Saturday, April 29, 2006

The "I" in Community

I came home from my part-time job yesterday to a beautiful bouquet of pink roses...courtesy of my best friend. I will admit, that I have not been the easiest person to live with as of late and, unfortunately, she ends up "feeling my pain" the most. However, through it all she understands that I am going through a tough time right now (hence the roses to cheer me up) and has been exhibiting the patience of Job...and for that I am eternally grateful!

But who would have thought that a bouquet of roses would bring about such introspection...

There was a time in my life when I thought flowers were a waste. I thought: why spend money on something that is just going to shrivel up and die? My feelings changed once I was able to appreciate the beauty of the flower while it was living - its vibrant color and pleasant fragrance - and when I was introduced to preserving flowers so that I could continue to enjoy them...a long lasting reminder of a fond memory or kind gesture. It was the latter of those realizations that made me think...

What am I doing to ensure that my life - what I have done and stood for - will be preserved?

Now, I don't mean "preserving" my life like the fantastic Walt Disney myth/rumor/urban legend! I mean, what am I doing so that when I die, my life doesn't get tossed away like 95% of my bouquets of flowers do, but rather is one of the "chosen" bunches of flowers that is deemed beautiful enough to preserve? I arrive, finally, at the topic of today's post (it sure did have a big lead in...didn't it?)...

Where is the "I" in community? By the "I" I mean: me. By the "community" I mean: community service.

Growing up my mother stressed the importance of giving back...enforced it even. From the moment I was able to stand, I was volunteering in my community. Whether it was plating meals at Thanksgiving Dinners, packing toys for the Christmas Toy Drive or bagging groceries at the Food Bank...I was there to lend a helping hand. Now? Not so much...and that is just plain ol' unacceptable because my Momma taught me better than that!

To dismiss any confusion, I dare not suggest that I serve my community merely for selfish reasons. My sole reason for giving back would be to help those that are less fortunate than make someone's life better by my actions. But as a result of that - how beautiful it would be to, when I die, be remembered not just for being the life of the party or the one that always made you laugh...but as the one that gave of her time so that other's might eat, so that families would be sheltered, so that children would be clothed, so that injustice would be fought. Now THAT, to me, is self-preservation.

I also think, or know, that lately my life has been very "me" focused...MY feelings, MY finances, MY troubles...MY divorce (cry me a river Justin...I mean, really). I think it would do my soul and spirit a whole heap of good to put the "I" back into community. How ironic would it be if concentration on the lives of others led to clarificiation of my life's purpose? But, if not that, or anything else, it would be a constant reminder that: there but for the grace of God go I!

So...I must act! I must do some research on volunteer groups/organizations with which I can associate. Even if I begin by dedicating one Saturday a is more than I am doing now. I want to make a difference. I want to be an active participant in making this world a better place. I want my life to be like my bouquet of pretty, pink roses...beautiful enough to be a part of the "chosen" bunch!

"If I can help somebody as I pass along.
If I can cheer somebody with a word or a song.
If I can show somebody that he's traveling wrong,
Then my living shall not be in vain."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pride & Prejudice

It finally happened. Although I'm not sure that I should even say "finally" because I don't think that the possibility of this happening has ever crossed my mind. But today, it came up the escalator and met me square in the eyes.

Today I ran into an aquaintance from college...and I was just starting my shift at my part-time, retail job.

I was on my way to an empty register to drop of items from other departments that had somehow found their way into mine. As soon as I reached the escalator...I saw her. For the sake of anonymity, I'll call her "Tall Girl." Although my steps probably stuttered and my heart was racing, I managed to make eye contact. I smiled and spoke...the conversation went something like this:

Tall Girl: "Heeeeey!"
Me: "Oh my goodness, are you?"
Tall Girl: "I'm fine how are you?"
Me: "Good, good...and you?"
Tall Girl: "I'm hanging in there. It's so good to see you!"
Me: Yeah, you too!
Tall Girl: Are you living in this area now?"
Me: "Yeah, I am."
Tall Girl: "Oh really where?"
Me: "I'm in Upper Marlboro. I just moved back a year ago. I was actually out in LA for a while. I had gotten married, but I'm in the midst of a divorce."
Tall Girl: "Really? How'd you like Cali?"
Me: "Girl...I hated it. I'm sorry, I know that's your home town."
Tall Girl: "'s alright. You see I'm here right? I'm actually supposed to be moving over to this area in the fall."
Me: "Where are you living now?"
Tall Girl: "I'm in South West (that's an area in DC). But I'm over this way all the time."
Me: "So what else is going on?"
Tall Girl: "Nothing...just working. I really don't do too much of anything. So how long had you been married?"
Me: "Well, technically I'm still married. It will be three years in July."
Tall Girl: "Any kids?"
Me: "Nope, no kids."
Tall Girl: "Well, that's good. Makes it a bit easier"
Me: " I'm just working this part-time job...trying to bring in some extra cash."
Tall Girl: "I hear that...I was thinking about doing the same thing. Let me give you my number...we should get together sometime. Call me whenever you want to hang out."
Me: "Okay...that sounds good."

That was pretty much the gist of it. We exchanged numbers and email addresses, hugged and said our goodbyes. I let out a huge sigh of relief that the encounter was over. Not because of her, she wasn't the was actually really nice to see her. It was me. As silly as it may sound: I. was. embarrassed.

My pride got the best of me and at that moment I was ashamed to be working where I am. I felt foolish standing across from Tall Girl holding a handful of clothing and adorning a name tag on a lanyard hanging from my neck. The same Tall Girl with whom I had sat in classes and had graduated with honors. I was overcome by the humilation of not having a more impressive story to tell...of a flourishing career, successful relationship and/or sensational social life. I felt compelled to excuse my current employment by giving more information than she needed, or even cared to know, about my personal situation. At that moment I felt like all my life had amounted to being was what stood in front of her...a part-time, retail sales associate.

I tried to shake it off. Tried to hold my head high and go about the rest of my day. But then my best friend, that I live with and who is also working part-time at the same retail establishment, came over to my department and I told her that I ran into Tall Girl. She didn't remember her, but she chuckled and said something along the lines of: "Humph...I bet she's thinking 'what a great life you've made for yourself!'" And although my friend said this in jest, the feeling came back. I stuttered a response to say that it wasn't like that...that she hadn't made me feel any less than. She hadn't...not in the least bit. I felt the way I did because of my foolish pride and the realization of my own ugly prejudices.

Truth be told, I don't really know what this aquaintance was thinking of me, but I'm assuming the best. What I do know, however, is had the shoe been on the other foot...if I had been Tall Girl...I would have definitely been wondering: Why is she working retail? We graduated Howard together...what happened to her? I would have thought this because I would have judged her situation, only knowing of her college life and absolutely NOTHING of what had brought her to this point. Not that working retail is the worse thing in the world but let's face it, the industry is primarily made up of high school/college students and retirees.

I guess it showed on my face because later my friend came back to my department to ask if what she had said hurt my feelings. I told her it didn't hurt my feelings because I had thought the same thing and that this isn't a life that I would have wanted for myself. My friend tried to console me by saying that she was just joking and that she wouldn't think that about me. My response to her was: but you said it, so you were thinking it. And the sad part is, so was I. But I won't any more...I am ridding myself of that prejudice that I never realized I had. I will try to no longer assume anything and if presented with a situation such as this...if I were to see someone from college doing something that I wouldn't have expected...I will say a prayer. My prayer will be that if this is what they want to do, that it will bring them unsurmountable joy; and if it is not what they want to be doing, that they be blessed with an opportunity of a lifetime!

Understanding that I have a steep "self-restoration" hill to climb, I knew that I couldn't let this incident and my feelings break my spirit. I had to put things in perspective. I reminded myself that I am "taking care of business" and doing what I need to do to better my current situation. That I am not settling for this part-time job, but am actively trying to find full time employment. That I should revel in my sound work ethic and my ability to maintain some aspect of responsibility despite my current circumstances.

Although at times it is hard to say and believe - especially on days like today - I have NOTHING to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. I have just hit a rough patch in my life, but it's just for a moment...because "trouble don't last always." And I'm so glad about that!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Reality Checked

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water....

So, I feel like I'm doing really well with moving onward and upward. And in all honesty, I really have to give myself credit because I'm doing a pretty kick ass job. But today, I was backslapped in the face with the reality of what is my still a part of my life at the moment...I. Am. Still. Angry.

I had to go by my old apartment today (the one that my soon-to-be-ex-husband still lives in) to pick up a couple of things of mine that I needed. Since the apartment technically still is mine too, I have left the majority of my things there instead of paying for storage...I refuse to add that expense to my list until absolutely necessary. When I go to the apartment, I try to be as quick as I possibly can...get in and get out so that I don't risk the chance of running into my soon-to...well, you know. But, I always take a minute to do a once over of the place just to make sure that what is supposed to be there still is (I don't fear that he would ever be evil enough to damage my property...but hey, you just never know). we're getting to the good part...

During my "inventory" I noticed something missing...but it wasn't anything of mine exactly. It was condoms...approximately three if my memory serves me correctly. Then I started to notice other the apartment was relatively clean (based on my last three or four visits, you would have thought a serial killer lived there) and there was a new candle on the dresser...that had been lit! * Blink, blink.........blink* Huh???

You would think that this would be the cause of the anger that I mentioned earlier...but it's not. Do I care that he might be having sex on the bed/mattress that is going with me when I find a new place? HELL YES...I have no idea who she is, where she's been or what she has. However, do I care that he is having sex? ABSOLUTELY NOT! In all actuality, his having sex (which is still considered adultery since we are not officially divorced) could speed up the process of us going our separate ways if, and that's a BIG IF, he was willing to admit to it. Ummmm....yeah....about that...

Anyway, I run a few more errands and head back current home that is. I noticed, from the caller ID, that he has called but didn't leave a message. This is weird because we strictly communicate via text message and email...the less face-to-face encounters, the less drama. I check my email and I have a message from him regarding a financial obligation that he's supposed to be tending to...but that's a WHOLE other story. His email calls for me to respond...which I do.

But you KNOW I had to put a little sumthin' on it...

I mention the "disappearing act" to him and tell him that I'm cool if that's what he has chosen to do and that we can have this marriage dissolved a lot quicker if he would be willing to admit to what he had done (requirement of the court). I really meant that...and I wasn't mean, I wasn't nasty, I didn't give attitude. I know that some might view this as me not being "okay" with it, or still "having feelings for him," or not being "over" the situation...but it is nothing like that at all...TRUST ME! I just thought I would throw it against the wall to see if it would stick...see if he would suprise me and admit it so that I could collect my Get Out of Jail Free card.


Why, oh why, did I give him the benefit of the doubt? Why did I think that I would get anything different than what I've gotten before? Why did I think that this second (and final) round of separation would cause him to grow up?

My email prompted an email back from him and he usual. Was usual. Put it back on usual. Played the usual.

Pushed my buttons...AS USUAL!

THAT is what makes me angry...I still let his foolishness get to me. I still feel like I have to defend myself and state what we BOTH know is true about the kind of person I am and the kind of wife I was to him. I still let his little "shots" frustrate me. So much so that I went back and forth with least three rounds of emails...and I knew that was EXACTLY what he wanted me to do!!!

The following things I know for sure:

1. I am no longer in love with this man...I don't even love him. I like him okay, but that's even questionable at times.
2. I no longer owe him ANYTHING...well, maybe I'll rephrase that to "VERY MUCH" because we still have some joint obligations that I will not turn my back on.
3. I am not dealing with the most rational, considerate, objective or mature individual.
4. He is very much aware of how to vex me...and he will do so any chance he can get.
5. It only sets me back on my journey when I fall into his traps and get worked up over nonsense.

Soooooo...if I am certain of all of the above, then why do I sill do it? Why am I so angry? Why do I still want to fight? Why do I allow him get to me? Part of me thinks that I cannot stand to think that people have misunderstood me (even though I know full well he doesn't really believe the things he says...but I feel there is always that possibility that he could). The other part of me thinks that I just want revenge. I want pay backs. I want to make him feel as bad as he has made me feel.

Regardless of why I do it, the bottom line is that I need to let go of this anger...this desire to avenge. But when you love as hard and as deeply as I do...when you put your needs second to the needs of another...when you strive each day to make someone else's life easier and more enjoyable...when you do these things and more, and that someone proves to be undeserving, unappreciative and totally feel cheated.

I was cheated. And I don't say that in a "woe is me" kinda way, but a "matter-of-fact" kinda way. I was cheated and that, be it justified or not...whether it makes sense or not, makes me angry.

Reality? Check!

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Okay...I might just be suffering from exhaustion and an aimlessly wandering mind...


Does anyone have a clue as to what the image is on my banner? Is it leaves? Is it fruit of some sort? I haven't a clue. Since I began this blog to chronicle my journey back to all things joyful and peaceful, I picked this template primarily because of its soothing and calming colors...not for the image per se.

Every time I log onto my site, I wonder. So I just thought I would ask. And, since I'm not in the position to offer a cash prize, kudos to the most creative response (or the most accurate)!

Clearly it's time for me to go to bed...LOL!

Friday, April 14, 2006

"Hoppy Easter"

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I know I'm what? Although I, like many of you I'm sure, have never understood why we have the Easter bunny rather than the Easter chicken (or some other animal that actually does lay eggs).

Just one of those things that makes you go, hmmmmm (right, MzNewAgenda? See post from 4/7/06)

I also realize that I am two days early with my well wishes, but I don't know what my weekend is going to look I wanted to make sure I did wish you all well. Better early, than not at all!

Don't you just love Easter? I do. The implication of spring and warm weather. The endless array of beautiful pastel colors. Speckled Malted Robin Eggs (my absolute favorite Easter candy). Dying eggs (doesn't the smell of vinegar always remind you of Easter?). Little girls in their pretty Easter dresses...ruffled arms, ruffled socks and white patent leather shoes (that are guaranteed to have atleast one black scuff mark on them by the end of church). Easter "pieces." The remembrance of the Resurrection and all that it means and affords us...most importantly, new life.

New. Life. *sigh* Imagine that...

No wonder I love stands for EXACTLY what I am in need of...a rebirth. Isn't it awesome when things click? I'm on my way folks...I'm on my way!

Happy Easter everyone!!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Owe LA An Apology

From commercials, to television shows and movies...lately, I am constantly being reminded of Los Angeles. What has come as a HUGE surprise to me is that these reminders have been leaving me feeling quite melancholy and, something that I hate to ever feel, regretful.

If you were to ask most of my close friends and family, they would tell you that I hated Los Angeles. And, they have perfectly good reason to say that because that's exactly what I told them...every chance that I could get. I told them how miserable I much I wanted to stupid I was for moving there. But as time drew closer for me to head back East, I began to realize that it wasn't really Los Angeles that I was the life that I had there that was the problem.

I had forgotten that I had this revelation until a couple days ago when it dawned on me that: I...miss...Los Angeles!

I spent four years in the City of Angels after moving there to be with my soon-to-be-ex-husband under the condition, and agreement, that we wouldn't be there for more than two years. Therein lies the problem! I moved there already ready to leave, so I never really gave it the chance that it deserved. And once my relationship/marriage started to go south, FUGETTABOUTIT! You couldn't have paid me a million bucks to say anything nice about that place. BUT, if I am honest, the truth of the matter was (and is) there were many wonderful things that I experienced in Los Angeles:

Sunny and mild weather almost every day of the year. Having a tan all year round. Driving down Pacific Coast Highway (PCH to the natives) with the wind whipping through my hair and not a care in the world other than chosing which restaurant at which to have brunch. Window shopping on Rodeo Drive. Watching the sunset from the Hollywood Hills. Chicken & waffles at Roscoes on Pico (cause the one in Hollywood is no bigger than my closet). Early afternoon beers & burgers on outdoor patios at the Hermosa Beach pier. Shopping at the Beverly Center or the Grove and running into people that you see each week on TV. Farmers markets...oh how I love them! Falling in love with watching baseball live at Dodgers Stadium (I'm all about the Dodger Dogs). Authentic Mexican food and "scratch" margaritas. Outdoor concert venues (for fans, imagine seeing Brian McKnight in concert under a star filled sky). "Girl's Night In" with cases of "Two Buck Chuck" ($1.99 Charles Shaw wine sold at Trader Joe's...don't knock it 'til you try it!). Being within short driving distance of the most magical place on earth...Disneyland. Burke Williams spas...even the water is yummy! People watching (or rather, "weirdo" watching) on Venice Beach. Weekend trips to Santa Barbara and San Diego. Martini's and tapas overlooking the Santa Monica pier. The Third Street the the biggest outdoor "shopping malls." The pulse of our communities...Inglewood, So. Central, Compton (they're not AS scary as some make them out to be...atleast not during the The spirit of entertaining...everybody throws soirees, has get togethers and is one big party! The easy, laid back vibe of the entire city...where ponytails, sunglasses, tanks, capris and flip flops were acceptable attire for almost any occasion (aside from anything "industry" related).

I made a lot of great friends in LA. Growing up, many of my friends happened to be I was used to hanging with people who didn't look like me. However, I never would have thought that I would ever chill as hard as I did with people from as many different cultures as I did when I was in LA...Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Filipino, Guatemalan. I learned so much from each and every one of them. Unfortunately the reality is that some of them I will never see again, however a good number of them will be friends of mine for life.

I let so much of this "goodness" go on around me without taking the time to appreciate it all. I was so caught up in my personal nightmare that I sleepwalked my way through the whole experience of living in Los Angeles and gave it reviews that would make even Ebert & Roper wince!

What saddens me more is that even with all of the great things that I can now admit to, there were still things that I didn't experience during my four years on "the Left." I didn't go to the wine country. I never drove down to Mexico. I never went skiing in Big Bear (or tried skiing). I never went to a taping of any of my favorite TV shows...and I'm sure there's more, but if I force myself to think about them all it will make me even more depressed than I already am.

When I hopped in my car and started my drive back to the East Coast, I thought I would never look back. Never again look over my shoulder and see the Hollywood sign. Now, just shy of a year later, I can't wait to get back. Not to live...I don't know if I'm ready to do that again just yet...but to visit. Visit with a new outlook and appreciation. With a new spirit and a happier heart. To view the city with an unbiased eye.

Los Angeles didn't do anything wrong to me...someone IN Los Angeles did. Los Angeles was very good to me...gave me love...welcomed me with open arms and sent me back home with a lot of great memories. So, I must apologize.

I am sorry that I never gave it the fair chance that it deserved. I am sorry that I left without experiencing all it has to offer. I am sorry that I spent the majority of my time there too angry to stop and recognize its beauty.

I just hope that I can be forgiven and that I am still welcome...because I would love to give it another chance!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I Wonder If She Really Knows: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

"I wonder, I wonder if you really knew
That I see God in you
And I wonder if you can see
How much you mean to me
I know you cannot read my mind
But I hope you feel the vibe
I think it's time I let you know that
I see the God in you"

"I See God In You"

Usually, I would relate this song to a love interest. And I guess you can say that, in a way, I am. Today is my Mom's 60th birthday...30 years ago, she became my very first best friend...and the very first love of my life.

There aren't many people in this world that I would die for. This is the truth and is not meant to discredit the relationships I have with, or the love that I have for, any of my family, friends or loved ones. However, I say with all that I have within me, that I would give my life to save the life of my Mother.

My Mother is a living angel...I am certain of it. She gave me life. She went without so I did not. She isn't just a teacher of what is right, but is also the ultimate example. She was (and still is) dedicated to her children and, at a time when the men in her life proved to be otherwise, worked three jobs when most others would have given up. She gave back to her community and made us do the same. The life that she lives, her sweet spirit and kind soul are what make it impossible for me to name a single soul that has a bad thing to say about her...and I say that with no exaggeration.

Had it not been for what I experienced as a young girl, I might take my mother's birthday - and birthday's in general - very lightly. But it was that summer evening in 1986 when I almost lost my Mother to respiratory arrest in the parking lot of our local grocery store that made me realize that the celebration of another year of life is just that...a celebration of yet another one of God's blessings! The doctor's said that she shouldn't have made it, but I thank God that she did!

I will not lie and tell you that there was never a moment in my life when I didn't like my mother...I was a teenager, remember? A time when I didn't think she understood me or knew what she was talking about. A time when I probably thought that my life would be better without her as my mother. But for every one of those thoughts, she provided me with a million and one things to negate my nonsensical thinking.

All that one might label as "good" in me, came from her. I cannot take credit for even one of my positive traits or characteristics. Sure, I have had to learn plenty of personal lessons...I have had to make decisions and choices of my own...I have had to experience life for myself, especially once I became an adult. But at the core of every life experience, every decision or choice, was a characteristic or lesson that I learned from my Mother.

She taught faith when she introduced me to God.
She taught forgiveness when she took care of my father, her once abuser, on his death bed.
She taught charity when she worked Toy Drives not knowing how she was going put gifts under the tree for her own children.
She taught honesty when she gave me a straight answer for every question that I asked.
She taught hope each night she prayed for a better life for herself and her children.
She taught accountability every time she admitted to her faults and mistakes.
She taught gratitude each time she showed thanks for what she had been given.
She taught patience through her work with children.
She taught love with every hug and kiss.
She taught discipline each time she "administered" punishment.
She taught perserverance with each burden she had to bear.
She taught strength by overcoming physical challenges.
She taught integrity each time she refused to meet ignorance with ignorance.
She taught peace with welcoming the sounds of silence.
She taught objectivity whenever she challenged me to consider a different way.
She taught flexiblity in her acceptance when things didn't go as planned.

The list is endless.

For all of the above, and so much more, I pay tribute to and honor my Mother's life. I am thankful that, on April 9, 1946, God manifested Himself in the woman that I call "Mother." It is by His grace that I Journey Back to Joy with one of the best and most qualified counselors by my side.

I know that He is...because I see Him in her every time I look into her eyes.


I love you with all of my heart and thank you...for everything!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wish Me Luck

Although I have never seen the show "A Chorus Line" I do know some of the music...and "I Need This Job" keeps playing over and over in my head.

I am so ready to get back to work! This unemployment, without being independently wealthy, bit is getting a bit T-I-R-E-D!!! This whole "no job" situation truly has humbled me in more ways than one. It has taught me a valuable lesson...the lesson of spending with discretion and that, although I don't overspend, there are some things that I can do without in order to save more. It has also opened my eyes to just how hard finding a job can be. Until now, getting interviews came VERY easy to me. Until now, I had never interviewed for a job and not gotten an offer.

But I am hoping that my luck of late (or lack of luck) has changed. I have my first interview in quite some time, with a staffing agency that handles a number of opportunites that are of real interest to me tomorrow. It is my prayer that something will come of this. My hunt for employment has been difficult enough without adding college gradutes into the mix. Graduation is right around the corner and if I don't find something within the next couple of weeks, I'm afraid I might be screwed with all of the cheap and eager labor that is soon going to be flooding the lobbies of every company in the Washington DC metro area!

So...that being said, I need all of the good luck, well wishes, prayers, chants, magic, etc. that you can muster up. Whatever you got...I'll take (just no voodoo Although I always get lost in blog world until the wee hours of the night (or morning rather), I'm going to try to call it a night at a decent hour tonight. Even though my interview isn't until late afternoon, I want to start my day off right...and a good night's sleep can make all of the difference in the world.

I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"You're Fired" & "I'm Tired"!!!

Who would have ever guessed that two episodes of "The Apprentice" would cause such disharmony between best friends!

For those of you who don't watch/didn't see tonight's episode, a previous subject matter resurfaced: observation of the Jewish holiday. Both for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, one or more of the contestants were unable to participate in the challenge due to the observance of these "high holidays." This began, as I assume it did for many viewers, a "discussion" of whether or not these individuals that were members of the losing team should be brought into the board room to risk being fired just because they chose to acknowledge and observe their religion/holiday rather, essentially.

My best friend felt they should be subject to scrutiny and/or termination - that it was their choice to observe the they should just deal with whatever comes as a result of that. She stated that there was no law saying that you had to obeserve the holiday and that the individuals weren't going to go to hell if they didn't go to synagouge. (Of course they won't because they don't believe in "hell" per se...but that's a whole other subject)

I, however, strongly disagree. I believe that it is immoral and unethical to persecute someone because of their religious beliefs and/or practices. I also believe, and failed miserably at getting my friend to truly understand, that what some might view as a "choice" others view as a "way of life" - unwavering and uncompromising. So...if they are not seeing their religious beliefs/practices as a "choice" - who is anyone to stand in judgement of that?

To have "feelings" regarding their religious decision is one thing. To "judge" them based on their religious decision is something TOTALLY different.

This diatribe, of sorts, lasted for about an hour. Voices were raised, sentences were cut off and drowned out by the other person's point that had to be made. It was heated, it was was everything that causes companies to enforce the "unwritten" rule of refraining from any and all discussion regarding religion.

Eventually I just gave in...mostly because I was tired of the whole thing, but also because I realized that it was my fault that the discussion traveled the path that it did. See, this was not the first time that we have had conversation about religion and/or spirituality. This was, though, the first time that it has been as intense as it was. I say that it was my fault because I made, what I consider to be very serious, assumptions about my best friend (that has been such since our freshman year in college).

I assumed that she was a Christian.
I assumed that she was raised in the church.
I assumed that she was God fearing.
I assumed that she had a personal relationship with God.
I assumed that she had faith.
I assumed that she believed God created, planned and orchestrated our lives.
I assumed that she prayed and believed in the power of prayer.
I assumed that she believed that God has a purpose for our lives.
I assumed that she believed in the Bible (regardless of the various intepretations).
I assumed that she held religion/spirituality in very high regard.
I assumed that she had respect for religious institution and practices.

I assumed A LOT! Now I say this as a DISCLAIMER: I am in NO WAY saying that the assumptions listed above are totally false. She made a great point last night when she asked why I would assume anything about her spiritual life since we never worshiped together, prayed together, etc. Although they don't take the place of a heart-to-heart conversation, I made my assumptions based on little things she has mentioned/things I noticed throughout the years: she is Baptist, she went to a Christian school, her family goes to church, she prays, she owns a Bible, she listens to some gospel music, she got married in a church, her Mom sends her pages from the "Daily Bread", she recognized that couples that worship/pray together have strong relationships, she's talked about going to church...stuff like that.

I guess because of all that, I didn't see any need to ask any type of direct questions regarding the matter. Partly because I thought I already had the answers and partly because, in actuality, it doesn't really matter what she believes. What she believes and what I believe don't have to be the same thing...not only in religion, but in any aspect in life. This, however, does not take way the fact that it was quite alarming to discover that there were things that I didn't know about my best friend of 12 years, as well as assumptions that I made that might not be 100% accurate.

Case in point: She mentioned that she realized that religion is a very sensitive subject for me and that when we discuss it I get rather...well...sensitive. I had no idea that she hadn't realized how much religion and spirituality meant to me. And this entire post is on what I didn't realize about her...or rather, my assumptions of her.

What I also don't think she has noticed is her apathy towards religion/spirituality...the snide comments about organized religion, her indifference towards my spiritual opinions and growth, her distrust in spiritual servants, her disbelief in divination, her incessant challeging of what other's believe. This is slightly upsetting and disappointing to me - especially because it usually manifests itself due to something that I have said, done or watched.

Although I can respect her feelings and beliefs (while at the same time disagreeing), it sure would be nice to have your best friend on the same spiritual/religious accord with you when you are going through a valley. Of course it is possible, as it is very much so in our friendship, for one to receive support and love and kindess and concern from a friend regardless of religious orientation. But I guess that part of my Journey Back to Joy includes reconnecting with my spiritual self...and I would like to feel comfortable sharing that with my best friend and vice versa.

Throughout the discussion, my friend said some things that really made my skin crawl...made me want to get up and leave the room. But I didn't...because come hell (no pun intended) or high water...she is my VERY BEST FRIEND and I love her dearly. I would trust her with my life and what we DO have in common far outweighs what we DON'T. This has just been a learning process encompassing a very touchy subject...but I will not (nor do I believe will she) allow this to change/damage our friendship.

What is funny is that you might think, based on this post, that I was a Bible-totin', Scripture-quotin' kinda gal...but I'm not a religious fanatic. I do, however, have a very strong and personal relationship with God. That is a very important part of my life. I don't go to church every Sunday, but I acknowledge God every day. It is not something that I take lightly. It is something to which I show great reverence.

For me, it is not a "choice" - I have read books, I have debated, I have researched, I have considered, I have listened, I have witnessed, I have learned, I have questioned - and at the end of the day I stand firm in what I believe...

...unwavering and uncompromising.

* An Aside: Donald Trump is a very saavy business man...I kinda wonder whether or not he scheduled his show around these holidays on shake it up a bit and force people to take a side. Since he firmly believes that one should be allowed to observe religious holidays without penalty (his right-hand-man George was even absent these days for cryin' out loud), he could have very easily filmed before or after this holiday season...or even gave everyone the day off. The whole thing was so blatant that now I'm thinking that this could NOT have been an accident! Things that make you go: hmmmmmmmmmmm...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Hug, Please

HUG: (H)eartfelt, (U)niversal, (G)esture.

I don't know exactly what it is...but there is nothing like a warm embrace. Positive and electrifying energy being transfered from one being to another. I'm a big hugger...I always have been...I believe they are healing.

Hugs don't have limbs, yet they can carry you through life's valleys. Hugs carry no currency, yet they can sometimes ease the burden of waning finances. Hugs are not porous, yet they have the ability to dry the weepiest of eyes.
Hugs don't have a voice, yet they speak words of understanding, encouragement, strength...and love.

It has been a rough morning for me, and I am in need of a hug.

* An I-didn't-have-to-ask-you-just-knew kind of hug...
* An I-won'
t-let-you-go-until-you-tell-me-to kind of hug...
* An I-want-to-take-away-the-pain kind of hug...
* An I-didn't-know-how-much-I-needed-this-until-you-
kind of hug...
* A Don't-be-afraid-to-let-it-all-out kind of hug...
* An In-case-this-is-the-last-time-we-see-each-other kind of hug...
* A Let-me-be-your-soft-place-to-land kind of hug...
* An I-may-not-know-what-to-say-but-I-want-you-to-know-
kind of hug...
* An I-NEED-YOU-TO-SURVIVE kind of hug...

I need THAT kind of now.

"A silent hug means a thousand words to the unhappy heart." I'm not sure to whom I should credit this quote, but I will say that he/she summed up the way I feel in 11 simple words. It's not always about speaking the "right words" or inscribing the "perfect message." At the point that someone needs the kind of hug like I do today, there are no words...there is no message. Your ears do not have the ability to hear what is needed to take away the pain...the frustration...the confusion...the disappointment...the deperation...the sadness.

I realize that many of us have a "thing" about personal space, but that's not what I am referring to. I'm talking about an exchange between ones...lovers. So many people shy away from the human touch...never allowing themselves to feel its power, its energy, its healing and calming effect. It saddens me when I see people who can't give hugs because that makes me wonder if they ever got them.

If someone you know and/or love needs a hug, give it. If you are in need of a hug from someone you know and/or love, accept it.

It has been a rough morning for me, and I am in need of a hug...