RePaint Your Lips

Why do we hedge ourselves in? Trapping ourselves in teeny little boxes until we cannot even lift our heads to grow toward the sun, see the sky, or feel our own soul?

Why do we believe the lies swarming in our faces, plugging our ears until we cannot hear our own voices?

The way to know life is to love many things. – Vincent Van Gogh

We are more than one thing, one emotion, one desire, one purpose, one joy.

We don’t need to wonder why we are hollow. Why we are suffocating.

Pick up your own paintbrush, pen, instrument, keyboard, whatever – and repaint, rewrite your own vision.

Stand up. Throw your box in the recycling bin. Live.

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Open Up

Some people will tell you, you’re not enough, not worthy.

They are wrong.

You are beautiful. You are good enough.

Open up. Be vulnerable, even if you get hurt. Don’t sign yourself up for getting hurt. But don’t close yourself off from everything real because it risks the sting of a broken heart.

You have an undeniable boatload of potential.

You are eons of life stuffed into a small carry on that people want to stuff in a box and ignore. They’re afraid you’re brilliant.

Be brilliant. Be you.

What Do You Want?

I don’t want to be someone who, at the end of their life, regrets not having lived.

I don’t want to go to my grave filled with shame and guilt and woe.

I don’t want to live my life as a woman who allows her challenges and demons to decide her mood and daily choices.

I don’t want each day to be filled with rigid rules created by societal judgy-ness, resentment, and jealousy.

I want to be able to breathe. To feel my own two feet on the ground and know they and my Higher Power can and will support me – if I trust, believe, have faith, if I have hope. Not just in God but in myself.

I often forget about that part.

To believe in myself.

We can wake up and, instead of dreading the coming day, choose joy. Hope.

We can take responsibility for how we feel and how we shape our lives.

This seems overwhelming at times. But baby steps are how we win at every day, every moment.

We are strong enough.

We are good enough.

We can make simple changes in habitual thinking patterns, morning routines, after-work routines, relationships (with others and ourselves), our self image, and so on.

I want so much more out of life.

And so it’s up to me to do something constructive about that. To work toward it.

Today, I hope you know this isn’t a pointless existence. That the humdrum bustle and stress, the rat race and cruel jokes of fate – they aren’t all there is.

As Walt Whitman said,

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large — I contain multitudes.”

We are so much more. We can have so much more.

Our potential for joy and motivation, change and growth in a direction we crave – what we truly desire – it is lying dormant, waiting for our embrace.

I choose more.

What about you? What choices are you making? Because we mustn’t forget that not choosing, is a choice.

Love Letter

Whatever you feel you cannot overcome, you can.

Whatever you feel you can’t survive, you will.

Whatever you feel makes you weak, can make you strong.

Whatever you fear makes you unlovable, makes you human and relatable.

Whatever challenge in your life feels like it will never end, it will.

Whatever or whoever has left you feeling empty and hopeless and broken and incapable of picking yourself back up so that you can keep going… it doesn’t matter what or who it is, they cannot win. Because you are so much more than who you were yesterday, then what you feel in this moment. You are so much more than your fears for tomorrow and the anxieties that you wake up to.

It does matter how afraid you are. How filled with worry you are. How much pressure you feel. It does matter that you feel terrified to fail, to let someone down, to let yourself down. It does matter that you feel alone or empty or broken.

Everything you feel matters.

But what you feel is what you feel. Your emotions are not your identity.

Do you notice yourself thinking, “I am angry”? That’s not accurate. You are who you are. You feel anger. That anger does not define you.

So when you feel broken. You are not broken. You are simply resting and recovering and grieving and preparing. You are growing stronger, gaining new experience, learning what does not work, building an extra layer of skin.

Every time you feel like you cannot keep going, you can.

I am not saying it will be easy. I am not saying there are any magic words that will take all the pain away and make you feel strong and in control and “all together”.

What I’m saying is, stay true to yourself. If you feel exhausted, you have the right to feel exhausted. Allow yourself to feel that. But it doesn’t define who you are. It’s simply defines what you’re in the process of overcoming.

Do you ever take a look at what you’ve already overcome? At the situations and relationships and challenges in life that you thought were impossible or would never end? You’re here now. You overcame them. They ended.

You can do this.

You can fight for the life, the job, the relationships, the identity you want.

But you have to believe you deserve it. I’m here to tell you that you do. You deserve all the beauty this world has to offer you.

But you also deserve all the suffering it has to offer to you. Because there’s no way for us to get strong if there is no pain involved. There is no growth if some part of us does not grow old and stagnant and die.

There is no rebirth if part of us doesn’t die first.

The pain will end. You will continue to get stronger. You can find a way to navigate this life and still enjoy it.

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Woe Is Me

Just kidding. It’s not going to be that kind of post. Thank heaven, right?

Every time I go online I read about how terrible the past year was. I remember reading the same thing last year. I might have even agreed last year.
My sister said something to this effect a few weeks ago – about how everyone she’s talking to is upset over how terrible the past year has been.
This got me thinking.

 

We tend to focus on all the misery in our lives. It’s certainly easier to find. All you have to do is wake up and feel, experience, let in the morning and something negative is bound to get in.
But how often do we search for the positive?

Our brains certainly like going about things the easy way.
Routine.
So if we constantly focus (whether on purpose or subconsciously) on the negative, then our brain’s shorthand shoves a homing beacon in everything negative and keeps a close eye on it.

 

The latter end of this year, I really got to work on paying attention to what I focused on, where my brain wondered to, what I looked for in situations.

Now, I’m not saying that bad things don’t happen and negativities aren’t nakedly apparent in our society today.
What I am saying is that what we focus on is what’s going to grow. Literally.
If we go looking for negatives and horrid things about our daily lives, that’s what we’re going to find.
Don’t worry – if we don’t go searching for them, they won’t pack up and go away.
Trust me.

But the downside to focusing on the negative is that we will miss all the good stuff this life has to offer.
And there is so much beauty in this world to be noticed.

 

The past year brought me a lot of self-awareness, to name one great thing.

What about you?
What good things did the year 2018 bring you?

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Have Courage, Little Duckling

Ducks appear to be effortlessly still.

Flawlessly gliding from one end of the pond to the other.

Behind the curtains, past what the common observer can see, beneath the water, those ducks’ feet are moving intensely fast. Webbed feet paddling quicker than would be expected compared to the relatively peaceful vision of the fluffy duck above water, floating on the water’s surface.

Beneath the surface, there is no calm. In order to keep moving forward, ducks are in constant motion, unbeknownst to the casual observer.

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Ducklings imprint on the first thing they see upon hatching. Their imprinting can also be modified by who they spend their childhood with.

And when I say anything, I mean it. They’ve been known to imprint of dogs, humans, and random objects.

First thing they see is fair game, human, animal, vegetable, mineral.

Okay, I have no idea if they actually imprint on vegetables or minerals, but it sounded good.

 

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Ducks look like they’re not expending any energy. As if they are just there, capable of being on top of the water without doing anything. Without action, work, without mess.

People are a lot like ducks. Little ducklings, in particular. Regardless of what age.

 

There is an unnumberable amount of character and identity to each person which we cannot see. 

We’re often counseled to treat people kindly because we don’t know what horrible things they’re dealing with in their lives.

I know it sounds trite or cliche. But if you think about it, a lot of the important things in life have become little more than a mockery of its original magnificence. 

You don’t know what’s going on in my life any more than I know what’s going on in your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t have to slit our chests open and allow everyone we pass on the street to peer into our everything.

But a little compassion goes a long way. We’d do best not to judge the bigot, the hateful person, the naive child brainwashed and clueless to it.

They all have their stories. They all have their hurts and trials and successes. If they aren’t given a chance to wake up and better themselves, they’ll grow further into blindness and solidify the walls keeping them hard and untouched by others outside their own skin.

 

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We don’t choose how we grow up. As a young child, we can’t choose our nature or nurture, our atmosphere or experiences.

And the parents who “messed us up”? Their parents messed them up. Pain is a family disease, passed on from generation to generation. Ducklings, blind following the blind. No clue that their eyes are duct taped shut.

The only thing we can choose (and this one goes for the young as well as the old) is how we deal with what comes our way. We can choose our temperament. To become open-minded. To listen to others instead of coming up with ways to counter and win over or prove wrong what they’re saying once they’re finished speaking. We can choose to be optimistic, empathetic, courageous, and to never give up. Regardless of what or who life throws at us.

Because believe you me, life is going to throw some nastiness your way, some rock walls slick with the blood of the dead and conquered, that you then have to scale with bare hands. Gun to your head. Do it or die.

Life doesn’t play fair. You can.

That’s what life basically boils down to. A series of small choices every day, feeding each other until they form who we are, who we’re choosing (whether consciously or unconsciously) to become.

 

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We cannot see anything but what’s above water in people’s lives. There is much more happening in the moments and hours and days and years we are not privy to.

If there is a person in your life with a bad attitude or an obvious shrowd of ignorance, keep in mind they’ve probably been raised by someone with similar beliefs. Children are little more than brainwashed at the start. Little ducklings imprinting on whoever they are around and absorbing their beliefs, without realizing they’re doing it.

It takes a while for our brains to fully develop. For nature and nurture, environment and disposition, to allow us to “wake up” and become aware that there are other ways of living, believing, etc.

And if we choose someone unhealthy to be our role model, it becomes even harder to wake up.

This doesn’t have an age limit. Sometimes it takes people well into their fifties to realize that they’ve been living in the same unhealthy cycle of behaviors, habits, conditioned beliefs, and ways of living, that they were brought up in. And often times hated, proclaiming they’d never become their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on. Denial is a powerful thing. So is imprinting. 

As children, we want to emulate our parents. We cannot outgrow that urge for their acceptance unless we are aware of what we’re doing.

 

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I’m not saying that people cannot outgrow their childhood. We absolutely can. That’s the whole point! But when did we feel safest? When did we feel it was okay to peel back layers of dead skin from around our throat and examine our behaviors and beliefs, and how we got them?

When do we feel it’s safe to analyze our life?

When we feel accepted, either by ourselves or others.

If someone is throwing stones at a person, they’re in defense mode. They’ve got no time to examine themselves. They’re too busy finding fault with their “attacker”, finding ways to destroy said attackers so they’ll be safe.

If we want to create an environment where people can “wake up”, where people can learn to see a little differently, to feel a little more widely, to open their hearts and minds to a wider picture understanding – then we need to be kind.

No one is going to pause in the middle of the battlefield to check to see what their feet are doing beneath the water they don’t even know they’re swimming in. They’re simply going to get on with it the only ways they know how and move forward. For better or for worse.

 

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We can grow, adapt, change. But not if we are choking on hateful backlash. We need to remember our own mistakes. Remember that we’re all human and we all deserve a chance.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to give people a free pass to treat you like their own personal mean girl assistant or doormat.

Having courage is different from beating someone down and standing on their throat.

By all means, put the powerful arrogant and joyfully cruel in their place. Just remember their place isn’t in a coffin, nailed shut while they’re still breathing. They can’t hang themselves with the scales of justice if we do not hand them the rope to do so. Fully hoping they use it to create a ladder upward and out of the mass grave they’re choosing to throw others into before falling victim to themselves.

 

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We’re all ugly little ducklings. Only, we get to choose who we become.

 

Sources

https://poultrykeeper.com/blog/imprinting-ducks-geese/

https://pethelpful.com/birds/Keeping-Pet-Ducks-and-Geese

 

As Thanksgiving Approaches, I Am Reminded

 

Native Americans are more American than Americans because Native Americans were here before Americans even found America and called it America which was already the Native Americans’ home… America.

 

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And yet, Native Americans are still treated like, “savages”.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I found all these pictures of Native Americans from history, and yet I have no idea who they are, what they went through. I don’t know their stories. I don’t even know their names.

We are making such magnificent progress with people of color and women’s rights. We’re even talking about how men need to be able to cry and talk about their emotions without being told they’re not a man. Yet, Native Americans are still shuffled to the side, like so much nothingness.

 

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In 2006, Native Americans were 1.5% of our country’s population. That is roughly 4.5 million human beings.

Current sources say there are now 2.9 million Native Americans in the US. That is 0.9%

We went from 4.5 million to 2.9 million. 1.5% to .9%.

 

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In 2004, the Department of Justice found that Native American women are 50% higher in rates of domestic abuse and rape.

That’s not 50% higher than other humans in the US. That is 50% more than the next most victimized demographic!

Meaning, whatever the next group of human beings who rate as #2 highest in rape and domestic abuse… Native Americans are 50% higher than them.

Native American women are also much more likely to be assaulted than other women, of any race.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics, the US Department of Justice,  and Office of
Justice Programs had this finding to report:

at least 70% of the violent victimizations experienced by American
Indians are committed by persons not of the same race— a substantially higher rate
of interracial violence than experienced by white or black victims.”

Meaning Native Americans are typically raped and beaten by races that are not Native Americans.

In case anyone wants to try and blame their pain on themselves. As if the victim is as at fault. Because, hey, we don’t blame victims in this country’s daily chosen culture. (And so no one tries to report this as an alternative fact, this paragraph is sarcasm)

 

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1 out of every 12 Natives are victims of violent crimes, every year.

Native American youth have the highest rate of suicide in all of the youth in our country.

More than 4 in 5 Native men and women have been victims of violence in their lives. That means, in numbers,  730,000 women and  595,000 men.

48.8% of Native women have been stalked in their lifetime. 18.6% of Native men have been stalked.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has this to say:

“It is significant to note that American Indians/Alaska Natives frequently contend with issues that prevent them from receiving quality medical care. These issues include cultural barriers, geographic isolation, inadequate sewage disposal, and low income.”

Oh, and also:

“American Indians and Alaska Natives have an infant death rate 60 percent higher than the rate for Caucasians.”

 

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Gee, I wonder why they don’t trust the government. We have all these facts. And what are we doing about them?

What can we do?

We can see Native Americans as people. We are all humans. We all deserve respect, love, dignity, human rights, and the same opportunities.

We can talk about what is wrong about the current state of affairs.

We can talk about their beautiful and intriguing cultures.

Cultural awareness comes with stories poking at us until we see the truth. We can spread their stories. We can find them, tell people their names and their histories. We can care. We can love. We can hope.

But more than that. We can be the engine that moves hopes into reality.

 

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Sources:

https://assets.aspeninstitute.org/content/uploads/files/content/images/Fast%20Facts.pdf

http://www.ncai.org/about-tribes/demographics

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249736.pdf

https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=62