Pride…

Lion Pride Simba style

Pride. I’ve swallowed a crap-ton of it over the last few years – no, not the kind of pride you see above. That’s just a cute Lion King picture. (In case you haven’t noticed, Disney movies make me smile, something that I really need to do more often.) I’m talking about the kind of pride you have (or don’t have) in yourself, self-respect, if you will.

Before the recession rudely shoved us off our personal fiscal cliff, things were good. We weren’t rich, but dinner out and a movie was something that was taken for granted. These days, dinner and a movie is something from the dollar menu at McDonald’s and whatever is on HBO. When the kids needed something for school, we just whipped out the checkbook, no problem. Now, my son needs $275 for an upcoming field trip (yes, this is for that FREE public school education, but that’s a post for another day!), and I’m trying to figure out from where in my ass can I pull that.

Our circle of friends has all but dried up because we just don’t have the money to socialize. And who wants anyone, especially your friends, to find out you’re broke? Let’s face it – people talk. It’s embarrassing, humiliating, even if the events leading up to your circumstances were completely out of your control. You want to crawl in a hole, hope to hell you’ll wake up from this horrible nightmare, and everything will be back to normal. But you can’t.

That’s where the pride comes in, or, rather the swallowing of it. You take a big gulp as you find yourself standing in lines you never imagined you’d be in, signing up for services you never thought you’d need. In the grocery store, you hope to hell there’s nobody you know in your line, because the card your paying with ain’t the platinum card you used to swipe  without a second thought. You endure the abrupt mood changes from cashiers as they mentally shift you from a “valued customer” to the dregs of society.

You just want to scream, “GODDAMIT, DON’T LOOK AT ME THAT WAY! I’M THE SAME FUCKING PERSON!” But am I? Maybe not. When your pride takes a hit, your self-esteem gets bludgeoned, and your subconscious begins to look down her nose at you like you’re the most worthless piece of shit on the planet. It doesn’t make for a pretty reflection in the mirror every morning.

But if I want that cashier in the grocery store to not treat me any differently, maybe I need to stop treating myself differently. I am, after all, my own worst enemy. I didn’t create this situation, so why am I letting this situation create me? Why am I letting circumstances that were beyond my control turn me into someone I’m not?

Pride. I shouldn’t be swallowing it. I should be spewing it! I can’t help it that the 94 people to whom I’ve sent resumes don’t realize that I’m the same intelligent, well-educated, creative, hard-working, witty, amazing person I’ve always been. I’ve kept my family afloat – a roof over their heads & food in their tummies. We’ve gotten through. I don’t have everything I used to have, but maybe I have more to be proud of.

As for that $275, I’ll find it. It’s up there somewhere.

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.” ~Ayn Rand

Faith

Cristo-Redentor-watching-over-Rio

Despite being raised Catholic, I’m not a particularly religious person. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not spiritual or lacking faith. Without conscious intent, I’ve taken things I find particularly comforting from many different faiths and rolled them into something that works for me. Most of it is Wicca, with a dash of Buddhism, and a Ganesha hangs on my wall for good measure. Quite the melting pot, don’t you think?

That said, for some inexplicable reason, I find an odd sense of assuagement in the Cristo Redentor statue that looks over Rio de Janeiro. It has nothing to do with it being a statue of Christ or the implication that he is thought to be the redeemer. In fact, growing up Catholic, Christ and his supposed wrath was something to be feared. We always heard, “Don’t piss off God/Christ or you’ll be in a whole world of shit.” I always found that interesting because, in the next breath, it was “God is all loving and forgiving.” Which is it? Sounds a little schizophrenic to me.

So what is it about that statue that comforts me? Is it the arms, open wide, seemingly offering acceptance or the immense countenance that provides protection. Since I’ve never been one to get subtlety, perhaps it takes the giant, luminous presence of something like the Cristo Redentor to remind me to have faith. Probably not the actual faith it represents, but faith in the people and things surrounding me – faith that things will get better, and, although I might not be able to see it, there is a path.

Maybe the most important thing Cristo Redentor does is remind me to have faith in myself. Eu sou o redentor. I am the redeemer. It is only with belief in and forgiveness of self that I will get through…

Destiny

destiny_fate_1

I’m sure by now you’ve realized that I’m unemployed. Well, that’s not exactly true. The correct term is “underemployed,” meaning, I am working in a job that does not fully utilize my skills and abilities and/or only working part-time when I would like to be working full time. In my case, it’s and – I’m working part-time in a job that doesn’t come close to utilizing my skills and abilities.  It’s frustrating, and it sure doesn’t pay the bills.

 I went to college, twice. I followed “the plan.” And by following “the plan,” I mistakenly thought I’d never be in this position. I’d put in my sweat and toil hitting the books, so I could graduate, twice, and have a fabulous career. But now I’m faced with another little semantic glitch – job vs. career. Albeit, I’m underemployed, I do have a job, but it’s nothing close to the career I’d hoped for.

For some strange reason, I feel like there’s something I’m supposed to be doing – my destiny, if you will – but I can’t figure out what it is. It’s like having a word on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t spit it out. And the worst part is, I feel like it’s something important, something meaningful. I’m missing something big, but what?

I guess, in addition to the map and the flashlight, I’m looking for a sign – un segno di Dio – something, anything, that will point me in the right direction. It’s like the longest treasure hunt in history. I’m digging and digging but coming up empty.

Do any of you feel this way? Like you’re not in the right place or doing the right thing? Sometimes I look at other people, and I can just tell that they are exactly where they are supposed to be, doing exactly what they were meant to do. I get jealous of those people. How did they get there? Who gave them the neon billboard that told them what they needed to do? Did they end up there deliberately, through careful planning and execution, or was it merely by happenstance? Was it destiny?

That said, is everyone’s fate predetermined? Is destiny real? How much control do we really have over our lives? Why is it that we seemingly do all the right things, follow the plan, and, yet, we end up in completely the wrong place? Or is it the wrong place? I’ve got a fabulous imagination, but I absolutely cannot postulate that this is my fate, where I’m supposed to be. I cannot fathom this is my destiny.

So what do I do? I guess I keep butting my head against the brick wall, begging for my map and my flashlight, hoping that, eventually, I’ll make it through and my destiny will become clear.

Swimming…

ellen-dory-finding-nemo-2__oPtDuring my post-op recovery, I’ve probably watched 50 movies, some more than once…some more than twice. While I know there aren’t too many people reading this, I’m still embarrassed to admit how many times I watched Finding Nemo. It’s one of my favorite movies, not just animated, but all movies. And I LOVE Dory. Okay, I love Crush too, but that’s another topic for another day.

Let’s face it, Dory has issues and lots of them. But she’s warm, and sweet, and loyal, and, despite her issues – I guess her short-term memory loss could even be considered a disability – she doesn’t quit. She just keeps swimming.

Maybe I watched that movie multiple times because my subconscious was trying to tell me something in a kind way, instead of bashing me over the head because I’m too stubborn to take subtle hints. Maybe I was supposed to watch these animated creatures have things they love taken away, and struggle, against seemingly insurmountable odds, to regain some of what they lost.

Their journey is wrought with problems and adversity, but, despite dangerous challenges, they meet amusing characters and engage in compelling adventures along the way. They learn things about themselves and begin to question all the things they thought were true, the way they were certain things were supposed to be. They learn how to have fun.

Perhaps the most important lesson learned was that of letting go, learning to trust themselves and those around them. When we have things taken away, our first instinct is to hold on tighter to whatever is left. In our panic, we cling with such ferocity that we sometimes cause what’s left to implode, and we’re left, ass on the ground, in the middle of that damn impervious forest.

But not Dory. She’s in the middle of the vast expanse of ocean, not knowing where she is or where she’s going – okay, she knows she’s supposed to get to P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, but it’s not like she has a map or a flashlight. Somehow she just trusts that she’s going to get there. Irregardless of all her issues, she finds the strength to hold Merlin up as well. Quitting is never an option.

So, despite the fact I’m not really sure where I am or where I’m going (it’s probably not P Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, but who knows?), maybe I need to take a few lessons from an animated fish. Perhaps I need to loosen my grip, not cling so tightly to what’s left, and trust that, somehow, I’m going to get where I need to be. Maybe, if I just keep swimming, I’ll make it through…

Just+Keep+Swimming365badgeSM

Loss

tumblr_m6hus6amjk1r7fcx3o1_500I’ve lost a lot in the last few years – a business, job, home, pets, family, friends (not death, but by vicinity), and today it was a almost a guinea pig. I can hear the haters now, “She’s whining because she has a sick guinea pig?” Well, yes, I am. I love that little pig. She means a lot, and not having the money for vet care and having to try to nurse her back to health on a wing & a prayer makes me sad.

Maybe I won’t lose her today, but I will someday. Nothing lasts forever. That got me thinking. Whenever we lose something meaningful, something we truly love – be it person, place or thing – a little piece of our soul goes with it.

“It’s just a guinea pig. You should be grateful for all you DO have.” She isn’t JUST a guinea pig. She’s MY guinea pig, and who says I’m not grateful? Why have being sad and being grateful become mutually exclusive emotions? Why can’t I be grateful for what I have, yet mourn the things I wish for? And is grief a contest? If so, is it a contest you truly want to win? Yeah, I want the fuckin’ gold medal in that event!

When people remind me that so many others are far worse off, I like to use this analogy:

You’re in the doctor’s office with a broken leg. Guy sittin’ next to you also has a broken leg. Whose leg hurts worse? YOURS! IT’S YOUR FUCKIN’ LEG! You cannot compare grief. You cannot compare pain. Yours will always be worse because it’s YOURS.

The saying “misery loves company” is kind of sick. Am I supposed to feel better because there are millions of people in the world suffering far more than I? WTH is up with that? No, I want them to be happy and pain-free, but, dammit, I also want what I want. Does that make me a horrible person? I think it just makes me human.

Despite what they say, time doesn’t heal all wounds. It merely dulls the pain. Loss is something we never “get over,” but, with time and strength, we move through.365badgeSM

Hope

hope ave and change wayToday I received an invitation to submit a pitch for a blog. I know you’re thinking, “so what?” For me, it was huge. It gave me hope, something I’ve been sorely lacking these last several months. I realize the chance of them picking up this pitch and letting me run with it is pretty slim, but until I get that rejection email, there’s still hope.

Some people say that having hope is everything, while others say hope is your way of procrastinating – If you’re “hoping,” you’re not “doing.” I think I’m somewhere in the middle.  To lose all hope is to stop completely, to curl up in that tiny ball in the corner of the room and let the blackness envelope you. However, doing nothing but hope is the equivalent of standing around waiting for something to happen.

Like the picture above, I believe that hope brings about change. If you lose hope, you lose the ability to not only propel yourself to change in the direction you wish, but you tempt fate to make those choices for you. And, as we know, fate isn’t always kind in its choices.

So, I will hope that these folks think they’re reading the best blog pitch ever, but I won’t count on it. If not, I’ll hope for the next thing that will lead me through to the change I desperately seek.

 

Transform

19992_519875024709517_1016724975_nIn the movie “The Wedding Date,” Dermont Mulroney’s character says to Debra Messing’s character something to the effect of, every woman has exactly the love life she wants, and, when she’s ready to let go and be un-single and un-miserable, she will. It’s kind of a slap in the face, but it was seemingly the slap in the face she needed to move forward. (Of course the drunken sex on the boat with Dermont probably didn’t hurt!)

Perhaps the same is true not only about a love life but a life-life as well. Maybe when we get stuck in the middle of the dark forest and can’t seem to find our way out, is it possible that we are, in fact, exactly where we want to be? Are we there because we literally can’t see the forest for the trees?

Of course I want to find a great job, have money and happiness again, and get out of this morass of crap in which I find myself. But do I want it enough? Do I want it enough to claw my way through this miserable cocoon I’ve woven around myself and transform into the butterfly? Do I, in fact, have the exact life I want at this moment in time?

A scary point to ponder…