Posted in fearless, Push, Uncategorized

ONE WORD

push

I’ve read articles about choosing one word to guide you through a year. I’ve had “life words,” that have carried me through periods of my life, like “hope,” and “fearless.”  “Fearless” will still be with me as I move forward. It’s still my primary life word.

That said, I decided to choose one word  as a focus point for 2016. I wrote a list this morning that included words like, “thrive,” “purpose,” “beyond,” and “dare.” “Dare” almost won, but I finally settled on “push” because once I wrote it down, the word would not leave my mind.

Push” resonated with me – it implies that force is needed. Push/pushing involves strength and risk and effort. For me, to push is a challenge that must be met with intention.

Several areas of my life need a push. Health, finances, career, creativity are the four main areas, but there are certainly more.  I need to push boundaries, limitations, and expectations – both mine and others’.

I am by no means comfortable with/in my life, but I’ve certainly grown complacent. Due to health issues I’ve had, I feel like I’ve rested enough. To be honest, I feel a bit stuck.  Time to push.

What is your One Word for 2016?

 

Posted in fearless, Human Rights, politics, Uncategorized, World

LET’S DISCUSS, BUT FIRST, PLEASE INFORM YOURSELF

I’ve tried to stay neutral most of my life – I am a middle child, after all. Lately, however, I find myself neck-deep in discussions about everything from politics to refugees to my views on Human/Equal Rights.

I don’t particularly care what a person’s opinions are, as long as the opinions are informed by more than TV soundbites or sermons.  Recently, I’ve had people argue points about information from documents they haven’t read.

That frustrates me.

I remember years ago someone attacking Harry Potter, insisting that it was an evil story and would lead children to dabble in dark magic.  When I asked this person if they had read Harry Potter, the blank stare told me all I needed to know.  Their opinion had been formed by someone else, from behind a pulpit in fact, and they were merely spouting misinformed rhetoric from someone else who had also not read the series.

Frustration overload.

Fast-forward to 2015 and the current election cycle. Rhetoric abounds. People are re-spouting what their candidate says, blindly following a person down a road without checking the map themselves.

After Donald Trump said we should keep all Muslims out of the US, period, I was shocked at how many seemingly intelligent people parroted this sentiment. I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked.  I’ve been surrounded by people who spout what they’ve been told and taught without challenging the content all my life.  I’ve even been that person myself.

I enjoy our world and its varied viewpoints and ideas.  I enjoy the discourse and the exchange of opinions – from people who can back up their opinions with facts and who have formed their opinion with knowledge and allow room for other opinions at their table.

Sheeple really bother me, I admit it.  When I am discussing a topic – be it controversial, religious, political or otherwise – when a person merely quotes popular rhetoric and has no true opinion of their own, they are like sheep following a shepherd.  I can’t have conversations with people when they can’t back up their rhetoric with anything they themselves could bring to the table.

Recently, a person was saying it’s too easy to get into the US for someone seeking political refuge. When I asked them if they had read the vetting process a person or family goes through to get asylum in the US, they said no. When I said that I had, this person immediately went into a defensive position because deep down they knew they couldn’t win their argument. I was armed with facts, they were armed with rhetoric that may or may not be true.

I spent enough time as a Sheeple that I try to have compassion for those still in the blind-following flock. I know many people who follow a doctrine or idea, but they made that choice with knowledge as well as their heart.  I do not include those people in the Sheeple category.

Sheeple can be controlled by fear tactics and they believe what they are told and they are encouraged not to think for themselves.   I went to a pastor once and asked him about something he said in a sermon.  I couldn’t find what he said in the Bible and that concerned me because he had said that’s where he got his information from.

He said:

It’s not your job to think for yourself. How dare you challenge me? It’s my job to tell you what this Book says.  It’s your job to believe what I interpret from this Book!  Why do you even carry that Book with you? I am the pastor – I interpret what it says and you follow it!

That is a true story. It happened to me. I left that church not long after. Sadly, many people did exactly as he said. They didn’t open their Bibles and read it for themselves. They followed his leadership 100% without question.  When I questioned him, word spread quickly and I was old-school shunned. I was dangerous.

I had a difficult time fitting into ministry positions because I was a woman and because I questioned what I was being told nearly 100% of the time. I finally had to leave the institution behind so I could do actual ministry without having to defend and excuse my gender or my brain.

I am in charge of changing my mind. I fact-gather. I ponder. I examine all sides of an idea. I make up my own mind. I will reiterate what I’ve said many times – I don’t care what you believe as long as it’s your belief.  If you have gathered facts, wrestled with what your belief really means, and your belief is truly yours and not someone else’s you and I could likely have a civil conversation – if your goal isn’t  to change my mind or win.

Changing this woman’s mind… that’s another discussion.

 

 

Posted in advocate, badassery, commentary, community, fearless, politics, Uncategorized

I WANT TO KNOW WHAT, OR RATHER, THAT YOU THINK

Politics, tragedy, religion, guns, nationality and so many more subjects are polarizing, especially in America. I’ve seen families, friends, and communities torn apart because of deeply held beliefs.  Rarely, but thankfully, I have found a few people in my life who can hold deeply held beliefs and still have conversations about the aforementioned subjects and still remain civil and friendly afterward.

I know I’ve been unfollowed, unfriended, branded, and abandoned because of my deeply held beliefs, and I know I’ve unfollowed, unfriended, branded and abandoned others for the same reasons.

Lately, I’ve even been branded as dangerous.  Dangerous? For having different beliefs?  For challenging long-held, deeply-entrenched beliefs and opinions?  Yes.

If I am being labeled dangerous for challenging the status quo of beliefs and thoughts and a lifetime of opinion, know that I relish it. I’d rather be known as someone who examines, inspects, interrogates, and thinks her way through life rather than accepting everything I’m told, skimming over issues to promote an opinion that’s only mine because I carry it forward for someone else.  I’ve lived a lifetime of promoting other agendas because of a sense of duty to what I’ve been told and indoctrinated to believe. I’m finished with that part of my life.

The extraordinary state of thinking for myself was a hard-fought battle. I’d go so far as calling the battle for my own beliefs and opinions a war.  Not only did I have to figure out what I truly believed, I had to fight for my right to express that belief and opinion freely. That’s a war I’m still fighting, because I’m dangerous, you see.

Throughout history, the people in the masses who think for themselves have been labeled as dangerous, especially women.  The awakening of owning a thought or idea that is truly mine is intoxicating, I’ll admit.  The further I pursue my own thoughts and beliefs, the further away from blind obedience to an idea I get, the freer I feel.

I don’t care, really, what a person thinks or believes if I know that they truly have thought, examined, challenged and formed their own thoughts and opinions. All I really care to challenge in a person is that they think for themselves and not follow the masses just because it’s easier and more comfortable to follow the crowd.

A staggering number of people will follow a man in a pulpit, a person on a political soapbox, a person with a certain philosophy – anyone with a message or agenda – without challenging, investigating, examining what the person in charge is saying. If, after study and query, a person agrees with a different ideology than mine, I can respect that.

I have huge issues with people just accepting what another person says without thinking it all through for themselves.  That, to me, is a truly dangerous way to live. It’s why certain pastors and politicians have power – they tap into those minds who will follow without question.

People want to belong to something greater than themselves so much, they turn off their mind’s alarm systems: that doesn’t sound/feel right. I don’t think I agree with that, but if I challenge it, I won’t belong anymore. I believe that’s dangerous.

I wanted to belong to something so badly it turned me into a mindless sheep, and I became so judgmental and hurtful as I followed other people’s agenda.  I stopped thinking for myself at the cost of losing myself.  I put what I wanted/thought/believed over relationships and I believed it was what I should do and because I wanted to belong.

When I started sorting through what I believed and wanted for my life, I know I lost friends.  I lost certain membership in communities that don’t like dangerous thinkers in their midst.  I’ve actually been old-school shunned for challenging the status quo and asking questions.

Ironically, thinking for myself has opened up my mind enough to allow others to think for themselves. I gladly accept differences in opinions and sometimes challenge people with what they believe to be a differing opinion so I can see their resolve and commitment to their belief. Some would call that devil’s advocate, but I call it investigation.

Personally, I don’t care what a person believes, as long as it is truly a belief that is theirs, forged in thought and investigation and fire.  I care more that people think than what they think.  I wish that notion went both ways, but it often doesn’t.  It’s easier to label me a danger than a free-thinker.

I value the discussions I have with people. I enjoy hearing what other people think, and challenging them to own those beliefs and thoughts. If that labels me as dangerous, know that I don’t mind.

 

Posted in fearless

BEING THE BREAK

After a long day at work, I stopped to get some takeout. As I was walking in, I was approached by a young black man, who asked me for money.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me.  I get approached quite often, and most of the time the person has an outlandish story about why they need the money.

When I looked into this kid’s eyes, however, he seemed genuine enough.  He did not set off any of my “creep-o-meters” or “danger, danger,” feelings.  Believe me, in many situations like this, regardless of race or gender, I feel like I should walk away because my instincts tell me to do so.

The young man was calm and polite, so I paused to listen.  He held out his hands and showed me his paycheck.

“See, I work. I’m trying so hard.  I have a roommate and we both just got jobs last week. I’m working at Jamba Juice by the mall. I am now $20 short and I need to get a cashier’s check to pay my rent by tomorrow.”

I told him I was sorry, I didn’t have any cash and went in to order my food.  While I was sitting there, I remembered that I had been paid with a $20 bill earlier that afternoon.  When my food was ready, I went back out to the car and I saw the young man asking someone else for help.  The person was so rude to him I wanted to cry.

I got in my car and motioned him over.  I told him I remembered I had some cash on me.  I pulled out the $20 and gave it to him.  I thought he was going to cry, but instead he reached in the window to hug me.   He told me that he had just moved to Houston to get away from his parents who were both on drugs.  He was trying to raise himself up and he was confident he would get a second job soon and then he’d be ok.  He just needed a break.  This break.

One of the clerks at the restaurant came out to see if I was ok and I heard him say, “soliciting.”

The kid’s face fell.  “Please, don’t come at me like that…this…this is my aunt.”

I gave the clerk the thumbs up and said, “Everything’s ok here.”

I mean, yes, I am a regular there and yes, a man did dive in my window so I understand why the clerk came outside.  He was not rude in any way, either, but the clerk looked at me like, sure, this kid is your nephew.

I looked at him as he was backing away and said,   “I’m proud of you!”

The kid smiled so big and he looked at the clerk. “See, that’s my aunt!”

I really am proud of him.  I hope he makes it.

Posted in breast cancer, fearless, tamoxifen

DEAR TAMOXIFEN, IT’S NOT ME – IT’S DEFINITELY YOU

I’ve been off the Tamoxifen for a week now and I’ve already seen improvement.  The joint pain has lessened, and today I did a series of stretches that felt so good.  I will see how I feel tomorrow.  Lately when I’ve tried moving around quite a bit I hurt like hell the next day. I’m hopeful that trend is about to end.

Tuesday, I was hungry. Not ravenous, but the feeling that I hadn’t eaten in a while was present.  My weight doctor wants me to eat more calories in a day and quite honestly, I just haven’t felt like eating at all.  Maybe I will now.

I’ve actually slept a bit better, my brain is firing better, and feel less foggy. I am looking forward to getting back to more photography and writing, both of which are satisfying and fun for me.

I had a physical on Friday and my blood pressure was perfect, and she said I was in good health for the most part.  She could see something was different and I told her I was no longer taking Tamoxifen. At first, she was surprised, but she calmly asked me why, she listened, and she suggested before I make a clean break to get a second opinion.  She also warned me that my oncologist would be angry and upset.

I fully expect my oncologist to be angry and upset, but I am resolute. I already feel so much better that I can’t imagine willingly taking a carcinogen daily again.  I can imagine by my appointment in October that I will feel so much better that I will have a hard time taking her anger seriously.

I have reached out on several support groups/forums and I am getting quite a bit of support.  It’s a good feeling to know I’m not alone, I’m not insane for taking back control of my body.

Oh, my dear Tamoxifen, this breakup is going better than I thought – and it’s you, it’s definitely you.

Posted in fearless

THE YEAR OF FEARLESS

Tomorrow is no different than today as it relates to goal-setting and self-promise making. Still, each year, people chose this day to make huge (and often unobtainable) changes in their lives. From losing weight, saving money, finding love, and a host of other well-intended resolutions, people hope that the coming year will be “their” year to accomplish all these things and to finally reach the pinnacle of their self-imagined happiness.

I set some goals last year and limited the amount so as not to go insane in the pursuit of reaching them.  I did better than I ever have. I also did something that, for me, was a life-changer.  I changed my “life word.”

Up until the end of 2013, My life word had been, “hope.”  Hope is a fine word. It still applies in my life. To me, however, hope implies waiting, not action.  Hope was about waiting for life to come to me, and I was still hoping.

For 2014, I chose the word, “fearless,” as my life word.  I started out the year with the best “Suckuary” I’d had since Suckuary began in 2001, mostly in part to a life-changing song by Pharrell Williams called, “Happy” and my determination to reclaim January as part of my life. For the most part, it worked.

I kept the momentum going after a promotion in March and a trip with my BFF to Maui. Most of that came about because I would look at a pile of obstacle to things I wanted or wanted to do and say to myself, “WHY NOT?” Then I’d go do it.

In May, I became a certified Lead Auditor for ISO 9001. That may not seem like such a big deal but I had to go to Philadelphia to train and take an EXAM (I really haven’t done that since 1991). Still, I attacked that test fearlessly. I had nothing to lose except pride. I trusted my instincts. AND I PASSED.

Then I spent the next six months traveling 25,000 air miles for work. I questioned whether I had the stamina for all the travel, but I managed and I had some great experiences, especially when I was traveling by myself. I was fearless and I embraced my new reality.

I could list so many things of how living fearlessly has changed my life. I am more outgoing, I’ve had wonderful new experiences and met some great new people. I enjoy my job so much more than I ever could have imagined, because every day I approach it fearlessly.

I am grateful for all these new opportunities that I didn’t hope for, but chased down.  The Year of Fearless changed my life, so, with that in mind, I’m going round 2 with “fearless,” in 2015.

You haven’t seen anything yet!