Choices

A friend of mine readily admits some of her fondest memories involve watching “Pretty Little Liars” with her grandmother. Her nana.

Nana told me she had no interest in the program, but it was a way to spend time with her youngest grandchild on a regular basis. Despite her lack of concern for the fate of the various characters, she could handily talk through any given plot line from the show. Heather, her granddaughter, would proudly ask Nana a question about the series, and Nana would give a complete answer, smiling as she relayed the tale.

I’ve written before about the right or wrong of spending time doing something you don’t enjoy for the sake of one you care about. I believe sometimes you suck it up and go to the shower you’d rather avoid, because your love for the cousin who’s being honored is greater than your disdain for ditzy party games.

I understand the thinking of those who say “life is too short for me to do something like (fill in the blank), no matter who’s involved,” and in some ways I endorse it. There are certainly multiple opportunities to honor a loved one (and if there truly is only one chance, consider that fact carefully).

How do we balance looking out for ourselves first without being unnecessarily selfish? With children, it’s an easier decision. Sometimes the best way to build trust with a child is to watch a television show they love or read aloud a book that sends you screaming.

It would be a rare situation where I’d watch The Young and the Restless just to make a roommate happy. And yet, that’s exactly what happened nearly 30 years ago. My then-roommate and I weren’t getting along. We liked and respected each other, but living together presented challenges. We also had one television set between us. Compromise was essential.

We agreed to air the taped episodes two nights a week, and reluctantly I joined her. I never did embrace soap opera fandom, but watching and safely gossiping about those shows created a bond. We are friends to this day.

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In today’s world this example is a bit moot. With the ability to watch your favorite program at your leisure on your choice of devices, you can easily distance yourself from the undesirable family member or roommate.

But where does that get you?

I offer no answers, only questions to ponder. When is being selfish cutting yourself off from healthy relationships? On the flip side, when is it saving you from an antagonistic experience?

Life is full of choices, and the answers so often are ambiguous. The thinking process, however, needn’t be so vague. Ultimately, the decision is yours. And sometimes taking care of others is taking care of yourself.


Image Credits: © stock.adobe.com

By What Authority My Decisions Are Made

I’ve gotten used to making my own decisions, and managing their consequences. It’s what I expect out of my life, and I can’t imagine another way of living.

In recent years I’ve seen first hand what happens when a person is no longer in control of his or her life, when others control every aspect of it and let power overtake their better qualities. It’s frightening, insidious and happening every day, all around us.
Hands in jail
It happens in jails and prisons. Clearly, there’s a reason the deputies and guards must be in control, but when the jail tells you when to use the bathroom and controls whether or not you have toilet paper, a big part of your humanity is taken away. Yes, these people have committed a crime, and some would say, “they’re getting what they deserve.” But jail and prison are meant for confinement from society, not beating one’s spirit until it is destroyed.

WomanIt happens, sometimes, between husbands and wives. Men who beat their wives, whose behavior is so erratic and unpredictable the women live in constant fear their simple comments will trigger a violent attack, have taken away a vital part of their spouse’s heart and mind. It doesn’t get better, not in the marriage. The women have to leave to regain their soul, and it takes a long time.

globe-304806_1280 pixabay smAnd it happens in some countries whose leaders make a mockery of human rights and dignity. Where you are born with infinite worth yet no one will ever let you fully express your own essential self.

Today, as Americans celebrate their independence, I am thankful for my rights to make my own decisions, whether wise or foolish, to explore my options in my choice of career and even hobby, to freely write what I choose on this blog.

I know many of you who read what I post here live in other countries, and it’s important to me you know I respect and admire many of the nations on this earth and the people who are loyal to them. Patriotism doesn’t mean you reject all others, for me, it’s an appreciation of what I have and a commitment to protect those rights.

God bless us, everyone.

 

 


Autonomy


Image Credits: (hands in jail) © zurijeta — Bigstock; (drawing of woman) © retroclipart — Bigstock; (globe) Pixabay; (fireworks) © Carlos Santa Maria — Fotolia

I Made Up My Mind … but Forgot What I Decided

Ah, life. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

AdobeStock_100009763 [Converted] c geosapI finally figured out what I was going to do with the next ten years, and what do you know, a few other people had some input into those ideas…people whose input matters. So the figuring is starting all over again.

But these are people who love me, so not to worry, right?

Yes, I’ve figured out a few things. Life is going to get you, one way or the other. You’re going to have good times, bad times and a lot of everyday, ordinary times.

You’re going to learn and grow (or not). You’ll think you’ve made it, only to find the rug pulled out from underneath you. You’ll think all is lost, only to have it given back to you again.

Those you think are for you will betray you and those you think could not care less about you will save your life.

It’s not all that mixed up, to be sure, or unexpected. But I made up my mind.. and forgot what I decided. And realized, it’s all a process leading to a destination we can’t imagine.

So here I go again.


Image Credit: (Cat) © geosap — Fotolia

Fear, the Future and Moving Forward

When I was just under two years old, I feared nothing. Okay, not true. The only way I’d go down the slide was on my tummy, feet first, so apparently my fear of heights started early. But feeding ducks? Couldn’t get me to do that today (what if they bit me?) but as a toddler, if Grandpa told me it was okay, I was a trusting soul.

 

Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I was all in.

Not too many people I trust that implicitly any more, I’m afraid. I’ve learned there’s value in counsel from many, and accepting the advice of one person in a life-changing situation, no matter how adamant they may be that they are right, is rarely the wise thing to do.

It takes me time to process things. Sometimes someone will make a suggestion and I’ll dismiss it out of hand. If they push it, I’ll push back, and get angry, defensive. I need time to think it through. Later I may come back and say, “hey, what about…?” and make the same suggestion they did only days before, frustrating the bejeebers out of them.

Other times I know I’m right, and I’ll push back, and that, too, will irritate my friends, who don’t see the difference. Not long ago I had a friend who, in all sincerity, thought I was taking a situation “too seriously” and not looking at things “the way they really are.”

I was living the situation; he wasn’t. I knew just how serious it was. He was frustrated because of my perceived attitude; I was equally perturbed by his stubborn refusal to accept my experience as valuable in evaluating the situation.

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Me at my college graduation — finally, at the age of 30

I struggle, daily, with important decisions. I seek advice from friends and family, and I look at past decisions, I write blog posts (some published, some not) about what I would or would not like to see happen.

There are aspects of my life I want changed now and things I want to change in the future. I lie awake at night thinking about what I need to do to protect my future, and worrying some things will never change if I don’t take baby steps.

Some days I take the baby steps, then I forget to do so again for months at a time, losing any momentum I may have gained.

Moving forward is an ever-challenging, often exasperating, sometimes exhausting, yet ultimately exhilarating practice. It can happen slowly, then suddenly speed up and leave you spinning.

I never want to stop moving forward, growing and achieving personal freedom as a result. For me, it requires re-evaluation every so often, and I’m doing that now.

And looking forward to the next chapter.