Archives for category: War and News of War

Here’s a Memorial Day weekend reminder that now is not the time to be thanking veteran’s for their service. This is an opportunity, for all of us, veteran’s too, to honor the fallen. The brothers and sisters in arms who did not come home. Who gave everything. This is our time to bow our heads and reflect on the horror of war. Just saying. It’s not about the living.

Image result for arlington

This matters to me. It probably matters to a lot of veterans. We know the price paid to serve, sure; we also know the price that was not exacted from us. We came home with our lives ahead of us. We may be human wreckage – that’s a thing for some – we may be filled with internal torment you just don’t see – also a thing, some of us struggle with for many years – and for many of us, part of that lasting pain is the loss of so many. We lost people we loved, and served with side-by-side, and we lost esteemed professional colleagues, and we lost legends that had gone before us. We lost role models, and wing men. We lost “that guy”. We lost people we never met, and people we knew very well. We lost leaders, and comrades.

Most of us, most of the time, believed we were fighting for a righteous cause. We’re carefully indoctrinated to think so. Some of us knew better or understood things differently. A small few of us knew a very special painful truth; you don’t understand the price we pay, and you don’t understand how carefully we are remade to serve a purpose. You don’t understand, really, that we always knew some of us would never come home. You don’t understand that we served every day knowing that that someone could be… us. You don’t understand that many of us never quite leave it behind. Because you can’t. It’s not your experience.

Please don’t burden veteran’s with your thanks  today. This is our day to remember. To grieve. To acknowledge that we came home. To regret that others didn’t. This, too, is our day to stare fiercely into the eyes of those in power with a challenge – you show me this was in fact worth the price. Prove it. Prove it or go fuck yourself – and bring our brothers and sisters home. This is our honor, this is our Memorial. I’d frankly very much like to stop adding new bodies to the body count. I say the price for your glory is too high.

I’m taking the weekend off. This is a time to reflect on what matters most, and what is the value of a human life. ❤

I talk a lot about making choices. I remind myself to make a new beginning, regularly. I practice non-attachment with commitment and discipline. I let things go. I move on. There is a serious reason why these are important practices for me; I have survived a lot through these practices. These are not practices for small circumstances, though it is the mundane petty things that provide the opportunities to practice regularly. These are the practices for the big shit in life.

Marriages that dissolve – with small children involved; sometimes people have to literally choose to walk away from their children to save their own lives. That’s hard. I can’t at all imagine what that must feel like, although I’ve had friends and loved ones go through it.

Jobs that end unexpectedly – with no opportunity to continue in a field of expertise or passion; sometimes people have to choose to undertake something entirely different, from the very beginning, without wanting to at all. Been there a couple of times, myself.

Abusive relationships – sometimes with real love involved; sometimes people have to walk away (in spite of love) to save their own lives – from violence, mental illness, or a narcissistic, petty, spoiled, unremorsefully callous loved-one unable or unwilling to make changes. Too many of us go through some version of this experience, sadly.

Sometimes life throws some very adult shit our way, seemingly forcing us to choose between our life and well-being, and what we think we want, or think we have, or think we need. It’s not easy. Sometimes the better, saner, choice is to just let it go. Begin again. Choose differently.

To escape violence in my first marriage, I had to reach a point where I was willing to walk away from everything. My home. My “stuff”. My existing social network. My career. My community. It was a matter of literally saving my life. I didn’t have much in the way of good practices for such circumstances then; I got lucky and made some choices that favored my survival. I’m grateful for that – and every day that my arthritis pain reminds me how mortal I am, it also reminds me that I have survived hell, and I am okay right now. Powerful lessons.

It’s tempting to work at things we’ve invested our hearts in, well beyond any useful point in making that effort. It’s tempting to excuse, explain, troubleshoot, or try again (and again, and again…). Sometimes those aren’t our best choices. It’s hard to be sure when that is the case, in advance, and we can be easily stalled by doubt. It’s emotionally difficult to choose differently, to select “self-care” from life’s menu, and “quality of life”, and to walk on from something we earnestly value, even when it is wrapped in misery. A good starting point is a realistic look at whether the thing we are valuing, whether it is a job, a relationship, a circumstance, or a possession, is truly all we think it to be. Is it just a “soap bubble”? What matters most? Have that and be controlled by it? Let it go and be free? It’s a choice. A really fucking hard one.

Still, and again. The very best practices work that way.

Letting go doesn’t necessarily mean there is no later follow-up, and there may be other actions to be taken… ending a marriage likely requires a divorce, for example – that’s a process that has a beginning and (hopefully) an end, but the process follows the decision to let go. The choice to act precedes the actions. Lost jobs are generally followed by new jobs – or some other new option for living life. Abusive relationships are… complicated. The ending of such things can be filled with further trauma; it’s rare that an abuser wants that relationship to end, themselves, they are invested because they specifically benefit from it. Things can get ugly. Scary. Filled with fear. Filled with sorrow. Filled with panic. Letting go – non-attachment- is a broad and well-lit path to emotional freedom. We can’t be controlled by what we are willing to let go.

It’s not easy. I’m having to let go of a specific, warm, and charming retirement that seemed so real and imminent, in favor of… no idea yet, but realistically I have to be willing to acknowledge that it won’t be that. I’m having to let go of a promising-seeming relationship (less difficult that it might have been, because the person involved made a specific point of burning bridges by way of mistreatment) – always painful. The worst? I’m having to let go of 42 original works of (my) art that I have not yet been able to recover, and may actually be destroyed (39 small works on paper, 3 canvases). It’s fucking hard, but even to continue to pursue recovering them (which may require litigation), I need to let them go, at least inasmuch as I have to allow myself to move on from grieving the loss, or being attached to a specific outcome. Still fucking hard. This? This is why I practice some of the practices I do, though; when I need them, they are here for me, reliably.

The sky is still blue. 🙂

I had a lovely weekend, in spite of the possible loss of 42 precious original works of art. No small feat, and I am smiling over my coffee, feeling wrapped in love and supported and cared for. (Seriously? It was like a vacation, crammed into one delicious day and night.) I am relaxed and ready for the work week. I’m grateful for my Traveling Partner. Grateful to have such wonderful friends. Grateful to be okay right now.  It’s a nice beginning to the week, whatever it holds.

Greatest troubleshooting step of all time; have you tried shutting it off, and turning it back on? Pretty good generic advice, even where relationships and people go. Sometimes it only tells you more about what isn’t working, but sometimes it’s a handy quick fix by itself.

Moments of great stress and turmoil? Anger? Chaos? Shut that shit down. Come back later. Get some rest. Set it aside, really just walk away from it. (Maybe permanently, yes that’s a thing people can do – even you.) Chronic lasting sorrow? Hard if the sorrow is over a real, deeply painful, recent or lasting circumstance, I know, but still possible. (Sometimes much harder if the sorrow “isn’t real” at all, that’s sort of a known thing about mental illness.) Walk in the sun. Find someone to laugh with, something to laugh about. Read a book about something altogether different. Hell, take a walk with that sorrow in mind, and really let your thoughts run free for a while. Or take a nap.

I’m not saying “turning it off” is easy. It’s not. It’s hard. Still doable. Still a choice to make. Still verbs involved – that you can choose to do. This is real and achievable. Are you mired in some bleak or horrible bullshit, right now? Shut it down. Walk away. Change your perspective. Go elsewhere. Hang with other friends. Choices. …And if you, instead, continue to endure, and suffer, and flail, and struggle, and fight, and stew, and seethe, and rail against life? That’s a choice, too.

You get to decide. You get to take action. This is your journey. You gotta walk your own hard mile – but you are also your own cartographer. The map may not be the world – but it is yours to make.

I sip my coffee before the trip down to see my Traveling Partner and friends for the day. Possibly just a day trip. I carefully consider what I’m bringing, mindful that there is limited space, and it’s a very short visit. I consider limited resources and individual needs. My mind lights briefly on a distant madwoman, a former friend, an X, and shake my head with sorrow and disappointment. I may have lost thousands of dollars of original art in the storm of her chaos and delusional rage, but she has no power over me unless I give that to her; I choose not to, and turn my thoughts back to the day ahead of me. My day. My experience. My life. My choices.

It’s still an every day, circumstance-by-circumstance, moment-to-moment choice for me to “walk on”, to “let this one go”, or to shut down drama by declining to participate in madness. There are still verbs involved. My results still vary – but the quality of my life improves greatly when I do. “You have no power over me” reverberates in my thoughts. I smile. Finish my coffee. There is great power in new beginnings. That power is mine. 🙂

I begin again.

You know what soap-bubbles, expectations, and assumptions have in common? The amount of substance they’ve got. lol Test your assumptions – be really brutal about investigating what supports your opinions. If you’re wrong, you most likely would benefit from knowing that. Those expectations? They aren’t real at all. Just made up shit in our thinking that we wander around with as if we have some reason to … crap, how do I not use either “expect” or “assume” right there. We gotta knock that shit off.

Ask. Clarify. Observe. Question. Test. Check. Double-check. I’m not talking about deep-seated insecurities being re-verified constantly. Not even a little. Kind of the opposite. I think I’m trying to describe the balance a secure being must find between their contentment and their future, using choices – choices ideally made based on an understanding of the world, and their own life, such that the outcome is as desired, mostly, generally speaking. It’s very hard to do that when we let ourselves live in a soap-bubble.

One more soap-bubble pops as I move through life. Shit got real, and not in a pretty way. My Traveling Partner is safe. Our friends are safe. The bullshit and drama that went down probably cost us all a lot more than we’d have been willing to let go of. Many thousands of dollars were burned up (metaphorically) in a savage display of uncontrolled fury and mental illness. Fucking hell. There is profound risk in giving people “second chances”, and new beginnings don’t always turn out better than old bullshit. Sometimes we have to look at the balance sheet and admit that we can’t afford to give that person more chances; it is too costly, emotionally, or financially. In this case? All the things. It was a poor choice to put any eggs in that badly woven damaged basket.

Once more for the folks in the back; no amount of your anger justifies destroying other people’s property, robbing them of their sense of safety or security in their homes, acting out against them in violence, or saying some of the vile shit human primates are capable of saying when they are enraged. It’s not okay. Do better. You are making choices.

Does this experience, that may have actually cost me 10s of thousands of dollars in destroyed or damaged art work (of my own) cause me to reconsider being willing to love, to trust, or to begin again? No. It just reminds me that assuming positive intent is not an assurance of actual positive intent, in fact. It reminds me to test my assumptions, to avoid implicit expectations, and to be willing to walk on when things don’t work out, with no looking back. My good heart gives second chances. I hadn’t previously given an ex, an actual ex, a “second chance”, before. I am unlikely to do that again. But the terrible behavior of others is no reason to compromise my own good nature, or be dissuaded from being the woman I most want to be. I decide who I become. Those choices are mine. There are verbs involved.

I left the office yesterday trembling with stress, triggered, and on the edge of tears, in a hurry to get safely home so that I could compulsively check for reassuring communications from loved ones, and check in with others that they were okay, too. I needed that for me. What’s new and beautiful and makes this experience, after-the-fact, pretty powerfully positive; I bounced back. After a few quiet minutes meditating in the car before I began my commute, I was emotionally safe to drive, calm, and “okay”. By the end of the evening, I was able to sleep.  I woke rested, and the day ahead, for all obvious purposes, appears to be a fairly ordinary one. (Although, to be fair, yesterday got off to a great start…)

I wish my Traveling Partner and my distant loved ones well from afar, finish my coffee, and get ready to begin again.

Don’t hate. I mean it. What a huge start down the path of being the person you most want to be (probably). Just don’t fucking hate people. Don’t say hateful things. Don’t undertake hateful actions. Don’t enable hate. Don’t support hate. Don’t become the embodiment of hate through your words or commerce. Fuck. How god damned hard is that, really??

I’m rather angry this morning at the horrible way some obviously grown adults have been treating the Parkland survivors… over the choice to protest what those survivors see as the pivotal issue in the attack on their school. Let’s get past the rather obvious fact that we live in a country that says it values freedom of speech – if that were really the case, we’d all shut the fuck up and listen once in a while. (When was the last time you politely and earnestly listened to the entire monologue of an associate’s views without interrupting to object or counter them, and did so without a rebuttal?) What I’m most angry about is that, even in that freedom of speech context, there are actual grown ass adults attacking recently traumatized young people – because they are offended by the opinions being expressed (that are subjective, personal, and informed by recent violence)! What the fuck? When did we become monsters?

I just don’t have anything nice to say to someone who thinks their right to fondle a firearm takes a priority over comforting the victims of violence. That’s some clueless douche-baggery right there. That “right to bear arms”? Not a bigger deal that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Get some fucking perspective.

I take a deep breath. Pull up out of the slime of the depths of the internet. I finish my coffee quickly, still awash in anger – and there it is. The secret sauce of a great many of our most horrible human moments; our anger. I pause quietly and look at my own. It’s often these moments of disappointment with humanity generally, in which I come face-to-face with the things I am still working on myself. Anger is definitely one of those. Few things fuel shitty behavior and vile invective like impotent frustrated rage.

Another deep breath. Anger has a certain intoxicating visceral feel that surges like a drug through my bloodstream. People “high” on anger lose sight of what matters most to them. People suffering from acute anger poisoning aren’t just capable of killing – they become, also, quite capable of feeling righteous and justified in doing so. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” isn’t something a person reacting to anger still gives a crap about – at least not anyone else’s, and sometimes not even their own. That’s something to contemplate. Is your anger worth killing for? If you think so, how do you reconcile that with that other human being’s right to live their life?

It’s hard to even think about anger without becoming, at some point, angry. Weird. Well, frankly, I have issues. lol You know that; you’re reading this. I’m working on them, though, and even my relationship with anger gets thoroughly scrutinized. I can’t say I have what I consider a healthy relationship with anger – my own or anyone else’s. The experience of extreme anger or rage expressed by other people is highly likely to trigger my PTSD – not helpful, I promise you that. My own anger? I’m not “better than” anyone else; it’s capable of driving some really shitty behavior that I am not content to permit from myself. So. I put in the time and study and practice required to better myself, in some small measure, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, provocation-by-provocation – even on the internet. There are verbs involved. Right now, there’s also a book involved. It’s on my reading list.

Frankly, deep-diving emotion and working to develop and improve emotional intelligence, have seemed to be quite critical on this journey – but it is complicated work, and requires a great deal of practice. Worthwhile. Maybe even the entire purpose of existing as a human being is somehow tangled up in becoming emotionally intelligent, learning to balance emotion and reason, and learning to treat others truly well. I don’t know. I rarely ask the question “what is the meaning of life”. lol Not my question. Doesn’t need my answer.

I do need to begin again. 🙂