To Thine Own Self Be True

Once in a while something I hear sticks with me in such a way that it is

Even when it seems like the wheel of fate is deciding, you always have a choice.

Even when it seems like the wheel of fate is deciding, you always have a choice.

stored in my personal memory vault of World View information. I would love to say that those dusty corners of my mind are exclusively populated by the likes of Sun Tzu and Henry David Thoreau. The truth is these fine minds oft find themselves in the dining company of Eminem, random movie stars, the occasional anonymous Pinterest quote, and one-liners from others who have briefly yet permanently touched my life.

The Daily Prompt called up a quote from the movie Renaissance Man. (Okay, well actually it comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but I’m a big enough person to admit that I first heard it in the movie.)

The prompt actually asked whether or not I read fiction and why, but the word choice is what sticks out to me today as I’m currently in the midst of some ridiculously difficult choices which really don’t feel like choices at all given the various alternatives.

“The choices you make dictate the life you lead.”

I simultaneously wish that people would embrace this concept and stop blaming their lives on circumstance while also nursing a fervent desire that fate truly was the master of my destiny.

While nothing – NOTHING! – irritates and disgusts me more than someone plaintively whining about or passively accepting their lot in their very changeable life, I also dream of the ease of letting someone else decide.

Wouldn’t it be nice to look to the universe for – and find! – signs that help you know you are forging ahead in the right direction? Or to simply sit down and pray at the end of the day and know that tomorrow’s decisions are already made? That choices really aren’t choices, and no matter what you do the outcome with be as it should be?

Given my profession, I have my own superstitions – never say the “Q” Word (quite), don’t “tempt fate” by talking about certain events, don’t make plans for vacations during fire/flood/hurricane season (And yes I recognize that pretty much means don’t make plans. Ever.). I also watch football, and I am reasonably certain that when I watch games we have a better chance at winning. (I’d tell you what team I support, but obviously that could jinx our chances, so….) I may even believe in karma. I’ve experienced enough of it to feel like there could be something to it.

But never in my life have I believed that passively accepting the unacceptable is an option.

Our lives are the product of but one thing: We. Make. Choices.

Your choices may, frankly, suck as I’m currently being reminded. It may be the classic “shit or shinola” scenario, but you still have a choice.

Quitting your job is a choice: risk not being able to pay your bills or be miserable is a choice.

Having an affairs is a choice: risk a horribly awkward and painful conversation and hurt someone or avoid that conversation and most likely hurt someone anyway (whilst also compromising your integrity) is a choice.

Buying a car, taking the bus, getting married, having a baby, choosing to stay single and free, waking up late, working out, eating healthy, crossing the street when the light is still red, saying something mean in the heat of an argument, or even doing nothing – THESE ARE ALL CHOICES.

So I urge you – and me – to remember that. Believe that. And try to make the choices that will make you better, stronger, braver, more fearless.

Or, rather, I urge you to make the choices you believe are the right choices for you. I might make different choices in the same situation, but that is why our lives are so exceptional – because they are all different, all fraught with risk and adventure, terror and elation, joy and sorrow.

The choices you make dictate the life you lead!!!!

Don’t let them be made for you. If you do, then you’re missing the point.

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Laughing in the Dark

There’s nothing so worth laughing at than our own misfortunes and misadventures. And let me tell you, that being the case: I. Am. Hilarious.

And although I am nothing even near to a cruel or callous person, I have found that it is sometimes necessary to laugh the darkness in the misfortunes around me.

As a slightly slacking enrollee of WordPress’s Blogging 101, I’ve been exploring the wide world of wordsmiths and was assigned to write a piece that expands on comment I left on a fellow blogger’s post. (I was assigned this challenge last week, hence the slightly slacking…)

In my comment I let the author of the very cleverly titled Ornamental Illnesses know that I connected with his sort of dark sense of humor. He quite skillfully addresses his own experiences with bipolar disorder (something he likens to a mental ‘electric boogaloo’) in a way in which I connect – with the utmost of intellectual morbid humor.

I jokingly tell people, by way of ‘easing’ them into my personality, that they don’t ever have to worry about being offensive so long as I’m in the room.

Now, I never intentionally shock or offend those around me. It seems to be a bi-product of my sparkling personality. A personality honed through years of living with an alcoholic, serving in the military following 9/11, and subsequently working in social/emergency services for the last decade-ish.

Add to that more or less being raised by pop culture, and I along with so many of my counterparts have two choices: cope by laughing at the darkness or you let it destroy you.

What does this look like, you ask?

Well, in my experience it looks like a guy who loses a limb and is henceforth and forevermore lovingly known as Stumpy; puns abounding in the face of disaster; someone dies and we put fake ashes in salt-and-pepper shakers at the memorial service; your significant other cheats and you throw an Independence Day Party…that kind of thing.

I remember a colleague of mine was once caught smiling and joking with a co-worker on film while on the scene of a particularly nasty incident where there was a loss of life. Everyone was concerned that this person was going to get smashed in the media – “Public Servant Makes Light of Dark Murder” or “Will Emergency Responders Take Your Bad Day Seriously?”

Some of you are probably nodding vigorously along with the upstanding citizens in the field of sensationalist investigative journalism. How could anyone blame you? These are serious matters to be taken seriously, after all!

People die. Animals are trained to tear each other apart for money. Earthquakes level communities. Fires destroy high rises or thousands of acres of land. Dub Step experienced a period of popularity, and Kristen Stewart continues to make movies!

So ask yourself what you think the “normal” human response to death, destruction, and suffering should be.

Now, what if your job was to deal with that? What if you went to work to train or react to the very worst the world has to offer? Every. Single. Day.

Now think about the endless amount of proof of the power of humor, like this blog from World of Psychology, or this from Firefighter Nation, or even consider that one of the best campaigns for emergency preparedness is based on the Zombie Apocalypse (It’s real people! Prepare yourselves!). The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, and the Center for Disease Control all use this strategy to engage Americans in talking about and becoming more prepared.

Would you advise against self preservation?

I’ll admit – I’m a loudmouthed, opinionated, crude, sarcastic, young woman who cusses like a sailor and whose only saving grace is my undeniable fashion savvy and incredible sense of humor. But, like so many of my colleagues, along with the crassness and cussing (in appropriate company only) comes caring, compassion, and absolute dedication for the people in my care and in the care of my organization.

(The fashion thing is what I call this the Nerd-Girl Coefficient – it’s my own theory based on a certain style that decreases the perceived threat level of the stereo-typed no-nonsense ((AKA no fun)) intellectual brunette thereby making them more approachable to other women while simultaneously giving them the advantage of being taken slightly more seriously yet still underestimated by male peers thus allowing them to use it as a strategy for catching said males off guard and ultimately winning important professional battles. More on this some other time.)

But the price to caring, is that you often times suffer right along with the people you’re trying to help. Without something to balance the hurt, not only do you not laugh at the darkness, but you stop laughing at anything.

So to cope, I find the tiniest sliver of light in the darkness – inappropriate or otherwise – and use it so I can keep helping, so I can keep facing the challenges. I use it to lead me on to the next person, and the next, and the next who might need someone to be there on their worst day.

So, maybe I’m an asshole. But maybe I’m good with that.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

(Or we can call this Diaries of a Hereditary Alcoholic. Though I only partake once a month or so…)

But in reality I’m just going to write drunk first and see how that goes. I might try editing sober the next time, but baby steps, right? And if nothing else, you should get a good chuckle out of my Sweet Tea vodka-and-lemonade-fueled blog post.

At the moment I’m fresh out of a hot bath sitting in the dark on my bed listening to Pandora, but when I go out, drunk looks a little (very little!) better one me:

iPhone Download 8-15-14 049

Trust me. That is better.

In case you’ve been slacking off in your reading or you’re a new visitor to RPSLS (thank you!), I’m taking part in Blogging 101. For today’s challenge we have…um…nothing.

It’s a “free day.” Normally I’d say, “Yay! No homework!” But writers actually enjoy this stuff, and as we’ve discussed I’m a closeted writer. Since I’ve been thinking about facing fears as of late, I thought I could take this intoxicated opportunity to talk one of my big fears: vulnerability.

(Let’s all take a moment to be impressed that I can spell vulnerability after two tumbler’s full of vodka…..Okay, you can continue reading now. )

So vulnerability…

In my estimation this requires a lot of trust. And that, as is turns out, is NOT something I do easily. I always see quotes about how “it’s the strong man who cries” or whatever, but for whatever reason that’s just not my style. Strong to me looks a lot like being your typical 1950’s dad who never breaks character – always calm, always with all the answers, always with poise and stoicism. The rock for everyone to lean on, the safe harbor to cling to.

My most vulnerable post to date was the series on my dad’s death. I am pretty proud of that because somehow that seems natural to me – not truly weak or vulnerable. Just…real. It is what it is, as they say.

Every other day, though?

I’m THE MAN.

Yes, I get that I’m actually a woman, and no I’m not part of the LGBT community, though I would be proud to be if I was. What I mean is, I’m the 1950’s dad. At work, with friends, in crowds, sometimes even at home.

I have no idea why I can’t break that wall down. Perhaps it’s a fear of rejection, or a fear of being seen as weak, or of being classified as a “girl” when in fact I’m just as capable (if not more so) than all the men next to me in line, or as a result of my upbringing… Or maybe it’s some combination of all of those things.  I’m just not the damsel in distress. I can’t be. Because I won’t be.

But here’s the thing…

Sometimes I wish I could be.

There are days when I’m so tired. When I’m so…done. When I want to just say exactly what I’m feeling to the person or event toward whom I’m feeling it.

My pride just gets in the way, I suppose.

I guess it’s a little sad, because there are many truths that will forever go unspoken for me. But that’s my choice. Or rather, that my fear and my pride silencing me.

But I know we’re all fearful, prideful, all broken sometimes.

So here’s the important question:

What are your fears? What is your vulnerability? Do you have someone who sees it? Who sees you?

So Here I Am

Good evening, dear readers, from the beautiful Rocky Mountain region.

As some of you know, I’ve had a blog for a few months now, and as I said in my initial post Do I Need to Be Here For This? I plan to make it a blog about whatever I feel like writing about, when I feel like writing about it, and in whatever way I choose to write it. (Aren’t I just a piece of work?)

So here I am…sassy pants and all.

I opted to join in on Blogging 101 to get force myself to put a bit more focus on my writing, and it made me start thinking: why am I doing this? Why write? Why blog at all and not just do the usual thing and keep a journal?

Truth be told, the reason I opted to keep a blog is two-fold – or, as is usually the case with me, multi-fold.

First of all (get ready for a big vulnerable admission, kids!): I want to be a writer. Gasp!

There. I said it.

If I could be anything in the whole world, I would choose to be a writer – of novels, of witty quotes, of blogs and Facebook posts and snarky emails and the summaries on the back of paperbacks…I would just write. And the way I hear it, if you want to be a writer the first thing you need to do is…well…write something.

So here I am…writing.

My job – my real job – is a serious one with big decisions, hard choices, constant challenges, and dire consequences. I was unhappy for a long time when I when I finally found that the only times I was at peace were in the gym (I mean, who can concentrate on job stressors when you’re more worried about the continuation of the breathing in and the breathing out), in the garage (always working on a project of some kind), and when I was reading or writing. Clearly a creative outlet was needed.

So here I am…being all creative-like.

I want to pour all my words out and let them tumble over each other until they fall together into a form that speaks to others, makes them think or laugh or cry or question or wonder.

I want to inform and inspire.

I want to find a place to be vulnerable and meditate on things outside of my small world.

I want to share that experience with others who want to do the same. To connect and explore and marvel together.

But I also want to get better at all of the that. I want to be criticized and judged and hear the painful truth so that, through the pain, I am polished.

So here I am.