy Me
Finally, I wound up tricking him into thinking there was a squirrel in the yard he needed to chase. Worked like a charm. But then << remember, it was a pity party kind of day >> it dawned on me that the dog would come out of his winter cave for a squirrel but not for his human.  I thought dog was (wo)man's best friend. Check that box yes, I unconsciously opted to take it personally.

I take care of the dog and eventually get to the office.  All Hands On Deck. The staff is working on a letter to be mailed to everyone and their mom whose contact info has found its way onto our machines.  I offer to help.  I pause to read the letter.  Shock.  I'm shocked.  << Mind you, I'm often painfully aware of my obsession with grammar. >> There are run-ons, extraneous commas, and ellipses with spaces in between << like this: . . .  when it should be like this: ... >>.  There's a splattering of bold font being used throughout, and there are confusing bullet points.  And random exclamation points (!!!) just flat annoy me when they appear printed on letterhead.  There's a P.S., yet the inscription we're writing on each page is a recycled repeat of the P.S.  Gah!

Don't get me wrong. I don't claim to be perfect when it comes to writing << when I hand-write anything, I have flash terrors of the whole page being underlined with those squiggly red lines indicating misspellings galore >>.  I always revel in the chance to give anything that goes out to people in our community- especially with our name on it- a good once-over.

So I'm at the office, stuffing envelopes, taking it personally that my opinion wasn't solicited.  In my head, it was all about me.  But in fact, it shouldn't have been about me at all << which is almost always the case >>.  However, mentally, I decided a couple of both unfair and untrue things.  #1. My co-workers didn't value my opinion. #2. This letter would reflect poorly on me/us. (remember, it's all about me)

Eventually after a little time passes, I manage to pull myself out of my own head and realize a couple more things.

This is why #1 was false.  The day and a half when the letter was going around the office for staff input was a day and a half that I was in and out of meetings the whole time.  There were only hard copy versions passed around, and since I was never in the office long enough to see it, I missed that train.  The draft letter and I were like passing ships in the night.

This is why #2 was false. Most normal people don't scrutinize publications the way that I do.  Most normal people don't notice the extra comma or apostrophe. And I think I'm in the minority in terms of the sick sense of pleasure I have when I see a mistake an editor missed in a published book.  It's not the soapbox that makes me most proud.

Later that day- after the dog and the letter- I went to visit my "little" who happens to be a first-grade boy at an elementary school in town.  His classmate has a "big" who visits him at the same time as we do, and she bought both boys ice cream.  Well my "little" was all about that push-pop. After lunch when I told him that I wanted to spend time with just him after lunch, he kept saying, "We can invite them to come with us."  My internal dialog and response went something like this. "I guess I'm pretty boring to hang out with.  I don't know how to talk to 6 year-old boys. Maybe I should call it quits since the kid doesn't like me anyway." Then once we were actually alone (we did a word search and then went to play computer games), he didn't talk much with me.

Here's why that line of thinking was wrong.  This was the second time I was asking him to hang out with just me (prior to that the 4 of us always hung out). Kids react differently to change. Of course he's going to ask questions in order to try and maintain things the way that he's used to them. And even when he goes along with that change, he's bound to act a little different- he's unsure of himself with all of this one-on-one attention.

So there you have it.  There are days where absolutely everything that happens happens to me... oh woe is me! I get stuck inside my head, and the whole worlds spends a few hours revolving around me.  Those days are not filled with my finest moments.  Part of the point of having this blog is to be honest- embarrassingly so at times. And authentic.  << I hope you never come on here and sniff any BS. >>

The anatomy of my bad days tend to involve taking everything personally; believing that everything is about me; and making lots and lots of assumptions.

If I stop there I've only identified the problem << which is me, in a non-self-absorbed kind of way >>.  The anatomy of turning around a bad day requires back to back to back admissions that << wait for it, hold on tight, here we go >> I'm wrong.  I shouldn't always take things personally.  The world does not, in fact, revolve around me. Additionally, asking clarifying questions << and not just assuming what I thought someone said is actually what they meant >> is an essential coping skill that eases my ability to navigate through life.

Another thin that helps me shift from a bad day to a better day is to think about other people more and think about myself less.  Here are a few of my favorite mind-occupiers  << this row of photos is in no particular order and should not considered all-inclusive >>.