Happy Holidays!

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TiLT: With a Heart Full of Mess and Lore

Hey! If you still haven’t gotten all your presents for the holidays, don’t forget to check out my gift-giving guide for some ideas.

Things I’m Loving This Thursday…

from here

Tomorrow being the last day of the semester. I still have to work throughout most of my break, but the important part is, after my two finals tomorrow, I am finished with Fall Semester 2010. Victory!

Christmas bells are riiiiinging.

Finally picking up my UUBC shirt. The Unitarian Universalist group here at Berry recently had some T-shirts made, and I was super-happy to finally get mine yesterday.

Mixed CDs. Making, receiving…mixed CDs make life better.

Going out for dinner and exchanging Christmas gifts with friends.

Also, celebratory sparkling grape juice with said friends, complete with colored wineglasses. ‘Cause we are cool kids, yo.

Being excited about the upcoming Christmas dinner and White Elephant exchange with MORE friends back home. I love my Berry friends, but there is a lot to be said for the people I’ve stayed close to from my hometown. They are my loves absolutely.

Working on gifts. I adore giving/buying/making presents.

Listening to fabulous music while I write this.

Seeing Alex tomorrow. Because Alex time = good conversation.

Getting to hang at my favorite professor’s place.

Seeing all the kids at work dressed in their holiday clothes. It’s hard to believe they can look cuter than they do in that photo, huh? They can!

Getting ideas for new blog entries. Finals week is almost over, and then I can go back to having a brain when I sit down at my computer rather than a head full of mush and Biology. Speaking of…

The fact that I’ll never have to take another Bio class ever again for the rest of my liiiife.

Having a free day today. No finals. No work. Let’s forget that there’s still lots of cleaning and studying to do.

Our special reindeer friend who is smiling cheerfully at me with his crooked face every time I step into my hall. Anna and I have a friend here for Christmas! He is deformed. We love him dearly.

And now, dear reader, what are you loving this Thursday?

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TWLOHA Day

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Ask Yourself: What Did Life Teach You Yesterday?

I thought I’d implement something new into my blog posts. No, I don’t mean the Facebook “Like” button and the Twitter button, though those are pretty cool and I urge you to use them with reckless abandon. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

But all joking aside (for now), I decided it was time to try out a theme apart from TiLT.

Welcome to the first of Breadcrumbs’ Ask Yourself entries!

from here

I’m the sort who is constantly brooding over some nonsense or another, so it only makes sense that I would eventually entice my readers into doing the same. Hopefully, though, the questions that I ask will have meaning. Here’s the game plan:

  1. Post an entry every week or so asking a world-shaking, life-altering, brain-challenging…or, okay, maybe just interesting question.
  2. Post my response to that question. This may be part of the entry or simply a comment.
  3. Invite readers to do the same.

As for where these questions will come from, well…that will vary. Sometimes I’ll get them directly from other sources, sometimes I may draw inspiration from a favorite blogger, and sometimes they’ll come straight from my own ponderings.

Sound good? I hope so.

Today’s question is from Thought Questions, a site which asks a question a day with the help of a beautiful image. I intended to flip through the site to try and glean some inspiration, but found the very first question to be quite pertinent to my own life.


What did life teach you yesterday?

Yesterday wasn’t the best day for me. I was feeling the lowest of my lows—that is, mostly, lost.

I can’t know and won’t claim to know the way most people operate, but I can tell you that, for me to get through my life successfully, I need to have a sense of purpose. I don’t always keep this goal in the forefront of my mind, but it’s there for me to refer back to when I need it. For me, everything has a raison d’être. We may not be able to see it immediately, but it’s there. Thus, I think it’s very, very important for an individual to find his or her reasona purpose, a passion, the thing that makes you come alive, the thing you can offer the world, the area in which you absolutely shine—and chase after it.

Well, for the past couple of days, I haven’t been feeling that purpose. Instead, I’ve been feeling sad, trapped, mediocre, useless, lonely, and more than a little on the hopeless side. It seemed like I’d lost my raison d’être. There isn’t one particular thing I can blame for this; it was a culmination of all the stuff that had or hadn’t been going on in my life.

I’m not going to say that I did some Blue’s Clues steps, came to a magical epiphany, and will now be focused and positive for the rest of my life. I’m inclined to believe things don’t really work that way. What I did realize is that, no matter what I achieve, I am always going to have my moments of doubt, my moments of feeling helpless and confused. It has happened before and it will happen again. But the great thing about those moments is that, when you finally do zone back into focus, you return with a renewed vigor.

“Ah,” you’ll say, peering through the undergrowth and gnarled trees of self-pity, “There’s the path! Now, I’ve been thinking about the best way to get over these roots…”

And so yesterday’s downward spiral gave way to this morning’s relative calm of sitting down and figuring out where to go from here. One thing about plans is that they have a tendency to change. The life purpose you carved for yourself in fifth grade is probably not the same one you’re chasing now, and in any case, there is more than one way to get somewhere. You have to find the way that works best for you, and sometimes, that means watching in fear and awe as the old way breaks down.

When I was little, I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. Then an English teacher. Then an author. Then a writer with a day job as a graphic designer. Then a writer with a day job as a psychologist. Then a psychologist who maybe wrote on the side. Now I’m not sure what I want to do—I love to write, I think psychology is one of the most varied and interesting subjects of study on the planet, I’m an activist at heart, and, hey, I still sing all the time.

But it doesn’t really matter what I end up doing. See, under the rich chocolate coating of all of the things I love is one thing I love even more: people. I want to give my contribution to making the world a better place for us to be. Whether that happens through my writing, through counseling practice, or through some questionable singing ability is much less important than that it happens at all.

I’ll leave you with this song that’s been tugging at my heartstrings today.

Don’t forget to leave your answer to today’s question in a comment! (You don’t need a WordPress account to leave one.) Also, please tell me what you think about the idea of having these Ask Yourself entries. I’d love to hear feedback! (:

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Bread and Circuses

I’d like to start this entry with a history lesson.

from here

Back in the day—and I mean way back in the day, in ancient Rome—Roman politicians were getting nervous. See, when you’re not really “of the people, by the people, for the people”, the people tend to find out eventually. They also tend not to like it. The bottom of any pyramid is bigger than the top and much less dispensable; if it should decide to move itself, well, that’s probably the end for those at its peak. Instead of trying to please the Roman populace by treating them justly, the politicians decided to use other means. That is, bread and circuses.

One thing that can bring about an uprising is easy to understand: the people’s basic needs are not being met. Everyone has to eat. It’s necessary for survival. (Well, unless you’re a breatharian, but that’s a discussion for a different entry.) If your government is supposed to be taking care of you but you can’t even get enough food in your stomach, something is obviously wrong. Maybe you’ll start to wonder what else is wrong…or maybe you’ll just be pissed off and round up a group with pitchforks. Anyway, Rome’s politicians understood this—the guys were greedy, not stupid—and so they provided free bread. Hey! Free bread! Regardless of what else is going on, awww, my government loves me enough to keep me fed. Sweet fellas. This means of placating the populace still goes on today. In Egypt, for example, bread is very cheap to ensure that citizens, regardless of poverty level, can afford to have enough to eat…which is all the better to keep the eyes of the people off their “democratic” dictator. So long as their stomachs are full, the idea goes, they won’t notice anything else.

So what about circuses? Do people have a deep-rooted need for them, too? Well, no. But what politicians have a need for, should they be trying to keep their agendas unscrutinized, is distraction. Poor people could go to these grand complexes to enjoy themselves, laugh and be merry, and forget how much life sucked the rest of the time. It’s not like the government exactly had to con them into distraction, either; if humans then were anything like we are now, and I expect they were, it was all too easy to distract them.

from here

Today, the idea of bread and circuses is very much alive right here in the grand ole U.S. of A. We are all about instant gratification, we are utterly self-serving, and the people at the top of the pyramid realize this. Hey, they’re pretty much the same way. So we have our bread: our WalMarts, our fast food restaurants, places we can go to get cheap food that, on the whole, is terrible for us. And we definitely have our circuses. Television, Facebook, cars, so many shopping options that it is ridiculous…I could go on. Our whole freaking lives are spent circus-hopping.

Why do professional sports players get paid more than teachers? They’re just a playing a game. Kids can play football out in the backyard, and though it may be nowhere near as exciting, it’s still the same game. Well, that’s because this is what has become a priority in our lives: entertainment. There are people who want to distract us and, dammit, we want to be distracted. It isn’t even always about the rich trying to get richer anymore. People are being killed in pointless wars, people are dying of starvation and easily treatable diseases, people are living in cardboard boxes and under bridges and on sidewalks, almost everything we use has been linked to cancer at some point, we poor poison onto our skin each time we shampoo our hair in the shower, the earth is dying around us and we just don’t want to see it. We would rather bury our heads in the sand than try to take a stand.

I can’t say I don’t understand this mindset. Actually, I understand it very well. It is terrifying to see all the things that are wrong in my community, my country, and my world. Some of the things that are bad are things that it’s probably impossible for us to fix. But there is so much that we can do, and even if it’s scary and even if it’s hard, it is worth doing. Why?

For one thing, we can’t be happy like this. If you’ve ever poked your head outside the box of your own superficiality, you already realize that. So many Americans are depressed now and while, yes, it has a lot to do with personal issues and past traumas, I believe it also has a lot to do with the fact that we are taught to lead such empty lives. Even those who go off to college to “better themselves” rarely go for an education; they go to get a job. With that job, they hope to earn money to buy all the things that they couldn’t buy before. I’m not trying to get all hokey on you, but I mean it when I say that material things will never make us happy. Ever. I have to believe that there is some deeper core of humanity than greed, and unfortunately, I also have to believe that we as a society have lost our connection to it.

Not severed the connection. Simply misplaced it.

I guess everything I wanted to say in this entry comes down to something pretty simple. We live in a world of bread and circuses, and this world is both an illusion and a delusion. There are people who use their positions to perform tricks meant to get us to not look past the rabbit being pulled out of the hat. There is our own fear and greed that asks us to clap for the magicians, to pretend the illusion is real until we honestly forget that it isn’t. But that is not magic. Things don’t happen just because we want them to. Things happen when we work to make them happen.

You can eat the bread if you’re hungry. You can visit the circus. But realize, please, that there is a world outside of that. I believe that it is a world worth living in. I believe that it is a world worth saving. Because it is our world, and when the bread runs out and the tent collapses, whatever we’ve made it into will be what we have left.

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TiLT: Joy to the World, Your Arms Kept Me Warm

Things I’m Loving This Thursday…

from here

♥ Hunting for indie/folk/alternative Christmas tunes. Christmas music is one of my guilty little pleasures. I can listen to it any time of the year. Mostly I like traditional tunes—“O Holy Night” is a favorite—but sometimes, you just gotta jam it your style.

♥ The lovely, perfect Autumn weather we had today.

♥ Free cake. There are so many birthdays happening this week. They come with cake. Homemade chocolate cake. Red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Mmm, cake. And, yanno, I happen to like the people, too. (;

♥ Publishing Escaping The Box’s first post! Check it out? More is coming very soon!

♥ Working on Christmas presents.

from here

♥ Bringing my cold weather clothing back to school. Sweaters and hats and scarves, I love thee~.

♥ Seeing all the kids I work with in their cute little Halloween outfits.

♥ Great song covers.

♥ The way my World Religions and World History classes work together.

♥ Learning about Buddhism. Yes, I like learning about other religions in general, but…well, the Three Turnings of the Wheel, in particular? Such cool, interesting concepts in those teachings.

What are you loving this week? (:

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Let It Go

from here

I’ve never considered myself an angry person.

Sure, there are things that happened in my past I find hard to let go. There are people who can set me off with a word. And, okay, occasionally, my anger is misplaced. But doesn’t that happen to everyone? I’m willing to bet that most of us have snapped at someone who didn’t deserve it. It’s normal. But normalcy, I’ve found, doesn’t always make right. We’re also conditioned to accept bullying, to accept being mistreated, to accept many forms of discrimination. And so I wonder…how much of this anger is healthy, and how much of it is harming us?

I went through a number of years where I couldn’t have a good relationship with my mother. I don’t mean where I didn’t, I mean where I couldn’t; it seemed like five minutes spent together would inevitably turn to bickering. We didn’t understand each other. My grades were a constant source of friction, then my perceived godlessness, my disrespect. She thought it had to do with my self-confidence, how much time I spent on the computer, the people I hung around, and the fact that I just didn’t seem to care anymore. This was true only in the most surface way. The thing is, most twelve-year-olds don’t have existential meltdowns. People assume you’re supposed to still be talking about your future as a vet, not questioning God and life and purpose, certainly not struggling with depression. Yet there I was.

My family didn’t know how to talk to me, help me, or even discipline me because they had no idea what I was going through. I don’t blame them; no matter how much you love someone, you’ll never completely understand what goes on in that person’s head. But as much as I don’t blame them now, oh, I did blame them then.

It’s hard when the people who are supposed to be closest to you don’t understand you. Hell, it’s hard enough when some of the most insignificant people in your life don’t understand you. We all have very different ways of thinking and different ways of dealing with things. What hurts you may not bother others, and what you laugh off could absolutely kill them.

Here’s my point: life isn’t easy. When people are thrown together in something as crazy as our reality, disagreements are bound to happen. People are going to hurt you, and they are going to make you angry. Sometimes it may be bad enough that you will want to hurt them. Sometimes it may be bad enough that you will want to hurt yourself. Sometimes it will be what haunts your dreams at night. You’ll spend years gnashing your teeth without knowing why. The entirety of your pain may boil down to a moment. The person you love most in the world will, somehow, someway, someday, let you down.

You are going to have to let it go.

No. Listen.

You are going to have to let it go.

from here

I wasted a lot of my time when I was younger being miserable. I came to understand eventually that I needed to be the one who pulled myself out of the pit I was in, but it’s taken me much longer to understand that I had managed, in my time spent there, to make that hole even deeper.

Keeping so much pain and anger inside of you is not healthy. Yes, you can wield your hate against people; you can turn it into a weapon, and you can turn it back on them. But if someone stabs you, stabbing them isn’t going to make your blood stop flowing. You can use your anger to push you forward, which might work until you realize that the person you’re angry with doesn’t care what you’re doing or, moreover, you don’t even like what you’re doing. You’re fulfilled by doing the things you care about because you find joy in them, not because someone else can’t stand them.

It sucks that you’ve been hurt. If you’re thinking you didn’t deserve it, you’re probably right. You probably didn’t. None of us really deserve the hateful things we do to each other. But keeping it with you is not going to help. It’s only going to hurt you more.

Stop hurting yourself.

See, forgiveness is not always for the person you’re forgiving. At least, it doesn’t always start out that way. Maybe someday you can forgive them because they are fatally human, but that’s not what I’m asking you to do right now. I’m asking you to forgive them so that you won’t have to lug those emotions around anymore. It doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in a position to have them hurt you again. It just means you have to try and let go of the pain they’ve wrought before.

It’s saying, “What you did may not be okay, but I will be okay.”

It’s saying, “What you did was not my choice, and I won’t carry it around with me anymore.”

It’s saying, “This is not worth ruining my life over.”

After that, you can figure out whether you want to split ties. You can decide whether that particular person’s company can make you happy in the future, whether it’s a relationship you want to keep, or whether you should go your separate ways. Whatever you choose is okay. You also don’t have to do this all at once. Go ahead and get that anger out. Write down, or say, or scream, exactly what has happened to make you feel the way you feel about a particular person. Often at the end, when you are raw and tired from the release, you’ll find it much easier to let all of that stuff go instead of packing it back inside.

I’m not an angry person. But at some points, I definitely have been. Now, if I am going to be angry, I am going to be angry at the things I can change, not at people. Christians say that we should love the sinner and hate the sin. Well, I am fully prepared to be furious at injustice, at the senseless suffering that surrounds me, at homophobia and racism and a myriad of other terrible things. Funnily enough, though, the only thing that can fix these—that can heal our broken world—is a whole lot of goodness and love. Hate doesn’t fix hate. Love fixes hate.

Forgive the people who have hurt you. Most of all, forgive yourself.

Then the healing can begin.

from here

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