Author: 360degreechange

Some say life is a journey and that is what I am on. I am tired of sitting in a cube all day, I want to feel the breeze on my face, not air conditioning; I want to move, not sit at a desk; I want my efforts to make a difference, not do redundant tasks all day long. That is my journey...can you live well (expectations to change) and still be true to yourself? Here's to jumping out of the frying pan and directly into the fire!!

Graduation

I love seeing all the posts online of friend’s children who are graduating from high school. What an exciting time. Your whole life ahead and so many options.

As you may have read here before, I am a high school drop out. Here we are 42 years later and I still consider myself that. I went on and got my GED. Although I was too high to remember doing it but I have a piece of paper to prove it.

I was lucky enough to get my act together enough and got my Associates Degree and did some work toward my Bachelor’s. But I am still a high school drop out.

For years, I let the label dictate who I was. Always the failure. Never smart enough. Lazy. Loser.

Of course after many years of self-awareness learning, I understand that does not, in fact, define me. It’s a part of me but not the whole of me. I do think I worked the negative stigma to my “advantage” in making me become a perfectionist…which really did not work out so well either.

Now I am finding a solid in between. Now I am not the loser or the one who has to have it all perfect. I’m ok and trying. That’s all one can do.

I have learned that if there is something in your past that you feel is defining you…

1. Leave it where it belongs. In the past. Beating yourself up all the time does not help in any way. Leave it alone.

2. Learn from it. All mistakes should be lessons in disguise. Own up to them, dust yourself off and move forward. It does not define you.

3. Skip the overcompensating part. That’s another useless road. Feeling like you have to be better than everyone is a horrible road to be on. Just work at being a better you.

4. Appreciate how far you have come. It’s way too easy to keep checking the rear view and miss where you are at. You’ve done better! Be proud of the fact! It wasn’t easy!

I know it’s not earth shattering news but it’s easy to forget that we all have evolved. Mistakes were made. Unfortunately people were hurt. Situations were difficult. But you are here today. Today offers a brand new chance to be better.

Every morning I thank God for another day. I always ask Him to show me how to be better than I was yesterday. Sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not. But it is the conscious act of trying that matters.

Leave the past in the past. The future isn’t written yet but today is a day to learn and grow. If you are struggling today, find someone you can trust. Talk it out!! Stay strong!!

These days can be hard but there is a reward waiting.

Copyright to Your Life

I have been spewing my thoughts on this blog for over ten years now. My thoughts, as my life, have taken many different curves since the start. I have changed lanes a few times. I do get asked occasionally why I write about myself so much. There are really two good answers to that question.

The first one is all writing teachers tell you to write about what you know. There is no subject on this Earth that I know better than myself. I’m still learning but the subject matter is close to my heart.

The second, and more compelling reason, is the I own the copyrights to my life. I have chosen the narrative through my obsessive pursuit of self-awareness. I have written the story through the decisions I have made. The soundtrack has been borrowed but the playlist is my own creation.

I can be empathetic to another person’s experiences, especially if I have had similar ones. But those blips of time where I was the one actually riding the roller coaster are the experiences I know intimately. I was there, maybe not always fully present but I felt the pain, cried the tears, laughed until I peed, shook until the fear left and all the other emotions we as humans feel.

Those things, as you may have heard me say a hundred times before, are what made me who I am today and will, God willing, help me to evolve into who I am supposed to be. I absolutely own the rights to my life.

You own yours also. All the trials and tribulations, all the pain and joy, they are all yours. I used to fight the pain I have been through. I yelled at God about the injustices thrown my way. I argued my case like a law school dropout. I cried for the innocence lost, for the fact I would never hold my own child in my arms, and for the precious years stolen through a myriad of addictions.

But my story was not done. Victory and grace were given to me freely. Gratitude replaced the hate I had for my own life. I became the owner of it all-good and bad. It was mine and now I embrace it!

As long as you wake up in the morning, you have yet another chance to change the story. You can turn the bitterness into victory. It is YOUR story, you own the copyrights! Do not give up, give it some more time! Change always comes!

Serving

The other day I saw a post about a woman who makes her husband dinner every night. Oh my the horror! From the comments you would have thought she exterminated a box of kittens. The hate and ugliness was mind blowing.

I do not usually talk about my husband because I respect his privacy but today he is going to get talked about. I try my best to serve my husband, not as an inferior being but as an equal. I think serving others has gotten a bad wrap as of late. I am not advocating that what I do or do not do is the only right way. I am, advocating, for those haters to chill out.

This year I will be married to my husband for 32 years, though not an expert, I feel confident in what I’m saying. We have had many rocky times, many great times and many mundane times. That is life.

I have always felt that I wanted, for me personally, to serve my husband. Even when we were not getting along so well I made him dinners and washed his clothes. During the dark years, as I call them, when we didn’t communicate so well, I tried to be a helper to him.

Why would I lower myself to such depths and endanger all my feminist rights you may ask. Because when we married, we took an oath to be partners in this life. We agreed to have each other’s backs. We were not always 100 percent perfect at that but I knew he was there for me.

I have no idea what I am. I don’t think I am a feminist although I totally agree in the strength women hold. I don’t really see myself as a complete submissive because I, very often in fact, speak my mind. I am perfectly able to open a door for myself and have on many occasions, but when my husband opens a door for me I know it doesn’t show that I am weak in anyway, he is showing me he cares for me. When we are walking, he stands to the outside. He does hundreds of gestures that are meant to show me that he loves me.

At this point, I have to acknowledge that there is a difference between genuine caring and outright controlling. I have had controlling relationships. They are not healthy and you need to get away from someone who is abusing your trust. But that is NOT what this is.

I do not expect him to cook dinner or do laundry just as he does not expect me to fix the car or clean the gutters. There is a bunch of unspoken gender rules in our home and we both seem to agree with them. I am horrible at plumbing and he has no idea how to correctly fold a towel (I’m kidding, no not really he is not a great towel folder). We work to each other’s strengths.

Which leads me to my next point. What do I get out of it? This is extremely important. He thanks me for every meal, even the experimental ones. He shows me gratitude in a hundred ways and I try to do the same. It makes no difference if you are on your honeymoon or married 50 years, appreciate each other. It goes a long way.

I get too that not everyone lives the same way. I don’t expect all the women of the world to make dinner every night or whatever. Just because some of us do, it does not mean we are weak or being controlled. Some of us do it for the sheer joy of performing a kind gesture for your partner. That even extends to the world at large.

Being a servant to others absolutely and in no way whatsoever is an indication of weakness. Jesus served many people while on this Earth. He received much pleasure from those simple acts. So do I and so do many people. If I could ever emulate one person in my life it would be Jesus and the way He served others.

Serving others should never be demeaning. Serving others should feel like a gift. Granted there are plenty of days I am tired of cleaning the same things. No one said it would be easy, but given the right mindset it can be very gratifying.

The next time someone acts in a way that maybe you do not agree with, hold the hate and ugliness. We are different and we all hold unique things close to our hearts. Lighten up on the judgements. It’s a very good thing we are not all alike. How boring would that be.

Friday the 13th

In my old life. I was very superstitious. I would cringe when I got to page 13 in a book or if I had $13 in my wallet (I once actually threw a dollar bill out of my moving car so I would not have $13). Anytime something was 13, I had to change it somehow.

One of the only things I could not change was the day and date in a week. I was stuck with Friday the 13th for an entire 24 hour period. I would talk myself into such a panic because that is what we do when we live with chronic anxiety. I was sure something terrible would befall me or someone that I loved.

I lived in horrific fear of a date on a calendar. Then one day I realized that most of my life changing events happened on days that were not, in fact, Friday the 13th. I realized that things can happen any day, any date and any time. Bad things did not wait for a month that began on a Sunday (took me a long time to figure that out).

I also had the realization that my fears were very self-centered. It was all about me and what was going to happen to me. All of my phobias and anxiety revolved around me.

I realized just what a waste of time it was to obsess about such things. How much time in my life did I sit dormant, unable to move because of some self-induced unrealistic threat against the center of the universe…me?

What a wake up call that was! I was not and never will be the center of any universe. How did my ego get so big while my self-esteem was rock bottom? Meanwhile all the time convincing myself that all the worry was what kept the wolves at bay.

So much time wasted. So much unnecessary worry and stress. So much misplaced faith in me.

Superstitions are a way for the enemy to manipulate a person into compliance. No where in the Bible does it say thou shalt not walk under a ladder or cross the path of a black cat. In the book of Revelation, there are a tremendous amount of things to look out for but none include mirrors, counting things or certain days of a week.

Is it not odd that such superstitions are planted so deep in our psyche? How did they get there? Who taught us about them? I do not know or remember when I first became aware of such nonsense but I do know I believed in them most of my life.

I suppose like all my phobias, I gained some perverted comfort from them. They were recognizable to me. I expected their frequent visits. Too much time and energy has been wasted on such foolishness. I need to break free from the mental jail I live in from time to time where these fears lock me down in an invisible cell.

Now don’t think of me as so strong, as I have a twinge of fear inside me that says all this talk about debunking the fear will make the bad things manifest. In my logical brain I know better, but I still operate a lot of my life on emotions. I am taking the self-awareness as a win and trying to logic the fears out of my brain.

So for today, Friday the 13th, I will try to live a normal life and not walk around on the standard amount of eggshells. Today I will hold my faith in my Creator and not His creation.

Discounts

Who doesn’t love a good discount? I used to be a coupon shopper (until I realized all the useless stuff I bought just to save money.) I still look for the best prices and love a good deal. It only makes sense to try to stretch your money.

Know what does not make sense? Discounting yourself. As I have stated in previous posts, I was not a model teenager. I made bad decisions and had no purpose or idea what to do with my life. As I got older I worked and worked with the intent of “making up” for the mistakes I made. I had to prove how valuable I was as a person.

Funny thing happened…other people saw my worth but I never did. If someone gave me a compliment, I didn’t believe it. If I got a good job review, I wondered when I would be found a fraud. If I did something good, I doubted my motives. I just could not believe any of the good things.

The criticisms, those I believed and obsessed over. I did something wrong, that was not hard for me to believe.

I always thought it was because my ego was so big. That I thought so much more of myself, which is actually counterintuitive of what I was feeling. So even when I felt completely inadequate, I that my motives were wrong. I know that probably does not even make sense. I guess that even when I was feeling low about myself, I somehow didn’t deserve it because I was, in fact, even lower than I felt.

I worked over a Christmas season at a high end department store. Since I was new, they put me in the clearance area in the basement of the store. There I got to see all the discounted clothing. When they were bought, I am sure the intent was that someone would buy them. But no one did. That sat on hangers and kept getting discounted until finally they took a trip to the basement and waited for the inevitable trip to the second hand store to be even further discounted. All those items started with the highest of intentions but just fell by the wayside.

I’m not, by any means, fishing for any type of sympathy or anything. I’m simply stating how I felt and still do on occasion. But here’s what I have learned in my almost 60 years on this planet (please take this to heart if you too are struggling).

We all have real value. We all have skills, maybe unrealized just yet. We live in a world that likes to build itself up while stepping over someone else. My belief is that many people who feel discounted are extremely sensitive people. That is ok…in fact that is a great thing.

Being sensitive feels like a curse most times but it is a wonderful gift. I know it seems like the other people get ahead and you are stuck on the clearance rack. But it’s not true. Your beauty shines through in a way others can see, even if you are blind to it. You touch lives in a profound way, not one that is fleeting.

I think we all need to think about those things we discount. We all have things we would never buy on discount, for example perishable food or discount medicine. There is a place for the clearance rack. But that is not your place or mine. You have value, talent, beauty and a light that comes from within. We need to all quit applying coupons to our existence.

We are worth full price baby! Please don’t ever forget that!

Quiet No More

As a passive, intoverted person, words like the title above scare me. I do not like confrontation. I do not like upheavals and the chaos it brings. I steer away from loud declarations. I live and, therefore, allow others to do the same. But our world has changed.

There are opinions, mine included, at every turn. There is now some one who thinks you need to be schooled by them on what is “really” right.

You see, I drank the kool-aid according to some. This is a term I desperately despise. To understand the meaning behind it you have to go back in time a bit to the story of Jim Jones.

He was a very charismatic preacher with a large following. He thought himself to be god like. He convinced over 900 of his followers to go to Jonestown with him to live in utopia. News of wrongdoings and abuse got out and he became a target of investigation. Feeling no way out he convinced his followers to partake in poisoned punch as to ascend to Heaven. It was the largest mass killing in U.S. history until the tragedy of 9/11.

That, of course, was the condensed version. I hope you can see why “drinking the kool-aid” is such a derogatory statement. It implies blind faith in something or someone to the point of losing your ability to think for yourself. Cults know how to manipulate their followers. I understand that this does happen. It is a very sad situation indeed when a person is in such need of stability and love that they leave behind all reason to follow. Think also of the Manson family.

I have heard more and more that if you are a Christian you have drank the kool-aid. That implies that I, as a Christian, have lost all my senses and am following something blindly with no concern of my safety. I am just too stupid and gullable to see the real truth, that it is all a scam.

I understand the concept of Christianity sounds like something out of a mythological story. A Father, Son, a virgin birth and death with resurrection. A God that loves us but let’s bad things happen in order to hit the “jackpot” in Heaven. I have heard the many questions and traps set to trip me up. I just want to say..

I do not like suffering, war, hatred, injustice…shall I go on? These are all created by our fellow humans. When I was in a decade long battle with infertility or in the battle with my own mind or when I felt so trapped I prayed for death, I questioned. I yelled at God. I rebuked Him for giving me so much pain. I went years without believing. I did not follow blindly because there were shiny trinkets promised at the end of it all.

I questioned and yelled and hated and cried until I could do none of those things any longer. Then I saw the clouds lift, saw light and realized that I thought God was a supernatural ATM machine and I wondered why my account was always overdrawn. My emptiness of soul was my own choosing because I was defiant and self-centered.

Once I started to work on myself I clearly saw God’s presence in my life. No platatudes about how the struggles make you stronger. The pain is real and it hurts a lot. Any worthy Christian has questioned the whys. It is part of the process. Some may blindly follow but most I know have chosen to believe in something that brings meaning and purpose into their lives. My personal journey has forever changed me. My beliefs are grounded and stable. I may still waiver but I am steadfast in the end.

So this post is not meant to convert anyone. It is simply a plea to stop dropping every Christian in a box that is thought to be full of ignorant half-wits who are incapable of making their own decisions. I fully understand free will. My decisions to be a Christian are based on decades of life lived in a way you can never know. Just as I have not lived your life. I cannot expect to understand your experiences.

God literally saved me from the perils I brought on myself. He has molded me into a person I can be proud of. Please do not ever discount my faith or the faith of others. We live in a very anti-Christian world. I get that is how it is to be, but I will be quiet no more. I used to be a scared child but now I am a warrior. Please, at the very least, respect the decision and drop the kool-aid narrative from your lexicon. You do not have to agree with my decisions as I may not agree with yours but mutual respect should be expected.

Footnote: I really have no problem being ridiculed for my beliefs. I have been ridiculed for lesser things in my life. I just want to clear up my stand on a comment that was said to me. Being silent sometimes can be misconstrued as agreement. Hence the quiet no more title. If this is too offensive, please do not read my blog any more.

The Words We Say

This post goes along with one I recently posted about words. If you know me, you know I can swear along side the most seasoned swearer. I mastered the art of stringing seemingly unrelated swear words together at a tender agr. I am fearless when it comes to screaming the F word at the top of my lungs. I am fluent in cuss words.

Something has changed in me regarding those aforementioned words, I find them distasteful now. Back in the old days, one would swear as a means of providing emphasis. I hate f ing school. It meant I did not just mildly dislike it, I really hated it and never wanted to go there.

I have always found the term “shut up” to be offensive, but “shut the F up”…that is off-the-charts hurtful. Of course there are other swear words than just that one, and I find them all to be in a state of overuse.

One might have said some years ago…”Look at my new car.” Now that same statement would be…”Look at my new f ing car.” Seems like over emphasis now. I’m guilting of adding the unnecessary swear word into a conversation. And I do not want to do it any longer.

I have recently been watching a BBC program and am thoughly enjoying it. Got through the entire first season and realized they had not used a single swear word. It was refreshing because then I noticed the dialogue was fresh and crisp. Wit and comedy replaced the shock factor in which swearing is intended.

I’m not a prude. I know if I hit my thumb with a hammer, I am going to swear and probably a lot. It’s in my DNA. But now I feel it is a disservice to the words I speak and the ideals I want to convey to take the easy road and just throw a cuss word into a sentence. The beauty of words is that there are so many of them. I am sure I can find other words that would help intensify what I am trying to say in a better way.

I am going to try to break my habit of swearing. I am sure it will be difficult as those words are a part of my daily lexicon just like any words I use every day. As I continue on this road to more and deeper self-awareness I want to use the absolute power of words to be uplifting and grounded. I want what I say and do to be as refreshing as a cool glass of water in August.

The older I get, the more I realize the effect words have, and that means good as well as bad. I’m trying to be conscious of what I eat, what I buy, what I read and so on. Yet, even on the path I am on, I have ignored this important point.

So today I will think even more of the words I say (I hardly ever swear in the written word) and be more cognitive of the effects of those negative cuss words. This is going to be a huge challenge for me, but I’m up for it!

My Big Empty

Have you ever felt like something is missing? Like you are supposed to be somewhere else? Like you not doing the right thing?

I have too. Most of my life I have felt like that one great opportunity is waiting for me just around the corner. Or the perfect blog post, the one that everyone loves and I get a book deal from, isn’t this one but maybe the next one. The perfect job…perfect meal..perfect fill-in-the-blank is still just looking for me.

I am almost 60 years old…should I think that I might have missed the email? Did I not answer the door or pick the phone? Was I looking at something else when my perfect opportunity manifested? Seems that way.

I feel like sometimes I’m in this big empty surrounded by nothing. No profound words to say, not one beautiful piece of art made by my hands, no endless bank account, no fame and no adulation. A big fat empty nothing.

Between sitting around and waiting for something to happen and having an overwhelming fear of yet another failure, I think I can safely assume my just-around- the-corner moment was missed. Knowing me I saw it coming and overthought and doubted myself right out of it. I wonder on occasion how many opportunities I have missed.

Before this blog piece hits rock bottom, I’m going to pull up on the throttle, just miss the mountain side and gain some new momentum. Maybe I have been wrong all these decades. Maybe things just do not land in your lap. Maybe you have to walk out on faith and create the opportunities.

Many times in my life, I assumed I was out there doing what I thought was my calling and never really feeling sure about it. I bet I even had a very heavy hand in crushing the dream out of guilt or unworthiness. I see now that I am the one who created the big empty in my life. I wasn’t true to myself, thought it could never work and was more concerned about what others thought rather than carving out a place for myself.

For me failure was not only easy but comfortable. I relished in my indignation of how the deck was always stacked against me and how I could never catch a break. I did not allow myself to be accountable to myself for making anything out of myself. Easy and comfortable.

Today I decided that I would rather have an epic failure instead of accepting the big empty. I have a dream, not even a big one, but I see it cannot just happen on its own. I actually have to put some elbow grease into making it happen.

I don’t want diamonds, yachts or fancy cars. I want to feel good about what I do. I want to help others along the way. I want to make a difference. You cannot do those things in a big empty. I think I know what my authentic self wants and I am going to try to make it happen.

I have to stop waiting for the perfect words, perfect time and any other perfect thing, because they ain’t coming! I have no idea what I’m doing yet but one thing is for sure…I am going to concentrate, collaborate and then celebrate.

Goodbye big empty…you will not dictate my life any longer. I know this all sounds a bit cryptic but I want to start something and I want it to be authentic. I want it to feel right. I want the emptiness and doubt to go away. I want to do another 360 degree change and see what happens. Here I go again..

Easter Edition

Easter is this coming Sunday, so I thought I would do an Easter Edition blog post. Today my heart is thankful that I woke up, had shelter, enjoyed nutritious food as well as all the other things I am so blessed to have. I’m also thankful for:

Recipes that allow me to make just about everything I have ever eaten out but make at home cheaper and healthier. Love me a Big Mac salad with non-meat crumbles.

Being able to learn new things on the internet for no cost. Enjoying some free guitar lessons.

The smell of fresh air through an open window along with the the sight of the curtains blowing with the rhythm of the breeze. So comforting.

Knowing the joy of opening a new journal and thinking of all the possible things I can write down.

The joy of waking up to an empty kitchen sink which sparks the imagination of all the things I can cook that day.

Being able to have a cake and there isn’t even a special event to celebrate. Eating cake for cake’s sake.

Listening to music in the car with the windows down. Pure freedom.

Hearing a song that reminds you of your mom or dad as your heart fills with gratitude for having had such great parents.

Feeling satisfied with what you have and not feeling the need for more more more.

A sweet laugh with the one you love as you remember a silly memory.

Reading a really good book. Listening to great music. Smelling baking bread. Tasting a sweet strawberry. Feeling a soft and comfy blanket. Wearing a cool hat. Writing with a balanced pen. Having a friend. And so the list goes on and on.

Gratitude,. I practice everyday. Some days I am good at it, others days I cannot see it through the tears. I guess that’s why they say to practice it…it can never be a perfect art.

So with Easter approaching, I have one more thing to be thankful for. A man who suffered horrible injustices on my behalf so that I could have a life overflowing. He withstood ridicule and physical pain in my place. His blood was given instead of mine. He took me from my depths and brought me to a higher place. He died (and rose up) in my place. I know many do not believe in this as a reality, but I do with my whole heart and soul. My Easter is not about eggs and baskets but about all things in life I have been given without once being deserving of it. Thank You Jesus for loving me even when I am so unlovable.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter. It is a time of renewal and I hope that your spirit is lifted and that you enjoy the feeling of gratitude! Enjoy the day!

How Far…

I’m such an idiot, why did I say that? What a dummy. I can’t believe I did that! I am such a loser when am I going to learn? That was an epic fail, why try anything. You are not good at anything. I literally have no talents at all. I am a waste of space and air.

These are all things I have said to myself. Not even that long ago. If someone else would have said any of these things to me, I would probably fight them. But I can say these things to myself and accept the words as truth. How very sad is that?

Not only do I say horrible things to myself, I back them up with samples from years or decades ago.

I know a lot of people struggle with negative self-talk as it is called. We are our own internal bullies. The venom we spew inside our own heads is so toxic, it makes Chernobyl look like a theme park.

I go on and on about how the world needs more kindness. How love and acceptance will change the world but I cannot forget the thing I said in 1979, or forgive myself for how I behaved in the 80s or how I let people down in the 90s and so it continues. Should not the forgiveness the world needs extend to me too? Somehow I cannot seem to do that.

I am quick to take the blame and beat myself up without respite. I say horrendous things to myself, things I would never dream of saying to another person. I am hard on myself with the reasoning that I deserve it and that it will keep me in check.

Granted I was a brat and was self-centered and lazy for a time. I was confused about who I was and was desperate to figure it out. I was hurting from pains I had suffered and I was angry. Looking back I am not proud of those things but in the middle parts there were some good things I did that I never look at.

I always think when I get to Heaven and God asks me about my life, my reply will be that I tried. I tried to be a better person sometimes without the slightest idea how to achieve it. I tried to right the wrongs even though it was too late for some. I learned and I applied the knowledge when I could. I tried.

I think instead of always beating ourselves up we need to stop and look at how far we have come. There is no perfection in this life, but it is possible to improve. The road behind is full of twists and turns. Blind spots and switchback. The road ahead is not visible to our eyes. But the road as we see it now is full of potential to strive to be that person we want to be.

So today I will look back only to remember the lessons learned. I won’t try to look too far ahead as it is obscure at best. Today I will travel life’s road with the knowledge of how far I have come. I will give myself a break from the constant self-imposed beatings and be thankful I made it this far. There were times I just wanted to drive off a cliff…but I didn’t. Kudos to me for the perseverance I did not even know I possessed.

I will love, admire and respect the road so far. Don’t forget for one minute how far you have come. Hold a bit of pride in your hand today and say I made it this far. Not only is that good, it is amazing!!