Category Archives: Story Time

Mature White Female….

I did not realize how long it has been since I last posted anything here. Certainly, once I opened up my second blog page (preppinwolf.wordpress.com), I started shifting more of my thoughts and activities there. Plus, there’s still Facebook, which I view daily. Many of the projects I post about on my other blog left me little time for the hobbies that prompted me to start this blog…I no longer scrap, other than the occasional hand-made greeting card, and I hardly ever get out my good camera anymore, simply snapping photos with my phone or a pocket camera. Those were the two biggest reasons for this blog – so show off my creative side.

But, time marches on, and our focus tends to change as things in our life change. We bought a few acres and I decided to start raising chickens back in 2014, and that’s pretty much when the scrapbooking started to decline. I still kept my good camera out, as I was keen on documenting my new ventures in pictures. Over time, though, it was easier to just grab the phone or pocket camera, and quality of the photos was less important than just having taken them.

Outside of those old hobbies and whatever the project-du-jour happens to be, I find myself becoming more and more reclusive, not caring to socialize much, favoring the computer or TV for entertainment. Is it because I’m getting older? Maybe. With age, I have found blessings in that I don’t stress so much about what other may think of me. I’m getting more comfortable speaking my mind even if it might raise an eyebrow or two, or make someone think less of me. I am not as concerned with being liked by everyone anymore. It’s quite liberating! Also, with age, I simply do not care as much about anything that does not affect me and mine. I have less patience for fools and find that it’s so much more relaxing to remain in the company of myself and my family.

Once in a while I do still wonder if I am missing out on things when I chose to not make an effort to “get involved.” It’s been that way my whole life, though, so it’s difficult to change. Always the introvert, the loner, never mind that, should you engage me in conversation, I can and will likely talk your ear off. Then again, that, too is happening less as I’ve matured. I realize that most people are not all that interested in what you have to say, but would rather talk about themselves. I often find that, if a conversation I’m having with someone gets interrupted, if I do not force a return to my topic of discussion once the interruption has passed, the person I was speaking with (to?) more often than not, does not ask me to resume where I’d left off. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped resuming my tale, knowing that it probably wasn’t as interesting to the other person as it was to me.

Along with this, I also find that I do not succumb to the impulse to interject my thoughts/opinions into every conversation going on around me. Don’t get me wrong…I still DO participate in many discussions, I just am getting better about knowing when my input will have zero impact or is otherwise unnecessary. This includes Facebook posts. Sure I still say my piece, but usually by posting comments on my own page instead of adding to that of someone else. With my friends list being kept purposefully smaller than many others, it’s more likely that my comments will be appreciated by more like-minded people than when I share those same views on someone else’s post who tends to have double, triple, or more “friends” who will see – and disagree with my opinion. I neatly avoid confrontations or “flame wars” that way.

So, what is the point of this particular narrative? I honestly couldn’t say, other than just filling a void in my own personal blog that hasn’t seen any activity in a year and a half.  Just one more entry into a “diary” of sorts that will be around for my kids to review some day, adding another piece to the puzzle that is “their mom.” Perhaps, someone reading this will find that they are not alone in caring less for the drama of others and preferring their own company. It’s okay to be that way. If you are content, still engaging in meaningful (to you) activities, working (as is necessary), and not shunning true obligations to others, then there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.

That said, you still should make the occasional effort to reach out and get along with others. You may find that you have quite a lot of knowledge and experiences to share that others are keen to learn about. The point, really, is that you grow up without growing old.

 

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Be Kind or Be Quiet

I am writing this to record my thoughts on how our country has gone mad over the last several years. I intend this as nothing more than my personal opinions on various matters, hoping to look back in ten, twenty years or more and think (hopefully) “We’ve come a long way since then.”

About eight years ago now, I had the distinct displeasure to know that the man I did NOT vote for, for President, won. While everyone who did vote for him will say that my ire has all to do with the man’s race, I assure you it did not. Of course, who will believe that these days?  No, my concern was that he was a “no one” on the world’s stage. I may not know everyone in politics – who does? – but Barrack Hussein Obama is not a name you’d forget if you’d heard of him prior to his candidacy. I was not alone in being concerned that he was unqualified to become President of the United States.

I won’t digress into naming every tiny thing he did that I disapproved of as it has all been said so many times before, heard only by those of my peers who shared my concerns (the left-leaning folks of this country saw nothing but a Golden Child who could do no wrong). Suffice it to say that he did many  things wrong and few things right.

One thing that came out of this tenure was this bizarre exacerbation of “political correctness.” It was already starting before Mr. Obama took office, but it snowballed until there was an avalanche of outrage for using simple descriptive terms that one would have never thought could be offensive. “Micro-aggression” became a “thing” and people everywhere have to censure what comes out of there mouths lest they trigger some unforeseen affront to others, many of whom the disparaging word did not pertain to in the slightest.

The media fostered the outrage by asserting condemnations in every headline whenever anyone disagreed with something Mr. Obama said or did. Even in the media’s eyes, our 44th President could do no wrong.

They had eight years to shift their obligations from reporting all the news fairly, without bias, to reporting only the stories that built Mr. Obama up, and none that would tear him down lest they be castigated as “racist” against him. Few media outlets dared to report about his mistakes, about his failures, about dangerous actions he took that had the potential to – and sometimes did – hurt our country. Those media outlets were demonized by the rest, and oftentimes dismissed by the President himself, not caring to give more than a handful of interviews with those journalists over the course of his tenure.

By the time Mr. Obama’s second term was coming to an end, the media clung to all things liberal and continued showing their bias as they favored the same woman that Mr. Obama bested for the Democratic party candidacy eight years earlier. Never mind that Mrs. Clinton had some shady dealings and scandals in her past, she, too, could do no wrong in the liberal-leaning media’s mind. Her own sense of entitlement and self-importance lead, in part, to her being defeated in 2016. What was astonishing was that the man who won had no political experience prior to his candidacy, though he was, at least, a known figure to many Americans. While I did vote for Mr. Trump, he was not my first choice during the primaries. I don’t know if he’s the type of person I’d get along with if I met him outside on the street. I do appreciate the way he has treated many people over the years, news of which most of the media choose to forget as they try to cast him as the next Hitler, or the anti-Christ. I’m not fond of braggarts or boorish people, so he could bail me out of a crisis and, while I would be forever grateful to him, I probably wouldn’t invite him to dinner with my family. I’d send him a yearly Christmas card, though.

That said, I at least feel like he’s making some changes that need to be made, and he’s been in office less than two weeks as I write this. I completely agree with his temporary ban on immigration and accepting of refugees. I can’t understand the hostility he is facing all over the world when he is doing exactly what at least three Democratic presidents have done before him. Give our immigration agencies time to properly vet all persons wanting entry into the states so we can be more assured that fewer “bad apples” will sneak in with the good. Why is that so hard to swallow?

Many of his other initial orders come with a “wait and see” disclaimer. It’s too early to tell how pulling out of various trade agreements will go, or how quickly – and how well – the government comes up with a suitable replacement for Obamacare. In terms of cutting foreign aid to non-governmental organizations who use our money to fund abortions in other countries, well, we’ve already seen where the Dutch are ponying up money to compensate for that. I have always, personally, sat on the fence when it comes to abortion rights…suffice it to say I believe it should be kept legal, but have my own opinions on various limitations that I won’t bother voicing here. The point is, why should so many millions – perhaps billions – of U.S. taxpayer dollars go to so many foreign countries, not just for abortion, but for anything? There are plenty of wealthy nations out there who give far less for the same causes, who could afford to give so much more, yet for some unfathomable reason, “everyone” expects the U.S. to spend the most.

We have so many people in our own country in need, that much of that money should be being spent here rather than sending it oversees. Yes, it’s tremendously sad that kids in Africa don’t get the immunizations or other health care they need, that children all over the globe are starving. But kids right here in America are starving, too. If we spent our money right, we wouldn’t have homeless people in any city. We’d have proper mental health care for those who cannot cope with everyday life. Our Veterans would have all the health care – including mental health – that they need, and all the support they require to return from their deployments to live engaged and satisfying lives.

I know my younger son has fears about how Trump’s administration is going to deal with LGBT issues. I urge him – and others – to take a deep breath, let it out, and calmly look at exactly what is being done – or not done – from a legal perspective to any laws passed during Obama’s administration. So far, a web page focused on LGBT issues on the White House.gov site has been taken down. So, what does that actually mean? Could mean nothing. Could mean Trump feels LGBT issues should be managed at a state level and that the federal government should stay out of them.

Spanish translation of the White House web site has also been removed. There hasn’t been any law enacting the removal of Spanish language from any U.S. based web site, so no one has had any “rights” taken away from them. Perhaps Trump feels that American citizens, no matter where they are from, should learn to read, write, and speak English? I know, that’s terrible!! How dare he??  Really, folks. My mom was an immigrant and she was very intent on learning English and becoming American. She is proud to be American and get’s offended if you call her by her nationality of origin. How is it wrong to ask those who want to be U.S. citizens to hold similar sentiment?

So what can we do?

Well, for a start, how about letting Mr. Trump at least try to make some changes without getting your collective panties in a knot? Yes, he’s had some business failures in his lifetime, but he’s had far more successes. He may not get everything he puts his mind – and pen – to right, but he may get more things right than you give him credit for. Have some of his business dealings been shady. Sure. But how many shady deals has our government dealt in the past? Fast and Furious. Iran. Halliburton/Blackwater. Whitewater. Lewinsky. The list could go on forever.

The media needs to do some serious soul-searching and decide to go back to truly unbiased reporting. Yes, Mr. Trump will continue to give you all the titillating headlines that you love to bash him with, so how about you also honestly report on the positive things he’s doing? Or at least stop exaggerating things with the sole purpose of making him look dastardly. Really – there is no “Muslim” ban. Report the Executive Order correctly as you know there is no language in it that has anything to do with banning people of a specific religion, especially when three past Democratic presidents have all executed the same type of ban at some point in their administrations.

And people….get a grip! Quit looking for the bad in your President. Yes, he is your President so long as you hold citizenship here. You tell everyone to be kind or be quiet. You say “love trumps hate”. You want us all to see the good in others – those others being refugees, immigrants, LGBT people, people of color,  and women – but you refuse to see the good in Mr. Trump. You refuse to see the good in “old white men” or women who are anti-abortion. You refuse to see the good in black republicans – any republican or conservative person, really.

You totally fail to see how your hate, your intolerance, your divisiveness is tearing the country apart. Trump isn’t doing it. “It” was already happening before he came along, he’s just the latest “scapegoat” for you to target. It’s time to start practicing what you preach.

Be kind or be quiet.

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Who Are You?

 

Are you a child? A parent? A sibling or spouse?

Are you a student? A professional? A butcher, or baker, or candlestick maker?

Are you an artist, or author, or musician, or athlete?

When you get up in the morning, what’s on your mind? Do you think:

I have a term paper due today.

I have to pack the kids’ lunches.

Coffee!!

Mmmmm…an omelet sounds delish!

Where are my running shoes? I have to put in five miles today.

What a beautiful sunrise! Where’s my camera or my paintbrush?

Ugh…I’ve got that conference call at work today.

 

I’m guessing not too many people wake up and think:

I’m black today.

I’m gay today.

I’m a woman today.

 

(Well, if you’re pregnant, menopausal, or on your period, you might think, “Damnit, why do I have to be a woman today?”)

 

Lately, our society wants everyone to focus on “diversity.” Everyone has got to BE something more than just “being.” But what society forgets is that there’s more to being diverse than the color of your skin, your religion, your gender, or your sexual preference. If you look up “diversity” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the first thing you see is this: diversity

Note that the first definition is “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.” Race and culture come after “differing elements.”

 

Who got to decide that, in our nation, diversity must only refer to your race, gender, religion, or sexual preference? Each and every one of us is a diverse individual. We all have different forms, ideas, interests, skills. We are all made up of more than the color of our skin, or our gender.

 

Now, I understand that some individuals have suffered more discrimination and oppression more than others based on some aspect of their character, and I agree that MOST of that discrimination and oppression is absolutely wrong. What I disagree with is the notion that ONLY certain races or cultures or genders have ever suffered from discrimination or oppression. Obviously, the severity of it differs, but so, too, has society over the generations.

 

I am a white female. There are things that, as a female, I am subjected to that men are not; sexual harassment and rape come to mind. There are also things that, as a female, I shouldn’t expect to be able to do, or included in unless I possess some pretty stringent qualifications. Very few women, for instance, can pass the physical agility portion of testing to become firefighters and, therefore, should be excluded from that job. Yes, I said it. There are places in the work-force (and in the military) where women just don’t belong. I don’t want to be trapped in a fire on the second (or higher) floor of a building and see some 120-pound woman come in thinking she’s going to carry my happy ass down a ladder – or my husband or my 170-pound dog. Forgive me for thinking that she’s just not capable of such feats. Chances are, she is not.

 

I am the child of a German immigrant. I was in elementary school still before the Berlin Wall came down. There were a few of us kids with German immigrant parents. When the other kids figured it out, I recall having to defend my mother as being from West Germany, or “the good side” so as not to be confused with the Nazis.

 

The news today abounds with stories of black oppression and it truly is a problem in some areas. But it’s also NOT a problem everywhere. The one thing that I really do not understand is the continued idea that slavery is something that blacks need to be compensated for in some way. Unless you are caught up in a human trafficking situation (and your race or gender does not grant you any exceptional status here), slavery has not been around for several generations. No one alive today has been a slave nor a slave owner. So many people in our nation today are first- and second-generation immigrants, so have no dog or pony in this show. Yes, slavery was a terrible thing, and it continues to be a terrible thing, mostly in other countries (discounting the aforementioned trafficking trade). There is no way to make up for it at this point in time. It was abolished and, legally, all men (and women) are equal now. Opportunities to achieve on all levels are available to all, whether or not some can and do take advantage of them. It’s hard work, but obviously it pays off seeing as we have spent the last (nearly) eight years with a black President of the United States.

 

This topic will obviously ruffle a lot of feathers, and that was not my intent with this post. First and foremost, I want people to recognize that each individual is unique and diverse all by his/herself. You probably don’t get up in the morning with your first thought being “I’m black/white, gay/straight, whatever today.” You’ve got too much else on your plate, too many other personal and professional responsibilities to let that one aspect of your being be the primary focus of your day-to-day existence.

 

So when will you stop allowing society, as depicted by the mainstream media, dictate who and what you are based only on one aspect?

You are more than that.

You are a person. A person of great worth. Don’t live your life fighting to be that “gay person” or that “black person”. Be YOU. Be your own person who just happens to be gay or black or female or whatever.

 

It is you who are responsible for your happiness. Our forefathers only guaranteed you the right to pursue it. Quit living a life expecting others to fix what you see is wrong. Stand up, dust yourself off, and fix your problems yourself.

Besides, chances are, you are the primary cause of your problems, not “others.”

 

 

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Story Time 11/29/2014

Wow, it’s been a very long time since I posted to this blog.  I had so many projects going on this year that I featured on my other blog, preppinwolf.wordpress.com, that I neglected adding any thoughts here.

I wanted to take a moment to sing the praises of my younger son, Sean.

Sean was quite a busy boy all his life. He was never the type to wake up and come into his mom and dad’s bedroom for some snuggle time.  He was the boy that peeked in our door, hoped we were still asleep, then snuck off downstairs to explore, also known as getting into everything!  Oh, the stories I could tell about his little adventures!

But today, I want to talk about the content of his character.

You see, Sean lost his grandmother recently.  She was not what I’d call a nice person.  Oh, she was cordial enough to “others” so few people knew the not-so-nice side of her.  But Sean did.  Grandma was the type of woman to play favorites, though she would never admit it to herself or others.  Between her own children, it was clear she favored her son (my kids’ father) over her daughter.  She claims she “raised them both the same” and couldn’t understand how they turned out so differently. My ex-sister-in-law has made some questionable choices in her life that would leave many people scratching or shaking their head in judgment of her.  Ironically, she’s actually got a terrific personality, but I didn’t get so spend much time with her to know her very well.

Still, Grandma’s favoritism extends to her grandchildren, too.  She had six grandkids from her daughter before my boys came along and the first-born of that bunch was always her favorite. When my two came along, the first-born, too, became her favorite. She doted on him more, spent more time with him, and spent more money on him. When it came to Sean, she seemed to merely tolerate him if she wasn’t scolding him.  Now, I know he’s always been a handful, and I, too, spent way more time scolding him than scolding his brother.

Yet, Sean’s gift was that he, unlike many in his family, isn’t one to hold a grudge. He seems to love unconditionally. When he heard his grandmother was in the hospital and not likely to recover, he insisted on spending what little money he had for a train ticket home to see her. His father suggested he not spend the money or make the trip, but Sean’s response was that he loved his grandmother and wanted to see her again before she passed.

How incredible is that!

Sean warms my heart with his kindness. He spent so many years crying over the way she treated him, yet, in the end, he chose to honor her instead of ignoring her.

This Christmas I hope everyone choses to remember others with love and forgiveness. I shall strive to emulate my son’s example.

God bless, and Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Scott’s Story Time – Swearing In

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This is the story of my son joining the military. I am so proud! It began with his buddy, JD, starting the process of enlisting last April (2013). JD was joining the Coast Guard Reserves and Scott decided to join him. He started seeing the recruiter in September. He was required to take a computerized test (ASFAB) to ensure he scored high enough in various knowledge and skill sets for the job he was hoping to get. Then he had a physical. The boy weighs less than me and I’m at least four inches shorter than him (sigh).

Eventually he was accepted into the same Coast Guard Reserve unit as JD, up in Sandusky, Ohio, ultimately to be trained in law enforcement. Scott seems pretty excited about patrolling on a boat with guns! You go defend us from those Canadians trying to sneak into the U.S. by way of Put-In-Bay!

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(Thanks to Josh for this wonderful photo!)

They decided to wait until after the holidays to enter basic training, which is in Cape May, New Jersey. Basic Training for eight weeks, in New Jersey, in winter.

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Not sure what these guys were thinking!

They were supposed to leave on January 7th, but we had some bitterly cold, record low temperatures, and flights out of Port Columbus were grounded. Their departure was rescheduled to January 14th.

So, Monday afternoon, Scott and JD came to my house and from here I drove them up to the Embassy Suites by the airport. Let me tell you, it’s a damned good thing that Uncle Sam got discount rates and covered their rooms. All the little recruits were put up in style for the night!

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The only difference between my room and Scott’s was that they had two queen beds to my one king. With my military discount, and adding tax, it still was over $200 for maybe twelve hours’ stay! The recruits all got a free dinner and breakfast to round out the nice accommodations. Now, I will admit that, having been prior Air Force, myself, and on flying status, I got to stay in some pretty nice hotels during my career. The Coast Guard may treat their members just as nice. I feel sorry for all the kids who leave for Army or Navy basic training this day! I don’t think they will have it so nice again in their enlistments!

Speaking of enlistments, Scott and JD joined up for eight years! Because of that commitment, they will get to come out of basic training at the E-3 pay grade.

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So, the boys were given an 0430 wake-up call with an 0435 repeat call to be sure they were up. They had to check out, report for breakfast and be done eating by 0530 when the busses left for the MEPS station. Sounded like very few kids in the crowd got much sleep. I know I didn’t. I had worked night shift on Sunday, got about a three-hour nap Monday morning, and tried to go to bed Monday night at around eight o’clock. I was awake again by eleven and tossed and turned all night hoping for a few more z’s. They never came back.

I followed the bus to the MEPS building.

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From there, it was more waiting (for me) while the recruits went through various stages of in-processing and out-processing. Most had another quick check by the physician and Scott was, again, scolded for his lack of weight! I told him he had better plan on eating everything he can shove in his mouth each and every meal while he’s gone! I want to see a few more pounds on him by the time he graduates!

Finally it was time for the recruits to swear in. Scott and JD were in the first group. They gave us family members a lot of freedom to take pictures and video if we wanted. Scott was so very serious this whole time!

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I opted to video the actual swearing in instead of taking still shots, as I thought that would make a better memory than just a few photos in a scrapbook (you know I’ll be making him a scrapbook!).

We got to spend a few more minutes with them before we were ushered out.

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(Wow, I really did need some sleep!)

Scott signed his life away and his enlistment was final. (He got a copy of this certificate a few weeks back, but it’s all I have to include in his scrapbook later)

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I could have driven myself over to the airport to spend a few more moments with him, but they wouldn’t be outside of the secured area for long, not to mention I’d still have to deal with airport parking! I was running on vapors (I did not get breakfast), and the pups were waiting for me to get home and let them out. I gave Scott some last hugs and best wishes then headed home.

Not sure what time he got to the airport or left from there, but the itinerary has them only flying as far as Philadelphia, then getting on another bus for a couple more hours’ drive. Apparently there are no airports any closer to Cape May than Philly. I figure I will just drive out there for Scott’s graduation. He’s allowed to drive back home with me then, as his technical school training got pushed back to September. If he flew, we’d still have to pick him up from whatever airport they let him fly into.

I can’t wait to see him in eight weeks! I want him to do well, but, I gotta say, as the second-hardest basic training of all the branches, I feel for him! He’s got a pounding ahead of him! (This is why I joined the Air Force!!)

But when it’s all said and done, he will proudly wear the uniform of a Coast Guard seaman!

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God bless you, Scott and JD! Stay strong. Stay safe. See you in eight weeks!

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Story Time – A different kind of Hero

This year, thousands of our military members will not be home with their loved ones for Christmas. They have a strong understanding of duty, honor, and country. They don’t begrudge us our time with our families because they are the ones keeping us safe so we CAN celebrate with them at this time of year. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and pray for their safety and for their families. It is with great respect and thanks that my family will be together this Christmas, my nephew granted some leave during this season from his military training, and my own son not scheduled to leave for his basic training for another two weeks.

But today I want to talk about a different kind of hero. I work with them every day.

No, I’m not talking about doctors or nurses, though they most certainly deserve the title of hero as well.

I am talking about the parents and family of our most critically ill babies and children, suffering in hospitals all over the world instead of gathering around a warm fire, delicious food, and twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. Some children will recover and eventually go home to spend future Christmases in their loving homes, more grateful than most families for having spent a past Christmas scared and hurting.

Some families will not get to take their child home and their future Christmases will be forever marred by the indescribable pain of loss.

Today, my heart and prayers are with a specific family who sit vigil at their beautiful son’s bedside waiting for the Lord to call him home. I cannot write this without shedding tears of sorrow for the pain they are suffering right now. Yet through it all, they hold tight to each other in love and support. They allow us to share in their grief, embracing strangers as family. I cannot imagine the hell it must be for someone to give all control over to others, knowing that the outcome will not be a happy one.

What to do you say to friends or family that you know going through such sorrow? It’s impossible to know any words that will take their pain away.

I spent my night trying to give comfort where I could, knowing that, while it was appreciated, it was far too little…I could not give them what their hearts desired.

And so I pray. I ask the Lord to please give the family the release they need or please give them a miracle that will make this Christmas memorable for the best reasons. I don’t know what God’s plan is for this family, or anyone, but I trust he knows just how much we can all handle and that he will give this family just the right amount of time with their precious, precious boy.

So, as you all sit down to your holiday meals this year, put aside petty bickering that might be a part of your family traditions. Don’t you dare complain about a gift not being exactly what you asked for. Don’t indulge yourself into oblivion without remembering those who will not do anything but sit at their dying child’s bedside in a strange, cold place asking for nothing and everything, knowing that Christmas will never be the same again.

Say a prayer for our troops, but also say a prayer for these other heroes. Remember them today and everyday. If you know someone personally that is going through this, be there for them. No words are necessary. Knowing you are there is enough. And as time goes on, stay by their side and let them talk of their child to you as much or as little as they want. Allow them the memories and the gift of sharing.

Christmas is about love and the gift of life. We all will do better to remember that and return to times when just being together as a family and celebrating God’s gift of His son to us was the most important thing about this season.

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Story Time

As I approach the beginning of another trip around the sun, I look back and see that my life has taught me there are no absolutes. Flexibility and open-mindedness are just two of many keys to survival in a world that is constantly changing.

While I have felt honored to be included in many groups over the years, both in my real life and in various communities on line, I find inclusion is also flexible, some days less than others. More often than not, it is the wide range of personalities that keeps different groups entertaining and worth that inclusion.

Sometimes, though, you say or do something that makes you realize that you have either out-grown a group, or, perhaps never really fit in to begin with. The choice to be made at those times is “do I stay or do I go”? Is inclusion important enough to alter your views to line up better with the majority? Or, are your beliefs worth standing behind?

While core values shouldn’t have to be compromised just to feel like you fit in with a particular group, one should try to accept that some differences of opinion will always exist and that neither side is “wrong” or “bad” for their beliefs. For so many issues in life, there is no right or wrong, black or white. There are certainly more than fifty shades of gray.

I have always thought that I was accepting of others whose opinions differ from mine. I enjoy lively debates on a wide variety of topics and I believe I acknowledge positive points others make even when they don’t necessarily “jive” with my views. Sadly, there are times when, despite your acceptance of another’s opinions, it is clear s/he will not accept yours. In the past, I was much more likely to heighten a verbal debate into more of a confrontation, which can really only happen with the other party is also game for escalation.

These days, I find that such escalations only drain me of mental energy that is best reserved for more constructive pursuits. I have learned that it is better, at times, to walk away than to try and prove my worthiness to be included. When I feel like I am taking a defensive stance on a given topic, no matter how small it may be, then I know it is time to make a change. Perhaps that sounds like “giving up” or “throwing in the towel”, but by whose standards? What one person may view as me “running away” from an uncomfortable situation thereby giving the impression that I am weak, I believe is, rather, a show of strength that I do not need to be defined by the company I keep. I do not need the acceptance of many others to note my worth. Within my small circle of lasting and true friends I know that I am valued beyond compare.

At the end of the day, I want to look in the mirror and see a person who willingly chose to be a better person, not by bringing others down, but by lifting them up. When I no longer feel lifted in return, it is certainly not in weakness that I walk away.

Strength comes from knowing how to stand, comfortably, alone and not feel lonely. Surrounding yourself with people who are not uplifting to you may imitate inclusion in a group, but it is no cure for loneliness, and perhaps self-doubt. Who wants to live like that?

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