ASSEMBLY is a paper assemblage, 8×10, acrylic, collage on canvas board
Happy first Monday of the newer year! This is not a blog about Ikea, (assembling something to eat or sleep or sit a lamp on). It is about you and me, putting ourselves back together again after a year when everything we thought we knew for sure was turned upside down, lost, broken, bent out of shape, damaged or disrespected.
I am going to try to accept a clean slate this week, on which to re-assemble the things that I will make right this coming year. The things I will cherish, or not…..the habits I will keep and improve upon, or discard. The ways I will spend my precious leisure time in the last chapter of my life, and the frivolous idiotic ways of wasting time that I will now refuse to fritter away on meaningless pursuits. I am going to try and be more discriminating about what I do and how I do it and who I do it with. I want more quality in my days. I want substance. Accomplishment. Pride in what I do with my time and what I produce.
Blah Blah Blah, you might be saying. Well, ok. I will do my personal best. It might not be perfect but I will raise the bar higher than it was before. At this over-70 age, urgency is a common condition for you and me. If the entire past year has gone by, with everything crammed into it, without it seizing our complete attention and without us feeling that it should be used for some deep introspection…then perhaps we missed a very large boat. This was a damn serious year. Certainly it occurred to you that while you were cooped up and restless, feeling like a caged animal at times, it might be a good idea to look inward and become a better, more self-aware person. Might be a good time to go deep, since we could not go wide.
I want my shot! That line is repeated in the hit stage show HAMILTON quite a few times and has its own song as well, but with a much different meaning. All of us do want our shot at life – we want our rightful chance to do something meaningful. Something that will make a positive difference. The year 2020 was your unfortunate excuse to not take your shot due to the multitude of unforeseen circumstances. This year will probably be different. Once we are all out from under covid it will be as if life has given us a Get Out of Jail Free card. A whole new chance for doing good things! A blank canvas upon which to create a bright new color scheme, a fascinating composition and a focal point of great meaning. Age is of no importance whatsoever – never use it as an excuse for not taking another brand new shot at life.
The new parlor game – “What will be the first thing you do when you and everyone else in your circle of family and friends have had your vaccination?” You can begin to assemble yourself right now. Get yourself ready for that new day. Make some plans and begin to dream some dreams. Put your parts together in a brilliant new way and go for it. Life is not just one more shot – it is a series of opportunities. Step right up and accept the next one!
Jo Ann Brown-Scott – The art above is priced at 75.00 including shipping
More of my art is now posted on ETSY under the title Jo Ann Brown-Scott ART
December 31st and January 1 are not so different…just 24 little hours apart…unless you are the kind of person who likes to make new beginnings. I am one of those people. I am 78 and counting. I feel a sense of urgency about my days. I want substance and meaning, purpose and progress in the time I have left.
When I have a clear ending to one period of time and the immediate, clearly defined beginning to another – a clean slate – a white canvas – I see it as a challenge and an opportunity. I feel the need for some creative thinking concerning what will be different and new in the coming year. My desire is that the new time period should improve over the previous one. That should be easy in the year 2021, since 2020 sunk to a deep new low in my own personal experience…and I imagine you might agree. We have nowhere to go but forward and higher in our aspirations.
Now we must rise up, pull ourselves up and out of the doldrums and the muck. We must thrive and prosper.
Thirteenth century poet and spiritual guideRumi says, “But listen to me; for one moment, quit being sad. Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.”
He writes next:
“Last year, I admired wines. I am wandering inside the red world. Last year I gazed at the fire. This year I am a burnt kabob. Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.
It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue and get into fights. The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole. But down in that hole he finds something shining, worth more than any amount of money or power.
Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street. I took it as a sign to start singing, falling up into the bowl of the sky.“
Hard to believe that an Afghan mystic from the thirteenth century can be so relevant today. I have taken these phrases from the book The Essential Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, and I have left some lines out to give you the abbreviated essence of what he is saying. I urge you to read more. Every subject you might imagine is covered in splendid stories and ancient rhymes.
You do not need a magnificent prayer wheel, such as the one pictured here, to send your hopes and requests out into the universe. Just sit down and meditate. An enormous collective wish from planet earth will reach the right places if we all hope for the same things. I am wishing for a better year with a better chance for peace, for love, for hope and for an end to the suffering of so many people. Expressing our gratitude for the blessings we do have is always a good place to start…
On January 6th, the Day of Epiphany, a particular favorite of mine, we all have a brand new chance to discover, in a brilliant flash of truth, what it is we would like to accomplish in our privileged days remaining. It is a day of manifestation and revelation. It has the potential for opening a door in your mind that will lead you on a journey of new beginnings.
Let us welcome 2021 with a resounding embrace and a promise to do great things. Listen to your heart and go where it takes you.
“Lovers don’t finally meet someone; they are in each other all along. Rumi (1207-1273), 13th century Persian poet, mystic and spiritual teacher.
If you are not yet acquainted with the poetry and wisdom of Rumi, the 12th century poet and mystic, I highly recommend that you read some of his writing because it is still, after all these centuries, relevant to our modern lives. You will be surprised at how lovely and graphic his words can be in a world far different than his own. He will teach you what you thought you already knew.
My two previous blog posts have discussed the fun, the adventure and the pitfalls of online matchmaking websites. For those of you who have dived right into that cold water pool, I imagine by now that you are thoroughly soaked and having some crazy fun or you are shivering and can’t wait to jump out and catch your breath. There is no shame in going dormant for awhile as you regroup and sort things out in your mind. It might not be the right time for you.
In life, and in love, timing is everything. In your soul you are aware of exactly what you are searching for. You were born knowing. That knowing percolates to the surface of your consciousness and unfolds as you travel life’s journeys and become more worldly and wise. You begin to know what you are searching for in a life partner…a lover…a friend… a companion…a confidant.
Do not ever close your mind to the possibility of finding that special person. There is always the dream of finding a soul mate, and you might cross paths with several who seem to fit that criteria in your lifetime. People will appear, all shiny and attractive, seeming to understand you and appreciate you and fulfill your wildest dreams as you make your way around this world. But sometimes those people will disappoint you, having merely disguised themselves as the one. It is your mission to uncover the layers of faux perfection and find the reality of the person. Sometimes you can cut to the core truth of that person in a relatively brief amount of time, sometimes finding the core takes a very long time, especially when it is being purposely hidden. Then, if a person is revealed to you as being the wrong person, you learn to more clearly define your search, you appreciate the lessons you learned and you evolve. Your intuition matures.
In life, you might find the right person at the wrong time, or the wrong person at the right time. Either way, it usually does not work out in the long run. Timing is everything. Finding the right person at the right time is rare and oh so wonderful. I only know a handful, a small handful, of people who have had the good fortune of that golden, incandescent experience. Sometimes if the person is right but the timing is wrong, you can make it work by waiting a bit of time to fall completely into love and begin making long-term plans…delaying gratification…altering your plans to make some time adjustments, and then it works.
But persuading yourself into believing you have found the right one, at just the right time, as you trick your intuition and forge ahead anyway, while gradually discovering that it is a doomed relationship, is a whole other thing. Some people can actually maintain the illusion of near perfection for a very long time, when an event or an argument or a career change will uncover a side of that other person you had never seen before. The wrong person reveals the exact profound extent of the wrongness, leaving nothing to the imagination and no room for excuses. Having learned, you must move on. Faking it into a future with the wrong person will not work.
This is precisely why you must give relationships an extended period of time to unfold and reveal what they are really based upon. An excellent matchmaking site is just the beginning of your research. Hopefully after narrowing down the field of possibilities the two of you will begin to meet in person. Face Time calls and emails and hours spent on the phone will not take you to a place of truly knowing a person. The conversational expressions and humor and long eye-to-eye glances are lost in all of those written and vocal types of communication. You must arrive at a place of comfort by meeting each other in person. See that person in 3D. The length of time it takes for that to be arranged differs greatly, especially now in the time of a pandemic. But it can be arranged in a matter of a couple weeks – just suggest it. Sit outside somewhere, distanced from one another, wear a mask but reveal yourself to each other for a few minutes, then cover back up, order a pizza and settle in for the afternoon. Smile at each other with your eyes. Laugh out loud. Drop all pretense and reveal yourself as the person you authentically are. Ask a lot of questions of each other, and answer them because the reason you are there is to begin…the process…the discovery…of what makes the magic happen. Invite the possibility of romance. Be open to knowing. To adventure. See what happens.
Above photos are from an epic trip to Singapore and Bangkok, Thailand
If you have read Part One of this subject on my previous blog – about online matchmaking – welcome back! If you are interested in this information but have not read that first blog, please go back and read Part One because you need that basic information to make sense of what this second part says.
Tis the season for festive decorating and celebrations! With the pandemic requirements, only narrowly defined small parties are recommended, but in the interim until we can all get vaccinated, there is groundwork that can still be laid. Relationships can be formed and defined and even enjoyed in online dating website socialization. The basics were discussed in Part One of this blog and I hope you all had your curiosity teased into further investigations. The process of getting started is fun and fascinating and yet sometimes rather tricky. With this second blog I will carefully explain the nuances of what to watch out for, certainly not to scare you, but so that you have a head start over the inexperienced first-time user of these online social dating services. In the general dating game, you already have an advantage when you sign up for one of these sites because, by comparison, if you happen to actually meet a random person who looks interesting at a party, or a bar, hiking, or even just walking down the street you know next to nothing about him/her. You are flying so very blind…you have nothing to go on and you must start from scratch, ground zero, in your “getting to know you” routine. It is always better to have a foundation of information with which to start. So we begin someplace between caution and adventure, hoping that we find a comfortable balance for you.
Online information provides you with a wealth of information right off the bat. The applicants’ profiles reveal a great deal of good nitty-gritty stuff and if you are intuitive enough to even read between the lines you are especially fortunate. For instance, chances are you will be able to read Mr/Ms Profile’s education level, religious beliefs, where he/she lives, what he/she does for a living, what he/she’s likes and dislikes are, what his or her ‘s favorite past times, hobbies, musical preferences are , what he/she likes to eat and where, can he/she dance, does he/she travel, does he/she prefer art galleries or football games or both.. and the beat goes on. Additionally it is at least partially written in the Profiler’s own words, and that means that perhaps his/her sense of humor shows through the words. Her/his choice of words might also reveal a tendency to be positive about life or a bit melancholy. On some sites you might have access to that psychological profile test that I mentioned in Part One, which would be fascinating. Wouldn’t it be a good thing to know if he/she is structured and organized rather than unorganized and messy? It would also be great to know if the person you are considering is an extroverted party animal or a more introverted intellectual loner. There is much to be learned from a profile, and of course your own profile must be carefully written as well. Fill it out when you are in a good mood!
As I said before in Part One, the pictures you post as part of your profile page are an extremely important component of assembling the information about yourself. People who do not choose to post a picture are at a very basic disadvantage in the competition for your attention. It reveals that they are not a confident person about their appearance, or they are not technically savvy enough to know how to upload a picture. Everyone is capable of having a flattering picture taken – and people are surprisingly happy to see you in a casual, unplanned photo opportunity like when you are outdoors on a hike or having fun with friends. It is not a great idea to post a picture of yourself with a bunch of friends who most definitely do not want their pictures posted on a well-traveled internet social dating website, because that is an invasion of their privacy. So make your picture a single picture of you – you can crop out all the other people if you know how to do that. Some dating websites allow you to post a gallery of several pictures and that is a fantastic idea. Show your true self! Show everyone that you get around and have an active life. Just be authentic and have fun with it.
I have seen a wide variety of ridiculous attempts at almost, or sort ofposting a picture. A person will wear a big hat and stand in the shade. A person will post a picture of his or her shadow. A person will photograph him/her self from only the neck down, or only from his nose up. Another person who claims to be a senior citizen will post one picture of him/herself from at least 20 years ago. I saw a guy once who posted a picture of the area just below his belt region in a pair of very tight jeans. Come on you guys! Do this picture thing the correct way or not at all and stop wasting space on a match-making site when you are not serious enough to give it a dignified chance. Don’t be a creep, and ladies who turn themselves into pin-up queens in their senior years might not get the responses they are hoping for.
Other characteristics that might be volunteered on a social website profile without the writer consciously realizing what he/she has revealed are sometimes quite obvious to the person reading the profile. A person might inadvertently reveal he/she has been married 5 times…. red flag. A person might actually reveal that he/she lives in another country…red flag. A person might reveal that he/she is actually writing for a friend who just cannot bring him/herself to complete the profile or post a picture or reveal his/her actual authentic name because of shyness…red flag. I ran across a control freak one time who posted no picture and when I requested one he answered me with, “Meet me for a drink and you can take all the damn pictures you want!” Control freaks usually reveal themselves. Another guy, in his profile, stated that he would like to be called on his phone so that he could explain in detail exactly what he expected of a woman in a relationship with him, because he has made a list. Red flag.
One final warning would be to never become involved in any relationship, no matter how wonderful it seems, if money is requested by the other person. You are begging for trouble if that happens. If you ever watch the crime shows on TV such as “48 Hours” I do not have to explain further. Do not ever put yourself in the position of being an obvious, unsuspecting, air- headed fool of a sitting duck. Be cautious and be smart.
The vast majority of people on dating websites are nice folks and sincerely would like to find a compatible partner. Look for someone who lives close, at least within 25 miles of you, (unless you would seriously consider moving) and is reasonably flexible about how it would work if you decide to meet for coffee. I recommend coffee rather than cocktails for that first in-person meeting. Never invite a brand new acquaintance into your home or reveal exactly where you live. Specific info like that is better saved for much later in the relationship. You can split the check or offer to pay it yourself or allow that other person to pay – it is fine to handle it however you would like.
I imagine you might have about a million more questions, not answered here. If a Part Three is warranted, we will talk about all of this and more, again. In the meantime, take heart, a new day is about to dawn and there is a way out of this involuntary imprisonment. It is always better to know a person mentally before you know them physically. It will be a joyful awakening to some day become more 3Dimensional again!
There is so much pertinent subject matter in the category of senior citizenship, and this blog is just getting started, but I would like to begin a discussion today about senior match-making websites. Perhaps you already have an opinion? That’s fine, but lets give this topic another chance. Open your mind a bit! You may decide that investigating some possibilities is the best thing you ever did for yourself.
If you are still “above ground” and have a pulse, plus a little pep in your step and you are single and enjoy a nice life, congratulations to you – you are a survivor. As my sister says, “Old age is a privilege denied to many, so appreciate it.” But maybe something is missing…you might be interested in finding a companion. Seventy-eight is the new sixty-eight, or perhaps even the new fifty-eight, if you want to play that numbers game. We are not our senior parents. We are more healthy, more active and certainly more engaged in life than they were at this point in time. It might be a full-blown romance that you are looking for (lucky you!) or a traveling companion, a hiking friend, a movie friend, a person you can discuss books with, a dance partner or just a platonic buddy, but life is always better with another person to share it with. Romance is romance, no matter the age, and companionship is a wonderful thing. Especially during the isolating circumstances of a pandemic event I believe it is comforting and fun to find other people with whom you can carry on a conversation within the confines of social distancing. After covid is no longer an issue (and we all urgently hope for that) then whatever friendships have been formed online will have a chance to move forward and become more 3Dimentional.
Google lists the TOP 10 senior match-making websites, two of which I have had personal experiences with, off and on, over the span of several years. I have not magically found my prince charming (in this senior age range he would be a king by now) but I have met a narrow selection of fine gentlemen in the dozens and dozens of choices, learned a lot and become more clever and efficient in my ongoing fairy tale search. I do speak from a woman’s viewpoint, but I am capable of giving help to the guys too, because I have learned a lot from the men I met along the way.
Most of these dating websites want you to take a brief, non-threatening personality test after you decide to fork over some money and sign up for a period of time. These tests reveal things like whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, cautious or adventurous, a leader or a follower and so on….whether you are within the norms, in other words.. The tests also screen out, I would like to assume, the sociopaths from the normal. In reality, I have run across the occasional creepy old geezer who, I imagined, might own a white van and go cruising around in his retirement years looking for younger hot chicks. You can usually spot those guys a mile away. On the wide wide scale of personalities, which starts right here on the left side with the creepy category and goes all the way over across your house to the normal-as-apple-pie category to the far right side, there is a lot of territory in between. Listen to your intuition, ask good questions and do not agree to anything weird. More on this later…
Financially speaking, you will find that some dating sites are on the expensive side, some are reasonably priced and some are astonishingly “FREE but not quite” – you find out after you sign up that all kinds of necessary “perks” ( a contradiction in terms) cost extra money. When you make the decision to sign up, be sure you understand whether the fee you see quoted on paper is the monthly fee or the fee for a period of months, like for instance 6 months. Nobody wants to be sucked into paying for a ridiculous extended period of time. Absolutely do not opt for automatic renewal!
The site will request a picture of you, because you can bet that is a very important piece of your particular puzzle. Some sites will enable you to have a gallery, a selection, of photographs. You owe it to yourself to make them flattering, because like it or not, both men and women really do care how you look. Your photo is your “curb appeal”. People do care what you wear, whether you have any hair left (lots of women like baldness and see it as a sign of virility) and whether or not you look physically fit. You can be a little overweight, or not, have goofy looking hair or none at all, seem to be city-slicker stylish or a tree hugger or a rancher or a dude in fancy clothes…whatever. Chances are that someone will find you attractive and want to know you better. Just be authentic. Do not try to be someone you are not. It never works. As the saying goes, “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” If you do not know how to take a selfie with your phone and upload it to the internet dating site, find someone who will take some pictures for you and help you do it. Older grandchildren would know how to do this, and they would probably find it interesting that you are trying to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. The photos are necessary for your success in finding a new friend because first impressions are important. It is best to not have other friends or family members in the pictures with you – the internet is never to be 100% trusted, and spreading around the pictures of other people is not OK.
You will be asked to write a brief Bio for your own page on the site – it should reveal who you are and what makes you tic, with information about hobbies, interests, what you do for fun, etc. etc. It might ask what faith you are, and other more personal questions. Be honest, be funny if you want to, be spiritual if that is who you are, be enigmatic and a bit private or boldly frank, but be human. You do not have to answer every question that the form asks of you.
After you have gotten yourself established on the site of your choice, jump right in. No guts no glory.
Pictures of people and their personal info who have been expertly computer-matched to you and your unique personality will begin showing up for your consideration. It will be overwhelming at first. Dozens and dozens of guys or gals will pop up ( yes, sometimes both sexes). You will feel like you have gone to the circus and there is not enough time to see all the acts and the side shows. So many people! Whatever site you have chosen will offer you a way to get the attention of the guys/gals you find interesting. You will be able to send them a wink, or a smile, or a wave or a star – a clue of some kind that will indicate you want to know more about them. Then you are off and running. Some will respond and some won’t, but don’t give up. Maybe someone will not even notice you for a couple weeks, or perhaps he/she is zeroing in on someone else at the moment and does not want any new distractions. Every day new people will show up and you have to be dedicated to checking in frequently on your site or you will definitely miss something good. It is like a huge chess game with lots of moving parts.
Remember that your entire full name will never be seen by anyone else who is represented on the site. You will be given an anonymous email account on the site, so that you can communicate with others, and you can call yourself whatever name or nickname you want, but you never have to reveal anything personal about yourself ( address, private phone number, email etc) unless you decide you want to. If you do decide that you want to give a guy, or a gal your private info, be sure you have vetted that person well, in many email conversations where you ask a lot of questions and your questions are answered. Decide carefully if you are comfortable enough to open the door to your life to that person. Once your private cell number or your email address is out there with him/her you can never get it back and he/she is able to find other info about you based upon that info. Whether you are a male or a female, be cautious, because you could be unpleasantly surprised at any moment with a request for a Face Time call from some person you barely know! Make wise choices and let things develop over a period of time before you get too familiar. It is a process that keeps unfolding but it goes much quicker than sitting around in your kitchen waiting for some terrific person to ring your front doorbell.
In PART TWO of this subject we will discuss the nuances of senior match-making websites and the many circumstances you might encounter. Stay tuned, we are just getting started.
BLOG ART IMAGE – Titled MOON CHILD Original mixed media painting, 9×12″, $75.
The iconic Clock from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris – the Museum was formerly a train station, so clocks are everywhere, and my message for you is time-oriented…
Here I am again, inside the chaotic and dangerous inner sanctum of the pandemic, except I have finished another trip around the sun. I had a birthday, in spite of covid. My heart goes out to all those people whose life journey has ended much too soon. I grieve for you and your families every day. It is like Russian Roulette, this disease. Chances are that you might get it in some random, thoughtless nanosecond when your guard is down. I hope not. Never lose your focus and your awareness of what you are doing, where you are doing it, what your hands are touching and the quality of the air you are breathing. We are all stuck together here in this moment in time, and I care about you.
They say you should write about what you know, and I know all of this. Later birthdays are difficult under even normal circumstances, but when you get up into numbers that are in the clouds birthdays can be stunning and sobering. It seems the older you get the more you think about the past. I try, teeth gritted, not to do that. I make it almost my mantra to live in the now.
The nights are the most daunting. Oh I can fall asleep just fine, but waking up at 3:42 am every morning is predictably infuriating. I know I am not alone.
For weeks, months, even years our “getting older” minds are awakened in the pitch blackness to worry about THINGS. We waste the wee hours on trivial pursuits – what was my dog’s name when I was 6 years old? How come I never liked that one curly-headed kid in my biology class? Isn’t he famous or something now? Why did I have to learn about where babies come from in an idiotic, intellectually insulting book that my mom handed me much too late? But more often the worst case scenarios dominate our thoughts. The hot water heater is on its last legs. It will probably quit when I can least afford to replace it. Probably Christmas Eve. That pain in my leg is probably something really bad. I don’t feel comfortable going to see my doctor during a pandemic. I will just wait it out and worry about it again tomorrow night. Are blue whales really making a comeback?
The things you wake up to worry about are often suddenly replaced, in your waking life, by a different big worry thing, worse than all the other things that you ever anticipated, that surprises the heck out of you. Oh my god I never even thought of that! The entire furnace goes out plus the hot water heater! You find out that pain in your own leg is just unimportant arthritis but someone else you dearly love has a far more dire health issue. How silly of you to have been worried about your mere leg, you say. Those stakes were not high-value worrying at all. Just your leg. What a waste of time.
Once in a while the thing you were so worried about never ever happens and you are shocked by a wonderful something that distracts you completely from worrying and renews your joy and optimism. That can happen. One year my daughter amazed me with the news that I was going to Paris! For my birthday! Well that surprise shot right up past everything on the worry list to top notch #1 most wonderful of things. A whole different list! Both my kids are always telling me I am going to live to be a hundred. (But is that supposed to be a good thing? Do I really want to?) They seem to have gotten a call from somewhere, from someone who knows, because they are so sure. But usually when my birthday comes, every single year, I can’t help but wonder how many of them I have left. My sweet daughter says, enthusiastically, “Mom you are not done yet! You still have things to do! Things to see! Start thinking about what you would like to do on your eightieth!” So I wonder if someday when I am 97 or a hundred, the two of them will quietly slide over to me and tell me, in a kind quiet voice, in my totally deaf ear, “Mom it is time now. Get your stuff together. You are done. “
With this blog post I am beginning a new-ish direction with my blog posts – I realize I will be losing a chunk of younger followers with this move but that is ok. I feel the urgent need to write what I know for sure about being older, starting out now, in the time of “cholera”, and continuing on into any time and place I want to go, for that matter. The experience will be bittersweet. Funny as hell one moment and tragic comedy in the next, but forever real. I hope to touch upon all subjects that we seniors are dealing with. Health, spirituality, love, romance, hobbies, self-worth, travel, inspiration and basic everyday living. I invite you to come along, no matter what your numerical age or your mental age, because I believe you all will find something of relevance here.
I will include an image with each blog, either a photograph from my own travels or a painting of my own creation, (often smaller and more affordable than my usual painting size). Prices will be listed.
Say his name, his family repeats…George Floyd. Say his name. Not even 9 minutes of time that changed the world.
Little did George Floyd know that he was destined to change the world in less than 9 minutes of tragic suffering. He paid the ultimate price; he had no choice in the matter. But he found his place in history through the hatred of a man whose name I choose not to remember. George Floyd is forever the hero of a movement that could easily be the pivotal point, the tipping point, the moment in all time when the history of mankind’s racial hatred toward each other would be forever changed. People have had enough.
Even those of us who proudly claim not to be racist have had our claims put to the test. We still have lessons to learn. We still need to feel the pain of racism on a deeper level. My personal bar of being not a racist is raised considerably higher during this time as I watch night after night of peaceful protesting from people who care enough to put everything else aside and walk for days and days. I feel the pain in the eloquent words from George Floyd’s family as they plea for peace and ask for the violence to stop, because he would not have wanted this. The amazing grace…the deep love….the understanding….the compassion…displayed in their words were like a prayer. Those words were holy.
If you are not asking yourself some questions during this monumental movement then something is missing inside you that needs serious attention. Go deeper. Personalize it. What if George Floyd was your friend, your brother, your child? What if he had done something valuable for you? A simple favor? A big favor? Saved your life? What if he had saved your child’s life?
Maybe he actually has saved your child’s life with his legacy.
Would his blackness make you any less grateful? Would you still feel hatred for him?
Well, George Floyd has done something for you – he has given you a wake up call. An epiphany. A reason to change. He has possibly saved all of our lives with his sacrifice.
In the words of John Lennon – IMAGINE all the people.
People are taught to hate by seeing that behavior in the people around them who want them to learn it. Our children and their children must witness a change and be taught to carry the change forward with pride of knowing that the change began with them. For the people who are fiercely carrying the heavy burden of hatred as adults, you need to find help. Open your mind to change, and if you cannot, then the laws of the land will eventually find you.
George Floyd will live in my heart forever. His name will now become a noun that means I am not a racist, I am George Floyd. Say his name.
The “I don’t give a sh** about anyone but me” syndrome.
In my previous two blogs during this world pandemic my attempts to describe our current situation were somewhat lighthearted. Today, however I am going to take a look at one particular affliction that might further, and more deeply, explain certain behaviors we are noticing on the daily news and with friends and acquaintances we are in touch with on a more personal level during these difficult times.
I am talking about the personality disorder called Narcissism…….the “it is all about me” disorder, when self-love becomes perverted into an emotional beast. A weapon of destruction.
Self-love is a good thing; we all need it in healthy proportions in order to seek the things in life that we are entitled to have……self-respect, ambition, hope, confidence, love and a shot at having “the good life well-lived”.
Chances are that you all know someone who is so self-involved that you can barely tolerate being around that person for more than just a brief interlude. Their consistent red-flag clue is their never-ending focus on themselves – the focus can be big-as-life-obvious or quite subtle. Their entitlement, their lack of empathy, their inability to offer help or charitable kindness or unconditional love to anyone without expecting something in return is pervasive and impervious to any attempts to change them. Therapists throw up their hands in frustration. The narcissist is highly manipulative; sneaky and subtle, or controlling and bold and every stage in between depending on the situation – always conniving and planning to get their desired results from relationships with people and situations and even countries. Always maneuvering. Everything a narcissist does has an agenda. Remind you of anyone?
You know who they are – these people are often in powerful positions. Think Bobby Axelrod on the tv show Billions. Think about politicians, and presidents and kings. Think about tele-evangelists who live as if they were kings. But then bring it down to a personal level. Think about that person you know who never asks you how you are doing and always steers the conversation back to him or her more-important self. The narcissists are the whiney ones, the “poor me” ones. The ones who always think they are suffering the most egregious of injustices. They often see themselves as the victims when actually others are suffering far more. They seem blind to the problems of other people. Think about those narcissistic people, during this world pandemic, who congregate in large packed groups and party for hours, think about people who have their grocery cart taken away from them at Costco and are asked to leave the store because they refuse to wear a mask, while yelling about their ego-maniacal rights. Think about the person who walks into a grocery wearing a mask but does not put masks on her three kids.
Narcissists believe the rules do not apply to them. They are usually charismatic people, often good-looking and smart as a whip and always on the lookout for opportunity. They adore being adored. They love parties because they can work the room and grab everyone’s attention. They love compliments – in fact, compliments get their attention fast and if you continue to compliment them over a period of months or years they will probably keep you in their life because they need those compliments like they need air. If you are in the life of a narcissist for very long it is because they need you for something. And possibly you enjoy being there – because on the surface they can be generous and kind and funny and so you enjoy their company. But the selfishness is deeper and more malignant than that. If you wake up one morning and they decide that you can no longer provide a need for them they will find a way to drop you overnight. They will accuse you of being over-sensitive if you speak up. They will look for your weak spots and use them. You are never really their friend because they will eventually turn on you. They do not understand loyalty or unconditional love. They can become controlling and cold and stingy and withholding in a flash because the need is gone. Or perhaps because they suddenly realized that you saw right through them.
Do these few samples of some criteria for being a narcissist remind you of people you know, or people in high governmental positions? Of course they do. But some people are not narcissists to the extreme….they would fall somewhere below the “champion narcissists” on the scale of selfishness and they sort of fly under the radar for a period of time. Maybe they are almost consistently tolerable for most of the time. Maybe you can even live with a narcissist, or marry one or be a best friend with one, for a while, maybe for years. That is only if you are willing to live on the edge of destruction and remain agreeable, because eventually they will tire of you if you begin to even hint about their selfishness and they will begin the process of tearing you down and kicking you out of their life. Do not kid yourself. You cannot win with a narcissist. In any number of possible attempts you will lose in the long run. If this particular narcissist is someone in the public eye, he will take pleasure in destroying you through blackmail or character assassination. He will put the blame on you.
There are many books about narcissism, some with simple lists of the top ten ways you can spot one in the wild. Sometimes they live and work in clusters. They are nowhere near being an endangered species. You see them everywhere, but especially so now, in a pandemic, as we are all trying to just keep our heads above water, and they do not like what is going on, perhaps because they are not being given the attention they need. There are no rules in their playbook, only agendas. They provide ridiculous distractions and they throw temper tantrums. They hurl insults and threats at innocent bystanders and they actually enjoy leaving a path of destruction wherever they go. They thrive on revenge. Welcome to the age of selfishness and greed where narcissists live in emotional luxury. Watch out for them because they will eat you alive.
Please let’s all vote, and vote for positive change in November.
Take your average family of four during the pandemic, look in their fridge, and you are likely to find pandemonium, even in a household where mom is like a drill sergeant with every meal and snack planned. The challenges are epic. The storage is finite.
Take the flip-side of that. Feeding one person during the pandemic. Look in the fridge, and you are likely to find pandemonium. It is not that much different than feeding a small mob. One person depends upon only one person to feed herself/himself. You can’t send anybody else out the door at 9pm when you must have popcorn for movie night. Then you need fresh produce for Taco Tuesday. Who goes to the grocery again? You must keep the fridge stocked for any eventuality.
We have all, by now, refined and improved upon our original pandemic survival plans. Things keep changing and we must be adaptable. Creativity inside the pandemic is revealed every night on the local news with people who are clever and resourceful while confined at home.
The emotional aspect is a whole different story. Sometimes the friends and family that you thought would weather the storm like champions surprise you with their vulnerability. Turns out that these more practical people fall apart easily when structure is absent. Others, who are ordinarily all loosey-goosey in their daily lives on any given day are the ones who begin to crave structure and orderliness, cleaning closets and garages, tidying up the yard and the cars. Things are a bit threatening for them when life gets out of control and crazy and organization helps. Chances are that you fall in between those extremes but that keeps you on a roller-coaster ride of hot to cold, black to white, up to down in a 24/7 day that you wish could be more even-keeled.
Humor, when living alone, becomes a stand up comedy routine playing to an audience of no one. Sarcasm falls flat. Dark comedy is no longer funny because people really are dying. Even Ellen DeGeneres is not funny at home. People’s underbellies begin to reveal themselves.
I have no advice. I am not writing this blog because I know any answers. I am all over the emotional charts myself, laughing at something on tv one minute and crying at something on tv the next. I have been, for all practical purposes, uninspired and unable to paint. The art gene has gone pandemic-ly dormant. I moved all of my supplies onto the dining room table, out from their studio space, thinking that a change of scenery might break loose the blockage. We (me and my art gene) are into the second day in a space with more light, open to the terrace breezes, closer to the fridge, but so far no miracles have happened. You know what they say when this happens – do not wait to be “inspired” by some stroke of artistic lightening. JUST START MAKING MARKS WITH PAINT and things will begin to flow…..
I have accidentally read some books that took me deep into the universe and deeper into my own soul. Deepak Chopra’s book titled METAHUMAN is profoundly stirring and I had to read some passages several times until my own personal light bulb went on, but that’s OK. I have dedicated myself to following the 30-day workbook journal that will unleash my infinite potential and reveal to me my one-ness with the universe. I figure, if you cannot go wide, then of course go deep. I already knew I am made of star-dust, thanks to the explanations by Carl Sagan and Deepak, but now I know how and why that is absolutely true. Did you know that the universe has conscientiousness?
The gorgeous cards in this post are the artwork of my gifted Cuban friend Lazaro Iglesias. You can find more of his artwork on FB under the name of La Vie Boheme. He currently lives in Santa Fe. His art always speaks to me, but especially now.
This pandemic experience feels to me as if we are all trapped in a big crystal globe – really pretty to look at – ethereal – the kind you shake to make snowfall – only it has a more sinister trick up its sleeve. I have never in my life felt more vulnerable and I am sure you feel the same.
Every day something happens that is weirder than the day before. We must remain learners now – not knowers who cannot be enlightened about anything at all. There will be many discoveries ahead and we need to remain open and aware, living in the moment and not losing our places in the plot that continues to unfold by the minute.
Concentration is key, but my mind pings around from one subject to the next like a pinball machine and I cannot come in for a landing on any one thing longer than a mosquito bite at twilight.
I decide I want to use my time to re-read the Constitution. No – maybe the entire Mueller report. Or do I want to search on Pinterest for that recipe for gooey sticky buns. I do manage to read an entire book that I absolutely could not put down titled AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins. I have not read such a gripping book in 30 years, I guess because it is so real and relevant to our current world. It is beautifully written, expertly researched and so very uplifting in the bravery its characters display. Please check it out on Amazon and please read it. It is a true page turner.
Maybe I can make myself paint today, I think. While I decide whether or not I can find that illusive creative spark I will have my second Cadbury egg and keep my eye on the third…while I play some older CD’s I have almost forgotten about. John Mayer – I grab for anything of his and wind up with WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE. Couple minutes later SLOW DANCING IN A BURNING ROOM comes on and he croons “we going down….” I look for something more mindless.
The phone rings a lot. One friend who wants me to read a couple Bible verses that she thinks are pertinent. A second friend who wants to gossip….really? How do you know anything about anyone right now? A third friend, a decade older than I am who wants to talk about the good old days, at this sharp point in time when I am all too aware of how old I am in the time of the world pandemic. Each friend is dear to me and holds a place in my overall scheme of things, but I am not in the mood for the wrong friend at the wrong time.
My brother has a couple drinks every evening and two is enough to jolt out his playful side from the darkness of the day, and he wants me to kid around with him on the phone. I live alone, and I hate to drink alone. It does not take me to a happy place. So I am busy doing other things when he calls and starts his silly routine. Because I appreciate the effort, I endure…..and I do love him. Oh ha ha.
Both my kids now live at altitude, after being raised at altitude in Conifer and Evergreen, CO just up the mountains from Denver. I talk to my son or my daughter, who always make me laugh. Kelly and her husband Jay live at Lake Tahoe – I mean they really live AT IT, on the water. Looking out at the Big Blue all day long in its changing light and seasons will keep anyone stable, I think to myself. That scenery is restorative and cleansing. We have good talks and she does keep me just sane enough, but not toooo sane that I completely lose my characteristic craziness. It’s a fine balance.
My outdoorsy, “wolf boy,” mountain climbing, 14’er gobbling son always has a new adventure on the horizon and must have the lungs of a Japanese pearl diver. Every weekend he is Up There climbing something. He must be clean and deep and fine when it comes to lungs. We make a date for him to visit with me next week in the greenbelt space outside my condo. I will order a pizza and have it delivered there, half to him and half to me, 20 feet apart.
The days blend into one long ordeal of time, grinding along and revealing new information every day about what we are up against. I have had some bleak moments, some dismal periods of time that are based in much more than a mere pandemic. There was plenty going on even before the pandemic arrived at my door. But I do see good in each day and spring is coming and the sun continues to rise and set and shine down upon us. Let’s make every effort to keep our chins up, ok?
NOVEL www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com – Amazon
NON-FICTION Your Miraculous, Timeless Creativity and The Creative Epiphany – Amazon