Family · Motherhood · Parenting

Planting the Seeds of Change

“An eye for an eye is just wrong, Mom.”

My 12-year-old son was explaining his feelings on law and order from thousands of years ago. His homework was to determine if justice involved cutting off a person’s hand if he were caught stealing food.

“Why is it wrong? Wasn’t he wrong to steal?” I asked him.

“It’s wrong because violence is never the right thing to do.”

Sadly, his opinion would seem to be rare if watching TV is any indication. We live in a world where violence is entertainment.

News channels repeatedly spew out the same horrifically violent videos 24/7. Popular video games and prime time television shows glorify senseless violence. Social media rewards people who commit crimes by posting their images until they go viral.

We sit there glued to our screens like desensitized robots and eat it up, but we never fully digest it. We let it consume our psyches, allowing the anger and fear fester inside of us, eventually planting seeds of overwhelming sadness until we become the news we are watching.

Newsflash: we are each other. Nothing is isolated in this world. Everything and everyone is connected. Every human has a story, his or her own personal tragedies to overcome. How do we break the chain of negativity? How do we grow to become the respectful, loving souls we are all destined to become? Anger and sadness are genuine emotions but it’s how we transform that energy that matters in the end.

Every day we each have to dig deep inside ourselves to make a simple but powerful choice. Love or fear. The truth I know in my heart? Love is the only thing that will save us.

A few years ago, a holistic doctor was helping treat the anxiety and depression I’ve suffered off and on all my life. I’m an emotionally sensitive person so I absorb all energy, the good and bad. Unfortunately, my own mindset began to change to one full of fear. I started to view the world as full of evil, disrespectful, misbehaving people. It’s an eye for an eye, it’s a hellish, cruel world. It’s hopeless.

My doctor offered a simple suggestion that I immediately scoffed at: Stop watching the news. Stop watching the news? But then I wouldn’t know what was going on in the world! I need to know! I can’t be ignorant of the problems people are facing every day, can I?

Now that I’m getting older I’m finding he was right. For me the key is balance.  I do stay informed of things, of course, but I turn off the news more and more. I’m finding I’m less anxious or sad. Now I go out into the world more positive, more accepting, more open to trust. People pick up on my energy and they feel it too.  Small changes make a big impact in your life.

I still know what goes on in this world, I’m not turning a blind eye to injustice.  Of course things need to be brought to light in order for change to occur. But what are you doing in your life to make that change? Simply watching the news is not taking positive action. But how you act toward everyone you meet? That is how you make real change.  It’s not found in buzz phrases or tweets. It’s getting down to the basics of how we treat each other as human beings.

Now I focus on the good things that are happening and I let them feed my soul. I make it a mission to water those seeds. Contrary to what the news tells us, every second of every day people are doing good. They’re loving, helping and respecting each other. They’re listening to each other’s viewpoint without jumping on a bandwagon just to be popular. They’re showing the courage to actually practice what they preach on a daily basis with no fanfare, no immediate reward, no viral story blowing up on the internet.

Why can’t this behavior be the norm on TV? Because these stories don’t get the best ratings.

There are millions of respectful, loving people on this planet. I remind myself the news media is in the business of getting us to watch. They figured out a long time ago, humans are drawn toward violence — we love drama, we crave conflict. News outlets seek it out and they zero in on it. They replay the worst of human behavior for our endless consumption until it slowly poisons us.

Hope is not lost with me because I’m blessed to be able to tap into a deep well of boundless love and positivity. It’s found within my own kids. I raised them to treat everyone they meet fairly, to try not to judge anyone based on differences. To listen. To understand. To empathize. To respect. To accept. To love. These aren’t mere words, these are actual concepts we practice every day. As a parent, I’m cultivating in them the notion of honoring all life.

My son is now my teacher. I watch how he acts and I relearn how to behave myself. He shows me that talk is cheap. He stands up for people that are considered “different” because he is different himself. He is respectful, loving, and compassionate to everyone he meets. Everyone. I know he will be brave enough to do some good in this world. He will make a real change.

He chooses love over fear, so why can’t I?

Maybe someday, this will be considered popular behavior. Maybe someday, this will be the news.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Blogging

How Blogging Has Changed My Life. Really.

blogging-tips-for-marketers

Maybe it’s because my fourth blogaversary is coming up, but I’m getting sentimental. I’m looking back over the years and thinking about what this blog means to me.

I’ve debated for days how to write this post without coming off as sappy or narcissistic and I’ve realized it’s impossible. Those are the two things I’m good at.

I don’t know about you, but my blog has been an important part of my life. It came at the perfect time. Four years ago I was spending my days posting stupid facebook status updates about the toast I had that morning, feeling like I had no creative outlet.

I was a stay-at-home mom feeling like I had lost touch with the world. Like I had lost my identity along the way. I needed to make connections with others.  I wrote my first post, the mind-blowing “What’s a widget?” received one comment from my cousin in Florida and I was hopelessly hooked

Blogging is like opening up your house for strangers to come in and sift through your medicine cabinet and underwear drawer. It’s very scary to let people in, to be so intimate and vulnerable. What if people judge my granny panties? What if people find out about the prescription strength hemorrhoid cream? (not mine)

Life is all about pushing through those roadblocks of fear. Testing your limits, seeing what you’re made of. Hiding the hemorrhoid cream in a better place next time.

I wasn’t popular as a kid. I wasn’t outgoing. I was painfully shy. And by that I mean other kids would take turns giving me atomic wedgies on the playground.

Oh I was always observing everyone else for sure, because you can pick up a lot about human nature that way. Like figuring out how fast I had to run to avoid being put in a headlock and given a noogie. Thankfully this knack for observing others helps with my writing a little. Except for this paragraph. Oh god I hate it. Just bad bad writing overall. Oh well, too late.

So — surprise, surprise — I had huge insecurities most of my life. I’m in my forties and feel like I’m finally letting most of those go, letting them fall away. I’ve told that negative inner voice to shut the hell up already.

And you know, it feels good. More than good. It feels like I’ve given myself permission to be the true me — the good, the bad, the ugly. I feel FREE.

Here’s a sampling of my inner dialogue/conflict now:

Darla, you are such an idiot.

Shut the hell up.

Darla, your face resembles a Shar Pei. A very old, very wrinkled Shar Pei. Not the good end.

Shut the hell up.

Darla, your ass is droopy. So droopy it’s morphed with your jiggly thighs to become one giant mass of ass. Really, I can’t even tell where one body part ends or begins now.

Shut the hell up.

Darla, your writing sucks. It sucks bad.

Shut the hell up.

See? Seems easy to do, but it took me a long time to get to this point. Go on, try it — tell yourself to shut the hell up for me. You’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted.

How has blogging helped me reach this point? It all comes down to you guys. Every time you take the time out of your busy day at work playing Candy Crush Saga to leave a nice comment, it gives me a positive boost. To be honest, I still can’t believe anyone wants to read my writing at all.

But maybe you don’t want to read my blog.

Maybe you were moving a heavy bookcase by yourself, it tipped over and now you’re lying on the floor trapped underneath a mountain of books. Your smartphone flew out of your pocket and it’s just inches out of your reach. Your pet parrot Mr. Pickles unlatched his cage and swooped down to help because you had spent months teaching him how to call 911. But then he realized you had forgotten to feed him again that morning so instead he angrily pecked at your phone, inadvertently typing the URL address for this blog and now all you can do to pass the time is read this drivel from a distance as the weight of the bookcase slowly crushes your spine into dust while a squawking Mr.Pickles digs his talons deeper into your face and poops on your forehead.

If so, I’m sorry. Next time get a dog.

It’s been four years of blogging and I still don’t really know what I’m doing. But I don’t care anymore, I just go with it. What — you say you could tell by the quality of my posts? Shut up.

So you know how sometimes you feel a little trepidation the moment before you hit ‘publish’ on a post? I used to get anxious posting some things. I’m not sure why.

Now I feel a level of confidence when I write. I’ll never be completely satisfied and that’s not the point for me anymore. When I post I think, Hey, guys! Whassup? Here I am, this is me. And what about you? It’s that basic human connection, that someone out there might “get me”. This is the only reason I blog now. (I’m not sure there was ever any other reason.)

This confidence has spilled over into other areas of my life. I went back to college full time and I’ll graduate as a medical assistant next week. I made the Dean’s List every semester, high honors. Yes, I think I have permission to brag because I studied my giant mass of thigh/ass off.  I start my externship soon at an OB/GYN office and hope to train to become an ultrasound tech.  I’ve done things this year I never thought possible at this stage in my life.

Yes, this is me. Shut up.
Yes, this is me. Shut up.

Was I scared the first day of class when I realized I could be my lab partner’s mother? Hell yeah!

Was I shaking like a leaf the first time I had to draw my lab partner’s blood? Of course! But then, so was my lab partner.

I wanted to quit school so many times, to just give up. Fear was this heavy weight bearing down on me (much like your bookcase and again, I’m sorry) Every semester I wanted to run and hide underneath the covers.

Instead I made a choice to face my fears head on, to allow myself to make mistakes and to be okay with it. I know you might not believe me, but blogging has been a catalyst in this transformation.

By writing again, I’ve found the true me again. She was there all along, buried underneath choking fears and insecurities. (again, poor choice of words but I told you not to buy that large-print copy of War and Peace)

And I really like this new me. She’s all right.

Blogging has changed my life. It’s opened up a door I thought was closed forever.  My creative side is back, I’m writing again.  I’m starting to do things in my life that make me happy.

Me.

After all, I believe it was the great Shakespeare who once said, this life sure as hell ain’t gonna be lived by anyone else. You’re right, it was Oprah.

So thank you.

Thank you for reading all these years.

Thank you to all the other bloggers for constantly writing entertaining posts so I have zero time to write my own freaking posts, you big jerks.

I’ve met some amazing people in the past four years, some I’ve gotten to know online and some in real life. I feel truly lucky and blessed to have ridden this wackadoodle WordPress rollercoaster with you guys. (ridden’s a word right? ah, who cares)

I’ll be posting on my blog much less this year due to my new career sticking people with needles and all, but I’ll still be around now and then. Writing is like breathing for me, without it I’m as good as dead.

And hopefully I won’t ever write another post about writing or blogging again. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?

Okay, that’s all from here. (too much from here by the looks of my word count, damn!)

Have a great summer guys! See you around. Take care of yourselves. Stop sending me Candy Crush Saga requests on Facebook.

(And I sincerely hope Mr. Pickles finds forgiveness in his tiny heart and dials 911 for you. In the meantime, read War and Peace while you lie there waiting for my next post. I hear it’s a good story.)

 

Humor

Death Becomes Him

I don’t like spiders.

And now thanks to last week’s events, I know the feeling’s mutual.

My normal tactic whenever I see a spider of any size is to panic, scream for my husband then run away. Unfortunately, the spiders know this about me and decide to only appear when I am home alone with the kids.

So when my son announced there was a “huge bug” in the house, I thought, no problem, it’s probably a cute cricket and I’ll just shoo it out the door.

Aw, you are just so freaking cute, Mr. Cricket!
Aw, you are just so freaking cute, Mr. Cricket!

Only it wasn’t a cricket but the biggest, baddest, ugliest spider in history. A spider that had obviously been around the block a time or two.

Slide1

As soon as he saw a dozen images of me coming toward him with my husband’s size 13 Shaquille O’Neal sneaker, he made a break for it, galloping down the hall on his creepy-deepy legs toward the safety of the radiator vent on the floor.

Ignoring all better judgment,  I chased after him, wildly slamming the clown-sized sneaker around and managing to hit everything in the hallway BUT the spider. Naturally, I also made sure to yell,  “GAH! GAH! GAH!” at the top of my lungs to aid in my murderous rampage.

I have it on good authority that in spiderese GAH loosely translates to: Prepare to die, asshole.

Yeah, I was giving him a warning. Because I’m a good person.

I cornered him into the crack between the wall and the floor and proceeded to deliver about a million sharp blows to his body, squishing him into a crumpled brown ball. With every hit I let out a blood-curdling yell of “DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!” because that’s the only way I can make sure the spider is really dead. The louder I say it, the more it makes it true.

The spider stopped moving. He was dead. Most definitely.

Right?

I crouched down and peered at the big brown ball of twisted spider guts. Oh yeah, he’s gone.

Still I wasn’t convinced. I stared at the spider for a good five minutes. Waiting. You can never be too careful. Those suckers are wily.

That’s when I saw him move. Ever so slightly one of his legs twitched. Can spiders experience post-death/rigor mortis/ghost-twitching?

But he’s dead!

Right?

Just the thought of this spider possibly coming back to life then exacting his/her/its revenge on me in the middle of the night by crawling into my ear and depositing a million baby eggs caused me to wait it out even more.

I held my breath, cringed and gingerly nudged him with the toe of Shaq’s sneaker to see if it would move.

Slide1

Nothing.

Oh he’s good. He’s DAMN good.

“Mom, I think you killed him,” my son offered.

“That’s what he wants me to think.”

A few more minutes ticked by. Not wanting to tip my hand, I nodded at the spider and slowly backed away down the hall, disappearing around the corner.

Then I whipped my head back around to see if he was still there.

He was.

Yet my spidey sense was still tingling. Yes, he was there — but was he in the same spot?

Something is up, I thought.  I could have sworn he was further down the hall…

Then another thought dawned on me:

Holy crap. I am bat-shit insane. Of COURSE he’s dead! What kind of spider could sit there, completely still for several minutes, not moving one tiny spider muscle–they have muscles, right? I mean, if he wasn’t really dead, that would be completely bonkers! That would mean he had the gumption to realize playing dead would save him. That would mean the spider was thinking! And planning! And being all clever and shit! And that would just be nuts! And he’s looking at me right now! He’s watching me with all ten of his eyes! He knows I know! He’s waiting for me to leave! Or pounce on me! Yes! He’s going to launch himself up off the floor, glom right onto my face, sink his fangs into my nose and shoot a steady stream of spider-babies down my throat! I’m sorry I killed you, Mr. Spider! I am! I didn’t mean it! Please, don’t be mad! Okay, Darla, just calm down! Drop the sneaker, go get the vac and suck the bastard up. Then you’ll know he’s gone! …or he’ll live a long (albeit bitter) life within the confines of my dusty vacuum bag where he could bide his time creating a tiny voodoo doll of me and plotting my slow and painful death….

Yeah, I’ll get the vac. Good plan.

I flew upstairs, grabbed the vacuum and ran back downstairs with the attachment hose in hand when I heard my son yell from the hallway,

“Hey Mom?”

“What?”

“The spider’s gone!”

That son of a bitch.