Aging Ain't For Sissies.

Hashtag This

We got our first computer in 1991 and I’ve been hooked ever since. Over the years I’ve learned about hard drives, random access memory, bytes (mega and otherwise), viruses, spam (oh the spam!) and what seems like a million other things. In 1997 I created my first website where I learned about html, a language that makes the codes of secret societies look like child’s play.

Needless to say I’ve learned a lot but then…then comes social media. Facebook was my entry into this online phenomenon. I wasn’t’ sure I wanted to dive in head first because it all seemed so complicated. I dove anyway and came to really enjoy Facebook as a way to stay in touch with friends all the while regaling them with of photos of my dogs, witty memes and deep thinking, life-altering quotes.

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I remained blissfully unaware of the pace at which social media was growing until I heard the word “tweet”. What, pray tell, is a tweet? Enter….Twitter. Talk about confusing. I signed up and was immediately blindsided by the hashtag movement.

First let me say that this little sign…#…was never called a hashtag in my world. It was affectionately known as the pound sign (please press # for more options) and the number sign (I’ll have a # nine, hold the mayo.) Even if it was a hashtag, we didn’t call it a hashtag. And don’t get me started on the spelling. Autocorrect on all my electronic devices insist that spelling hashtag as one word is wrong and they unceremoniously separate it but if I go online to the wide world of hashtags it’s one word. #Whatevah

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I rarely post anything on Twitter because being limited to 140 characters to express myself is pure torture. The times I’ve posted something I avoided hashtags because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Needless to say my tweets fizzled out right quick. #CluelessAndTweetless

As I quietly went about my business of avoiding hashtags, I heard of a social platform called Instagram. I looked into it, wasn’t sure it was my thing but I decided to sign up and see what all the fun was about. I’ll tell you what all the fun was about. Hashtags. Everywhere hashtags. #HashtagHell

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After opening the Instagram app I stared at it for a long time because I could not figure out what to do with it. It seemed so very simple but I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was supposed to do. For someone who is good with computers, programs and apps etc., I am apparently lacking skill regarding anything that includes hashtags. #JustKillMeNow

Out of frustration I convinced myself that the app developers at Instagram did not know what they were doing and I deleted the app. That’ll teach them. But to be honest I hate being bested by something like this so I downloaded the app again. #Sucker #Dumbass

Suffice to say I am no closer to knowing what to do with hashtags today than I was the first time I discovered them. Call me grumpy or old fashioned or caffeine deprived but the morphing of our innocent, upstanding pound sign into an over used, overrated method of getting the attention of the masses has little appeal to me. Regardless of my objections it’s a force to be reckoned with. I guess I need to get used to the fact that stuck in between the things we want to say, this little pound sign wannabe is waiting to take over the world. #YouBetterWatchOut #HashtagWorldDomination #IsTheAmpersandNext?

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#IWillAlwaysLoveYouLittlePoundSign

It Pains Me To Say…

Lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about emotional pain and how I tend to hold onto it regardless of the cost. Recently the death of someone in my immediate family brought with it emotional pain that I thought for years I had a handle on. I was wrong. The question I finally had to face was, why am I holding on to it at all?

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Like an archaeologist on a dig in a desolate remote area, my emotional pain, long buried and ignored, was uncovered. With the dust brushed off and contents catalogued, the discovery was lifted from it hiding place and exposed to the light. It was old and worn but definitely still functional.

Disguised as a tough exterior, my emotional pain was comprised of decades old feelings of emotional neglect and abandonment as a little girl, nearly nonexistent self-esteem as a teen, a deep, radiating sadness, anger and even jealousy to name a few. As I studied my emotional archeological discovery with new eyes I started to understand a little more about this kind of pain, where it came from and why I’m still holding onto it like an old, ratty, almost unrecognizable stuffed toy.

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I questioned why I and many others hold on to emotional pain when it does us no good. One of the first things that struck me is that even though emotional pain is, well, painful, it can also be its own source of comfort. Humans by nature are not fond of letting go of anything that we’ve had a near stranglehold on for a long time. This includes emotional pain and even though it hurts and does absolutely nothing worthwhile for us, it’s something that we are intimately familiar with. It has been around so long it’s become part of our identity. If we choose to let it go, then what? Who will we be? Who do we become?

We are so afraid of the changes letting go will cause that we hold on and hope the pain will pass just enough to keep going. In the meantime we forget that we change every day regardless.

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I believe for me fear has been one factor for not letting go of the pain. How will I be me if I let go of something I’ve allowed to define me nearly my entire life? Who will I be without it? It’s fear of the unknown. The funny thing about the unknown is we live with it every day. We never know what’s going happen from one moment to the next.

Maybe in reality it wasn’t my emotional pain that has been buried all these years. Maybe it’s been the real me buried under the pain…the person that as a child was not allowed to be her true self and as an adult isn’t always sure how to be. The pain has been such a dominating part of my identity that I didn’t realize I had an real identity long before the pain ever existed.

It’s time to let it go. Like most things it will be a process. But it’s time. Letting go of the emotional pain means no longer being able to use it as an excuse for anything. It means learning who the real me is. It means not allowing anyone to ever squash that down again.

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I am very blessed to have a great support system with my husband and my friends. I have learned that family is not about bloodlines. It’s about the people who want me in their lives, it’s about love, acceptance and those who are there for me when everyone else disappears. It’s about being there for them when they need a shoulder. It’s give and take. Flaws and all.

The archaeological dig of my life is not over. I will continue to uncover things about myself and set them free as I live out my remaining years…as no one other than me.

 

Don’t Fence Me In

I can’t remember a time in my life when I felt comfortable setting boundaries. There was a part of me that believed I was obligated to help anyone who asked me even if it was to my own detriment. I believed I was not worth more than the way I was treated. I believe I wasn’t good enough. I believed what I was told about myself.

Now I don’t.

So…what changed? I don’t think it was any one thing but a combination of things. Watching life intersect with death. Facing the fact that all the time we have is all the time we have. Sometimes the only way to make the best of this time is to set a boundary or three.

Boundaries tend to piss people off. Too bad. One of the good things about boundaries is they help you weed out who has your best interests at heart and who doesn’t.

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The truth seems to piss people off too. If I have learned nothing else recently it’s that the truth really will set us free. Truth is liberating and boundaries assure that our liberation is not short lived.

We’ve heard it all before…”life is short!” “Live life to the fullest!” “You only live once!” There is truth in every one of these sayings. There’s another truth and that is we cannot live fully if we don’t set boundaries. Without boundaries too much crap can get in and stifle us. Life is not meant to be lived this way.

Setting boundaries is completely outside my comfort zone. It feels weird and awkward yet strangely right. I have 54 years behind me. It is unlikely that I have 54 years ahead of me. I want to make the most of whatever is left. Maybe this comfort zone hasn’t been so comforting after all.

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Who Am I?

At the age of 54 I look in the mirror and ask….how did I get to this point in my life? What am I going to do with the time I have left? Who am I?

There were a lot of paths taken that got me to where I am today. Some were the paths less traveled and others were beaten down by the footsteps of many. There were rocky paths, rigid and dangerous. Others were paved smooth and straight. One thing all these paths have in common is that the destination of each was unknown from the first step. Every path I took was a gamble. Some paid off and some didn’t.

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I look in the mirror and see eyes I don’t recognize. They belong to someone older don’t they? I don’t feel like a mature 54 year old woman should feel. I still feel like an awkward, insecure, tortured teenager who doesn’t have a clue yet the mirror shows a woman with lines that run deep in places where a lifetime of worry is most apparent.

I look at my hands. Wasn’t it just yesterday they were young and pretty? Now they are getting a bit ragged and worn, perhaps from being clenched far too often. The underside tells another story though as my palms are smooth and good for holding hands and petting puppies.

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What will I do with whatever time I have left? Staying on this path doesn’t seem quite right for it has become as worn as my hands. I‘m not sure which path I will take (or be forced to take) next. I think if I were to die today it would all feel far too unfinished. The problem is I don’t know what the finish line is supposed to look like.

So…who am I really? I am covered with a lot of labels, some good and others not so much. A portion of the labels were self designated and some were given by people in my life. There are some that are accurate and some that aren‘t. But labels don’t make me who I am which leads me to ask yet again…who am I? Maybe there is no concrete answer. Perhaps I am a culmination of everything I’ve ever done, seen, heard, felt and believed along with everything I‘ve ever missed, neglected, torn down or left behind.

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I may never know who I really am until I step out of this earthly body someday. Perhaps the not knowing will push me to be better than I am now. Maybe it’s always pushed me and I didn’t realize it. I am a person who desires answers to everything. (I can be quite annoying in this respect.) I ponder just about everything from the origins of, well, everything to why things happen the way they do, when they do, how they do etc. Maybe in searching for answers I’ve overlooked the value of not knowing, for it would appear it’s the not knowing that propels me forward. Something else for me to ponder.

Who I was, who I am and who I will become are different. Yet all of the “I’s” are me now and forever. I don’t think it can get more unexplainable (I told you I can be annoying with this stuff) so maybe it’s best I leave it to the wide world of the unknown.

For now.

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For now.

(hubble)

No Apology Needed

Aging has a way of encouraging a person to look back on where they’ve been, forward to where they’re going and most importantly to where they are in the present moment.

When I look back on my life I see that I spent a sizable chunk of it apologizing for who I am.

During my most impressionable years I was labeled temperamental, moody, silly, stupid, ridiculous. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry I said. I was weird and no one knew what to do with me. I’m sorry I said.

I went out into the world with few people skills. I took jobs that I probably shouldn’t have because I didn’t know what else to do. Some of them I did okay and others I failed. I’m sorry I said.

I did not know how to give and receive love and my relationships, platonic and otherwise, failed. I’m sorry I said.

People that found their way into my life were those who were stronger than me emotionally. I allowed them in without realizing what was happening until it was too late. It was how I was programmed and I didn’t know I had the power to change it. The bullies, the bosses and sometimes the friends. If a confrontation was needed and I could find the guts to speak up for myself I was told I was being defensive, emotional, not rational. I’m sorry I said.

trust_denied I met Fred and he didn’t expect any apologies. He didn’t want them. But still there were others I allowed to walk over top of me. To talk down to me. To treat me like I was lesser than them. I wasn’t supposed to have an opinion. I’m sorry I said.

When we moved away from the home that we had lived in previously I was able to say goodbye to one of those people. That person did not let go easily but for me it was one of the best things I had ever done for myself. I was not sorry. Not anymore.

Getting on the Internet, specifically the Prodigy network back in the early 90s, opened a whole new world of people to me. It was also the beginning of me finding out who I really am.

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 Prodigy is long gone and now there is Facebook and Twitter etc. We can hide behind our little screens and be whoever we want. I prefer to be me – the me that no longer apologizes for who she is.

 
I no longer apologize for being an emotional and highly sensitive individual. I will never again apologize for being an empath nor for the gift I have of being able to read people. To being able to know when someone is lying to me. To know or feel what others are feeling. I will not apologize for being different or for not conforming to what is considered the norm. To apologize for being who I am makes no sense.

I have experience to share with those who want it. And for those that think they have all the answers, more power to you. I will not apologize for trying. I will not apologize for calling out blatant bullshit or lies. I will call it as I see it yet I will be the first to call myself out if I am wrong or out of line. And then you damn well better believe I will apologize.

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To me there is nothing more liberating than being honest and accountable for my actions. When I screw up, saying I’m sorry isn’t for me. It’s for the other person. A way to acknowledge they are important enough for me to take responsibility for my actions. Hell, I apologize to my pets when I screw up.

For those that cross the line with me? I’ll get over it. Eventually any grudge I feel will disappear. Grudges are a waste of time. What I won’t do is let you back in. It will be your loss. It will be my loss. Another life lesson learned. No apology needed.

 

When I Die…

When I Die

When I die do not talk of heaven and forgiveness and redemption. Release me to the cosmos. It is where I belong and where my heart yearns to be. Let me stand on the edge of the galaxy and inhale the splendor that only a creator undistorted by human beings could create.” ~ (Terri Onorato)

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If I think too hard about the vastness of the universe it’s overwhelming. When I add to the fact that there are countless galaxies beyond ours and countless more beyond that I fear my brain will explode. A positive side effect of pondering such things is it brings into perspective just how big creation really is. It also makes the god that I learned about in years past appear much smaller and less loving.

God…sigh…who has been so painfully distorted by humans as to become unrecognizable. The truth of this creator long-ago buried between the lines of a book written by humans and reinterpreted ad nauseam by anyone who did not like what they read. A god of rules and regulations and the threat of hell. A god I do not recognize.

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To live life under the threat of going to a very bad place when we die is not living at all. We were given life so that we may live and a conscience so that we may live well. Love and hell cannot go hand-in-hand.

Do not call me a sinner. I am a flawed human being with a flawless but imprisoned soul. I do the right thing and I make mistakes. I possess a good side and a dark side. My ego gets the best of me one moment and I feel humbled and unworthy the next. I am all this and more all at once. I am who I was created to be. My choices are a by product not a definition of who I am.

People speak wistfully of meeting their maker upon death. But we meet the creator of all that is every day in every nuance of nature and every person with which we interact. To wait for death for such a meeting is to completely miss the point of being alive.

Contrary to what our ego insists, we no more understand who created us than we do the true depth of the universe or life in the darkest, most inaccessible recesses of the ocean. Our concept of God has been wrapped up in a neat, often legalistic little package adorned in judgement and placed within the pages of a book that no one can agree on.

I will take my chances with the creator I see in the stars and hear in the wind. The creator I meet in the eyes of an old woman and feel in the heartbeat of a sleeping dog. The creator who makes my heart ache and makes it burst as well.

When I die do not talk of heaven and forgiveness and redemption. Release me to the cosmos. It is where I belong and where my heart yearns to be. Let me stand on the edge of the galaxy and step off, taking my chances on the one I know will catch me.

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When I read the story about Kyle my immediate reaction was to cry. Not only because he died needlessly. Not only because he was so tormented by bullies that at 12 years of age he took what might have been a simple household item, put it around his neck and hung himself. I cried because I felt his pain.

From a very young age I was bullied. At home, in school and later in the work place. As a child I had no power to stop it. As a young adult I didn’t know how. It took many, many years before I found out how to stand up for myself. Sadly, Kyle and far too many like him will never get the opportunity to fight back.

It’s hard for me not to write this out of pure anger – anger at the bullies but also at those who overlooked (or ignored) what was happening. I have to wonder how many more young people are going to end their lives over bullying before the rest of us start paying much closer attention to the signs. I won’t sugarcoat it, kids can be cruel. And often times they don’t realize the absolute devastation they can cause with a word or an action.

As someone who spent her entire childhood trying to figure out why she mysteriously sucked so bad that kids (and a few adults) bullied her and everyone else ignored it, I can tell you that these kids who are being bullied need empathy. They also need protection not only from the bullies but from the adults who sit back and do nothing.

This world will never be an easy place to live in. It will never really be safe either. It will always have a spattering of assholes and bullshitters. There will be suffering and neglect and ignorance. And I guess I will never understand most of it. But what I do understand is why a child who is bullied mercilessly ends their life. I can empathize. I know first hand the pain and the loneliness of being bullied. (I still tend to attract people who like to bully but I don’t allow it anymore.)

I find it perplexing that we are all different, we are individuals, and yet all too often we are singled out and treated horribly because we are exactly what we are meant to be…different.  Or sadly we do the singling out. We are all guilty of it at one point or another.

If I see someone who is overweight, well, so what? Their weight tells me nothing about them as a person. Unless I choose to be a judgemental asshole and assume, based on looks alone, that they are lazy or eat too much or some such crap. And if I want to be a real flaming asshole I will take a picture of that person (whom I don’t know but am judging based on how they look) and put it online for everyone else to make fun of too. Yeah, that really makes the world a better place.

Personally I don’t give a damn if someone is black, white, brown, whatever… it’s not for me to decide if people are good or bad based on a physical characteristic like color. Judging actions is one thing, judging color is another. And sexual preference – holy hell – who gives a flying shit anyway? It is not for us to decide that a particular sexual preference is good or bad. And don’t even get me started on religion. It’s about actions people, actions.

Apparently my soapbox was a little bigger than I realized. Regardless, I believe we have to find a better way to help young people see that being different is how we are meant to be. Being different is something to embrace not ridicule. Whether we are a parent or not is irrelevant – it’s certainly not going to hurt to try and lead by example in how we treat others. If our actions make one kid stop and rethink the way they treat people then we’ve accomplished something.

And lastly, I hope that young people like Kyle are at peace and the ripples their lives set in motion will forever lap the shores of this life reminding us that being different is a BEAUTIFUL thing.

 

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