Unpopular Opinions #1

I can’t sleep, so…here are some trees. #ilovetrees

Also, two things are heavy on my mind tonight, both I feel like sharing because two other friends have shared these same thoughts in the past day:

  1. The “I never let my pain/disability/illness stop me” narrative is ableist and harmful. Sometimes, even with illnesses that aren’t considered chronic but pop up just long enough to make you have to see a doctor/go to the ER and piss you off, you ARE held back/unable to do all the things. And guess what? That’s ok. You shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about it just because someone else doesn’t understand (or simply refuses to entertain the idea that you shouldn’t have to suffer just for the sake of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” – people like that have health issues way earlier than they’d prefer, and if they don’t want to acknowledge it that’s their cross to bear).
  2. Stop the testing. Bring back the joy. When you sit in front of a kid with a stopwatch to time them on ANYTHING, whether it’s speed reciting multiplication tables or the alphabet or the periodic table, and they aren’t fast enough to beat the clock, they feel embarrassed, like they’ve failed or let down someone they are supposed to impress, or worse – they just feel plain stupid. Guess what? They’re not. Kids learn at different paces and have interests and greater abilities in different areas – JUST LIKE ADULTS DO. Some are good at labor. Some are good at creative endeavors. Some are good at organizing. Some are good at service. EVERYONE is needed. If you’re putting a bunch of rules (besides actual grammar rules) on reading and writing, and putting a bunch of pressure on a kid to meet some ridiculous and possibility unattainable standard (for them), you’re not teaching them to read or write well – nay nay, my friend. If that’s how you’re teaching? You’re teaching them to HATE reading and writing – even about the things they love.

Anyway, just some “unpopular opinions” that I have been arguing with myself about for a little while now.

Do good. Be kind. Be compassionate. And remember, all of those things are verbs, not just words. You’re not perfect either, so give others a break – especially when they’re already down. Try offering a hand to lift them up instead of a foot to the side while they’re down that makes them not WANT to get up. People need help, not hate. One day, you’ll need help, too. Love y’all. 🙏

Looking Forward (Or Deja Vu?)

You never know where the road is going to take you. Be careful with yourself. Don’t abuse yourself or others, or take your body (or life) for granted.

One day you may be in a situation where you don’t know what’s next for it – and whether you believe me or not, or like it or not, or think it’s a dramatic statement or not, I don’t care – it’s a terrifying and uncomfortable place to be, especially when you have small children.

It’s funny how you can be considering the future, looking forward and not behind, but feel as though you are watching your past happen all over again – and you never expected it and thought you’d done everything to prevent it from ever being this way again. Well. When it comes to the body, and to life, really, sometimes things just happen.

Sometimes things happen and they’re scary and they’re hard and you can’t talk about it because…well, no one will understand and you don’t want anyone to act a certain way, or maybe you just don’t want to be vulnerable because you’re already possibly more vulnerable than many people assume.

You don’t mean to be vague but you are just doing the best you can to process your own existence – and you have no clue. None. Not even a tiny one. You’re just waiting. You’re waiting because it’s deja vu and you know what happened then; but, it’s also a different experience and you know it’s “now,” not “then,” but you’re gun-shy from the last experience…so time is the only source of answers, if time or answers even exist.

Life is like driving a car. You can drive all you want, but you never really have power or control over anything. Forces far greater than you do – and sometimes they’re not kind. And, if you think you do have everything under control? It’s an illusion.

Don’t delude yourself. You’re going to be in a world of hurt at some point, if you do. Don’t forget that when you dance, eventually you have to pay the band.

Don’t assume you know people. Don’t assume you know what’s going on in their life. Don’t judge based on what you THINK you know, because in reality? You don’t know squat except about yourself. Focus on that, unless you do know facts and you can be of some emotional or physical help in someone’s life.

That’s what the last few years have taught me, in being treated like crap, and allowing myself to be used by people and abused by the medical system. Did it make me stronger? Wiser? Yes. Did it hurt? Badly? Also, absolutely yes.

Don’t be a selfish jerk. Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Make it a great day. I love you all. ❤️

~C.

Fertilize Your Mind

Quote from a colleague:

“The quest for knowledge can not be abandoned.”

So very true. Expand your mind. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant, or, worse yet, frozen in time like this camellia in my backyard this morning.

The brain naturally shrinks with age, despite being filled with this “knowing” stacked upon that “knowing,” even without trauma or defects caused by medical situations or diseases.

…with increasing age and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions, and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones. (NCBI)

It’s hard enough to remember what you already know as you get older, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to continue to learn – even if that includes unlearning only to relearn from a different perspective. The only way to slow the shrinkage is to continue to learn.

Read. Think about things in an interactive way. Write. Do things to exercise your brain, whether with puzzles or word games or just deep conversations with yourself in thought. Train (and/or retrain) your mind. Remain active in mindful and conscious ways. You’ll thank yourself for it.

I suppose this is a big deal to me because of physiological psychology and being a scholar in that field, but more than anything it comes from what I watched my mother suffer as she deteriorated from the added and horrific bonus of early onset dementia that turned to Alzheimer’s.

Take care of your mind. Fertilize it. Grow it well. Maintain it. Keep it in bloom. ❤️

Frozen Green Things

In nature frozen green things are beautiful and interesting, yet ice and the color green are associated most often in the human mind with unkind and ugly things like envious, bitter, hurtful and hateful hearts. Sad, yes? I’ll stick to nature, thank you very much. 💚❤️

Wolf Moon Sunrise

Sunrise this morning. Can you spot the moon? I’m going to be set up for a better shot when it’s higher in the morning. 💜

With the full moon, a time of seeing clearly and releasing, may you be reminded and have the courage to break the cycles and patterns in your life that do not serve you anything but harm and pain. 🙏

Don’t Grind.

Sunrise thoughts and a thing nature taught me a long time ago. Spirituality and self-discovery go hand in hand, and they work the same way: both are a never ending journey. Wax on, wax off. Learn, unlearn. Learn again. Change habits. Become, unbecome. Become again. Know better, do better. Love yourself, love others. Rinse, repeat.

And this idea so many people have of grinding? It’s insanity. Grinding is NOT what you need to be doing. The definition of grind is to wear away, to destroy. You are killing yourself to do what? Have more stuff that you don’t need? Make other people happy? Working to the point of taking care of yourself is one thing. “Grinding?” Totally different thing.

At some point, you have to decide that you’re going to enjoy what you have while you’re here to enjoy it rather than constantly want more or be dissatisfied in life. In fact? That is exactly why people are dissatisfied in and with their lives. That’s why people are not really and truly happy – “at the core” happy.

It is really because they are doing one (or both) of two things: holding on to what has long been over and carrying anger and bitterness with them in everything they do and doing the things they do for the wrong reasons, or trying to maintain a certain life that isn’t really living. A truly happy life is one that can maintain itself with just a normal amount of effort, because there is balance.

Grind yourself down with a constant focus on one thing – even something you love – and you will no longer be balanced. You will no longer be strong. You will no longer love that thing or that person. You will no longer be you. You will wear away every beautiful, unique thing about yourself and end up exhausted, aching, empty and bitter.

Sunrise.

Please don’t grind. Work hard, but don’t grind. Do more of what makes you happy. Do it from a mindful space and conscious heart. Awaken yourself to ALL that life has to offer. Pro tip: it’s not found in material things. It’s not found in excess. There is no such thing as security – any of us could lose everything in a single breath. No, it’s not something you can hold. It’s something you can feel, and it is found in the space between breaths. You can find it there no matter where you are or what you’re doing or who you’re with – try it, and you’ll see.

No matter what you’re doing, throughout the day today randomly become conscious of the fact that you are breathing. You can still be doing whatever you’re doing – just be aware. In that silent, focused pause between breaths, remember that one day that will be a permanent situation. One day, there will be no breath. One day you will CEASE TO BREATHE, and therefore cease to have that moment. This moment. Any moment. Every moment.

It might come sooner that any of us think, that permanent space between breaths. You never know… Appreciate everything. Even the pain is teaching you. It’s showing you what not to do. It’s showing you what your body needs you do, what your soul needs you to do, what your higher self needs you do.

Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Have a beautiful day. 💜

Lesson From a Nope Rope

I believe this is a hybrid rattlesnake – the product of a timber rattler and a diamondback. I could be wrong.

So, this is raw. I never edited any of this. I have so much b-roll stuff from our hikes and stuff and I pick and choose bits here and there when I produce something. This is some of that footage that I came across when getting my stuff together for the project I’m working on.

I’m glad I came across this. I’d forgotten about it. It reminded of something about myself that I think a lot of people tend to misjudge. Don’t be led astray by my mostly nice, friendly, patient and overly kind demeanor. Don’t think I’m as ignorant as I might look. Don’t think I don’t know things just because I don’t say them out loud. I’m kind – not stupid. I am not afraid of much, not even poisonous snakes in the grass. Thing is, the worst snakes in the grass are people – it’s really the wrong phrase to use to describe a sneaky, lying, abusive human fool. Kind of an insult to snakes, if you ask me…

You see how calm this nope rope is? Maybe it just ate (doesn’t much look like it). Maybe it was a little cool (doubt it because I was sweating like crazy – this was a humid, warm July morning). Actual snakes don’t want to bother you. They really don’t. Maybe this dude just didn’t feel threatened by me. Animals rarely do. Only God knows why that is. But I can tell you this:

I wasn’t afraid of getting close to this guy, even if maybe I should’ve been, but I also was not stupid enough to try to handle it. No – I’m only that stupid when it comes to people. I never used to be the “once bitten, twice shy” type. I used to let them strike me and just forgive and pretend things were fine. I would give a person every reason to believe in me and make sure they knew that I still believed in them and cared about them. I would be willfully ignorant to the point that I was breaking my own heart.

But you know what people do? Even “family?” They don’t see that. They don’t see your heart. They don’t see your actions. They don’t see what you do for them because you love them. They just see what they want and take it from you and go on. Many times they don’t even need be provoked. They’ll strike out of the blue, with no warning at all – unlike this guy, who would have at least warned me. Thing with people is, you have to let them do it more than once. So don’t let them, because if they continually behave in ways that hurt you and refuse to respect you? They’re never going to change. Have no doubt – I have finally learned that lesson.

Today? Once bitten? I’m absolutely going to be twice shy. Still kind, with the same heart beating inside of me, but I’ll never trust you again. Once I’m done, I’m done. And if I ever reach that point with you, you have only yourself and your own behavior to blame. Just ask my father in law. His life wasn’t in vain. He taught all of us this lesson.

Devil’s Backbone (Again)

Some shots from Devil’s Backbone…

Also, had this on my mind tonight:

You don’t know what someone is dealing with…what they’re going through. Sometimes a person can be confident and also anxious, look healthy but be sick, look happy and be miserable, look good but feel ugly, act hopeful but feel hopeless, smile and be broken, or never smile at all and be happy… You don’t know. So unless you ask, don’t judge. Don’t assume. Sometimes a person you see every single day or think you know very well can be fighting battles you know nothing about.

Be kind.