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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Future Mel’s advice

This morning I was on my way to school, jamming to Brick House, thinking about a meme my niece had posted recently about healthy body image.  Like a lot of other women, I do struggle to reconcile my own body, which I know is healthy and strong, with the images I see around me in movies, on magazines and on the internet.  (Mind you, I don’t own a TV, I rarely see a movie, and the only magazine I subscribe to is Guitar Player.  So I’m not even as immersed in these images as most women are.)

As I so often do, I reminded myself that my waist isn’t as thin as a model’s, but my “thick” body is strong.  Could a wasp-waisted gal do what I do?  Could she move materials like I can?  Could she operate a pony threader?  Could she spend all day carrying wire around the job site with 15# of tools on her person?  I submit that she could not.

All that made me laugh a bit about my life.  Here I am, driving my paid-for vehicle from the apartment I can afford by myself to the school that comes along with the wickedly cool apprenticeship I got into, and I thought about how the circumstances of my life have turned out so differently from what I used to anticipate.  Then, one of those moments came when you think of the person you were ten or fifteen years back, and you wish you could tell that younger self that things really are going to be okay.

That’s when it happened.

I realized that ten or fifteen years from now, things will still be okay.  They’ll probably be totally different, and likely in ways I couldn’t even anticipate today.  But that future me would probably look back on me right now and have a message:

Don’t worry.   Things are going to change, not everything you’re doing now will work.  But you’re gonna be okay.  Life won’t happen the way you’re trying to make it happen, but good things will still come to you and you will find success.

And suddenly, some of my stress melted away.

Thanks, future me!

Election Night Message

I’ve kept (mostly) quiet about my political preferences this year.  Not because I’m ashamed, and not because I don’t want to discuss them or the issues at hand.

The reason I haven’t put them out there is that most of the people who do want to (I shall put this politely) “engage me in discussion” on political matters are actually only interested in two things: 1. beating other people over the head with their beliefs, and 2. hearing the sound of their own voices.

I have a handful of friends who I’m sure would have loved to actually discuss these matters rationally and calmly, with respect and appreciation for each other’s views, and with an openness of heart that would allow the possibility that not only could I be wrong, but they just might be wrong themselves.  These are unfortunately not generally the people who respond to my Facebook posts on religion, politics, or any other subject that might possibly engender disagreement.  The people who generally respond to such posts do so with personal insults against me or the person I support, ignorant statements that demonstrate a complete unwillingness to find the truth, thinly veiled talking points regurgitated straight from the source without any personal analysis, and lousy jokes on the level of, “That’s what SHE said!”

In short, I keep quiet ’cause I don’t want to feed the trolls.

That said, I do have something to say to those who supported Governor Romney this election season, and I figured I’d go ahead and say it.  In fact, this specifically goes out to the angry and frightened people, some few of whom are now expecting Armageddon to descend upon all of our heads in the form of hordes of undocumented illegal immigrants and flaming, tutu-wearing, glittery ‘mos who will steal their guns in the middle of the night and force their daughters to have abortions.  (Most of you are not that extreme, but some of you – please admit it to yourself if not to me – are actually afraid of the next four years.)

Okay, I’ll allow that you’re worried.  In fact, if you feel that your candidate was the best choice for the country, and the guy who won does not have the right answers, and therefore you are concerned with where the country is headed, then I actually applaud you.  People who think that way are concerned with the state of our nation because they want to see America succeed.  They want to not only be proud of our past, and proud of many things we have done and are doing, but to also be proud of our present.  They want to stand up and say, “We’re doing things right.  We have our shit together.  We take care of ourselves and each other, and we make this world a better place.”

Guess what?  I am 100% with you on that.  I want America to be a great and powerful and strong and well-run country too!  I want our citizens to be healthy and have the opportunity to succeed too!  I want a nation that is both safe and respected around the world too!

We won’t always agree on how that can happen or what we need to do to improve things.  We may not even agree on what “improved” means!  But I want you to know that, just like you, I want a strong and safe and healthy and successful America.  I also think that we have a great foundation and we do a lot of things right.  And I also think that we face a lot of challenges because we do a lot of other things wrong.  So we should be able to sit together over a drink or some coffee or a meal and talk about it like civilized humans.

Now let’s deal with this fear issue.  In 2004 I was afraid that Bush would be re-elected.  I didn’t like what he’d done with his first four years (I voted for him the first time!) and I was really worried about what a second term would do to the country.  Well, we found out.  It screwed us up, big time.  It left us with a huge national debt and no way to get out of it, bad blood with other nations, regulations that are friendly to corporate entities and the richest of the rich, and policies that drain the average worker of their life’s blood.

I don’t like these parts of our nation.  I don’t like the callous way our poorest and neediest people are treated.  I don’t like the way money can buy you damned near anything while the have-nots suffer indignity and privation.  I don’t like the way our elections go to the people who spend the most or the way our ballots themselves aren’t protected at the most basic levels.  (I’m looking at you, states with unverified electronic machines, and at you, Wisconsin that doesn’t let the military have their absentee ballots in time.)  I don’t like the attacks on women’s rights or the way a certain religious tradition has (since the ’50s) been legitimized.

Several of my friends and family members have talked about leaving the country if Obama lost.  Several different friends are now talking about moving because he won.

Don’t run away, people!  Stay here and work to make the country a better place!

Don’t like the way your Congresscritter voted?  By god, pick up the phone!  Take two minutes of your life and tell them why you thought they should have voted differently.  Or better yet, call them before they vote and tell them the following:  “As your constituent, I expect you to represent me.  I expect myself and my fellow constituents to be your highest priority and your most important so-called interest group.  I expect you to do what is right for the people of this district.  And I expect you to vote for/against this issue.  I and my neighbors are watching you, and we’re watching who contributes to your campaign, and we’re going to know if you throw us under the bus in favor of deep pockets.  We’re watching.”

Yes, people, I am telling you to get involved.  Once a month, sit down and look up a pet project or cause or idea.  Are you from a military background?  Do you ride a motorcycle?  Do you have kids?  Are you worried about the number of homeless you see on the streets?  Did you hear about a methadone clinic going in down the street from your favorite store?  What is on your mind?  What is bothering you today?

Look it up.  The entire internet lays before you – LOOK IT UP!!  Find two articles that support your position and two that oppose it.  Read all four of them.  Think about them.  If they spark any questions, look those up too.  Get yourself some answers.  And then – you guessed it – make that call!  Call your Congresscritter, call the President, call the Mayor, call your City Councilperson, call your County Commissioner, call the Governor.  Call whomever is in a position to do something about the problem – and tell them you want them to do something about the problem!

Or you can write a letter.

Or you can send an email.

Or you can show up on their doorstep (perhaps on Lobby Day with a bunch of your like-minded friends?) and tell them to their face.

Or you can wait till they do a town hall meeting in your area and tell them to their face then.

Are you catching on to my theme?  Find some issue that pushes your buttons, learn about it, and do something!  Voting is an important part of our civic duty, but if all we ever do is vote and then bitch about the results, we are not doing enough.

We.  Can.  Do.  More.

Please, don’t be afraid of what the next four years may bring.  Don’t focus on getting away from America, don’t focus on what might go wrong or what might happen later.  Focus on what’s happening now.  Focus on what you can fight for, or fight against, or change.

Six years ago, when the REAL ID Act was being discussed, I was able to go to Olympia for a Lobby Day.  I was able to meet with Rep. Eickmeyer and sit in his office discussing the bill with him.  We talked in particular about the technology used and the security problems it poses.  I will always remember the satisfaction I felt when I was able to teach him more than he already knew about it, and I will always be proud that I influenced his vote by talking to him that day.  That’s right, my visit changed the way my representative voted.  It’s an incredible feeling.  It’s powerful, and it’s humbling at the same time.  Because you feel like you’re part of the process, part of something bigger.  You start to own your government.  You don’t feel so much that the government owns you.

That’s a feeling every American should have.  In my personal opinion, the apathy and low voter turnout and acceptance of crappy results or poorly written legislation and its unintended consequences and all of that garbage would disappear if we got involved in the process.

So write a frikkin letter already!  Make a bloody phone call!  If you’re upset by the result, now is not the time to grab a beer and bitch with your friends about how bad it’s going to get.  Now is not the time to go to church and pray for the country to miraculously be saved.  Now is not the time to put all your life savings into gold bars and hide them in your custom bomb shelter with forty years’ worth of canned foods and bottled water.

Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and go talk to the people in power.  Now is the time for you, my Joe the Plumber Republican friends who work for everything you have and worry about the future your children will inherit, to step up and get involved.  Now is the time for you to tell your elected officials that you are paying attention to them.   Now is the time to learn more about the people on the other side of the aisle, to figure out what they want, and to push forward in those areas where your interests coincide.

Now is the time to make a better America.

Because people, we are all being played against each other.  And those who sit on the sidelines are exacerbating the problem, letting the people who pull the strings keep doing what they do.  So get on the field and start playing the game.

Healing, perhaps

I guess it’s more than perhaps, it’s more like “apparently.”

Five years, seven months, three days, one hour, and forty-nine minutes ago, the first man I truly adored was killed.  He’d come into my lonely, desperate, incomplete life, and he filled all the empty spaces that bothered me.

Then suddenly he was gone.

Being the type of person I am, I of course pulled myself up by the bootstraps and went on with life.  *sigh*  I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really know how to grieve.  I don’t know how to lose.  I don’t know how to be hurt.  I just have no idea how to do any of that.  My default reaction is to take a deep breath, consider all the good things that still exist in my life, and move the hell on.

End of story.

After all, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how awful things seem, at least I’m still breathing, right?  At least I still have my health, and my sanity (or as much of it as I ever had!), and my ability to support myself, and my loving and wonderful family and friends.  So why should I dwell on what I’ve lost?  Why should I live in the past?  Why should I cling to something or someone that’s gone?

Unfortunately, my analytic mental processes don’t actually control everything that goes on inside.  So of course, recovering from The Loss Of My Entire Life was not (shall we say) a quick or easy process.  In fact, it’s still not finished.  Not even close.

But a few weeks ago I turned a corner, and tonight I turned another one.  (Does that mean I’m headed back the way I came?  *shudder*)

I spent 28 years wishing for someone who would make me feel wanted, and loved, and worthy, and wonderful.   I didn’t have him for very long, but he was instrumental in building me up to the (apparently) confident person I am today.

I’ve spent the past 5 years knowing that I’ll never find another person like him, and I’ve been not only grieving his loss, but the loss of that love and the loss of the way the love made me feel and the hope that I’d ever feel that loved again.

Oooh, there it is.  There’s the first epiphany.  I finally came to see that what I miss most about Mike Lucas is the way I felt when we were together.  Maya Angelou said it best, you know.  I will always remember the way he made me feel.  And I know I’m not the only one – anytime he walked into a room, the whole place would light up.  Everybody knew him, everybody loved him, everybody wanted to be around him.  He was just that kind of person.  Can you blame me for wanting to feel that again?

So a few weeks ago I realized that, and I realized that – wait for it – there might be someone, somewhere out there, who someday might make me feel that good again.  Who might make me feel that wanted again.  Who might make me feel like I belong again.

It could happen.  I believe it could.

So voila, there’s some hope.  And for me, hope is like air, in that I cannot live without it.  (I almost didn’t, in fact, but that’s another story.)  I now have hope that the thirteen months and thirteen days I spent with my First Mate don’t have to be the sum total of my belonging.

Huge.

Tonight I came to another confusion, as we like to say in my family.  You see, this Saturday would have been Mike’s 44th birthday, and we were talking about how to celebrate it.  I’m thinking a family dinner and maybe a toast…  Mom suggested releasing paper lanterns with messages written on them, which I really like.

But that got me thinking about how to remember him.  And how I can keep him in my life, even though he isn’t exactly in my life any more.  I acted the ass so thoroughly when I lost him (grief makes us do stupid things) that none of his friends or family talk to me any more.  His murderer is also his widow, so she gets to keep his name till she dies, she even got a frikkin’ television show.  Yeah, what do I get?  I get to feel like I’m nothing and nobody.  Which I am not, not by a long shot!  But it does feel that way.

Tonight I realized that I can, and should, find a constructive way to remember Mike.  Maybe find a cause to help in his name, maybe create something, maybe make a new tradition.  I don’t know what, I’m still working that out.  But I realized tonight that I’ve been looking for a place to put him in my life.  And because I haven’t had a place for him, he’s been floating all over and getting in the way, so to speak.

I think I’m finally getting started with this “moving on” and “healing” stuff that people have been talking about.  Sure has taken a while…  But I guess I’m a pretty tough nut to crack on some things.

Five years, seven months, three days, two hours, and twenty-one minutes.  And counting.

Depression

K, so if admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery, then I shall do so.

I’m dealing with some depression right now.  I’m at a crossroads in my life, and I’m feeling ready for a change.  But the change is taking so long in coming, it’s getting frustrating.  I was just saying last night, I’ve gone through the part where I let go of my plans and embrace the new paradigm.  So I’ve turned the mental corner and I’m ready for the new thing now.  But it isn’t coming!  So I’m still stuck here in my old life, the one that won’t work and isn’t working and that I’ve already given up.  But I can’t go on to my new life yet.

So I’m feeling really out of sorts and it’s really messing with my head.  I guess the only thing to do is soldier through and deal with it, huh?  At least I have friends who I can turn to and get it off my chest, which I really need to employ more often because it’s a much better coping mechanism than my usual ones.

Know what?  I think I’ll go clean the affirmations off my mirror and write a new one.  Something along the lines of, “You will succeed if you apply yourself.”  With the IF really big.

And then tonight I’m going to go see my wonderful family and celebrate my nephew’s birthday and bask in the love and appreciation and togetherness and understanding and BELONGING that makes me so happy to have been born into this bunch of people.

Take that, depression.

Refinement

There’s a bit of religious imagery that has stuck with me since childhood.  In I Corinthians 3 Paul talks about all of our works being tried by fire, and the unworthy things are burned away and the worthy things are refined.  He says if we build with lasting materials our works will survive the fire and we’ll be rewarded, but if we build with “straw and wood” it will be burned away and we’ll be left with no reward.

I’m not religious any more, and I don’t believe that this will ever literally happen.  But I can tell you for sure that it happens to me all the time right now.  Troubles come along, and they set my life on fire.  And let me tell you, having your life set on fire is not fun!  It burns, it hurts, and it’s really scary to see everything you’ve built start to melt down around you.  But I’ve found that when I face my fears, and come to terms with reality, and accept what is really happening, I can use the situation to become a better person.  But it’s not automatic, in fact it takes quite a bit of effort.

First, you have to ask yourself how you got into this situation.  Think of what you could have done differently.  Imagine a similar situation happening again, and see yourself doing it differently next time.  Recognize the flaw, the mistake, the error, the blindness, whatever it was in yourself that either caused or allowed the bad thing to happen.  If nothing you did contributed to or exacerbated the problem, then think of what you can learn from what you’re going through.

The important part is to look.  Look at what you’ve done.  Look at who you are.  See yourself, see the great parts and the icky ones both.  See the things you love about yourself.  (If you can’t see them, ask a loved one to tell you one thing that they like about you.  Then remind yourself of that wonderful characteristic EVERY DAY.  Tell your mirror three times a day how awesome you are because of ________.  Repeat till you believe it.  Then repeat some more.)  See the things you don’t like about yourself, and then figure out what you can do about them.  (If you can’t figure out what to do about it, ask a loved one for advice.  If you don’t have any loved ones that you can trust with either of these tasks, that’s what professional counselors are for.)  Look at yourself honestly, seeing both good and bad.  Know thyself, as it has been wisely said for millenia.

When the trouble-dragon comes around and starts burning your whole world down, it’s natural to fight it.  It’s natural to want to stay wherever we are, and to look at the destruction as a bad thing.  But pay attention.  The things in your life that are worth saving – genuine relationships, healthy behaviors, a positive attitude, a strong moral code – will survive the fire.  They may be melted a little, they may need to be polished and get a little TLC after all that stress.  But they’ll survive.  And the things that aren’t worth saving – fair-weather friends, unhealthy habits, negative attitudes, loose personal ethics – will be fueling the fire, and they’ll be consumed by it.  After the fire dies down, you’ll find yourself with more room to breathe and to rebuild.

So I’m not afraid of the fire.  I don’t particularly enjoy going through it, I’ll tell ya that much!  But I know that whatever it takes away, even if it’s something I desperately wanted and depended on, I can survive on what’s left from it.  And I know that whatever is broken down in the fire can be rebuilt afterward.

Dandelions

What do you think of when you see those bright yellow flowers in your lawn or garden?  Do you make a beeline for the weed killer?  Maybe you should revise your dinner plans instead.

Yep, I’m talking about eating dandelions.  That’s right, they’re edible!  What part?  ALL OF THEM.

The leaves (especially when they’re young) can go into your salads, or when they’re older (and a bit tougher) saute them with a little garlic and onion.  The flowers can go into salads too, or if you like you can actually batter and deep-fry them!  And then of course, there’s dandelion wine, for which you use just the yellow parts of the flowers.  The root (you know, every gardener’s least favorite part of the plant) is also edible, and is at its best between fall and spring when the colder weather causes the plant to convert starches to sugar.

Dandelions grow anywhere, propagate like wildfire, and are chock-full of important minerals and vitamins.  There’s iron, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, a slew of B-vitamins, and vitamins C, E, and D.  All in high concentrations!

There’s only a few plants that are really similar to dandelions, and in America the most common is coltsfoot.  You can tell the difference in a couple of ways, but the easiest is to look at the leaves.  A dandelion’s leaves are long and skinny, with distinct saw-tooth edges.  Coltsfoot leaves are rounder, kind of heart-shaped in fact, and they’re hairy (sometimes on both top and bottom, sometimes only on one side).  Coltsfoot won’t hurt you if you do eat it (it has medicinal use to suppress coughs), but it’s not quite as good for you as dandelion.

So next time you see one of these guys and start thinking mean thoughts, change your perspective.  And eat the darned thing!  That’ll learn it…

Thanks to http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dandelion.html from where I got the picture and some of the nutritional info.

She’s dead, Jim.

It’s official, people, my desktop is toast.  I tried, Albert tried, Jared tried, and all we’re getting is the blue screen of death.  Seeing as I don’t have the fundage to throw at her, I must say RIP to my old computer.

Not so sad about the computer, especially since I have this SNAZZY NEW LAPTOP (thanks to my fabulous family).  But very, very sad about all the lost photos and data.  Irreplaceable photos of Mike and the stuff we did, family photos, lots of them.

Life lesson #4,832:  BACK UP YOUR DATA REGULARLY!!!

UPDATE July 18:  IT’S ALIVE!!!

Bless Earl’s heart, he played with the old beast and get her up and running, got all my data backed up, and now it’s been copied on to Ubu where it’ll actually do me some good!  Three cheers for Earl!  Hip, hip, huzzah!  Hip, hip, huzzah!  Hip, hip, HUZZAH!

Of course, the Word files don’t want to open…  But I think I’ll scour the interwebs for how to convert files.  Earl has enough on his plate with the wedding, fixing up the house, etc…