Friday, June 24, 2011

Donkey Rock or BURST!

As summer is set upon us, I can't help but reminisce of lovely summer memories from years past.  For nearly two decades, Youth Camp was the highlight of my summer.  From an early age, it didn't matter where I was going or with whom, I always had a good time.  Youth Camp was the pinnacle of fun in my life at that time.  So many possibilities for adventure and memory-building.  I'm sheepish to admit that I had the presence of mind then to take extra care to savor the goodness.  I tried to memorize every rock on the path to the girls' bathroom.  I knew exactly where to stand in line for church so I could sit on a certain bench, in view of certain other campers.  ;)  I enjoyed a Kit Kat and suicide soda after every service, or sometimes a Mars bar, or a Rocky Road.  There was a giant bonfire most nights after we'd cried our last tear in the altar and many kids used it as an opportunity to practice dating.  Getting "taken to the bonfire" was a big deal.  I had beautiful friends of which had a different suitor every night.  I was usually the third wheel or hanging out with the other unlucky gals.  I'm pretty sure I was never asked to the bonfire by anyone, though I did have a stand-in "date" a couple of years by way of the current boyfriend.  So, that's not a big deal, just life! ha!  It didn't stop me from having fun, like, ever.  One year, there was a flash flood and my cabin was filled with mud to our knees.  We were nicknamed the Mud Hut that year.  We had our tent flaps up (bottom half was wood, top half army-like tent), and we were watching the hail and pouring rain.  Suddenly, what appeared to be mostly water began rushing toward our dwelling.  I jumped off the bunk where I was and my animal instinct kicked in!  I was grabbing belongings and throwing them up on the top bunks as quickly as possible, and my co-campers were doing the same.  It was awesome.  It was a mess, but it was awesome.  The list of memories such as this goes on and on and are funny, intriguing, and endearing.  One of my favorite parts of Youth Camp was waking up each morning.  Elder Morton would get on the PA and start singing in that lovely, funny voice of his.  A couple of my friends and I still sing each other those songs from time to time and you're not doing it right if you're not off-key!  I miss the days when all I had to worry about over the summer was what I was going to wear to Youth Camp and if I would be asked out to the bonfire.  Good times!  Summer time is here again and my spirit is up in that remote wooded area, high above the scorching heat of the valley.  Smelling the pine and the freshwater stream, feeling the occasional breeze drifting by, bringing with it the smell of tater tots and hot dogs.  I wish my son liked it as much as I did, because I would love to have an excuse just to drive up there again.  Great memories will never be forgotten!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Contemplating One's Self

I recall being in an impromptu meeting on a typically long, work-filled Sunday some years ago, and being served with a generous helping of humble pie.  There were many meetings in my life at the time.  Who goes where, when, how, and to what extent - was discussed at great length, much to my chagrin.  Just make a unilateral decision, for crying out loud, and save everyone the trouble of splitting hairs over the deets.  Anyhoot, I try to relieve tension with laughter and I tend to make sarcastic remarks in an effort to extract laughter from a strained situation, much like water from a rock.  I realize it's a losing battle, but I'm compelled to do so anyway.

This meeting was one such instance.  The item being discussed was not something that should have been up for discussion, therefore the meeting participants were irate and combative.  In what I thought would be a tension-relieving moment, I made a remark that ended up changing my entire view of myself.  It was something to the extent of pointing out the heat we will have been made to endure whilst participating in the event being discussed.  The meeting coordinator, stretched to the breaking point and against his typical attitude toward me, snapped at me and told me I complain too much.

Initially, I was embarrassed that he was "mean" to me in front of the others.  Anger then set in for being flagrantly misunderstood.  Then, I reached a stage of epiphany.  Maybe he was right.  What??  I complain too much??  What in heaven's name?  Well, come to find out,  I started to take several steps back from myself and realize he was on to something.  Wow.  What a revelatory time of self-discovery and introspection.

Unfortunately, there are many people who are not lucky enough to have anyone be honest with them in their lives.  They go on through life, blindly offensive and brash, while feeling victimized and self-pitying.  I often wonder why people are quite remiss to take an honest look in the mirror.  It's tough.  I know this.  I've done it, and continue to do it to try to be the best friend, mom, citizen, etc. that I can be.

Many humans, being human and fallible by nature, don't care to know the truth about themselves.  I have tried, in my "career" as friend to all, to be forthright and honest with individuals I feel there is hope for.  Not that it's my place to judge who is and isn't beyond hope, but I don't like to impose my will on others, no matter how right I am.  *big wink*  ha! (One of my many shortcomings being my opinionated nature, hence the blog, people!!) Sadly, many persons choose to remain oblivious to their brash nature, trampling poor souls along their way, and leaving a path of virtual destruction behind them.  They eat the downtrodden for lunch and spit them out.  It's a terrible thing to behold and one can't help but feel pity and shame on their behalf.

In the relationships in my own life, I want to proceed with eyes wide open, taking extra care to consider the opposite POV.  What benefit is there to being obstinate and inflexible with others?  I venture to say there is no benefit derived and, in fact, may find one quite friendless and relationshipless indeed.  Disagreements and misunderstandings are excellent opportunities to gain new perspective on how you are perceived by the people you love in your life.  While it may hurt, don't immediately disregard a harsh word spoken and chalk it up to heat of the moment.  There's something to it.  Promise.

Keep in mind, in every bit of criticism, there is some truth there to be found.  Consider it.  Take the meat and throw away the bones.  Look at yourself, then turn your eyes to Jesus.  That's all any of us can do.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Got a Light?

I find myself precariously perched between blatant disregard for church and religion and the burning desire in my heart to please the Supreme Being, greater than myself or anyone else.  There was a time when it wasn't a question at all.  I loved Jesus and I was going to do whatever, whenever, and however it needed to be done in order to get to see His face at the end of this journey we call "Life".  Unfortunately, a lot of LIFE has happened in the process and I find myself confused, alone, and HOPEless.  (There was a funny uttered today to me that is neither fitting for this post, nor befitting my character to recount in a public setting, but it was funny in regards to HOPE.  Trust me and laugh.)  

When you think there's no more rug left to be ripped from under you, you tempt the powers that be to demonstrate your fallible nature and misgivings.  I've often had the thought, "This is it.  This is rock bottom."  I'm now scared to utter such thoughts or let them cross my mind, whether in a fit of depression and self-loathing or just a plain, ol' pity party, I cannot allow the thought in.  Even though it could really be the case this time.  Maybe, just maybe, there's no where to go but up, as "they" say.  (Whoever "they" are, I have not a clue, but I used to get reprimanded for questioning the existence and validity of "they", so I just go with it now.)

What happens when, like plunging into the depths of the deepest ocean, you can't see up due to the lack of illumination?  I've heard, and am hesitant to express my fear that when you go deep enough into the ocean, you have no clue which way is up and deep sea divers have to learn certain skills to keep them from drowning in such scenarios.  Personally, I'm not a great swimmer, so going deep sea diving terrifies me, as does the fact that one cannot tell where the surface is due to the sun's inability to penetrate those depths.

As humanity plunges ever deeper into the sea of despair, what light is there to guide them back to the surface, to the air that awaits their screaming lungs?  I have seen many such self-proclaimed, alleged "lights" - in the market, at the restaurant, in the bank - and there was no light emanating from them.  I'm ashamed to say I used to be the same.  Few and far between are the "saved" souls that seek to share their love for the truth with others.  They have no clue who I am and when I stare in bewildered awe of their rude, brash aura, they glare at me or turn their noses up in the air.

I don't want to be a part of that number, however, today I was able to witness some heartfelt, inspired, sincere Christianity imparted to me.  Wow.  I wasn't at all expecting that level of concern for my soul, having been mostly "written off" by those who used to say (operative word "say"), they cared for my soul and salvation.  A light.  A light even I could see from the low I have presently sunk to.  I'm intrigued and compelled to give religiosity another look, in moderation, as the Bible says all things should be done.

Sing it with me..."If you've tried everything and everything has failed...TRY...?"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Scorekeepers: How to Win at Friendship *wink*

Well, before I get into this post, let me say this - I love my friends.  I have learned to surround myself with positive, selfless people who are a joy to be around.  My honest-to-goodness friendships are not the motivation for this post.

That being said, I will now write on how I perceive some others in society that I may or may not have closely dealt with.  In all levels of relationship, whether it be acquaintance, family, leader, minister, friend, lover, etc. - there are people who fit the bill of scorekeeper.  You know the type.  Their actions are wholly dependent upon the actions of others.  Don't mistake these people for followers.  No.  The people of which I speak keep a tally, of sorts, of their hurts, compliments, triumphs, and other fringe benefits of relationships of all levels and types in their lives.  Truly, it must be an exhausting effort on their part, but I've witnessed this behavior over and over.

There are so many things in life that are "score-worthy", including a meal a gratis, an ill-spoken word, presence at an event, etc.  Certainly you get the idea.  Maybe you have even uttered the words, "Well, they didn't come to my (_________), so I don't feel bad".  These people seek justification for every, single action of theirs, and often their insubordinate children, by citing a higher or similar offense by someone in their same position.  (i.e. another friend, sibling, minister, husband, yada-yada-yada...)  They're always watching.  Always judging.  Always, always, ALWAYS keeping score.  If you give them a card on their birthday, expect nothing more than the same - (not that you should expect anything, which is another post for another day...).  If you happen to let slip you think their misbehaved child is such, expect retribution in kind.

What's really distressing is these people, having this type of "condition" have placed themselves in the unfortunate position which requires them to "buy" their relationships.  Their family is stuck with them, in a lot of ways, so they continue to be family, unless it's an ex-in-law situation.  An unsuspecting, potential relationship will begin and unbeknownst to one side, the other side is keeping track of all wrongdoings, alleged generosities, etc. and will be recalled at a later date.  It's a sad state to be in.

Have you ever been in the position of suddenly finding out you are indebted to someone for something you didn't know they were keeping track of?  Relationships should be equally selfless, generous, loving, and without tallies.  When you keep track of things, anywhere from house visits to birthday gifts to phone calls, it can be tiring and take your focus off of the joy of having the chance to build the relationship in the first place.

Score keeping is symptomatic of a relationship destined for failure, because inevitably, the scorekeeper will find they have "won" a contest only they were playing at and deem their unsuspecting "opponent" a loser.

In the "game" of life, I believe one of my favorite mantras applies very well and that is - "Quitters never win and winners never quit."  That being said, winners are too busy winning to keep score.  Just saying...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who Cares Who's On First? =)

So, I guess there's some sort of basketball thing going on right now that people care about.  I used to care about basketball.  The Lakers, in fact - but they blew a playoff game and I cried with Fish and got over it.  Completely over it.  No more crazy Laker fan or whatever the heck it is that possesses citizens who appear to be normal and transforms them into opposing-team-fan-beating, beer throwing, foaming-at-the-mouth, shirt-ripping, face-painting fanatics.  I was SO in love with the Lakers, namely Derek Fisher, and I loved to watch all the games.  So much so, that I actually sneaked around to watch the games, though it was pretty much allowed at my local parish at the time.  (Games on TV, okay.  Anything else on TV, not okay.  Whatever.  Not going there today.)  So, there's this Final series of some sorts that has a few people worked up.  What I know about it is the Heat is in it and Lakers fans couldn't be more put out over it.  Really?  People really let these things ruin their days?  Starving children, disease, genocide, natural disasters, and the like plague our planet and people really have time to not only watch these spectacles but to waste inordinate amounts of time fretting over them?  You know, I may not agree with everything I was taught as a child, but I definitely see the upside to ignoring the sporting world as a whole.  Honestly, my days are unaffected by sports, and the only time I get a little bit into them is during the Olympics, when I'm just a plain, ol', proud American.  There are so many joys to marvel at and real sorrows over which to weep, therefore I choose not to let the sporting "gods" dictate to me at any level what my life experience may be.  If you're in such dire need of a distraction, visit your local soup kitchen and donate some time.  Sorry, I can't sympathize with the sports-lovers of the world.  Common sense disallows me from doing such.  Play ball! haha..

Friday, June 3, 2011

Have you seen my anger?

Some days I feel, if I were a cartoon, there would be a perpetual, frowny rain cloud hovering over my cerebral cortex.  It would have random lightning bolts projected from it, striking the unsuspecting and innocent passersby.  Unbeknownst to said passersby, I have had one terrible year or two or three.  The angst and frustration have built at an exponential rate, that is for certain.  I don't mean to be mean.  I don't derive much satisfaction from driving offensively or confronting a "line cutter" in the market, etc.  I'm just an angry individual.

When I'm angry of late and in a fit of rage, it's almost as if I'm not me at all.  I observe the unleashed beast I become in bewilderment.  As a person, I am brash, outspoken, and often mistaken as being upset, but I cannot be accused of being ugly for ugly's sake.  Until now, unfortunately.  I have tried, as an admirer of wisdom and one who hopes to attain some of my own, to ignore my frustrations with myself and my life in an effort to exercise discipline on my emotions.  Emotions.  Those are tricky things.  I have felt things in the last month that I have not experienced to date in my entire existence and I must say, I abhor the actions brought on by these emotions.  The proverbial "can of worms" has not just been opened, but opened and dumped on my head.  I was full of self-loathing before, but now there are no words to describe the things I feel in response to my untamed, untapped anger.

What worries me about my new-found, untapped anger is the management thereof.  I have not ever had anger of this magnitude to contend with before, so I've been caught unawares on multiple occasions of late.  As the rage seems to consume me, piece by piece, I see myself doing things I would never have considered before.  On these occasions, I have enough presence of mind to realize that my behavior is that of people I have no respect for.  I lash out at the people I love and say things I don't mean.  I have even thrown my phone.  Twice.  Maybe this seems like no big deal, but if you know me at all, you know that's extremely contrary to my typical countenance.  Even when I have been very upset in the past, I do not inadvertently or purposely ruin my things.  

Typically I have the uncanny and unsettling ability to remain calm in the face of a stormy situation.  I often think I missed my calling in life to be a counselor of sorts, since I can maintain a certain level of seemingly near disinterest in the situation at hand, no matter how scandalous and to the point of projecting my own peace on the distressed party.

I am quite discontent in the dawning realization that I now have anger with which to contend and no place to compartmentalize it.  My mind and heart are too full with all of the other cares of life and now anger is seeking a footing to take hold.  I don't want to allow it to take hold.  I've had a glimpse of that angry person and I don't care too much for her.  I have to deal with it and soon, but where to place it?  In myself?  Project it onto others?  Blame those I feel are responsible for my anger?  Ideally, I'd like to see this angry person transformed and reinstated to my former, sometimes impatient, but largely controlled self.  Let's just say I need to handle it sooner than later.  Meanwhile, just lay off me, huh?  *sigh*  (See?  Projecting again...  urrrgghhh!!)