Bluebird Rising

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

On Boston: A Quick Recap (Resources & Links) April 17, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 2:27 pm

First, thank you to the hundreds of you that read yesterdays post amid the psychotically overstimulating news environment that occurs during a tragedy.

Thank you to those who told me that they related, because you yourself know how much darker the dark feelings feel when you think you are feeling them alone. Thank you for reminding all of us that this is never the case. In my opinion, you helped others in the most important aspect of healing.

Thank you to those who told me I was wrong, because you are from who I can learn. This world, this blog, are not about us being in agreement. That would make me very bored, and a bored Amy drives everyone crazy. (Trust me on this. That’s how I lost my eyebrows.) And although I pride myself on being able to read people and their emotions very well-hell, I even bet my physical safety on it every day I walk into work-that doesn’t mean I know it all. Or a fraction of it all. Or anything at all, really. I do hope that next time, or at some point in your own time, those of you who disagree with me feel comfortable enough to comment publicly. Until then, I heard you. I really, really did.

And thank you to the people who asked for more information, not necessarily about current events, but about my train of thought in writing this piece. This is what I can offer for you.

#1) If you would like another opinion on how the Boston Marathon affected another writer, my friend Stacy shared this link of her friend who also took the time to organize their thoughts:

http://theartificialswedeners.blogspot.com/2013/04/boston-marathon-2013.html

#2) Remember when we talked about liking to read what other people write when it is more eloquent than ourselves? Well, I came across this article randomly yesterday and it seemed all too perfect. It’s a fascinating interview with a law professor about why the concept of an “eye for an eye” should be commonplace, and the legal and moral implications that encompass that.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/ideas-innovations/Where-An-Eye-for-An-Eye-Should-be-the-Letter-of-the-Law–201946911.html#.UWui02O7HAU.email

#3) And finally, on happiness. I have read half of the book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive
Thinking by Burkeman. I say half because then I lost track of a week of my life and had to return it to the library. But, I am looking forward to checking it out again and finishing it, because I simply ADORED it. Seriously, read the book description. If you identified with yesterday’s post, in any way, this book will have something for you. Maybe we could even start our own little disenchanted book club.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Antidote-Happiness-Positive-Thinking/dp/0865479410

And with that, take care. Of yourself. Of each other.

Eat a cupcake. Go for a walk. Watch a favorite movie.

Cry. Laugh.

Feel everything you need to feel.

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On a Little Town Called “Boston” April 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 6:10 am

Guys. I’m tired.

And by tired, I mean irritated. And maybe by irritated I mean spiteful. And maybe by spiteful I might even mean vengeful. The point is, I have been searching for weeks and I still can’t find the right word. The point is, that even an ugly word like vengeful doesn’t seem that severe of a divergent from whatever this feeling is that has been clouding me for a few months.

For the first three weeks, I let the word vengeful scare me.

It might even scare you right now.

But don’t let it. We’ll get there. I promise.

So, until we find a word that describes whatever this is, let’s just use tired. It’s seems the most encompassing, at the very least. It’s been a combination of many things that has made me tired. This long journey into spring weather, that’s a big one. Or the fact that I have maxed out my employers annual allowance of funeral leave for every one of the last three years. It’s because, other than generous funeral leave, I continue to work at a sadistic job that drains me much more than the 40 hours a week I spend there. A job that I told myself I would leave before I became this hateful. A job that I now cannot, financially, afford to leave.

It gets tiring enough that even the little things begin to drive you crazy. You find yourself honking at drivers talking on their cell phones just because it’s your biggest pet peeve, though this point is virtually null and void since they’re always in the process of creating chaos anyways. It’s getting frustrated at people who hold up check-out lanes at the grocery store with their stupid ways of doing things.  It’s glaring at screaming children because they have idiots for parents, it’s wanting to offer snotty comments to people who move about the world without any regard to others, it’s realizing that hating people isn’t as hard as you had hoped.

Not that the world owes you anything. Not that your little mundane life is anymore important than anothers. You will even readily admit that millions of people have it worse off than you for no reason other than being dealt a bad hand. But you begin to realize that, how you were raised, that you must always strive to be good, and what you have been led to believe, that good and evil are always in battle with each other, is tiring.

And really, when you get down to it, it’s not even these situations themselves that are making me tired. It’s the effort that I put into them that starts to seem stupid. See, when you go for so long without seeing the benefit of being a “good” person, of being “nice”, of being “happy”, that is what drains you. That is what is making me tired. That is what leaves me with an angry feeling that I cannot define in words.

Me. No words. Imagine that.

And, it turns out, the reason you have no words is because you have never been given any. None that you want to use to describe yourself, at least. Because if you aren’t good, and nice, and happy, what are you? What does that leave?

I woke up yesterday to a text from Dex that said I should turn on the news. It was the first thing I did, and an hour later I found myself still fixated on the couch watching the aftermath of Boston. I was saddened, hurt, and confused. But mostly, I felt enraged. Enraged that people who blow up other people exist, enraged that this caused physical damage to so many, and enraged that this caused emotional damage across the country.

During this time, the same video footage circulating over and over on CNN, I also grabbed my laptop to catch up, since I had missed the first two hours while sleeping. I ended up, as we all do, also scanning social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Except that, what I found there, a mere hour or two after the incident, definitely wasn’t comforting.

Social media was inundated, INUNDATED, with quotes, and photos, and shared status updates from writers more eloquent than ourselves, about “keeping our faith in humanity.” About “looking for the helpers.” About how “only light can cast out the dark.” About how “we, the good, will always outnumber you.”

Not one person, NOT ONE, said that the events of the day made them sick to their stomach. That they couldn’t stop crying. That they were enraged. That they never entertained the idea of an eye for an eye.

These emotions, apparently, does not an adequate status update make.

Now, I understand that we are all coping, and that we all do that differently. And that, yes, keeping faith in humanity is important. Crucial, even. I love quotes, and photos, and reading writers  more eloquent than myself. In fact, I have entire notebooks full that I look at from time to time to evoke emotion when I just can’t find the words.

Again, what I was worried about was the timing. An hour after the news spread. Maybe two. To continue into the evening, and up to this minute, of course.

Here’s what worries me.

This immediate need for gratification of the good allows virtually no chance to feel anger. Rage. Hatred, even. It takes all of the negative emotions that “good”, “nice” “happy” people should not feel and packages them into neat little boxes out of our sight. It reiterates the image that has been promoted our entire lives; don’t waste your time feeling angry. Becoming enraged, maybe even envisioning an eye for an eye, makes you no better than the evil. Let’s heal by immediately focusing on whatever the salvageable “good” is.

The thing is, if we do not know how to give anger a name, welcome it into our emotions, acknowledge it and, in due time, release it in a healing fashion, how can we ever truly be “good” or “nice” or “happy?” See, inherently happy people are not born as a genetic anomaly, and they also are not all year-round residents of the warm beaches of San Diego. We choose if we are going to be happy. Every single day of our lives. And maybe to be at our happiest, we also have to feel all the feelings. The tough ones. The mean ones. The downright fucking ugly ones.

I want us to stop shying away from anger, and rage, and despair. They’re not only the feelings of evil people. They are not feelings that provide evidence that the bad side “has won.” They are a very valid part of the human experience, no less important, and nothing to be feared. Don’t deny they exist. And once you can do that, don’t rush past the feeling of them. Give them time to marinate, and mature, and grow into an even more educated experience of what choosing to be happy really means.

See, I tell you this because this is what has happened to me in my life. I had no words for the vengeance that I felt, because I didn’t want to admit that a part of me was “that” sort of person. I had grown up learning, from every outlet imaginable, that “that” sort of person was shameful. That “that” sort of person should be hidden. That I should be better than “that.”

And I became vengeful because that’s what happens to mild angers shoved down over time. And then it suddenly felt like too big of a problem to address; that which started as a minor, mental frustration had metastasized into a viciousness of tongue, thoughts, and actions.

And, in the end, I realized that I do need to feel all the feelings. That I had to yell about people in my car with my windows closed, and punch pillows, and drink too much wine, and cry burning tears, and write things that no one will probably ever see. It was because, and when, I gave it a name, and acknowledged it, and accepted it, that I could then begin the process of releasing it. And that is when it doesn’t seem scary and forbidden anymore.

I learned that good people can’t, and shouldn’t, and won’t, always be “good.” That we all think and imagine things that we would categorize as “evil,” but it is not our thoughts that define us, but our actions. That the more we fear anger, the feelings of it, and the process of acknowledging it, the more dangerous the “good” people of the world actually become.

 

On the Death of Animate Things April 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 2:15 pm

I learned that as many times as you get hit by a train, it never feels differently than the first.

I learned that the moment you think of sending someone flowers, you should. Because later might be too late. Because while you won’t remember the exact reasons why you didn’t, you will remember that none of them were good.

I learned that you should save more cards. Especially the hand-written ones postmarked from half-way across the country. Especially the ones celebrating a little old holiday like St. Patrick’s Day. Especially the ones that say “thanks for making me laugh.”

I learned that “I’m sorry” and “I love you” are somehow simultaneously the most sought after and the most insufficient phrases in the English language, although I’m still working out how that can be.

I learned that even the girl who is often credited with being too analytical, too emotionless, can’t answer the most basic of questions, like “what happened?”

and “what now?”

and “why?”

and “why her?”

and “why now?”

I learned that there is no greater frustration than that.

I learned that, at some point in your life, amid a delicately ferocious balance of abandoned youth and future foresight, a perfect storm encompasses you, and funerals become not only about the death of your grandparent, or uncle, or aunt-this person who is obviously someone’s parent, but never potentially yours. Then, suddenly and violently-without warning-funerals become insight into the fact that this person was not only someone’s parent, but could potentially your parent. This person who has gone is now the parent of someone who is finally younger than you. The parent of someone who, like you, expected their mother to gracefully walk into old age. The parent of someone who could so easily have been you.

 

On the Death of Inanimate Things March 20, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 12:57 pm

graycandle

I once bought this candle.

Okay. I don’t know why I say “once” like it was the long, lost past. It was the past, yes. Specifically, it was 1997.

And I know it was at Kohl’s, because I walked the few blocks that it was from the Charlotte Street house I (mostly) grew up in. And I know this candle was in the home department, and not some tediously thrown together endcap, because I had to walk past the lingerie department to get there, and, in 1997, lingerie was still an embarrassing fact of life. I know said candle cost $9.99, because with the 15% off sticker, and accounting for sales tax, I bought it with a ten dollar bill. And I know the other woman in the home aisle with me must have been then the age that I am now. She looked so mature. So distinguished. Not like 30 year olds look these days, of course. She bought Lilac Breeze.

I don’t know why I remember things this way, either. I assure you, it is both comforting and haunting.

But anyways.

It, the candle I bought in 1997, with a ten dollar bill, in the Kohl’s home department, just past the lingerie, while sharing the aisle with a 30 year old who had a penchant for Lilac Breeze, was scented to mimic a rainy day, rustically simple, yet thinly veiled with the promise of new beginnings. Just like the rain smelled that last day I spent with you. It was mottled gray in color, some spots dark and angry, some spots teasing out a pearl-like glimmer of hope. Just like the sky that last day I spent with you.

In fact, everything about that candle brought me back to that day I spent with you.

(And, you must realize, of course, that I’m not talking about the day I bought a candle in 1997, with a ten dollar bill, in the Kohl’s home department, just past the lingerie, while sharing the aisle with a 30 year old who had a penchant for Lilac Breeze anymore.)

But anyways.

It stood about seven inches tall; tall enough to notice, short enough to not draw attention. It stood on a clear coaster-sized platform, sold separately, ($2.99) to prevent damage incurred by dripping wax.

The wax hardly ever dripped, though. I guess I just really never burned it much.

But know that this candle didn’t live a short life, either. It didn’t sit in a cabinet, unused, underappreciated. It was always there, reminding me of that last day I spent with you. From my childhood home, to a college dorm, to a college apartment, to a college house, to a post college apartment, to a post college townhome, and to another post college apartment.

On my bookshelf, my coffee table, my nightstand. You might have seen it a thousand times, or perhaps a thousand just like it, although I know you wouldn’t remember. That was exactly the point.

It was that final post college apartment, the one after the townhouse, where it was effectively laid to rest. The apartment on Grand Ave. A street noble in name. A neighborhood I know you would have liked.

It died, not because I no longer remembered that day, but because I could finally be at peace with beginning to forget.

 

On Why I’m Wasting My Vote October 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 11:00 am

First, this post needs a little background.

Background study #1:

On a random August Thursday at work, spending some quality time on Facebook, I stumbled onto that Presidential quiz. You know the one. The one where you answer questions about social, economic, and foreign matters. The one that spits out a map of how much you identify with each presidential candidate. The one that tells you: “Here, we boxed you up into nothing more than statistics and this is who you should vote for. Thanks for playing.”

If I hadn’t been at work, and therefore nearly bored to tears at 0300 am, I would have skipped right over this Facebook post. Because I had done them before. I knew what they would say. My answer is always the same:

Congrats! You are socially liberal. Congrats! You are fiscally conservative. And, since it’s split nearly 50/50, we don’t know who the fuck you should vote for either. But best of luck to you!

And the answer was again the same on this boring August night. I was still socially liberal. I was still fiscally conservative. But I was finally given a third answer. An 80% match. To some guy named Gary Johnson, who I was embarrassed to admit to (as a well-read, educated, current news junkie) having never really heard of. And so I Googled him. And became intrigued. And then I let all of the feelings about these sorts of things marinate for a while.

Background study #2:

On a random September evening, I watched the first episode of The Newsroom, a show that was recommended to me by various people. The short clip below was in the first episode, and it is nothing short of phenomenal. It basically says, in about three minutes time, every political thing I had been letting marinate as I followed Romney and Obama tramp all over the country, promoting their ideas not nearly as often as I saw them belittling each other.

(In the scene, the three panelists are on a college campus. They have all been asked the question (by the blonde girl in the audience) “What makes America the greatest country in the world?” The woman panelist has been answering in liberal terms, the man on conservative terms. Jeff Daniels, in the middle, has, until this point, refused to seriously answer any questions at all, to the frustration of the moderator.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h__uutzcQXc

P.S.-I think I’m going to like this show. Very much.

And so, with that as your background, let us begin.

Now, let me make one thing immediately clear. This is not a post about who you should vote for. As I stated above, my political reasoning is across the board because even I find my answers so, so , SO dependant on whatever specific situation we are discussing. I am still working out what I want MY politics to mean to ME. I’m sure as hell not going to waste YOUR time explaining what MY politics should me to YOU.

And really, this post isn’t even about “politics.” Not in the sense that I want to discuss policy, or candidate inadequacies, or binders full of women. This post is about me personally trying to find a way to still love a nation that has run out of answers in its current form. It’s about wondering why we aren’t fixing something that is clearly broken. It’s about why we are too proud to retract, and admit we are walking down the wrong path, and demanding we stop and check our compass.

I’m not saying that voting for Gary Johnson is the answer, just because that was the direction that my political quiz steered me. Vote for Jill Stein. Vote for Virgil Goode. Vote for Rocky Anderson. Do it proudly. What I AM saying is that voting for someone other than those who are too entrenched in the two-party system to see clearly anymore can only benefit the future.

But it is like wasting a vote, you say.

I get that. I was one of those people too. All of these ideas that have been marinating, you probably noticed, seemed to have happened in a short time period. In fact, the idea that I never was truly happy with a political party has been floating around in my brain since I first voted at 18 years old in the 2000 election. And yet, the fallacy of “wasting a vote” has colored how I have voted in every election since. I was not above this thinking, either. I understood it. But I have gotten to the point where enough is enough. And yes, this decision happened quickly. But when you finally find a candidate within politics that doesn’t feel even vaguely foreign, you excitedly jump right in. Compare that feeling to love at first sight. Who argues with that?

And voting for someone other than a Democrat or a Republican will feel foreign at first. And like everything when it is brand new, it will often seem unworthy of a fight. A waste of time. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

But wait. Let’s think of other examples of this. Other examples of when, to the majority, new-fangled ideas felt like a foreign language when English was working just fine.

Like letting women vote?

Like passing civil rights?

And even, here at home, like our very own marriage amendment?

Has anyone here in Minnesota that feels so strongly about defeating the marriage amendment (myself included) thought “well, it’s never really worked so well before, so let’s not waste our time”? Or, “you know, I think limiting the freedom to marry is wrong, but making my voice heard is SO much work.” No. When you want to challenge the status quo, and fight routine, and enhance acceptance, you dig in and find a way. How is this really, this presidential race, on principle, any different?

But politics aren’t broken, you say. It’s the fault of the other side.

Okay. Well. I’m very open to other viewpoints, but that just got you slapped. Twice.

Attacking the other side is not a defense. And it’s not an offense, either. It’s a whiny, manipulative way to argue. I won’t stand for it, and we as a whole shouldn’t either. It allows the attacking side to take no responsibility for anything that has happened. Does it occur because bipartisanship is a problem? Yes, and we’ll get to that. But can you really have faith in a leader who led for an entire term and can’t admit to learning a thing? Because that’s how that statement comes across. It’s basically saying “Everything would be just fine if the other side had just shut up and voted with us.” It does not allow for any ownership. I want a President who says “Hey. Let’s take an honest look at the last four years. I think this worked well. This didn’t go as planned, and this didn’t work at all. Here is what I learned from that. This is the new direction I want to take these ideas.”

If we do not command that our President doesn’t bury himself in blaming in the other side, but admits his own failures, and offers a fresh perspective, how can we truly know that they have learned anything at all? Don’t we want to them to be learning? And how can we learn from anyone who does not admit to us what he has learned himself?

In that same vein, yes, bipartisanship is a problem. And the fastest way to remedy bipartisanship is to weaken the bipartisanship environment. Pretty logical, right? Research third-party candidates. Elect in different viewpoints. Let other sides be heard. Then, the personal responsibility to work across aisles and compromise becomes more of an individual issue rather than a party one.

Can you think of another arena in life where two disagreeing parties are left to fight to a solution? Coworkers who disagree are remanded to a moderator or superior. Even amicable divorces require lawyers. Prosecution and defendants are mediated by judge and jury. So why do we put politics on a pedestal?

And then there is the way that Democrats and Republicans treat you. Yes, you, as an individual human. Yes, you, with rights, and opinions, and the power to vote them in and out of office. They treat you like shit, in case you haven’t noticed. I said multiple times on social media early on in these campaigns that if either candidate could get through an interview without lying, they’d have my vote. I was 100% honest in this statement. This, of course, never happened. Neither made it through any of the debates, either, I’m sure you heard. Or, come to think of it, a commercial. So, neither Romney or Obama can look you in the televised eye without lying.

Now, obviously in the past, this mangled form of telling the truth worked. But now, with the social media explosion, this simply and clearly is no longer the case. People were LIVE COMMENTING on fact-checking statements from Politifact during the debates, you guys. So when did politicians decide that politics should require YOU to spend numerous personal hours on Politifact to really learn the truth? When did that become your job? And, most importantly, why isn’t it theirs? What is it about your “truth” that you find so scary, politicians? And why are we, the voting public, not trusted with it?

And so, they know that you know that they are lying. They also  know you have the tools to realize this. So one can only conclude that they simply do not care. They do not care that they are lying, and they do not care to treat us like we deserve the truth. And what sort of level of respect does that show? Is that the treatment you deserve? Is this the treatment that you want to celebrate with t-shirts, Facebook posts and bumper stickers? Would you put up with this from a real life friend? Someone blatantly telling you, to your face, looking you in the eye, during  every conversation:

“You don’t deserve the truth. You’re not good enough.”

It’s either this, or a more dangerous bet that they are making. A bet that, yes, while some of the population is well-read on current events, politically educated and is both willing and able to spend their free time search out political truth, the fact is that they pale in comparison to the number of people in America who are “stupid” and take everything at face value. Is that a bet that you, as a voter, are proud of your government making? Is that a bet that, as a presidential candidate, you would want your mindset to be in about the population you are hoping to represent? For them to be thinking: “I will not give adequate credit to the people of this country I want to represent. Screw the people who are too uneducated, lazy, or illiterate to understand my hidden meanings. I will win them anyways, and I will prevail.”

What a discredit to your country that is. I hope you find honor in being our leader, because I don’t find honor in you representing me.

And until someone thinks I deserve the truth, no thanks. Until your words are spoken with pure intentions, you are not “for the people.”

I’m not voting third-party because I think they will be president. But did you know that a candidate receiving 5% of the popular vote means that they are eligible for federal funding and equal ballot access? That this will open the doors to getting them into the televised debates, among many other benefits? Voting for a third-party candidate is not a wasted vote, it’s demanding the beginning of a new conversation. One that this country desperately needs to begin having.

So lets stop fighting each other. Lets unfuck our government. In the amount of time we spend discussing the current political misstep of the week, we could solve serious fucking issues. Children are starving, you guys. And not just on some desert in Africa. In your state. In your town. Probably no more than 5 miles from your very own pretty little home. College is unaffordable, and yet the number of jobs requiring a college degree continues to rise. Entitlement programs are going to go bankrupt no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office. People have been looking so long for a job that they have simply quit. This. This is where we can start. This should keep us busy enough for a while.

Gary Johnson said it best himself when, during the third-party debates, he said

Wasting your vote is voting for someone you don’t believe in.”

So that is why I am “wasting” my vote this November. I hope you will consider joining me, or at the very least have been given something to think about. We have been nearly silent on this issue for way too long. And the only people who can make Washington listen? It’s us. The voters. It really, really is.

 

The More Love Letters Campaign October 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 12:58 pm

They say life is about the little things; a good latte, a book you can’t put down, spending time with that one person who you can both talk to about anything and sit with in comfortable silence.

And they’re right. It IS all about the little things.

One of my absolute FAVORITE little things is mail. Personally addressed, hand written, postage stamp in the corner mail. If you know me at all, this won’t surprise you. I have a ….passion… let’s call it, for all things non-technological.

So when was the last time you received handwritten, postage stamped, honest-to-god MAILED mail?

I’m guessing it’s been awhile.

Remember a few posts ago when we were talking about Champagne Flutes and Little Blue Boxes? Well, that’s pretty much the majority of what is on my little blue box. Handwritten mail: birthday cards, graduation cards, I-saw-this-and-have-been-thinking-about-that-one-time-you-and-I…. ever-since cards. It’s no mystery that I love words, and writing, and am a complete closet sentimental. And I’ve started to tap into where this stems from.

I long ago learned the painful lesson that, while I can remember the way that people made me feel, I can never remember actual spoken words. And maybe this seems minor to you. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not supposed to be. To me, it is anything but. It haunts me. I have let it haunt me. And while I can’t redo the past, I can take what I have learned and let it reshape the way I act in the future.

So now I tell people things in writing. And, at the liberty of sounding pushy, you should, too. Please. Give them something tangible to hold onto. Words to trace with their fingertips. Sentences to commit to memory. A weapon to wield when the shadows of doubt begin to creep in.

Yes, doing this for those you love is hard. Now, I want you to push yourself even farther. I also am asking you to do this intimate act for those who have no face that you would recognize. For those whom you will never meet. For those who already have so much in common with.

Basically, what I am asking you to do is consider participating in a cause I have become active in this last year. I really do hope that you consider it; it has been something that has become closer to my heart than I ever thought it would.

It’s about sending real, handwritten mail to different people each month who need it most of all.

This month, for example, there are three stories:

meet Kate

“Kate has been crying almost every day for the last month.   A recent breakup left Kate realizing she had entangled her life with a guy who was never right for her.   When the two broke up, her life was changed completely.  Now she is alone again after so many years, crumbling apart and not knowing who to turn to.  Kate needs to know that there are strangers out there who believe in her and want to see her whole again. She needs to know that there is life, and so much of it, after a bad breakup.

meet Jason

“Jason is my big brother. A veteran of the Marines, he served the USA and was deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. He has been trying to go through school since he got out of the military and has quietly fought PTSD , which has gotten worse in recent weeks. He has a big heart, and has always been involved in helping other veterans, disadvantaged, and disabled. Please help a Veteran feel special and see the sunshine in a dark period of his life!”

meet Deborah

“Deborah was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2010. Since then she has gone through chemo and radiation with astounding strength. She was cleared, cancer free, after less than a year, and was ready to move on with her life.  Since then, she has had numerous complications as a result of her surgeries and radiation treatments. She constantly says, ” I thought cancer was the hard part. They told me to beat cancer, and I did it. No one warned me about this part. No one is telling me how I am supposed to beat this.” She is low on hope, low on inspiration, and losing belief in the greatness of life and the human spirit. She needs to remain positive in order to continue to fight. She knows nothing about this blog, or what is done for those in need, but I know she would appreciate it more than anyone will ever truly understand. This could be exactly what she needs to regain the amazing strength I know is inside her. Deborah has so much left to live for, but could really use a few kind hearted third party people to express that to her. She needs strength to continue to fight. These letters have the capability to save her life.”

So here’s the deal:

You will get an email once a month of requests for letters. You have the option to write to none, one or all of the individuals. You can do anything from writing an actual letter to just sending a card with a few lines of encouragement. It’s not about worrying over what or how much to write, it’s often just as simple as saying that they are thought of and being wished well.

You’ll mail your contributions to a PO box, where they are sorted per recipient and then delivered in a huge bundle with an explanation of the More Love Letters Campaign.

And before you know it, you’ll be searching out specialty card stores, buying the “really good ones” to save for “just the right person”, and looking forward to reaching out and holding up a person in the moment that they need it the most. A person who can never reward you with a public thanks, or provide any sort of expectation of reciprocation. You are simply giving yourself to the world in the most pure and satisfying form.

Please think about participating in this. It would mean so, so much to me. And to the people who need these letters. And it will begin to mean so much to you, too. I promise.

To join things together: and yet remain set apart. Right?

http://www.moreloveletters.com/welcome/intro-love-letter/

 

On Ampersands October 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluebirdrising @ 11:39 am

“So, whats your favorite punctuation symbol?” is probably a question no one has ever asked you. If you were able to answer “YES!, someone has!”, I’d like to be introduced to the person who inquired this, and then you can be known as introducing me to my new best friend.

But I am guessing that you will not be surprised that it’s a question no one has ever asked me either, and so it’s pretty much a guarantee that none of you could possibly know that I would answer:

AMPERSAND!” with amazingly awkward enthusiasm and not a nanosecond of hesitation.

Let me explain.

First: there’s the history.

Did you know that the ampersand can be traced back to the first century AD? What was originally a separation of the letters E and T (“et” being Latin for “and”) became quickly condensed as Roman scribes wrote in cursive. The first ampersands looked very much like the separate E and T combined, but as type developed over the next few centuries, it eventually became more stylized and less representative of its origins. Still, chances are that if you look at the modern common ampersand, you’ll still be able to somewhat see the E and T separately.

Now, the actual word “ampersand” is much younger. In the early 1800’s, the ampersand symbol was considered its own letter of the alphabet. The word ampersand is a conflation of “and, per se and”. Per se means “by itself”, and so the phrase translates to “&, standing by itself, means ‘and'”. This symbol was the final character of the alphabet as it was recited this way (“and, per se and”) by children in old English schools. Over time, the words began to run together, and ampersand officially was added to dictionaries in 1837.

Second: there’s the definition.

Ampersand: to join things together, and yet remain set apart.

Third: there’s the interpretation.

Isn’t that the best definition EVER of how we should all want to see the world? Other people? Ourselves?

To join things together, yet remain set apart.

To be reminded that everyone in our neighborhood, our nation, our Earth, is joined together by common themes? Themes of love and celebrating, themes of pain and sorrow. None of us are exempt from any of them, and in that we are joined together. And yet, we are set apart in how and when they occur, in how prepared or blindsided we may be, in how much time we need to really “feel it.” In that vein, we must remember that every single human addresses each of these ridiculously common themes in their very own unique way, and we must do our best to remain respectful of that individualism.

And what about ourselves?

To join things together, yet remain set apart.

If you know me at all, you are probably aware that I am much better at the “remain set apart” piece of this phrase. I compartmentalize the different characters I play with ease. My family knows my family mode. My coworkers know my work mode. Dex knows my girlfriend mode. My friends know my friend mode. My cat knows my introvert mode.

And I just know myself as a multi-mode person who is starting to wonder if maybe making a point to exercise the “joining things together” part would not be the end of the world. Maybe I could be more personable with my coworkers. Maybe I could talk about work once in a while, to someone other than a coworker, to better decompress. Maybe I could take some of my girlfriend mode and spread it to my friends, who I know for a fact are not told enough that I appreciate them.

Seriously. Think about it. What amazing things would happen then?

Fourth: there’s the tattoo location.

It’s on my forearm. AKA: visually unavoidable territory

A constant reminder to remember that while we all fight the same battles, we will, without question, go about it differently. A reminder to find beauty in the going about it differently.

To remind myself that, while compartmentalizing is my nature, I am a whole person who can strive to show multiple sides of myself to more than one subset of people at a time.

And, as an ode to celebrating another part of my body that I hate. Yes, I hate my arms.

I also hated my nose. It was too wide from the front, too broad from the side, a bit off-center from any angle. So, long ago, I finally bit the bullet and shoved a pretty little stud into it. No, it didn’t suddenly make me love my nose, but now, at least, I can appreciate it. I no longer focus on it every time I look in the mirror. I can’t remember the last time I talked badly to it.)

I hate my arms because when my wrist is extended outward, my elbow is 90 degrees to the left. It looks awkward, deformed even, and I hate wearing anything other than long sleeves. Now, I have something else to focus on. An ampersand that reminds me of how far I have come, and of who I still want to be; a story of history and punctuation nerdery to share with anyone who asks.

Three amazing reasons to stop favoring long sleeves.

 

 
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