wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
I believe it is quite normal to question things and re-examine one's path at pivotal stages of life. The forty-something years are one of those stages. I am getting close to the age where I will not have as many years in front of me as I have behind me. Right now i can still double my age and see living to that number of years. That won't be the case, before I know it.

The other day I realized that the first 18 years of my life were a mistake on many levels. To make matters worse, I perpetuated many of those mistakes for another twelve years, not realizing there was another way to be. I have only been 11 years on the other side of the decision to seek other, healthier ways to be, so I don't feel as though I've entirely made up for the three "lost" decades at the beginning of my life. What a waste. As a result, I regularly find people far, far younger than me who have far more wisdom and freedom to be themselves in certain ways than I had at their age. Janelle MonĂ¡e is one of those people, which is why I admire her creativity as deeply as I do. I don't know much about who she is as an everyday person, but I like her creative vision, and I admire her gumption to put that vision out there in her own way for others to be inspired by. After I saw her perform last week, I wished I could be 24 years old and have that same belief in myself to put my own creative vision out there so young, when I had that kind of energy. She has been believing in and working on that vision for a few years, already. She started young.

I did not. I am 41 and just starting that creative journey. Well...that's not entirely fair to myself: I am not JUST starting. I've been inching along on this journey of self-realization all of my life, every time I kicked against the voices outside of me that said I had to suppress myself and live out their vision for my life, instead. It's just that compared to where I envisioned I would be at 41, it feels like I am just starting. Anyway, being where I am at 41 isn't a bad thing. It's far older than I would have preferred to be making the realizations I have recently been making about life, but that's just how my life worked out. I am not dead, so I can still make progress on my journey.

I try not to dwell on the what ifs. Instead, I am learning to acknowledge them (as I am doing in this post) and keep on moving. My paper journal gets them a lot. I figured I'd share these here, for a change.

Paradox

Aug. 1st, 2010 09:11 am
wlotus: (Introspection)
I do not appreciate criticism of any person, place, or thing I like. Unless I perform intense mental acrobatics, I take such criticisms as deeply personal attacks.

At the same time I have no trouble criticizing people, places, and things I do not like or understand.

As someone who usually does a good job of seeing both sides of an issue and putting herself in others' shoes, I am fascinated and confused and embarrassed by this paradox. I may never understand it.


Post from mobile portal m.livejournal.com
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
My conscience is my guide. In fact, honoring my conscience is very important, because that is how I honor and respect myself. When I do not follow my conscience, I am dishonoring myself just as surely as everyone who ever disrespected me in any way has dishonored me. If I should be able to trust anyone to honor me, it should be myself.
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)
There is a lot of angst and sadness and anger in the world, and I seem to be able to easily, instinctively absorb those feelings from others. I wonder why I do not internalize others' happiness in that way. Their happiness, while real to me, is always separate from my own feelings. In contrast, I feel their sadness as though it is my own.

I Wish

Jul. 6th, 2010 05:11 pm
wlotus: (Eyes Wide Open)
I wish I wouldn't so often look at who other people are, what other people do, and what other people have and wish my life looked like theirs. I would like to consistently be happy with who I am, what I do, and what I have. I'm not talking about understandably wanting to improve aspects of my life as my needs and desires change; I am talking about comparing myself to others and always finding myself wanting, no matter how much I evolve.

Then again, that may be a normal, life-long struggle, not just for me, but for a lot of people. It may not be realistic to expect myself to never feel that way. It may be more realistic to understand those feelings will come up, yet still strive to appreciate my unique self rather than comparing myself to others.
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)
It is challenging to balance my understandable dread of inevitably losing more loved ones (particularly T) with making the most of each and every moment I have with them. Right now I feel more of the fear than anything else.

When I was unhappily single and happily coupled people did not seem to have much compassion for the pain some single people felt, I would remind them that being coupled means that unless you die first, you will be single at some point in the future. With that in mind, I'd encourage them to both make the most of their partner's presence and have compassion for those who were unhappily single. Because when they become suddenly single they'd want someone to have compassion for them.

For the past month I have felt inspired to make the most of each moment with my loved ones. My challenge now that I have lost my uncle in this manner is not letting my mindfulness be overwhelmed by fear of loss. I want to be mindful, not clingy and afraid of every sneeze or cough or stumble or moment of silence from T.

It ain't easy.

Namaste'

Feb. 27th, 2010 08:11 pm
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)
I am a boisterous river
I am a mountains story
I am a quiet feeling
I am a fragrant flower
I am a moonlit evening
I am a peaceful night
I am a writers thinking
I am a wealth unfathomed

And if you don't recognize my presence, I am here
And if you don't recognize me, I am here

I am a source of power
I am excited journey
I am the rock of patience
I am a whisper singing
I am unbridled freedom
I am the thought from thinking
I am a love unshattered
I am the great orgasm

And if you don't recognize my presence, I am here
And if you don't recognize my presence, I am here

And even if you don't recognize me, I'm still here
And even if you don't recognize me

And even if you don't recognize me, I'm still here
And even if you don't recognize me, I am, oh, I'm still here

Even if you don't recognize me, I'm here, I'm here, I'm here

I'm Still Here (Hidden Track), by Jill Scott
wlotus: (Eyes Wide Open)
I watched RuPaul's Drag Race: Reunited! (Reunion Special), and towards the end of the show the drag queens had a chance to judge the judges. A few of them complained about what felt like overly harsh criticism from the judges. They talked about feeling like dirt and disliking the negativity. "We know the world is negative," one of them said, "so why must this show feed into the negativity?"

After a minute or two of both defending the judges and encouraging the queens, RuPaul worked himself into a fine rant. "That's just their opinion!" he all but shouted more than once. "If you felt low, it's because you forgot who you are!" He told them that he'd be ridiculously wealthy, if he had a dollar for every time someone criticized him, didn't agree with his drag persona, or didn't think he could make it as a drag queen. He admitted the self-doubt is never going to go away, but you snap back from it faster each time, if you believe in and remember your own fabulousness, no matter what anyone else says, no matter who criticizes some aspect of your public presentation. "Your happiness is not my responsibility!" he said at one point. "It's yours! You have to know who you are! I can't tell you you are fabulous; you have to know it for yourself!"

While I would prefer a world where people give criticism in the gentle, thoughtful way I prefer to deliver it, I appreciate where RuPaul is coming from. In the past, I have driven myself nearly insane trying to remake myself and various aspects of my life just to please critics. I have questioned myself and my worth more times than I care to remember, just because a boss or a peer did not see value in what I had done. If I was dismissed from their presence in the aftermath of the criticism, especially if I'd tried very hard to please them, the doubts grew roots. I have carried those doubts with me for months or years after the fact.

I had forgotten who I am.

Now, though, thanks to RuPaul's rant, I am newly inspired to remember.

I don't have to dismiss every criticism that comes my way; sometimes there is value in the criticism. It doesn't mean I am not fabulous, and it sure doesn't mean the critic is any more fabulous than I am. It means they had an opinion, and after some reflection, I found something of value in their opinion and chose to adapt their opinion to fit my view of myself, not the other way around. Or it may be that upon reflection, I decide their opinion does not fit my view of myself. In that case, I can remember that is their opinion, not a statement of my worth as a person. Then I can discard their feedback as I classily "sashay away" (as they say on RuPaul's Drag Race) to find someplace where my offerings will be properly appreciated. But whether I find something of value in their opinion or not, whether they appreciate what I have to offer or not, whether they choose to dismiss me from their presence or not, I remain fabulous and what I bring to the table remains valuable.

Because that is who I am.

Do you remember who you are?

I Wonder

Feb. 20th, 2010 01:54 pm
wlotus: (Fountain Pen)
Perhaps the reason high-profile fashion shows (like New York Fashion Week) feature barely-there women is because the high-profile designers want all of the focus to be on their creations. It is not so much a statement of "thin is beautiful", since a lot of what is displayed is not functional in the normal world, anyway. The "clothes" are more artwork than clothing, but they look far more interesting draped over a human being than draped over a hanger. By the same token, the less person there is to look at, the more you will focus on the clothing. A fashion show is about showing the fashion; it is not, after all, a beauty pageant.

On the other hand, maybe fashion designers are size-ist snobs. After all, why not use that same imagination they use to create non-functional clothing draped over barely-there women and create non-functional clothing that can be draped over women with fuller figures? Many designers create functional clothing, too, and they don't tend to create it for fuller-figured women. Women are beautiful at all sizes.

(That doesn't mean I'd buy most of what they create, even if it came in my size. While my artistic side respects their ability to bring their creative vision to light, their idea of "fashion" makes no sense to me.)

This is what was on my mind when I awoke this morning. I have no idea why, and I have no idea where to go with it from here.
wlotus: (Aum)
My embracing of ordinariness could seem as though I am giving up on myself and my dreams. But my attitude is not, "I'm never going to be famous, so I may as well resign myself to the boring life of being a nobody." I don't feel resigned, I am not bored by my life at this moment, and I certainly do not feel like I am a nobody.

First and foremost, I feel relief. I do not have to remain in a constant state of stress, weighed down by a persistent struggle for significance in the eyes of others. It sounds like a cliche' to say, "I AM significant," but I feel as though that statement is close to what I feel. (Only close, because it isn't significance in the way I used to think of it: fame in others' eyes.) Who I am and what I do in my daily life has meaning to me, whether or not anyone outside of my inner circle sees it. I cannot put it into adequate words, but I sure feel it through and through.

Right along with relief, I feel contentment. I am satisfied with my self and the life I am building day by day. I like focusing on the things that are important to ME, rather than trying desperately to figure out and do what I think would make me important in others' eyes. I can relax and be myself for the first time in a very long time, on a deeper level than I have been able to do since I was a very small child. I am remembering what it felt like to be at peace with myself and my world in the years before I started primary school. The memories are fuzzy, but they are there, and the way I feel now is the same way I felt then.

All of this has happened because my desires have radically changed. Where I used to primarily desire significance in the eyes of others, I now primarily desire peace. I desire self-satisfaction. I want to be happy and content. By living mindfully, appreciating ordinariness, and pursuing quiet consistency, I am finding what I desire.
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)
One thing that regularly freaks me out about living in the real world is the way my response to real life sometimes collides with others' expectations of How I Should Handle ThingsTM. When my life goes, "BOOM, FALL DOWN!" in ways that intersects with others' paths, it can be interesting and frustrating to find their expectations dropping on my head along with the shrapnel from my personal war zone.

It's surprising to see who doesn't understand where I'm coming from. You would think it would be the person who has never been in a similar situation, but sometimes it's the person who has been there who can be the harshest critic. "I've been through that and I was able to keep going. What's wrong with you that you can't? If I can do it, you can, too!"

Well, no, not necessarily. In spite of our circumstances being similar, I am not you. I may cope differently, need more time to recover after the wind gets knocked out of me, or perhaps even recover more quickly and thoroughly than you would. Furthermore, that is okay. None of that gives you the right to make judgments about my maturity or self-motivation; chances are your judgments are going to be dead wrong, anyway.

I'm watching that happen to someone else, and it drives me crazy on their behalf. I'm hearing both sides, and there are a lot of assumptions on both sides. The side with all of the expectations--the side with all of the power in this situation--is incredulous and has a lot of assumptions about the other person's supposed lack of self-motivation, based on what the person is and is not doing in this situation. The other person is a little more willing to consider the expectant side's view, but as the one with no power in the situation, it isn't as much their responsibility to listen, though it is a good attitude to have. To whom much is given, much is required; the side with all of the power needs to do far more listening and understanding and much, much less talking.

As much as I would like to slap the expectant side about their head with a clue-by-four and scream, "Your 'should-ing' all over this person is REALLY NOT HELPING THEM COPE!" I don't think that would help things...no matter how much they deserve the slapping. Instead, I bide my time and, when appropriate, insert insight in ways that aren't accusatory or condescending. Whether or not it makes a difference, I cannot say; I cannot force someone to swallow truth. But I can tell the truth in diplomatic ways that will not make the situation more explosive than it already has the potential to be.

A door recently opened for me to insert some more truth into that expectant party's worldview. I've been planning my words all weekend and am pleased with my approach. I just hope they pause and really think about what I'm saying, rather than dismissing it.
wlotus: (Princess)
I have given up trying to understand hypocrites. Their ways make no sense to me. However, I keep trying to understand why hearing about them and their ways bothers me so much. I don't like feeling bothered, and I'd like to learn how not to feel bothered when I hear about them.

Another thing to consider is they don't give me a second thought, don't stress over what I may think about them or may be doing with my life. I would like to take a page from their book and do the same emotional disassociation whenever I come into contact with or hear about them.


Under-rested W. Lotuses will, without warning, rip off their hats and gloves while browsing a yarn store, declare themselves tired of being cold and needing to wear 35 tons of clothing, and pout prettily. Just saying.


Tomorrow I shall go to the director of my computer school and talk to her about doing an unpaid office administration internship. The experience, coupled with my Microsoft Office certifications, could help me find an office job that will hold me until I finish my IT certifications (however long that will take, goodness only knows). At the very least, it will keep my mind busy and give me an excuse to go to the school regularly, where I can study my IT stuff in the Mentored Classroom. I also have a lead for a paid job that sounds like steady work. As soon as I complete the skills assessment, we can get the ball rolling on that. So things are looking promising on the job front. It's a good start to the job portion of this year.


My savings will take a much, much smaller hit than expected when I pay for my car repairs and my dental work this week. Have I said, "Thank you!!!!!" in the last five seconds? I haven't? Well then, thank you!!!!!
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
Sometimes, W, when there's absolutely no other evidence, you can still know whether someone's telling the truth or not, from all else they've said.

That's what I say,
    The Universe
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
Many families have at least one person who is the "black sheep". People usually say that person doesn't fit in with the other, upstanding family members. But sometimes a person is labeled a "black sheep" because they refuse to follow the lines of dysfunction, because they refuse to turn a blind eye to hypocrisy, and because they refuse to apologize for their refusal.

In those cases, the "black sheep" is really the most sane person in the bunch. The others simply feel too threatened to admit it.

I am being cryptic, because telling more of the story that inspired these musings would require telling stories that are not mine to tell. But my mind is clearer tonight than it has been for some time. It is apparent to me that it is far more important to live an honest, healthy life than it is to fit in, especially when fitting in comes at the price of one's soul. I am not the first or only one to have made that choice, and I tip my hat in gratitude to the others. I am in very, very good company.

Zen

Dec. 7th, 2009 10:50 pm
wlotus: (Aum)
I made a comment to someone about my life being fulfilling in spite of the drama that is all around me, and I got a sudden blast of insight.

Because of the choices I make each day, the drama I am currently experiencing in various aspects of life is around me, not within me. Not generated by me. Not nurtured by me. It rolls around outside of me, like a storm battering the outside of a building. But inside the building, which is well-maintained, things are warm and dry and safe and secure. I can look out and be concerned, but I remain safe.

I am going to set aside my feelings of anxiety for a while, accept what I cannot change, appreciate what I have done to make sure I am safe, and touch base with that calmness inside the well-maintained building.
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
There was a time when I honestly believed that there was only a certain amount of pain one had to go through in life. Because manic-depressive illness had brought such misery and uncertainty in its wake, I presumed life should therefore be kinder to me in other, more balancing ways.

-- Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind


For various reasons, I experienced a lot of pain in my childhood and teens. By the time I reached adulthood, certain areas of my life were pain-saturated. I believed that since I had suffered what felt like a lifetime of pain so early in life, I was owed an easier time after that. A lot of the anger I felt towards life in my thirties came from the realization that God/the Universe/Life was not being easier on me. In fact, the pain seemed to continue unabated.

But the reality is that there is no force in the cosmos that looks down with pity and says, "[livejournal.com profile] wlotus has been through so much. Let me turn back this disaster and that hurt, and heaven forbid I let that emotional trauma darken her door! She deserves mercy!" The reality is that life in all of its ugliness will happen, whether I have unresolved pain from my past or not. I've been in the process of accepting that for some time, and I have a lot less anger as a result.

The other reality is that good things will happen in the midst of the ugly and boring, too. My relatively new ability to recognize and hold onto those things (now that I've had the time to do a considerable amount of healing work) helps me through the ugly and boring.
wlotus: (Photography II)
Whenever I attend a local event and capture great shots of a group, I like to find the group's email address and send them low-res, watermarked copies. I do this, because you never know who may be (or who may know someone) looking for an event photographer. Besides, I like the idea of surprising someone with great images of their group in action. I imagine their joy, and it makes me feel good. Being hired to photograph one of their events would be mere icing, to be honest.

It just dawned on me this is a valid self-promotion technique that could result in business, someday. So, when I am mentally beating myself up for not promoting my photography in exactly the same ways I see others promoting theirs, I need to remind myself I am doing more than I am giving myself credit for.

Wynn Center Toppers Drum and Bugle Corps of Brooklyn, NY
Music Under the Bridge
Kingborough Community College
10 October 2009

Wynn Center Toppers Drum and Bugle Corps

Wynn Center Toppers Drum and Bugle Corps

Wynn Center Toppers Drum and Bugle Corps


Technical Notes: I shot these images with my 50mm lens wide open at f1.8 and my camera set to ISO 400. I did not want to use a flash, as I find flash intrusive during performances. (Nothing against the event photographers. Flash just isn't my style.) My 50mm lens, though less sharp than my 24-105 f4L lens, allows me to shoot in low light without flash and at a low enough ISO to avoid digital noise in the resulting image. The Canon EOS 5D's sensor is so good, the difference between ISO 400 and ISO 100 is negligible.
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
We are all magical. Right now, I need very much to remember that.

Most important, I need to remember that "we" includes me.
wlotus: (Standing Out)
I can assure you, W, that the time will come when you, too, will ask, "In what fields did I sow seeds to deserve so very, very much?"

Then I'll remind you that the whole sowing-seeds-cause-and-effect concept was just a myth, because you were born deserving.

Hosanna in the Highest,
    The Universe (www.tut.com)

P.S. Yeah, should've told you a long time ago, W. My bad.


Growing up in the pentecostal church, I would often hear ministers exhort us to "sow a seed". If we wanted financial blessings from God, the key to opening up the floodgates was to give some of our little bit of money "to God". They used the second part of Malachi 3:10 to justify this idea. "[Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.] Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. [NIV]" Inspired by dreams of being able to pay off all of their debts all at once, going on that vacation they could not afford (but desperately needed) on their minimum wage jobs, or having enough money so they would no longer have to rob Peter to pay Paul, the faithful would rush forward to put their meagre dollars into the offering. And when that financial breakthrough did not come right away, they would reason it away by saying something like,"It must not be God's time, yet."

I suppose it was always God's time for the "man of God" to have extra money in his pocket, eh?

(I'm not saying he shouldn't ask for money; I'm saying he should ask for it honestly. Say you need the money to feed your family, make your rent/mortgage...or pay for that Cadillac you have your eye on. Stop trying to romanticize your genuine needs and your vain desires by invoking God.)

When I read that recent post from www.tut.com, I remembered the dishonesty of those exhortations to sow a seed. Depleting our already dry coffers does not make us worthy of a blessing; we have always been worthy. There is no quick fix, no "secret" to financial success, God or no God. I suspect many of those ministers exhorting folks to sow a seed knew that, which makes their requests all the more despicable.
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
I had my paper journal with me (of course) when I attended this morning's open rehearsal for the New York Philharmonic's opening night gala. After reading the musical director's bio in the programme, I wrote this in my journal.

The new musical director for the NY Phil, Alan Gilbert, is 42. How does one get into a field they love and manage to have their hard work respected, so they can get to that level? I am 40 and unknown.

Then again, most people are not world-renown in their field.

My lack of private violin instruction when I was young need not be the end of my musical story. If I study with a private teacher for 10 years, I could be good enough for a community orchestra. I figure I am at an 8- or 9-year-old's level on the instrument; 10 years of study will put me musically at age 18, mature enough to join a community orchestra. It may not be the NY Philharmonic or Chicago Symphony, and I may never be premier soloist material. My name probably will never be known on the world stage, but most people never make a dent on that level. What's important is whether I love what I do, not who knows and approves of me outside of myself.

It would be nice to have the fame and respect of Alan Gilbert, Janet Jackson, or Sade. But it's time for me to grow up...and I mean that in a loving way, not in the way others have shot, "Grow up!" at me when my behavior does not match their expectations. I mean to say it is time I stopped judging my worth as a person by my childhood fantasies of being famous and adored on a global scale. Am I living life honestly? Does my behavior match my values, and if not, am I taking steps to correct the disparity? Do I treat others with respect and compassion as much as possible? These are the things by which I ought to judge my life, and living this way will help me recognize my inherent worth as a person.

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