EXTRA! SO VERY EXTRA!

Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

World: 1; You: 0

In Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Examining my tears #ExMT, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant... on February 26, 2014 at 5:08 am

Allow me to be frank.

The world has a way of telling you that you ain’t shit, of ever so slightly lifting away your protective ego and exposing your sensitive soul to the withering glances of uninvited eyes. Then, what began as a just a corner lifted up turns into a gale force that rips away your confidence.

And, all it takes is one voice. One completed action aimed at you. Today, I heard that voice. Then, my own insecurities took over. It started with one dissatisfied client and
I’m inexperienced
I’m young-ish
I’m Black
I’m female
I’m not on anybody’s magazine cover
I’m not on any tracks
I’m not able to fit into any of my clothes from high school
I’m not a mother
I’m not married
I’ve not made any large or notable settlements
I’m in some serious student loan debt
I’m unable to replicate any of Norm Abrams’ wood-working

Obviously, some of those are pointless….

But, I realized that EVEN IF ALL OF THAT IS TRUE, there is one thing I have in my “plus column”: today, I was not that voice to someone else. I have the choice–and I made the choice–to speak positive words to others. I do not have to be the trigger for someone else’s insecurity spiral. I refuse to allow the World to get a plus one over on someone else because of me.

Instead, I can be for someone else what my loved ones were today for me: a voice that nurtures; a hand that consciously and purposefully replaces the protection over an exposed and shivering soul; a reassurance that one does matter; a reminder that there is no score card in life.

Tomorrow is another day, sure to present a multitude of voices. But, the only thing I can control is what I do with my voice.

February: Let me sum up…

In Examining my tears #ExMT, First World Problems, Somewhat disjointed rant... on February 24, 2014 at 5:33 am

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya: “Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up.”

February: the month of revelations and annoyances, large and small. I learned much. For example….

1. I should feel sorry for my frequent and vigorous use of adult language. I should. And, sometimes I do. But, I often don’t feel sorry. I do recognize that said language is incongruous with my Christian faith. I’m working on it. But, I’m pretty sure that you looking down your nose at me is not WWJD.

Lesson learned: Judgmental people are boring.

2. My dentist is not an orthodontist. So, I will forever kindly thank her to talk to me of the state, health, cleanliness, and hygiene of my mouth rather than asking me multiple times if I still wear my retainer. Yes. Yes, I know I have a gap. I know that. And guess what? I’ve had braces TWICE. No. No, I would not be interested in Invisalign or in getting braces again. Yes. Yes, I do wear my retainer. I still fit in it. I have a gap between my two front teeth–my sister has a gap. My mother has a gap. My grandmother had a gap. Heffa, clean my teeth, tell me if I have cavities, and let me go to work. I know my teeth are not “perfectly straight.” Based on my dentist’s preoccupation with my teeth not being “perfectly straight,” I would guess that at least 90% of her patients must have “perfectly straight” teeth. That would be an incorrect guess.

I cannot believe I paid $170.00 for these broads to give me 15 minutes worth of cleaning, 20 minutes worth of lecturing on retainers/braces/invisalign, 45 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of an attempt to convince me that I needed new “bitewings” done when I knew good and well that I had paid for “bite wings” the last time I visited the dentist, and 2 minutes of an awkward stare down when I refused to have new “bitewings” done before the existing “bitewings” were found.

Lesson learned: My dentist is probably run by an Invisalign cartel.

3. There are many people in the world who should have gone to law school. I went to law school, and I’m now a lawyer. So, I know that there is nothing particularly special about lawyers as people. We’re not smarter, better, more attractive, more charismatic, or quicker. The only thing we have is a JD and a (hard earned) bar number.

People sometimes ask for legal advice. That’s fine. I enjoy sharing with people (sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee). I work hard at legal research to make sure I don’t give people crap advice. I like my profession.

What I dislike is a client telling me (after I give him my legal opinion) that he doesn’t like that advice, that he has a better (albeit illegal) solution, and then telling me that he should have been a lawyer.

Lesson learned: Shut up and walk away.

4. I do not like snow. I do not play in the snow. I do not look at the snow. I am not amazed by the snow. I am not happy about the snow. I do not care that you are from The North and that you are used to snow and that it starts snowing in late September where you are from. I do not care, though I am sure that’s lovely in its own way. That does not change the fact that I am from The South where we know about air conditioning, ice cream, sno cones, ceiling fans, sun glasses, shaved legs, Daisy Dukes, and dogwood trees. I do not harass you when The North has a heat wave and all sorts of emergency type things start happening. Two inches of snow presents a myriad of problems. Not the least of which being that I do not like snow.

Lesson learned: Avoid social media when it snows in The South.

5. I am who I am, and there is a reason for that and there is a place for me. I’m loud, opinionated, occasionally snobby, overly emotional, not always Rated G, vain, sometimes pretentious, obsessed with British period drama, chronically late, periodically explosive, almost thoroughly introverted, an enjoyer of beer, and unapologetically liberal sometimes to the point of socialist. That’s me. I have plenty of areas for improvement. But, the point is: there will always be something about me that is polarizing. Always. This is why enemies exist.

Lesson learned: There are methods that allow people to not have to communicate with me or be around me or even know I exist. Let them use those methods. I don’t fit in everywhere.

Remember that day Jesus skipped to the cross?

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, R[evol]ution, Somewhat disjointed rant..., Thoughts on Christianity, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 7, 2014 at 3:18 am

In the end, I suppose that there is a self-centered reason for me writing this piece. I am not always happy. Not always. Some hurts take a deep root and are difficult to snuff out. I shed my tears. But, I believe that I have necessary things to learn from the hurt. And there are few things that anger me more than someone trying to cut short my healing process. That process is important. It cannot be circumvented; sometimes, it cannot even be shortened. It starts low, and it ends in balance and strength. Most of all: nothing can be earned from avoiding or denying the healing process.

But, there are a few key phrases that Christians, myself included, love to drop when we are faced with a person who is sad because of, despairing over, or agonizing with something in life:
1. “Count it all joy”
2. “Rejoice”
3. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Stop. Please for the love of peanuts, stop it. Jesus did not skip to the cross. He did not sing songs while He was whipped. The day before He was crucified was not a last grand bro-fest with the disciples.

Instead, He had (what sounds to me) a rather sad supper (seeing as how He had to tell His disciples that one of them would betray Him and Peter would deny Him) with the 12 men who had been closest to him, broke bread, drank wine (see Matthew 26: 17-35). Then, Matthew 26:38 tells us that Jesus told His disciples “My soul is very sorrowful . . . ” Mark 14:36 says that Jesus prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” Luke 22:44 says that “being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” After being arrested, He was beaten, spit upon, and pierced with thorns. Then, either Simon of Cyrene was made to carry the cross of Jesus (as it says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or Jesus carried His own cross (as it says in John 19:17) to Golgotha where Jesus was crucified.

It sounds sad, agonizing, dramatic. Jesus was marching to His own death. He was not skipping. He was not shaking hands and kissing babies and tuning his guitar. He was not repeating “I’ll soon be in Heaven” like a mantra passcode to better times. He did not look down from the height of the cross with a wink and smile. Jesus went through a process that began thick with agony, despair, and sadness. But, the process ended with Him glorified as the Son of God, the Risen Savior, and one of the most compelling (if sometimes elusive) figures in history.

To all of my Christian brothers and sisters, never forget that someone’s healing process is not an affront to God. Someone’s hurts do not indicate a lack of faith. Sadness is not a sin. When Jesus preached to others about the process and ordeal He would go through in Jerusalem, Peter rebuked Him and said it would never happen. But, Matthew 16:23 relates that Jesus turned to Peter and said something often quoted, but rarely contextualized: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

I know you don’t mean to be, but when you tell a person who is going through his own ordeals to act happy (or “rejoice” as we Christians like to say), you may indeed be casting yourself down as a stumbling block to him by convincing him that sadness and agony are evil even as God tries to bring him through to a place of strength. As humans, we dislike negativity and sadness. But, sometimes: those things are vital.

Simply put: if we are Christians and if we do believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, what was good enough for Christ is good enough for us. We will have despair, sadness, agony, and sacrifice.

Of course, in closing I have to leave you with the required (but, appropriate) words of Jesus at John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Being the change and other nearly impossible things

In Encouragement, First World Problems, Happiness, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 6, 2014 at 3:11 am

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

All oft quoted, true, and useful words to live by. As a teacher, I often reinforced my classroom management with one of these phrases. They are on posters, in scripture, on pins, on t-shirts, on walls, on billboards. They are short and to the point. As you go through your day, dole out benevolence in heavy measure because everyone else should feel equally as benevolent.

At least that’s what I thought they meant.

I can be such a douche bag sometimes.

It’s not so easy to do unto others when you feel like the world is doing it unto you already. I mean, how much doing is a person supposed to endure? Now, there: there is where some evaluation had to take place (today…..perhaps as recently as 15 minutes ago….I will neither confirm nor deny that….).

1. Do I, in fact and actually, ever at any time behave in such a way that is worthy of repetition and reproduction? Answer: Sometimes. Rarely. This means that I need to get that together. Tell the truth more. Be more accepting. Be more forgiving.

2. Do I really believe that treating people the way I want to be treated will make a difference? Answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

3. Am I willing to treat people the way I would want to be treated if I had just angered someone, insulted someone, been unkind to someone? To say it another way: am I willing to apply this “be the change-ness” to those who have hurt me, rejected me, insulted me, etc.? Answer: Yikes. I usually think about treating others the way I want to be treated when it comes to giving someone my umbrella, holding the elevator, or letting someone vent to me. So, now I gotta be loving, forgiving, and honest with the broad who just insulted me? Ugh. This is really starting to sound much less grandiose.

4. But, wait! How DO I expect to be treated when I insult others, am unkind to others, am unforgiving of others? Answer: I have no idea! What I would like is for everyone to cower from the horrible gaze of my eyes and give me my way. Somehow, I feel this is not quite right. Probably what I should expect is to be corrected in no uncertain terms.

5. Do I believe that I can establish new norms for myself (and possibly others) simply by talking or not talking about something; by doing or not doing something? Answer: Yes. Yes, I do.

6. Am I willing to be mindful of the things that I talk about and do? Answer: Whoa. Whoa there. You mean that I have to cut back on gossip and cutting talk and talking about my appearance and all that? Well, that leaves me very little small talk. I will actually have to read the real news. Double ugh. Now, I have to talk about and DO acceptance and forgiveness and love and kindness. I’ll need to subscribe to Harper’s again….soon.

I mean, this is starting to sound like a real lifestyle change. GO!

After the suicide attempt…

In and other uncomfortable topics, Choosing to see the wonderful #CTSTW, Encouragement, Happiness, R[evol]ution, Using my words for good #UMFWG on February 3, 2014 at 4:55 am

[Note after writing: I am pressing publish with a deep sigh.]

In a couple of months, it will be almost exactly ten years ago that I attempted suicide during my senior year of college. I suppose I fit the stereotypical cliche that my attempt was a cry for help. I took a handful of random, but not very menacing, painkillers. I admitted what I had done to three of my friends and spent the next 72 hours in the behavior disorder ward of a nearby hospital.

It would be really great and deeply gratifying to say that I emerged from that ward a changed person; a butterfly from the chrysalis. But, I remember that ward as being scary as all hell and hardly an environment that nurtures change. I emerged tired, hungry, and fragile.

Thus began a long journey, a slow battle of the bulge, a crawl, a marathon. To be honest, I did not then and I do not now really know what the end point of the journey is but I remember full well what the starting point was. So, the journey has been to put as much space as possible between myself and that starting point. Some days I feel like the theme song from _Chariots Afire_ is playing every where I go. Some days are just days.

I have found out that there are many people on the same journey, and that many of us on the journey do not want to talk about THE JOURNEY because people can be cruel and abusive and manipulative. Simply by writing this post, I am aware that someone may read this and think that I am weak, weird, or crazy. But, I know there is someone at the same point that I was 10 years ago; some days I feel like I’m back at that same point.

But, I remind myself…..

1. That this life is entrusted to me and me alone. Apparently, God thought I was good enough to handle it. When the criticisms of others burrow so far into me that they become my own criticisms of myself, I remind myself that this life is mine. Despite what anyone thinks or believes, my life is not at anyone’s disposal. My life was not created to be firewood for someone else’s life.

2. That I am not disappointment, or saddness, or tragedy, or anger. Oh, I will disappoint others, sadden others, and anger others. But, that effect does not define who I am.

3. That I am flawed because I am me. That’s the way life works. But….

4. That flaws are sometimes simply misunderstood limitations. For instance, I can be overly emotionally sensitive. Is that a flaw? Perhaps. But, I choose to look at it as a limitation in one sense and a characteristic in another. I would not make a particularly good surgeon (one really doesn’t want a surgeon who melts into a puddle when one is on the table and things start going wrong). But, I do make a good listener. So, really: is it a flaw or is it a strength?

5. That I must be cautious around those who want to force me to see my limitations and characteristics as flaws. I mean, I could spend a lot of time trying to become less emotionally sensitive. I could spend a lot of time trying to “fix” that “flaw” if I surrounded myself with people who “encouraged” me toward that “goal.” I do admit: I have had to harness my strengths, limitations, and characteristics to work for me rather than allowing them to master me.

6. That I must dig deep when confronted with anyone who believes that I am worth less because I have attempted suicide. I have learned the hard way that such a person often wants to use me as a stepping stool for his/her own ego. Such a person often wants to make me his/her do-it-yourself fixer upper. A close relationship with such a person will usually force me to constantly remind myself of #1 and #4.

7. That the world, for a number of reasons, is a messed up place that labels normal people as crazy. One of the strongest impressions of the behavior disorder ward that I carry with me to this day (and that, to this day, will bring tears to my eyes) is that most of the people inside that ward were not crazy. We were people who were some combination of quiet, shy, sensitive, hurt and healing slowly, or sad in a world that values talking, outgoing, brash, devil-may-care bravado. Back then, I felt that I was lost on a journey that so many other people were making quite easily. Little did I know that many, many people were not only as lost as I, but also in denial.

8. That nothing is ever gained by lying to myself about who, what, and where I am. As I become ever more accustomed to being true to myself, it is easier to be truthful with others, and miraculously others have been beautifully truthful with me. As alone as I sometimes feel, there are others lost and blundering in the dark, too. We just need to play Marco Polo to find each other.

9. That Jesus is not disappointed in me for my attempt. How ugly, how truly ugly a thing it is to tell a hurting person that she’s let down the One in whom she believes. And, I was told that. And, it hurt. But, it is not true. If God is God, then I must believe that He knew my limitations and my strengths far ahead of me. He did not send His only Son to die for a bunch of smarmy know-it-alls who have their stuff together. Where is the grace and mercy in that?

10. That somehow, mysteriously, miraculously, slowly: things do get better. I do eventually untie the knots, work out the puzzles, clean up the messes, and learn the lessons. Life may not pick up at the same thread, but life does continue. Laughter returns. Smiles return. In the end, there is no darkness that can wipe out the light. That is the great thing about light. One small spark is enough sometimes. And, sometimes, a Youtube puppy video can provide that spark.