Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tangled but not Trapped - Dealing with Adversity

Why do some people seem to be able to get temporarily tangled up in the snare of tragedy and adversity and some people find themselves infinitely trapped and immobilized?

Photo from Mittens to the Max

There have been several events in the past few weeks that have caused me to reflect, not only on myself but on humanity and the very question of what fibers make up the fabric of our lives. Why we each deal with events and circumstances differently and how some people just seem to find the strength to carry on. We as outsiders don't understand but I truly believe that God gives us grace when we need it and not before - in other words, He doesn't waste it, He portions it when needed. So that is why we as outsiders look in we don't understand things like how a grieving mother can come to terms with her baby being ripped from her arms in the midst of a violent tornado, how a family can celebrate the life instead of the impending passing of a parent with cancer, how a friend whose marriage unexpectedly collapses in a heap around them can pick up the pieces, or how a child beaten and mistreated can be loving and giving when the very preciousness of innocence has been taken from them. These are the ugly things in life, things we do not understand, but we all learn that we can't let these circumstances rule us. I am not a big fan of the phrase, "Just get over it" to me that reduces our emotions and deems them unjustified. A saying I use alot is, "It is what it is." To me that means, I can't change it so how am I going to deal with it, and what can I learn from it. We need to learn to deal with the events in our lives and let them mold us into better people.

Photo by Marc Arsenault on Flick
I think we see ourselves as a finished product and when undesirable events happen we view that break as creating unusable junk, when in reality it is sometimes necessary to break something to get it into a state that is moldable.......everything from play-doh to melted metal to jello, goes from one pliable state to become a completed, molded form. But even after coming out of the mold, refining needs to happen, smoothing of the burrs, polishing, or drying. So, we are never really "finished" we are - or should be- in a constant state of refining. And sometimes that takes an act of completely breaking us and being cast again to bring take us closer to the person we were meant to be. We want to be able to comb through the tangles and not let them become walls in which we become trapped.

This is a poem I wrote: (and I know there are no capital letters, I did it on purpose......just get over it.....-wink-)

tangled but not trapped

why does tragedy trap us within walls unseen?
tangled up and cut from invisible barbed wire.
unseen traps causing us to stumble without notice.
emotions coming to surface and constricting our hearts.

each person their own identity, formed by events unique to them
given to make us better, stronger, wiser,
but often times causing us to
feel used, weaker, feeble minded.

we allow the evil and negative to rob us of our
accomplishments and our progress and pull us back down
to wallow in our self-pity and loathing.

we allow demons from our past to separate us
from the joys of our present
focusing our thought and energy on things that cannot change
and taking away from the choices we can make today.

allowing the past to hurt us again and again,
ripping the scabs from the wounds and
slowing the healing process, yet again.

trying to cover the scars, instead of using them.
making them visible to alert others,
telling them victory is attainable.

i will not let my past be my master, i am slave to nothing
when pain comes to knock, i will not answer,
i will turn it away knowing it will return again some day.

i have been given this albatross to bear and  know triumph
is not a single event but a series of small victories.
as in war i will fight each battle with strength and determination.
eventually hoping to arrive on the other side of this wilderness.

i have been given another day, i will not squander it, i will relish in
the beauty around me, the blessings i have been given and
the joy that is mine for the taking.
I will not be defeated by that which i cannot control.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not even a tornado takes out Facebook

On Sunday night a massive tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri. Shattering windows, strewing cars, trucks and even a helicopter like toys, and tossing precious people about like rag dolls. The violent winds took out anything in it's path, with no regard to loss of property or life. In the aftermath I thought I'd just text my sister to make sure she was ok, and she replied her and Molly were fine but the devastation she was seeing was completely unbelievable. We texted back and forth because in town they weren't getting much info and I was seeing and hearing more from the television than she knew.

Texting seemed to work from their phones but calling in or out was sparse at best. What was amazing to me was watching Molly's Facebook wall and people from all over were inquiring about loved ones and family and damage reports. She would relay back via her page what she was finding out and putting relatives of the residents that were far away at ease. One instance was one of her friends, away in Ireland, wanting to inquire about her family. Molly went and checked and responded to the girl in quick fashion and the angst about the situation, although not totally relieved, was definitely minimized.

Many people still do not see the value of the social networking system, and I watched as the tweets came, Facebook wall posts increased, new pages went up to assist people trying to help and find loved ones, I watched as young and old alike used these tools to ease each others concerns and most of all I watched as the human spirit, put aside the surface use of this technology to dig deep and make it meaningful.

Although we may not be able to physically go and help in the aftermath of this tragedy, the information being disseminated can at least us feel compassion and empathy for those involved. The stories coming across the pages cut deep and hopefully cause us to take the time and examine our own lives and make the most of every moment, because no one is guaranteed tomorrow, not our property, not our plans, not even the breath we take, because like the people of Joplin, everything could change within that same moment.

Some of the Facebook pages set up for the people of Joplin:

Some of the pictures of the aftermath taken by Tee Larmore

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall......why yes, I AM the fairest of them all.

Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than f*n' perfect.
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you're nothing,
You're f*n' perfect to me. 

—From Pink's F*n Perfect

See the entire video here.
Warning: This video contains mature content and may be offensive to some people, but it is what it is.

Although I am not a fan of profanity in lyrics I am very drawn to this song. I heard it again this morning on the way to work and it's just so appropriate for our society. Being a girl myself, - I know, surprise!- I understand the self-esteem issues facing girls growing up in our society. I haven't seen studies but I would imagine that from very early on girls start to hear if they are "pretty" or "cute". And what defines that? Money, affluence, doting parents, things that the girl herself has no control over. I have seen two little kids, one, face smeared with today's peanut butter lunch, hair wild and unbrushed and one, pristinely dressed and clean as a whistle, hair pulled back in a big pink bow and the difference in reaction of adults is amazing. The antics of the "pretty" one are considered "spirited" and the other with the same actions is considered "a mess". No wonder they get to be teenagers and are so confused in their identity and worth.

In an article published on, written by Anita Gurian, Ph.D. NYU Child Study Center, it has some enlightening statistics, which might help us to understand the internal and external pressures girls feel and how these pressures affect the development of their self-esteem. And no surprise is that sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem causing harm to a healthy self-image and development.

|| Sexualization is defined as occurring when a person's value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another's sexual use.||

This whole thought makes me think of the little girls dressed with words across their butts, although that trend seems to be fading. The "new" thing is high heels. High heeled shoes in a fashion sense are to give more length to the leg, but high-heels force the body to tilt, emphasizing the buttocks and breasts – highlights of a woman's sexuality. Seriously? I don't really know of any pre-teen girl that needs that.

The article also addresses some ideas for parents that can positively impact their daughter's self-esteem, because contrary to popular belief, parents still have a huge amount of influence over their children.

By the way, this is my random picture insert of three of the most beautiful women I know
Nieces- Kenzie and Molly and my sister, Kelly

In my opinion, I see women struggling to find an identity during their youth and perhaps find a way to be comfortable in their own skin when much to their chagrin their skin changes. Then the cycle of search for beauty begins again.

Here is a poem I wrote some time back about this emergence of a girl to a woman only to be trampled in society by stereotypes, inadvertent expectations, and unrecognized inherent worth.
Fading Beauty
Like a seed sown on rocky ground
working so hard to spring forth
from the hard shell
The soul searching for soft words to
soothe it like refreshing water
A soft touch pulling the face towards the sun
Gaining strength, breaking out
Taking root in the crevices of the hard asphalt
Taking advantage of the limited amount of rich soil
surrounding the tender roots.

A beautiful bloom emerging to full blossom
perched atop a strong stalk,
girding it’s vulnerability with sparse thorns
Petals soft and velvet-like to the touch
Vibrant color, Intoxicating fragrance
Wanting to be cherished, treasured, valued.

Feet unaware of the ground beneath
Taking no heed of damage
Trampling the spirit
Bruising the soft petals
Ripping the now fragile stem from it’s life-blood
Laying gasping on the hot pavement
Shriveling, Drying, ...Dying
Beauty fading, to be enjoyed by no one.