Jan 31, 2012

An Inauthentic Life

I heard some of an interview the other day on NPR with Woody Allen. Terri Gross was talking to him about a film coming out, and about his personal story. At one point in the interview, she was saying how many people seem to start analyzing his films for clues about him, and making judgments about his personal life based on the content of his work. And then she asked him the following:

GROSS: And do you care what people think of your personal life? Or is that just irrelevant to you? 

And his answer struck a chord with me: 

Mr. ALLEN: Well, you know, if I say I don't care, it sounds so cold and callous. But let me put it this way. How could you go through life, you know, taking direction from the outside world? I mean, what kind of life would you have, you know, if you were - if you made your decisions based on, you know, the outside world and not what your inner dictates told you? You would have a very inauthentic life. 

What kind of life would you have if you made your decisions based on the outside world and not what your inner dictates told you? You would have a very inauthentic life.

What the outside world tells us: Pressure. The "outside world" is the culture we live in, the people who surround us. The messages in our media, in our schools, at our jobs, in our churches. What is their message? Be better. Be the best. Be normal - but stand out. But whatever you do, don't be different.

What our inner dictates tell us: Love. Feel. Think. Seek peace and truth and fulfillment in what you do. Obviously we're all going to hear slightly different messages from our "inner dictates", but ultimately, we all feel those tugs inside, wherever they're from. Nudging us this way in the direction of "living authentically".

What is an authentic life: A life where you're not lying to others, you're not lying to yourself. You're not forcing yourself to be something you are not. You're not molding to a certain form because you're expected to fit inside it. It's a life where in your quietest moments, when you're all alone, you're at peace with who you are... and you know the person everyone sees out there, is the same person inside you.


I want an authentic life. I think that's why I'm at where I am today. I'm working to get there.

I am fortunate to be a person who does not struggle so much with "what people think". I care to the normal human extent, I don't want to be a complete outcast from all society, but at the same time, I don't alter most decisions in my life because of worrying what people think of me. I know people who struggle much more with this and it's hard for me to watch.

Is it worth pleasing that group of people if you look back on those years and see only an inauthentic life? At what point can we just let go of working to please everyone and just be who we are? After all, they're probably trapped as much as we are, maybe by being ourselves we'll help free them to follow their inner dictates as well.

In the end, it really just comes down to this. Two things are certain in life:
1 You will die
2  In the meantime, you have to live with yourself

Jan 29, 2012

Only the Good Things

This week had some good, ugly, and just about every shade in between. I feel like bad things always take up the airwaves and monopolize conversations, so why don't we weed those out and pass along only the good things?

Some good things this week...

1.  Small Visitors. My bird feeder hangs right outside my bedroom window and has been bringing me lots of cute little visitors. So far I've seen a tufted titmouse, a male and female downy woodpecker, and this guy...

Caught ya! I can't get any of the birds on camera yet.

2.  Guac-a-tacos. Seasoned beef topped with fresh avacado/green onion/tomato/lime. Wrapped in a tortilla. Need I say more?

3.  Mad Men. I caved and started the series. Just finished season one and I am hooked! Thank goodness for my wonderful library, half a mile down the road. They have all of the DVDs.

4. Middle Sister Wine. I haven't actually had the wine yet. Or purchased it. But I was so happy to find it at Target today! Figures I found it on a Sunday when you're not allowed to buy alcohol in stupid Indiana. But it might as well have my name on it.

Middle Sister, sweet & sassy, from CA!

5. Valentine's Day at Target. Dear Target, you know everything I want before I want it. Everything I dream before I dream it! Your cute and wonderful designs overwhelm me and drain money from my bank account. But I cannot resist you! (I'm not even going to show you the cute stuff I got for K.)

6. Frodo the Puppymuffin. I stopped by my parents' place and saw him a couple of times this week. Seeing this little furry being warms my soul and brings happiness to my heart.

So sweepy.

7. Breakfast with My Parents. After 25 years, still two of my very favorite people in the world. I am always happy to spend some time with them.

I tried a delicious biscuit bowl breakfast.

8. The Twelfth Night. I was lucky enough to be able to go with my sister to a very excellent, hilarious, lively performance of Shakespeare's comedy the Twelfth Night. How amazing to sit in a packed theater and watch a play written over 400 years ago, but still enjoyed through and through by audiences today.

May many good things grow in your life! And when the bad things inevitably spring up, I hope you weed them out to make room for more good.

Jan 22, 2012

Is This Your Opinion?

I recently posted my blog on a primarily Christian website. No matter what happens in my life, or how I change and grow, I think deep down I will still always think of Christians as "my people" because I grew up identifying with solely them.

I have a passion for the reconciliation of GLBT people and Christians. And I hope that in some way my blog can help build that bridge between them.

But when I receive comments like this, I see that we still have a long way to go...

Is that your opinion?

Everyone is entitled to believe what they like to believe. But I would personally like to stick to believing things...that are true. Let's examine this person's statement for it's truth content:

1.  "Not to step on toes or "judge" (which the Bible TELLS us to do according to His word).

50% true. The Bible does tell us to judge, and it tells us not to judge. After doing some preliminary research, I can see a defense for both sides of this argument according to the bible. Paul does write a bit to the churches about discerning the "righteous from the wicked". But likewise, the gospels (and Jesus) seem to warn more against judging. Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. (Matthew 7:1-2) Which one is the correct approach? When in doubt, I would think it makes most sense to follow, not the words necessarily, but the actions of Jesus himself. After all, Christians by definition are called to be "little Christs". When Jesus found himself in the presence of people condemned by society as "sinners", did he act in judgment or love towards them?

2.   "but if you read any of the Bible, you will see that homosexuality is an abhorance to God."

0.02% true. If you read any of the Bible? There are over 31,000 verses in the Bible, and not more than 7 of those verses refer to homosexuality. (Whether or not the "homosexuality" in these verses is the same as what we consider "being gay" in this current day and age is a whole other issue that I'm not going to get into now). If you do that math, that would be approximately 0.02% of the Bible is about homosexuality. So I'd have to say this statement is 99.98% false.

3.  "Don't take my word for it. Read the Bible"

Yes, thanks for that. Do not worry about me just taking your word for it.

Why do you think this is such a hot-button topic for a lot of Christians? What is it about this issue that makes people snarl and rage with indignation, and fling words like "ABHORANCE" at you? There are sins in the Bible mentioned many, many more times than "homosexuality". Pride, anyone? Who was Jesus always angry with, the "sinners" of society - or the Pharisees who were judging the sinners and condemning people with their legalistic superiority?

Who you love is part of who you are. You say God abhors that I love who I love. So God abhors me. Should I take your word for it? How sure are you on this - that this is what God wants? Sure enough to cost a person's life? Would you bet your life on it?

Jan 19, 2012

A Little Sunshine

Balloons, fascinators, cute dresses, cold lemonade, do-it-yourself projects, a hot LA sun and love love love! Just wanted to share this gorgeous California lesbian wedding with you on this cold snowy evening. You can see more here. Also, take a look at Tabitha's blog (Glitter and Ganache), she's one of the brides. Everything she does is gorgeous! I am hooked.

Jan 17, 2012

You Are You, No One Else

I used to work this job in the summer during college. It was the best and worst moments of my life. Walking door-to-door, 13.5 hour days, 6 days a week. I'd spend the hours talking to families about educational products I was selling. I met every type of human being you can imagine. I faced...countless rejections. I saw the ugly and the beautiful sides of humanity. But what I saw more than anything else, was this astounding resilience I possess within myself. The job brought to the surface my most loathed, pitiful weaknesses and forced me to stare them down. I cried, I drug my feet, I sat on the side of the road writing "woe is me" tales of my life. But ultimately, I'd get back up and go knock on another door.

Before I ever did that sales job, I struggled deeply with self-esteem. I disliked myself daily. I made fun of myself to others, rejected any praise, and shied away from attention. I didn't know who I was, all I knew is that I wasn't someone else. And all I wanted was to be someone else.

I'll never forget one hot Sunday afternoon on the "bookfield". Sundays were our day off, where all the sales kids got together for training and motivation for the week. I had the best manager, Justin. I think he spotted my quivering lip while everyone was eating lunch and pulled me outside. I broke down in tears and told them how frustrated I was. I had worked so hard this week, and yet fallen far short of a specific co-workers sales numbers. I knew the product better, I went to more houses... nothing worked, she always came out on top. She was giggly and cute and had a magnetic personality. He looked me straight in the eye and told me, "Ruth, you're not her. You'll never be her. You are you. Someone will always be better than you, but that's ok. As long as you know you're doing your best, it doesn't matter what she is doing."

Seems like such a simple thought. But it was the first time this actually sunk in. I was me, I would always be me. And if I stopped focusing on being someone else, I might just enjoy...being me. What a huge wave of relief swept over me when he said those things. I could stop fighting now.

Those summers selling books transformed me. I would not know myself today like I do without that job. I would not know that I am capable of doing everything I feared. I am capable of discipline, and pursuing a goal when I set my mind on it, and reaching it. I am capable of talking to anyone, my thoughts and opinions are valuable and worth sharing. I am capable of leading others, I have something to offer them. I am capable of solving problems, challenging my fears, keeping a commitment, and even surprising myself. 

We were taught to say, "I am somebody, I can do anything." And I came home from the summer actually believing it.

At the end of my first summer on the job, I was 15 lbs lighter, five thousand dollars richer, had made some great friends and had gotten a perfect farmer's tan. But more than anything else, I gained a true sense of self-worth.

What are you proud of? What has helped define who you are? How have you found peace at not worrying about measuring up to others in our competitive culture?

Jan 11, 2012

The Beginning of Everything

Today is my four year anniversary with K. I wish today, especially, I was with her. Some days I just need her. I've been really weighed down thinking about some of the... crappier aspects of the world we live in. Because of all the hype with the Republican primaries I feel like all the issues with gay rights have been really stirred up lately. Not that that's bad, it's good people are talking about stuff. It's just hard to hear the horrible things people really believe about gay people.
There's so much hate.

I just have to block all that out for today and think about what really matters. What matters is I love this girl, and she loves me. And our four years together have not been easy, but they've been well worth the fight. And I believe we have so much to look forward to.

“I love her and that’s the beginning of everything.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love the song "Songbird", by Fleetwood Mac. (I actually know it because of Glee... Santana sang it to Brittany and I cried.) Nothing I could write today could compare with these words.

For you, there'll be no more crying,
For you, the sun will be shining,
And I feel that when I'm with you,
It's alright, I know it's right

To you, I'll give the world
to you, I'll never be cold
'Cause I feel that when I'm with you,
It's alright, I know it's right.

And the songbirds are singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you, I love you, I love you,
Like never before.

And I wish you all the love in the world,
But most of all, I wish it from myself.

And the songbirds keep singing,
Like they know the score,
And I love you, I love you, I love you,
Like never before, like never before.
by Christine McVie

I finished some new artwork today for my apartment, to encourage myself that "it's alright, I know it's right". 

Jan 10, 2012

Beary Proud

(I'm sorry for the title, I just couldn't resist the pun opportunity!) Last night I was so happy to be able to go down to K's induction ceremony into nursing school. It was really special, the nursing school is nearly 100 years old and very proud of their program. And I am, in turn, very proud of my girl! I teared up...several times.


And yes, I may have given her.... a bear wearing a mini stethoscope and sewn little scrubs to match hers. She was probably not very surprised, I'm pretty notorious for pointless cute gifts. But look how cute they are!!!

Babe, I could not be more proud of you, and so happy that you're pursuing your dream. You're going to be the best damn nurse anyone has ever seen.

Note to self: mini sweater just kind of makes me look like a giant.

Jan 7, 2012

Book Review: Girls of Riyadh

I was intrigued by this book the moment I saw it on the library shelf. I am always interested in learning about other cultures, but most especially when the information is coming from someone of that culture. Rajaa Alsanea is a girl of Riyadh herself.

I sadly did not even know what "Riyadh" was when I picked up the novel. Which shows you how pathetically little I know about Saudi Arabia. Here are some things I learned about Saudi Arabia:

-Riyadh is not only the largest city of that country, but the capital. (It's pronounced (REE odd, with kind of an "huh" sound at the end).

-It has a monarch government, meaning they have a King, and the country is referred to as a Kingdom.

-The Kingdom is governed by the laws of Islam in place of any sort of constitution. This means all inhabitants' lives are to be in accordance with Sharia (Islamic law), the Quran, and Sunnah (traditions of Muhammad).

Well, now that I've thoroughly illustrated my American ignorance of this country, let me tell you about the book.

This book was originally written in Arabic and once it was released in the Arab world, Saudi Arabia banned it because it scandalized their women. A few years after it came out, it was translated into English.

The novel is written through a series of emails. An anonymous young Saudi woman is writing a weekly email that spreads like wildfire throughout the kingdom. She tells the stories of her four female friends as they pursue love and/or marriage, education and careers.

It reminded me in some ways of Sex in the City or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Four close friends, with their individual paths and stories, navigating life and love. Some are lucky in love, some not so much. There is an ever-present tension between their dreams and their traditions. Between what they are taught to want, and what they truly desire.

What impressed me most about the novel was this inside world of the Saudi women. Not something you would ever see on the news or read in the paper. In many ways I relate to their trials, fears and dreams. In other ways, I see the great divide between eastern and western culture, and I am fascinated by this worldview. One of my favorite elements of the book was the way the author works in bits and pieces of the Saudi culture, with a verse, teaching of the Quran or poem. Ultimately we are all so utterly...human.

If you'd like an inside glimpse at the lives of Saudi women and the culture they are tied to, I'd recommend it. Also, if you didn't know what "Riyadh" was, this book might be good for you too. Happy reading Saturday!

Jan 2, 2012

Bring It On, 2012

Just got back from a weekend with my girl. After my experience there last week with her mother, chastising us about our lifestyle, I thought for about three seconds of actually not going down there for what would be our fifth New Years together.

But then... I got over that.  I am not going to live my life being controlled by fear of what anyone thinks. I want to be with K for New Years, so that's what I did. And I'm so happy I went. I even spent about four hours helping her mom in the kitchen. How ridiculous to ever even consider giving up any of my precious time with K just because I'm afraid of a little confrontation. Bring it on. You have no idea how worthwhile this girl is to me, I'd go through a lot more than that to be with her.

Ahem. Moving on. It's time for.... New Year's Resolutions! I look forward to this time every year. It's fresh-start-goal-setting-become-who-you-want-to-be time. I can already tell, this is going to be a good year for growth.

This year, I am resolved to:
  1. Not start running. I don't like running. It just doesn't do it for me. So instead, I'm going to focus on incorporating exercise into my life that feels more natural to me and I maybe even...enjoy. Swimming at the YMCA. Walking around my neighborhood or with Frodo. Dancing around my apartment and doing yoga. I figure if I like it, I just might make it a habit for keeps.
  2. Stop food fighting. I just don't have a healthy relationship with food. One second it's love, the next it's hate and I'm pissed at myself for what I just ate. I really enjoy food, so I want to figure out a way to love it and not abuse it. Cook more for myself, know what I'm consuming, be deliberate about what I take in without it controlling my life, and be able to just enjoy food without worrying about calories, carbs or whatever. Live in harmony with my food. More than anything, just be conscientious about it and appreciate it more.
  3. Be uncomfortable. I am way too comfortable in my life right now. And yes, that is bad. Being comfortable means I'm not growing, I'm stagnant. I'm not remotely satisfied to stay exactly as I am for the rest of my life. I have so much to learn, and so much room to grow! I've been noticing lately I follow way too many TV shows, and the only people I spend time with are my current friends, family, my girlfriend and my co-workers. As cliche as it sounds, maybe I should consider getting off my ass and doing something to help people. Hmm... there's a novel idea. 
  4. Become a control freak. My money controls me. I forget sometimes it should be the other way around. I don't mean this in an "I'm controlled by money" greedy way. More like "why is there only $8 left in my checking account and I have 4 whole days until I get paid?" I need to be in charge here! I'm by no means raking in the dough, but I can live comfortably if I just learn to keep it in check and save/spend money responsibly. It all comes down to one dreaded word: BUDGET. Just freaking do it.
  5. Spend more time on my device. Yes, I am one of those people. There are a few really great apps I've recently discovered in the app universe and I think both of them would behoove me to use on a regular basis. One is called "Poetry" by poetry magazine, and it's a poem generator. It pairs an emotion with a life category and serves up a list of poems on the topic. For example, you could find "Insecurity" combined with "Love" and read John Donne's Song: Sweetest Love, I Do Not Go. I would like to start reading more poetry. The other app is "Gratitude!". Each day it gives you a topic and a mini journal where you can list things you're thankful for. It includes inspiration quotes, a place you can scrapbook in a few photos, and a "rate your day" star rating system. I think this will be a great way for me to spend the year focusing on the positive.
  6. Stop talking to myself. I don't really do that... well, only a little. But the point is, I want to connect more with people. I tend to be more of an introvert, so I can be content with only a few close relationships. But I recognize the importance of having more relationships in my life. People make life worth living, and I want my life to be rich with people. I want to continue to use this blog as a way to connect with people (thank you so much for reading and I appreciate your feedback more than you know!) and I want to nurture the relationships I already have in my life (old and new), as well as continue to seek new friendships.
  7. Spend time on the couch, with the TV off and a book open. Reading for me is not just about doing it to do it. I love the way books bring me to other places, situations, perspectives, lives and times. I feel that books are such a powerful way to connect with the larger whole of humanity, to communicate the deeper parts of who we are and to illustrate the most powerful truths of this life. I neglect their quiet wisdom sometimes for the flashier, fast-paced excitement of TV or movies, but those will never compare to the reading experience. I want to be more deliberate about reading weekly, daily. Taking the time. Using my library (I love my library). And now I can read e-books too!  I will select one book per month to review here just to help keep me motivated and share what I'm reading (I'm open to recommendations!).
What are your resolved to do in 2012?

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