Thursday, February 25, 2010

Respect, Acceptance, and Rejection

A few things have happened recently to make me realize that sometimes, I’m a disrespectful ass.

I’ve spent so much time in my life trying to shape my behavior based on what I think other people think about me (see ‘rejection’ tag on this blog), because I wanted so badly to be accepted.

So, when I started to break free from that, and from those hefty chains, I noticed a bit of a swing in the opposite direction: not worrying one bit about how my actions or words affected others, or might come across.

As you might expect, there’s a little bit of backlash to that, especially since I’m still relatively new at this ‘expressing myself’ thing. I’m bound to make mistakes.

I think this issue is two-fold. I’ll attempt to explain…

Issue 1:

Let’s take one of the bad habits I’m trying to break, like being late all the time.

I’ve struggled a lot with being late. All of my friends know that they can expect me to be anywhere from 5-15 minutes late to an in-person meeting.

For some reason, it’s a huge issue for me to be on time, let alone early. I always think I can squeeze in just one more thing before I need to leave. Or, I oversleep or take too long of a shower, and as a result, I’m running late from the get-go. The worst is when I get distracted (oo! shiny!) and lose track of time. I am ADD, after all, and this is one area where I haven't coped well with ADD at all.

I’ve been written up in previous jobs for being late. I’ve been “talked to” about it by other employers.

(I’m fortunate now that my current position doesn’t rely heavily on being in to the office at a specific time. I appreciate that flexibility.)

This is a pretty significant nemesis for me, especially since one of the most important things in my life is volunteering for an organization where the sessions I help with are tightly time-bound. In this realm, I’m actually pretty good about being on time. I slip up now and then, but in the overall scheme of things, I do better about being on time for these sessions than I am for anything else in my life.

And being on time takes a lot of preparation on my part. I pick out my outfit the night before. I get my breakfast ready, waiting right by my purse so it's easy to grab. I get my vitamins packed in my purse. My car keys are actually hooked onto my purse, so I always know where they are. The shoes I’m going to wear are right by the door. Everything is all set so that all I have to do is get up, get ready, and go. In other words, I don’t have to think.

That’s how significant it is. It’s engrained. It’s a problem I’ve struggled with my entire LIFE. So, breaking this cycle isn’t going to be easy.

So, it really stings when it’s brought to my attention that being late is still a big problem. I’m so eager to pat myself on the back for being on time “most” of the time, that I let myself off the hook for the times I’m “only” a few minutes late.

From someone else's perspective, I'm certain that being late reflects poorly on my character. It's disrespectful. It says to the other person or group, "You don't matter as much as I do." 

So, the first issue, in a nutshell: I’ve got a bad habit of some sort that I hate working on, and maybe I’m not even sure how to tackle it. I’m far from an organized person, and the universe has already revealed to me that organization is my priority this year. So, I have a lot of judgments wrapped up around how to work on this habit, how hard it is to break this habit and form a new one in its place, etc.

Basically, I criticize myself so much for having this bad habit that anytime someone else brings it up, it feels like I’m looking at an ugly monster.

Issue 2:

I immediately form judgments about the person who’s on the receiving end of whatever my bad habit is.

The hard truth?

It releases me from accountability, and it helps me justify my feelings. I make myself pay for it in the quiet recesses of my mind and heart, but man it looks ugly when other people see it.

So, for example, when I sent an email to a random person (see previous entry) and got no response… how many judgments were wrapped up in what I posted there? Instead of accepting the situation at face value and assuming it had nothing to do with me, I assumed it had everything to do with me, and I reacted accordingly.

How immature is that?

(Um, that’s a rhetorical question.)

Also, how arrogant is that, to assume that I am the one causing someone else’s universe to be out of whack?

So, these are significant problems. The nice thing is that they’re not as huge as the problems I used to have. Not nearly. But it’s something I’m working on.

I ask for patience and compassion from my friends. 

It’s really weird how rejection/acceptance issues manifest in other ways in my life…

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dear Internet...

You know what?

I’m frustrated.

Frustrated may not even cover it, really, but I’ll leave it at just frustrated for now.

This online thing is so annoying at times. Annoying, because I occasionally come across someone who intrigues me—whether it’s with what they say, what they do (jewelry, or mixed media art, or whatever)… or maybe even that through a friend, I’ve discovered someone who lives near me.

So, I do what I want to do, which is reach out and attempt to make a connection.

I have two examples of this. And I’m not even going to bother worrying what they’ll think if they ever see this post, because chances are, they won’t. And if they do, maybe they’ll see that I am a real person with real feelings.

(Or not.)

That isn’t the point, and I get tired of censoring myself for fear of offending “someone” when chances are, no one will be offended.

Example 1:
I saw an artist’s jewelry on the Etsy front page. It looked really different from my jewelry, but also really gorgeous. So, I clicked the photo. I was mystified at how beautiful her creations are, and I immediately felt inadequate, but I tried not to, because I’ve always said (and I firmly believe!) that there’s room for everyone.

There’s room for every type of jewelry designer imaginable. As long as someone makes something that someone else will buy or at least wear… there’s room.

So, I looked through all her designs. And fell in love.

(And if this weren’t a negative post, I would totally plug her jewelry here, for my half-dozen readers.)

But she does this one technique that I really would like to learn. I may never actually do it or find a way to incorporate it into my own designs (which, as I said, are VERY different from hers), but I sure would like to learn how to do it.

So, I went to her blog and left a comment on one of her posts, letting her know that I would love to learn that technique. Did she invent it, or did she learn it somewhere else? I couldn’t find an email address for her anywhere, or I would have emailed her instead. It felt weird to leave a random comment asking about a specific technique, but there you have it. I did.

I even specifically said that I would never copy what she does, because if she took all of two seconds to glance at my Etsy site, she would see that my jewelry is not and never will be anything like hers.

Several days later, I went back to her blog, wondering if she’d responded and I just didn’t get it in email.

The comment was gone.

Come ON.

Deleting a comment? That’s just crappy. I’m not a spammer blowing through a bunch of blogs trying to get free techniques. I was actually willing to pay to learn the technique.

It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Trying to see this from what I perceive to be her perspective: I’m a weirdo who wants to learn a technique so I can steal her jewelry designs and make oodles of money?

Well, fine. I prefer to stick to communities like lampworkers, and like many other jewelry designers, who are perfectly willing to show you techniques they have learned or tips and tricks to working in the medium of choice. If you’re not willing to share a technique with me, whether for free or for a fee, then I don’t want to associate with you anyway, because while I’m incredibly selfish about some things, this isn’t one of them.

Example 2:
A long-time online friend of mine posted about a blog she’s been following. So, I went to the blog, too. And I saw that she lives in the same general vicinity that I do. I thought, “Hey! Small world!” because my online friend and I have never met in person (we live in different states), and what are the odds that I’m going to click on a random link and end up reading the blog of someone who lives in my back yard? Right?


So, I did what I consider to be the friendly thing and sent her an email. I told her where I was and said that I didn’t expect her to tell me, a complete stranger, where she lived exactly, but that I just wanted to say hello and that I liked her art.

No response.

Trying to see it from what I perceive to be her perspective: I’m a weirdo freak who wants to stalk her, she’s had bad experiences in the past after being too open and now doesn’t trust anyone on the internet…

It's also possible that she hasn't had time to respond. This happens to me, occasionally... I leave an email as unread, thinking I'll respond to it soon. "Soon" turns into next week, then next month...

But, I loathe being ignored. I'm trying to be better about responding to emails quickly, especially since I know how it feels to be on the waiting end.

Here are a few of my experiences:
  • Back in my college days, I spent a lot of time on the internet, back when it was really turning into a time suck. I used PINE to “surf” until the AOL/Prodigy days. I spent a lot of time on a MUD/muck/mush called NAILS. I got to know people so well there, that when a meet-up was organized (long before the site came into being), I went. Didn’t even give it a second thought. I’m still friends with some of those folks today. I even met a guy who eventually became my boyfriend.
  • I dated online for years before it was acceptable to do so. I would meet a guy on (and a quick Google shows that site does still exist), we’d talk on the phone for a few days, and then we’d meet. Now, I was kinda dumb about it at first, because invariably I’d have them pick me up where I lived. Little bit naïve, I admit… but I got lucky, and I ended up meeting some great people that way.
  • I met my husband online. We met in 2001, on a dating website. We talked on the phone for several weeks, met up, and the rest is history.
  • And, I’ve met countless friends online. Including a friend in New York. We were online friends for years. We exchanged postcards, letters, and even an occasional phone call. We sometimes send each other presents. So when she invited me to her wedding, I said, “Why not?” and I got on a plane and drove to her house and met her. Getting that first hug was like hugging an old friend I’ve hugged a thousand times. She turned out to be exactly who she presented herself as, and she said the same of me. (Hi P!)

It’s just not scary to me anymore. It’s no big deal. You meet in a public place, and if you don’t hit it off or if the other person is creepy, you move on.

I’ve heard horror stories, of course… people who go to great lengths to create online personas that end up being completely false. Even worse when others buy in to the persona and send gifts, invest lots of time and energy in the person, or worse—send them money. I’ve seen it happen before. Yikes.

The one stalker I’ve had in my lifetime happened during my college days, and we met face to face, so I can’t blame the internet for that one.

What I think it all boils down to, though, is that the two examples I mentioned of being ignored are forms of rejection.

And rejection is one of my biggest issues… even to this day. I hate the thought that someone doesn’t like me. I want everyone to like me, and I finally let myself off the hook for feeling this way. It’s just part of my personality.

I think if you could sit and have a cup of coffee with the people I’m closest with, they would tell you that I am worth knowing.

And, you know what?

I am.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dear John...

I wish I had a good way to broadcast to celebs who keep managing to get themselves in trouble. I mean, I do, with this blog, but let’s be real. My name isn’t Perez Hilton.

I don’t even have a hundred hits a week, because I don’t update as often as I want to or could, I don’t do all the things you’re supposed to do in order to gain more readers quickly. I just write here whenever I feel compelled, and obviously that isn’t very often.

But we’re not talking about me, for once. We’re talking about troubled celebs… and if you want to get more specific—troubled musicians.

I can kind of grasp what it’s like to be a troubled musician. In my own way, I used to be one. I played the piano from third grade on. I used the piano to get into an up-and-coming music school at a high profile university.

And the moment I got my first grade for playing the piano… I knew I was going to quit.

I suddenly wasn’t doing it for myself anymore. I was doing it to get a grade. I felt like a sell-out. I felt like I had to produce, produce, produce, just to be considered someone worth listening to.

That really brought home my understanding of what a musician must go through in order to “make it big”. Especially in this day and age… you have to become something bigger than yourself to be known.

Or else, it takes you many years to gain notoriety, like it has for Adam Ezra—who is an incredibly talented and committed musician… but because he refuses to sell out (good for him, I say) or become something he isn’t, he’s had to work harder to broaden his audience.

And then there’s a whole other type of musician-turned-celeb, like Kurt Cobain. He got swept up in the music, and the press, and he tried to deal, and he failed.

Kanye West is another talented musician who doesn’t seem to have a clue on how to handle fame.

How about the latest debacle, though?

John Mayer.

I love me some John Mayer. His music is at times brilliant, especially his latest work, and now that the ultra-annoying run-through-the-halls-of-my-high-school-scream-at-the-top-of-my-lungs song has all but left the radio waves forever (Thank God. Seriously.).

I do get that he’s a little troubled under that arrogant exterior. And it doesn’t take a genius to realize that, if you read between the lines of what he does and doesn’t sing, he struggles with depression.

I get the feeling that he really does only want to write songs and play guitar, and the rest is just the crap that he built around himself… perhaps as a mode of protection—a façade to hide how hard it is to be in the spotlight all the time.

What I’d like to tell him is… please come to Texas for a while, and give Pathways a try.

It’s more than just media silence. It’s more than just taking a look at yourself.

It’s about healing and learning concrete ways to do it better in the future. I bet Pathways could teach him how to show his fans who he really is… his soft underbelly—which, as a singer/songwriter, you’ve got to be willing to expose… yet still be a grown-up who knows how to maintain his dignity.

I said the following recently, and while the actual topic I was referring to deserves its own post, I’ll post the pertinent excerpt here:

We need to shed this age-old notion that a "real man" is someone who sucks up his feelings and does "what he needs to do".

That's just not true.

A real man is someone who has the courage to face the demons within, allow himself to feel, and show vulnerability to those he loves, while showing compassion and strength to the world around him.

There is undeniable strength in tenderness, and it takes true courage to be vulnerable.

No matter how you do it, John... be a real man.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tip Thursday: Playing Favorites

This edition of Tip Thursday shows off one of my favorite color combinations: pink and blue. Not just any pink and blue, though. Peruvian blue opal with pink. Hot pink, baby pink, purpley-pink, or any other pink.

I love pink, but this particular combination really pops. Whenever I wear this necklace, I wear it with baby pink or a purpley-pink shirt, and I let the Peruvian blue opal pop all on its own.

The opal shows up rather pale in this picture, but it’s really more of a robin’s egg blue. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and anytime I get to show off one of my favorite gemstones with one of my favorite beads (yes, I made that focal bead!), it’s a happy day.

So… try wearing a pop of light blue with pink. It’ll definitely brighten your day!

*Note about Peruvian Blue Opal and Peruvian Pink Opal* These stones are brittle and can break/chip easily, unless you wear them regularly. Like pearls, they require the natural oils of your skin to keep them vibrant and healthy.

Peruvian Blue Opal metaphysical properties: Relatively rare and comes from the Andes in Peru, it is a moderately translucent stone with a blue-green color quite similar to the Caribbean Sea. This stone has soft relaxing energies, and lore tells us that it has the ability to remove the tension from any communication to help ideas to flow freely. It is told to soften the impact of stress from the outside world, helping one to release the trauma of old wounds, facilitating facing the future with a tranquil self healing nature. It is good for quieting the mind and helpful in aiding sleep. [Source]

Oh, wait… I should mention that I’ve also put peridot in this necklace, which is another of my favorite stones. Who knew I’d come to love green so much?

Peridot metaphysical properties: Peridot is a general healer. It’s also one of the most fortunate stones, indicating an in-flow of money, love, luck, and peace into your life. Use peridot to flood your mind, body, and spirit with a sense of peace and well-being. (Source: The Illustrated Directory of Healing Crystals by Cassandra Eason)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slanket City

It's been a cold, wet day here. Perfect weather for wrapping up in my nice, warm Slanket.

Hubby bought me a pink one for Christmas. It was my only Christmas present, actually, except for 2 DVDs (Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, if you’re curious). And you know what? It was the perfect gift.

I’ve used it often and I absolutely love it. It’s definitely warm, and it doesn’t take much research to figure out that the Slanket is far, far superior to the knock-off Snuggie.

But Hubby still scoffed at it. Over and over.

Until the first time he had to reach his arm out from under his warm blanket to retrieve the remote.

He looked over at me, with my freely moving, Slanket-covered arms, and made the most pathetic scowl ever.

And every time he grabs his blanket and yanks it high enough to reach his chin, he groans and grumbles because the blanket no longer covers his toes.

So… I asked him if he’d like to have a Slanket, too.

Of course he does, now that he sees the merit.

So, I ordered him one today.

I love my Slanket. Love love love it. I should note that it’s also the most outrageous cat magnet ever. It took Brianna all of 30 seconds to decide that this new thing covering up Mama was A-OK in her book. She even sleeps on it when I’m not using it, and she’s never done that with any other blanket.

So… yes. The Slanket is Mama Approved, Kitty Approved, and [soon will be] Hubby Approved, too…