Wednesday, December 4, 2013

judgement is mine....and yours too

So I had a lesson in perspective recently while driving to work one morning.  The lesson revolved around judgement.  How we judge others and certain situations to be more precise.

Once I moved past the eureka moment of this lesson, I became a little squirmy with myself.

I had to look in the proverbial mirror, gaze at my reflection while looking myself dead in the eye and call myself judgmental.

Realistically I should not have been surprised, but I felt so justified and convicted that there was no way I was judgmental of others.  After all, I've written about racism, segregation, interracial relationships.  I've opened my door, literally and metaphorically to everyone.  I call myself a Christian for goodness sake.  Me?  Judgmental?

Yes me.  And you are too.

We might judge different things, but judge we do.  Probably more than we think.

I want to tell you about something that happened that made me admit to myself that I am more judgmental that I cared to acknowledge.

I love my ride to and from work.  It's a little long, but not too much.  It's hilly, curvy and colorfully picturesque.  I either gear myself up for the day and wind down, depending on which way I'm headed.  I meditate, I pray, I rock out with great music, whatever the mood dictates.  It's a special time of day that belongs to just me and I choose to make it mine twice a day.....until......

Some loser, inconsiderate, self important, careless jerk decides to tailgate me.  Me, who is not driving too slow and is minding my own business.

Almost nothing gets on my soap box more than a tailgater.  If I can't see pavement between your vehicle and mine, then you are tailgating me.  If I can't see your headlights in my rear view mirror, you have invaded my personal space and now we have an issue.  This almost cheers me up a little, because now I get to break check you.  I love to see the expression on your face when you have hit your brakes a little too hard and grab the steering wheel with both hands.  Serves you right your arrogant, self absorbed, complete disregard-er of human life.

You get the picture.

So anyway one beautiful, clear, crisp, North Carolina Blue Sky, kind of morning I am on my way bright and early to work.  I am completely loving the start to my day.  Until.....

Here she comes, right up on my bumper.  Trying to push me.  Out of her "must be running late for something or another and no one else matters" kind of way.  Oh no she didn't!

Yes she did.

And this one is persistent.  She has someone in the car with her.  And they are yapping away.  Not happy.  Clearly agitated.  And I'm convinced it's about me.....driving the speed limit.

So just about the time I am ready to give this nice woman a "check of reality", I came around a curve and noticed way up ahead a chaotic array of fire trucks, sheriffs vehicles complete with lights and flashers going alerting us of danger.  In the middle of the chaos is a wrecker beginning to harness a very crushed and dented, how did anyone survive this, VW Bug.

I take this in from quite a distance while slowing down to patiently and respectfully wait my turn to be waved through this tragedy by a dutiful deputy.  I glanced in my mirror, certain this situation would slow my offensive tailgater down, but no.  While seemingly impossible, she was now even closer to my vulnerable bumper and relentlessly pushing me.  Much to my amazement, while I have moved to my left to be guided past the accident, she is now beside me on my right and speeding up.

What???  This crazy person is going to try to pass me here?  At this exact second, it's my turn to move past the crushed vehicle and my attention is diverted from my persistent and dangerous tailgater.  Once clear of the accident, I look into my mirror again to realize in horror, my tailgater has left her vehicle along with her passenger and is running full speed towards the crushed vehicle.

I felt a little sick to my stomach.  At myself.  I felt a lump in my throat for this poor woman and her companion.  I don't know who she was trying so hard to get to.  I don't if they were hurt or worse.

What I do know is that I judged her.  And in my mind called her behavior ugly.  I was so convinced that she was inconsiderately and selfishly gunning her way down that beautiful country road that day, off to some frivolous activity.  Instead she was trying everything in her power to get to what appeared to be a loved one.

I could not have been more wrong.

And I was self righteously going to brake check her.  Willfully keeping her from what appeared to be a loved one in dire need.

I didn't like my behavior too much that day. I still don't.  And somehow I would love to apologize to her and ask her if everyone involved is okay.

 I'm not too sure how I will handle the inevitable future tailgaters I am destined to meet in my journeys.  It's probably safe to say a good number of them are, indeed, inconsiderate jerks.

But what I think I do know is this.   Everybody has a story.  And like a book, we can't just look quickly at the cover and grasp what all the chapters inside reveal.

I hope in the future I give heed and the benefit of the doubt to all of life's jerks.   It will be a challenge and I suppose at times I will epically fail.  But I do know that I don't ever want to be in someone's way like that again.

What about you?  What do you think?

Monday, December 2, 2013

lessons from my dog

I'm not the same person I was when I began writing.  Not even one little bit.

When I started this blog, I was living my Almost Happily Ever After.  Well that didn't turn out so good and now it's just me.  And my dog.  And my cat.

So I thought this would be a good time to dish out a little bit of relationship advice.

Who better to do that but me, right?  A string of failed family relationships, lovers, boyfriends, husbands. You name it, I've got failed relationships littered far and wide behind me.

So I feel I am perfectly qualified to give relationship advice.....well at least on what not to do in order for your relationship to succeed.

Which brings me back to my dog.  And my cat.

But first the dog.  Man's (or woman's' in my case)  Best Friend.  The Poster Pet of unconditional love.

My dog loves me unconditionally.  No doubt there.  However.  She never ever compromises who she is in order to love me unconditionally.

Let me explain.  Much of her life we lived in houses that had a fenced in back yard.  She loved it. She felt it was her duty, or mission in life if you will, to patrol the perimeter of said back yard to determine.....well I don't know what she was determining, but it was her mission in life to do this. Take her for a walk on a leash....totally different story.  She would walk faster than you, pulling the leash just enough that she would choke a little bit.  Ever the drama queen, the choking would escalate, while giving you the look that clearly accused you of inflicting the choking.  No amount of training ever made this habit go away.  You see who she is, is a dog that needs to patrol and being on the leash prevented her from being who she was.  

Now life happened and Almost Happily Ever After ended and we were now living somewhere new. Somewhere that wasn't fenced in.  At all.  It was tough.  My dog had NO WHERE to be who she was.  And she constantly reminded me of it with "The Look" while she was at the other end of "The Leash".   Yet while I knew she wasn't happy, she sucked it up over time and still loved me. Unconditionally.

One day a year and some later, we moved.  Our new home has a yard and a fence.  A tiny yard, but a yard.  She went out there for the first time and gave me "The New Look". You know, the one that said; "You call this a yard?"   Yet still she loved me.

Lucky for me, and my dog, directly behind this tiny little yard with a fence is a very large open field.  This field has trees around the perimeter of it an ideal setting for patrolling if there ever was one.  After a few times of walking in the field with her choking on the leash, I took a leap of faith in our relationship.  She now patrols off leash to her hearts content, with me following protectively close behind, I don't think she realizes that.  Or cares. Because when I am freezing in the cold fall morning and call her, she doesn't hear me at all.  Or at least pretends not to. She just continues to follow the tree line, smelling whatever it is dogs smell. After about the forth or tenth time of calling, she abruptly stops her obsessive patrolling and comes to me, obediently happy with that special love look in her eyes. Then just as abruptly, she takes off running and I swear I can see her laughing.  She runs full speed into our tiny fenced in back yard and patiently sits there waiting for me to catch up.  Probably assuming she's earned a treat for her alleged obedient behavior. She has.

So by now, if you are still reading this you might be wondering what in the world this silly little pointless dog story has to do with me wanting to give you relationship advice.  Me, the one who is extremely unqualified to give anybody relationship advice. Ever.

Well, what I learned from my little seven pound BFF is that a successful relationship takes a lot of love,  and at times great sacrifice and compromise.  What should never, ever be changed, challenged or lost is who you are.  Because if you change or lose who you are, even in the name of love, that love will surely die. And even worse you will have sold yourself out.

Now next is my, never mind.  Relationships with cats are without fail conditional, co-dependent and dysfunctional.  I'm pretty sure I'm an expert on all of those.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

time does heal all wounds.....doesn't it?

I quit writing for a while.  Life got messy and in the way of, well, just about everything.

But it really got in the way of writing.  When I would sit down, poised to write, nothing happened.

Nothing moved my fingers, no story ran around in my mind eagerly demanding to be transferred to my computer.

My mind would go blank and then I would begin to dwell on everything I shouldn't.

My many failed relationships.  The fact I was starting my life over AGAIN for what seemed to be the 5000th time.  How life is slipping through my fingers and I still haven't make enough of a difference.  And what difference is it that I should be making anyway? And WHY don't I know the answer to that question?

I began picking at every large and small scab that resembled my past until it would bleed again. Some wounds the blood would just well up to a drop or two, but others would freely flow like a severed artery.  It was scary and messy, but I guess it was part of the process.

So off I would retreat, to what I call "Busy Land" doing anything frivolous so not to dig at my wounds.

You see by writing, I feel the need to face myself.....and tell you about it. Scary stuff.

So, Time went by.  Allowing some healing I suppose.  Something told me I was healed enough to "pick up the pen" again.

But then I was confronted with the question what do I have to share here.  With you.  What in this totally messed up world can I share that will make a positive impact?  What can I bring to this table that will make just one small contribution.

I'm still not sure what that is, but I know I can make a difference.  I know I have stories to share.

I hope you want to take a minute to hear them......

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Life is never black and white. Cut and dried. Clearly carved to give us a perpetual glimpse at any given moment of what to expect in order to reassure ourselves of what's to come.

We desire to feel safe and secure nestled in the arms of life.

But it's nothing like that at all.

We expect it to be though. We expect that each day, each and every day will manifest itself just as we expect it to. Predictable and our way in an almost compulsive pattern.

And we get comfortable with with our expectations. And assume this pattern will not change.

Until one day.

On that day, life happens and changes it's predictable safe pattern and leaves the door open just a tiny bit, but enough for death to enter.

You see death is never predictable. It's inevitable, but never predictable. It can't be controlled, it's never punctual and often plots to make it's grand entrance a surprise. Other times death enters slowly and allows us to get accustomed to it's finality. After lingering painfully, we often beg it to bring sweet relief to end it's torturous journey.

But not this time. Death showed up to claim this one without warning, swiftly like a thief in the night, it crept in and out before anyone had time to catch a glimpse or even suspect it was there.

She wasn't old nor was she young. She lived careless. She drank a little and smoked a lot.

But she was fine. Not the picture of health, but just fine. Funny thing was, her husband was supposed to go first.

We were all so convinced, complacently assuming this was to be. Death, cleverly disguised as a disease has been working it's way through his body for a very long time, leaving him frail and dependent and leaving her no choice but to be the rock. And that didn't faze her a bit. Most days anyway.

She would get sick and shrug it off. She didn't have time to be down. You see, she took care of him, ran a business and was a devoted mother, grandmother to the rest of her family. Not to mention a devoted friend to the rest of us. She fed more people than I could count. Created unnecessary jobs for those who needed extra money so they didn't feel like they were getting a hand out.

Just a few days ago we talked. And even though it was about a bunch of nothing, she had encouraging words for me, just like always. Her eyes twinkled and her sounded like whiskey laced heavily with cigarettes. I will remember that voice always.

She always called me baby. And that was special.

Now she is gone. She laid down to sleep and death abruptly pounced. No time to prepare. No goodbyes. Just never woke up.

I know she didn't want to go. Hey, she was just getting started. I know she never dreamed she would leave before her husband. He needs her so much. But I'm so happy that she made a difference. Left her mark, if you will. That she loved and was loved so deeply by so many.

I will miss her and hope that she is smiling at these words while I write this.

Monday, August 15, 2011

be the change

"Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Gandhi

I began writing this blog almost three years ago. Like a child that tires of a favorite toy, I've laid my words down for a bit, only to come back later and that "toy" looks all little shiny and new again.

Much has changed in these past three years, my son graduated from high school and is preparing to go off to college. I put on a few pounds. My daughters have progressed from elementary school to middle school and suffer from the drama all pre-teen girls seem destined to experience. The economy went from bad to incredibly horrible. I love my husband so much more today than three years ago. I began, for the first time in my life, a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Much hasn't changed either. My family still doesn't acknowledge me. We were driven apart for many reasons, but the catalyst that claimed our relationship was racism and my falling in love with a chocolate skinned man. And that rejection and the resulting hurt remains as raw today as it did three years ago.

This blog was initiated to dull that pain. This blog was a selfish gesture to express my feelings, to put a band aid a wound that was then supposed to heal so that I could get on with my life.

It didn't turn out that way.

I applied the band aid by putting words out there in the form of my story. It was at first several posts on this blog, and eventually then moved to a place it could be read on one page. I moved it because as I was posting it here, people kept commenting on it, relaying messages that mattered. Some even said this story made a difference in how they felt about race and particularly interracial relationships. A few said it changed them. Profoundly and forever.

That made me realize this blog wasn't for me. Nor was my story. I felt if I moved it perhaps more people could find it. And they did.

My words and events from my life were meant to make a difference. That took a while to digest. "What about me?"; I whined. Actually some days I still do. Whine that is. But at the end of the day, it's OK.

It's a pretty cool thing to look in the mirror and say that I can "be the change".

Monday, August 8, 2011

hate shows up in mississippi

Once again I am writing about Mississippi and once again it isn't good.

Is there a more troubling state in this country that experiences the effects of racism to the extreme?

This event took place in June in Jackson, Mississippi. James Craig Anderson was standing near his vehicle in the early morning just before dawn when a group of young people who were allegedly out looking to hurt a black person, unfortunately found him, their unsuspecting target.

These teens sole purpose that pre-dawn morning was to hunt down a human being and hurt an innocent person. And that's exactly what they did. This group of kids who should have been safely at home found an unsuspecting victim and beat him repeatedly and relentlessly in a hotel parking lot.

But the worst yet to come. After the beating, most of these kids left driving over to a McDonalds, perhaps to celebrate. One boy and two girls remained and apparently observed Mr. Anderson stumbling broken and bleeding in the road, attempting to find help. That's when the driver, the boy, took careful aim, punched the accelerator and ran over James Craig Anderson ending his life. Then the boy drove on to McDonalds and bragged to his friends saying; "I ran that nigger over."

There is some justice to this story. You see the whole ugly murder was caught in it's entirety on the hotel's video surveillance camera, and there were also witnesses.

Yes indeed we have come a long way in bridging the racism gap, haven't we?

Here is a video that tells the story in more detail as well as contains the hotel camera's footage. It is graphic so be warned.