“The most fantastic thing about the present time is that we’re actually still here.”
Another day, another year, another lap around old Sol.
This past year has probably been among the best years of my life, despite all the tragedy and confusion taking place over the world. We lost a whole slew of Great Artists, the like of which I’m not sure humanity can produce still.
My life went from calm and carefree to super-busy and full of responsibility.
Photo by Timjan Dahlén
I know it’s cliché to say it, but parenthood really does change you in ways you can’t fully understand until you are there, holding a helpless little human who somehow managed to hijack your entire existence.
The journey of self-discovery and self-reconciliaton I began last year entered a new phase, and so did my creative pursuits.
As a result of everything else, the blog here had to take the back seat. But that’s okay. I started it mostly for myself, and even though I’ve managed to get some very loyal (and highly appreciated) followers I still write as much for my own sake add for anything else.
Life changes, but it keeps moving forward – relentlessly – until with a little luck we are too old to die young.
While this may not be a blog post per se it is something that is important enough to share: Jennifer Aniston‘s response to the speculations about her personal life, published this Tuesday by the Huffington Post. This goes beyond one celebrity being fed up with the media – it speaks about how society in general values and objectifies women.
“He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing.” ―Sherman Alexie
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Reader!
I hope you have someone to celebrate the day with, be it a friend, lover, spouse or perhaps a new interest.
Valentine’s day can be full of pressure and expectation, but it doesn’t have to be that way – we can celebrate our love for each other with just a short message of appreciation.
Two years ago I was single and not really dating anyone, so instead I wrote a Valentine’s letter each to three friends who had meant a lot to me during the past year, telling them how much I appreciated having them in my life and how they had improved things for me.
Today I encourage all of you out there to write to a friend or loved one and tell them what they mean to you.
One of those friends has since become so much more to me.
What started out as a deep and intimate platonic friendship slowly grew to something more, and since about a month we are living together.
Every twist and turn along the way has strengthened our bond, and I can not even imagine a future without her in my life.
She means the world to me, and I fall in love all over again every time I see her smile.
I choose her, always – moment after moment, day after day.
“Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” – Unknown
I wrote this piece a few days after the attacks, but decided to not publish it at that time. Today, however, I read Ngobesing Romanus’ post “What people fear the most” and I thought I’d publish this in response.
It is valid for all types of fear – not just fear of terrorists.
Let’s talk about fear – about terror.
Whenever an unusual disaster occurs, people start expressing fear. The terror attacks in Paris recently was a telling example of this. My government raised the perceived threat level, various US states stopped accepting refugees from certain areas (or entirely), people interviewed in various media say they feel threatened and more alert – staying away from certain areas, viewing people who appear to be middle eastern with suspicion, avoiding public transportation, etc, etc.
Are you afraid, Dear Reader?
If you are, why? Of what? The odds of getting injured or killed by an accident in our own bathroom far surpasses the risk of being the victim of a terror attack, yet I doubt people are afraid to go into their bathrooms. Few of us fear crossing the street or driving a car; few are afraid of preparing food; more of us fear going on a plane but they are still few in comparison.
At any moment, any number of accidents or assaults could occur – most of which are far more likely than a terrorist attack. So why do so many of us succumb to fear now?
It’s no different than a child’s fear of the dark.
We fear what we don’t understand, what we can’t see, and what we feel we have no control over. We feel powerless and uncertain, which makes us angry and hateful and afraid. And that is exactly what terrorism is all about – making us afraid to live our lives. Creating chaos. Inspiring terror. Making us unfree.
If we succumb to fear we give the object of our fear power over us.
That is exactly what terrorists want. That is exactly what bullies want. That is exactly what sexual predators want. Power and control over our lives.
Instead, “keep calm and carry on”.
That was the advice to the British people during the air raids of WWII. They lived under a very constant, very real threat of getting bombed, every day, yet they were told to go about their lives as best they could.
Be aware, not in fear.
Do not let the terrorists and bullies and criminals of this world control and limit your life. Be aware of the threats that are out there and take reasonable personal measures to protect yourself as needed. By all means, lock your doors and have security measures in place. By all means, avoid taking unnecessary risks in your life. By all means, if you encounter a threat to your person move away from it if at all possible. Be prepared – physically and mentally – for the dangers of life. Be aware of what is going on around you. Know that bad things can happen, but do not let them bother you until they do. You can’t predict where or when or how disaster will strike, so don’t dwell on it.
Do not let oppressors take your life from you while you still breathe – you are worth more.
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” — Victor Hugo
Six months ago today, I started on a personal journey.
The ride since then has been wild and shaky and bumpy, but now things seems to have settled and I am back where I started – only stronger, wiser and better than ever before.
I have come full circle.
The track is laid out before me and I am sure of where I am going – both personally and professionally – for the first time in years.
Now the next stretch of this journey awaits.
Things will likely stay hectic and wild and bumpy. They always do, in life – nothing ever goes according to plan. But this time around at least there is a map of sorts to follow.
All of the major crossroads are behind me, for now.
That’s not to say the journey ahead is fully mapped out by any means – there will be choices and uncertainties, surprises and conundrums. But this train is going places! I’m back on track, full of motivation, stoking the engine.
Don’t get me wrong, Dear Reader – there are plenty of things to legitimately get offended over; things like blatant racism and sexism, bullying and severe personal attacks. These day, though, people seem to be offended by the smallest things:
A picture on facebook, someone criticizing your views, a stranger being an idiot online – why be offended?
The next time you feel offended and get upset, stop for a second and ask yourself a few questions – and if the answer to any of these are ‘no’, aim your energy at yourself instead of lashing out:
– Do I really need to take this personally?
If it wasn’t aimed at you, maybe there’s no need to feel attacked at all. Take a look at yourself and examine why you feel the way you do about it.
– Will speaking out against this make me feel better, regardless of how others react?
If you expect strangers to feel empathy, say sorry, or listen to your views you will most likely be disappointed and end up feeling even worse. Chances are you will do yourself a disservice by venting in public, and would do better to talk about it with an understanding friend instead.
– Does this person’s opinion really matter to me?
If the offendee is a friend or relative that’s one thing, but if it’s Joe Average or Jane Strange I suggest you think twice about if their views of you or the issue at hand truly matters.
– Am I willing to listen to their reasons and opinions, honestly and with an open mind?
If you just want to yell or lecture or tell them off, expecting them to just listen and take it, maybe you shouldn’t. You can’t expect people to consider your side of things if you won’t consider theirs. You can’t change anyone unless they let you – which they won’t unless they already respect you and value your opinion.
If someone is obviously attacking you and trying to offend or belittle or oppress you, think carefully about your reaction.
If possible, laugh it off and rise above them. If you get hurt or angry, half the battle is lost, but if you can calm yourself and reply with wit, reason or facts, half the battle is won. Often though, it is preferable to just ignore them and avoid the battle altogether. Don’t waste your energy fighting battles you can’t win.
No one can offend you unless you give them that power. So don’t.