One Person’s Trash is another Person’s Treasure

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I’ll never forget my first winter in Chicago and the time I tried to give a homeless person my coat. My boss stopped me and made me get on the train. I did not understand why he stopped me and I cried the whole way back to the office.  He was protecting me. My kind heart over-rode common sense. 

I moved to Tulsa seven years later and worked in the Bank of Oklahoma building on the 27th floor. They had an ice rink back in the 90’s and I’d go down there for coffee and breakfast. Every morning I’d see the same man with ragged clothes and I’d buy him breakfast. At lunch I’d sit by myself in the square and share my lunch and cigarettes with a few of the homeless men that hung around. My boss found out about it and made me stop. He said it wasn’t safe for a nice girl like me to be alone with these men. He thought I was putting myself in danger.

I shared that story recently with the wrong person and their response surprised me.

“Your boss was wrong. I mean you smoked. Obviously you weren’t a nice girl.”

They were so proud of their comment that they laughed. This wasn’t a heckler, I wasn’t even on stage when he said this. We were sitting at a kitchen table sharing dinner with friends. A heckler I can handle, this — I just smiled and changed the subject before getting really quiet and letting other people control the conversation. It’s an old survival skill from childhood, if you let them know they got to you they come back for more. I’ve learned how to hide crumbling.

Just because I can hide it doesn’t mean I don’t crumble sometimes.

Knowing what this man said is a lie doesn’t change the impact of his words. The committee in my brain is now in high gear, passing those words around like a cheap bottle of wine. “You’ll never fit in.”, “You can’t trust people.”, “He’s right you know. You are trash.”, “I’m never coming back here again.”

Every fiber of my being now wants to show this man how “not nice” I’m capable of being. Oh you think smoking is bad, wait until I tell you about the time I did thus and such! The committee is also offering up questions on his mother’s marital status when he was born as well as her emotional temperament. In 24 hours I ruminate every possible come back. They are wonderful come backs by the way, I’m always brilliant after the fact. The problem is those comebacks do nothing for my heart and just keep the hurt feelings going while Mr Idiot has no idea that I’m even wounded.

At this point, I’m the one wounding myself by repeatedly hitting the replay button on the DVD in my brain.

I want to stop the spiral. I try to read. I pray. I stare at my phone to call a friend, but it’s too heavy and then an amazing thing happens, I receive a Christmas card from a friend. Inside the card is a puzzle piece with these words:

“YOU GLOW and you do more than light up a room — you light up the hearts of all who are in it.”

Her card is postmarked several days earlier, and arrives just in time to soothe my heart and my brain.  She doesn’t even know about the incident yet.  I now have a choice, I can hit the replay button on the remarks that hurt me OR I can choose to believe my friend and her words of encouragement. So what if one man thinks I’m trash. He’s an idiot.  I have a wealth of friends who think otherwise and their voices are loud enough to put the committee to rest.

It is said that silence equals approval. I neither agreed with nor approved of his comment and yet I remained silent.  I don’t have to be quiet just to prove I’m nice. There is nothing to be gained by staying silent when someone lies about my value to my face. There are a number of acceptable responses that I could have used. My therapist says when someone throws a prickly pear at us (an insult), we don’t have to catch it nor do we need to throw it back. We can simply say things like “ouch” or calmly speak truth, “that’s not true about me.” Simple phrases like that stop most people in their tracks and give them the chance to clean it up.

I’ll try and remember that next time. In the mean time, I’m taking my puzzle piece from my friend and posting on my bathroom mirror. I glow, not only do I light up a room, I light up the hearts of all who are in it. — And so do you.

Question: How do you respond to thoughtless (or maybe not so thoughtless) comments? I’d love to hear from you.

We are all hypocrites and drama queens

There is a difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. While some of us are happy that President Obama won a second term, many are unhappy and are reacting as though this were an earth shattering catastrophe.  Let me make myself clear here — Hurricane Sandy and the destruction to lower Manhattan and other parts of the East coast is a catastrophe – Mitt Romney losing the election is an inconvenience at best. Some  of us need to get a grip.

No matter who you voted for yesterday, today we breathe in, we put one foot in front of the other and we live. Hopefully we live for something outside of ourselves. I voted, and those who know me best know who I voted for and why. Granted if you follow me on Twitter, you already know who I voted for and if you are still reading my blog you either agree with me or came to see if God struck me dead with lightning yet.

So for all of my Christian readers who believe I’m in a hand basket headed straight for hell, sorry. I’m still here. And being black-listed for either being a Christian or being a Democrat does not hurt my feelings. I needed time off anyway and now that my entire month of November is free, I can write my book.

I say that a little tongue in cheek in all honesty. Are we really that petty? Hollywood black lists Christians and Christians black list each other over trivial things. Drama queens abound on either side and yet somewhere in the middle is our tribe.

I’ll admit trying to give up anger during an election year has not been easy. I might as well as tried to give up chocolate while working in a candy store. So many things can make my skull split in half, the word “Koolaid” being the most recent thing that brings out my alter-ego “home-girl.” I try to placate her with cookies, but sometimes she comes out and she is U-G-L-Y.

I have an IQ of over 145, I don’t drink koolaid and neither does anyone else I know. I hear that word on both sides of the spectrum. Not only does the far right use it to describe Democrats, I have several atheist friends do the same thing to describe anyone who dares believe in a God.  My writers group is loaded with atheists and progressive Christians. I fall somewhere in the middle I’m sure.

I love my friends dearly, and I know I am a bit of a conundrum to them. I’m a Christian female who gave up my career to raise my family. No regrets. I choose to submit to my husband out of love and respect (not fear or koolaid brainwashing), and yet I am a Democrat. I believe in helping those less fortunate. I believe that women have equal value to men. I believe in a lot of things actually. If I’ve learned nothing from this election season, I’ve learned this: In the final analysis, be us believers of God or not, we’re all hypocrites and drama queens.   

That’s good news to me. Knowing we are all hypocrites means we can let go of our masks and just be ourselves and hopefully learn to love each other.

Now let us put one foot in front of the other, breathe in and out, stop awefullizing everything, quit being a victim and LIVE.

Thought For The Day: Life Does Not Come With A Remote Control

“There is something infantile

in the presumption that somebody else

has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point…

The truly adult view, by contrast,

is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful

as we choose to make it.”  ― Richard Dawkins,

It’s About Choices

From Elements of Your Life on Facebook

My word for the year is breathe. My word for September and October is choices.

Everything I do is a choice. Owning my choices is a sign of being a grown-up. I’m not always a great grown-up.  Some days, I would rather shift blame than face myself.  That’s a choice too, though not a productive one. We don’t have to grow up. We can choose to blame our past, blame others or circumstances and stay stuck as a victim OR.. we can find freedom. That too is a choice.

Some choices I’ve made this month.

  • Remembering not to do something permanently stupid because I’m temporarily upset. (I have a temper, I need to staple this one to my forehead)
  • Being happy no matter what mood someone else is in.
  • Not letting people lie to me.
  • Allowing  people in my life who tell me the truth, even if it hurts my feelings.
  • Being real and honest with my mentor.
  • Investing in my career and buying my own banjo stand and taking lessons instead of going to the State Fair.
  • Facing my feelings and not wasting anymore time playing Facebook games and other things just to zone out.
  • Increasing my practice time from 30 minutes a day to at least an hour if not two.
  • Moving for an hour a day.
  • Eating what my nutritionist tells me to eat so that the pain in my stomach doesn’t return rather than turn to comfort food and old habits which does cause pain.*
  • Performing Stand Up twice a month at open mics.
  • Listening to God when he tells me NO! I’m at the point in my walk where his expectations of how I live my life are crystal clear. I’ve learned how to walk, it’s my responsibility to walk in what I’ve learned.

I’ve made some private choices as well and rather than discuss those, I’ll simply carry them out. Every day is a choice. We can choose to stay stuck, or we can choose to grow and move forward. What choices are you making today?

 

*Old habits that cause pain – sounds like a great blog topic for later this week.