Being gracious

I was driving my friend home from chemotherapy, and out of the blue she said, “You know, the day I found out about this, was the day I was set free.”

What?! How can having a disease like this be liberating, I thought.

She went on to explain that by finding out she might only have a little while to live, it made her reprioritize things, and one of the things that got left off the list was politeness. “I don’t have time anymore to waste on fear, and politeness is just being afraid that you might offend someone.”

Oooookay, I thought, although I’ve never seen that definition in the dictionary, but I suppose you could see it that way.

She went on, “How many times do you stand and listen to someone you don’t really want to because you’re too polite to just walk away, too polite to tell them you’re busy, or too polite to tell them you just don’t care?”

I gave a half shrug. She had a point. I am one of those who will simply keep my mouth shut while someone yammners away at me because I don’t want to be impolite. But is that fear? Maybe it is, I thought, because I’m always saying ‘I’m afraid to hurt their feelings by telling them to leave me alone or that I don’t really care…’. So, instead, I just let them take up my time and yammer away at me.

“But what about being polite and gracious when someone comes to visit?” I asked her.

She looked at me and asked, “Is it someone you really want to visit with?”

“Well, not always, but I still feel as if I need to be gracious and a good host. I mean, I can hardly just tell them to go away because I don’t want to visit with them.”

She was quiet for so long that I thought perhaps she had fallen asleep, after all, the therapy did tend to wipe her out. Finally, she answered though, “If I don’t like someone or don’t really want to see them, I would treat them the way I would prefer to be treated: honestly. Rather than leading them on and letting them think that I really care or that I’m really their friend, I would tell them. But there’s no reason you have to be less than gracious about it.

But graciousness is different than politeness—graciousness comes from empathy and caring, while politeness is a mask that covers up how someone truly feels.”

At that point we got where we were going and the discussion was forgotten, at least by my friend. But I haven’t forgotten about it. In fact, I’ve thought about what she said a lot during the past months, mostly as I watched how others acted—smiling and saying “no problem” when, in fact, there was a definite problem, or acting as if they care when someone is talking about their pets or family when all they really care about is finding an excuse to get away.

I finally decided that I, too, would become liberated—liberated from the falseness of politeness. Now, I no longer sit still while people yammer at me about things I don’t wish to listen to. Now, I no longer give them the false impression that I care, when I don’t. However, I’m always gracious about it. And if someone seeks to establish a relationship outside of the work place and they are not someone I wish to be social with, then, again, I’m honest but Gracious.

While, I’m not 100% sold on the difference between polite and gracious, I am no longer afraid to be honest with myself and with others. But being honest with someone doesn’t mean you have to be rude or hurtful. Therefore, I always make sure I’m gracious while being honest, because my friend was right – it is much more liberating to be honest with ourselves and others than to pretend we care when we don’t.

So, what plant are you?

While sitting in the dentist’s office, I was skimming through a magazine and came across one of those self-evaluation quizzes. Usually I pass them by, but figuring it would help fill the time, I decided to try it out.

The questions seemed deceptively silly, but I found myself returning to the questions long after I had left the dentist’s office. All through the day I’d catch myself thinking about them, so finally decided to write them down and share them with you.

If you were a plant, based on your personality, what plant would you be?

What plant do you think others would say you are?

What plant would you like to be?

Of course, most people would probably answer the questions by saying something like “lilacs” or “sunflowers” or some other flower, because who doesn’t want to see themselves as beautiful and fun?

But if you really think about yourself and your personality, are you really just a simple annual? Don’t you have more depth than that?

When I really took a look at myself I decided that I was probably a prickly pear. While they do bloom, it’s only once a year. Mostly they’re prickly (like me), which makes them hard to get to know, yet they thrive in harsh conditions. I would hope that most people would see me as more of a bougainvillea. While still prickly with thorns, which might keep many at a distance, the blooms would attract people who might be willing to push past the thorns and get to know the real me. Because once you get to know me, I can be a very loyal and enduring friend, providing help, advice, assistance, or comfort.

What I’d like to be is an oak, like my husband. Oaks, to me, offer comfort in the form of shade, food (acorns), and shelter. They’re large and give the feeling of security and stability, and they seem to be like old friends when you come across them. 

So, what about you, Reader? What plant are you, and what plant do you want to be?

Wrong attitude, huh?

Back in my younger days, I had the idea that I wanted to go into the field of law. While I enjoyed reading law books, (yes, you read that right, I said I enjoyed reading law books), I didn’t really want to be a lawyer. What I found fascinating was the guys in law enforcement who worked behind the scenes (this was looooong before the days of CSI TV series and its incarnations).

But to become a lab technician at the state or federal level, you had to start out as a basic cop. So, off to school I went. Midway through my training, I was told by two of my instructors that I would never make it. One insisted it was because I was too “girlie”. Well, that just made me, “Miss Tomboy Extraordinaire”, try harder. The other instructor though, he said I’d never make it because I had the wrong attitude. Seeing my puzzled expression, he went on to explain that I saw the world and the people in it as inherently good; I tended to trust everyone no matter what, at least until they proved me wrong.

I puzzled over that one for a while, before forgetting it as I worked even harder towards my goal by acing all my classes. I passed everything and got hired on as a trainee at one of the local police departments.

My first day on the job, I was keyed up and raring to go. However, when I arrived at the building, the negativity around the place was nearly palpable. It was so thick that it made me pause and I wondered, just for a moment, if I was making a mistake. I told myself that the negativity was just because of all the negative emotions that were probably being generated by the cops and the people the cops brought in during the course of their jobs. So, I shook it off and headed inside.

Everyone seemed friendly—mostly—although, some razzed and chided us (there were several of us trainees) for being so young and so green. But we smiled and sometimes we razzed right back. After all, most of us had grown up with at least one parent in the law enforcement world, so we had been around cops most of our lives. We knew what they were like, or so we thought.

We all gathered in the squad room to listen to the duty sergeant give his talk. As we waited for him to start, I felt my insides squirming. I thought it was nerves, but as I looked around at the pulsing red and black spikes of negative energy that filled the room, I wondered if it was something more. The sergeant’s voice filled the room, and I turned my focus to what he was saying.

At first, I was caught up in the drama of it all, as he welcomed us trainees to the squad room and made the assignments as to who would get to go as ride-alongs (riding along with the beat cops in the squad car) and who would be stuck in the station house (either in the dispatch area or “playing secretary and file clerk”). I gave a silent “Yes!” as I pulled a ride-along assignment, and so missed the first part of the sergeant’s next statement.

But the part I did hear seemed to echo that of the one instructor oh so long ago. The sergeant said that we had to assume that everyone we encountered was guilty of something, and to trust no one except our partners. If we didn’t follow this standard rule, it could cost us or our partners their lives. I stared into his eyes and realized that he wasn’t joking, he was deadly serious.

But I couldn’t be that way, and I couldn’t (wouldn’t) understand how they could be. In my world, people do dumb things for sure, and sometimes they do things that society considers bad, but people themselves aren’t bad or evil, they just make negative choices or choices that cause them to be at odds with other people and society as a whole. But that doesn’t make them bad.

I struggled through being a trainee for 30 days, and I finally recognized that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had finally realized why the room, in fact, why the whole building was so filled with negative energies, it was from the cops’ own negative thinking patterns.

I have always hated to give up on anything, but I realized that I either had to give up the idea of being in law enforcement or give up my belief in people. So, I walked away from that negative place and I’ve never regretted it, because as far as I’m concerned, people are good, and I’ll always believe that.

Finding a psychic

How do you find a psychic? That’s a question that comes up every now and then.

Different time periods looked at psychics as either mentally unstable, speakers of the gods, speakers of the devil, or someone filled with demons. Advertising your ability could earn you a favored seat at court, a life locked in a dungeon with the other mad people, or death through fire, water, or torture. Luckily today, someone claiming to be psychic doesn’t have to worry (too much) about being killed; however, there are still places where being a psychic is considered akin to madness, and if not mad, then you are considered a con artist, a fraud, or a charlatan.

Therefore, many true psychics either choose not to share the knowledge of their ability with anyone, or they only share it with a select few. There are those who are willing to bring psychicness out of the closet, so to speak. Some of us do it through writing or other more passive or quiet demonstrations, while others try to make a living from their natural abilities.  It is usually one of the latter that most people encounter when they go looking for a psychic to answer those questions regarding life and love.

Those that choose not only to share the knowledge but to actually try to make a living with their ability tend to fall into two categories: Those that are empowered by the knowledge they have and wish to share, and those that are empowered by the money or attention they expect to gain.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with someone trying to make a living from their psychic abilities. It’s no different than someone trying to make a living from their ability to write, paint, or build a house. However, if the person is more enamored of the money or glory that they can get with their talent (whether painter, business man, or psychic) then, you need to use caution.

So, when you go looking for a psychic, try to notice whether the person is more interested in how much you’re willing to spend or in giving you your money’s worth of information. It’s that difference that you need to notice and be aware of when you contemplate asking advice from a psychic. If the psychic says they can only tell you what they know, that they can’t (or won’t) always tell you things that will make you happy, or that they believe the information or message is the most important thing, then you’ve found someone whose agenda isn’t hidden. They’re not doing it for the money (although they expect to get paid) and they’re not doing it for the publicity or attention; they’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do, and because the information might help you, make you feel better, or help you understand something.

But even making that judgment comes down to listening to yourself, listening to your inner voice, because there are a lot of frauds out there, sad to say. However, if you listen to your own inner voice, you will usually find yourself drawn to someone whose agenda is the same as yours. Someone who wants to use their abilities to help you reach your goal.

Now, if your goal is to debunk psychics, then you will probably never find a “real” one, or even if you did, you wouldn’t recognize them anyway. However, if your goal is honest, such as a need for closure by hearing from a loved one, or a genuine interest in learning about life and gaining enlightenment, and you listen to your own inner voice, the path will most likely lead you to where you need to go. If all you’re looking for, though, is someone to make your decisions for you, someone to lean on, then following the path will most likely lead you to a psychic willing to make those decisions for you—for a price.

Of course, if you’re unwilling to listen to your inner voice, then selecting a psychic becomes more of a crap shoot. Based on your inner fears and drives (impatience will select the first one willing to give you an appointment, greed will settle for the one charging the least, and martyrdom will go to the one that notices how abused and forgotten you are) you will find yourself facing someone who may or may not have your best interests at heart.

So, if you want to find someone who can read your pasts, tell your future, or contact a loved one who has passed on, follow your inner voice. You may have to pass through the 7 degrees of contacts to get there, but when you arrive, you’ll know that it’s most likely someone you can trust, that it’s someone who has the knowledge and is willing to share it with you—good or bad.

The Power of “Too”

Have you ever noticed that the more you struggle against becoming like someone else, the more like that person you become, anyway?

For me, it’s my mother. She was (especially in her later years) a great believer in the power of “too”— “it’s too hot…”, “it’s too cold…”, “it’s too loud…”, “it’s too…”. Like Goldilocks with the home of the 3 bears, my mother never could find anything just right.

Every visit was filled with the barbs from the power of “too”. If you suggested going out to lunch, even if you let her choose the restaurant, there was still no shortage of “toos” whose shiny points were aimed at you and anyone else who crossed her path. The soup was too cold; the salad greens too limp; the meat too tough; and the veggies too overcooked. As I said, nothing was ever just right.

Now, while I can do little about the fact that I look a lot like her (she was, after all, my mother), I struggle against becoming a follower of that deity “too”. So far, I have succeeded managing to maintain a more equitable viewpoint, a less sour outlook on life. At least I thought so, until last night.

Last night we were out with friends, and as we finished placing our orders with the wait person—does anyone else find that term awkward?—we were commenting on the amenities and the show we had just been to, and there out of my mouth I heard it…those dreaded words, in that dreaded tone that my mother always used, and I stopped speaking mid-whine.

Everyone at the table stared at me puzzled, and I gave them a sickly smile and waved them on to continue the conversation. As their words filled the spaces around me, my mind whirled. I had almost done it. I had almost said, “Yes, but it’s too noisy…”, when in fact, the place wasn’t really any noisier than any other time we’d been there. Also, the evening wasn’t worth destroying by becoming a copy of my mother.

I eventually joined back in to the conversations, but I never lost my guardedness. I don’t think anyone else noticed, but I know that I kept monitoring every word out of my mouth as I made sure there were no more “toos” waiting to escape.

It’s a learned behavior, I understand that. It’s a behavior that you grow up observing and hearing so repetitively that before you know it, it’s part of you, too. But I thought I had purged all of that long ago, all of those “learned behaviors”. So, it frightened me when I found out that some part of me had still held on to at least one of those learned patterns.

It makes me wonder just how many more of those learned behavior patterns are still lurking around waiting to pop out. So, now I have to be more diligent in monitoring myself when I speak. And once again, I need to inventory my behaviors and see if I can’t rid myself of those I don’t want. I especially want to rid myself of the power of “too”, because I do not want to be a worshipper at the altar of Never Satisfied.

Stuff

About 18 months ago I saw a homeless man standing on a street corner. He was wearing several layers of clothes, a pair of galoshes and was carrying a pair of sandals. I saw him 6 months later and he had added a battered backpack to his ensemble. A couple weeks ago I saw him again, and now the overstuffed backpack was crammed into a shopping cart overflowing with odds and ends.

About 18 months ago, one of my friend’s and her spouse were complaining that the two-bedroom apartment they were in was too small. There wasn’t room for all of the stuff they had received when they married and most of it was still at her mother’s. They moved to a three-bedroom townhouse, but they still complained of not having enough space. Now, most of the stuff was down in the garage, so there was no place to put the car.

Some other friends of ours complained for months about not having enough room for their stuff. Their 2-car garage was overflowing and they hadn’t been able to park any of their cars in the garage since they had bought the place. They finally rented a storage unit, which now holds all the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the garage.

So, what is it about humans their “stuff”? Why do we need so much stuff? Even when we have no home, we hoard stuff? And when our homes are overrun, we rent places to store more stuff.

I’m at a loss. I really don’t understand. You see, in my mind, if you haven’t used something in 6 months, then maybe you really don’t need it. If you haven’t seen something in 3 or 4 months, then you probably don’t even remember that you have it.

These people don’t even use the need to pack for a move as an opportunity to eliminate some of the stuff that they haven’t seen or used in years. Instead, they simply pack it all up. But either they fail to mark the boxes with what’s in it, or maybe they just like grab bags, and so mark it Miscellaneous. So, they move it their new place, but instead of unpacking all of this stuff, they simply put it in the garage, because (after all) it’s just miscellaneous stuff. Then, not realizing that they already have something, they go out and buy it all over again.

Pretty soon, they have so many versions of the same thing that they now need a storage unit, where they can more easily forget what they have. So, now with everything miles away instead of underfoot, it becomes all right to resume buying again. After all, they now have this big empty garage to fill (again), and not with cars (why be so mundane).

I, however, dream of the day when I don’t need stuff—any stuff. Stuff ties you down (think Marley the ghost in a Christmas Carol). I would rather be free, unfettered by physical things, not tied down to the physical world by a need for or a love of physical stuff. Yet, I am human, so I do have (some) stuff. I own a home, and that home has stuff in it. However, much of what I have in my house is second-hand stuff and people’s cast offs. (You might say, I’m into recycling.;-)

But there’s nothing in that house that I’m so attached to that if it were destroyed or taken away that I would be devastated over it. Well, nothing except my husband, that is. 😉

So, why the need for stuff? Is it that it helps to define us as physical beings? Does it give us a more secure hold on our place in this physical world? Or is it that we’re all just so forgetful that we can’t remember what we have, so we have to keep buying more of it?

The book that wasn’t there…

Everyone has an Aha moment, that moment when they finally understand something. Mine came in two steps. When I was about 18 my mother gave me a book that she thought I might find interesting. It didn’t look like anything special—just a simple paperback book with a blue cover. The front had drawings of different people’s faces dressed from different time periods and a picture of a Ouija board on it.

Normally a fast reader, this book actually took me about a week to get through. It was filled with new concepts and ideas that somehow also felt familiar. It was a very interesting read, and I knew I would want to read it again. I felt the truth of the information, although I didn’t fully comprehend everything.

I set the book aside, and life went on. Meanwhile, the concepts and ideas percolated at the back of my mind. I never really consciously thought about the book until years later, when I hit an emotional crossroads. At that point, I thought that something in that book just might help me with my choices.

I searched high and low for the book, sure that I had placed it in one of the many bookcases in the house, but couldn’t find it anywhere. Unable to locate it, and not remembering if I or my mother had lent it to someone else, I went to the bookstore and got a new copy.

This time it only took a couple of days to read through it, and I had the biggest Aha moment of my life when I finished. While the first time I had read it had been like going into a dark house with a couple of lit candles that illuminated just a few of the dark rooms, this time it was as if I had found the main fuse box and so lit up the whole house. I not only understood everything the book was saying, but I recognized the truth of the concepts the next time I looked at someone’s aura.

All my life I had seen auras, and I had taught myself what the different layers were and what the colors and shapes meant. However, it always felt as is some of the pieces weren’t there, like there was some information I should be understanding but wasn’t. Now, all the pieces fell together.

As I continued to travel my life’s path, I had many occasions to give away copies of this book. Some of those I shared the book with also had Aha moments, and others didn’t. Some got the same reaction I had the first time I read it—that there’s something very true in this material, but never fully understanding all of the concepts and ideas. No matter how much, if any, of the information people got from the book, I was happy just to share it with others.

Several weeks ago, I had the chance to again share the book with several people. This time as I handed them each a copy of the book, the copyright date caught my attention. Something about it seemed off, but other things took my focus and I let it go. As the week continued, though, the date continued to niggle at my mind, and I finally went in search of my own copy of the book. I checked the copyright date, and then after several calculations I finally realized why it bothered me so. According to the copyright date, my mother gave me the book before it was published.

Convinced there had to be some mistake, I actually contacted the publishers and asked for the first release date. They quoted the same date as in my copy of the book. So, somehow, some way, in some alternate reality, I read that book, the book that awakened my mind and released my soul years before it became available in our world.