Bogus Bitches Can’t Bogart Blessings, Believe That

I catch myself doing things that most would assume indicate that I’m somehow, in some way, ashamed of my spirituality. I mean, honestly, if it were someone else, I certainly may have mistakenly assumed such, earlier in my life. Now, of course, I have a different perspective because I AM that person.

It’s not big things, mind you, or anything that could be seen as an act of negation, but it does raise the question. For instance, I don’t like to blast my Christian music, when I’m in the mood to play it; I avoid posting things that could be construed as religious, like this post, too often; and I’m careful not to associate with any particular religious affiliation.

And you know what else? After these little incidents happen, I’m filled with shame, remorse, as if I did them on purpose and intended to act like I don’t care so much about my relationship with God, when in reality, I consider it the most important one of my life.

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So, me being me, I sat here and I thought about it. What was making me do this and then making me feel bad about it afterward? I couldn’t wrap my head around it last night, but just about an hour ago, it slid into clear view. The reason, I mean, and it made me feel vindicated and pissed at the same time.

What’s the reason?

People like this:

This disgusting person who says that he speaks for God and proceeds to tell people, desperate people – some who have a spouse that’s diagnosed with a fatal affliction and they’ve exhausted every avenue of hope and are just hanging on by a thread – people like that who have already, I’m sure, put themselves in massive debt to exhaust all those avenues; people that are looking for comfort; some relief, some refuge. Like we all would, in their situation.

And instead, they get this asshole telling them that for $1000, HE’LL pray to God for them, because, you know, God doesn’t listen to EVERYBODY. BUT, if HE prays to God, then God will pay attention. HOLY SHIT. HOLY BULLSHIT‼

The level of fury I feel towards people like this, I can’t do justice via an explanation. I don’t have strong enough words to express the degree of outrage just the thought of people like this create in me. So I won’t keep rambling on about it. It’ll just irritate me more and make me more likely to lapse into a belligerent rant. Well, a bigger one, haha!

Instead, I’m going to go the opposite way and rather than what I may have done before, which would be to hightail it out of here, probably deleting this post on my way out, I’m going to share with you what’s in my heart.

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I know that God loves every one of us. I know that the only 2 words God uses when He thinks of us are “my child.” Does he know that we do naughty, even heinous things? Duh. But I believe that God forgives us anything that we do, if we’re truly sorry and if we understand what we did wrong and that it IS wrong.

But, I also believe that these types of people are where he draws the line. These false prophets who use His name for their own personal gain, at the cost of grief, pain and the continued suffering of those in need. Those who, instead of offering comfort and alleviating any part of the pain that they were given the opportunity to relieve, squeeze harder for a little more blood.  These disgusting excuses for people…yeah, I think that’s where He draws the line.

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I would say to these charlatans, these money-grubbing greedy pigs, these ugly people- well, I’d say A LOT of things to them, but I’d start with “shame on you.” Not that that would mean much to them, but it is the least of what they should feel. I would tell them that they’re mighty brave to walk around with God’s name in their filthy mouths and pretend that His name belongs there when it is surrounded by intentional deceit. I would WANT to punch them in the throat, but I wouldn’t. I think I wouldn’t. I’d really, really do my very best NOT to punch them in the throat. Moving on.

Anyone who has ever seen or heard ANY PERSON, ANYWHERE, in ANY MEDIUM say or imply in any way that all of us are not able to speak directly to God, please, please, PLEASE, listen to me: THAT IS HORSESHIT MIXED WITH RHINO DUNG.

God, however you’re most comfortable knowing and interacting with Him, loves you. He is always listening to YOU.

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I know that faith is not always the easiest thing to maintain during the low lows of life, but that’s when it’s the most powerful. YOU are the most powerful when you can hold on to your faith, even in the darkest moments of your life. It can be your light. I promise that He’ll be there to hold your hand. You don’t need to give ANYBODY a damn cent. Your relationship with God is BFF status, emphasis on the second F.

Of course, I totally got off topic with my tangent tantrum there, but I don’t always have an opportunity to share this part of my faith with others without looking like a wanna be televangelist (to me, haha). And that brings us back to the subject.

I don’t turn my music down or keep quiet because I’m ashamed of God or my  relationship and faith in Him; I’ve been doing it because I don’t want there to be even a chance that anyone would ever associate me with the Mike Murdocks and Tammy Faye Bakers of the world, who exploit others faith in the times that they most need support.
The thought of being grouped in with those kinds of people makes me ill. And livid.

But you know what I can’t let that make me? Quiet.

Yes, these assholes have tainted what is sacred. But only inasmuch as the medium they use.

Yes, these vile people are disgusting examples of how NOT to spread the love of God. But that doesn’t mean His love stops.

Notice that I didn’t say the “word” of God. You know why? The “word” of God is His to speak and He does so directly to all of us. We just have to listen a little more carefully, and with our hearts, not our ears.

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If I want to see a change happen for the better, I’ve got to change my thinking and my actions. I’ve got to remind those who need reminding that they have God’s direct line, any time they’re in need, all they have to do is call. And I don’t mean call in to some bogus televangelist’s “line of faith,” I mean just call. He’s listening and His love is already yours.

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Again.

They had eloped when they were 18, to the extreme displeasure of both sets of parents who considered such behavior uncouth; scandalous evenEveryone said they were too young, said they’d never make it and that they’d ruin their friendship.

She went west for college and he stayed east. They wrote letters every week and talked as much as was possible back then, you know, before cell phones were more commonplace than manners.

And everyone told them they’d never make it, that they should just let each other go because this was college, party time!! Neither of them felt the need to defend what they knew.

After college, he went home to take over the family business. She stayed out west, got into an ivy league law school and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She was also voted class speaker for her smiles that never took a vacation and her tireless patience with anyone who needed a little help. During her graduation speech, she gave the perfunctory introduction that included thanks to each of her distinguished professors and deans, and briefly spoke about her time as the editor of the school’s law review. She thanked her parents and her in-laws and all of her friends and family. Then she folded her speech neatly and looked up, right at him, and the room burst into light,  lit by her mega-watt smile as she thanked him for his unrelenting support and for his courage that he had lent her throughout the last 6 years. She talked about the times that she had missed him so much that she wanted to just leave and abandon this, this law degree that had been her dream since she was a little girl; and how he had kept her grounded and moving forward and if it wasn’t for him, she wouldn’t be here. She told the crowd about the jeers and the teasing and the whispered comments about a man who would allow his wife to be so far away and going to school for a piece of paper she’d never need (it was still “that era,” where women were mostly homemakers). But he never, not even once, not even during their epic, clash-of-the-titans spats, said anything to discourage her. In tears, she ended with a heartfelt, albeit muffled, “I love you.”

She moved back east where she had several offers from well-established firms in the area, but in a stroke of fate, his company’s general counsel decided to move to Florida because of his rheumatoid arthritis and she happily accepted the position. She opened her own private practice, as well, to serve the needs of their suburban neighbors, and through word of mouth and just plain good, hard work, she made quite a name for herself.

His company exploded due to some recently implemented updates that he’d finally been able to incorporate after his dad retired a few years ago. Somewhere in this whirlwind of a life, they managed to have 2 boys, which they thought was wonderful and just about enough. Until they found out she was pregnant. Lily was born and their family was complete.

They were wonderful people with beautiful hearts and matching personalities.

They had been invited to the wedding of a neighbor’s middle daughter, who was all of 18 and gushing. They sat in the white plastic chairs that were draped with honeysuckle on the front lawn, waiting for the bride’s entrance. Just as the first notes floated out of the organ for the brides entrance, he turned to tell her a joke he just remembered and stopped. The look on her face as she watched the beautiful young bride practically skip down the aisle, squeezed his heart. She’d never had that. And she’d never admit that she wanted it. He’d asked her before, but she’d always give him “that look” and wink and say he was all she ever wanted. He’d see about that.

She remembered the wedding and how the young bride looked almost as happy as she was on her wedding day. She felt a pang of something, what exactly it was, she didn’t know, but it passed. He was more than enough and better than she had ever imagined. Still, it did make her a little misty eyed.

Their wedding anniversary was in June, 2 days after her birthday. They had to wait for the license which they couldn’t get until after she turned 18. This year was their 30th anniversary, she couldn’t believe it.

She also couldn’t believe that the dry cleaner had apparently messed up her order and that she had agreed to go 2 towns over to pick up her dry cleaning because poor Patsy was short-staffed.

As she pulled up to the building bearing the address she was given, her brows scrunched together in confusion. It looked like a church. What kind of dry cleaner has an office in a church? She shrugged and parked, walking quickly and looking around for anyone that may know where she needed to go.

That’s strange, she thought to herself, there were so many cars in the parking lot, she had assumed there was either a service or a church activity. Then as she turned the corner at the end of the main hallway, a gaggle of squealing tulle and chiffon snatched her and whisked her into what appeared to be a dressing room. Still confused, she raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth to say something pithy when he opened the door and she froze, mid-mouth-opening.

Dressed in a beautiful suit and tie, he was still as devastatingly handsome to her as he was the first night they made out when she was 15. It all clicked in an instant and her heart melted. She knew what he held in his hand, in the dry cleaning bag, and she knew it would fit because he paid attention. He sent a meaningful look to the gang of tulle and they quickly disappeared.

“Why don’t you try this on for me, let me see if it does you justice, like I pictured.” “Please,” he added quickly and she nodded and fled behind the dressing screen like a teenager, heart racing. She fumbled but finally got the dress – and shoes, he didn’t forget the shoes, that smart man – on, but couldn’t quite get the top closed. She did a little impromptu, use-whatever’s-in-my-purse makeup refresher, re-pinned her hair and with an uncharacteristic feeling of nervousness, followed by a stern “get a grip” self talk and a reminder to  herself to just breathe, she slowly stepped out from behind the screen.

The look on his face was worth every sit up, crunch, sweat-filled power yoga, 5 mile jog in 98% humidity, and even the hideous juice cleanses she’d endured over the years to stay fit.

He walked over to her, slowly sank to one knee and produced a beautiful, blazing sapphire (her favorite), pearl (her birthstone) & diamond ring. Catching hold of her now-clammy hands and looking up into eyes overflowing with tears, he said, “I know we’ve done this before and I know you weren’t expecting to do it again and I know you said doing the whole vow renewal thing was so-” She cut him off with a tug and after a kiss that was full of awe, joy and more love than she thought might be fair, she pulled back and said, “Yes. It’ll always be yes. Every time.”

Leadership. (No, Mr. Trump, It’s Not One of the UFOs in the Star Trek Movie)

What makes a great leader and why is great leadership important? Leadership, like many things and many words in the universe of words, especially that universe which resides in the U.S. of A., has as many definitions as there are people. I won’t bore you with a list, I’ll just gift you with the best of the bunch.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a world-renowned resource that’s been practiced and preached about by people from all walks of life and all manner of positions, from presidents to playwrights, from students to scientists, and everyone anywhere on the spectrum of people. In fact, anyone who hasn’t at least skimmed this book should stop reading immediately and go find and read it. I mean it.

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The most recent version published is the 25th Anniversary edition, and it includes a bonus intro provided by Mr. Covey’s children (he had 9 of them, see below), who wrote a lovely and loving tribute to a father who practiced what he preached, never forgot his family was his number one priority and never allowed anything to get in the way of that.

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Stephen Richards Covey and his wife Sandra; parents of nine children, 52 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. (Covey family photo thanks to KCSG TV; read more at KCSG Television – Funeral for Stephen Covey Author of 7 Habits Saturday)

In this tribute to their dad, they shared his definition of leadership; a definition that they had heard countless times throughout their lives. Mr. Covey, genius that he was, gave us the following gem:

Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see  it in themselves.

His brother, John Covey, said that he had always been “that way.” Whenever he was asked what he wanted to do, his response was, “I want to release human potential.”

That, my friends, is what I hold as the true definition of leadership. It’s not about you, it’s about what you can do to help those you lead realize their power and their untapped potential.

It’s about giving your people enough rope to swing, but not hang themselves.

It’s about instilling in them a confidence in themselves that they’ll carry forth throughout their life like a priceless heirloom tucked into their heart.

It’s confirming the knowledge that they are valued and valuable and that mistakes are meant to be made, shoot — learning doesn’t happen without them!

Leadership is noticing the straggler at the back of the bunch falling further behind and instead of embarrassing what is obviously a timid and unsure soul or just one having a bad day, leadership is getting one of your “front row sitters” to take over the marching counts so you can join the straggler at the back to see how their day’s going and have they heard any good jokes lately.

A great leader helps our straggler uncover the reason they’re falling behind or feeling left behind, why their straggling – and struggling, and then helps them let it go

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It sounds so simple, right? A little chat, a kind word or twenty; it’s what is meant by the term “quality time.” When you care enough to spend it, people realize that they’re worth it. You don’t have be made of steel to have the power to change a life.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. –Leo Buscaglia

Leadership has historically been confused and wrongly categorized with dictatorship. I mean, there have been extremely rare cases where the 2 have, indeed, coexisted, hence the term “Benevolent Dictator (“BD”),” but this is way, totally way, the exception and not the rule. Although…I see how a BD – in theory – can work…

Let’s be honest here and admit that the majority of the human race is, well, sheep. Most people graze along, nudged here and there but not really making the call on the final destination, just going along with the crowd, assuming that someone knows where they’re going.

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Of course, you can’t have sheep without wolves, right? You’ve got your wolves in the mix, some dressed up like sheep, some full on wolf face-raw, and I bet there are some that don’t even realize they’re wolves. Think about that for a second.

Most of these wolves are nefarious tricksters and would, if allowed, guide as many sheep as possible to their demise, aka their cozy little cave for “dinner.” Of course, the trusting sheep never ask to see the menu and the devious wolf doesn’t think it’s important to mention the teeny tiny fact that the sheep are dinner.

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Sheep want, some even need, to follow something, someone, anyone.  They need inspiration and guidance for whatever their reasons might be. Many are so desperate, they jump on the first bandwagon with an “I know the way” bumper sticker, paying no heed to the suspicious red droplets lining the wagon bed or that white fluffy curl hanging from the driver’s lip. And they are never heard from again. A casualty of the casual.

 

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The story wouldn’t be complete without the existence of the true shepherds; the ones who just brought the sheep out for a nice walk and some fresh meadow to chew on; who patiently wait and watch for the bandwagon bullshitters, fending them off like the famous David did Goliath.

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These shepherds understand the mindset of the sheep, they know that sheep need someone to tell them what’s best for them and they also know that someone will do it, even if they don’t. Someone whose intentions are the opposite of well-meaning.

The Shepherd in our story? That’s how the BD could and has worked. Singapore is a perfect example. The late Lee Kuan Yew is our most recent (known) BD. Sure, in the beginning there was some ugliness and bloodshed, but not nearly as much as a civil or other war would have caused, right?

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Here is a great piece from the NY Times on Mr. Lee (there are some related links on the page that are also interesting, if you’re interested :). In a time when his country, his people, were at the mercy of some really bad dudes who had no one but their own interest in mind, Mr. Lee stepped up, put on the robes, picked up the stick and shook out the bullshit. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but the ends certainly give the means better sway.

What about our sad, unstable USA today? It’s actually pretty sad and almost comical, except for the fact that this is NOT an SNL skit, it’s real life. It’s no wonder that I (and most US citizens) don’t see the current POTUS as our leader, but in all honesty, with no disrespect in any way intended to former persons that have occupied this station, the POTUS has never been a position that I looked to for leadership. In our country, politicians, which include the president, seem so far removed from my world and things that I worry about and look forward to, that their position feels as if it has no organic connection to me, only a bureaucratic one that rarely does me any good.

It may be because I feel so separate, being the one state that’s not connected to the rest of the states. It could be because I’ve never had much respect for most politicians. I don’t mean I’m some crazy revolutionary person, I just feel like things in and around the oval  office have spun out so far that no  one remembers what color the white house should be called. That’s not a typo.

I could go on forever, the sad cycle and associated chaos provides ample subject matter, but *sigh* I won’t.  In fact, I should be wrapping things up here.

So, leadership is putting someone else not above you  or behind you, it’s jogging next to them when they’ve fallen behind and helping them find their second wind and watching them proudly cross the finish line.

It’s showing those around you, whether you’re officially their leader or not, what you see in them and that what you see in them is their awesomeness.

It’s practicing what you preach.

It’s putting yourself in someone else’s life – not just their shoes – and seeing things from a perspective other than your own and being able to sync the two to a point where you can explain things to them in their terms so they can live a life that’s on their terms.

It’s knowing the difference between tough love and being an asshole.

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And you know what else? Great leaders create great leaders. Lord knows we need more of those.

In my life, I shied away from leadership because I thought it was too much responsibility for people who would most likely not appreciate it and perhaps not respect it. Sure, I pretended that it was because I was “too cool” for that or whatever lame reason I thought of in the moment, but in reality, and without being truly conscious of it, I’ve realized that I’ve always been a leader. It’s in my nature to nurture, to guide, to help, to find the silver lining, to see the good and pull it out into the light, to make people laugh in tense or difficult situations, and to always search for a way that everyone feels like a winner. I think I just didn’t realize that what I was doing was being a leader and that it felt right.

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All of us have the capacity to be leaders. You know what? You are already a leader – in your family unit, in your workplace, in your group of compadres. You lead a lot more than you know. Even if you think you’re a quiet wall flower that hardly ever says more than 2 words, I’m sure there’s at least one person who would say that you lead with your quiet constance and your steady presence.

Be mindful of this.

Be proud of this.

And do your best to make good choices because someone, whether you know it or not, is looking to you for direction.  Be the light. Be the hope. Be part of the solution – or you’re just a part of the problem. Be someone who you would be proud to know. You’ll never regret it.

🙂 K

Hancock, John, Party of Yeah

So another of those “URGENT: MUST WRITE, RIGHT NOW” (that’s what I’m calling them) posts that I read about in the WP Reader feed was to share and respond to another post of your choice. I didn’t expect to find one this quickly, but I don’t ogle gift horses, so: et voila.

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Now, let me preface my entire response with the acknowledgment and agreement that censorship, in theory, is reprehensible and can be taken way too far by governments and their officials. I’m not at all saying what Xi Jinping is up to is cool, in fact, my response is not directed to that facet of this post or its subject, and I apologize to the author of the post for not addressing what I think he intended as the main idea.

My response is directed at people who comment anonymously. I’ll pause here and, again, acknowledge that people should be free to say what they want without fear of their government or other negative or oppressive person, place or thing punishing them for sharing their opinions or experiences. However, let’s put aside the tyrannical intent of China’s C-O-C and talk about anonymous comments, okay? Cool.

But before we exit the C-O-C talk…I mean, seriously, we in the US who live in such shiny glass houses shouldn’t throw stones at another country’s highest official, considering our present presidential situation. *Ahem*

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Really?! *sigh*

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The huge increase in internet connectivity and use in just the last decade is mind boggling. According to the information I found at internetworldstats.com, internet usage went from a tiny sliver of 0.4% of the world’s population in 1995 to 51% in 2017.

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The mediums of communication birthed by the internet, like forums, instant messaging, and, of course, email, have changed the very structure of our society. On a related note, I found an article at entrepreneur.com that offers a shocking summary of some of the big changes to the internet in the last 10 years that, inevitably, mentions some of the ways that the world wide web has directly affected most of our species.

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I, personally, can barely remember my life before Google put the answers (or suggestions/options therefor, haha) at my fingertips. For someone like me, who’s got a curious streak the size of Texas, the access to all this information was a dream come true. I’m sure many would agree with that statement and share my sincere interest and intent which I do my best to manifest in a positive way that actively avoids irrelevant criticism or just plain malicious intent towards anyone.

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OKAY, OKAY, YES, I am guilty of a drunken cyber investigation of a potential suitor met on a dating website in my younger years, but I stand by the statement that that was responsible. Maybe not the drunk part, but let’s not dwell 🙂 Moving on…

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I love the internet – when it’s not taking forever to load a page or won’t stop harassing me with the ads. I am respectful of the internet and its powers, and through it, MY powers. I don’t make anonymous comments because, just as you have the right to in a US Court, you should be able to know who responded to something you said. If I wouldn’t say my comment to the person face-to-face, then I don’t post it. Because I’m not a coward and I don’t say mean, cruel, intentionally hurtful things that have, really, nothing to do with anything. I don’t seek to hurt people’s feelings because it’s not cool and it doesn’t make me feel good in any way. There have been less than a handful of times when I have inadvertently made a lazy comment that I didn’t intend to, but that hurt someone’s feelings and I couldn’t apologize enough. I felt terrible. I probably write and re-write EVERY EFFING EMAIL 10 times, at least; making sure that it is worded in a way that could not be construed negatively. Unless I meant it to be, which is very rare.

If you’re going to give a compliment and are just embarrassed to have the person know who you are, that’s one thing. I still think you shouldn’t post unless you can and would back it up, but that’s not hurtful or malicious, so I only sternly shake at my finger at that.

If you put on your “invisibility cloak” so you can trash others without fear of anyone knowing who you are, you are a COWARD. No one should have the right to wail and hate on others from behind a “Wizard of Oz, Parallel Universe” type of anonymity. You got something to say that you are reasonably sure won’t be taken as a compliment or in a positive manner? OWN UP OR SHUT UP.

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If you wouldn’t say your nasty little comment to the person face-to-face, you don’t deserve to muddy their atmosphere with your pathetic cowardice. Hate and unnecessary negativity should never be allowed to be anonymous. 

I have gotten into quite a few rows with some assholes who hide behind some dumb comic book inspired avatar and a fake name that’s more than likely NOT indicative of the person’s actual person. I may have gone a little too far on a couple occasions, giving said coward my address and phone number and a standing invitation (that, to date, none have accepted) to, uh, “come say that to my face” (bonus: I live in Hawaii, hellllllllo vacation! hahaha), but I don’t regret it and I would go toe-to-toe with a troll any day. You want some of this? Bring it on, bitch.

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To me, in this day and age, the Internet Troll and the kind of person it takes to be one has become too commonplace and, in acknowledging the increased frequency of a troll’s appearance, it is an acceptance by the rest of us and we might as well start a table at every local school’s Career Day events that passes out pamphlets explaining how to be the ugliest version of yourself, anonymously.  Yeah, totally…HELL NO! This shit needs to be given a good kick in the ass and told not to show its ugly face around these parts (the world) again. I have just the boots…

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Anonymity is meant to shelter those who would be persecuted for speaking their truth. Anonymity is NOT for cowardly, small minded, ignorant piss-ants that are under the disillusioned belief that their hate and the emotion that it evokes transforms them into He-Man or She-Ra. Guess what, assholes? You’re still Gargamel – and not the handsome Hank Azaria version, this version:

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And hey, I get that some of these trolls have serious, likely deep-seated psychological issues, but that still does not and should never give them the green light to spread their problems in the colors of hate and malicious intent. Healthcare controversy aside, go find a therapist.

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I strongly suggest that everyone, every time, THINK about what you say or tweet or type or whatever you call it in your part of the planet, THINK how you would feel if the comment you’re about to make was directed at you. Some assholes might not care, so for those people – YOU SUCK, read a book and keep your hate to yourself. For the rest of us, let’s always be mindful of what we put out into this world because it is definitely what will come back to you. Love and acceptance and support – or just fucken NOT commenting if you have only hate to spew = much better karma than the opposite.

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My best & warmest blessings of love, hope and faith to all.Image result for sending positive vibesRelated image

 

K

The Chinese government under president Xi Jinping is continuing to make life on the internet difficult for its potential detractors. Yesterday (Aug. 25), the country’s highest internet regulator released new rules (link in Chinese) that govern who can post what online. The upshot: anonymity on the Chinese internet is just about dead. The new rules…

via In China you now have to provide your real identity if you want to comment online — Quartz

O Holy Night – Hawaiian Style

While scrolling through the WP Reader, I came across the headline “5 prompts that you must write, right now!” Sounds urgent, right? Right. So I clicked and read and then even clicked and read another post about 5 MORE to write, right now. This is the one I chose to write about RIGHT right now.

I’m sure that most of us are familiar with Christmas carols and that most of those most of us have our favorites. My 2 favorites for as long as I can remember have been “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night,” with the latter being my #1.

“O Holy Night” has always spoken to my heart. As a kid, I thought it was just because it was so beautiful and….reverent. Now, as an adult, I’ve realized that the song talks about hope. It talks about feeling like everything had gone to shit and that there was nothing you could do about it and then one night, this kid is born and you just felt the fire of faith being rekindled in your soul. That’s deep.

I think it talks about recovery. From addiction, from heartbreak, from disgrace, from anything that makes you feel less than.

If you’re not from Hawaii or somehow have ties with our island chain or island music, then you’ll probably never have heard my absolute, far and away, favorite rendition of this song, sung by “Willy K” (Willy Kahaialii), a local boy and amazing musician with the uncanny ability to make you dance with one song, then break out in chicken skin the next. You will not regret clicking on the video below and experiencing this magic.

BONUS: One of my favorite renditions of my other favorite, by the legendary Makaha Sons and featuring the beautiful Ms. Robi Kahakalau – it is so awesome.

Happy Listening 🙂

XOXO- K

Justice is a Decision

The wise Professor Sullivan remarked that, “Justice is a Decision.”

It’s not a guarantee, a promise, but it is our right.

Justice is an action taken by those with good will and intent.

Justice, when the need arises, can’t be had without a fight.

In battles fought for and in the name of Justice,

Righteousness is always at the foundation.

Justice is the Right of every individual, each one of us,

No matter color, creed or nation.

Justice is a responsibility, but not a requirement or obligation,

Each one of us is given the choice,

To turn our heads & surrender our right –

Or to hold on to our faith and raise our voice.

Bravery and courage don’t require a cape or sidekick,

All that’s needed is a heart that’s aim is true.

Fear is not a sign of weakness or inability,

Don’t let it dictate what you do.

For those who seek to violate our right to Justice,

Listen up because you’d do well to take heed,

You will not prevail, you will not win,

You are an unnecessary and dying breed.

Your ignorance and your wickedness

Are their own punishment, you’ll see.

However, should you have any questions,

Please feel welcome to ask me.

 

Comparison: The Poor, Innocent Scapegoat

Surprises and Segues

I am NOT a fan of surprises, good or bad and ESPECIALLY absolutely unexpected ones. You know what I mean – I mean, you can usually make a pretty good educated guess as to whether you’re a prime candidate for a surprise event of some sort.

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Example 1: you’re 8 months pregnant and people in the office have started to ask you questions about your cravings and your home life and other random tidbits that no one ever asked about before – and you’ve been working with these people for 5 years. You can (at least, I would) assume that they are gathering information for the Surprise Baby Shower they’re planning.

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Example 2: your upcoming birthday is one of those “milestone” birthdays (like 21, 30, 40, 100, etc.) and every time you enter a room, conversation seems to die and you get those overzealous-ish fake smiles from the occupants formerly in conversation before you got there. You can assume that they’re pow-wow-ing and prepping for a surprise birthday party.

I don’t like surprises mainly because I don’t like being “out of the loop,” uninformed, missing information, and possibly dressed inappropriately. Is that so bad? I don’t think so. I’m sure this guy feels the same:

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Confession: I’m stalling. See, what I’m about to share with you is something that I consider deeply personal. So why am I sharing it then, right? Well, part of my efforts to be a better me – the best me – that I can be include me willingly entering potentially uncomfortable situations for myself when what I have to share might help someone else in a similar situation. Soooo, even though I’m squirming in my seat with anxiety and can feel the backs of my ears tingling, I sincerely hope that this reaches the person that it needs to, largely for my own sanity, I’m not gonna lie. But seriously, all jokes aside, I have faith that the reason is already in progress.

 

A few weeks ago, I scheduled some time to catch up on all the things I’d bookmarked and clipped over the previous few days, and I was leisurely making my way through articles and posts and cartoons and quotes and, of course, TED talks. One of the TED talks was about the longest study ever done about happiness. For 75 years, some very dedicated Harvard alums tracked the lives of 724 men from varying social classes, ethnicities, and later, careers, incomes, and marital statuses. The surprise here, for me, was not that the people who reported being the happiest and in the best health weren’t necessarily the most wealthy or prominent business persons, and not even necessarily white – although I assume most of the 724 men were white given the time period, the school, and the area (Massachusetts). Okay, I’m going to insert the video here, so I won’t spoil it for anyone who actually wants to watch it and find out for themselves.

 

NOTE: these next few slides are supposed to act as “intermission music” so that anyone who wanted to watch the videos doesn’t inadvertently see the continuation of my story due to an innocently wandering eye or two.

 

And we’re back. If you opted out of the talk, no worries, here’s the big takeaway, are you ready?

“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”

Robert Waldinger (the speaker), Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, and Zen priest.

Mr. W. tells us that there are 3 main lessons to learn from this study:

  1. People with strong, close relationships with others live longer and in better health than those who are isolated and without social connections. Loneliness can be toxic – deadly even. Humans are social creatures and we need, we crave interaction. 

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  2.  

    Who we marry, or otherwise partner up with in a preferable arrangement of the romantic nature, is hugely important. Those in the best of health at the end of the study had strong, long term relationships where they knew they could count on the other person. No matter what happened in life, they always had someone who had their back and was right there with them.

  3. Quality, solid relationships don’t just save our physical health, they save our mental health, too. Conversation and good will and just looking forward to being with people you care about keeps your synapses firing for longer. It’s like you have a reason to stay active, so you do.

 

After I listened to the beautiful talk, I was lost in thought, thinking about a million things, ranging from whether I would participate in that kind of long term survey and did the participants get any freebies, to whether or not I see myself in a solid relationship when I’m 80. I started skimming through my mental Rolodex of people, family and friends, and somehow I got stuck on the topic of “someone to count on,” from #2 above, and I felt a chill start at the bottom of my spine and climb up as I mentally ran and reran through all of the people in my life, past and present, and I realized that there is no one on this earth that I completely trust. 

 

There is no one that knows all of my secrets – or even half of them, if I’m being honest. There’s no one that I have ever shared my dreams and long-held hopes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and my friends, I love them all very much, but I’ve sort of taken on the role of The Therapist for longer than I’ve legally been an adult, and after hearing their issues, well…what started as simply me not wanting to burden others who obviously had problems of their own – that I had just given them advice about – became a way of life for me. Even the 2 therapists I saw over the years never heard the grit. In fact, I usually – but in the moment, unintentionally – maneuvered the therapy sessions so that we talked about them almost as much as me. And as the habit insisted, I didn’t want to burden them with the doozies.

 

This is why I hate surprises. There I was, sitting at my computer with tears running down my face, on the verge of desperate hysteria. The realization that there is no one that truly knows me – not family, friends, lovers, or even therapists- was the biggest surprise of my life. So far.

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I’m still processing things and I have no idea what I’m going to do – if I’m going to do anything about it. I love the people in my life and I know they love me. My problem now is worrying whether they would still love me if they really knew me. I have a hard time loving myself most days, so how could I expect anyone else to do what I can’t all the time?

I wish I had a few options to throw out for anyone in a similar situation, but I don’t. Yet. But I will.

So why bring this up when I haven’t found any viable resolutions yet? Because I know that sometimes all a person in pain needs is to know that they’re not alone. If that person is you, please know that you’re not alone. We probably don’t know each other, so I understand if you’re not ready to exchange notes with me, but please know that if you ever are, if you ever want to bounce your thoughts against something other than your own frontal lobe, I’m here, pull up a seat.

Single Woman Alone Swinging On The Beach

My best and warmest blessings,

xoxo – K

Forge Meaning; Build Identity

Anyone who I’ve had a genuine conversation with in the last year or so has undoubtedly been subjected to my recommendation that they watch a TED talk that I thought would give them more insight into whatever particular situation they were telling me about. In fact, I’m 99% positive that I could recommend a very appropriate and relevant TED talk for, well, pretty much any situation! Every single TED talk I’ve had the distinct pleasure of experiencing introduced a new song to my internal orchestra or played an old favorite I hadn’t heard in a long time and hadn’t realized I’d missed so much.

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Maybe it’s the time limit that makes each story that much more  intense because of its required condensation…ooooorrrr…..

Could be my hormones adding dimensions that are unique to this phase of my growth as a person…

Or perhaps it’s the nearly fanatical admiration I feel for people who can stand up in front of crowds ranging from intimate to stadium to live viral, and be able to string a coherent sentence together – and not just one sentence, a whole bunch of them!

You know what, though? It doesn’t matter which of those reasons is closest to the truth. The fact is this: my life and my world have been significantly enriched thanks to the wonderful speakers that have shared their ideas, their lives, their stories and themselves with me and with the world. I could write a post about each  and every one of them – and I just might, haha – but today I’m focusing the spotlight on a particular pair that are the first 2 hits on a playlist entitled, “Stand Up to Bullying.”

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The first talk is entitled, “To This Day…For the Bullied and Beautiful,” given by Shane Koycza, a writer and modern day poet extraordinaire who was hilarious and heart-wrenching from one moment to the next. My heart broke for the boy who had done his best to just keep going from day to day in a world where he faced the gut-wrenching perception in his home life that his parents had left because they didn’t want him, and then from the time he stepped onto the school bus in the morning, having to deal with nasty little asshole bullies who had nothing more entertaining to do than pick on someone who had done nothing to deserve it. And this was just the first part of the story. When he started in on what felt like a more formal format of his spoken verse, I was hanging on every line while tears hung from my every eyelash. At times, the emotion I felt was so overwhelming, so physical, that I had to stop the video.

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The second talk, “How the Worst Moments In Our Lives Make Us Who We Are,” given by Andrew Solomon, a writer, lecturer and professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, had me vacillating between tears and outrage at what he had been subjected to in his formative years. But as his talk progressed, he shared the poignant beauty of what he decided to do with his experiences. Instead of letting them shape him in bitterness, he chose to find meaning in them and forge his meaning through them. He eloquently explained how he came to the simple but powerful conclusion that we can “forge meaning, build identity” in our own lives and in our own ways.  He talked of the many brave and courageous people that he interviewed over the years and how he was surprised again and again at how many of them viewed their situations as opposed to how he initially thought they would – and how he initially had. One woman he talked with had children with special needs on a level that meant they would always need someone’s care and she gifted him with her perspective that it’s all about perspective. She told him how her children were a gift because she saw them that way. They were her blessing, not her burden, as many might see them. Instead of seeing it as unfortunate that her children would never be able to care for themselves, she saw the blessing in having been chosen to be the one to care for them. She forged meaning out of what many would call misfortune by choosing to view the situation from her own perspective and not the one the rest of the world would most likely choose to see. Through his work and with the aid of these amazing people he found a way to heal the wounds inflicted by the ignorance and intolerance of others and encourages all of us to do the same. I know for certain that Mr. Solomon is someone I would always be most proud to call my friend.

By each of us forging our meaning by learning from our experiences, as seen from a positive, growth-inspired perspective, together we can build an identity as a community, as a species, that is built on love and acceptance. I believe that it’s possible and will do all I can to see it happen.

Both speakers brought me to tears several times during their talks. I can’t say that I ever faced the kind of bullying these men experienced, but I had a taste of it in elementary school that has always stuck with me, even all these years later. It’s a large part of why I feel so strongly about the subject of bullying and intolerance and ignorance. But my personal experience with bullying isn’t the only reason I feel so strongly about this subject; the other main factor would be my parents.

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My dad was a big Samoan dude that smart people didn’t mess with. He was born in American Samoa, the oldest of nine, and came to Hawaii when he was about three. He didn’t speak English well when he entered Kindergarten and although he only mentioned the situation in passing a few times, I’d bet that’s when his “tough guy” survival mode first reared its necessary head. Extremely intelligent and well-read, despite the fact that neither of his parents ever learned to speak English all that well, my dad learned quickly and was an excellent student. In fact, he was kind of a nerd, haha! But he was a big, brawny nerd that hailed from the roughest public housing complex in the area at the time, so I doubt anyone ever called him a nerd or really thought of him that way.  He wasn’t a bully, either. My dad kept to himself – he had 2 jobs before he was in middle school, so he didn’t have the time or the patience to cause trouble. However, anyone who mistook his kindness or silence for weakness and decided to start trouble with him – or in front of him – very soon regretted their mistake. My dad didn’t like bullies and didn’t tolerate them. Not just towards himself, but in general. It was his nature to protect those who couldn’t (or just didn’t know how to) protect themselves. It was never an official “lesson” while we were growing up, but he showed us that we’re given strengths to help others, not hurt them.  Always made sense to me.003

My mom is on the other end of the spectrum, a white girl from an affluent neighborhood on the island, she wasn’t put in the hot seat like my dad, but her huge heart and “mother hen” nature meant she was always against hurting others intentionally. She never had the physical prowess or “hard knock life” street credit that my dad did, but she packs a mean combo verbally and has always raised her voice against injustice found in practices, procedures and people.

The combination of my parents’ beliefs and ways and my personal experience are the foundation, but as the years have gone by, I’ve discovered that it’s not just the well-placed DNA chromosomes that make it impossible for me to sit by when seeing someone get picked on and hurt by bullies; it’s part of my being, my soul. In hindsight, I admit that some of my protective instincts manifested themselves quite haphazardly, like jumping in front of large persons in the midst of their bullying, but I’d do it again right now, no doubt. I know I was lucky not to have been hurt by those bullies and I credit my family and ethnic background for adding a dimension of fearlessness to my efforts, which many might call foolhardy. You can call it whatever you want, but I’ll never regret any instance where I did what I knew was right – and I’ll continue to do so for as long as I’m breathing.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.                        – Edmund Burke