Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ah time, that thief of my life

I relate to the world through a rich inner thought life. Thoughts stir around in my head all day, some mundane, some poetic, all of them almost always lost in the shuffle of my everyday busy life. Sometimes that is quite discouraging because it feels as though I am a shell walking throughout my day doing my work and existing in each moment reduced to a robotic routine, the meaning of life distilled into droplets of interaction with other human beings and there is a deep hunger there. I am interested in people, I want to sit down and probe the depth of their thoughts and find out what makes them tick. I tried to do that with a friend as we took walks together but I found that she held a shallow pool of interesting thought and didn't seem to be driven like I am towards constant improvement and seeking after knowledge. This was discouraging to me and though I am still good friends with her, I still find myself lacking a thought partner, something that I am used to though so I've retreated to the familiar territory of books and TED talks, anything that gets me to think outside of the ordinary humdrum of life. I find that when I read I analyze the way that the author has set up the book, how they are developing their characters and plot. Though without the time to work on my own book I despair at ever creating my own work of fiction. I'm not uncaring towards people, however I find it hard to maintain relationships with the depth of friendship that I prefer because the demands of time on my life make that possibility low. I am selfish a lot of times, I know. I am also frustrated because of the many things I want to do with my time that I cannot because I am a responsible adult type person. Well, I've got more to write but I am being called away... goodnight.

SG

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Seeking purpose

Some thoughts that have been plaguing my mind lately revolve around purpose in ones life. I watched a documentary about some Hasidic Jews who are trying to leave the community they grew up in, turning their back on the beliefs and traditions of their upbringing. The Hasidic Jewish community living in the New York area, as described in the documentary, keeps their members tied to them by issuing a strict set of rules for the community members to follow.

These rules effectively keep the community members in ignorance of how the rest of the world functions and limits the ability of members to make decisions other than those handed down to them from their leaders. The people that were highlighted in the documentary (on Netflix) outline their struggles and reasons for leaving. They have valid reasons (in my opinion) to leave and seek out a different path but in the eyes of their community they are damning themselves and would lead their children astray if allowed to do so.

One thing that stuck with me, besides the difficulty of leaving something that you have always known, is the difficulty in finding purpose. I too struggled with finding a purpose to life when I left behind many of the beliefs I grew up with.

People speak of purpose as though it is something to be found, handed down to us from a sentient being who designed the world to have meaning. They hope that if they can find their purpose then their own lives will have meaning. I don't fault them for trying to find meaning or purpose in life, only I believe that when these things are not readily apparent to us then it can cause anguish, as though finding peace comes from finding purpose.

I propose a different way to regard life and our purpose. We let go of the need for an explanation for everything, we don't need to know why in some cases, we just need to know what is.

I heard this concept from a Ted Talk, I believe, though I can't find it at the moment. We spend a lot of emotional energy trying to figure out why something happened when a lot of times even if we understand why, it isn't going to help us find peace.

Accepting that you don't have to have all the answers frees you to move forward and choose to be happy in spite of everything.

Just a few thoughts for the day...

SG











Sunday, October 15, 2017

Relationships

I grew up in a religious community that was all about complete fidelity, strengthening family bonds and fighting for marital ties.

Thus when I found myself married at a young age what I felt to be the most important thing was keeping my marriage together. I fought really hard towards that goal and put up with a difficult relationship, an abusive relationship, with the attitude that if we all went to church, prayed together, talked things through, then everything that was wrong could be made right.

There were things that could not be made right no matter how much I tried however. Things that I couldn't see or was too immature to know how to handle.

I'm not sure how people successfully navigated through unsuitable relationships back in the days where girls married at 14 (or younger) and were expected to raise their children to be strong and successful. How did these young girls overcome their own immaturity? Perhaps the societal norms of their days and what was expected of them was simple and they didn't expect much out of life, nor their relationships, it is sad that this is still the state of things in some areas of the world.

We live in a world that expects a lot from life and from our relationships and that leads to discontent.

But discontent was not a motivating factor for me when I was a young mother, I found joy in other things, for me I knew quite early on that I was in over my head and I didn't know how to escape. I made the unenviable choice to work on my relationship as much as possible, but to do things that would allow me the ability to escape if I needed to. In essence, I wasn't in a relationship out of love but out of fear. Certainly I loved my husband, but I hadn't come into the relationship as a fully realized person and I didn't decide to be married based off a mutual understanding of love and trust, I was married because I wanted to do the right thing for my children, I wanted them to have a good home.

So I was locked into this dynamic and yet fighting with all of my being to improve my situation. I went to school, I was lucky because attending school meant that I received grant money which we desperately needed because we were very poor. It was also useful because I was able to get out of the house and have some time to myself, I could escape into an inner world and there find a voice.

My inner voice told me something was wrong, that I needed to find a way out. I tied to talk things through with my husband, there were times I was suspicious of him, he had had an affair when we were first married and I thought that what was wrong was that he didn't really love me, I thought he would be happier without me. I was tired of the many things that I felt he did to keep us poor, spending money unwisely and unwise business practices. I was tired of the deception, always feeling like there was something he was hiding. I thought that I could fix it by trying harder, being more devout, getting us all to go to church, going to therapy and talking until I was blue in the face but nothing seemed to work.

At first I tried to escape by getting into a relationship(ish) with another guy. That was not good, I felt too much guilt and I felt uneasy with the speed with which the other guy wanted to marry me. I broke that off, it lasted a month.

That was trying to escape and I didn't like that way out, it made me weaker as a person.

I reconciled with my husband and went back to trying to break things off in the "right" way.

Then he became more violent, then I found out what he had truly been hiding and that was the last straw.

I packed his things, I put them out for him to take them away and I stood firm as he begged and pleaded with me to take him back, that was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. Though unfortunately I did not have the resolve at that time to keep him from residing in some form or other in my home for the next few years, I was financially dependent on him and this had all happened right at the down turn in the economy so it was difficult to find work. I hated myself for my weakness, I wasn't protecting myself or my children and that caused me a lot of pain.

I had found a relationship with someone who lived on the other side of the world, he talked me through many things and became a good friend. We were really close and I went to see him (in Australia), we became engaged and then I went home. In this relationship I also felt trapped, and I felt like that was ridiculous because he lived so far away from me. I went to see him again to see if I could work out the dilemma I felt for myself, we had fun together but when I returned home again I felt something was wrong. It felt like the balance of power was out of control, he told me what I should do with my ex-husband and although I agreed I felt weak and unable to do what I knew was right so I felt continually in the wrong. I hated my weakness, I hated feeling out of control and I eventually broke it off.

Ironically I had found someone that loved and supported me over here, I met him at my work place and he was a really kind, though insecure guy. I had broken things off with my long distance relationship and then started up a relationship with this guy, but there was a struggle going on with one guy pleading for me to continue my relationship with him and then the other doing the same and then having the messy dependence on my ex-husband. It was all too much, it made me emotionally and physically sick, so eventually I ended everything with every guy in my life (as much as possible) and though my ex still came around causing me grief I had hardened my heart to his emotional abuse (mostly) and decided to move on.

So I did, I moved on. I dated several people and eventually found someone I admired and loved. We started a relationship, I moved my little family to his condo and we got married, BUT I was in school and wasn't really fully available because of that. There was a constant group text going with my MBA group and when I got off of work, I went to school, when I got done with school I came home and studied. I tired as much as I could to talk to my husband and get to know him but he was very private and paranoid. The situation really wasn't ideal for resolving misunderstandings because of the heavy pressure and exhaustion I felt so eventually we cracked. He cracked by accusing me of cheating, I felt that was so ironic because I had no inclination to cheat on him, I loved him, plus I had no time whatsoever to cheat. But nothing I did or said could convince him otherwise and our marriage ended.

It's been about a year now since he packed everything up and left, about 7 months since the divorce was finalized. I was devastated, I felt so empty inside, heartbroken and numb. I gathered up my pride and my things and did what I could to stave off the pain, unwisely I started dating again hoping to stem the loneliness. A mechanic friend helped me find an old beater car that has served me pretty well this past year, I lucked into a good deal on a condo that I was just able to afford, so I packed up my family and we left what had become a home full of ghosts for me.

There was one man who stepped into this painful and lonely world and did things for me that I could not, who brightened my day and helped me establish my home as it is now. He was not entirely truthful with me at the beginning however which has made me a bit uneasy and uncertain. I am happier because of his kindness but undecided about the long term.

I have never had the amount of stability that I have now, financially and emotionally. Yet I know that I need to be able to make the decisions in my relationships rather than be forced into them by circumstance or else I will never feel easy with myself or my situation, that is what I have learned. I need time to myself to think, I need time with my children to establish bonds that have been weak, I need enough money in the bank that I am not afraid of losing my home or of being dependent on someone else. I never want to make the mistake of not making a firm decision before moving on to a new relationship again though, that has never been good.

This is my understanding from the relationships that I have had and the life I have lived.

SG

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Writing challenge: If you were given the opportunity to appear in a talent show what would you perform?

If I were to appear in a talent show what would I perform... I suppose I am re-writing that sentence because I don't really have something off the top of my head that I would like to perform at a talent show. A lot of my talents are the specialized, organize and order things type of talents though I do also enjoy singing, writing and painting. 

To go back a step here let me just state that I have a goal to write more often and the way that I identified to get myself to write more is to use writing prompts. I have a list of them and I try to pull them out and work on the prompts on Mondays and Wednesdays. So with that cleared up I will continue on with this attempt.

If I seriously had to perform something I would really learn a song well... or a piece of poetry, that's always fun.

I especially like the works that Anne of Green Gables so famously read in the book. "The Lady of Shallot," or "The Highway Man." Anything with a bit of drama and pathos, or as Anne would say "Don’t you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back?"

As for songs, I really sing church songs well... but I don't often share that talent, I like to sing some of the Carpenter's songs, or jam out to The Manhattan Transfer's "Cool Cool Kitty." But I really haven't practiced just singing a song well, perhaps I need to do that. Just in case I am randomly called to perform in a talent show.

SG

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Coming to grips with mistakes

Accepting mistakes without becoming defensive is one thing I have struggled with my whole life. I hate to have the lens of attention shining down on me, revealing things that I may or may not know about. I'm very introspective so I often have discovered many things that I want to fix, areas where I could improve. When someone points these areas out it feels like an intrusion on my personal battle for perfection.

Because that is what it is, a battle to rid myself of all incompetency, to make myself the paragon of cleverness and intelligence that I've always wanted to be. Mistakes are like daggers that pierce that perception and when pointed out they pierce deeper and I become defensive.

Defensiveness is a shield that I hold up when I feel the sting of shame. I am ashamed when it is obvious that I have failed, I am ashamed when I make mistakes because mistakes feel like failure.

When I was young mistakes were signs of incompetence, of stupidity. There used to be harsh criticism for failure in my early home. There were times I spent frantically cleaning my room in the hope that the angry voice of rejection wouldn't turn towards me, it was a child's reaction to the unknown.

As an adult I can see that it was a story that I told myself to explain what was going on in my home. I can see the broader picture now because I have more life experience. The residual and innate responses remain, however as the author of my own story I now have the power to edit and re-frame what happened to me in the past. I can give the character of ME a new direction to take, I no longer have to follow the old script.

Mistakes are still painful at times, I am learning how to deal with the pain instead of holding up a defensive shield. I can accept the mistake and view it as the learning tool that it should be, giving me the opportunity to improve and giving me a chance to build a better relationship with others.

Defensiveness is distancing, it is putting a space between yourself and others to avoid hearing the painful thing that they are saying. So learning how to accept things without internalizing them is what I am learning to do, at work and at home.

Some may not have the same battle to fight, maybe this battle is less important an issue to others than it is to me, but I do feel grateful that I have had the time to come to this point in my life. That is all for now.

SG



Monday, October 2, 2017

Thoughts For My Children

Again I find my head full of things I wish I could say to my kids but I don't feel that it is the right time. It never seems to be the right time and they never seem to be in the right state of mind. I would rather not speak than to sound preachy which is something I tend to do when I talk to them.

I'm going through the process of defining my strengths and adopting a more positive attitude towards work and life. It is really easy to slip into negativity, especially when you don't feel good or you've had a hard day. Also it is easy to feel resentment towards other people at work if you feel like you have been passed by for a promotion or recognition. I've been in that frustrating mindset too often, it is a continual battle to be positive in the day to day grind, it is very easy for me to slip into a passive mode where I feel like I just need to put in my time and go home.

I want my kids to know that boredom with life is something to fight. Finding little bits of time to work on things that you like to do is important. It gives some meaning to life that you are developing your talents and enjoying life but that cannot be all there is to life, there is much more.

There is something in my character that abhors the wanton waste of things; of time, of talent, of people. I dislike mean spirited conversation, though sometimes I've caught myself in the middle of such. I feel like we are better off discussing things in an open and taciturn way, but not in a mocking or griping way, there is a balance and it is hard to achieve.

I believe in using the things we are given and not asking for more, coveting if you will, what we don't have.

I listened to a TED talk today by Emily Esfahani Smith titled, "There's More To Life Than Being Happy." She describes some things that we should seek beyond happiness, to seek meaning vs. happiness.

That there are 4 Pillars of a meaningful life:

1 Belonging - which comes from being in relationships where you are valued for who you are intrinsically and where you value others as well. Leading with love creates a bond that lifts each of you up.

2 Purpose - using your strengths to serve others. Purpose gives you something to live for, some why that drives you forward.

3 Transcendence - states where you are lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life. Your sense of self fades away and you are connected to a higher reality.

4 Story telling, the story you tell yourself about yourself. We are the authors of our stories and can change the way we are telling them. Your life is not just a list of events, you can edit, interpret and retell your story even as you are constrained by the facts. People leading meaningful lives tend to tell stories about their lives defined by redemption, growth and love. You can change your story by reflecting on your life thoughtfully. How your defining experiences shaped you, what you lost, what you gained. Changing your story won't happen over night it can take years and be painful. Embracing those painful memories can lead to new insights and wisdom, to find that 'good' that sustains you.

Emily then goes on to describe how her life was filled with the 4 pillars of meaning as a child through her parents practice of Sufism which "is the selfless experiencing and actualization of the Truth. The practice of Sufism is the intention to go towards the Truth, by means of love and devotion. This is called the tarigat, the spiritual path or way towards God. The sufi is one who is a lover of Truth, who by means of love and devotion moves towards the Truth, towards the perfection which all are truly seeking."

This is a practice that I am unfamiliar with as an organization but which sounds like something I want to know more about since I love learning about different ideas.

Emily's talk rang very true to me. I used to look up at the darkening sky and find the first star. Then my wish was always to be happy. I felt like it was a goal, a state of being that I could achieve if only I incorporated the right ingredients into my life. And yes it was an elusive goal that left me feeling more depressed as it seemed so unattainable.

It is better to make peace with life, to admit that you have limitations but to seek to use what you do have to achieve the greatest effect. I dislike the idea of searching for "meaning" as an endless quest to find out "why things are as they are," but rather I find that the idea of searching for meaning is to seek to do meaningful things, to be involved and engaged with the people around you, which can take great effort.

As an introvert, being involved and engaged can take a lot of energy. So I acknowledge that limitation in myself, and am forthright in letting other people know that I need time to recharge. It means engaging when I can and being as positive as I can in my engagement with others. Because really, there is so little time and so much to gain from learning about others and being thoughtful towards them.

Well this has about wiped me out for the night. I've stayed up too late again and disengaged a bit to spend this time writing my thoughts down. Someday I hope that I can share my thoughts with my children. If I never find the time to speak them out loud to them, then may they find my words later on and find wisdom in them.

SG



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Common Sense

I wish it was easier for me to talk to my kids. Sometimes I'm very concerned about the choices they are making and I would like to talk to them about it, share my life experiences, but I end up tongue tied.

For instance, was introduced to a new way of thinking about monogamy, or actually it is an old way to think about it, from the book "Assassin's Apprentice."

"Soldiers and sailors whore around. It's a common way for common folk. But not for royalty. Or for anyone with a bit of pride... It's fine to fall in love, Fitz, and no one begrudges a young woman or man a kiss or two... Traders bring pretty girls or well made youths to the market like so many chickens or so many potatoes. And the children they end up bearing may have names, but they don't have much else. And even when they marry, they don't stop their habits. If ever I find the right woman, I'll want her to know I won't be looking at another. And I'll want to know all my children are mine"

So in order to preserve your pride and to give your children a good upbringing you must be able to have self-control and temperance in your habits. Self respect and pride in yourself and your potential family.

This explanation is a less loaded than the religious explanation of "purity" as a reason for temperate behavior. In the one it is a matter of worthiness before "god" in the other a matter of worthiness of self and explanation for right behavior.

Following the rule of temperance due to self respect lends nobility to your actions, following the rule of "purity before god" lends an air of self righteous judgement to your actions. One is easy to defend, you have self respect and wish for a good life outcome. In the other the reasons may be the same but are harder to defend because the rationality is different.

I think that many things taught within religious scripts are good things but they obscure the essence of the thing making it a matter of following the rules set forth by an invisible god, rather than understanding that following certain rules or patterns of behavior will bring greater success than not.

Follow common sense principles to achieve success not a place in heaven. That certainly makes sense to me.

SG





Monday, September 11, 2017

Acknowledging That Writing is Hard

It is hard, trying to force ideas to come is difficult if not impossible at times. I think that the best way for me to generate ideas is to keep a notebook with me. When something comes to me I will write it down, this is something I have done in the past but if I don't take the time to transcribe my thoughts onto the computer then they will be lost to me in the pages of a notebook.

I do need to find balance, I want to be able to relax with my family and friends but I need to somehow carve out some time to write, otherwise I won't ever develop my talent in writing.

So yes, writing is hard but I want to learn, I've wanted to learn for a long time...

SG

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Writing Assignment: The worst hotel I've stayed in

I've had a few chances to stay in hotels throughout the years and I've gotten used to them I suppose. They are sterile, with their generic artwork, industrial carpet, stiff sheets and pillows. Of course there's usually the obligatory air-conditioner under thick blinds that spews out frigid air scented with a twinge of cigarette smoke from previous guests who thought they could get away with smoking in the room. 

Generically hotel rooms are somewhat unpleasant. 

We stayed in a little podunk hotel in Kanab this summer, the shower and toilet were in a separate space from the sink, which was a result of poor design by the builders I think. The outside was designed to fit the historical image of American Trans-continental hostelry with fake wooden beams that were glued and tacked onto the outside of the place. The room was tiny, two full-sized beds masquerading as queen sized beds, set side by side in a space not much larger than the waiting room of a doctors office. They somehow managed a dresser with the obligatory television and mini refrigerator that whined in the middle of the night waking me from my uneasy sleep. The door was right up against the parking lot so we really depended on the thick curtains to protect our privacy. We didn't plan well for our overnight stay, so there we were, we made the best of it. 

A rather unexpected hotel was the one we stayed at in Ireland. We got off the plane in Dublin and exhausted, looked forward to finding a place to relax. My cousin Kathy was the one who had made all the travel arrangements so we trusted in her plan. Well off the plane, we hoped on a bus which took us down to the middle of Dublin where we un-boarded onto the thoroughfare. According to Kathy we were quite close to the hotel so we gathered our luggage as best we could and followed her like ducks in a row through the cobblestone lined streets of Dublin. Our luggage clacked along behind us as we went, jarring our arms and vibrating up into our heads. We passed through several intersections and our guide Kathy had us walking up one street and down another until we reached a door in the middle of an alleyway just past a small convenience store and across from a cafe. She pressed the buzzer under the glowing yellow sign emblazoned with a bumble bee and a voice on the other end told us to enter through the door that buzzed and clicked letting us know it had been unlocked. 

We opened up to narrow lobby and we all jammed in as best we could, a few were left out in the alley while our fearless leader discussed our rooms with the clerk in the lobby. After things were settled we made our way to a tiny elevator where a few jammed in and others waited to be taken up to our room. An accented voice declared which floor we had arrived on and with a ding we were let out of the death trap of an elevator. 

We arrived in a narrow hall and stairway, and followed that down until we found our rooms which ended up being rather like a small apartment, quite different than the hotels we were used to in the States. I found the corner of a dark room to unpack and freshen up and we all met together in the living room area which was next to a tiny kitchen and balcony. 

We all ended up really enjoying the view from our 3rd story window out over the middle of Dublin. We could see the university and the river and at night we heard the frequenters of the local bars singing, we might have imagined that last bit... ;)

In any case, this is my reminiscence from our trip, hotels in general are the same but sometimes you can be surprised. 

SG 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Books I want...

Dresden Files
Storm Front
Fool Moon
Grave Peril
Summer Knight
Death Masks
Blood Rites
Dead Beat
Proven Guilty
White Night
Small Favor
Turn Coat
Changes
Ghost Story
Cold Days
Skin Games

Brandon Sanderson Books

The Stormlight Archive
Mistborn
Elantris
Steelheart
Warbreaker
The Rithmatist

Riyria Chronicles

The Crown Tower
The Rose and the Thorn
The Death of Dulgath
Theft of Swords (contains The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha)
Rise of Empire (contains Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm)
Heir of Novron (contains Wintertide and Percepliquis)

Riyria Revelations

The Crown Tower
The Rose and the Thorn
The Death of Dulgath
Theft of Swords (contains The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha)
Rise of Empire (contains Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm)
Heir of Novron (contains Wintertide and Percepliquis)