Friday, September 11, 2015

I don't know much

I don't know much about much, but one thing I have learned in the last few years is that mistakes and challenges are often lessons in disguise.  People are doomed to repeat the same mistake until they finally learn the lesson it was meant to teach.

September 11 is a pretty awful day. No one has good memories anymore. Everyone talks about where they were when the towers fell. It's a sad reminder of a tragic day filled with nothing but grief and loss.

I wasn't personally affected. I wasn't in New York or Washington DC or in a field in PA. I wasn't on a plane. I didn't personally know anyone who was. But I felt the day. It triggered some terrible anxiety and worry for me - that something would happen and take someone away from me. Loss is my greatest fear, and it doesn't take much for me to feel scared.

In the days and weeks that followed, everyone everywhere saw a change in Americans. We were kinder towards each other - more accepting, understanding, and accomodating. Differences didn't really matter - if you were an American, you'd been attacked. We were all neighbors. We weren't the arrogant Americans they thought, and they couldn't weaken our spirit. The US was stronger because of the attack.

In the years since, there's been a huge shift. We're tougher on each other. We're divided over issues like same-sex marriage, guns, welfare, Healthcare, religion - you name it, we've probably used it as a reason to argue. We attack each other over political view points and personal opinions. We poke fun at one another for meaningless reasons.

Of course we are all entitled to an opinion, whether we agree or not. Embracing that right means we still have not conceded victory to the terrorists. We continue to embrace the very freedom they sought to attack. We are still strong in our belief that freedom includes the right to disagree.

I think every time we argue with each other, we weaken that freedom. Taking a side is fine; judging others for the side they choose is not. The minute we allow our opinions to become bigger than our humanity - the terrorists win, just a little.

If we really don't want them to win - and if we really don't want any of the lives lost to be in vain - we have to do better. We have to stop behaving like the pompous, self-righteous Americans they meant to attack.

Like I said, I don't know much. But from where I sit, we need to get back to respecting each other, working together, and making our whole country a better place.

We can post all the pictures and poems and memories we want one day a year. But if we really want to win, we need to bring a whole lot more light into our world every day.

Until we learn that lesson, they will have won.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cancer season

I'm fascinated by Astrology. The rational side of my brain knows there probably isn't a ton of science behind it. The rest of me finds it to be a pretty accurate way to measure and predict moods and communication, and sometimes even events.

I came across this post about what it's like to love a Cancer (someone born between June 21 - July 22. My birthday is about three weeks into the Cancer month. I find I am (mostly) a typical Cancer (that whole "loves to cook" thing sorta passed me by - but I do love to eat, so there's that).

"Cancers continually find themselves in situations where they have to 'let go' but they have a hard time doing so.... They hold on through thick and thin but have a hard time recognizing when it’s time to finally cut the cord."

This is definitely a problem for me. I am notoriously bad at knowing when to say goodbye. I always want to give people just one more chance. Part of it is because I'm so afraid I'll walk away just when they are about to make whatever change I've been waiting for. I find myself not saying goodbye because I'm afraid my lack of patience will cause me to miss out on something great.

Recently, I have learned that while patience is a mature, positive virtue - sometimes, when your gut says it's time to say goodbye, ya just gotta listen. I've also learned that if you really don't want to listen to your gut, you should have one or two friends to whom you will listen. This is super-important.

"If we ever mistakenly forgot their birthday, [a Cancer will] remember the exact year and all the details surrounding precisely why [we forgot]. They will forgive but never forget... If there’s some debate on what to get them, I’d suggest a simple token of appreciation for all they do. That’s all these old souls really want."

It's also important to have friends who remember our birthday. It annoys us when they forget. (Also, my favorite color is purple, my shoe size is 6, and I've never met a sparkle I didn't like. Remember, I'm mostly a typical Cancer. This old soul likes cute stuff.)

"Sometimes it’s hard for the rest of us to let go of them too since we tend to feel so at home when they are with us."

This has historically been a huge problem for me. People get comfortable and they stick around long after they know they should say goodbye. If I'm distracted, I might just think they are still around because it's what they want. I'm getting better at recognizing the signs of someone who wants to leave - and also at being the one to say goodbye.

Guess I'm a little more adaptable than the typical Cancer, too.

Friday, April 24, 2015

No argument here

Recently I've been in a couple of conflicts, with two unrelated people. In both cases, I came into the situation with a completely different perspective and recollection of what had happened to get us to the point of conflict.

Both were convinced I was in the wrong.  My views were "skewed." I was laying blame. I was being selfish, doing things only to make myself look good to others.

I disagreed with both. While I absolutely know I can be selfish, I truly didn't think I was in either case. While I do an awful lot to make myself look better, this comment had more to do with actions than a Sephora purchase. As for my views... I could have listed example after example in support.

My first inclination was to do just that. I wanted to rise to the argument, and defend my feelings, perspective, and actions. But I didn't.

Sue from a few years ago may have. She may have found herself in an all-out shouting match, making sure everyone understood exactly why she was right.

Present-day Sue just can't. I let that instinct settle, and then pass. Not just because I wanted to avoid the conflict, and not at all because I didn't want to stand up for myself. Definitely not because I thought I was wrong - it all came down to feelings, and I'm as entitled to mine as anyone.

I didn't argue because I honestly didn't see the point. Both people came at me prepared to fight. They were never going to back down. The louder I protested, the louder they would have argued. All that accomplishes is a bunch of yelling and no listening - which has never, ever solved a problem.

I guess I've come to realize that if someone doesn't care how you feel, simply speaking your mind more loudly isn't going to change theirs. It's not unlike raising your voice when speaking with someone who doesn't understand your language. You can repeat yourself as loudly and as often as you want - to them, you simply don't make sense.

So I never argued. I never defended myself. I let both people walk away thinking I'm selfish and awful and that I don't care. Which, is what they already thought anyway.

I'm not sure if that's me being selfish, lazy, or mature. You can decide for yourself - I won't argue.