Know Thyself

Good Morning! It’s 6:30am on a Sunday morning and I am up and at em’. There is nothing particularly wrong with this. Except for the fact that I was growing accustomed to the new me. The Emily that can sleep in until seven or eight and feel especially good about such a feat. I’ve had A LOT of energy lately. It’s like the old me is waking back up. Coming back from the dead.

Coolest CAM

My boyfriend is taking a few classes at a community college here in Raleigh, one of which is a Psychology class. Now, this has caused me to have to stifle my jealousy, because he is one lucky guy for getting to take classes, and fuel my brain in other ways so that I don’t sneak into his book bag and start doing all his homework. Nerd alert: I LOVE school! I love school and I love work. I love dorky things like Toastmaster’s and Networking Groups and Seminars. I blame these dorky pleasure sources on my mother who named me a name that means, “Industrious One.” I would’ve, of course, preferred “Illustrious One” but I also would have taken almost any other name meaning which denoted people in reverence and awe of me rather than me being sentenced to thriving in work and deed for the rest of my life on this green earth.

I digress.

Back to the Psychology class. He has a project to complete which involves a phenomena called “The Johari Window”. Now, lest you be one of the people that fell asleep in all of your college classes, you had better listen up because this is interesting stuff. The Johari Window is a method that helps people to better understand themselves. We all like to understand ourselves, am I right? In fact, the study of oneself is one of the most interesting, despite being seemingly self-centeered, because who else can we fully KNOW, but ourselves?! The Johari window takes YOU, the victim, and breaks you up into four “rooms” or “windows”.  They are as follows:

Open Self: This area represents traits about you that both YOU and most others in your life (mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grocery checkout people, your mechanic, your doctor, your boss, etc.) know about you. It’s things like the fact that you’re friendly, or funny, or a reliable person. Everything you let people know on a regular basis about you that helps them to form their picture of you, as well as things you know that help YOU form your picture of yourself.

Hidden Self: These are all of the adjectives and personality traits about yourself that ONLY you know. In the most successful relationships, this element exists, but there is very little. Openness and honesty is in fact the key to a successful relationship and in your very closest ones, this quadrant should be the smallest of the four.

Blind Self: This one is perhaps one of my favorite. These are the ways in which we perceive and see each other that THEY are unaware of. So, this is like when your brother doesn’t know that he has terrible manners, or is completely oblivious to social cues. This is his blind self.

Unknown Self: I’m not sure how one would ever actually determine what these traits WERE, considering their unknown to both themselves and others. But perhaps they are skills, knowledge, and parts of ourselves that have yet to develop. Our future selves. Our potential selves.

I feel as though I am the kind of person that knows herself quite thoroughly inside and out. As part of his project, my boyfriend and I discussed the aspects of our Blind Self with each other. The things WE see in each other, that the other does not see. For me, I feel I was less surprised about his responses than he was about mine. Although, I was surprised to hear him use the adjectives “generous” and “caring” to describe me, because those were adjectives I thought that were more part of my Hidden Self….in other words, I thought they went unnoticed. We talked about our strengths and weaknesses in communication, and the conversation ended on a very happy, encouraging, and uplifting note.

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Learning about yourself is fun, hence the plethora of personality tests that are swarming the Interweb. Know thyself. Know your likes and dislikes. Know your relation to the Universe as a whole, know your relation to other beings. Know your energy sources, what tires you out. Know your goals, your dreams, your passions. The more you discover, the more you find out that there is to love. If you have one, do this with a close friend. Seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes can be a great tool for honest feedback. But most of all, know that your perception is what you must base your knowledge off of. Your reality depends on you understanding YOU, and therefore what excuse do you?

Look, Wikipedia even lays it all out for you step-by-step on how YOU can learn about YOU. 

Here are some more questions to get you started on the fun path of self-exploration and inner knowledge. These questions come from Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project but I doctored some of them up a bit:

1. If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more?

2. Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?

3. If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?

4. Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment?

5. How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?

6. Are you motivated by competition?

7. Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself?

8. Do you work constantly? Or think you should be working?

9. Do you work well under pressure?

10. What does your perfect day look like?

11. Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

12. Would you rather save time or save money?

13. Do you enjoy being the center of attention?

14. Do you continuously delay happiness in your life? Ie. “When I’m finished school…” “When the house is renovated…” “When I get a new job…” “When I lose weight…”

15. What would you do if you had more energy?

16. Does being around people energize you? Make you feel depleted?

17. Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want?

18. Do you have road rage? Do you get frustrated easily? Are you impulsive?

19. On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get? Do you feel that is enough or that you need more? 

20. What are ten things you want to accomplish within the next ten years?

21. If you could truly live anywhere you wanted, where would it be? 

Last but not least, here are the adjectives that the inventors of the Johari Window concept use with their subjects to help them describe themselves and others. See if you can pick out your top 10 descriptors and have someone else do the same so you can compare answers!

  • able
  • accepting
  • adaptable
  • bold
  • brave
  • calm
  • caring
  • cheerful
  • clever
  • complex
  • confident
  • dependable
  • dignified
  • energetic
  • extroverted
  • friendly
  • giving
  • happy
  • helpful
  • idealistic
  • independent
  • ingenious
  • intelligent
  • introverted
  • kind
  • knowledgeable
  • logical
  • loving
  • mature
  • modest
  • nervous
  • observant
  • organized
  • patient
  • powerful
  • proud
  • quiet
  • reflective
  • relaxed
  • religious
  • responsive
  • searching
  • self-assertive
  • self-conscious
  • sensible
  • sentimental
  • shy
  • silly
  • smart
  • spontaneous
  • sympathetic
  • tense
  • trustworthy
  • warm
  • wise
  • witty

“We must not be defined by what we do, but we must be what and who we are, then only happen to do what we do!” 
C. JoyBell

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How You Know You’re Getting Old

Last year, when I crossed over into age 26, things changed for me. A wave came over me that send me careening into new and refreshing waters, and I knew that for the first time, there was no escaping the undertow and no turning back. EM

You see, like many 20-somethings that don’t have their mind made up, my past life was a downward spiral of moving from here to there, and jumping over obstacles, as though life was a game of leap frog. It was when I turned 26, and tried to put on that short, gauzey, flowery skirt, which I had somehow outgrown exponentially, that I realized it was time to grow up. Growing up does not mean you have to set aside your youthful spirit, your aspirations, and ridiculous belief that wishes made when the clock strikes 11:11. It does however require you to face the reality of bills, car insurance, and watching to make sure your teeth don’t rot out of your face because it’s the last set you’re gonna’ get.

27 came with an even bigger realization, the realization that in three years, I will be 30. It’s a challenging moment, when you scan your life’s accomplishments, experiences, and current placement, and introspectively soul search to determine whether or not that is “good enough” for you, and satisfying. The only opinion that matters is yours. And if you’re shaking your head in disapproval, there are changes to be made. Although 26 was a bit rocky at first; I felt suffocated, I flailed my way through the water, nearly drowned as I became forced to learn new swim strokes. 27 is better. More comfortable. And there it is, the word that, based on your response to it, tells you whether or not you’re getting old.

When you hear “comfortable” and breathe a sigh of relief. 

No longer are the days when you contort yourself into tight, ungodly outfits all for the sake of fashion or impressing a member of the opposite sex. You prefer to walk around the block, go to the grocery store, and run your errands to pay your electric bill in your most comfortable, spacious pants and your favorite basic t-shirt. Comfortable is a night in, relaxing, reading, and listening to music or catching up with your mom on the phone. Comfortable is a rainy day watching a movie. And comfortable is being with someone you love that loves you back, unconditionally, which is both comfortable and exciting. But mostly, comfortable.

You not only do the crossword puzzle, you speak crossword lingo

I’ll admit, I love me a good crossword, and not just the ones that are easy and I can whip through and understand, I like a real, down-to-earth brain challenging one. I understand what the crossword says when the clue is something obscure like: “Fall mo. pl.” and “This, in Toledo”. Though, I do sometimes have to look up some of the actors and actresses from the 1960’s and prior, but there are so many clues I shock myself with knowing the answer to (and scare myself by knowing the answers only the “old” people should get); I can cruise my way through the world of crosswords like….well….an old person in an armchair. The only part of the picture I haven’t completed is smoking a pipe.

You actually read and appreciate books

After college, I swore I would never read another book. I burned mine, sold them on Amazon and used them as a makeshift coffee table in many an unfurnished apartment. But, a good book to me, is like a good meal. Nourishing, mind-bending, thought-provoking. Books are the new Ecstasy, and I’m hooked. When a book is not rich enough for me, full of paltry words and unintelligent dialogue, I poo poo it and call my Grandma for suggestions for this week’s top reads. 

You actually start to believe it when you’re Nana says, “Nana knows best.”

Taking other people’s advice has never been one of my strong points. I like to pave my own paths and blaze my own trail. But after awhile, you start to realize that this lands you in a mountain of debt, no friends, and with the prospects of a lifelong career as a cashier or waitress. You want to succeed in achieving your goals? Take advice from those who have done so. Once I stopped turning a deaf ear to my mom and nana, my father, my boyfriend, my friends who have been there…things began to get remarkably easier. They get harder at first. But then….ah….

The people you admire are 20+ years older than you

For starters, most of my best friends are 20+ years older than me. One of my best friends is 67 right now, and the other day I befriended a 68 year old. I can talk to these folks just as well as I’ve been able to confess to my childhood BFF’s and collegiate acquaintances. When I look at what I should be doing, I consult these folks first, and look to them to help dictate my age-less, timeless fashion.

You cook, you clean, you sew.

When people enter my home, they take their shoes off at the front door. It’s clean. You know you’re getting old when no one has to pick up dirty socks to sit on your living room furniture, to brush aside the dust that has accumulated on your coffee table before placing their mug on it. You know you’re old when you HAVE a coffee table to place your mug on. You wash your sheets once a week and you clean your entire bathroom and kitchen, including the sinks, oven and shower. You know you’re either growing up, or your Cinderella.

You go to Trivia Night. Consistently. In fact, you have a trivia team and are part of league.

That’s Tuesdays, Wednesday night is tennis.

You go to anything. Consistently.

You fall asleep at 9:00pm no matter where you are

I’m not a great party date, because if the party just so happens to involve socializing past the hour of 8:30 pm, my brain becomes mush and I’m searching for the nearest surface to lie down on. You know, truthfully, this has been a trait I’ve had all my life. A girl needs her beauty rest! Sleep

You drink tea.

You’re too jittery when you have coffee, and it makes you see double? You drink tea instead, non-caffeinated, herbal tea, the kind with health benefits like: Ginger, Licorice Root, Rose Hips, and Yerba Mate. You know you’re getting old when getting yourself as high on caffeine as possible is no longer a sport, it’s a catastrophe and throws off your bowels.

Age is a mindset, this is a cliche, and a truth. I don’t think feeling old is necessarily terrible, it’s simply what happens when you feel the magical transformation into a new phase of life. A life where modesty and being a grown up is praised. Where sitting up straight, and chewing with your mouth closed will get you further than a keg stand. I want to say I was never really the immature one at the party, and was instead usually the one who brought her checkbook to balance and then designating herself to drive everyone home….but I’ve definitely noticed a shift as of late, as I’ve come to realize what this age acts, looks, and feels like. If anything, I think the number one way you know you’re growing older is that you have gained and grown to love the word “RESPECT”. Respect for life, for yourself, for others, for consistency, and for the present moment.

What Fairy Tales and Bologna Have in Common

The movies make it look so romantic when girls cry. They don’t tell you that it’s, in actuality, not romantic at all; they don’t tell you that you’ll have mascara running down your face and the guy you’re crying to will likely give you some cliche sentence like, “Don’t worry,” or “It’s ok,” or if they’re feeling ultra-original…a nice pat on the pack and, “Don’t cry.” The love stories fail to tell you that you’ll cry more often than once in your whole happily ever after, they always make it look like things turn out for the best, and they never end with the one you’re crying to, or about, falling asleep before you’re done expressing your woes. But real life, as I am slowly learning, is not a Dr. Seuss book, where you end up loving the Green Eggs and Ham, even though you previously wouldn’t eat them on a bus, on a boat, on a train, or in the rain. Real life is not as cushiony as your childhood imagination. It’s brutal, and harsh, and has been putting a smile on my face less and less with the burgeoning realization of it’s existence. In real life there are bills to pay, you have to wake up and clock in for duty every day, and you don’t automatically improve yourself on a regular basis –you have to work at it.

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I used to hope and wish, and truly believe that life would get continuously better, that my over-zealous exuberance at age 16 would develop into radiant adulthood enthusiasm. I thought by this time I would’ve developed enough good karma to be super set, on track. I had mental pictures of where I would be in life. But I’m slowly realizing that I’m more and more hideously behind in life, and incredibly yawn-provokingly normal with each passing day. A typical, run-of-the-mill, unoriginal American brunette. It’s no wonder that people are always saying I look familiar, or remind them of so-and-so. I’m a brown-eyed middle of the road chick.

I used to always want to be normal, want to fit in and fly under the radar. Now, as it’s slowly setting in that that is exactly what is happening, I’m deeply saddened by it. My desire to be extraordinary, to blaze my own trail, to be a prodigious, independent female is slowly being extinguished. I now am signing up for things normal people sign up for, I went to a DOCTOR for goodness’ sake, I am talking like a normal person, I’m even believing normal people things. I’ve watched an entire season of a television show on Netflix, I’ve implemented a “cheat day” on my hippy dippy cleanse, and I’ve become this horridly stereotypical emotional girl with feelings of glass and a brain of smush. IMG_4068

My British friend, Chris, was the first to point out this phenomena and as I drove into Starbucks to juice up my cheat day, I realized he was completely right. I am as normal as they come. As boring as the very first Plain Jane. It’s basically been downhill from there, feeling as though I’ve sold my soul to the mass population. My hopes and dreams were unique, until I realized they are not like in the movies and they likely won’t come true. That’s when I set them on the shelf and decided I would not dust them off for a great long time. No one cares to read that anyway, people want novel, they want something they can sink their teeth into. And this girl, with her passionless, ever diminishing zest is slowly becoming less and less of that healthy, fulfilling sandwich, and more of a sloppy, soggy piece of bread which one pushes aside in disgust and focuses on the main course instead.

Disney lied to me. Fairy tales are Bologna. How’s that for a magic carpet ride?

 

 

5 More Ways I Can Relate to an Inmate

I have to hand(cuff) it to myself, I really enjoyed rereading my post yesterday, about “Orange is the New Black” TV series on Netflix. In fact, after poring over my brilliant words, it made even ME want do go watch more of the show (imagine that) and then I inevitably found myself feeling paranoid about cops all day long. That may or may not have been because I was going 60mph in a 30….just kidding, Mom. It was more like 65.

Unfortunately, I got the brilliant idea to submit yesterday’s blog entry to a website that is composed of writer’s “lists”. My list didn’t make the top list of publishable blogs apparently. They told me it was not “exceptional” enough. That made me cry. Rejection often makes me cry, so does breaking a nail, finding out that there is no more garbanzo bean flour for my morning tasteless, calorie-less “pancake”, and when my favorite underwear can’t be worn because they’re in the wash. Those are all of course, things that can throw your entire day off: The wrong underwear, not having a solid breakfast, and not being able to scratch your nails down someone’s back or sit at your desk and file them when there is nothing else to be done. More on the rejection aspect later, as I had another run-in with it later in the day. Like hitting a brick wall head first and then belly flopping into it rejection.  In a way, I have to thank these people for rejecting me.  They brought me to tears. Which made me start having withdrawals for my new favorite past time, but thinking maybe I should be reading books instead, I decided to request the book from the library (although it’s going to be awhile because I’m number 19 on the wait list).

Alas, in order to kill the time (no criminal pun intended), I decided to indulge in a few more episodes, and again I found myself again comparing my life to that of the notorious Piper Chapman. 

1. I Cry Often and My Eyes Always Look Sorta Water-WorksishAnnaMe

As aforementioned, I cry a lot. Honestly, too much. No wonder I am always so thirsty. My second rejection experience, after my blog submission being turned down,  was when I went to withdraw from some classes I was taking. The reaction was a cold, heartless farewell. Everyone only wants you for your money. No one loves me. And….the tears streaming in public ensue. Gosh, I’m so needy. The inmates in “Orange is the New Black” sure do cry a lot. When someone causes their lives to feel even more difficult or lonely than it already does. So, then I cry right along with them, swearing I can feel what they feel! Every prisoner’s story has me with crocodile raindrop tears and a half a box of crumpled tissues surrounding me on the futon. But honestly, today’s rejection was kind of a good thing for me. It helped me put into perspective my priorities, I suppose. That being said, mine were going home, eating a veggie burger, four celery sticks, five green olives and two tablespoons of homemade black bean hummus. That’s all I had in the pantry (“larder” if you need a hint for your crossword) which brings me to #2.

2. My Dinners are Random Compilations of Mush Designed to Strictly Meet the Government’s Caloric and Nutritional Standards

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The food the people in our jails eat makes me mad. Don’t they realize how much of an impact nutrition has on a person as a whole? You would think that they would work to help them eat more vegetables and kale chips and such. That’s not really the priority of our government, and I suppose as a taxpayer I understand and wish there was some sort of happy medium. Tonight, my plate of dinner looked like a tray a picky kid would get at the cafeteria and then lie through his teeth to his mom that he ate a well-rounded lunch. You see, in jail, they put prisoner’s on a 1200-1500 calorie diet. This is largely (no pun intended) in part because some women have sued due to getting “overweight” on prison food. It’s likely because they don’t have whole grains and Smart Balance butter alternative. I am not really sure though to be honest what they really do feed inmates. I just imagined to myself as I was eating dinner, that it was some random conglomeration of foodstuffs like what I had for dinner tonight. Boy, it was sure tasty though.

Here is a Yahoo article on the National Prison Meal which was recently implemented.

3. I Don’t Talk to My Friends on the Phone Enough

I don’t exactly have regulations on when I can and can’t talk on the phone, nor for the length of time I’m allotted to speak for. My phone does however have a feature with a “list” of everyone I’m allowed to call, I think it’s labeled “Contacts”. Despite my freedom, it doesn’t change the fact that I rarely answer mine, and infrequently, at best, call up my friends to chat. I guess it’s because I feel so disconnected and far away from so many of them, and I don’t like when people expect ME to talk, I can talk about them all day but I’ll either just be complaining or ecstatic as hell, and either way….no one wants to hear that. Instead I make lots of small talk and try to get them to talk while I stay small. I would just rather see them in person. And preferably, them coming to visit me because I’ve spent billions of dollars on airlines to fly back to NH already in life. I guess I have to focus on making friends in my current situation for awhile. Or get really good at composing letters. For those of you who may not know, a letter is an old-fashioned form of correspondence where you use this thing called a “pen” on a piece of what’s called “paper” and you write down your thoughts, ideas, and poignant phrases.

4. I have to wait for money to come through in order to buy nessecities like shampoo, toilet paper, hairbrushes, etc.

K, ya’ll. Here is a Groupon update for you. I finally got my refund check in; the baboons running the company sent not one, but TWO because the first one never came! So, the second check came yesterday via UPS and I excitedly went to the bank to cash it. My bank wouldn’t cash it because they had to place a seven day hold on it. But that didn’t stop me from taking it to PNC, the bank of origin, to see if they could cash the darn thing for me. The man at the counter was nice, offering to waive the $10 non-customer check cashing fee for me. However, the check had a “reject” stamp on it, a “do not cash” “stop payment”. I was furious! But I made a promise to myself to not drop this issue until it’s completely solved, and postponed my grocery shopping until I have some actual money to work with. Hence the shotty dinner. I also had to postpone brushing my teeth because I’m out of toothpaste, purchasing toilet paper, and of course, getting my weekly perm.  I felt just like Piper waiting on some dimwits to put her money through so she can stop wearing maxi pads as shower shoes and get some flip flops on those precious piggies. IMG_3807

5. I have to watch my mouth so as not to get myself in trouble

I would not say that I have a loud mouth or that my voice is particularly high in decibel output. I would actually say that when I do choose to share my opinionated thoughts, it’s at the wrong time or in the wrong company. For example, never say, “I quit,” to your employer. Unless, of course, you mean it. You might find your name off the schedule for weeks to come. Instead, complain about your job to your psychiatrist or significant other, they might get bored or annoyed, but at least they don’t control your paycheck. Also, don’t dis a team, any team, any where at any time. Women should keep their sports opinions to themselves. That includes opinions about motorcycles, cars, and monkey wrenches. I’m not being sexist, I’m sharing valuable nuggets from my personal experience. I hate to keep bringing it back to “Orange is the New Black” but that’s the point of this blog, so here goes my next point: Piper behind bars says and does ALOT of things all in the name of expressing herself that get in her into deep, deep doo doo. Including solitary confinement, and being on the bad side of the wrong inmates. Always be Impeccable with your Word. That’s one of the Four Agreements that I try to work on each and every day. It involves:

– Saying only things that will not hurt others

– Speaking only the truth

– Promising only when you are able to follow through with your promises

– Being true to yourself through your spoken word

– Using your word to stand up for justice

If ever I feel I’m on the verge of messing up…well, that’s what chewing gum is for. And topic changes. Which I PROMISE for my next blog entry. 

Ways in Which I Can Relate to an Inmate

I haven’t watched TV in years. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I turned on the television and watched an actual show; it might’ve been the Royal Wedding April 29, 2011 and then I was only half watching due to being at a friend’s house amidst riveting conversation. Feel free to ask all my loved ones for confirmation on this one: I don’t own a television. 

When I was a kid, we didn’t really have a TV either, we had a box with rabbit ears on it and some dial that turned and clicked in order to find channels that came in. Because of that, I became highly addicted to PBS shows like Arthur, which I watched well into my teens despite being berated by my peers. When I DID watch TV, it was such a novelty I found myself instantly addicted, like those children that are deprived of high fructose corn syrup their entire lives and then they find themselves face to face with a twice the shelf life Twinkie. Like these poor, hungry children, my own lack of constraint ensued and I went wild. Photo on 2012-03-29 at 12.00

Unfortunately, I didn’t like what TV did to me as a person. I did not like feeling lazy and grumpy after, or the headache that it gives you staring at a screen for too long. So, I quit cold turkey about four or five years ago and haven’t gone back….until…..

Netflix.

Now, in my favor, Netflix is not really TV. It’s better. You get TV without the commercials and without ever having to flip through to find a new show, you can just watch THE SAME show all the way through the entire season. This is a danger to people like me, those who are a breathing, walking relapse waiting to happen. Two days ago, because I’m home alone and had nothing to do for the whole day yesterday, I found a show called “Orange is the New Black”. You may have heard of it, it’s starring Taylor Schilling, who is a well-to-do, former Master Cleansing, whole-grain-eating, intelligent, funny, beautiful, entrepreneur and Smith graduate who gets put behind bars because of her involvement in a drug smuggling operation in her past life. I’ve been riveted and watched, despite them being an hour a piece, no less than 8 episodes of this in the past three days!!! I have laughed, cried, and find myself feeling like I can identify with so many of the feelings and emotions that this woman is going through. I wanted to badly for it to be a true story, even though I knew some of the details were a bit sketchy (one girl was somehow able to wear EARRINGS in prison, which I know they don’t allow) in the show, and this morning: lo, and behold, I found out IT IS A TRUE STORY! OISNEWB

Orange is the New Black was a book written by Piper Kerman (the character in the show is Piper Chapman)

1. Every Sentence is a Story

The show does a great job at making you fall in love with each and every character; even though at first some of them seem detestable, they weave in their personal stories of how they ended up in prison and by the end of an episode, you’re realizing that the inmate that threatens everyone with violence has had a really tough life. I can relate to this because I have recently come to realize the same thing about my fellow human beings, taking time to understand that each and every person has a past that has formed who they are now gives me a lot more compassion and sympathy, and understanding, for anything erroneous they may do. It also gives me a chance to offer myself some slack and grace, as I realize the most important thing is doing the best that you can, with the circumstances you are in.

2. Piper Chapman Does not Mind Sticking out Like a Sore Thumb

When our heroine (no pun intended) first walks into the prison, she realizes she is not like many of the other inmates. She is well-educated, funny, sarcastic, and a sensitive and emotional being (and Lord, knows, of course I can relate to THAT!). However, she also comes to accept that she was not this way in her past criminal involvement and therefore has to do her time just like everyone else. Through all of this, and the fact that she knows she is somehow way out of her league, she attempts to fit in and befriend many of her “roommates”. She is racially profiled and called “Cracker” and treated like the “newbie” who is feeling like a foreigner in her own country. Sometimes, you have to just fake it, even if you’ll never make it. I remember in high school and college feeling a little like a weirdo, because I got a really late start on school, didn’t know what an “exam” was or whether or not getting a 29 on one was good or bad, and had lived most of my life under a rock. At first, I was fresh meat to be picked on and challenged, I was the strange one. But as I worked on flying under the radar by befriending people, it helped me maintain my weirdness and yet not have to constantly worry about defending myself. People often don’t know why, but they end up liking people that are nice to everyone. In the show, Piper not only stands out when compared to the status quo prisoners, she also stands out in her own circle of friends, as none of them have dark and dastardly pasts or could even conceive of the idea of a dark, dank correctional facility.

3. Like Piper, I have/have had Friends in Prison

People get thrown into the slammer for some pretty messed up stuff. This part of the show was relatively painful to watch, as I saw characters struggle with issues of missing their families, withdrawal, the visitation experience, being harassed, and just the overall poor conditions. That’s when the tears came, when I thought of folks I have known that have had to endure very similar, if not worse trials. It also saddens me that for some folks, they will never be free of the punishment system, as when they are released they often go right back to what they know, only to find themselves in the hands of the judiciaries time and time again.

4. She has a Boyfriend Named Jason

Piper

Well, actually, in the show her boyfriend’s name is Larry, but his actor name is Jason. But still, it’s close enough.

5. Parts of My Own Life Have Felt Like a Prison Sentence 

Being free is a choice. I recently read a book, called Shantaram in which the main character underwent torturous stays in prisons, more than once in his life. He also worked in the slums in India as a doctor, and traveled through the mountains of Afghanistan in the bitter cold. His entire life he longed for freedom, but not truly feeling it as he wandered gyspy-like from refuge to refuge, avoiding the law and being arrested. Throughout the book, he realizes that no one can truly take away your freedom, even if they take away your physical freedom, your freedom of speech, etc. Freedom exists in the mind, and it is only ourselves that have the power to hold ourselves in true captivity. I have often stamped the word “victim” across my mind, abused myself, deprived myself of joy, and let my brain stew with thoughts of captivity and being locked down. Freedom is about having no limits, it’s about choosing to do your very best at each and every moment, and it’s about making the conscious decision to be grateful no matter what. Freedom is allowing yourself to give up isolation, to stop seeing things only through your own narrow perspective, and to open your mind, eyes, and heart to the bigger picture at hand.

There is only now. That is Freedom.
Now in the spirit of being free, I’m going to go exercise my and work out and get some errands done, so I can feel less guilty when I become a slave to my own addiction and watch more of this show later.

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Girl Least Likely

Something strange just occurred to me. 

I’m sitting here in the privacy of my own home, getting ready to write a blog to start off my day. Today is undoubtedly going to be good. I’m going to take a walk, or two walks, or three, enjoy the solitude of nature (as I breathe in the exhaust of the cars rushing by me), I’m going to eat homemade hummus that I myself created last night, and I’m going to enjoy not having to worry about doing anything excessively productive until tomorrow.

I’m sure you’re now wanting to know the strange thing that just happened.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t told you yet.

I’m sure you’re annoyed that I’m not getting to the point.

And then you’re instantly cured of being annoyed, because you understand that cliff-hangers in the middle of a written work are like pleasure delayers.

So, without further ado, here is what happened:

I’m preparing to write about yesterday’s experience with a girl that came into our store yesterday representing Shop Local Raleigh. She has a blog through ShopLocal Raleigh where she talks about local businesses and how she is coming to and weening herself off of her college daze. So while I’m letting these thoughts circulate a bit, in hopes that they will pick up momentum and start landing on the computer screen into thought-provoking and somehow complete sentences, I’m dabbling around reading her blog, reading my friend Toni’s blog, and a few other bits and bobbles to find out you know, the answer to what people are asking. The usual. I also visited StumbleUpon which is a site that allows people like ME who are just aimlessly surfing the internet, to find a random site tailored according to her interests. The sites they usually curate for me are spot on and correlate perfectly with what I’m into: kickingpuppies.com, crosswordpuzzlesforpeoplewhoare90yearold’slivingin27yearold’sbodies.org, and howtodrinkyourwaytoahangover.gov
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Actually, to be perfectly honest, I think my interests are writing, spirituality, travel, cooking, exercise, staying in shape, not eating too much, self improvement, ya da ya da ya da. This morning, I hit the “Stumble” button and in the back of my mind, I was thinking the words “Writing Inspiration, Writing Better for Your Audience”  in hopes that something pertaining to well, writing, would pop up. This is when the weirdness happens: The page that came up was “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better” complete with TEN whole tips on how to write better.  It was like the Internet read my mind. And no, in case you’re wondering, I did NOT employ them in writing this particular entry. The whole point of telling you all this was just to express how strange it was that I had been thinking it and then BA-DING-BA-DAM! It popped up. The end.

Back to the girl from yesterday and her blog….her name was Brianne (Breanne?) and she was either 21 or 22, which I alluded to based on the fact that she just graduated from college in May, and landed HER DREAM JOB in June. I must say, I am always happy for people that are happy and successful and everything, but a tinge, ok a TON of jealousy surged through my veins as she raved about her success story and this DREAM JOB.

She is supposed (tomorrow) to be writing a blog about her visit to our store, which I am quite anxious to read. In the interest of research and marketing, I read her blog and I couldn’t help comparing how she gets over 100 hits per day on hers, to me being elated to get 48 on my top read post. And I didn’t even crack a single laugh or drool over her gooey pizza and beer descriptions. When I read my own blog I’m cracking MYSELF up, so I can only assume the rest of you are in stitches and unable to contain yourselves. I guess her goal is likely to appeal to a crowd that I am not a part of.

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There are SO many blogs, inspirational sites, online magazines with articles galore, I am not even sure people are discriminatory about what they are reading these days. They just want funny, short, and some good stories about your epic failures in life so they feel better about themselves. The writing doesn’t necessarily matter, but can they find you on Facebook or Pinterest? The more I am learning about life, I am realizing it truly IS all about who you know. Opportunity and the a stab at fame and fortune come with shmoozing with the write people. MOST common folk aren’t really thinking about what you’re writing, they only care about how many hashtags you use in a sentence so they can link to your Pinterest page or Instagram. Is that how that #works? I have no idea, in all truthfulness. Because I am a loser with a capital “L”, I’m just going to go ahead and assume that I am not going to strike big in the writing world, or any other world for that matter, anytime soon, unless I can figure out a way to unabashedly tell my life’s story and change the names of all the guilty parties.

 

Am I an old dinosaur for wanting to go against the grain and be unpopular? Keeping up with the times used to be fun and exciting, but now the way things have gone down, careening towards disarray and disconnectedness, it’s not exactly top on my list of things to do: To Become Popular. I think that means I would have to OMG and LOL and BRB. Alas, I’ve never been Girl Most-Likely to Succeed anyway. 

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Generation of Inspiration

In case you’re an avid avoider of media, like myself, I will fill you in on some things that have been happening in the world as of late. And by the world, I mean it in the most American-ego-centric fashion and am only including things happening in our country.

1. School systems are becoming the new abortion. school-day-photo

Remember the way Roe v. Wade was the hot topic in 1973? Now, the word on street is what is taking place in our school systems as we allow lawmakers and policy holders to dictate how our children learn. There are a few things happening, which I found out the other day during an orientation for substitute teacher’s at the local school district. Substituting is a great way to dabble in the school system and find out what the generation of the future is learning and dealing with on a regular basis. Of course, it’s not the same story across the chalkboard, but those mandating changes sure would like to see it that way. Knowledge is no longer able to be placed in a mold and delivered to each child in the same, methodical way that it once was. Memorization, once a revered sacrament, and is instead being replaced with teaching kids to access information that interests them. New systems of education are being experimented with, such as self-directed learning formats, application, searching, discovery, inquiry, and a more subjective approach is being established. While such positive changes are taking place at this pivotal moment, and it’s likely a nationwide breakthrough is going to occur, my NC government, and maybe coming soon to a government near you, is busy taking away school and teacher funding, making budget cuts, and reducing teachers motivation to acquire further education. At such a crucial moment in our history, a time when altering the future is happening by waking up these little pupils and making them aware NOW, they’re attempting to put the kibosh on the passion that is infused in the learning process. Don’t even get me STARTED with the cafeteria situation and some of the ACTUAL things they teach kids. Let’s get with the times, NC. Whatever happened to school being the breeding grounds for inspiration and life?

2. The Blue Ridge Parkway is cracked.

This is no joke, the highway indeed has a huge crack in it and it’s getting even bigger. 20 miles of it is closed off from being driven on. I suppose we are going to need to hurry up and invent those Jetson-like cars sooner than we thought. Think of all the money you’ll save in tolls.

3. Coasters are no longer safe

Two years ago, I went to Carowinds in Charlotte, NC with my brother and his friend Brendon. We were hot. It was summer in NC….which, if you live here, you know that is no less excruciating than it is for a lobster to be placed in a pot full of boiling water. We had waited in line in the sun for about an hour for one of the roller coaster rides. I LOVE roller coasters, I love adrenaline and the thrill of being terrified nearly to the point of death, only to be rescued by the fact that I’m strapped in and locked in by a variety of safety mechanisms. For the same reason, I would love to try sky diving. However, this particular day was not a typical one at the theme park…or was it? When we got to the front of the line, there suddenly was a problem on the ride and it stopped running for about half an hour while ride mechanics or technicians fixed a “glitch”. Apparently the glitch was a problem with the braking mechanism. At this news, I began sweating profusely and it wasn’t simply due to the fact that the hot sun was blazing into my every skin cell, but because I truly did NOT want to go on that ride. However, Peter and Brendon, being the tough guys that they are, insisted we go. I couldn’t let my brother and his friend die without me, imagine how that would look when I had to go home and report to my mother what had happened. She would be so mad that it took him and not me! So, I went along. Plus, someone would have to tend to those two wild banchees in the afterlife, or else they would be dancing on streets of gold naked. Fortunately, nothing happened on the ride, except for the fact that my feelings of sheer and utter terror were amplified and resulted in me getting sick and not being able to continue the afternoon of riding on roller coasters. Now with this news of a lady dying in Texas, I am not sure if I could ever ride one again. I’d already written off theme parks because of the excruciating long lines, the entire herd like mentality of it the experience, and the sheer Americanism sold at every twist and turn. But now, it’s almost become an issue of reverence for me. How can I enjoy such a “harmless danger” when it has been the death to others…and all in the name of pleasure and fun. The riders with her said that she had been complaining to a park worker that her restraint wasn’t seeming to be fully operating, however, ride engineers and researchers say that there are computer mechanisms in place that do not allow the ride to start if this is the case. WITH ANY OF THE RESTRAINTS. So, why did this happen to this poor woman? The reasons are still being investigated…by Six Flags themselves. I feel that even if the truth does present itself, we’re not going to be privy to the full extent of it, not as long as we’re the general, admission-paying, coaster-riding public. roller-coaster-24

4. Yet people are still living on the edge

The other item under fire right now is that of Immigration. I recently watched a TV Show called “30 Days” in which Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) set people up to undergo thirty days of living in someone else’s shoes. He brings in a bounty hunter from TX to live with a family of illegal immigrants. This is a subject I need to educate myself more on, and it’s also one in which everyone has an opinion and are making their thoughts loudly known. When it comes to the word “reform” I simply want to know this, will it truly change anything? Haven’t we been in the process of reforming this place since the beginning of time? And all that we have to show for it is farms demolished by fracking, water polluted by overconsumption, and people wearing down SIDEWALKS because they are eating one too many Philly Cheese Steaks at lunch. Where is the reform to be had? Perhaps it’s time we reform to look at one another as individuals and take this into account when making a practical system for becoming a valued citizen. What is at the root of the immigration “problem”? Is it overcrowding? Less job opportunities for qualified individuals as the unqualified ones are willing to do it for fewer bucks? Is it our lack of compassion for what they are escaping? Perhaps our warm, friendly and inviting American persona is being put to the test? How welcoming are we REALLY? Why or why not?

5. Is Insecurity the new security?

You can always be sure of one thing. That there is NOTHING you can be sure of for sure. I promise that to be true. Not that I can make you any steadfast promises. But really, no matter how much I can prove something scientifically, or otherwise to myself, it still could be a completely made-up figment of my imagination. And then how would I know? So, when someone tells me I look good, or that I’m safe, or that I can trust something…I have a really hard time doing so. As I seek stability, security and certainty in this world, it seems I find more opportunities for gambles, chances, and high risks. So since everything is already so up in the air, why not live each and every day like it’s exactly that. Life can change in the blink of an eye, and while you may have your job, your loved ones, your children, your cushy 401K,  pets, fancy house, blue suede shoes, and favorite breakfast cereal to depend on today, tomorrow could be another story altogether. And then we have what we think is our own private world, but are likely being spied on by our very own countrymen at any given time. This I don’t mind so much, as I’m aware that it might be an infringement on my rights, I really have nothing to hide. I’d be happy to tell them how many minutes I brush my teeth everyday, Tweet them how many hours I spent watching TedTalks one afternoon, or text the government and tell them all about the great outfit I have on today. How messed up is our country truly? Is there any allowance for us to put aside our stress and worries and indulge in more carefree living? Has virtue, creativity and passion died? When we’re in such dire straits, as we tread through such unpredictable and dangerous waters, what do we focus on?  I love what my good pal, Ghandi has to say in regards to security:

“This is the secret of security: like love, at its highest, it is not something that we receive; it is something that we do. And in doing security, in being secure and promoting the security of others, we find our own.”

It starts with the spirit, not the spy game. It takes a shift toward altruism, not a shift toward shutting down others and others and others and finally ourselves. Want more security? Perhaps it begins with each and everyone of us doing our best, being true to our word, and being the person that someone else can trust.

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