Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Over the past two years I have shared a lot of my "thoughts," including some personal cases, but probably more just "thoughts." Whatever the case, I'm curious what has come from this...
I'm asking for your comments as in what you have learned about me from my blogging. Granted, many of you have not been with me from the beginning, but whether you started reading last week or more than a year ago, you most likely have learned something "new" about me from one or more of my entries. So...
What have you learned about me?
It can be something as straight-forward as something I came out and said about myself in an entry that maybe you didn't know, or it can be something more in-depth that you have come to realize about me based on your "observations" from my entries.
Also, for some of you who might have known me fairly well, prior to reading my blog, maybe this has just reinforced something you thought you were pretty sure you knew about me. In that case, you can respond with that too.
Don't be shy, and don't think your comments have to be "positive," as I am just as curious for criticisms as well.
Tell me something(s).
This has potential for leading me to something else...
[NOTE: Please keep in mind what you have "learned" about me, should be geared toward what you have learned through my blog entries. If you have learned something about me over the past two years in reference to other means of knowing me (i.e. from hanging out together, or IMing together, or talking on the phone), do not take that into consideration. Merely from having read some of my blog entries.]
Monday, May 29, 2006
Over the past two weeks with this blog series you have seen the importance I think loving others is, as with chapter 18 (Love: How to Really Love Other People) I had to spend two weeks on because I thought there were so many GREAT points to be shared. Well, while this chapter I will only cover in one week, I do not want its importance to be undertook. This chapter is JUST as important, and actually, more important in my eyes, as I firmly believe you can not truly love others unless you can first love yourself.
More often then not, issues of over-eating, smoking, excessive drinking, depression, etc. can be tied back to a lack of self-love. Yes, stress is involved, but that stress very well could be deeply related to one’s own view of their self—one’s lack of love for their self.
I don’t necessarily like the term “self-hatred” because that is difficult to come to grips with a person. Many people like to say, “Well I don’t ‘hate’ myself, I just don’t love myself.” Apathetic I suppose? HA! Well whatever you want to keep telling yourself… ;)
Basically, I just want to make sure the importance of loving one’s self is understood.
And that is what I love about Reed College because even though there are so many students having sex and tripping on drugs and whatever, there is also this foundational understanding that other people exist and they are important, and to me Reed is like heaven in that sense. I wish everybody could spend four years in a place like that, being taught the truth, that they matter regardless of their faults, regardless of their insecurities.
We all have our faults; even those of us that will go to extreme measures to try to keep them hidden. Faults are to be human. Faults and all, we matter as a person. Yes, we can be insecure about our faults and hope that people don’t see them, and to hope that they won’t be pointed out to others, and to long to forget them, but still we are human and we deserve to be loved and accepted through our faults—whether they are widely known or not.
My friend Julie from Seattle says the key to everything rests in the ability to receive love, and what she says is right because my personal experience tells me so. I used to not be able to receive love at all, and to this day I have some problems, but it isn’t like it used to be.
You know, I’d have to agree with Julie on this one. Here is my figuring…
I believe in life we are all about gaining acceptance; acceptance from our loved ones, from our peers, from our co-workers, from our community, etc. Acceptance, to me, is a form of love, and if you are unable to receive love, even a small form of love, such as acceptance by a co-worker or an acquaintance in your community (someone whom you are not all that close too), if you can’t accept that piece of love, you can not accept greater levels of acceptance and love.
And though many do not like to be faced with this idea, being unable to accept and receive love boils back down to the idea of a lack of self-love for yourself—believing you are unworthy of someone else’s love. Believing you are unlovable. It is a tough struggle, but it is a struggle SO many face.
There was always, within me, this demand for affection, this needy, clingy monkey on my back. I wouldn’t be satisfied unless the girl wanted to get married right away, unless she was panicky about it, and even then I would imagine non-existent scenario in which she finds another man or breaks up with me because the way I look. I would find myself getting depressed about conversations that never even took place.
I want to leave that point at that and just ask this one question…
Do you ever find yourself getting depressed about things that haven’t even happened?
“You seem so normal, Don. You have a company and are a writer and all.” Diane looked at me, bewildered.
“Yeah. But there is something wrong with me, isn’t there?”
I was half hoping she would say no. I was hoping she would explain that everybody is nuts when they get into a relationship, but then it turns euphoric shortly after marriage and sex. But she didn’t.
“Well, Don, there is. There is something wrong with you.”
“Oh, man,” I said. “I just knew it. I just knew I was a wacko.”
I thought about the movie “A Beautiful Mind” and wondered whether any of my housemates existed or whether those guys who kept following me were in the FBI.
My sole purpose for sharing this portion is because I LOVE the last part. If you have ever seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” you HAVE to tell me you’ve had that thought cross your mind before! HA! I love it!
[Clarification: “I love it” that we all have that thought cross our mind, not that I wonder if I’m schizophrenic…HA!]
We all have probably had stressful times when we have wondered if we were really going crazy! HA!
She broke it off. She sent me a letter saying that I didn’t love myself and could not receive love from her.
It’s unfortunate sometimes that people have to be confronted and shown in such a blunt manner issues like that, but sometimes that is just what it comes down to. It is something that, depending on the style of the therapist, you could get it that blunt in therapy as well.
Whatever the case, however the person ends up being “fed” the news, it is once they get it, and I mean when they truly SEE it, that they are able to have the moment that is referred to in therapy as the “ah ha” moment. Once they have the “ah ha,” it is then that healing and self-love can begin.
The sentiment was simple: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself.
While this sounds so ironic, it is often so true. So often, those who have no self-love are ones that are trying their best to love everyone else with the best of their ability, even if it isn’t all that much to start with.
It typically comes down to a comparing thing, where an individual views their self as not worthy of love, because they could be comparing their self to others who they deem as “worthy.” And since they see these “others” as worthy, they are of course “worthy” of love, so the person does their best to love the “others.”
Did you follow me on that one?
Basically, since I believe I can’t love myself, I will love others.
I understand this is not ALWAYS the case, but it is in many.
For some people it comes down to the belief that none of us are “worthy” of being loved, especially one’s own self. And for those I love this point…
If it is wrong for me to receive love, then it is also wrong for me to give it because by giving it I am causing somebody else to receive it, which I had presupposed was the wrong thing to do.
Now there’s a throw-it-in-your-face statement. HA! I love it, but it is true, if one is going to believe that “it is wrong for [them] to receive love.”
And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength, comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it.
That’s right. And with that being the case, how you learn to “Really Love Other People” is through loving yourself first!
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]
Sunday, May 28, 2006
In my prior post I was posed a question for which I can’t recall having given much thought to the matter in the past. With this being the case, I marveled in the idea of spending sometime thinking about it and deciding what it was that I did think of the matter. So I give you the question asked of me…
What is My Take on Evil?
I first want to turn to my good and faithful “word” source: http://www.dictionary.com/.
1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader's power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.
Going by the term used as an adjective, I would say, I agree that genocide and beheading and murder and etc. are “evil” acts. These are topics I have discussed in recent blog entries and while I wonder if these acts are inhumane, that does not discredit them as “evil” acts.
As for the second definition—one of a noun status, I think that is getting more into what was being questioned with the posed question to me. Do I believe “evil” is a noun as in a state of being its self? Do I believe in an evil “force, power, or personification?”
You know, I don’t believe I do…
I find when most people believe in an evil state of being, they tend to reference this to a Satan character. Something of the devil or the Antichrist—whatever terminology is of your preference.
I suppose for me, as I doubt an all-powerful beings existence, by belief in an “evil” supplier—Satan, the devil, etc.—it is just as doubtful.
I question that there is a “force” over man that causes, or even influences, him to perform “evil” acts. I don’t know that I believe we are guided in any sense by a force other than our own humanity.
And as for believing that there is a strand of mankind that is in its self an “evil force,” I would say no. Yes, I believe man can have great influence over another man, thus influencing him to behave in an evil manner as well, but I do not believe people are destined for “evil acts” based on any “evil personification” that man can be born into.
So with this sort of a stance, one could question my idea of “evil” acts, while holding onto my disbelief in an “evil force.”
I do believe there are acts/behaviors man performs that are “evil.” I do not like to use the words “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” much, but I can see “evil” in a different light.
Many would say murder, killing, etc. are definitely “wrong” and “bad;” maybe so, but I find it hard to denote someone’s actions merely as “wrong” and “bad” because I believe behaviors are acted out because of purposes. They have a drive behind them. That murder was performed for a purpose serving the murderer, as hard as that might be to swallow for an outsider looking in. Yes, I would agree that maybe the murderers “purpose” could have been met through different means, or that the overall purpose was not worthy, as the life was, but still a purpose was being met in the eyes of the murderer.
We all behave differently…
…and that is what I love so much about the study of the human race!
So whether the act was “right” or “wrong,” I can’t say, but I can contribute some behaviors to a descriptor of “evil.” And let me explain my reasoning behind how I can view an act as “evil” while not crediting it to being “wrong” or “bad.”
I see evil in a sense of acts made against mankind, because there is truly an issue when man will behave in unjust manners toward his own kind. This is like committing an act with negative consequences upon one’s self, in my opinion. When one will cause such painful consequences to another human being for his own purposes, I describe those acts as being “evil.” And do note I am referencing the “acts” as “evil,” therefore keeping to my belief of “evil” as an adjective.
When man behaves in these “evil” manners, I believe it is he who is choosing his actions, and not some over-powering “evil force.” As for why I believe he would “choose” “evil acts,” that is for a blog entry all in its self, which would be filled with the theories I support in reference to human behavior.
So in summary…
Evil acts are unfortunate; however, mankind brings them upon himself, in my opinion. This being that I believe there is no ultimate Evil force (“Evil” with a capital “E”).
[Note: Please understand my usage of the terms “man” and “he” in reference to performing “evil acts” is referring to both males and females (mankind in general), as I do believe both are capable of “evil acts.”]
Thursday, May 25, 2006
I think I would have thrown-up…
I sit here in a state of wanting to cry, but no tears will come…
It really did happen. The pictures make it real for me. Then the narrative Elie Wiesel can provide on the whole Holocaust experience just puts you in awe.
I just finished watching my recorded Oprah episode from Wednesday, and it brings about the above statements…
I want to take a quick second to explain the importance I see behind the Oprah show. I have been heckled for my faithful taping and watching of the Oprah show, but I see it no worse than those who will skip out on friend gatherings to get home in time to see Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, or The Office. I don’t mind the heckling one bit, because what I remind myself is the awareness I have gained over my coming up on two years worth of dedication to this show. The light Oprah’s show sheds on life experiences that either we many times have no idea is going on in the world around us, sometimes even in our own backyards, or the situations in life that we many times are unaware that we are not alone in experiencing in life—these are the episodes which can change a person from that day on. Because as Oprah many times has said, “Once you’ve seen it, you can’t say you don’t know it is going on.”
Please understand, it is not Oprah herself that draws me to her shows. Matter of fact, I often give her very minimal credit for her show, as I think it is her writers and producers and other such people, who are BRILLIANT! The types of shows she has on day-after-day are 85-90% of the time very eye-opening. It is seldom that I will find myself fast-forwarding through an episode, and those typically only for the occasional diet episode, or guest clothes designer who is on having a modeling shoot on stage, or the sometimes celebrities that she might have on that I have no interest in. But most of the times she deals with topics that are so real and in your face that you leave the episode under a new sense of awareness that you hadn’t had some 45 to 60 minutes earlier. This was Wednesday’s episode’s case…
I knew it was coming. I saw it on the Oprah website. I was anticipating this episode. I informed a buddy of mine of its coming. It was a special episode. Sponsored specifically by AT&T wireless to bring an episode with minimal commercials simply because of the magnitude of the episode…
…it was a walk into the life of a Holocaust survivor’s story. Elie Wiesel’s story. A Nobel Peace Prize winning story. The current Oprah’s Book Club book choice: “Night” by Elie Wiesel himself. And though I haven’t read the book, I can direct you here for some insight into it, but I can also tell you this, that from the quotes from it that were used in this episode, it must be a powerful book (as if the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize it achieved does not say enough). The episode its self was with Oprah walking arm-in-arm with Elie Wiesel on the grounds of the very concentration camp, Auschwitz camp, where he lived the hellish life of a 15 year old Jewish boy some 60 years ago brought to the camp to die as so many millions of other Jews were taken.
I watched this episode at first in a sense of, “yes this happened, and yes it is sad” to later finding myself in a state of “my gosh, what could that even have been like?”
When I finished watching it, I went to the shower. I thought I could think about it. Cry if needed. Think some more. Ponder the thoughts I collected while watching it.
I couldn’t cry. I don’t know why, but I get like this many times. But what I did notice was the titles of three songs that played on my iPod as I showered. I found their titles right on for the situation…
“I Can Only Imagine” (by Mercy Me), followed by “On Fire” (by Switchfoot), and then “Unbelievable” (by Kaci Brown).
That sums up a lot of the episode.
As one watching you “can only imagine.” Not only were there people “on fire” in the harsh death factories dying by cremation, but there were people “on fire” for Hitler. People “on fire” for a cause—started by Hitler. It’s just “unbelievable”…
…to the point that we “don’t want to believe it,” as Wiesel said. For his own state of being, while in the camp, he would not allow himself to “believe it.” You just couldn’t do that…
…or you’d go insane.
This episode had so many pictures. It was the pictures that really made it all real for me. Seeing the young children. Babies. Mere infants. In their mother’s arms as they waiting in lines for “showers.” Those being showers of gas, in one of the several gas chambers.
Wiesel said many times they didn’t know. They were told they were in line for a shower. But sometimes they knew. That’s what hits me. When you know…
…dear gracious. I think I would have thrown-up with the initial thought. When you know your death is impending and inevitable, where do your thoughts even begin? Where do you even start?
Since I am under the impression that many of my readers are not Oprah watchers, I’ll try a Grey’s Anatomy reference from one of the couple episodes I’ve basically been “forced” to watch (this is because I believe most everyone but myself and one other I recently discovered, is obsessed with this show). I believe it was the train wreak episode. And a younger lady and an older gentleman had been brought into the hospital following the wreak, as they were stuck together with a long pole of some sort that was from the wreckage that had been lodged through the two of them, more specifically through their stomach areas, making them “attached.” Both individuals were conscious and apparently not in states of pain due to the specific injury, but both knew the situation was serious.
The doctors were aware that the likelihood of saving both individuals was minimal and due to the injury, the chances were better for the gentleman. As they explained the situation to the two individuals involved they began to realize the outlook of the state. The lady became aware of her fate. And as most good ole television shows do, the character handled it quite well. Acting as if she understood and she wanted the best for the gentleman and so on and so forth. But I watched it and thought, “Dear God, what goes through your mind at that moment?!?!”
It brings tears to my eyes right now thinking back on it. When you are faced with death—your OWN death and you are in a state of cognitive awareness, what can you possibly think about?!?!
How do you look at pictures of thousands and thousands of women and children and elderly lined up for “showers” and not think, “My gosh?!!?” It’s the mothers cradling their babies in their arms that hits you in your heart.
It all takes me back to my recent post on how Can One Be Human and do something like this to another human being?! This thought reoccurred in my mind over and over as I watched the Oprah episode and as Elie Wiesel frequently visited that thought too. The idea of humans killing other humans in such mass numbers; it just seems so inhuman.
I suppose deep down I have theories. I can come up with theories as to how some humans are capable of such behaviors, but those of course are just that—theories. They are my thoughts. But it is the pictures and the memoirs though, that make the deaths of the Holocaust more than just “thoughts” for people like you and me. It really did happen…
…and I am in awe.
You know, when you are passionate about something, it becomes a part of you. I don’t know, I suppose that could be the chicken or the egg ordeal in that maybe it was a big part of you first and it developed into a passion; whatever the case, when we are passionate about something it is a part of us.
I have been accused of “playing therapist” with my friends. Not necessarily to the point of taking it upon myself to talk them through their struggles, unless they have asked me to, but more to the point of being accused of analyzing them or their situations. Many times, when I am accused it does catch me off guard because I honestly was not cognitively aware that I was “analyzing” them for the purpose of assessment, but rather I was just asking questions of them and then thinking about them because that is how I tend to work. If that makes sense to you.
Psychological thinking is a passion of mine. It is definitely a part of who I am. I enjoy the thought processes involved and the critical thinking it can entail. And while I have not always been this way in my manner, I find with the more education I gain in this area, the more I am able to think in such a way without even noticing it.
Analytical thinking has become a part of me, but that is not only that aspect of my educational training that is within me. As my passion is for therapy, and I truly do believe in it, I find myself often times using therapeutic techniques with myself. I mean if I believe in the ability for success from therapy for others, I should believe I am no better.
Sometimes it is infrequent technique use for me, such as the occasional relaxation technique. I can remember times of walking from my apartment during my undergraduate education, heading to class in order to take an exam that I might not have felt completely ready for, and I would find myself doing deep diaphragm breathing. The diaphragm breathing has always been a quick relaxation technique that has been beneficial for me. Often times we all breathe so shallowly, that this truly does give you a different feeling within which is very relaxing.
Then just the other day I found myself feeling weird inside. Honestly, I’m not sure what the feeling was, but it was a heightened feeling that kept my attention and I needed to be relieved of the state, as I had other activities to attend too. So I did a couple deep muscle relaxation with a few muscles in my body and it did its thing and I was good to go. I typically am not one to take the time to do much deep muscle relaxation, nor do I typically feel a need to, but when I have used it, it has been beneficial. Usually, if I find myself in a state of needing to quickly relax, I just do the couple deep breathes.
But relaxation techniques are not the only times I turn the therapy on myself. Most of the other times I do not even think twice about it as a therapeutic technique, but rather as a way of behaving that I know has benefits, as I have learned them through my educational training.
One thing I often consider is my unconscious processes. I believe it is important to be aware of what we are “feeding” our selves on a daily basis, because you can not be fully sure how your unconscious might be processing our experiences.
Just the other day at my internship training session one of my supervisors said this, “We all have a case of the blues from time to time.” You know, she is exactly right. You do not suffer from depression simply because you are feeling down or blue…
I wouldn’t have agreed with that original statement made by my supervisor some two years ago. Or if I did, I would have said I was the exception to the rule.
Believe it or not, I can honestly say throughout my time all the way up through my undergraduate degree, I could not relate with depressive states. I don’t know why this was, but I was always in a positive mindset and never found myself getting “down” about anything. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but honestly, it wasn’t until my time after graduating with my undergrad that I ever truly felt a depressive state of mind. And honestly, I would bet any of my close friends can attest to this, as they probably can’t recall me having depressive states prior to my leaving Abilene, and those who are still close to me can probably note how I have changed since then, as I have been vocal to about my states of the “blues” when they have come about.
With this being the case, I recently found myself in “a case of the blues.” And though I was not sure why I was feeling that way, I wanted to do whatever I could to lift my mood again. So, since I was not sure why I felt that way, I decided I needed to evaluate my situation and do whatever I felt could possibly help my situation. With this being the case, I made some changes, because like the saying goes, “You can’t keep doing what you’re doing and expect different results.”
One of the things I did which will probably sound rather interesting to y’all, was I took a song out of my life. At the time I had been obsessed with the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter. I LOVED that song! It was by FAR the most played song on my iPod. But the more I thought about it, that song’s lyrics were not all that positively oriented.
What kind of positive self-talk is saying over and over to yourself, “I had a bad day. The cameras don’t lie…” I mean when you are sitting in “the blues” while I suppose it might be accurate to say, “I had a bad day,” it isn’t necessarily something that you should be reminding yourself of over and over and over as you sing a song.
And yes, I know a lot of you are thinking right now, “Uh, it’s just a song, and they are just lyrics, what does that matter?” But honestly, like I mentioned earlier, I believe the unconscious has more power than we sometimes think.
So I said, “no more.” If I want to have a GOOD day, I can’t keep saying, or singing, “I had a bad day.” So I made a change!
I took it off my playlists on my iPod. I changed the channel or turned the radio off whenever it came on. I said I can’t listen to it anymore. So, as I check my iTunes right now, it says the last time it was listened to on my iPod was April 14, 2006.
Now I will confess. On Tuesday night’s American Idol this week I did have to listen to the song, because Daniel Powter was on live performing it, and I wanted to watch that part of the show as it was a memorial to the whole season, and though I thought about muting the tv, I still listened to it because it was a different version of the song, so I decided it wasn’t the same reinforcing song from the past. Plus I wasn’t singing along.
So, I can say I got out of that “case of the blues.” But was it because I stopped listening to that song? I doubt it, but I still feel strongly about my reasoning for stopping to listen to that song, though I still think it is musically a very appealing song to listen to and to sing along too.
But music means a lot to me. I think music can be very therapeutic. During the fall semester with my first internship I would have to drive really early in the mornings across town, so I would start the morning off each and EVERY morning in my car to one song. It HAD to be the first song I played everyday when I went to my internship. It was “It Feels Like Today” by Rascal Flatts. Though it was pretty early in the mornings (still dark outside sometimes), I would sing, usually pretty loudly, that song, especially the first few lines…
“I woke up this morning, with this feeling inside me that I can't explain. Like a weight that I've carried has been carried away, away. But I know something is coming. I don't know what it is but I know it's amazing, To save me, my time is coming.”
I mean it was appropriate, of course, since I basically has just “woke up,” but it gave me a sense of feeling; a sense of purpose and feeling for my day. I had a reason to go through the day feeling free, as if a weight had been lifted off me. Like even if yesterday had been bad, today was going to be a new day and “I woke up this morning, with this feeling inside me that I can’t explain. Like a weight that I’ve carried has been carried away.” It gave me a feeling to have for the day, just as saying “I had a bad day,” could give me a feeling for the day.
I don’t know. I believe in our powers to impact our daily life. And with this being the case, I strive to work in my own life just as I might guide a client to work in his/her own life. I, of course, can’t do the acting in a client’s life, but they can, and if they believe in what I suggest to them, they can possibly benefit from it, just as I have in my own life with my own judgments on how to affect my daily living. Whether that is in choosing to listen to one song everyday, or choosing to not listen to another song everyday…
…we can have affect on our own life!
Monday, May 22, 2006
In continuing with chapter 18 from last week, I want to add the points from the last part of this chapter that really stand out to me. Like last week, since I believe his points are so perfectly made in this chapter, I will not be doing them any justice in leaving remarks to them, so you’ll find, I only note on a couple of them, and then I just leave the rest of the space to Mr. Miller to shine through his brilliant points on the topic of loving one another…
It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll.
I absolutely love that!
…while attending an alumni social for Westmont College…Greg Spencer, a communications professor, was to speak…The lecture was about the power of metaphor. Spencer opened by asking us what metaphors we think of when we consider the topic of cancer. We gave him our answers, all pretty much the same, we battle cancer, we fight cancer, we are rebuilding our white blood cells, things like that. Spencer pointed out that the overwhelming majority of metaphors we listed were war metaphors. They dealt with battle. He then proceeded to talk about cancer patients and how, because of war metaphor, many people who suffer with cancer feel more burdened than, in fact, they should. Most of them are frightened beyond their need to be frightened, and this affects their health. Some, feeling that they have been thrust into a deadly war, simply give up. If there were another metaphor, a metaphor more accurate, perhaps cancer would not prove so deadly.
Science has shown that the way people think about cancer affects their ability to deal with the disease, thus affecting their overall health. Professor Spencer said that if he were to sit down with his family and tell them he had cancer they would be shocked, concerned, perhaps even in tears, and yet cancer is nothing near the most deadly of diseases. Because of war metaphor, the professor said, we are more likely to fear cancer when, actually, most people survive the disease.
Very interesting to think about…
Mr. Spencer then asked us about another area in which he felt metaphors cause trouble. He asked us to consider relationships. What metaphors do we use when we think of relationships? We value people, I shouted out. Yes, he said, and wrote it on his little white board. We invest in people, another person added. And soon enough we had listed an entire white board of economic metaphor. Relationships could be bankrupt, we said. People are priceless, we said. All economic metaphor. I was taken aback.
And that’s when it hit me like so much epiphany getting dislodged from my arteries. The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money. Professor Spencer was right, and not only was he right, I felt as though he had cured me, as though he had let me out of my cage. I could see it very clearly. If somebody is doing something for us, offering us something, be it gifts, time, popularity, or what have you, we feel they have value, we feel they are worth something to us, and, perhaps, we feel they are priceless. I could see it so clearly, and I could feel it in the pages of my life. This was the thing that had smelled so rotten all these years. I used love like money. The church used love like money. With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did.
Once again, VERY interesting to think about…
I don’t enjoy not liking people, but sometimes these things feel as though you are not in control of them. I never chose not to like the guy. It felt more like the dislike of him chose me.
Here is something very simple about relationships that Spencer helped me discover: Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.
If a person sense that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.
I think that has a lot of truth to it.
After I decided to let go of judging him, I discovered he was very funny. I mean, really hilarious. I kept telling him how funny he was. And he was smart. Quite brilliant, really. I couldn’t believe that I had never seen it before.
I truly believe that when you love people, you are more open to really seeing more of who they really are as a person. You’ll find out more about them that you respect and “love” from being willing to love them in the first place.
I loved the fact that it wasn’t my responsibility to change somebody, that it was God’s, that my part was just to communicate love and approval.
When I am talking to somebody there are always two conversations going on. The first is on the surface; it is about politics or music or whatever it is our mouths are saying. The other is beneath the surface, on the level of the heart, and my heart is either communicating that I like the person I am talking to or I don’t. God wants both conversations to be true. That is, we are supposed to speak truth in love.
I ask God to make it so both conversations, the one from the mouth and the one from the heart are true.
I absolutely love that! It is so true that there is “second” conversation going on that is saying either I like you or I don’t. So true! And unfortunately or fortunately, that “second” conversation will typically control the first conversation, so it is important that it is given the appropriate consideration.
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]
Thursday, May 18, 2006
I will not have to deal with any homework this summer, as I will not be taking any classes, yet at the same time I’m paying for 4 credit hours. These hours are for the first half of my second, and final, field practicum, which I start on Saturday. I’m excited, nervous, and ready for it to be all over already.
Saturday will begin my week’s worth of orientation and training. I suppose they will be familiarizing us with their assessment process and their preferred method of therapy. Whatever the case, I get to start off it all off on a weekend from 9-3 PM and then Monday through Thursday from 6-8 PM. In a way, it is like saying, “welcome to a second job’s hours.” I always wondered how people could do those…
In practicality, I am sitting on all the knowledge my degree expects me to have. I have two more courses that it requires me to take, besides this practicum, but as for the world of academia in the classroom, I have taken all the expected knowledge classes. This fall I will finish my practicum and take two more courses. Those being one, an elective class of my course—meaning it is not “expected” knowledge that every licensed masters social worker must have, since it is an elective of my choice—and then I have to take the integrative seminar, which basically is not a class either, because all we do in there is meet as a class four times and individually write our final paper of our degree. This paper is the substitute for a thesis; a little shorter too.
So here I am, with the academic knowledge expected of a master’s social worker. Do I feel smarter? Yes. Does that bother me sometimes? Yes.
Monday, May 15, 2006
And while I did pretty much watched the address made by Mr. Bush this evening (though I seemed more interested in the pictures in the frames he had behind him in the picture), I do not necessarily want to address what is being planned to be carried out, or what has already begun, because honestly, I have not followed it enough to really know enough to talk about that. I am admitting my ignorance on the topic.
However, I want to share some thoughts on the idea of immigrants who are illegally in a country. And please note, I am not specifying what country, nor am I denoting where the immigrants have come from, because honestly, this is my thoughts on anyone immigrating to any country to live permanently.
I am fully aware that some countries offer better lifestyles and better opportunities for individuals, especially families. With this being the case, I have no problem with an individual or a family trying to better their situation. I give my blessing to individuals who are trying to better their selves and make life better for their loved ones. But what I know is that change does not necessarily come easy, nor does it come without consequences. And please realize that consequences can be both good and bad.
Why wouldn’t someone want to leave a country where humans are not treated as humans, or where the monthly wage is less than the hourly wage in another country? Why wouldn’t someone want to be where they have the right to education? Some countries have so much more to offer than other countries. And while this is a sad thing, it is how it is…
So, in hopes of a better life, people do what they feel is necessary to reach their goals. I can understand this.
I think my issue comes when people are not willing to pay the price for betterment.
If you want to go live in a country that is “better off” than the country you are from, then I feel you should be willing to get everything that comes with being a part of that country, which does include the rights and freedoms that country offers, but it also includes the rules and laws, which make these rights and freedoms available.
If the laws require you to get a green card, or a visa, or whatever it might be, then that should be the steps taken as part of reaching the goal for “betterment.” If you want to take up a permanent residency in the new country, take the steps to become a citizen.
In a recent conversation I had about this topic with a friend of mine who is an international student in America working on her education, she was in total agreement that illegal immigrants should be required to pay the price or be deported. She mentioned all the money she has had to pay to be a part of this country for the time being and she is right, it is not fair for immigrants who do pay the price and do the work required to be in America legally to have to do that while others are choosing to sneak in and be here illegally and get the same freedoms and rights. Yes, there are things about her visa that she wishes weren’t the case. It does limit some things for her, but it allows her to be here and utilize the resources, such as the education system that she has come to take part in.
Freedoms and rights are a wonderful thing, and everyone should have them, but they do not come for free. With that being the case, pay the “price” to get the reward. Nothing is free…
I think laws in reference to immigration are important. If countries were open to anyone and everyone issues would arise.
I think of it like a game of monopoly. There are only so many player pieces in the game set. Once the pieces are all used, no more players can be added.
Sure, you can add your own token to the game, with say a penny, and try to play too, but when more player pieces are added then are “allowed” to play, resources run low. There are only so many properties to be bought up, and once they are all used, extra Boardwalks can not be added. What about with the colorful monopoly money? Sure, when the 100’s run out you can substitute five 20’s for a hundred instead, but what do you do when you are out of 100’s, 50’s, 20’s, 10’s and 5’s?
The rules say, “for up to 8 players,” so that is what the resources are allowing for…
When people enter countries illegally and they are not being accounted for, resources run the risk of being used up. When people are accounted for, resources can be adjusted and taken into consideration.
Freedoms and rights are definitely worth immigrating for, but the resources that come with those freedoms and rights must be there in order for the freedoms and rights to be worth anything. With that being the case, shouldn’t one make sure their presence is known so they will have the resources needed for them to exercise their freedoms and rights?
This chapter and chapter 19 are two of my favorite chapters in this book. They have more notes jotted in the margins than any other chapters. Because I think Donald Miller makes such amazing points in these two chapters, I am having to break this first chapter up into two weeks worth of posts, so next Monday will be the conclusion of chapter 18. And, since I believe his points are so perfectly made in these chapters, I will not be doing them any justice in leaving remarks to them, so you’ll find, I only note on a couple of them, and then I just leave the rest of the space to Mr. Miller to shine through his brilliant points on the topic of loving one another…
When my friend Paul and I lived in the woods, we lived with hippies. Well, sort of hippies. They certainly smoked a lot of pot. They drank a lot of beer. And man did they love each other…they accepted and cherished everybody, even the ones who judged them because they were hippies.
I have recently thought of myself in reference to hippies. I share a lot of the values they do. I’m all about love and peace; I suppose our differences come from the pot, and I suppose my ball cap I wear…HA! Without the pot, I suppose I am not led to the whole “free love” idea. Maybe it is the lack of pot that has saved me some brain cells to appreciate the concepts of freedom and love, without the need for “free love.”
But you have to admit, the idea of accepting and cherishing everybody is a concept that could change this world like nothing else. The hippies had more going for them then just the pot…
I liked them very much because they were interested in me. When I was with the hippies I did not feel judged, I felt loved. To them I was an endless well of stories and perspectives and grand literary views. It felt so wonderful to be in their presence, like I was special.
Don’t you just love friends like that—people who do feel genuinely interested in you and care for you. The ones that are willing to ask you how you are doing and how your day was before they share about their own. It does make you feel special!
I think that is the first true way “to really love other people” as the title of this chapter indicates. You can really love someone by becoming interested in them and making them feel special. And take it from me; people can be really interesting, so why not get interested in them…HA!
Because I grew up in the safe cocoon of big-Christianity, I came to believe that anything outside the church was filled with darkness and unlove. I remember, one Sunday evening, sitting in the pew as a child listening to the pastor read from articles in the newspaper…after each article he would sigh and say, “Friends, it is a bad, bad world out there. And things are only getting worse.” Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined there were, outside the church, people so purely lovely as the ones I met in the woods. And yet my hippie friends were not at all close to believing that Christ was the Son of God.
Until this point, the majority of my friends had been Christians. In fact nearly all of them had been Christians. I was amazed to find, outside the church, genuine affection being shared, affection that seemed, well, authentic in comparison to the sort of love I had known within the church. I was even more amazed when I realized I preferred, in fact, the company of the hippies to the company of Christians. It isn’t that I didn’t love my Christian friends or that they didn’t love me, it was just that there was something different about my hippie friends; something, I don’t know, more real, more true. I realize that is a provocative statement, but I only felt I could be myself around them, and I could not be myself with my Christian friends. My Christian communities had always had little unwritten social ethics like don’t cuss and don’t support Democrats and don’t ask tough questions about the Bible.
“What would any of us lose by losing our possessions. Maybe we would gain something, like relationships, like the beauty of good friends, intimacy, you know what I mean, man? Like we wouldn’t be losing anything if we lost our stuff, we’d be gaining everything.”
I felt like both churches came to the table with a them and us mentality, them being the liberal non-Christians in the world, and us being Christians. I felt, once again, that there was this underlying hostility for hostility for homosexuals and Democrats and, well, hippie types. I cannot tell you how much I did not want liberal or gay people to be my enemies. I liked them.
I began to understand that my pastors and leaders were wrong, that the liberals were not evil, they were liberal for the same reason Christians were Christians, because they believed their philosophies were right, good, and beneficial for the world.
The problem with Christian community was that we had ethics, we had rules and laws and principles to judge each other against. There was love in Christian community, but it was conditional love. Sure, we called it unconditional, but it wasn’t. There were bad people in the world and good people in the world. We were raised to believe this. If people were bad, we treated them as though they were evil or charity: If they were bad and rich, they were evil. If they were bad and poor, they were charity. Christianity was always right; we were always looking down on everybody else. And I hated this. I hated it with a passion. Everything in my soul told me it was wrong. It felt, to me, as wrong as sin. I wanted to love everybody. I wanted everything to be cool. I realize this sounds like tolerance, and to many in the church the word “tolerance” is profanity, but that is precisely what I wanted. I wanted tolerance. I wanted everybody to leave everybody else alone, regardless of their religious beliefs, regardless of their political affiliation. I wanted people to like each other. Hatred seemed, to me, the product of ignorance.
On the other hand, however, I felt by loving liberal people, I mean by really endorsing their existence, I was betraying the truth of God because I was encouraging them in their lives apart from God.
Sorry, I have to comment on this one. So is loving an atheist encouraging atheism? Is it saying you accept it?
That was my note I had jotted in the margin on this page.
I don’t know. I’ve always heard, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Can’t you love the atheist but not encourage and support their atheistic views? Just some thoughts…
How could I love my neighbor without endorsing what, I truly believed, was unhealthy spirituality?
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The shame stops here!!
There is no need to be ashamed that you sing loud and proud…
…when in your car!
Even without tented windows, the privacy that comes within one’s car can be enough to make some people become people that they “typically aren’t;” or at least the person that you might think them to be! Even your quietest of friends probably would sing aloud in their car if they were alone and a well-known tune came across the radio.
Some of us sing in the car even in the midst of company; I suppose it just depends on who the company might be. However, with company, the singing probably tends to be a lower scale.
It’s when we are alone in our car I think that our voice really can come out. I sing loud and proud in my car all the time, even under the complete understanding that I am NOT a good singer! HA! And yes, I get into my singing…HA!
Typically I go through stages of being “hooked” on a certain song or two, and that song or songs will be played over and over again, quite loudly in my car. Windows down too, many times!
Right now my favorite sing-alongs come from my “On-the-go” playlist on my iPod. This playlist consists of four songs. The first song is Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. The second song is Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. The third song is Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks. And, though you could probably guess it, I’ll go ahead and tell you that the fourth song is Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks.
[Can you tell I wish iPod had a “repeat” function?! And if you’re saying to yourself right now “it does,” then I’ve yet to figure out how to use it.]
With the buzz about the soon-to-be-released new album by The Chicks, I decided to check out this first single release from the album and I was sold on the first hearing/viewing (I watched the video on the internet).
I love this song, and it is GREAT for singing loudly to in your car! I love the lyrics. And though my iPod tells me I have already listened to it more than 113 times just since adding it to my iPod a week ago today, I probably learned all its lyrics within the first five or so times listening to it. It is a REALLY easy song to learn.
My FAVORITE part of the whole song is the part I sing with the most passion and probably the loudest..HA! It goes like this…
I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over
I love that part! Natalie Maines sings with such passion at that part! I just love it!
I think that part also probably has special meaning to me because I can totally relate to each part of that section in reference to situations in my own life, especially with current events right now.
So I sing it, over and over and over, in my car. Loud and proud…
What about you? Don’t be ashamed. I think you would be surprised at home many people really do sing aloud in their cars.
Do you sing when you are alone in your car? Do you sing “loud and proud?”
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
When one behaves in a manner that is so taboo people do not hesitate to refer to the individual as “not human.” One who is human simply can not bring one’s self to behave in such a manner. Or can they?
Obviously the individual is human, as one who eats and breathes is a human being, but what about them seems so “un-human-like?”
Do we as society have standards on what behaviors make someone “human” and what behaviors are below the standard for a “human” to participate in? What could lead an individual to such, “below the standard” type behaviors? Could one possibly choose to behave in such manners?
Many times illness can be assigned in order to “write off” the behaviors. Psychotic states can lead to some rather taboo behaviors. In court cases, insanity is pleaded in order to explain some taboo behaviors. It’s unfortunate that one’s mental state can lead to taboo actions that case harm to another, but it happens.
But is there always a sense of mental illness that causing one to be dysfunctional to the point of un-humane behaviors?
Is killing another human “below the standard?” Depending on the specific situation that is coming to your mind right now, will sway your response.
1.) A young teen who is trying to be initiated into a gang must find a nearby house, break in and kill the occupants. The nearest house is a poor elderly couple who happened to be laying in their bed reading. The young teen barges in and puts the gun to their heads. The teen is one of them now…
2.) A mother can not handle the urges anymore. She can’t make things go back to normal as much as she longs for the return of peace and quite. She gives in. She draws her children’s bath water and tells them “no toys this time, kids” as she puts them in the tub. She has them lay down in the water so she can wet their hair. She doesn’t let them come back up…
3.) A young boy leaves for boot camp two days after his high school graduation. 15 letters home and 6 months later he is sent off to Iraq to “defend his country.” In the mid-day heat he peers out of his bunker to see five Iraqi soldiers charging in his direction. He aims and fires. He saved his and his comrades lives…
The first two scenarios would be uncalled for behaviors. How can one be humane and still shoot a poor innocent elderly couple? How can one drown her own babies? These actions are un-human. However, killing out of self-defense is a different story. Right? The Iraqi soldiers who were approaching were not innocent, right? They had intentions to harm, right?
Or is it about training. Do one’s behaviors rise above the “standard” when one has been trained to kill for a purpose? A human killing another human is “justifiable” behavior then, making it…human?
I don’t know, but I bring all of this up because I recently viewed what I thought was “un-human” behaviors. I repeated questioned, “What could bring these individuals to being able to behave in such a manner?” It just seems so inhumane…
Recently a friend of mine and I decided to view some “beheading” videos online. I know it sounds disturbing, but this friend and I do not easily get grossed out and we typically have no problem with some morbid humor, so we were curious to see what a beheading actually looked like. I had always heard the Iraq beheadings were online and actually had tried to view them back when they were first known about; however, I was never able to find them. My friend told me she had been talking about the beheading videos with some friends recently, so she had gone to view them and told me I should see them, because I wouldn’t believe how it is really done. So we went to view some…
A beheading is not like how you might think. The videos we viewed were definitely not the quick swing of a sword and “drop off” of a head. Nope…
The beheadings we viewed were nothing so simple. They were more brutal. The individual being beheaded was blindfolded and laid on the ground, typically on their side with their hands and feet bound behind them (knees bent). The executioner would then grab the individual by the hair or upper part of the head and then take a small knife, no sword, and begin sawing away at the throat area. There is no, one “quick swing.” It is a sawing method that can take some time to get all the way through the individual’s neck. And yes, there were occasions when the knife would appear “dull” in the sense that there was some definite struggle to get all the way through. These were the times when I really would ask myself, “how can an individual do this to another human?!?”
How is it that a man can be so brutally cruel to another man? How can one do such an un-thought-of behavior?! While shooting another individual is not necessarily “justified” in my mind, I can see how the behavior could be excused from being an “inhumane” act.
Shooting someone does not require the assassin to even touch the individual. In a sense, they can “blame” the death on the gun. The blood does not even spill on to the hands of the one behind the trigger. However, in a beheading, the executioner is covered. The blood across his hands is the proof of his actions. While a gun can kill with one single action, the pulling of a trigger, the action of killing by beheading is more “involved.” How can one bring their self to such involvement?!
Are these people born this way? Can a human be born to behave in such an “inhumane” manner or does it have to be taught? Are these killers “brainwashed?” And if so, how can you “brainwash” someone to be able to perform such a violent act on another creature of his own kind?
I do not understand it. And what interests me even more is the thought that the “killers” in these situations are probably fully functioning individuals in the sense that they can behave as normal as you and I, but when directed by their authorities, they can behead another individual without it affecting their current state of being.
I was thinking about it the other day, and I think people read fiction more for the entertainment and the simple pleasure of reading. People who sit down with a fiction book are planning to just relax and fall into the story. It is almost like an escape to take in order to take a break from the real world, even when the fiction story is based on the real world experience, though it specifically may have never happened. It is almost like getting into a fiction story allows the reader to be someone else for a while. That’s all fine with me.
When it comes to nonfiction, I believe the drive is discovery. Hopes of discovering something new, learning something, making you think. Yes, fiction can make you think too, but I feel the thinking nonfiction can provide is more of a way of thinking to relate the ideas to one’s own life or life in general. If it is nonfiction, then it is real in that it HAS happened or it IS happening, meaning life can relate for sure. I like the application that can come with nonfiction. I like reading and being amazed at what I can find in the printed pages.
I really have never been a “big reader.” It isn’t that I don’t like to read; well, maybe I didn’t growing up, but it’s more that I am not a real fast reader, and especially nowadays, when I read, because I want to highlight and make note of so much as I’m reading along, that that slows me down too. I’m usually a pretty active person, so sitting down to just read a book is hard for me to make myself do. However, I’ve found over the past year or so that I like the idea of setting aside time at night to read a book. I have already gotten through one book this year and nearing the end of my second. Now that’s quite the progress of reading for me…HA!
I have always admired readers. I have much respect for people who take time to read. If you want to gain respect in my book, let me know you’re a reader. I believe reading can be such an educating tool! My older brother and my mom have always been “readers,” and I’ve always admired that. Besides those two, none of the other four of us in the family really cared to read, until recent years as I and my sister have started up on it. However, both of us are more into writing than reading, but we still can get ourselves to sit down and read some from time to time too. Then just in the past week, I found out one of the ladies at work is a BIG TIME reader. I have always thought was really cool and I viewed her as an intelligent (not to mention hilarious) lady, so her being a reader didn’t surprise me, but encouraged my already respect for her. She let me on to her love for reading and we both ended up admitting our obsessions with book stores.
I used to say if I had a credit card to max out at any store I would max it out at CompUSA, but if you asked me lately, it would have changed. Now it would be at Half Price Books. Have you ever been to one? If you live a major city in Texas, they most likely have one in your city. They are in a limited number of states, but you can check for your area here. There like 15 of them here in the DFW area. I’ve been to four of them now, including the big headquarters one in downtown Dallas, thanks to this weekend with Holly and Amber! These stores are literally AMAZING! Talk about cheap books! They beat Barnes & Noble in my book any day! My only complaint is that they do not have their inventory in a database, so to see if they have a specific book you are looking for, you must go check the shelves. And while I am not saying that is a problem because I’m lazy, it is just a struggle for a non-fiction reader because their nonfiction books are shelved by “subject” and sometimes you have no idea what “subject” a specific book would be shelved under. I have had this problem recently when trying to find the book PostSecret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren. I finally just gave in yesterday and bought it online, so I can’t WAIT for it to come in!
But other than that one complaint, Half Price Books are GREAT! You can even get way fun and cheap board games there…gotta love it! I have found myself over the past couple months spending a lot of time browsing books at different Half Price Book stores. And I must confess, I hardly ever leave empty-handed, even when I’m fully aware of the fact that I have STACKS of books already at home that I “can’t wait” to read. You just can’t pass up some books though when they are so cheap and you “really want it.”
So here is where I sit currently. I have already read one book this year that I LOVED, and that was Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I’m currently on my second book for the year and it is Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. Mr. Miller has been compared with Ms. Lamott, but I have thus far still been more of a fan of Miller, but Lamott is still not bad. I just haven’t found her as funny as I had heard she was, but who knows, I still might see, as I haven’t finished it. I am on page 199 out of 272, so I should HOPEFULLY finish this one soon. Then I can move on to another off one of my few stacks of books that I “really want to read;” many of which have been purchased in the past couple months.
My problem with books though is I often start them, and then either get distracted with something else that has redirected my attention in life, leaving me to forget about the book and it will keep it’s bookmark on that same page for months and even years. As you will soon see, many of my books in my “stacks of books to read” already have bookmarks in them, because I have started them at one point and stopped reading them for one reason or another. In most these cases, though they still have the bookmark in them reminding me where I left off, I will just have to start them over again anyways, because it has been so long since I had started it that I have forgot everything that I had already read. Oh well…
I really am really excited to read just about every last one of the books I have in stacks waiting to be read; I just wish I was a more disciplined reader. However, I do have plans to set a reading schedule for this summer, as I will have no homework because I will have no classes, just internship, this summer. So here are the books I have waiting to be read.
And I’ve always thought you can tell a lot about a person by the types of books that interest them and they read…
(in alphabetical order by author)
Tuesdays with Morrie: an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson by Mitch Albom
How to Get Published – Guaranteed by Chevy Alden [has my bookmark in it on page 65]
Let’s Roll by Lisa Beamer [this is a book about 9-11]
Blood Brother: 33 Reasons My Brother Scott Peterson is Guilty by Anne Bird
Finding God: When You Don’t Believe in God by Jack Erdmann
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey [has my bookmark in it on page 23]
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Beauty Beyond the Ashes: Choosing Hope after Crisis by Cheryl McGuinness [this is a book about 9-11]
Crazymakers by Paul Meier & Robert Wise
Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller [has my bookmark in it on page 61]
Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller [has my bookmark in it on page 1, but that is because I had read the first five pages already that are the author’s note…HA!]
“Are You There Alone”: The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates by Suzanne O’Malley [should have a bookmark in it, as I started it when I checked it out at the library a couple years ago, but I don’t know where I was from back then, so I’ll have to start it over]
Live Your Best Life: A Treasury of Wisdom, Wit, Advice, Interviews, and Inspiration from O, the Oprah Magazine by the Oprah Magazine editors and authors
Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy by Christopher Phillips
Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties by Alexandra Robbins & Abby Wilner
YOU The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make you Healthier and Younger by Michael Roizen & Mehmet Oz
Ten Things I Wish I’d Known—Before I Went Out into the Real World by Maria Shriver
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel [should have a bookmark in it, as I started it a long time ago, but I don’t know where I was from back then, so I’ll have to start it over]
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel [should have a bookmark in it, as I started it a long time ago, but I don’t know where I was from back then, so I’ll have to start it over]
Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel [has my bookmark in it on page 10]
Monday, May 08, 2006
I read a book a long time ago about Mother Teresa. Somebody in the book asked her how she summoned the strength to love so many people. She said she loved people because they are Jesus, each one of them is Jesus, and this is true because it says so in the Bible. And it is also true that this idea contradicts the facts of reality: Everybody can’t be Jesus. There are many ideas within Christian spirituality that contradict the facts of reality as I understand them. A statement like this offends some Christians because they believe if aspects of their faith do not obey the facts of reality, they are not true. But I think there are all sorts of things our hearts believe that don’t make any sense to our heads.
Aw, loving people because they are Jesus—that works for me; just whatever it takes to encourage people to love one another. If that is taking it to the likings of Jesus, then that works.
Maybe we all can’t be Jesus, but could we all just be Jesus-like in one aspect or another? I would be willing to bet just about everyone has some similarity to the goodness and kindness of the Jesus character. Now, if you are trying to say you have the perfection characteristic, you might be stretching it, but otherwise, I think we all have some Jesus-like trait based on the description given in the Bible of the type of man he was; love the individual for those traits!
It comforts me to think that if we are created beings, the thing that created us would have to be greater than us, so much greater.
I never can quite agree with that type of a statement. You know, those ones like that, or the ones like, “Look at the amazing human body. How can you not believe there is a more powerful being that created us?!” or “Look at the beauty in nature. It is nature that reminds me that there is a great and powerful God.”
Those just don’t do it for me. I just do not see how any of those trigger reason for existence. Just because we are believed to be “created beings,” what in that makes us believe that the creator would have to be so much “greater than us?” Why is a creator automatically believed to be “greater?”
Man creates things all the time, and his creations do not make him any more super human than you or me. The individual who discovers a cure to a disease has no more special powers than the person his cure will heal. The creator has the same likelihood of catching a disease as does just about anyone else.
How does it “comfort” one to come to the belief that he/she is a “created being?”
You cannot be a Christian without being a mystic.
So I used good ole’ dictionary.com to check on the actual definition of a “mystic” and here is the definition: “(n) : someone who believes in the existence of realities beyond human comprehension.”
With that being the case, then maybe the truth of Christians having to be a mystic explains more of my situation. Maybe my issue is that I always want to comprehend anything that interests me. I have a hard time settling for the “it is just a mystery and beyond my comprehension” explanation.
Any topic that gets my interest, I want to understand it and comprehend it. I need to come to a level of comprehension, leaving “mysticism” out of my options.
Too much of our time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe. By reducing Christian spirituality to formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder.
I’m pretty sure my heart is always deprived of wonder. My wonder all goes on in my mind. Whether that is a good thing or not, I don’t know…
There are things you cannot understand, and you must learn to live with this. Not only must you learn to live with this, you must learn to enjoy this.
That can be difficult for me, as referenced earlier with the whole “mystic” thing; however, as I noted, that is when considering things that intrigue me. When I am interested in something, I want to understand it. It is hard for me to tell myself that it is quite possibly incomprehensible.
Still, I am fine in some cases with the idea of saying “who cares? Why must we ‘understand’ that?” My example is the whole idea of how we got here. Why must man have an answer to that? Why must man either believe in creation or evolution? For me, I don’t necessarily believe in either one, but I am perfectly content with not claiming a “how” story for “how we got here.” The way I look at it is that we are here, aren’t we? Isn’t being here good enough? Why must we explain HOW we got here?
I want to end with this. I just finished eating my dinner of Chinese food before I began writing this blog entry and the last thing I ate of it before starting was of course a fortune cookie…HA! I found my fortune rather ironic. It said this…
“Love is around the corner.”
Now for most, that would lead them to the belief that “Mr. Right” or “Ms. Right” is soon to appear, but for me, nope, I know EXACTLY what it meant. It was perfectly correct in it’s prediction, in that next week’s Blue Like Monday Mornings blog is the start of my two favorite chapters in the whole book—the chapters on love! Yep, “love” IS right “around the corner.”
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]
Sunday, May 07, 2006
This test, nearly a year ago, was a pretty reassuring moment for me, as I was then pretty confident in the belief I had already had about myself all along. Because of that test, that night I wrote an away message that I have kept ever since then. The away message said this…
“I think sometimes you just have to remind yourself who you really are and what you're made of.”
I think that’s what these life tests can do for us—remind us, or help us, to see who we really are, and sometimes, even show us that we are capable of much more than we might have originally thought.
In my case previously mentioned, I brought the “test” upon myself; however, life can throw us these types of tests too. Many would call these the God/Satan tests. During Biblical times Job’s love for God was tested. The Bible says we all will have trials and tribulations brought before us, right? Because of this, if you’re a Bible believer, you probably have no problem with the idea that we will all face our own fair share of “tests” in life. But you do not have to be a Bible believer to have this belief, as life experiences can teach it just as clearly.
In a broad sense, I like defining a “test” as a way to see what the one being tested is capable of.
Academically, students are faced with “tests” all the time. Tests enable a teacher to see if the student has learned the material in a manner that allows him/her to be “capable of” regurgitating it in the form of answers to test questions.
Recently I did yet another “test” on myself to show that I WAS capable of something that one of my friends had questioned about me. I knew within me that I was capable of it and in efforts to prove it to my friend, as well as myself, I went ahead and participated in another self-created “test.”
While the overall purpose of this “test” (or experiment, as I called it at that time), was to prove my point that I was capable of something specific a friend of mine had questioned about me, underneath it all, I had more of a purpose for me…
…to me it was more of a purpose of proving to myself that I can discipline myself to do just about anything I set my mind too.
See, I have a strong belief in my ability to be self-disciplined. I believe I am capable of disciplining myself to just about anything I set my mind too. If I want to stop a current habit of mine, I belief I can set my mind to it and accomplish it. I believe I have a lot of inner strength and I know how to direct it appropriately in a self-disciplining manner when necessary. I suppose my belief in my “inner strength” is comparable to a sense of self-confidence. I believe confidence is important in many areas of life, but particularly important in purposely testing yourself.
What’s hard though is when these tests are not self-created and life brings them to you and they can be bigger than you would have anticipated—if anticipation was even possible in the first place. These times can be very trying times. It is then that it is important to seek support.
When one’s level of confidence is hindered in a situation where doubt has arisen, support can play an important part. It is sometimes in these types of situations that we feel we know what we need to do, but one of two things holds us back from doing it.
The obvious thing that could be holding us back, as mentioned, could be a lack of confidence. Even confident people can have times of less confidence.
The second thing hampering a person from doing what they know they need to do could be a desire to do something else, that even though they know it probably is not necessarily the “best” thing to do in the situation, it is something that they would much rather do. Biblically, I suppose it is one of those “temptations.” It is when you find yourself tempted to do something that might not be the “best action” for the specific situation, that support can be important.
When I think of support I think of friends. Friends can provide all sorts of support! And what I find is important is knowing your friends well enough to know which of them can provide you with the best type of support for whatever the situation you are in that support is needed for. Different friends can definitely provide different types of support. Sometimes the support that you need is just some encouragement. Sometimes you need some reassurance of your thoughts on the matter. Sometimes you need advice on the situation as a whole because you could be completely lost as to what to do. Each type of support is okay too, assuming you have appropriate resources available.
I have had the opportunity to seek support for matters brought on by what I have appraised to be a life-created test. Ironically, I see this test in a way similar to my self-created test of the past, in that this “test” also is testing my discipline. But, as I mentioned earlier, life tests can be a lot more intense and trying than self-created tests. With this being the case, I believed support was necessary.
When my confidence had wavered in my beliefs for self-discipline, I quickly sought support. I knew if I didn’t consult with supports that I believed where appropriate for this matter, then I might perform in a manner that “is not necessarily the ‘best’ thing to do in the situation.” But not only that; I looked to my supports in this situation for a sense of reassurance. Seeking support for “reassurance” purposes can be funny situations; let me explain…
Sometimes, when we seek out reassurance support we are secretly hoping to be told that the behaviors we WANT to do are okay for us to do. Even with this being the case, on the surface we try to convince our self that we are seeking out assurance that the thing we “know is the right thing to do in the situation,” is what they will tell us to do. But this only sets us up for the *sigh* when we get the “support” and find out that we are being advised to do exactly that which we already knew was “the right thing to do.”
This was my case. I found myself in a situation where deep down I could feel my self-discipline beginning to waver, so I was seeking out support, which has been important for sure, but some of it I get back and think, “though I already knew inside me that that is what I should do, I was hoping I could ask your opinion and it would grant me permission to do what I really want to do, which might not be ‘the best actions’ for that situation.”
Luckily, even when the support situations come out this way, the support does not have to be viewed as “unhelpful.” What can come from this support instead is a necessary reminder for when times get “trying.” It is when the confidence beings to slip away and you being to doubt whether you can remain disciplined and do what you “know is the right thing to do” that you can use the previously given support as a reminder over and over again that “the right thing to do” really IS the “right thing to do.” It is during these times that the temptation seems the greatest.
For me, I have found I have been granted one of my most trying tests for self-discipline and for that I know I will be a better person. No matter how the “test” turns out, I know I can learn from any test to be better prepared for the next to come.
And another test will come…
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Individuals have written hundreds of pages of papers to get to this day. They have read hundreds of pages of hundreds of dollars worth of textbooks. They have attended hundreds of days worth of classes to see this day.
It's that time again...for graduation.
Some graduate from their high school. That is quite the day! A day you feel, at the time, will be one of your most achieved moments! A day you feel you will never forget. A day surrounded with all your friends you feel you will never lose touch with. High school graduation is a grand time.
But some move on to more school. Some attempt a four-year program. Some find the program to fit them, while others decide to leave it behind. Some look back on their high school graduation from four years earlier and think, "My how times have changed. My how I have changed." For some it is just four years of time. For some it might be a year or two more. Whatever the case, college graduation is something special...
It puts you among some of the most educated in the WORLD. Having a bachelors degree is quite the accomplishment! Not only is it a sign of achievement and dedication, but it is a sign of character. It is a sign of willingness to pursue a goal one has set for him/herself and to obtain the prize!
Some choose to keep going. Some find their first bachelors to be just the beginning. Graduate school can be a world of it's own. Graduate school is a place of uniting the "continuing" with the "returning" students. Though undergraduate seemed to be a group of peers, graduate school can be a place of sitting among people who could have been your parent or your child. Graduate school offers more of the "real world" scenario in that you will learn to interact with people of all ages. Possibly people of all sorts of disciplines. People of all sorts of educational levels--some getting a second masters. Some already having a doctorate and wanting to pursue a different discipline for the next stage of their life. Graduate school can be a whole different world of "school."
Depending on the graduate program, graduation can come in a year, two, two and a half, three, etc. But, if one should make it to that graduation, they join a new group. An even smaller group of educated individuals in the world. While the degree itself brings immense joy to the recipient, the graduation day itself is sometimes not viewed in the same light as undergrad. Many times graduates of graduate degrees choose not to “walk” for one reason or another. I was sitting and listening to a fellow student just the other day talking about how she was not sure if she would “walk” or not.
“Walking” or not, graduation is a time to feel proud of one’s accomplishments. A time to appreciate the dedication one has had to their studies and to relish in the knowledge he/she has gained through the experience; both in and out of the classroom.
I am proud to say congratulations to my many friends who are graduating in the next few days. Some with a bachelors, some with a masters. Whichever the case, well done my dear friends! You have accomplished great things! You have made your family and friends proud—be proud of yourself!
Go into the world and share with others what you have learned, as we can all use some enlightenment in our lives!
Monday, May 01, 2006
The thing about new things is you feel new when you buy them, you feel as though you are somebody different because you own something different. We are our possessions, you know. There are people who get addicted to buying new stuff. Things. Piles and piles of things. But the new things become old things so quickly. We need new things to replace the old things.
I don’t think “new things” play as much of a role in my life as Mr. Miller seems to be describing. I’ve never really been one big on having a lot of new things. Matter of fact, I’m simply happy with things that might be “new” just to me, as in I have never had them before, but they are not “new” in quality. I don’t have an issue with used stuff. Something that’s “used” can still be “new” to me.
And actually, I think the title of this chapter, being “Money” is exactly why I’m perfectly fine with “used” things. A lot of things in life I honestly think are over priced. Some things are just ridiculously over-priced in my opinion, and for that reason I refuse to spend that kind of money on something like that “new.”
New cars lose so much of their purchase price the second you drive them off the lot. You know what that means; they weren’t worth that price that you paid in the first place, if putting one mile on it makes it lose its value.
I am not saying this to discredit anyone who has bought a new car. Who knows, one day I might be the buyer of a “new” car. I am not judging, I’m just saying I think that is a perfect example of how items can be so overpriced, in reference to what they are really worth.
I love used books, especially textbooks. What textbook is worth more than a hundred dollars? Or even novels. Why is a hardback copy of “The Da Vinci Code” twenty or twenty-five bucks, when the paperback that just came out is like five bucks at Wal-mart? It is the exact same story in both books. Are you telling me the hard cardboard material that is used to make the sturdy cover of a “hardback” book costs some fifteen or twenty dollars? Wow, I guess I need to get into the business of selling that cardboard. Maybe then I could afford gas…
I love to buy books, but I basically only buy used books. Do you know where is the best place to find cheap books? Thrift stores! Honestly. Matter of fact, that is where I got my copy of “The Da Vinci Code” (which I have no intentions to read…HA!), and I only paid $1.48 for it, and that was including the hard cardboard that makes it a hardback book. Then there’s Half Price Books. It is a death trap. For your time, not necessarily your wallet. You can get lost in that store for HOURS looking at books.
I suppose you could say I have “piles and piles of things,” but they are not necessarily “new.”
I knew we had an extension cord in the basement, and I knew I was really going to Home Depot to get some drill bits or a laser level or one of those tap lights, and that I wasn’t going to get an extension chord but something else, something I would find when I got there, something that would call to me from its shelf.
Okay, so now that I’ve stopped and thought about this point once again, after having written what I just wrote about the last point, I think bookstores are the only store I seem to have this “issue” with. Here I sit with two stacks of books I’ve recently purchased that I honestly REALLY do want to read, but I have gone back looking for some other books that I “really want to read too” knowing I’ve already got my work cut out for me to get through all the books I already have, but nope, that doesn’t stop me, I still go, and even when I do not find the book I went there originally looking for, I end up having to check out because I find something else. HA!
But with other types of store shopping, really that is not me. I am NOT a shopper and actually view having to get out and shop for something, ESPECIALLY clothes, a pain.
But something I just thought about as I was typing this point by Mr. Miller, was how I think it can relate to some girls in college. I think some girls go to college with their major, whatever it happens to be, with really not much of a plan for goals in that major, but more of going to see what else they can find, in the line of men that is. You know, getting the M-R-S degree.
You know, people’s goals of college should be going to get a degree, like how Miller was sent out to go to Home Depot to get an extension cord, but he knew that wasn’t what he was really going for…
Money does not belong to me, Rick once told me. Money is God’s. He trusts us to dish it out fairly and with a strong degree of charity.
I don’t know that I believe that “Money is God’s,” but I do believe in “dish[ing] it out fairly and with a strong degree of charity.”
Having the spending money that I do nowadays often times causes me to feel guilty when I spend it, especially when I think of other people, even my loved ones who don’t have even the kind of money that I have to spend.
Money is a complicated thing to deal with sometimes.
Okay, now in this paragraph, I am totally not referring to anything in reference to this post. Actually, I have always wanted to do this exact thing in a lot of my papers for college, but never did, though I did do it in one paper in high school. I have honestly always wondered if a lot of my professors actually read the papers students turn in, or if they read ALL of it. With a lot of my posts on this weblog, I don’t even think if I were you people I would read them all. Lately I’ve been really thinking about how I wish my posts were funny. I used to be a humorous writer, I even participated in helping to put out an alternative newsletter in the past that was dedicated solely to humor, but today I look at my blog and just wish I was funny. For some reason I blog about serious topics that really aren’t a lot of fun. I’m trying to figure this all out in my head right now. Basically I suppose this paragraph is to see if you are even still reading, especially since this is a part of this LONG blog series on a book that most of you people could care less about…HA! I suppose if you are still reading, you can comment in the comment section in reference to having read this, but don’t “give this paragraph away” if you know what I mean. Be clever in your response to note that you read this, but to not let others who did NOT read this, but just happened to click to read the comments, know what you are referring too. Heck, let’s face it, people will click to read the comments on posts even if they didn’t even read the whole post itself, or even read any of it for that matter.
Sometimes I am glad I don’t have very much money. I think money might own me f I had too much of it. I think I would buy things and not be satisfied with the things I have so I would have to buy more.
I think money has turned a lot of people into types of people that they might not have been without it…
Like I said, “Money is a complicated thing to deal with…”
We don’t need as much money as we have. Hardly any of us need as much money as we have. It’s true what they say about the best things in life being free.
Yeah, I think a lot of us, myself included, have a lot of things we could live without. Why we bought it in the first place, who knows. You know what kinds of unbelievable things could be done with some of the money a lot of us have that we really “don’t need.”
And yes, I do believe that “the best things in life” are “free.” I think feelings can be quite possibly the “best things in life” and they are “free.” Assuming you know how to work them that is…
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]