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.

Matthew2Sens

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

Advertisements

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.

Hoots and Hollerin’

Recently, an article was published in the Indy newspaper, a local, NC Triangle Area publication featuring views, reviews, and news on a global and county level. The article was written by a woman who was complaining about being shouted at / harassed /cat called by men while walking, running, entering grocery stores, driving, etc. I know what you’re thinking, because I always do, you’re thinking, “Hey, lady, you can’t help it if you’re hot and everyone wants a piece of you, right!?” Count your blessings, we should all be so lucky. But, I can tell you from personal experience, that this phenomena occurs regardless of size, race, creed, and whether or not you’re having a good hair day; being hooted and hollered at when you’re trying to get in a relaxing workout is not flattering, it doesn’t boost my confidence, it’s just plain annoying. ME IN GERMANY

Many people know that my part-time job is walking. I love walking and I can usually muster up the energy and gusto to walk no matter what, despite my old age, whenever and wherever. Walking is delicious and on days when I need to work out stress and emotions, or when I’m just passing the time and looking to spark a freight train of thoughts through my brain, it’s the perfect medicine.

When I lived with my parents in Gastonia, there were no sidewalks per say, but I managed to devise my own 9-mile walk on road shoulders, which looped around the city and gave me a variety of scenery. I also apparently provided some scenery for the locals. Never in my ENTIRE LIFE have I been honked at, shouted at, whistled at, and verbally “harassed” as much as in that town. I dare say, that would NEVER happen in New Hampshire. At least, not in my 26 years of experience living there. I’ve been pulled over by a cop while I was walking, but I have not been the object of someone showing off their vocal chords and amplified pick up lines. I tell you what, the South is worse! So much for Southern hospitality. Perhaps I have magically turned into a beautiful princess moving down here and now I am the apple of all the gentlemen in all the land? Mmm….yeah, I don’t think that’s it.Dublin1

Fortunately, upon moving to Raleigh, I rarely find this happening to me anymore, although it DID happen today coincidentally, as I was pondering this very topic. In a demented way, before this incidence today, I was starting to wonder if I had lost my strut, was I not attractive anymore? If no one hits on me at the gym these days, does that mean I’m becoming soft? See how society has me trained?

It’s derogatory

So, while one might THINK that being whistled at is a compliment; I can even remember personally wishing someone would do that very thing when I was younger, and I felt “cool” if someone yelled “Hey Baby!” at me and my friend Abbey when we were walking to go get ice cream, choosing to believe it was me they were praising and not her.  I believe it, I believe that you do look really sexy in that blouse today, but when someone shouts it to you, “Check out dem’ titties!!” it’s actually quite demoralizing. You see, the guys who are doing the yelling don’t care if you’re a living, breathing, moving being, or a chick with a bag over her head, they just see legs, identify that it’s a member of the female species and raise up their war cry out the driver’s side window. While I’m thinking about how I love sparrows, and noticing the comforting blue of the sky, they’re informing me, loudly that I’m nothing more than a piece of meat with a pony tail. It makes me feel a twinge of anger inside, and makes me dislike them, which makes me dislike myself for disliking someone, because I don’t dislike anyone.

It’s pointless

Does it really accomplish anything? Do you think girls like that? Does it turn us on? Do you think that is how you’re going to meet your dream girl? Dream on, cowboy. Dudes who do this are probably so dumb that their mistaking middle fingers for ring fingers. I don’t know what it accomplishes for these hicks, other than a feeling of overarching power and a sense of freedom, but it encroaches on the freedom, happiness and peace of those it’s inflicted upon…so, man up and quit it!

It’s uncouth

I think I’ve belabored the point plenty, but honestly, I’m going to take a moment to think of whether or not anything POLITE can be SHOUTED from the window of a car or to a lady. Yeah, no, got nothing. I can think of politely saying, “You have beautiful eyes,” or perhaps, “Your neck is that of a swan, ” or maybe even, “Would you like to join me for a fancy dinner upon the morrow, ma’ lady?” But pretty much anything else that you holler while beamin’ in your Beamer is going to be rude and disgust me. So save your breath.

It’s obnoxious and unsettling

Sometimes, being a woman is scarier than being a man. Sometimes we’re worried about not being strong enough or unable to defend ourselves. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and not everyone is nice with good intentions. Personally, when someone shouts at me, or honks their horn at me, I about jump out of my skin like a snake with fear because I don’t know what on earth is happening. Thanks for jolting my perfectly tame nervous system into fight or flight mode, jerk.
I’ve often thought about carrying mace with me when going for a walk or run. I know for a fact that mace in the eye does not feel good. Is that the kind of world we want to create? A country where mace is as common as a pair of socks, rather than a special twice-a-year Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Apple Pie spice?

I was really happy to see the article that woman wrote in the Indy Week. Unfortunately, for both she and I, our audiences are not exactly the type that need to be reading these words. But perhaps by making others aware, change can begin to occur.

GA

 

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

WorstDinnerEver

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.

licenseplata

The Good Writing, the Bad Hair, and the Ugly Skin

I went to the anniversary party this weekend of my friend, and former employer’s, business Luna’s Living Kitchen in Charlotte, NC. The party was fabulous and I connected with my co-workers, crying over how much I missed them, and staring in awe at how healthy, radiant and clear-skinned everyone was. I have a tendency to get myself in an emotional ditch and not be able to pick myself back up until I attend some fun social event geared towards being hyper and outgoing. “This time was going to be different,” I mentally announced on my way there.
juli

First, was battling the three hour car drive THERE which consisted of planning an outfit (which I would quickly change into at a stop light, of course), downing a hit of caffeine so I wouldn’t fall asleep at 9pm as I usually do, listening to no fewer than four mix CD’s, deciding whether or not any of the events of my road trip were blog worthy, and checking my sunburned lip catastrophe that was a glaring attention getter amidst my otherwise flawless complexion. The very last half hour of my journey was the positive self talk which every girl needs before a social event to calm the swelling waves of her nervousness.

Needless to say, when I got there, I was feeling pretty good. It made me so happy to chit-chat with everyone, and it was refreshingly the very opposite of small talk, rather a string of witty puns, heartfelt conversation, and lively updates. I refrained from overindulging in the many varieties of hummus and after all was said and done, I was feeling terrific about having had gone. I began questioning why I ever get sad or unhappy to begin with! When everything in life is so promising and so friendly, and so grand….like all the folks at the party!

Unfortunately, as with every high speed chase, or jailbreak, or caffeine rush……there is always a crash. Mine happened to be on my parents couch that night, which was conveniently located just outside of Charlotte.  IMG957232

The next day, on my drive back to Raleigh, after about the fourth time scanning every station on the radio, I was trying to make my brain do interesting things by forcing it not to think about anything at all, in hopes that I would think about something truly brilliant and original. I took a look at my uneven, overpriced Groupon haircut in the mirror and realized how petty and dull my blogs have been. Lots of whining and complaining about how unoriginal, and unliked I am. Then I started asking myself some soul-searching questions, what do people want to read? Why type of person do people want to be around? Who am I when no one is watching? What do I have to offer this world?

It boiled down to the following peanuts:

1. You’ll pretty much only be liked as much as you like yourself. People say this all the time and it’s rather cliché, or so I’ve always thought. But it’s really true….basically, the amount of crap you’re willing to put up with and take is the amount of crap you’re going to end up getting. It’s hard to trick your brain into things that it doesn’t think, but that really is one of the keys to happiness. That’s why it’s hard to be both smart and happy, so if you have both, you’ve struck GOLD!

2. People like to read about themselves or things they can identify with. My favorite book is called Running in Heels, by Anna Maxted, a story about a nearly 30-year-old who has all sorts of dilemmas and problems and personal neurosis. So many of the things that the main character does and says remind me of myself. Maybe that is why it’s my favorite book. Unfortunately, my other favorite is the Amelia Bedelia series, hence the blog name. I am rather accident prone and blunderous. The point being, we all like someone we can draw parallels with. We like attention, feeling as though there is some purpose for our very own individual existence. This is why women like flowers, because it demonstrates that you were thinking of us while you were off filling up your gas tank, or conquering the world all in a day’s work. It’s why cards and letters, and Facebook statuses with tags in them, and jelly donuts are all AWESOME. Ok, so I don’t really think jelly donuts are awesome…. so now the question is, what can I write about that people can identify with? I’m sort of weird, so clearly I can’t continue to write about myself. But what I can do is observe the world around me and share some of my insights about how one person chooses to navigate through this crazy life with two middle names and an energy deficiency. Likely at least 3% of my readers will be able to identify.

3. When no one is watching I’m a…..I can’t tell you what I came up with in response to this one, or else I’d be blowing my own cover!

4. What do I have to offer this world? I used to be a firm believer that no matter how much someone professed to love you, or like you, you should always like them slightly less. Be one degree colder, one more shoulder distance away from them than they are from you. No bear hugs, no kisses on the cheeks, keep an icey cool front in front of even your least critical fans. However, as I was pondering this little philosophy, I was realizing how completely and utterly I abandoned that theory as of about circa 2011 and started nose diving face first into the refreshing pool waters of loving people just BECAUSE despite what they can do for me, or how much they like me. I tried to ween myself off the word “hate” and “dislike” and it made me realize how many more people I truly LIKE! Sometimes I even like people that bash me over the head with berating words or disapproval. It’s the strangest thing, but it really worked for me. Now, I realize one of the key things that I have to offer the world, what we all have to offer is a giant, big heart full of love. I am so glad I stopped paying for expensive yoga classes to help me become a better person, the answer really WAS inside me all this time, like they tell you between breathing out your third eye and shavasana.

I’ll leave you with a final thought, in the form of an activity.

In honor of His Honor being born, can you remember where were you on the day of the Royal Wedding? April 29, 2011. It was a Friday. It took me about three days to recover this information, but I finally found it buried in the dusty crevices of my brain and I felt proud. Sometimes I like to try this activity, pick a random date and year and try to determine either your whereabouts, or your company, or your outfit, or your feelings from that very day. You might even have your Facebook timeline, old emails, journal entries, or school documents to help you out. It’s a really fun way to connect with people and compare where you were in your lives on xyz date in 1906.

20130720_202955

 

Decisions Decisions

Have you ever wondered WHY the grass is actually greener on the other side of the fence? The implications that has for the grass? It obviously has gotten far more manure than the grass on YOUR side of the fence. Or, alternatively, it could be fake grass like a football field, or pumped up with Genetically-Modified-Human-Killer-Plant-Grower chemicals and toxins that are harmful to everyone and everything within 7 corn fields. Farm

I have a really hard time making decisions, making up my mind, and setting forth. This is for several reasons:

1. Comparing myself to others

2. Not 100% knowing what I want until I try it and succeed/ fail

3. Setbacks

4. Not wanting it to affect someone else or something else that is going well in my life. 

A decision is usually made between two or more things that you are using to evaluate how you can make your life BETTER right, or conversely, NOT WORSE. You decide how to get to work based on which way will get you there fastest, or which way is more scenic, which way will have the least number of Starbucks coffee shops on the way so you can reduce your temptation opportunities from 10 to 1.

When making a choice, reaching a conclusion, signing on the dotted line it’s important to make sure first and foremost that you’re as equipped and informed as possible with the matter at hand. If you’re trying to buy a new car, don’t be a crash dummy and let them sell you an old one, know that NEW means zero miles. Know what you’re getting. Know who you’re getting it from and know how long it’s going to last you. Choosing between flavors of ice cream and what you want for dinner at night can be BIG stuff, really intense, deep, passionate and meaningful.
GERMANY

But, I find that it’s those hankering and ever present life decisions that are the hardest. They seem to be appearing more frequently as of late, and require mindful and constant tackling, rather than simply making up my mind and forgetting about it. Let me give you some examples:

When I first came home from France after tossing pancakes, skiing down countrysides, and making beds for four months, I had no job, no place to live, and a pitiful 600 dollars to my name. I had to decide where to go. The choice seemed easy as I was all busy falling in love and stuff, what normal fairytale seeking princess wouldn’t settle down where her true love lives. Although, the choice was not actually that simple at all. Living where he lived meant I had to start out living with my parents, as his city was 3 hours from theirs. I had to take my 26 year old self and relive my glory days of living with my parents, whom I hadn’t lived with for 8 years! I had to start essentially from scratch with my possessions, carrying with me only some clothes, books, and thankfully I was greeted by a bed and dresser my parents had set aside for me. Then I had to decide how long I would stay with them. How would I save up money to get to where I needed to go next? Where did I need to go next? How long would I be “in love”? Would I ditch this guy in a few months and run off to Arizona to meditate under the hot sun and drink cactus juice? I sure did miss my friends in NH, I missed aspects of my old life and the old me that I knew I was sacrificing in order to be blistering away under the hot NC smog. My mind often drifted to asking myself whether or not I had made the right decision and it seemed that I was able to recant and run for the hills at any moment if I wanted. So I was constantly making the conscious and active decision to STAY.

I’ve battled choices with going back to school and my future career, my place of residence, my friends, weighty job decisions, and a major vehicle choice as mine was in dire need of TLC.

Some decisions you feel really good after making them, it was the best you could do, or you made others around you feel good with what you chose. But sometimes, the greener grass, the pampered manure, is really just you having to put up with a lot more crap in achieving what you think is what you want.

I like to blame my inability to make decisions on my hormones. The fact that I am gung-ho about something one day and the next day feeling the need to purge it out of my life….it’s all the estrogen! Sometimes I compare where others are in their lives and I kick myself for decisions I’ve made or am making. I often make a decision and realize there is no way on earth I will ever accomplish it financially this month, unless the sky opens up and the god of hundred dollar bills (that’d be Benjie Franklin) blesses me with particles of his bounty. Then I have to take back my decision, consider the ripple effect and examine if it was what I REALLY wanted anyway. Maybe it’s just not for now and it will come back later. Some choices you get to make again, and others are pressing for your attention NOW and only NOW, lest you burn bridges by turning something down.

Here goes another biggie.

I wonder this, if we start to get more in tune with our hearts true desires, and able to hone in on those. I imagine things are less of a decision making process and more of a natural flow. Ebbing effortlessly into the next step because that is what we have always wished and hoped would be there, and we wish, work, and wait, we often end up where we are. Oh wait, we end up where we are regardless. I’ll let you decide what to make of it all.