It’s what we do that defines us?

it's what you do that defines youAre we what we do?

A few days ago I was watching Batman Begins (yes I am a comic book/superhero movie junky).  Something that stuck out to me more than usual was this theme of, “It’s not who I am on the inside, but what I do that defines me.”  Originally, this quote came from Jane Austen whom I adore.  So I was surprised when it rubbed me the wrong way and got me to thinking…(Shamefully, I confess that I have not read Sense and Sensibility, so I do not know the context in which Austen was using this quote.  However, I can speculate that what she is referring to is far from the direction my thoughts took me.)

If we were stripped of everything- all of our capabilities of “doing,” would we still be ourselves and considered valuable?  As we grow older, and that’s something we all share as human beings, we become more restricted in what we can do and at what pace.  This is just a reality.  If we revolve our lives around what we do, the inevitability that one day we may not be able to do all that we do now can be frightening and even devastating.

Part of my struggle with starting a new career later in life was the issue of time.  Would I have enough time to fully pursue my dreams or was I too late?  Recently a friend shared about someone he knew who went to medical school and became a doctor in his late forties!  This was extremely encouraging to me and helped me to see that it is never too late to follow your heart.  However, it brought me back to the question of how I define myself – by what I do or who I am?

There are so many things I want to do but realize that I do not have the resources to do them right now – rescue animals, travel the world, live on the beach- but just because I cannot do them does not undermine the characteristics which make me have those desires.  Those dreams are what make me, me; not whether I accomplish them or not.  Many of us search for a purpose in life; something to contribute that no one else can or at least giving of ourselves in a productive way.  As a society we’ve created a measurement of human value based on what we do instead of simply who we are.

So how can we value one another and ourselves at any age no matter what we can or cannot do?  When can being ourselves be enough?


I’ve got you in my pocket!

i've got you in my pocketCan the pockets of our clothes reveal our self-perception and society?

Sitting in a movie theater watching the pre-show reel, my husband voiced his concerns for my cell phone.  All possible pockets on my person were bulging because I did not want to bring a purse for this event.  As a result, the only optional home for my cell phone was my back pocket.  This was quite worrisome for my husband who keeps his phone in his front pocket.  When he suggested that as an alternative in order to avoid crushing or breaking the phone (of course he assured me that this was in no way a reflection on the weight or size of my buttocks), I told him that it was impossible.

How is it possible that it should be impossible?  After all, he was able to put his phone in his front pocket.  When I revealed that the front pockets of my jeans were not equipped with large pockets like those on the back, he appeared shocked and confused.   In fact, he stuck his hand in my front pocket to see/feel for himself.  Scandalous, I know.  However, we were not thrown out of the movie theater and continued our discussion.

“Sexist pockets,” I said jokingly.  Can such a ridiculous thing exist?  But it got us thinking about why clothing is made the way it is made.  Everyone’s body is different; shape, size, age, function, etc.  However, designers have discovered a way to classify and label clothing according to a specific standard. The questions that follow are:  who chose the standard, how was it determined and why?  Throughout time the ideal form for the human body has changed.  Has the human body changed drastically over time?  If so, have bodies changed due to some form of adaptation to the environment or in order to accommodate or mimic the trends imposed by society?

Whatever the answers may be, the clothing of our present society reflects certain expectations of different kinds of bodies.  Why do some bodies need or deserve large front pockets and others do not?  Or one can take the opposing perspective and ask why are some bodies are burdened with large front pockets and others are not?  Why are some fabrics used for one body and not another?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is this:  are we allowing society to fit us into their predetermined pockets or are we choosing to fill whatever size pocket we want with who we are?


who owns your body?

who owns your bodyWhen will women’s bodies have only one owner?

An alarming report came to my attention a few weeks ago:  women prisoners in California are being sterilized without their consent.  Hearing this immediately took me back to a history lesson on eugenics.  This was only uncovered through audits performed at the prisons.  Which begs the question:  how many have not been revealed?

The control of women’s bodies has been an ongoing battle.  It seems simple enough; one’s body belongs to oneself.  But history has taught us through slavery, labor camps, rape, mail-order brides and the sex trade that no matter what race or gender one might claim, others hold the power of bodies in their hands.  Society labels bodies in order to make actions against bodies “acceptable.”  Society teaches women to believe that their bodies do not belong to them or that they deserve abuse.

Women’s bodies are powerful: they bring life.  To allow someone else to take or control that power is abominable.  Why does someone else need to be consulted for women to make decisions about their own bodies?  How can people justify the right to sterilize a woman without her consent?  More women than men have been sterilized without consent – why is that?  Is there more to sterilization than simply stopping someone from procreating?

These actions continue to remind women that they are not in control of their bodies.  Someone else out there, probably whom we have never met, is making decisions about the care or abuse of our bodies.  How can we take back the control?  When will the body only belong to its owner?

To read the story click here: Sterilization in CA prisons.



What is the truth?

what is the truthDoes truth exist?

We think of truth as this unshakable, immovable force which carries us through life.  It is a never ending reference point to which we return so that we don’t get lost.  But what if that same truth shuts out all other voices, including your own?  What if that truth does not allow us to accept or love one another?

In an unsteady world where nothing is certain, truth can be a life saver.  For most of my life I thought I knew the truth.  I’ve been obsessed with understanding, analyzing, searching and securing the truth.  But when my world was turned upside down these past two years with my husband’s accident, the death of my dog and the cancer diagnosis for my best friend, my foundation of truth was rocked and crumbled to pieces.  Since then I’ve just tried to survive; no time to process anything.  Now that I have a little more time to breathe, I’ve discovered that I’ve given up looking for the truth and I am just trying to find some kind of peace while still giving myself the right to be angry.

This past week I met with two wise and beautiful women who have themselves been through many truth questioning events.  They shared their perspective on the truth and simply said, “It’s all relative.”  They bombarded me with questions:  How do we grow without change?  And how does change come about if our truth is unchangeable?  It is when we challenge our truth that we find growth and a new truth about ourselves and the world.  When we let go is when we truly uncover the truth.

There it was again, my arch nemesis:  letting go.  How can you let go when all you want is something to hold onto in the midst of drifting and being tossed around in a chaotic storm?  This is the question another friend of mine posed to me.  She too has gone and is going through life-changing struggles and just wants something solid in her life.  As I heard her speak the words of my heart, I found myself asking her if it is possible that something beautiful can come from a shattered truth?  A rebirth.  A discovery.  Perhaps even liberty.

Patience.  My other arch nemesis keeps rearing its ugly head in the form of these two beautifully wise women who encouraged me to see patience from another perspective; one that presents itself in the form of a gift instead of a curse.  To give to myself patience as I take this journey is priceless and the key to unlocking the truth.  Patience to simply be myself and in some sense, cut myself a break.  In this way, I am not clouded by my own agenda, but more open to what the universe is trying to tell me.  And in the still, quiet, patience, I may be able to let go and listen.  Listen to my heart, to others, to the world and hear the truth.  For now.


depend on it, not me

depend on it not meAre we more dependent on things than on people?

Our society is becoming more and more dependent on things: computers, cell phones, cars, starbucks etc.  However, if one does not have all of those things, does that mean they are not part of society?  Are we excluding humanity in exchange for access to material goods?  Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it is only available to a certain group of people, it no longer connects but divides us.

This morning I heard a story about a homeless family who were living in the woods in a camper and some tents.  They did not have running water or electricity, besides that which the camper provided.  The family managed together until the threat of winter approached.  The administrators of the school which the children attended had concerns and didn’t realize “how bad things were” until they visited their camp site.  A principal said with great emotion that she was so moved by how happy the family seemed to be despite their living conditions.  In response to this, the school took action and the community rallied around the family, eventually providing enough money to secure a home.

Great story, right?  It is always heartwarming to hear about the power of compassion, generosity and community.  But this story made me question the societal norm of the American dream.  Frankly, I admired the family for being so resourceful.  I mean, when’s the last time that we had to make it out in “the wild” without the luxuries of running water and electricity, let alone our cell phones or laptops?  Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.  I’m not saying that homelessness is not a serious issue and problem which our society needs to address.  However, the irony is that a large population of the world lives without running water and electricity all of their lives.  It is their way of life.  However, in American culture, this is quite unheard of and looked down upon.  Not having these things may even be considered irresponsible and separates/classifies us.

I suppose I’m just asking if the way of life which the American media is selling us is best for humanity or for technological advancement?  We think they go hand in hand, but are we leading ourselves into a trap in which we become so dependent on technology that we don’t know how to relate or live without it?  This family not only lived without and admitted that they became even closer because they were forced to interact and work together.  Seems like a side effect which we could all benefit from.  Why do we need to have things to connect us?  If we’re communicating so much more, than why do we seem more dependent on the things themselves than on each other?




everything happens for a reason?

everything happens for a reasonDo things happen for a reason or do we just say that once we’ve reached an acceptance of them?

Regret is usually something no one wants to talk about it.  We avoid it at all costs, finding at times that by running away from it, we end up running into it whatever path we take.  But if we could learn from our regret; see that it is never too late to follow our dreams, ask for forgiveness, give forgiveness, say “I love you” and even say goodbye – then maybe we could use regret to transform us.  To help us make choices that will help us to truly live life to the fullest.

All this is easier said than done.  Regret is a hard pill to swallow.  It seems to stick in your gut for years, never dissolving, only making your stomach sour and fill you with bitterness.  So how do we let go?  Maybe we don’t.  I’m finding that because I have a difficult time letting go, that it’s healthier for me to process or digest the regret and let it feed something positive.  Not that it is necessarily nurturing me, but if it’s going to be there anyway, I might as well make it work for me.  One of my biggest regrets is feeling like I’ve wasted time: not following my dreams, not asking for forgiveness or giving it, withholding my “I love yous” and either waiting too long or being forced to say goodbye before I was ready.

Well, no one can turn back time (yet).  But I refuse to believe that it’s too late.  It’s never too late.  Time is so precious as it is, I’m not going to keep wasting it on wondering or pining or doubting .  I’m just gonna do it.  Do and try to be all the things that I’ve regretted not doing or being.  And not out of a sense of guilt, but a renewed energy to live my life with a new awareness of what is really important to me; what, in the big picture, really matters.  For many, including myself, this could turn into a huge turn to self-denial and self-martyrdom.  But I’ve already been down that path and it does not lead to a good place for anyone.  Instead, I’ve found that the more I allow regret to influence my choices, including taking risks and investing in myself, the more it feeds myself and others.

So perhaps all those things that have happened that we regret do happen for a reason.  But even if we cannot accept that they do, we can still find acceptance and move forward with a new energy from the past; launching us into an unknown, but intentional future.


time for patience

time for patienceWhy is it so difficult to have patience?  Or is it just me?

I’m a strange one.  This is no new news I’m sure to you all.  But I guess I’m finding that I’m one of those people who likes to make plans and know what’s coming while also enjoying the mystery of the unknown adventures that lie ahead.  I don’t need security enough that I want to live in the same place all of my life, but I also need a safe, stable place to return to in order to re-energize and renew.   It’s a balancing act I suppose.  Part of me wants the extreme while the other detests it.  And then there’s the practical side of me that just says to be responsible.

So I’m in a transitioning period of my life.  In my head I know this should be a beautiful time; it is a gift really.  A time of anticipation, reflection, rejuvenation; but it can also be one of anxiety, doubt and grief.  If I allow myself to believe that the best or even the worst is behind me I surely deceive myself.  I merely need to be present.  Use the time not to pressure myself into doing for the sake of doing.  To give myself time and make wise investments and choices; understanding that things that are worth doing take time.

It sounds as though I’m going in circles in my head, and I probably am, but I think it’s that I’m just not accustom to doing things I actually like to do.  I’ve always equated work with something I don’t want to do but need to do for someone else.  Now I’ve been given an opportunity, a time to do with what I please.  I’m still working towards something, but because it’s what I am passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.  Hence the guilt.  Strange to be wired in such a way, but it’s what I’ve known for most of my life.  Perhaps what most of us have known.

So how do we make a society in which more people can work without feeling like they’re working?  How can we make jobs that fit people instead of people fitting a job?  Isn’t that the kind of society we want to live in?   Perhaps there would be initial compromises which would cause some financial loss, but I would think that in the long run it would be an investment worth making; not only in humanity but for capitalism if that’s what we also want to preserve.  But how do we get there?  Maybe we make some plans while also leaving things open ended and flexible for change; forcing us to become better problem solvers and more compassionate human beings.  Maybe we need more patience.  With others.  And with ourselves.


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