About Me

My photo
I am an amateur writer, just getting my feet wet. Blogging for me will be a launching point to get some solid writing done leading up to the eventual completion of the book that hides inside of me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Learning to Let Go

There comes a time when there is so much going on: work, home, kids, school, sports, finances, bills, extended family etc. that we can feel overwhelmed. We want to control it all, put everything in its own compartment and deal with it ourselves.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be responsible for your own life. To want to handle your own problems with no outside help. But when that thought process causes stress, mood swings, depression and/or eating disorders you see where it can truly be unhealthy.
So what to do?
Take a step back and reassess priorities and learn to let go.
Sound easy? No, not at all. But could it be? Yes! With practice.
Several years ago – more than I care to mention – I was made to attend classes based on the popular work model and teaching series by Franklin Covey “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. At the time I was bored out of my skull! Learning catch phrases such as “Think Win-Win”, “Put First Things First” & “Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern”
When I attended the classes I was strictly focused on job/career goals and once the classes were over much of what I learned evaporated like water on a hot sidewalk. Or so I thought.
Recently, due to issues in my life, I have found that some of those classes were not actually wasted time.
That’s where this handy dandy chart comes in.

Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern. The content of everyone’s circles are different of course. But, everyone has them. You will notice the Circle of Influence is much smaller than the Circle of Concern, and for good reason. Let me explain with some personal insights of my own.

Within the last few months I have had several (translated meaning more than two), so called friends make it pretty clear to me that I am not worth their time or effort to continue our friendships.
One was my best friend from high school. We had met up again after (ahem) more than 10 years. We met a couple of times for dinners, reminisced and seemed to hit it off all over again. The last time I saw her we made plans to get together for a night of beer and shooting pool. I have not heard from her since even after several attempts to contact her.
I had another friend who I was walking with on a fairly regular basis, we tried for twice a week but life got in the way and we were lucky to make it once a week. She left on vacation and promised to call me when she returned and we would continue our walks, maybe even meet for dinner. Yep, you guessed it, not a word. It’s been two months. I left her a message that was never returned and thanks to social networking I know she’s back and having plenty of fun with other friends.
I have other examples of people that have not felt compelled to continue including me in their lives due to circumstances that I have not been privileged to know. One going so far as deleting me as a friend on FB (I wonder if that will ever stop sounding juvenile), without as much as a goodbye. When I contacted them to see why I received the standard “It’s me not you” response. Which may be true but stings none the less. And all this in about a three to four month time span.
So, what do I do? At first I pout, feel sorry for myself. Wonder what it is about me that seems to repel people. I get angry at the inconsiderate behavior of supposed adults not to mention supposed friends. But then I stop and remember what I learned all those years ago. These situations are not within my Circle of Influence. These people have minds of their own, consciences they have to live with, and circles of their own to deal with. Yes, they are (or were) in my Circle of Concern but at one point in my wallowing I mistakenly thought they fell under my influence. That I could take control of the situations and change them somehow. Wrong! Yes I cared, too much in some instances, but no amount of caring could change any of their minds. Thus, no influence. I had to let the situations go for my own sanity sake. So I focus on where I do have influence which is within myself, knowing how I treat people, and being sure I treat them as well if not better than I want to be treated.
My children are another example. When they were younger they overlapped both my Circles of Influence and Concern. Bedtime, bath time, when and what to eat, on and on. I cared and was able to influence their lives. But, as they get older they literally get too big to be in my small Circle of Influence. They will never be out of my Circle of Concern but as they start making their own decisions my influence wanes and lessens. My concern becomes the hope that when I did have influence I helped them be able to make wise choices.
I cannot tell you how freeing this way of thinking has been for me. When I can look at any situation that comes up in my life and ask, “Can I influence this in anyway?” and make my decisions based on that answer, it changes everything!
So why are the circles so different in size? Look at it this way. If you have a big heart, you are going to care about so much in the world. But in reality, there is usually very little you can do to influence most of it. Yes, you can help, but the final outcome is not within your control. You do what you can, but let go once you have. You will find after time that we don’t have as much influence in our lives as we might think we do. And while we don’t give up on the things that concern us, when push comes to shove, we can choose to focus on the things we have actual control over.
That is what I have chosen to do for me.

Sources: www.franklincovey.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Conspiracy Theories

When I first started writing this blog I was going to focus on some of the labels people wear in regards to their ideals. Labels such as: Birthers, Truthers, Progressives, Liberals, Conservatives, Conspiracy Theorists, and on and on. Does anyone really fall completely under any one banner? I know I don’t. I am not one who believes that US government had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. But, I do think that the stigma surrounding the Presidents origin of birth would be easily put to rest if a validated birth certificate could or would be made public. To me, if you have nothing to hide and are truly a US born citizen what is so difficult about that? Why is that kept such a tight security secret? Is it a conspiracy?
I never thought of myself as a conspiracy theorist. I didn’t think I fit the “mold”. They’re nut jobs after all…aren’t they? Conceiving of and believing in all sorts of crazy notions. Rational, sane people don’t buy into such nonsense…do they?
Are those that lean toward belief in conspiracy theories weak? Or are they actually stronger for going against the grain of main stream thought regardless of the back lash that is sure to ensue?
So, then I got to wondering what makes people believe in a particular conspiracy theory? Is it a general distrust of government that makes people feel they are being continually lied to by those in power? And, how do you know who to believe in regards to these theories?
For everyone that believes in Alex Jones there are more that think he’s a couple cards short of a full deck. Glenn Beck has as many people blindly following him as does Al Gore.
I know that there are people in this world who are perfectly happy thinking everything  they hear on TV is real and not try to determine on their own if a story is true or not. These same people are satisfied believing what Hollywood actors would tell them to do, not realizing for a moment how far removed from reality they actually are, instead of doing their own homework and researching facts.
Case in point; how many people believed US Weekly or Time Magazine when they erroneously picked up a story stating that Sarah Palin wanted Christina Aguilera to be deported because she flubbed the National Anthem before the Super Bowl? Or when Fox Nation reported as real an Onion article regarding a 75,000 word email a frustrated Obama supposedly penned to the American people?
Now, I have never believed Paul McCartney dead or Elvis still alive. But, I wouldn’t put it past people with too much medical knowledge to think they know what is best for me and my family by forcing us to be vaccinated against a disease whose numbers have been artificially inflated and manipulated to make it appear there is an epidemic in order to increase their influence over us.
And while I don’t believe that our government actually caused 9/11, I may be inclined to believe that a government full of itself and under the influence of rich financial bankers with an agenda to say one thing to our face yet strive for something else in back room deals.
The number of conspiracy theories swirling around is wide and varied as the stars in heaven. There is at least one conspiracy theory for almost every major event that has happened in the past 75-100 years:
·         The Federal Reserve – Established in 1913 was designed to transfer wealth from the poor and middle classes of the United States to the international bankers of the New World Order.
·         Creation of Diseases – Claims have been made that AIDS is a man-made disease. Created as a tool of genocide or population control.
·         Area 51 – Alleges that this Air Force Base in Nevada has participated in the storage, examination, and reverse engineering of crashed alien space craft.
·         Pearl Harbor – That the attack on the port in Hawaii in 1941 was not a surprise. That President Franklin D Roosevelt was aware of the risk of an attack by the Japanese but ordered the information kept quiet in order to pump up public opinion in favor of the US entering WWII.
·         Man walks on the moon – It is believed by some that the Apollo landings were staged in a Hollywood movie studio.
·         Assassinations – Conspiracy theories abound on the subject of the assassinations of John F, Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
·         Celebrities – Stories of intrigue still surround the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Sam Cooke, Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Bob Marley, John Lennon and even Michael Jackson.
Just to name a few.
So, who do you believe and why? Better yet, what’s true and how do we know?
What gauges do you use to determine the validity of a news story? What do you go by to decide what issues (conspiracies) you believe and which ones you chalk up as hype?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

This is a re-post of a blog I posted on Myspace a few years ago, updated and edited to make it current...

The popular song written by Scottish poet Robert Burns is sung every New Year’s Eve at midnight.  Ringing in the New Year and remembering the one just passed.  The internet is filled with definitions and translations to what Burns meant by his words. 

According to one article written by Stephen Lynch: "The song recalls the days gone by and says we will always remember them. ``Should auld acquaintance be forgot?'' it asks. No, the chorus replies: ``For auld lang syne (for times gone by), we'll tak (drink) a cup o' kindness yet.''

I had the distinct pleasure of being in Glasgow, Scotland several years ago and celebrated Burns Night with some very special friends. The evening was complete with bagpipes, kilts and haggis (yes I ate it, yes I liked it). I will recall that time for the rest of my life.

So, what does this song mean to you?  Have you ever given it any thought?  To me it means that we will not only NOT forget the old times but will remember them fondly (preferably with drink in hand).  So it seems appropriate to sing this song at the transition period from one year to the next.

Of course we can thank Guy Lombardo for that tradition.  Starting in 1929 Mr. Lombardo and his orchestra played the dreamy tune at the turn of midnight.  Giving people pause and bringing tears to the eyes of partying revelers. 

This year as I hear the song it will remind me of the year that's past and help me look forward to the year to come.  That means looking at both good and bad and expecting the same in 2011.  But all the time remembering the love that I have been given and people that I have been blessed with knowing and loving in return.

In reading a more recent article on the translation of the song I ran across the final verse that touched me. I would like to share it here, both in the original words of Robert Burns and then translated.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we'll take a deep draught of good-will
For long, long ago.

And in keeping with my Celtic background click start…sit back, relax and enjoy...Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yes, It Is All About Me!

“You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you Don't you? Don't you?” – Carly Simon
Do you know someone who is so self-absorbed that when all hell is breaking loose all they worry about is how it affects them personally? Someone who, when approached for understanding turns the conversation toward themselves? This person is, on some level, most likely suffering from Narcissism.

Yeah, I had to look it up too. Narcissism is a personality trait. It is defined as someone who is egotistical, vane, conceited or just plain selfish. But my belief is that is goes beyond simple selfishness. We all have times in our lives when we want the spotlight shining on us. Be it because of something wonderful or even something horrible that has happened, we want to be noticed. To have people pay specific attention to us. What makes the narcissist different is their complete lack of empathy. That is the inability to understand another's situation or feelings.

The word narcissism comes from Greek mythology. According to Wikipedia, “Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who had never seen his reflection. The story goes that the nymph Echo had been punished by Hera for gossiping and was cursed to forever "have the last word". Echo had seen Narcissus walking through the forest and wanted to talk to him, but because of the curse she wasn't able to speak first. Narcissus became thirsty and stopped to take a drink and saw his reflection in the water for the first time. Not knowing any better, he fell in love and started talking to it. Echo had been following him and started repeating the last thing he said. Not yet understanding reflections, Narcissus thought his reflection was speaking to him and became more engaged. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away at the pool and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.” So in that vein the narcissist is truly in love with him/herself, unable to truly see anything or anyone else around them.

It’s incredibly difficult to have a personal conversation with someone who suffers from this type of personality trait. To tell them about your day opens them up to regaling you of the latest tragedy happening in their life. No matter what pain you have suffered theirs will ultimately be worse and definitely more important than anything that could possibly be happening to you.

A conversation with a narcissist may go something like this….
“Hey, my mom is really sick.”
“Really? Did you know I was adopted?”
“Yeah, you told me that. Looks like my mom may have to have surgery.”
“Bummer, I never knew my real mom. They say she died giving birth to me.
“I know, you’ve said that before. Would you like to go with me and visit my mom in the hospital?”
“Maybe. I overheard my adopted mom telling someone that my real mom might still be alive. How cool would that be?”
“Yeah, real cool.”

I have had the not-so-wonderful privilege of being friends with a number of people like this, both men and women. I don’t know if it was because my self esteem was so low that I was just glad to have this person as my friend or if I actually found some redeeming quality in them. Most likely it was because it was like watching a real-life soap opera, listening to all the gory details of their latest dating disaster or family problem. Or possibly even an escape from my own boring life. But as with any type of drama it got old and the stories started sounding the same only with different names and faces.

People who are narcissists, I believe, aren’t truly bad people. The ones I have known have been generally nice and even fun to hang out with. Heck, they tell the best stories! I only wonder if they knew how they dominated conversations, and if they did, did it help them feel better? I’m sure if I had been able to dig deeper I would have found the reason they felt they had to be that way. Why they craved so much attention that if they had to they would make up stories to keep people engaged.

It used to really bother me. Honestly believing that my life was dull and uneventful. Now I find them rather sad. What do they do when there is no one around to draw in? When the party is over and everyone goes home. When there is no one left to listen.

So I ask again, do you know anyone like this? Do you think this blog is about you?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election Fall-Out

The election is finally over!
The dust is settling in most states while a few await the news of their final counts, possibly even the beginning of lengthy legal battles.

I’ve been watching and reading what both sides have to say about the outcome. Democrats want to downplay their losses while Republicans seem to want to make more of their wins, significant as they were, than really took place. No real surprise there. Of course this is only my opinion.

What is truly troubling me is this…will the two parties ever really be able to work together? I read two separate interviews with Democrat Harry Reid after his win on Tuesday. The first said “I think the main message that we should have received last night ... is that the people of Nevada and the American people want us to work together,” The other stated, “Harry Reid, however, fresh off his own hard-fought reelection, indicates his unwillingness to bend...So what is it going to be? They haven’t even started working yet and he is already unwilling? Doesn’t sound promising does it? Then there is Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and presumed new Speaker of the House John Boehner. Here is what McConnell had to say about working with Obama, “In a sign that combat and the 2012 elections rather than compromise could mark the next two years..."While Boehner stated, “And to the extent he (Obama) is willing to do this, (speaking of abiding by the will of the people) "we are ready to work with him." So again I ask what is it going to be? (All emphasis mine)

While I agree that both parties have issues that, due to their platforms, compromise is not an option, isn’t it short sighted to go into a new political season with your agenda set and your feet planted for a fight? I would also agree that I would not want any Republican, least of all a conservative Republican, to go to their job agreeing to help further Obama’s liberal agenda as it is. We have seen that it’s not working. I would hope that there could be enough give and take on both sides to at least get something done for the betterment of the country. After all, isn’t that why they are there? Isn’t that why a majority put their faith in them in the first place?

The bickering, back-biting and just plain anger must stop or Congress will be in an endless state of deadlock. Explain to me how that is any good for the people. I refuse to believe that some common ground on issues such as jobs and economic recovery can’t be found. These are supposed to be highly educated, intelligent people. Why can they not use the common sense they were given and act like the adults they are rather than toddlers fighting in a sandbox at a daycare center?

I for one am tired of it and would rather fire each and every single one of them and start over than to have to listen to another 2 years of he said/she said in regards to why nothing is getting done.

For the record as a conservative I am happy with the results of the evening. I just believe much more has to be done in order to make Washington DC a working city again.

Sources: Las Vegas Sun, New American, The Huffington Post, CBS News

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Villainization of the Human Race

Something has been going on for a while and I'm wondering if I'm the only one who has noticed it. I have seen on no less than two separate TV shows a reference to the atrocities of man with someone shaking their head in wonder of how bad the race as a whole is.

I call it the “Villainization of the Human Race.” What it basically boils down to is the way some talk about humans as if they are the worst thing that could have happened to our planet. Yes, that's people saying that the world would be better if "we" weren't in it. Better for whom?

The argument has been made over and over again that people, human beings, mankind, whatever label you want to put on "us" are the cause of wars, famine, climate change, air pollution and so on and so forth. Some of this is true in theory but let me try to put it in a bit of perspective.

“Man causes air pollution which in turn causes climate change.” This is not a blog to bash those that believe in climate change. That's up for you to decide and live by accordingly. What I want to hopefully show is that "nature" causes climate change all on her own. Yes, mankind may have contributed to it but so did...the domestic animal population. Did you know that this population has grown 0.5 to 2.0 percent PER YEAR during the last century alone? This statistic covers animals such as sheep, goats, camels, cattle, and buffalo. These animal types give off methane emissions when their food is broken down in one of the 4 chambers of their stomach and is combined with bacteria, a natural process.

Methane gas emissions have also been found significantly in the wetlands of Canada, Russia and the Arctic as well as rice paddies in Asia. Again, this happens naturally from bacteria that are found in these areas. So, while we as humans do contribute to this trend there is nothing to stop it from occurring in nature.

“Humans are responsible for the extinction of animals and plant life.” A less popular message is that since 1973 and the passage of the Endangered Species Act thousands of animal species have been saved due to conservation efforts. Many more plants species have also been saved due to education and replanting all over the world. This replanting has been done by people.

“Man is a violent creature.” There is no doubt that mankind has been fighting almost since day one. Humans have been known to fight over territory, dominance over others, in the name of justice and even in the name of love.

Social hierarchy is documented in many animal species to establish dominance and to establish mating rights among the dominate males. The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep are well known for their long curled horns and epic, sometimes bloody battles. Elephants are also known for fighting for their chosen mate but usually inflict less injury. Lions of course fight for both territory and food. Males will challenge intruders often fighting to the death with the victor taking over dominance of the territory and the pride while females will fight off other females. Even animals that you would not think of as violent, such as rabbits, have been reported as fighting to the death over territory. So while war and fighting is not a pretty, happy thought, it is a part of nature.

Lastly, what about the good that mankind has done? We have discovered ways to plant food where it couldn’t be planted, aiding starving nations; found ways of re-routing water to provide it for drought laden areas. Penicillin, and medicines for treating cancer has been discovered by people. Inventions such as the light bulb, electricity, cars and yes even the internet have come out of the brain of man. Not to mention movies and music! So while we have our moments of stupidity, lack of control, jealousy and greed, man as a whole is a wonder to behold. To be able to think, to work at and solve a complex problem of any kind, to love and be loved. I can’t see any reason that the world would be better off without us. Can you?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do You Know Me?

Just how well do you know your online friends? I'm talking about the ones you have never or may never meet.

You may talk to them via your social network of choice. You may have seen pictures of them and their families. But do you really know them?
You may have been corresponding with them via email for years and never heard the sound of their voice.

Can you know, really know, someone who you have not had face to face contact with?

Do they talk with a lisp, or have an accent of some kind, or if maybe have a nervous twitch?

Would they look you in the eye when they talked? Do they throw their head back or politely cover their mouth when they laugh?

Are they the kind of person that smells so good their scent lingers in a room after they are gone? Do they get a mischievous twinkle in their eye when they are telling a joke with a straight face?

For instance, did you know that I talk with my hands? Well, I do. I've been told it's called speaking demonstratively, if that's even a word. I have also been told it's the sign of a creative mind, I don't know if that's true or not. I do know if I sit on my hands while having a conversation with someone it's incredibly difficult for me to form a complete sentence. Ask anyone who has seen me speak in public how I can't keep my hands still when I speak. Would that drive you crazy if we ever actually met?

There is obviously nothing wrong with online friends. I have lots. Several that someday I would love to meet. But I wonder just how well we really know each other. And better yet, would we still be friends if we had met "in real life" first.

My point is this...our little "quirks" are part of our make-up. A real part of who/what we are. Do you truly know someone if you don't know their quirks? And would meeting them, quirks and all, make a difference in your friendship?

Share on Facebook