Standing in Gratitude

As an introvert, putting myself on any display that isn’t as simple as my written words is a huge
S-T-R-E-T-C-H. I periodically recognize when I’m stunted (or stuck), and purposely and purposefully stick my toes (and sometimes neck) in situations or around people that are at first naturally uncomfortable for me. I know if I don’t that I won’t grow, expand, and learn new ways and conversations without doing so. It’s sort of like my interpersonal travel itinerary!

I’ve been going through and growing through some things lately, and I’ve been fortunate enough (and I’d like to think “smart enough”) to have some people around me that have heard me, love me, and are willing to have me do more than just read the “dance steps” — they are inviting me to dance and learn at the same time.

Self-Question and Answer

Q1: How do you know when it’s time to start stretching yourself — to start doing the new things you think about doing and pushing the boundaries of what you think you’re ready to do?
A1: When you crave to do more and you feel restricted in your own skin and your steps feel small.

Q2: How do you know when your change of mind (or self-talk) is working?
A2: When it starts showing up on the outside of you by way of people giving you cause, opportunity, and the space to show up as the new thinking.

Q3: What do you do when you’re scared to pieces of it all?
A3: Say, “Yes!” Do it anyway, repeat, and celebrate.

Q4: How do you get there?
A4: Tell the people that can hear your words and love you enough to drag you to the life-stretching class.

Q5: What if you do the thing (“thang”) and you don’t feel like it was your best?
A5: Refer back to A3.

Q6: What if I’m just so nervous about it all and I feel like I can’t follow through?
A6: Put your feet on the ground and stand in gratitude for the opportunity, the people, and circumstances that got you here.

You can always get a tattoo placed where you can always see it to remind you of who you say you are! Buuut… that’s not a one-size-fits-all solution! 😉

There’s nothing better than to be seen and heard.
I AM GRATEFUL.

Misunderstanding White Privilege and Other Nonsense

I spent too much time on some nonsense today. I’m aware that some of my posts rub some of you wrong. This is not an apology, just an acknowledgment, and I’m okay with that. I’m here for you ALL DAY if you want to learn something from me, or if you have something to teach me that is of value and makes this world a better place for EVERYONE. What I am NOT here for is your willful ignorance, and that goes double for when you are being obtuse in the face of an opportunity for you to hear something that you have the chance to learn. I am NOT here for you if you learn, know, find out better, but refuse to do better.
I know I’m idealistic, and I’m okay with that, too. I have ALWAYS been this way, ALWAYS. Although, admittedly, it is the catalyst for a lot of my frustration with stupid shit that people do and say. Sometimes I really do not get what some of you do not get. Some of you, I chalk it up to lack of exposure and refusal to learn. I say “refusal” because really there are NO reasons why anyone should pass up an opportunity to learn something new, and there is NO shortage of ways to learn about people that you may not have a good understanding of. Personally, before I condemn someone for the way they act, I check in with myself to see if I FIRST understand why someone does what they do. That doesn’t mean that I am going to condone their actions (or I might), it just means that I seek to understand first.
I don’t know it all. I don’t have all the answers. Neither do any of you. And sometimes even when I think I understand, I get set straight one way or another. But here’s the catch: I’m also okay with that! To me, it’s a RELIEF. Now, don’t confuse that with it feeling good. It rarely does, but it IS a relief. Knowledge is power and freedom. There are things I know. There are things I know that I don’t know or understand. And there are things, I’m sure, that I don’t even know that I don’t know yet. Those will come, and I’m always working on the things that I know I need to understand better. I am comfortable with finding those things out. I get along best with people that get this.
If you come on my page and respond to a post that you don’t agree with, be prepared to be set straight. I’m willing to listen to a point to see if there is something new for me, something I didn’t know, etc. The end of that point, however, is when I am aware that you aren’t here to listen or learn anything new.
Further, learn what white privilege is. It has nothing to do with your economic status. Really, I think we should ALL know this by now, but some of you are not paying ANY attention or trying AT ALL to learn what it means. Same with Black Lives Matter. Learn what it means and stop that stupidity about Blue Lives and All Lives, etc. Just STOP. It’s not like the REAL information and answers aren’t abundantly out there to find. But at this point, if you’re still confused, I already know you’re just too afraid to find out. That helps NO ONE, not even you.
Finally, black people or any person of color, for that matter, aren’t here to teach you about the real history of the U.S. (not the watered-down version of stuff our history books in school wanted us to know that made us feel good about ourselves) or the foundation of policing. Besides, when they do try to tell you, many of you won’t listen anyway. Stop telling people of color how they should act according to how it is standing in YOUR shoes until (which will be never) you stand in theirs and gain an understanding of what life has HISTORICALLY been like for them in this country. Stop quoting that one black person in a 6,000 square mile radius who almost agrees with you or agrees with you on one line-item as evidence that you are right about your racist views or ignorance.
If you just rolled your eyes during any of that (if you made it this far), please feel free to remove me from your friend list or whatever else makes you feel better. I’m okay with that, too. And don’t send me your private messages of hate like I get EVERY time I get on my soapbox. Some of you all go through an awful lot of trouble to just show me in the end that I got under YOUR skin. My favorites are when I get called an ethnic slur that is relative to my last name. I publish those for everyone to see, just so you know.
Lastly, I AM here for you if you would like to live in a world that works for EVERYONE with NO ONE left out, and you’re willing to take a look at yourself like I do myself ALL the time. Someone told me once that I hate white people and therefore hate myself. Not true. I love ALL people. (And don’t think that I’m not aware that that is just some second class manipulation to make me feel bad and try to put me down.) I may not like you personally, but I love ALL people. I’ve always felt that way. I just simply have no tolerance for intolerance. I don’t have room for it, and I won’t even make room for it in my life, and I will never apologize for that. If you’re racist, we got a problem. If you’re homophobic, we got a problem. If you want to demonize someone for their religion that you don’t understand, we got a problem. If you think you’re going to talk down to me because I have a vagina and you have a penis, we got a problem. If you have any kind of “ism” or phobia about someone who is different than you, we are probably going to lock horns at some point and have a problem.
If you just so happen to want to open yourself up to some knowledge and you are white like me, here are a few links below. Well, anyone can read them, but they’re about white privilege. Or you can simply look this stuff up on your own. It’s our job to teach each other and ourselves to do better. Stop waiting on people of color to give you the answers that you ultimately don’t listen to anyway.
There’s so much more I can say, but I know I’ve probably worn out my welcome at this point. If you made it this far, thank you. Your time is appreciated. If you’d like to discuss any of this in a respectful, willing-to-learn manner, feel free to comment below.
Peace.

https://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/viewFile/249/116

Check Your Personal Equality Climate

“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” ~Julian Bond (Founder of Southern Poverty Law Center, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)

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So many of us live in fear. I’m not saying that we go around hiding or shaking in our boots (though some might). What I am saying is that many of us operate out of fear, rather than love, and it shows in the way we treat people — even in our silence. 

If we operated from love, I wouldn’t be writing this, and the world would look a whole lot different!  For one, the conversations about race and gender inequality wouldn’t exist because neither subject would carry weight. We would treat family like… well, family! We wouldn’t see power-hungry bosses and co-workers stepping on others to gain ground or intimidate. We wouldn’t see power struggles in relationships, nor abuses of various kinds. Bullying would be unknown. We wouldn’t have the need to prove our superiority over another.

The current climate has brought out all kinds of fear; you can hear it in conversations and it thumps around in daily life. This is nothing new, but I suggest that the energy in our spaces right now has forced this nastiness upward and forward from the mires. Sometimes fear looks like hate; sometimes it looks like anger; sometimes it looks like sadness, or many other related negative emotions and actions. What it doesn’t look like is love for all, including love for self. Cooperation, collaboration, and affinity are abundantly missing in all walks of life.

Some of us are fearful of losing something if we contribute to others — the “what” that we fear is boundless. It could be money, footing, stature, reputation, family, friends, love… you name it! Unfortunately, when motives are fear-driven they come out in ways that we have several labels for, i.e., hate, bigotry, violence, misogyny, rudeness, bitterness, racism, homophobia, etc. I cannot imagine that there is one among us who never falls into the fear trap.  I know I fall, and it is not pretty!

Though there are clearly many ways love and fear is each expressed, for the sake of this post, I am particularly speaking about making room for others to be on the same ground. I am talking about the absolute truth of helping, giving, allowing others to be and have the exact same allowances and how we do not lose a single thing in the process.  Many who are “on top” view equal rights as a pie, and feel that if they give another the exact same space that they are in, that they lose a piece of their ground or a slice of their pie.  But this is only true when we are speaking about an actual pie! (But even then I will argue that sharing is awesome, and you’ll still receive a wonderful intangible in return!) 

Self-reflection time:  Where in your life do you take issue with another having what you already have, be it property, pay, rights, housing, health… anything?  Where in life do you hear yourself complaining about another that has requested the same fairness in life that you receive?  If at this point the voice in your head just said, “I’m not prejudiced, but…,” or “I’m not a bigot, but…,” or “I believe in equal rights, but…,” or “I’m not a racist, but…,” or “I’m always nice, but….”  Man, your “but” just told all about what’s really going on. Did you hear it? It was REALLY FAST so you might have missed it.  Our “buts” will show our butts every time!

If at THIS point you have now gone into the discussion about “deserving,” and who deserves or doesn’t deserve something, you’re deflecting.  Yes, you really are. This looking at self in the mirror thing doesn’t always feel good (at first), but it’s a practice we all need to be in.  Your view of life is not the same as another’s, and it is no less or more accurate either. It is no less or more important. Your view and experience of life is not THEE view or experience, rather merely one in a myriad of views and experiences. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Where are you not listening to someone’s struggle, or discounting their account of life?
  2. When do you diminish others and their experiences based on their occupation, neighborhood, family, gender, skin color, religion, history, etc? 
    • And the bigger question: WHY are you doing that?
  3. Why are we afraid to accept that life plays out differently for others, especially someone who has lived a completely different life?
  4. Why do we have such a hard time admitting that we either just don’t understand, or that we just don’t give someone from a different culture or walk of life the consideration they really deserve?
  5. Why is it we want others to give us a break and understand where we are coming from, but we don’t give that regard to someone whose shoes we’ve never stepped into and have had very little or no affiliation?
  6. Why does someone else deserve less than we expect to receive when we want to be heard and understood?

Is it really any wonder why we see anger from marginalized groups? 

“When I uplift even one to equal standing, I lose nothing and gain it all — not only for myself, but for all of us. Likewise, the converse is true.  Remember that one can and will cause a collective.
It is impossible to give more than I have, and completely possible to gain more than I dreamed when I pursue love-multiplied as my only agenda.”


The way I see it, we have two choices – LOVE and FEAR. Super simple! Now if you choose love, it does not mean that you have to agree, or even understand, but it does mean that you are giving others space to be who they are and to express how life is for them in a way that you can’t possibly understand. Again, you lose NOTHING. Who knows, you could even learn something and find out how ridiculous and unknowing you may have been before (which I strongly suspect is the reason so many of us refuse this opportunity)! Or you could realize how to be part of a solution, and/or how you might have been part of the problem.

Start today coming from your heart, and retrain your ears and mind to open up to those you have disregarded and discarded in the past based solely on things you can’t or refuse to relate to. Search your conscience for where you have turned it off in order to be okay with your discounting of others. Acknowledge the humanity in all, and the fact that we really all yearn for the same essentials. Listen to someone you might not have before, and not to gain anything for yourself, but just out of love. It’s a win-win. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, and you’ll start gaining faster if you listen more than you speak!



Love,
Debora

P.S.  Let me know if you’ve been brave enough to start giving people space to be who they are, and what you’re learning.

Reject The Summons To A False Dilemma

 “If you’re not with me, then you’re against me!” 

We take sides in family, friendships, politics, the workplace, and more!  Often, we even take pride and puff out our chests at the divide of which we are at the root, when often we probably should be hiding our faces at the damage we have done – often irreparable.  Sometimes we get so wound up in it that we can’t get out, and we collect other accomplices and victims in our ball of twine as we wind up to make sure we are not in it alone.  Then we assume that those who won’t join us are therefore on the opposing side.  Is it worth it?  Does it make us better individuals or life better when we support another person, group, idea, etc., so vehemently that relationships fall into a cavern of uncertainty or spiral down into oblivion?  Did we actually provide a measurable service for anyone?  Or, was it all done for a power-feed for our own ego or other personal gain?
Sure, sometimes we find we must let someone or something go (bad match, matters of safety, etc.), but that is not what I am talking about.  So as not to justify butting in where we don’t belong, or so obtrusively inserting ourselves where we aren’t needed, I am specifically talking about occasions and instances where we are an outside party and  have an opportunity to take a step back and “assist” only if asked.  I am talking about times where a difference could actually be made by our absence and by keeping our mouths closed – where showing our support would look more like keeping our personal thoughts in our heads vs. putting them into someone else’s space.  I am also talking about how allowing the outcome to be whatever it is going to be without interjecting or injecting our personal selves into it where matters do not require our attendance, literally or figuratively.

 There is always more… or none

 Truth – this is hard to do sometimes!  It is so easy to get caught up, especially if it involves someone/something/a group that we love or despise.  We want to take sides!  Sometimes we think we have to take sides.  But do we have to?  Instead of jumping right in, how different might the outcome be if we first took some time to assess the need for us to insert ourselves in some way, and then just opted out instead?  Or in the case of family and friends, what if we just waited to be asked for assistance or advice, and then still only gave what was actually needed vs. what we personally felt?  We might stop here to consider that when we think we are helping someone with our opinions that we might actually be putting that person in an uncomfortable position with us!  They might really love us so much that they won’t say anything in order to avoid offending us.  It happens!  From there may come avoidance, distrust, dishonesty… you get the picture.  Or, you may just get an earful, and then what?  Once you have inserted yourself as someone’s steadfast ally, what will you do if they change their mind and go a different direction than what you want for them?  How are you now going to react and respond with their once-opposing side, or yet another new choice?

What I am suggesting here is to think way ahead before you jump in feet first, eyes closed, and mouth open if you are considering taking sides with someone or on something.  Once you choose sides you are dividing more than just the two entities in question.  Your energy in the matter will cause a wake.  There is more than one way to show your love and commitment to your person, cause, or group, and it does not always have to mean making the “other side” appear wrong.  Do not expect everyone to jump on board with you if you choose to take sides; and when someone chooses not to, do not fall for the false dilemma that just because they aren’t “with you” that they are “against you.”  Do not actualize an enemy or opponent where there was none.  They may simply realize they have other options, as do you.

 Here’s an idea! 

Before you can think outside your box, you must first…

Listen outside your box.

So often we speak only from within our walls and from what we know to be true inside our own secluded world.  Then we suffocate any ideas that try to penetrate from the outside before we actually consider them.  We assign the new thing (thought, value, movement, etc.) a value from our own cemented thoughts, and then call it false or a lie before simply considering it with a different set of experiences and values.  Just because we don’t share or have never had that same experience, we act as if it isn’t true or it doesn’t hold the same value as our own.  We don’t bother to try it on, to do our best to stand even for a moment in the place of the other, or even get curious enough to ask learning questions.  We run away from learning from it, refuse to look at it, and are quick to kick it out of our box and forget it.  Many times we do our best to convince others to do the same.  Some would call this ignorance, and maybe it is, but I think that’s too simple.  I say it is fear, and essentially an absence of love.

What if our knee-jerk reaction to another’s experience was acceptance instead of rejection?  That’s not to say that we should believe or buy into everything anyone says.  Now that would be ignorance.  But why should we automatically reject anything that is different from what we are used to either – that is different from our preformed assumptions?  Fear causes it to be nearly impossible for us to have new ears with which to listen to someone or something that is different.  We are afraid of change; we are afraid of looking wrong; and we are afraid that if we change our people won’t go with us.  Even when we don’t agree with someone, rather than giving them the honor and the credibility that they deserve for having a different life experience, we ridicule and/or we sometimes bully and terrorize them.  When really, it would be so easy just to recognize them (and quite frankly, less work) as another human being with a different set of life experiences.  That would be love and acceptance – without fear.

Everything in this life is not linear, is not of black and white thinking, is not only what you see with your eyes, is not cut up into perfect increments to be served in a universal box.  If you can’t see outside of your own box, if you can’t even imagine what it must be like in another box, this world is going to keep bouncing off the corners and we’re never going to get a smooth ride on it together.

I invite you, at least for today, to listen instead of thinking about your reply.  I invite you, at least for today, to consider that another’s experiences are just as real and true as your own.  I invite you, at least for today, to be fearless and loving with your listening.

In LOVE,
Debora

This Ride Together

“True wisdom listens more, talks less and can get along with all types of people.” Kiana Tom


Well, wouldn’t it be nice to see more of that! Watching the news, reading different social media, conversations with others… ONCE AGAIN everybody is judging, and no one is listening. It is easy to get caught up in the finger-pointing, and apparently way easier than examining ourselves, and a world away from even considering that who we are pointing at might just have a valid experience that should be listened to.

We are quick to belittle someone else’s experience; and how ridiculous that is when we cannot possibly know what it is like in their shoes. It is one thing if it is someone we can relate to, but if they are not then they are discounted and dismissed immediately. The mentality of “If it isn’t happening to me that way, then it’s not happening to you,” is not only absurd, but dangerous.  Then we sit back in bewilderment when someone gets so sick and tired of being marginalized and unheard that they lose it. Is it REALLY any wonder? Is it really so hard or scary to ATTEMPT to understand another’s experiences? It is FOOLISH to think that other people do not have lives we cannot imagine!

We are so scared of losing what we know about ourselves or our foothold that we go into full defense when it is challenged, when it’s the very time we should be LISTENING. It is sad, because what is greater than losing our former selves to humanity? But that point is missed when we’re attacking one another, when we are consumed with proving how right we are and how wrong they are.

It is all FEAR.  Be bold; be fearless today.  Take a step outside of your own box… have a listen.



There’s Always You

They Better Recognize!
There will be those for whom you will never be enough, and that’s okay!  It’s okay because they probably aren’t enough for themselves anyway.  They are already torturing themselves without even realizing it.  Resist participation in the “Not Enough” game.
There will be those that will say one thing to you when they’re happy with you, and turn around and say the exact opposite when they aren’t.  Resist the confusion by this confused person.  It’s a ploy to pull you into their snare.  Do not enter.  You don’t need them to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong about you.  If you listen to your heart, you already know the truth of the matter.
There will be those who will intentionally say or do things to hurt you.  Let’s be clear, this person is a bully.  It may indeed hurt, but that doesn’t mean they are right.  Let someone you trust know how you are being treated just as fast and as often as you can.  Don’t keep this perpetrator’s secrets about who they are, and stop buying into the secrets you are beginning to believe about yourself.  This is how they feed!  Don’t believe the negative ad campaign, and don’t feed the monsters.
There will be those that will fall short of their promises to you.  I’m not talking about false promises; I’m talking about promises made before they had any idea of what the follow-through would have to be.  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” sometimes means that person can’t hold up to their lofty promises.  Frustrating, yes, but it means nothing – absolutely nothing – about you.
There will be those who will offer to loan you money, or do other favors for you in order to have some control in and over your life.  This is one way they keep you “loyal.”  Do not deal with this person, and do not be this person.  Favors should be from the heart with no expectation of the receiver.  (And, no, I’m not talking about the legalities of a money loan.  I am speaking about  your personhood.)
Predators are everywhere, and they aren’t just of the violent and/or sexual nature.  If someone purposes to bring you down, they are preying on you.  Recognize when someone is doing this to you, and don’t fall for it.  They are lonely down there and wish you harm for their own gain. 
There will be those that discount your feelings, your health, your struggles.  Believe in yourself and don’t let these issues define you. As well, don’t let what people refuse to understand define you either.  Break free from their thinking.
There will be those that are just simply unhappy, angry people. They will create things to blame on you, and they will incite your belief and bewilderment in their story.  If it sounds outlandish, it is!  You can NEVER be responsible for someone else’s happiness.  An unhappy person will be unhappy no matter where they go or whose company they keep.  Notice that unhappiness just follows these people.  You truly never will be enough of anything for these types.  If they can’t make themselves happy, they also cannot make YOU happy.  Also, do not depend on someone else for your own happiness.  You own this one for yourself, like it or not, as do they.
If you can’t physically distance yourself from these kinds of people, at least do not allow them to take up space for free in your thoughts, as your thoughts are at the forefront of your well-being.  Do not allow their insidious nature to take over.  You guard your heart and mind through your thoughts.  Someone may be able to take over physical space, but only you hold the key to your thoughts.  Don’t give it away, and keep these people out of your head.  This you do have 100% control over.
Now it’s up to you! (It always has been, actually.)
I say these things so matter-of-factly, I know.  It is work to be on guard and to be our own biggest advocate, but the payoff is freedom and power.  A very important piece of this is also recognizing the people in your life that are good for you, that love you just because they do.  These are the people that you want to surround yourself with.  These are the people that are worthy of your time, caring, and concern.  The more you surround yourself with these people, the less space there is for the others.  This is what being responsible for yourself looks like.  It’s up to you to be different.  If you’re waiting around for people around you to change, you’re on the wrong track.  Be responsible.  Nothing changes until your own thoughts and actions do.
Are you keeping that friend around who hurts your feelings or never shows up for you?  Why?  Are you keeping that potential suitor around just in case another better one doesn’t come along?  Why?  Are you still going to the family gatherings only to be treated like a stepchild?  Why?  In the pretend act of not hurting someone else’s feelings, what do you think you are doing to yourself?  Certain situations may be unavoidable at times, but that’s when I refer you back to guarding your thoughts!
We have this fairy tale that we aren’t responsible for how our lives turn out.  This tale allows us to ignore responsibility and refuse to take action, which oddly enough IS action and shows up all over our lives.  All you have to do is look at how your life is going, and I’m not talking about how you coordinate it to look on the outside.  I’m talking about your real life – how it looks from the inside.  We all know a horrible person whose life looks like it is unfairly working out so well for them.  (Someone just popped into your head, right?)  But trust me, were you able to be in their skin, it is not that at all.  So watch out for that envy!  The shiny things aren’t always what you think, and there is a price to be paid.

You are your best asset!
My Papa told me once to listen only to me in the end.  He said that people’s opinions were only worthwhile up until they start making you feel bad, vs. making you think.  As usual, he was right.  Of course. (Smile.)  I have come to understand this better as I get older and have become more practiced at it.  I was 13 when we had this talk, and dealing with some bullies at school.  I was feeling very unsure of myself, and he was very clear to me that the girls that were hating on me and bullying me were very unhappy people and wanted to make an example out of me and a few other friends.  He was very clear with me that I should not turn around and be that way to someone else in order to fit in or make myself feel better as they were doing to me.  He was also very honest and enlightened me to the fact that these people would always be around, and the best thing I could do was trust in myself.  He and my mother both taught me that being a happy person in spite of it was the best medicine.
There will be moments when you perceive that you are all you have.  You just have to remember that indeed you do!