Whatever We Think Matters…

A the universe superimposed over a human face

Dear Reader!

IT DOESN’T MATTER. Whatever you think matters–doesn’t. Follow this rule, and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late, or early; if you are here, or if you are there; if you said it, or did not say it; if you were clever, or if you were stupid; if you are having a bad hair day, or a no hair day; if your boss looks at you cockeyed; if your girlfriend or boyfriend looks at you cockeyed; if you are cockeyed; if you don’t get that promotion, or prize, or house, or if you do. It doesn’t matter. (Rule 1) ~ ROGER ROSENBLATT, Rules For Aging

Okay, I am just gonna fess up right now! Since my very first memory of myself, I have been neck-deep in my awareness, my feelings, and my reactions.

I take things seriously. I care deeply. I feel things passionately. I believe intensely.

And to what end?!

Maybe I treated my body like a temple and I got chronic illnesses anyway…

Maybe I invested almost two decades in a friendship and she just tossed it away like a Dixie cup anyway…

Maybe I handed the best parts of me over to him and he love bombed, devalued and discarded me anyway…

Maybe I was qualified for that position and they gave the opportunity to someone less qualified anyway…

Maybe I am really a beautiful butterfly having a really bad dream…

Maybe all that happened and more over the years, but here I sit still,  living and writing this post.

Oh, how I have raged against the shock, the pain, the disappointment, the harsh realities. And, oh, how I have plotted to be good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, enough…

But I am glad to say that I am over and done with all that now.

I wish I could say that this change in my way to be is solely the result of my becoming wiser from experience and better with age. There is some of that to be sure.

BUT, honestly, I am absolutely and positively bone weary from the futile melodrama of worry and the delusion of control.

I’m not mad, I’m not sad, I’m just done.

Yes, I still believe in doing my best, being my best, living by my professed values, and not settling for any nonsense… But I have a more serene, muted perspective now.

I have finally embraced with my whole heart a very hard truth: Life is not concerned with me — or you. Yes, you too. (Please, do not shoot me.) She just goes merrily, merrily on her way doing whatever the hell she feels like doing whenever and however she likes, regardless of how much it pains us.

And when most things are considered side by side with the vastness of our Universe and the certainty of our oblivion, what is the point of being so furious, so grieved, and so frantic?!

So lately, when Life is insensitive, narcissistic, downright stupid, and completely insane as she is often guaranteed to be, I stop and remind myself: It does not matter.

And almost instantly,  my panties get untwisted, my mind goes still, my racing galloping heart slows to a trot, and my sweaty armpits begin to feel a cool breeze…

Call to action: What about you? Are you still in the ring, getting boxed around and knocked down by Life? Or, have you discovered a way to peacefully co-exist with her, ringside?

It Was So Deep

cold, early morning scene with a giant heart-shaped light

Dear Reader!

Last night as I lay in the black of night, away from the collective consciousness of the world, deep in slumber, I had a dream:

We danced with our hearts close,
rather than separated by oceans of defenses,
of pretenses, of fears,
of towering walls of mistrust.
So afraid of the other’s truth.

Rather we pulled each other in close.
And placed our warm hand on the thumping heart of the other
and talked and shared,
and trusted and cared.

I deep into you. You deep into me

We stripped “naked.”
Dropped our defenses;
forgot our pretenses;
lay waste to our fears and flattened those towering walls.

Our souls bare and defenseless to each other,
exposed to the gaze of the other for just a moment…
or an eternity.
Protective of one another.

You deep into me. I deep into you

Our eyes were open like those of a newborn babe
gazing on the world for the first time;
our ears waited patiently;
our arms open, beckoning, eager to be filled;
our hearts already full.

I deep into you. And you deep into me.

Mmm…

Then, I turned to go deeper into my dream, but instead I blinked and squinted at the bright light of a new day peeking through my bedroom window. It was already morning.

And I realized, oh, it was just a dream… and I was very sad — for it was a sweet, sweet dream while it lasted.

Call to action: What do you think is the meaning of my dream?

It’s July 4th… It Was Independence for Some

The Aerican Flag

Dear Reader!

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice will not sleep forever.” ~ THOMAS JEFFERSON, a Founding Father and 3rd President of the United States of America

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is the United States’ federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence of the original 13 colonies from Great Britain on July 4, 1776.

The “gift” of independence for some… but definitely not for all.

It wasn’t until December 18, 1865 — 89 years later — that the last 45,000 black slaves were freed in the last two slave states of Kentucky and Delaware when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in the United States, was finally ratified.

And it wasn’t until 1924 that Congress passed the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, which finally granted Native American Indians legal U.S. citizenship. Hmm, Native Americans who were indigenous — that is, originating and living or occurring naturally in an area — are graciously granted citizenship to their lands.

Ha. Crazy, right?!

So today as you laugh among friends and family, fill up on burgers and fries, and set off fireworks, please pause and consider this country’s history of oppression, injustice, “independence,” and privilege.

Call to action: Read President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed and issued on January 1, 1863.

Other related post: Memorial Day: It’s a Sad Day

Are You Happy, Baby?!

someone crying tears of sorrow

Dear Reader!

Tim Lott opened up and bled these words in his book “The Secret of Happiness? Stop Feeling Bad about Being Unhappy:” I wish I were happy all the time – I just don’t think it’s a very realistic possibility. The daily parade of disaster on the news is sobering enough. The fact of my own mortality is a downer. Old age and sickness frighten me. The difficulties of human communication produce as much isolation as connection. The corruption and venality of the powerful are daily reminders of the ubiquitous nature of injustice. The lot of most people in this country who simply work and work harder and harder in order to spend, or simply survive, strikes me as profoundly un-jolly.

Let me bleed a bit here too: I’ve lived long enough for any naïvety and delusions of perpetual “happiness” I may have had to have come to an agonizing demise after a lengthy illness.

Personally, I know all too well the heartbreak of having my heart taken, tricked, and discarded too many times and the disappointment and loneliness of having been carelessly discounted by “family,” so-called friends, and the world at large.

Then, there is living with the chronic, terminal illness that is life, which afflicts us all and forever lurks beneath the other inconvenient sicknesses, accidents, and freak accidents, that has us all living with one leg rooted on land and the other leg suspended over the edge of the Cliff of Oblivion.

It is no wonder that so many of us choose constant motion, endless activities and deafening distractions as a reprieve, a salve, against our fickle reality.

Daily, we all witness too many stupid, ridiculous, and shallow people and other amusements validated by “the powers that be,” and then sold to and bought by the gullible masses. And as a result, our information,  entertainment, and social media super highways have become like landfills littered with so much hazardous waste.

Globally, we all see too much senseless ugliness, injustice, evil, and apathy on the evening news; on the History Channel; and in our everyday observations of and interactions with our fellow human beings.

We are all chasing happiness, to no avail.

America is, arguably, #1 among all First World — advanced — countries. We are all very familiar with the “good,” so let us own the bad. We are also at the very top of the heap in matters like sexually transmitted diseases (STD), obesity (gluttony), stress, depression, consumption and over consumption (greed), suicide, homicide… I’ll stop here.

(SIGH)

Hmm-mm, am I happy?! Can I be perpetually happy?!

Are you?

Call to action: Share in the comments below your own thoughts on the chase for happiness.

You might enjoy this related post: Where Did Wonderful Go?!

That’s a Good Boy, Scout!

10-week old boxer dog

Dear Readers!

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I”m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel so bad. ~ My Favorite Things (a song)

Last Saturday, David, one of my most favorite people ever, got a new puppy, a 10-week old boxer. And while I’m decidedly not a dog — or a cat — person, I can’t help but think, “Isn’t he absolutely the cutest?!”

AHH, all babies are magical.

Just looking at him makes me smile — BIG!

So today I’m sharing Scout with you. I hope he makes you smile too.

Call to action: Just look at him! Enjoy gazing into the face of the cutest little puppy ever!

Please, Don’t… Don’t Shoot!

the American flag with gun in holster lying on it

Dear Reader!

No law-abiding American should be made to face evil with empty hands. ~ National Rifle Association (NRA)

I hear you NRA, but here we are again

On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, a 21-year old, white male entered a black church during Bible study, sat with the members for ONE hour — yes, ONE hour — before he gunned down nine souls, as he hurled words of racial hatred.

There is simply nowhere to hide from the homicidal unhappiness and mental illness of the few.

So what are we to do now that evil also again and again asserts its Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, picks up a gun, and goes hunting for law-abiding Americans?! What?!

Here’s the thing: People are dead. Children are dead. More of us will die. And while the 32% of Americans who own firearms may feel safer, more in “control,” I think it is safe to say that for all of us our peace of mind is also dead. (Interestingly enough, gun ownership in this country is on the decline!)

And the grim reality is this: We law-abiding Americans are not safe anywhere!

Not at our public gatherings. Not on our sidewalks. Not on our highways in our cars. Not at our malls. Not at our movie theaters. Not in our schools. Not in our homes. Not in police custody. Not even at our places of worship.

Not anywhere!

Maybe, we were never safe. Maybe, it is unlikely that we can or will ever be.

Ugh, are you terrified yet?!

I am.

Call to action: Are you terrified? Share in the comments below.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

Picture of a father with his little girl

Dear Daddy,

Your phone calls,
Your attention,
Your concern,
Your understanding and support,
Your unwavering, fatherly love
Has meant everything to the woman and the little girl that I am.
I’ve always needed you and your love.
I love you!

Happy Father’s Day to you — and to all the other great dads out there too.

Is It OK to Be Satisfied with Enough?

the finger of destiny touching the finger of a man

Dear Reader!

Today, in the West, it seems like so many of us want to be somebody. Furthermore, we want the somebodies we choose to “love” to be somebody too. And as for our kids, well, so many are feeling suicidal under the enormous pressure to be somebody. And when we say somebody, we mean S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y. Being a regular anybody just won’t do. It seems that more than ever, everybody wants to be one of the biggest, brightest somebody in the Universe.

We admire, bow and worship, and are captivated by outrageous success stories. These days, there is a S-O-M-E-B-O-D-Y to obsess over whatever your ambition.

But I have two questions: Is outrageous success a logical aspiration? And does it deserve to be worshiped?

Really, no one — no one — can predict the kind of other worldly success that flings a person into the stratosphere of: The Few. The Famous (or The Infamous). Or the brightest star you’ve ever seen.

So, it seems so fruitless and so sad to judge ourselves and everybody else as if this kind of success is a possibility for almost everyone. Frankly, outrageous success in any field is actually an unpredictable peculiarity, an irregularity. And its “merit” is in its unpredictability and its rarity.

No one can predict this kind of success. No one.

Yes, beneficiaries of outrageous success may put their hearts and souls and everything into an idea or a cause or the development of some talent. (Some just fall into it.) Whatever. This is essentially just placement — it is not, however, the reason for their success.

Rather, there is a huge element of the stars aligning, the skies parting, and Destiny being awake, paying attention, and touching them, as she simultaneously invokes the imagination of the masses. In other words, there is a huge element of timing and luck.

While hard work may be part of the process of success, it is not the defining factor. We all know that there are certainly more people who work hard and still fail than those who succeed. And then, there are those who toil at nothing or lack talent and are, in spite of themselves, a bright star among us.

The truth is, so many of us do have smashing ideas or great talents or true hearts. Many of us do toil, toil, toil. And we fail anyway to be one of the few flung that get flung into the heavens. Maybe it is us. Maybe the timing is wrong. Maybe the masses lack imagination. Maybe Destiny is taking a nap.

(SIGH)

Bottom line: No one knows why some succeed beyond their wildest dreams and others, equally talented and committed, don’t.

So if outrageous success is our goal, we must keep in mind that the only thing any of us can control is summoning the courage to start, the strength to do what we dream of over and over again for the joy of it or for the engagement. Then, maybe, hopefully, if the stars align, the skies part, and Destiny is awake, she chooses us.

And, for almost all of us, this will simply have to be success enough…

Call to action: If someone puts their heart and soul into a plan; work hard at it; and still fail, are they a success or a failure? Is it OK to be satisfied with enough?

A Supersize Arse to Die For

Statue of woman's arse

Greetings!

Oh, my, God. Becky, look at her butt. It is so big… I mean, her butt, is just so big
I can’t believe it’s just so round, it’s like out there… ~ “Baby Got Back”

On June 3, 2015, it is reported that a young woman dies in a NYC basement — a NYC basement — after allegedly getting illegal butt injections.

On March 11, 2014, a young mother and a college student dies at a Meatpacking Hotel in Queens from a botched butt lift. Yep, you read right, a Meatpacking  Hotel.

On June 14, 2103, a 28-year old, Miami mother dies after getting $2,300 butt implants, in effect, abandoning her two little girls.

And on February 8, 2011, another woman came all the way from London for a supersize arse to die for, and then does precisely that — die — in a Philadelphia hotel.

(SIGH.) And on it goes…

I am peeved — and I wanna know…

What is the current and continually expanding preoccupation with the part of our anatomy whose fundamental function is to power us through an active life and house the orifice that evacuates waste matter of digestion — that is, excrement, feces… OK, sh*t?!

I mean, I appreciate that a shapely arse is an attractive “accessory” and that some of us are more or less “accessorized” than others, BUT…

Ladies, free your mind from the tether of yet another physical deception — and instead embrace what has always been your birthright: The knowledge that you are enough — and so much more than the size of your curvy bits.

Regardless of how insecure or how vain, how can any woman or girl believe it is a good idea to get questionable “sh*t” injected in her arse, especially by  low-life, quick buck, unlicensed predators?! How?!

Why are so many grown women and young girls constantly sharing their “butties” on social media — and, apparently, willing to die in strip malls, meatpacking hotels, makeshift basements, wherever, for supersize butties?! Why?!

This is absurd, ridiculous, outrageous. I cannot be the only one who thinks this! You, dear reader, you’ve got to feel that this is downright senseless too!

And how come we don’t hear stories of men and boys dying in the pursuit of supersizing their arses?! How come?!

What’s more, why and how has the “backdoor,” this upstart, dethroned the vagina, the conduit of life and the once upon a time quintessence of all that was/is female?!

(SIGH.)

Actually, I don’t wanna know! I just want the asinine glorification to stop, please! Really, is it too much to ask that we, men and women, stop over glorifying this curve or that curve and instead lift our eyes up and see the integrated, whole woman before us?! Is it?!

Besides, you should also consider that an over-sized anything on the human body turns that person into prey,  an animal that can be hunted and captured for mealtime, whether the landscape is a savanna grassland in Africa, a mean street anywhere else in the world, … or in the mind of a insecure, vain woman or girl in the West.

Call to action: Is a supersize arse worth dying for? Is a woman’s worth directly related to the size of her curvy bits? Tell me in the comment section below.

Check out my previous, related post: Are You a Cheap Value Meal?!

Do You Want to Live Forever?

Clock

Greetings!

I recently saw The Age of Adaline (2015), starring Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Ellen Burstyn, Harrison Ford, and Kathy Baker.

Beautiful people. Beautiful outfits, Ms. Lively. Beautiful scenes. Beautifully quiet.

But boring. Really boring.

It is yet another contrived tale of youth, beauty, love, and immortality. Here’s a brief synopsis:

A beautiful (of course), 29-year old mother (Blake Lively) is “gifted” with immortality after a strange car accident involving a meteor (don’t ask), her heart stopping, her being struck by lightning, and then her heart restarting. She lives the next eight decades pretty much to herself, moving every 10 years or so to avoid discovery. Seriously, can you imagine her fate if any government caught wind of her secret?!

Tragically, while she may be young, beautiful, and very well dressed, she can never really live and love and be happy, because “change” doesn’t come easy to her. Immortality is, for her, a living death. After eight long decades of youth, beauty, and immortality, Adaline is not having a good time.

Only one person — her aging daughter — is privy to her deepest secret. She has, however, managed to keep one long-term female friendship with a blind woman who cannot see her secret. And then she meets him… Ellis (Michiel Huisman). And four days later, Adaline comes to a crossroad in her life… Will she finally trust someone enough to share her secret with them and, in effect, choose “life?”

Oops, was I snoring?! I’m sorry, but I told you it was unbelievably boring, except for the icky reveal (I still love you, Harrison).

Still, the movie did get me thinking and asking myself: “Janine, if given the choice, would you actually choose immortality over death?”

Here’s the thing: Death, the infinite darkness of the unknown, is fearsome.  And the process of aging, equally so. From the first moment we embrace the light, we are all careening on a well-trodden path to old age — if we’re lucky or unlucky, suffering along the way, and inevitably death. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we are terrified, a little or a lot, at the prospect of our own expiration. I am.

But if given the choice, would I, would you, choose to be forever young, forever beautiful, forever here? Forever young… Forever beautiful… Forever here…

Forever young… Forever beautiful… Forever here…

As seductive as that all sounds, I think before anyone can answer that question with any intelligence, they should first ask themselves another: “Do you have the capacity and the desire to love?”

You see, I think everyone could enjoy the perks of immortality — in the short-term. Short-term, before the losses pile up, it might be grand fun. But only a psychopath or a narcissist has any real possibility of enjoying it long-term.

Why? Well, since these people care about no one but themselves, other people are interchangeable to them. It is this defining characteristic, their inability to love, that makes them the most likely of us to truly enjoy the “gift” of immortality. For them, an eternity of “Next” would probably be simple easy, or at the very least simpler easier, choices.

But if you, on the other hand, have the capacity and the desire to love other people, life would eventually become absurd, hopeless, and bitter. Think… Think about how agonizing it is to lose loved ones in one lifetime, never mind many! Or, maybe worse of all, to always have to stand emotionally on the outskirts of love, never able to fully submit, to fall.

This price alone would be too costly for most of us to pay — it became so for Adaline. The truth is, for most of us to enjoy living forever, we would need to have the power to invite everyone we love or would ever love to take the journey with us.

Then, there is also the issue of how intolerably bored most of us feel on a quiet Sunday afternoon with no distractions, nothing to do, and no one to see.

So with that said, my final answer is a fearful no.

Call to action: In the comment section below, answer this question: “Do you want to live forever?”

It Was Always Lucille

gibson guitars

Greetings!

Last week a legendary blues artist and guitarist died. And by his own account he had fathered 15 children with 15 different women and had 50 grandchildren.

When my mum told me he had died and the fact that he had fathered 15 children with multiple women, I tweeted and texted to four of my closest friends: “A famous man died last night leaving behind 15 children with multiple women and 50 grandchildren. What does this factoid say about the man?”

One friend (male) texted, “Typical.”

Another friend (also male) texted, “He had 15 children he could take care of! There are so many black men who have nearly as many and cannot support none. It is not ideal… He was no saint, but not all of the 15 women were angels. Some saw an opportunity and took it.

And someone (male) tweeted back, “He loved women and he gave 15 people the gift of life.”

My mum said, “Mm. He shared the “love.” 15 different women. How disgusting!”

And another friend (female) texted in response to the tweeter, “Well, that’s one way to put a positive spin on it.”

Here’s the thing: Frankly, this man was free to make his choices and he did. But when I heard this factoid, any respect I could possibly have had for this man was lost at “he fathered 15 children with multiple women.”

However, when someone tweeted that “He loved women and he gave 15 people the gift of life,” I got to thinking  a little deeper about love, life, and character.

First, love is sublime and upscale, which is to say that it breathes profundity, discrimination, and elevation into what is beloved. While I cannot speak to the content of all this man’s relationships with women. The evidence of his choices would suggest that his associations lacked, generally, any great emotional profundity or depth or elevation. And I feel very comfortable saying the following with a great degree of certainty: His behavior with women was not driven by love. It was driven by the other L-word lust and the numerous opportunities he was given by women to f**k bare back.

Second,  daddies are NOT optional! But a man does not “give” the gift of life. A man contributes to the process. It is a woman that sustains life within her womb for nine months, and then she gives birth to life through hard labor.

So I broke down and I Googled him, and I learned this from an article in the New York Times: … his great love, his guitar. And he addressed his guitars — big Gibsons, curved like a woman’s hips — as Lucille.

Also, being part of the reason why another being is here is no small matter! This man’s approach definitely appeared to be slapdash, thank you ma’am, which is no way to attend the very important matter of the creation of life.

Furthermore, whether life is a gift depends a great deal on the innate nature of each individual, as well as how they feel about and process their parents’ involvement in their lives and the quality of that involvement.

Finally, yes. Yes, I would agree that it is very likely that most of those women, who gave birth to his 15 children, were opportunists. But regardless, we are all still accountable for our choices. That is, life presents us all with opportunities and struggles and how we choose to take advantage of those opportunities and cope with those struggles exposes, for better or worse, the content of our character.

P.S. I believe he really did love his Lucille, deeply. What he did with a Gibson guitar was sublime, profound and elevated. There is no doubt from his life’s work what he really loved.

Call to action: In the comments below, share what you think about how our choices tell on us?

Did You Get the Script?!

two pictures: mother & child; wife & husband

Greetings!

So it’s the day after Mother’s Day and yesterday got me thinking about an experience I had not too long ago.

It was a really pretty, sunny day. And my mum and I were chatting away about nothing as we sauntered across the parking lot of our local grocery store when we spotted Rose, the young woman who works as the office administrator in Dr. V’s office. And in tow, she had three of the cutest little kids, a son, a daughter, and a nephew.

So we greeted her excitedly and I made the casual, small talk statement, “So there’s life outside of Dr. V’s office?!”

Rose’s reply was swift, definite, and full of pride of achievement: “Yes, there is. I am a wife and a mother too.”

Her words and the supreme confidence with which she stated them got me thinking and examining the idea of roles and how they have applied to my life.

newborn baby

All the world’s a stage. ~ WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

From the first moment our lungs expand with the acceptance of the breath of life, we begin playing our first, inescapable role: a daughter or a son.

Then, depending on how the roles are casted, you may be a sister or a brother too.

Next, as we grow into life, we hopefully become a loyal friend to someone and they to us.

And if you choose it and/or Lady Fortune has her way with you, you may play the role of a wife or a husband — legally or in spirit — and then,  a mother or a father.

While there are other roles one can play on the stage that is a human life, these roles are fundamental. For most of us, these roles are a way of keeping up with the passage of time. That is, they provide evidence — milestones, if you will — that we are here, that we are engaged in the interplay of living, that we have given something back to life.

Like it or not, these fundamental roles often define us, for better or worse; provide us with structure; lend us purpose; and even give our existence a greater depth and range.

But the way of life and individual human nature is random and the path uneven and littered with obstacles and interference.  For one reason or another and/or misfortune, we can fail to meet our destined co-stars.

Or, maybe like me, you had certain instructive experiences in your youth that coloured your entire perspective and, therefore, the choices you made along the way.

Since I had only witnessed indifferent or unhappy marriages and I had always sensed that life was a dark comedy with just a enough light moments and delusions interspersed between the dark to keep most of us in the play and on stage, I decided to not be a wife (what man could I trust with forever) or a mother (why would I pass on uncertainty, injustice, sickness, and death to another soul).

I don’t know, maybe life did send me the wife/mother script a time or two, but I had already said an emphatic “I’m not interested” to both early on.

And while I do not regret my choices and I have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of what I missed out on, I can’t help but wonder sometimes: Am I no one if I have never been a wife or  a mother? Have I lived an incomplete life? Did these choices make my life less?

Call to action: In the comments below, how do you feel about the fundamental roles and how they’ve played out in YOUR life?

Every Generation Is Right

marble statue of a woman thinking

Greetings!

Every generation proclaims that their generation is the worst ever. And guess what?! Every generation is correct. The ugly truth is: The heart of humankind, collectively, has always had a deep streak of deceit, perversity, and wickedness. Yes.

And today, like no other time in the history of humankind, thanks to the reach, grasp, and speed of the Internet that feeds our insatiable and predatory greed and envy; to various technological “progresses;” and to very sophisticated instruments of destruction with which the most evil among us can very efficiently annihilate other souls en masse, human existence has arrived at a record low of utter chaos, unbearable despair, and unparalleled ridiculousness.

This weekend in the news, in one part of the world, the British royal family welcomed its newest member — a girl — into its inner circle of privilege, while in another distant part of the world Nigeria, hundreds of kidnapped women and children were finally… finally… finally rescued from terrorists’ camps. When I examine the gross disparity between these two news stories, I can’t help but ask: What is optimism?

For those crushed beneath the lack of to satisfy ravenous consumers;

For those whose hunger will not be fed to satisfy those that know not “enough;”

For those whose bodies are pillaged and peddled to satisfy base carnality;

For those whose spirits are trampled to satisfy those too weak inside or too stupid to be good and kind;

For those who have not the luxury of leisure and stability to anguish over what or who to be or how to choose between good, best, and even better;

For those whose destinies are stolen to satisfy the means to another’s end.

Every generation proclaims that their generation is the worst ever. And guess what?! Every generation is correct.

What is optimism for those who die
unwashed, unknown, unloved, without.

It’s for them I despair; it’s for them I grieve, for they are us and we are them.

So optimism may well be an illusion for those of us whose bellies are round and full and whose skin is smooth and cool to the touch.

Call to action: In the comments below, share if you agree or disagree with me that optimism is an illusion of the West? And how do you feel about how Lady Luck metes out privilege or opportunity to a few and sorrow and injustice to, too many?

Love Fights

love doesn't make us fight for it. love fights for us.

Greetings!

I want to give you the 411 on real love, whether it be friendly, familial, or romantic:

Love does NOT toss you away like a used Kleenex or a Dixie cup. EVER.

Love is steadfast, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Love has integrity and will NEVER make you beg or make lame arse excuses for why it failed to attend. But if it is real and your life depends on it, it will get down on its hands and knees, even crawl across hot asphalt strewn with broken glass on the hottest day of summer, and beg for you (figuratively, of course).

Love is as dependable as sunrise — even when you’ve really pissed it off.

Believe these words like your heart and the quality of your life depend on it, because… because… they do.

Call to action: In the comments, please share with us an instance when love fought for you or you for it. Then, go out into the world and look for opportunities to fight for someone you love.

And if you missed it, check out my earlier post So “Connected,” So Alone.

Also, if you want an exceptional model of real love, check out CBS’s Blue Bloods. Ooh, I love the Reagans! Heck, I want to be a Reagan!

So “Connected,” So Alone

picture of lighted candles

Greetings!

Pam Crenshaw was a bright light in the lives of all those she loved and who loved her. She always made me feel worthy and beautiful in countless ways. And even when I couldn’t, she embraced with love and understanding the unique details that make me, me. She was sweet like caramel brownies topped with a swirl of caramel cream cheese frosting. She was lovely. And she was my true friend.

It has been years now since breast cancer sneaked in like a stinking thief in the dark of night, ravaged her body, and then absconded with her spirit and her light. On Thursday, we had talked at great length and she was still fighting for her life. She was hospitalized on Friday. And by that Saturday, she was taken.

I remember clearly that Saturday evening when I got the call that she had died. My reaction was stunningly immediate. Even after all these years, I can still, to this day, feel how my heart broke: As I dropped to the floor in a heap and curled up tightly into the fetal position, it felt like a very large, angry man had kicked me swiftly and violently in the very center of my being, with all the force his large body could muster.

Within a year of her death, her brother brought together about four of her closest friends. Most of us were unacquainted with each other, but it was clear that some of us had loved her dearly.

As the years have gone by and my memories have softened and faded, I now only vividly remember two things about that gathering:

  1. How angry and shocked we all were to lose the bright light that was Pam; AND
  2. That woman, who by her own proclamation called herself a close “friend” of Pam, BUT had only learned of my friend’s death SIX months after the fact when she finally decided to pick up a freaking phone and call Pam to check in AND, get this, how she wanted me to drive with her six hours to visit Pam’s grave

Huh! Wait… Did I forget to mention: Pam had been battling breast cancer? Cancer! The Big C!

OK! Let me pause to take a moment to inhale and exhale deeply… because… because this r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s-n-e-s-s still makes my scalp itch and my armpits very hot and sweaty. Yes, I am still disgusted by that woman, and I am sadden by the drought of real, meaningful connections then and now.

picture of a smartphone

Like androids in a Sci-Fi movie, our smartphones are now a tightly integrated extension of our physical self. In the west, the modern person cannot even take a shit without the damn thing tightly clutched in one hand or perched precariously close by. (Eww) And still too many of us cry we cannot find time to call those that should matter.

It seems that while our phones were getting smarter, we got dumber and dumber!

We have an exhausting number of social media platforms today. Exhausting! We collect meaningless “friends” on one. We pin like a mad person things we will never cook or make, places we will never visit, and things we will never buy on another. We chat unintelligibly in 140 characters or less on the next. We snap and over share photos on the go of the minutiae of our lives and, regrettably, our scantily-clad or naked bodies on all of them — Hey, another selfie, anyone?! How about a butt shot?!

And while everybody is following everyone and no one, our relationships are as shallow as a puddle on a busy street with very good drainage after a light rain. Instead of connected, we are starved for true friendship, unable to converse with any depth in our first language, and without any true concept of shame.

Today, there are many lines of “communications” open, but we are distracted, unable to connect in any real, genuine way. All that can be heard on both ends is frantic tapping noises or the sound of neglect, nada.

We live in an age where we humans have amassed an impressive amount of knowledge about everything and nothing. BUT we are, sorrowfully, still incapable of working our way to world peace; stopping ourselves from creating and/or living in our own personal, and often secret, worlds of hell; or showing up and staying for those we claim we love.

Read my poem I Wonder Why.

Call to action: Share in the comments below how you feel about the current state of disconnect in our world day? Or, if you are one of the few who is blessed with real connections, then share how being connected adds value to your life?

Oh, and when you’re done, how about picking up the phone and CALLING — not texting or updating your status — someone who matters!

Are You Hiding and Hoping?!

car headlights on a busy road
It is really about value.

We all live in hiding. In one way or another, each of us conceals pieces of ourselves from the rest of the world. Some people hide because their lives depend on it, others because they don’t like being seen. And then there are the special cases, the ones who hide because… because… because they just want someone to care enough to look for them.”  ~ U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon, “In Plain Sight, Season 1, Pilot”

I love Mary Shannon. Why? Well, I love her honesty, her bluntness, her sarcastic wit, her self-acceptance, and her exceptional intelligence that allows her to see right through people’s lame, shitty behavior to the truth, get right up in their face, and then call them on their bullshit without hesitation or apology.

And I love that under all that honesty, that bluntness, that sarcasm, that self-acceptance, and that “pretense” is a woman with a wildly caring heart, a wise heart, a broken heart. Yes, contained within her is the disappointed and broken heart of the little girl she was (and still is) and the woman she has become — she’s so human and so much fun to watch.

Mary Shannon is the baddest, bad arse marshal in the whole damned Witness Security Program (WITSEC). I love Mary Shannon.

And I think the quote from the Pilot episode (2008) is brilliant. Brilliant. We all want to really matter deeply to someone else. We all want someone else to care deeply enough about us to miss us if we disappear. We all want someone else to care enough to actively take the effort to come searching for us… Every. Time.

So, please, stop and really think about the last sentence in that quote, the theme for the series, as well as real life. And then…

I hope with all my heart that you have a sure “who” to both questions.

Call to action: In the comment section below, ask yourself these TWO questions: (1) If life’s disappointments, betrayals, regrets, and heart breaks were to shove you  into hiding, literally or emotionally, do you know who would care enough to come searching for you and keeping on searching for you until they found you? (2) And if the tables were turned, do you know who you would search for and keep searching for?

Advice to My Younger Self…

picture of an hourglass
No matter your age, time is always running out.

Happy Monday!

I had a lovely Easter. I hope you did too. Now…

Since arriving at a “certain” age, I can’t help but contemplate my life and the choices I’ve made and the ones I didn’t and how my life could have been, possibly, different — better — if only I had known this or known that, so I would’ve done this instead of that.

It is no easy thing to arrive at a point in your life somewhere between the beginning and a little too close to oblivion and stop and evaluate. But since I believe the “unexamined life is not worth living,” I think the following question is a great one to ponder not only for the value it offers us, but also for the value others may derive from the hard-won experience wrought from our personal disappointments, heart breaks, and regrets.

Grr, if only I was all-knowing and understood all things, then I wouldn’t have to ponder this question at all.

So I ask myself: “Janine, what advice would you share from your heart with your younger self?” And here’s what I think I would say to the girl I was whose heart was still whole and hopeful and naïve:

  1. Sorry, sweetie, I know you wanted to avoid them, but you will have regrets. Lots. It seems that regrets are part and parcel of being a human being who isn’t omniscient.
  2. By choosing a job, a neighborhood, or a man, you choose a life. So, I suggest that you deliberate, deliberate, deliberate on each as if the quality of your life depends on it (it does), and then choose wisely.
  3. Beware of arseclowns who pretend to be harmless as sheep but are inwardly vile, heartless, extremely narcissistic wolves. They are everywhere. They will deceive you. They will break your heart. They will try to murder your soul. Afterwards, they will walk away casually as if nothing happened. You’ve been warned.
  4. You can depend on this: Other people will hurt you more than you deserve. Maybe it is personal; maybe it isn’t. Either way, for the sake of your sanity and your way to be, don’t take it personally. Don’t!
  5. True love and friendship stays, keeps their word, and proves themselves. You do not EVER have to make excuses for good, honest men — or women.
  6. Yes, love is the answer to every question. But, sadly, it will conquer nothing most of the time. But it is still the answer.
  7. Starting now, push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, and carry every day. Every. Day. At 50, your body will thank me. Trust me.

Then, I would give me the kind of hug that is warm and snuggly and seems to go on forever, and thank my younger self for never smoking, doing drugs, or drinking alcohol and for giving up soft drinks and fast/processed foods. Those choices saved my life!

Call to action: In the comment section below, regardless of your current age, please give it some real thought and share ONE thing you would tell your younger self if you could?

I Wonder Why

Human existence has reached a nadir of utter chaos, awfulness, and unimaginable r-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s-n-e-s-s.
How sad it is that today our emotional lives aren’t even as deep as this puddle.

Happy Monday!

I wrote a poem:

I wonder why…

Why is life but 70 seconds long
Yet pain and disease a constant companion for some
And Mr. Death mocks us all
Never letting us for a second forget
Forget how suddenly he can extinguish our life’s light
On just a whim, we’re gone
Nevermore

Why do some toil at nothing more than
A sport, a show, a song, a “certain look”
Yet their coffers burgeon with treasure for their puny efforts
Of doing nothing at all
While others toil, toil, toil all their days
Just to keep the wolves of insolvency at bay
Or lay down their lives to serve and protect
Or find value in bringing knowledge to the hope of our future
For nothing more than the jingle jangle of pocket change

Why do we exalt the rich and “famous”
Could they exist without our adulation
Without the pedestal we’ve erected in their honor
Of course not
Yet we pay homage to these “gods” we’ve created
All shiny and inviting on the outside
But black, hollow, even messy on the inside
With no heart, with no soul

Why is love like the breath of air itself
So critical, so crucial to sustaining our very life force
But so many are suffocating
And dying just a tiny bit each day
Way down deep in the secret corridors of their hearts
Where no one wanders
For lack of love—for air itself
Our faces hard, with no hope
Our hearts resigned, bitter, with no hope

And I wonder why…

Call to action: Share in the comments below what makes you wonder: “Why?”

Biracial, a Source of Uniqueness?!

I'm biracial, so uniqueness resonated inside me...

Happy Monday!

Well, spring is here. Sort of. Saturday was stunningly spring-like, but in my neck of the woods, we have already had a few days that felt seriously like the dog days of summer intermingled with the return of chilly days! Sadly, the trees are confused; so all the prettiness of spring — trees dressed up lusciously in pink or white, showered in sunshine — that I love is already fading. Ugh!

Anyhoo, last Friday at my dentist’s office, I was glancing through an old issue of Self magazine from some years back when I stumbled upon the quote above in an interview article on a young, Japanese-African American singer. And it got me musing over what really makes a person unique.

So, of course, I got questions:

Can being biracial, in and of it self, be the primary source of what makes a person unique?

And what is the substance of uniqueness that is fundamentally based on being biracial?

Further, from where I sit, the future of skin colour in the USA looks very caramel; so what happens when everyone is caramel-coloured? Will those with the “biracial uniqueness card” have their uniqueness confiscated?

And if there is at least ONE person on the planet who is unique, but who isn’t also biracial, isn’t the statement above nonsensical.

There are millions of us out here who are not biracial and for whom uniqueness IS certainly an indelible part of our DNA.

Now, I know that all this may seem a little nit picky and I know that the authoress of the above quote was probably making a harmless, casual (if thoughtless) comment, but really, in this day and age in the USA, being biracial is NOT a source of uniqueness.

Here’s the thing: There’s more to what sources our individual uniqueness than the random hookup of two people from different races! Fact is, there are millions of us out here who are not biracial and for whom uniqueness IS certainly an indelible part of our DNA.

So to authoress of the above quote: Honey, you may very well be unique, but it ain’t because you are “biracial, so uniqueness resonated within you.”

Call to action: Think about it. What do you think really makes us unique? Share in the comments below.