Sunday, July 05, 2009

SoYa - I heard it.

If you’ve read ‘Songs Without Words’ – my thoughts may have some meaning – if not – you’re missing out. Big time. Not on my thoughts – but on an excellent read by a truly talented author. I usually buy books on eBay – not sure I can wait that long for another book by Ann Packer though. For the media mail delivery, that is.

Since I was a little girl, I have read voraciously – sometimes devouring 5-10 books a week – and sometimes going through odd dry spells – the longest for a couple of years when my children were very young – when I read very little. But ALWAYS when I read – it is as though I am inhaling the story. And ALWAYS when I read – I find commonality and kinship with some character in the story. Whether it’s the fiction of John Grisham or the memoirs of Jen Lancaster – or the fantasy of Frank L.Baum – I find a character to relate to. Always have. Figured I always would. Until I heard the Songs Without Words.

I feel as though I have come through an emotional tornado now – but one that has somehow taken everything in my life through the whirling winds and gusts and set it down as gently as a baby in a tree making it through an awful storm after being ripped from her cozy bed. It always seems unbelievable how much damage a tornado can do – and yet that same storm that can drive a straw through a tree trunk – can deposit a baby carefully into a tree with the gentleness of its own mother. Powerful – earth and spirit-cleansing – yet controlled.

Snort. This is beginning to sound like a poorly written book review. Who cares. I simply must get my emotions and the thoughts this book brought on written down despite the overcrowded hyperbole!

So I didn’t identify with a single character in Ann’s book. Instead – I found myself flipping – floating – flying through my usual identification process. First I was Sarabeth – then Lauren – then Liz – then Lauren – now Sarabeth again? Back and forth all the way through – I couldn’t settle in and say ‘okay – THIS is me’. Sometimes that process is a bad thing when I’m reading. I can identify with a rape victim in a novel and sink deep into the despair of both the character’s story and my own memories – and be unable to pull out of that despair until I finish reading and leave the character behind. I can find myself moody – or angry – in love or happy with no reason – until I remember the book that I am in the midst of experiencing and realize that I am still stuck ‘in character’. I’ve never wanted to be an actress – to live a character – even in moments of wanting to escape my own life’s experiences – it was a desire to be ME – without the problems – never to escape ME. So it’s somewhat jarring when I find myself stuck ‘in character’ from reading. To find myself unable to settle on my character though and to find myself slamming between characters like an out of control pinball is even more jarring. So how did I come through the experience feeling a new sense of calm and contentment? Ah – there is the question.

Lauren. Out of place – never quite fitting in – though recognizing how others didn’t fit in and what they might need to do if THEY wanted to fit in better – while sliding into her deep dark place of no options. Yes – I identify with Lauren. The pressure to be right – to be good – to feel like part of something – even my own family – yes I identify. The fear/knowledge that this is not something you get to deal with once in your life like a rape – like a loved one dying from cancer – like an acceptance that a relationship is over – but instead will get to deal with (most likely) over and over for the rest of your life – yes I identify.

Sarabeth. Conflicting emotions of anger and reversed parent/child relationship – first at one parent – then the other – then back again. Yes – I identify. Mourning the loss of childhood – the loss of parents who were gone long before they were actually gone – yes – I identify. Needing a sister – a best friend – a ‘somebody’ who understands me – or at least tries to and doesn’t give up on me – yes – I identify. Searching instead, mistakenly, for a mother – or for the childhood I gave up – yes – I identify. Even in her searching tomes for sister relationships – her labels applied to everybody ‘the smart one’, ‘the pretty one’, ‘the shy one’, ‘the horny one’ through her own voracious inhaling of books – I see myself trying to find that spot that I fit. And there is Lauren trying to fit too. The fear that mental illness is indeed hereditary – yes – I identify. Not for myself. But for my children who have shown no signs. Will they be writing their own tortured memoirs someday and asking the same questions? God – I hope not.

Liz. Doing it all right and things still go wrong – yes – I identify. Doing even better and still things go wrong – yes – I identify. Guilt – shame – being a mother to those who are old enough to not need one – and not being available to those whom I brought into this world depending on me – yes – I identify. Helplessness – yes – I identify. Trying to find herself as wife – as mother – as friend – as unexpected sister – trying to find that spot she fits in – joining Lauren and Sarabeth in that constant search – yes – I identify. Seeing greener grass beyond every fricken’ fence – yes – I identify.

Maybe we all do? Maybe we all search for that spot? Maybe the search is so all encompassing that even when we have found the spot that we fit in – we still don’t recognize it. Maybe we continue our frantic search even as we have settled into our spot and our lack of contentment is not a lack of having – but not knowing how to let go of the search.

Sad – with toys. Sad – with great bed sheets. Stuck. Deep in my brain. I’m not sad – and while I realize that sad may come again some day – I’m thankful that despite circumstances in my life that would normally bring sad – that I am ‘swimming with the current’. I need more hyperbole – don’t you think? But those phrases still resonate. Because though I’m ‘fine’…though I’m ‘good’...though I’m ‘content’ in many ways – I am all of those things….with too much stuff. Too much clothing. Too much doodads. Too much weight. Too much of whatever becomes my current thing. And I bring this on my family too with too many toys – too many things – too many wishes and desires. I was becoming aware of this – and in fact beginning to purge (wow. There’s more in there. I always thought I knew what I ‘was’ – that I could binge but never purged – but that’s another day…). I’ve been stripping ‘things’ out of my life. Recognizing that my hunt was just that. A hunt. But the spoils of the hunt – the trophies – some of it is just disgusting. As the spoils of most hunts are. I find trophy hunters to be disgusting. I find the hunt of the Native American Indian to be admirable. Take what you need – use every bit of it – do not upset the balance. Instead – I have been a trophy hunter. It’s time to give up my unusable, worthless trophies.

Hearing ‘Songs without Words’ was a view deep into my soul – from more than one of the sides that make up ‘me’. That’s what caused the tornado. I’ve felt the scrutiny of the magnifying glass before into my soul – but never from more than one side at a time. The idea that my best friend saw me in this book when she read it is both disturbing and exhilarating. She’s only known me for a couple years – how can this be?? The disturbing is a duh. A tornado is expected to cause damage – to scour the earth and soul. It’s always disturbing to have somebody peer into the dark parts of our soul. The exhilaration though is the one I wish to hang onto. The exhilaration of survival – and not just ‘barely’ – but exhilaratingly – screaming – ALIVE survival. The exhilaration of having somebody see me so clearly in reality – both the good and the bad – and to not only accept the good and the bad - but love all of me in a way that I have only ever expected from my mother…that when I am somehow featured in three very different characters in a single book – she sees me. And I see her. I see her in the spaces where I don’t see me – and I even see her in some of the same spaces I recognize that I occupy. And I see that labels don’t always fit – that one character is not always enough – that sometimes we are more than one character – more than one label. I’ve known for a long time that I’m not the ‘smart one’ or the ‘pretty one’ in this friendship. In fact it’s something I embrace – the equalness that I feel – the balance of good – and bad. I also know that I don’t want to be the depressed one. I don’t want to be the sad one. Even though I have been depressed – even though I have been sad – I have also been NOT depressed and NOT sad. I will, however, happily share – SHARE – the label ‘the content one’.

Now to find the list of Ann Packer books and get on with the next’s a trophy I’d love to share – pick up the book! Hmm – I guess it was a book review after all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SAVED - some things should be - some things shouldn't be...

You know it's bad when you have an urge to reintroduce yourself to your own blog because it's been so long...

I have lost a part of myself for a time - which makes me incredibly sad. Because that part I lost for a time was the writer in me. My confidence in my writing took a hard hit in the last couple of years - but it shouldn't have. First - because one rude critique from a friend who then proved they weren't a friend anyway shouldn't overwhelm the comments I've received from even strangers who have enjoyed my writing. But more importantly? I need to write for me. Not for anybody else - and not for accolades or critiques or even publication - I simply need to write. I'm healthier all the way around when I write - and I have lost it for a time. Sad? Because I can't recapture what I might have written - I can only go forward. Writing is something that should be saved.

Random thoughts. Sometimes they should be saved. Some amuse me years later - so they're worth writing down. The first is one that I have espoused before - maybe even in this blog - but since I have no rule that I have to be original - ya'll will have to hear it again! :) DD and I watched a show on UFO's tonight. Nonsense entertainment. I'm not a believer in extra-terrestrials - though the existence of life elsewhere wouldn't bother me either - my God is big enough for that! But these 'documentary' shows where the narrator stupidly asks questions like 'are UFO's real?' just drive me nuts. Of course they're real!! Duh!! A UFO is - by definition - an unidentified flying object. If somebody saw something flying - an object - and doesn't know what it was - then it is unidentified and thus is a UFO (an UFO??). Ugh. The dumbing down of American culture and language just irritates me sometimes. I'd like to throw an identified object at some of these documentary 'journalists' (title used oh so loosely) sometime when they're not looking and when they do the 'huh - what was that?' I can then yell 'that was a UFO, idiot!'. So Christian of me.

While I was still in mid thought-rant about UFO's - a commercial for some new show comes on. An hourly show I think. The premise is that the star has short term memory loss. His wife has died - and that's the last thing he remembers - his wife dying. And he's trying to find answers to that - and so goes around investigating - and explaining to everybody he meets - repeatedly - that he has a condition that has caused short term memory loss and he is unable to create new memories. That even a long conversation may lead to him forgetting what the beginning of the conversation was about or who he is talking to. So. I have a question. How the heck does he know he has a short term memory condition if he is unable to create new memories? Seems to me that's not plausible. Wouldn't he have to be continually told that he has a short term memory condition? Again - if the audience is dumbed down enough - anything will work. Now don't get me wrong - I love a good stupid entertainment-only television show or comedy movie. Love it! I watch some reality tv and just laugh and am thankful that I haven't ever been bit by the 15 minute fame bug. But I expect those shows to be dumb and filled with dumb people. But a documentary - I expect it to not be dumb - or dumbed down for a dumb American audience. And if it's a serious television drama - get the background right. Yes - it irritates me in books too. Even dinosaurs being alive somewhere on earth again was plausible when Michael Crichton (what a loss - great author!) - explained the process in depth of taking dinosaur DNA from an insect that had bit the dinosaur and thus had dinosaur blood in it's innards and then was trapped in resin that became amber. Dumb shows that think they're smart are - dumb. And they shouldn't be saved.

On the other hand - The Denver Museum of Natural History should have been saved - and now it's too late. Perhaps there wasn't even an effort to save it - perhaps I'm in a 1% minority - but it should have been saved. It's spring break and we didn't travel out of state this week - but instead have been doing activities in the area. Yesterday it was the museum. I knew that it had been re-named the Denver Museum of Nature and Science - but what I didn't realize is that the original museum is lost and gone. I remember going to the museum as a child and it was such a fascinating place. Marble staircases with brass decoratively scrolled railings climbed twelve feet up to the second floor - and then another twelve feet to the third floor. The place reeked of history - of time - of old things worth saving. The butterfly room was one of my favorites - as well as the gems and minerals - but the massive dinosaur that greeted you when you walked in the building was impressive as well. The planetarium was a cool new feature - but had been incorporated in such a way that it didn't take away from the museum. There was a place to eat downstairs - and realizing that this huge building had a huge downstairs filled with 'who knows what' just added to the mystique. Now - this new DMNS is a modern ugly monstrosity inside with lime green walls and escalators. And outside - it's just another concrete and glass piece of ugly. I saw a piece of the railing that had been preserved - along with it's gorgeous stained and polished wood top railing - stuck in a corner of one of the wild life exhibit corridors. Thank goodness those areas still have the beautiful high beamed ceilings and corniced/crown-moulding-rich details. But the beautiful brick has been covered with that invention of sheetrock - the stairs completely removed - and all I can ask is WHY? I understand adding elevators. I understand creating exhibits that are exciting for today's jaundiced youth who need color - movement - lights for anything to be real to them. But why ruin the history of a museum? It just astounds me. And then while sitting and waiting for part of our group to finish in an area - I see a sign that there is now funding available to re-do a particular section that is only 20 years old! Seriously? Perhaps that money could be used for something a bit more responsible than redoing a 20 year old - I mean young - section of a museum? I smell earmarks. That museum should have been saved. And I think they know it. Because a small exhibit on the main floor showed the history of the museum itself and had a request to the public for photos of the interior of the museum as it used to be. Guess they didn't think to preserve that piece of history. Idiots.

1948 (over 40 years old then):

Modern ugliness:

Interior Disney World look:

Style of the old interior (the only pic I could find!):

Guess I'll have to visit the National or New York Natural History museums. Apparently history is more important on the east coast. For now. Hopefully this doesn't become a trend - can you imagine the Louvre being turned into a concrete and glass monstrosity?? mmmm - maybe we owe the French a lot more respect - they know how to save.

Speaking of the museum - there is one more thing that should be saved that I must note before I close. Truth in science. Now I absolutely expect when I go to a museum that I am going to be hearing the theory of evolution. And I have absolutely no problem with my children being subjected to learning this theory even though I believe, personally, in a world created by God - a God capable of creating evolution as well - but certainly not a 'something from nothing' primordial ooze theory. But I object strenuously when a theory (and that is all it is - unless something has happened in the last few days that I haven't seen on the news and there is now scientific proof in the form of re-creatable experimentation that results in ooze creating cells all on its own - in which case I must begin worrying about the ooze in the bottom of my greenhouses) is put forth as fact. Not once in any display or presentation at the museum was it referred to as the theory of evolution. And yet - if I wanted to espouse creationism in public - that would need to be espoused as the theory of creationism - yes? When have scientists become so afraid of their own rules and refuse to follow scientific theory principles? In my usual wallflower tongue-tied personality - when the presentation was being made in person to my kids and their friends who were with us that - 'this chart shows the evolution of man from primate' I merely stepped in with the observation of "Well it is a theory, now, isn't it! I always wonder whether this all amuses God?" - delivered of course with a large smile. The volunteer nervously moved right on to a display of mammoth teeth. Truth - and the pursuing of truth even when it means following good scientific principles of acknowledging that a theory is only that - yes - truth should be saved.

Save something worth saving today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Degrees of Separation

I blog so little in my 'weekly ramblings' that it should probably be re-named Weakly Rambling. Might happen.

So this new concept of "degrees of separation" is out there - we're all just 'x' degrees separated from any other person on the planet. There was even a movie, wasn't there? Whatever. That's really not what I'm rambling about anyway. The point of this entire paragraph is merely to ensure that you are aware that I DO know that my title isn't original before I abscond with it and use it how I want to. So there.

Difficult subject. In fact THE most difficult subject that I think could occur in my life. Stress is a misnomer. Separation. I have separated from my husband of almost 12 years. In fact it was 13 years ago this month when my first husband died and not long after that, Glenn showed back up in my life. I've known Glenn all my life. Had a huge crush on him when I was 14 and was sorely disappointed that he didn't reciprocate the feelings. Upon later reflection I realized that was probably wise as he was 19 at the time. And later yet I found that he in fact did notice me when I was 14. But Glenn is a very quiet guy. Quiet and not one to take action without lots of encouragement or a 'sure thing'. I love Glenn. First - let's be clear on that. The first degree of separation. Because separating from Glenn doesn't change my love for him. More than anything, I want our marriage to work. I don't want a divorce. Could that happen? Yes. Could our separation become legal? Yes. But I am hoping - PRAYING - that it does not move to that stage. So while we have physically separated - while my wedding rings are no longer on my finger - my heart has not separated - thus - a degree of separation only.

And - because I'm me - and we're 'us' - and I tend to do things in a way different from the rest of the world - our separation is a bit 'odd'. Odd enough that some people looking on would not even know that we were separated. Uh - you ask - "wouldn't that be obvious since you're living in different places?" Well, here's the thing. We're not. We have a large home. 4 bedrooms. 4 people (we won't talk about the 9 cats). So - Glenn has moved to the guest room. Now, I'm not talking about 'sleeping on the couch' kind of move. I'm talking about re-finished guest room to get rid of the Victorian floral decor - I'm talking moving everything in closets - I'm talking full move. So we ARE separated - and yet we are attempting to co-exist as roommates - as parents - while we work through what our marriage - our relationship will be in the future.

Why on earth would I do such a thing? If the problems in the marriage are severe enough that it calls for separation (and you'll just have to trust me on this one - they are. Though I'm not going to post the 'why's' here in my blog. If you're a friend - you know you're more than welcome to contact me via email - but I'm not posting personal information like that out on the internet. Not now at least. So if the problems are that severe - why stay in the same house?

Because there are degrees of separation. First - there is our children. I do not want our children shuffled around between two households - or shuffled off to their grandparents to raise or be responsible for - even if the grandparents ARE in town. First - some of the issues we're dealing with go back, I'm quite sure, to our families of origin. No need to exacerbate the problem by putting our children into the same boats. This boat is rocky enough. Second - we get along. Glenn and I. Which is really why it has taken 11 years for me to take this step. Because yes, the problems we're dealing with have been there since the beginning. And yes - it was probably irresponsible of me/us (I say me merely because I was the one to push to start a family - not because Glenn is any less responsible) to have children before we worked out these issues. Because that has not given our children what THEY need as a good example of a marriage for their own growth and well-being. I pray that it is not too late. But truly - we get along. We rarely fight. When we do - we make up quite soon after. So if we're not fighting - we have the space to physically separate - and the kids can keep the stability of one home - then why not?

Hmmm - well some people would say it is a mistake. Others would wonder if it isn't harder on the kids. Certainly if I thought that divorce was inevitable - I would not take this step. But - there are degrees of separation. But you see - I DON'T see divorce as inevitable. I truly am praying - praying HARD - and ask that you join me in prayer - that Glenn can work through the issues he is facing - which are the 'obvious' ones right now. I also am not so crazy to think that I don't have issues or a part to play in this. Far from that. So I know there will come a time when I have to do some hard work as well if this is going to be healed - to be re-started. And we've talked about 'what if'. If it should come to the point that we need a more physical separation - or - God forbid (literally!) divorce - the kids would stay here. WE would be the ones to shuffle back and forth and have our lives lived partially here and partially 'there' - wherever 'there' might be. Our children have done nothing to deserve this - I'll do nothing to disrupt their world if at all possible and still be physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.

Yes - I said HEALTHY. Not happy. If you're a close friend - you're smiling - or even laughing right now. Because you know my diatribe on happiness. We are NOT entitled to happiness. We are NOT guaranteed happiness. Not by our God - and not by our country. Sure - we can pursue it - and sometimes we even get it for a time - but to pursue happiness at the expense of others? Not a right. Not an entitlement. So I'm not looking for 'happiness'. I'm looking for the physical/emotional/spiritual health that I need to have in order to be the mom that my children need. Period. They come first. That happened the moment my daughter was conceived. I'll not usurp that responsibility for my 'happiness'. Which is, of course, why I have gotten so all-fired angry with people who - even as I struggled in my first year of marriage - flouted a 'I have a right to be HAPPY' bullshit in my face. PSHAW. And BULLSHIT. My Covenant with God - and with Glenn - did NOT give me an entitlement to happiness. It gave me responsibility. So there we are. Now you've had the opportunity to hear my diatribe yourself!! lol

As I was cleaning and re-organizing, I ran into the Unity candle from our wedding. I had it specially designed with a short verse that I wrote:

"May the love that kindled this flame burn forever"

I cried as I put that candle away. It really should be thrown out as it is banged up and worn beyond repair - misshapen from a stint in a sunny window - faded - pearls fallen off - but that saying is still in place. I cannot do that. You see - I hope that one day I can have a new candle made and we can symbolically light it again. It had an oil wick inserted into it to symbolize a flame that cannot be snuffed out easily. I'm still believing. I'm believing in my God. I'm believing in the fact that I entered a Covenant with my God and my Husband on January 28, 1995 - and that my God will honor that Covenant and heal us both. His will be done.

Right now - there are degrees of separation. Pray for us. Pray for our children. Not for happiness - but that the degrees of separation will be healed.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Faith without Doubt is DEAD

This will ramble a bit...unlike most of my well-thought out and presented posts here. HA! That IS a joke! Very GOOD!!

I made a statement on an off-topic thread on the Nutrisystem forum that created a total offshoot of thinking for me that I wish to capture here in MY spot.

My initial statement: "Show me a Christian without doubt and I'll show you a Christian without faith."

I was quite seriously astounded when another woman professing to be a Christian came back at me with:
"No, show me a Christian with doubt and I'll show you a Christian without faith. Didn't make that up. It's fact."

I responded to her:
"FACT? wow. How does one come TO faith if one has never had doubt? You had zero doubt in life - and then 'poof' - you had faith in God? I'm very very confused by that. BELIEF - now that one I can buy into. I can believe something without a doubt. And without ever HAVING had doubt. But can I have faith without having had doubt? Nope.

I'll stand by my 'on the spot quote' and say that if I had never doubted, I would have no need of faith. It is by my very doubt that I came to recognize my need - and by my doubt in my 'worthiness' - that I had to find faith that Jesus would take me 'as is' to fulfill that need."

Found this googling and like it - a lot. Well written and explains my thinking a bit further. After reading this - I would say that under this definition I'm less conservative than I have thought...and certainly not dogmatic. And no - this isn't a political thread - but I find Glenn's points to be applicable outside of politics.

From here: Glenn Greenwald’s new book (A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency)

These days religious people want to be called “people of faith.” But I object to the practice of using the word faith as a synonym for religion. Faith is a component of religion, to one degree or another, but not religion itself.

Zen students are told that the path of Zen takes “great faith, great doubt, and great determination.” I found a dharma talk about this by Sensei Sevan Ross, who is the director of the Chicago Zen Center, called “The Distance Between Faith and Doubt.” Here’s just a bit:

Great Faith and Great Doubt are two ends of a spiritual walking stick. We grip one end with the grasp given to us by our Great Determination. We poke into the underbrush in the dark on our spiritual journey. This act is real spiritual practice - gripping the Faith end and poking ahead with the Doubt end of the stick. If we have no Faith, we have no Doubt. If we have no Determination, we never pick up the stick in the first place.

Faith and doubt are supposed to be opposites, but the Sensei says “if we have no faith, we have no doubt.” I would say, also, that true faith requires true doubt; without doubt, faith is not faith. This is exactly the sort of paradox that permeates philosophical Taoism and its cousin, Zen Buddhism, but which is alien to the way most westerners understand faith and doubt.

Zennies are, I admit, not exactly in the mainstream of American religion. Zennies were never all that mainstream in Asian religion, for that matter. Even so, in the histories of the major monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — you can find many great theologians, scholars, rabbis, contemplatives, and mystics whose religious understanding came from wrestling with their doubts.

I found an online Catholic encyclopedia that defined doubt as:

A state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them. … Doubt is opposed to certitude, or the adhesion of the mind to a proposition without misgiving as to its truth; and again to opinion, or a mental adhesion to a proposition together with such a misgiving.

I like that definition. To religious seekers and mystics, “A state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them” is a fertile place from which profound understanding may grow. Certainty, on other hand, is a sterile rock that grows nothing.

Unfortunately, religious institutions tend to be run by dogmatists, not seekers. And dogmatists don’t like doubt. This same attitude spills over into non-religious beliefs and ideologies. Some people (me, for example) enjoy diving into a nice, messy paradox or conundrum to get to the bottom of it. Others hate ambiguity and want easily digestible bumper-sticker answers for everything. We call the latter sort of people “conservatives.”


Responding on this thread - beginning this thinking - and then starting up yet another thread (on two different forums/groups in fact!!) to continue this process - brought more 'revelation' for me.

Another poster: "I can't see ANY thinking person NOT having some kind of doubt at some time"

To which I responded: "In my experience, it is through those cycles of doubt and faith - with my faith being strengthened by every attack of doubt as I come through it yet again - is where maturing faith comes from.

Doubt, the seed - Faith, the crop?"

To which she responded: "I make a distinction between "belief" and "faith" in that I feel that belief is arrived at after thought and therefore admits doubt and often faith does not allow for doubt --- not dictionary meanings I'm sure, but the one is a decision and the other is an abdication of thought --- others use the words differently than I do, but I think you can see my point, regardless of the term one uses for each "method"..."

And that's when I REALLY got revved up on thinking...

I've not tackled this one before - so I may change my mind as we go - that's allowed though - I am woman.

I do see a distinction between belief and faith as well. But not sure if I would agree with your personal definitions (i didn't go look them up either - was tempted but decided to see what I thought by putting my words down first - then seeing what the dictionary thought of my thoughts!!)

Kahlil Gibran said “Faith is an oasis in the heart which can never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” I would have to say that quote/thought is more along the lines I would see the distinction. They're VERY interdependent though. I cannot think of a good example of something I believe that doesn't require faith in SOMETHING. Faith in science - God - myself - something! I also cannot see how faith can occur without a belief. It seems to me that one should come before the other...but not sure!!

Okay. Let me try this again.

I doubt something to be true
I believe something is true
I have faith something is true
I know something is true

Belief COULD come before doubt. I'm thinking of young children here. Belief that they will not be hurt if they fall...until one time they fall..and then doubt is born. Belief comes before knowledge - I don't see how knowledge can come before belief.

Faith - I think is cyclical with doubt. But I believe that doubt exists first - then faith. It may cycle after that - but I can't think of an example where faith would exist prior to doubt occurring. A child can believe they will not be hurt if they fall...then fall and get hurt...then doubt...then have faith that their parent will catch them the next time and prevent the fall/hurt.

Knowledge - cannot exist without faith. At minimum, I have to trust (have faith in) myself that I have gathered enough evidence for a belief to turn to knowledge.

It seems impossible to me that knowledge would ever come first.
It seems impossible to me that faith would come before doubt - OR before belief (faith in WHAT?)
So I believe (ha!) that belief has to come first...followed by doubt...which may or may not generate faith...(if it doesn't - then doesn't that erase that belief? Unmitigated doubt? To be replaced by another belief?)...followed by faith...followed by knowledge. Since knowledge is the most elusive (though I'm probably mixing that word with 'truth' or 'true knowledge' - undisputable) - it's the least likely to occur. And if doubt can come after faith as well as before faith - which I think it can - it HAS in my experience - then anytime that doubt comes up - there are two possibilities. One - the doubt is not erased - throwing the person back to their belief - eliminating it - and requiring another belief in its place. Two - the doubt is erased by faith again - propelling the person further towards potential knowledge.

Am I making ANY sense??? I'm guessing - because I don't consider myself the first person on earth to think of these things - that I am probably thinking along some philosophical lines that have been discussed for centuries - and that there is likely some title to the way I think - and that there is likely some compelling argument for NOT thinking the way I think!! lol And hey - I won't take it personally if somebody wants to point me to what this is all called. Won't shake my faith either! *wink* Though it might create some doubt.

Okay - I've talked myself into this position until I'm convinced otherwise.
(potential Doubt/Faith reiterated over and over)
Knowledge (I don't think this one can be overturned if it's TRUE knowledge)

There is very very little that I KNOW. I believe a lot of things. I doubt a lot of things. I have faith in some things. But I know very very very little.

Brain hurts. must stop thinking. may implode.

Looking back at what you originally said now after my mental exercise - it appears I DO disagree with you as my first instinct said. You see belief as what I would define as knowledge - the ultimate thinking/faith/doubt/arrival point. I see belief as a beginning - a hypothesis as it were. I see faith and doubt as being 'on the journey'. I STILL see denying that doubt exists as having sand in one's eyes and mouth and nose - ala Ostrich.

From a religious/Christianity point -

I believed Jesus existed and that the bible was true (4-11 yrs of age)
I doubted my worthiness - and his existence - and whether the Bible was all 100% true - and whether he cared for ME - and whether I would really go to heaven (8sh-39 yrs of age)
I (in this case received as a gift) have faith that despite my unworthiness, Jesus loves me - died for me - and that I will have eternal life (heaven is a earthly term for an abstract, imo) (11-39 yrs of age)
I do not yet have absolute true knowledge of Jesus, eternal life, etc.
I DO have absolute true knowledge (irrefutable personal evidence - though it can't be passed to others) - of 'another place' that exists with life as a being outside of this world/earth. It may be another plane - it may be another place - but I've seen it and have absolute true knowledge without doubt or a need for faith. It just 'is'. (age 25 to forever) It DOES bolster my faith in other areas where I do not have knowledge though because it FITS.

After writing the above - I went to google Kahlil Gibran on his quote - and found this quote. WOW.
“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”

I then headed for a dictionary because I like to own my own thoughts before 'checking' them against others...and found the exercise very interesting.

From the semi-reliable Wiki world. Wiki writing is in italics. The rest is moi.

Belief is the psychological state in which an individual is convinced of the truth of a proposition. Like the related concepts truth, knowledge, and wisdom, there is no precise definition of belief on which scholars agree, but rather numerous theories and continued debate about the nature of belief.

(cool - that's my out - right? lol)

Doubt is uncertainty in the context of trust (where it takes the form of distrust), action, decision or belief. It implies challenging some notion of reality in effect, and may involve hesitating to take a relevant action due to concern that one might be mistaken or at fault. The term ' to doubt ' can also mean ' to question one's circumstances and life experience '.

ugh. All the wiki stuff on faith tries to tie it solely to religion. I don't like that. I have faith in things other than me find something that is non-religious definition...

okay - this is more philosophical but at least isn't so 'diety-centered-only'...and still wiki. From 'faith as basis for human knowledge...'

Many noted philosophers and theologians have espoused the idea that faith is the basis of all knowledge. One example is St. Augustine of Hippo. Known as one of his key contributions to philosophy, the idea of "faith seeking understanding" was set forth by St. Augustine in his statement "Crede, ut intelligas" ("Believe in order that you may understand"). This statement extends beyond the sphere of religion to encompass the totality of knowledge. In essence, faith must be present in order to know anything. In other words, one must assume, believe, or have faith in the credibility of a person, place, thing, or idea in order to have a basis for knowledge.

Knowledge is defined (Oxford English Dictionary) variously as (i) facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. Philosophical debates in general start with Plato's formulation of knowledge as "justified true belief". There is however no single agreed definition of knowledge presently, nor any prospect of one, and there remain numerous competing theories.

Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, learning, communication, association, and reasoning. The term knowledge is also used to mean the confident understanding of a subject, with the ability to use it for a specific purpose.

And finally - for the fun of it - since this is one that I doubt any two humans can 100% agree upon...

While a common dictionary definition of truth is "agreement with fact or reality,"[1] there is no single definition of truth about which the majority of philosophers agree. Various theories of truth, usually involving different definitions, continue to be debated. There are differing claims on such questions as what constitutes truth; how to define and identify truth; what roles do revealed and acquired knowledge play; and whether truth is subjective, relative, objective, or absolute. This article introduces the various perspectives and claims, both today and throughout history.

A very very enjoyable exercise for the brain tonight - and one I wanted to capture. If you've read all the way through - you're either a fan - a philosopher - a relative - a best friend - or you should be!! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We Live From Our Heart

I have been trying to express lately - to some of my closest friends and to members of my family - how I am feeling confirmation from God in a very clear manner regarding some of my recent actions. I have felt an undeniable peace and relaxation over my decisions - even though some of those decisions were very hard to come to. Some I even resisted for a time thinking that perhaps 'there might be a way' to work things in for both God and to keep it 'easy' for me. But when God speaks to me through the Holy Spirit in a still, calm voice - there is no denying - there is no questioning - there is no resistance. All that is left for me is action. I was just 11 years old the day the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder in a stadium filled with thousands of people and said 'It's time for you to accept God's gift of grace' and I came out of my chair and began forging my way through a crowd. With just a quick whispered 'I have to go down there right now' to my father next to me I took off through the crowd without a glance behind me - and even then I hated crowds and was anxious in crowded environments. God has pursued me all my life. When I am open to hear His voice, He guides me but I have to take those actions, even when they're uncomfortable or painful.

Tonight, yet another confirmation that those decisions were necessary - particularly the decision to leave an online group that I had been part of for so long. Despite some pretty nasty emails blasting me for that decision - despite my fears that I would lose contact with those within that group that I was particularly close to - I see God's hand. The emails - though difficult to read and difficult to respond to - I made it through the experience. My friends have stayed by my side and in fact I have become closer to them as we share and talk and laugh and vent and be ourselves. And yet, being human (yup! still am! :) ) - I still have moments of self-doubt and questioning whether this was all the way it HAD to be. I've tried to explain these little signs that I've received that it IS right - but tonight's feels more tangible - perhaps because it is somebody else's words. Written by a Professor of Philosophy for a California University who has been on a journey with His God that is truly inspirational. This excerpt is from Dallas Willard's Revolution of Character - and it speaks to me. Those that know me well - you'll see why I see signs of confirmation within this. Those that don't know me and may have landed on this blog by accident - or through a link that has you wondering how this might have ANYTHING to do with NS - well it does! :) Read more of my blog and it's there.

We Live From Our Heart

Our life and how we respond to the world is a result of who we have become in the depths of our being. We call this inner being our spirit, our will - or, as a comprehensive term, our heart. From the contents of our heart, we see our world and interpret reality. From that decisive place in our self, we make choices, break forth into action, and try to change our world. We live from our depths - most of which we understand only in part.

However the human self is not mysterious. There is an order to it that can be explored. We can influence its spiritual formation in a way that changes our entire outlook. Because a carefully cultivated heart - assisted by the grace of God - is able to transform even the most painful situations. We are able to handle with greater insight, gratitude and redeeming grace, situations that before would have caused us to stand like helpless children asking, "Why?"

Perhaps most satisfying, we will be able to connect with God at a deeper, more personal level of loving awareness and interaction. But further, a better understanding of our heart will enable us to influence situations in our families, businesses and communities with greater godliness, effectiveness and clarity. For the work of Christ always begins in our heart and moves outward into everyday experiences.

This excerpt was read aloud in a Discipleship class that I have been participating in, along with my husband, on Sunday evenings for the last couple of months. My being involved in such a commitment, with my issues of anxiety and depression - is in itself God's work. God's work has been evident from the very beginning, including miracles showing how truly involved God is in our everyday life and how much He loves us as His children. How He pursues us and shows Himself to us in situations we least expect as long as our hearts are open to see His presence. For those that know my history - the history of my childhood with a rage-o-holic father and a 'checked-out' mom which led to less-than-perfect scenario for raising a child to have a heart open to God's work - there is more. My father was healed - miraculously and unDOUBTedly healed - from his constant rages less than 10 years ago. It took me several years to fully believe - waiting for the usual triggers to set him off. Often times I would find myself cringing, my nails biting into my palms and my breath held as I waited for a situation to set him off. And then I would realize that he was just fine and was going on about his business. Slowly I would relax the tense muscles in my body - release my fists to half-moons cut into my palms, and exhale slowly and quietly and then take a deep breath. He's a work in progress - but God's presence in his heart is evident to those who meet him today.

In my childhood and young adult years, I would sit nervously in my chair when in conversation with him, watching what I said carefully in order to avoid triggering a rage or lecture, learning to 'zone out' while he talked so that even if he said something that I really didn't like or disagreed with that I would not say so - thereby escaping those rages. I carefully balanced the family dynamic - taking responsibility for how the entire family interacted and assisting my brother who battled the dynamic with his wit. Somewhere through those years, I landed smack dab in the middle of my parents' troubled marriage. At times I interacted more with my father than my own mother did while she checked out in her depression and dis-connection with reality and my father confided in me, complained about my mother and I worked with him in yet another 'this one is going to work' method of reaching the all American dream of monetary success. At other times I commiserated with my mother on my dad's out of control behavior and even advised her at times to just 'get out'. When that pendulum could no longer swing, I divorced them in my early 20's. I officially told them that I was divorcing them and was hereby OUT of their marriage. And then I fought the urges and the triggers to get drug back into the marriage. I got attention from my parents being in the middle of that marriage. It wasn't fun getting out. Come to think of it - THAT was my first official break-up. :) I felt important being consulted by them. But I knew it wasn't healthy. Even without acknowledging that it was the Holy Spirit's voice - I knew it had to stop.

I have watched God move in both of their lives. Picking my father up from rock bottom while he lived a life of sheer existence in Phoenix, leaving my mother to cope at home in Colorado. God picked him up - changed his heart - and my father begin living from that newly changed heart. I'm not talking the change of man - or the change of mental therapy to work at behavior changes and keep things 'under control'. I am talking about submitting to God's will and letting Him control. I watched my mother as she gave up the self-help books (and even helped her sell boxes of them in garage sales) and pop psychology for the type of healing that only God brings about. He is still working in them today. He's working on me as well. For one thing I would have never considered 10 years ago, is the idea of being able to sit in a class with my father as the teacher - as the learned one - as a guide - a mentor - or truly - even as my father. Tonight - the person who read that excerpt aloud was my father. Today - my father is a teacher - one I turn to for learning - and truly - my father.

God Loves and God Heals. His presence is evident in our lives today just as it was 2000 years ago in the lives of his chosen disciples. But we must be open to His presence - we must open our heart to what God will fill us with - and then - when we Live From Our Heart - HE will be visible.

May HE become more visible every day as I Live From My Heart.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Very First Breakup

We've all been through break-ups. Some people are pro's at breaking up with others. Some feel as though they've been the ones that got dumped every time. I don't know much about breaking up.

My first breakup came when I was 16 years old. I had been dating a 19 year old - and how my parents let that one happen I have never comprehended. I was a very innocent 16 - even for the 80's. Had never been kissed - much less lived through the multiple boyfriends and sexual experiences that many of my schoolmates had. Jeff was oh - so good looking. He had a hot car - was romantic and attentive. And I was NOT ready for a relationship. I loved the IDEA of having one of the cutest boys in town as my boyfriend - but I was scared silly. After two months of dating, Jeff broke it off. I felt relief. The pressure was off. 6 months later he was engaged to a school mate just 17 years old. WOW was I relieved!! lol

My second breakup came at the beginning of my senior year. My boyfriend of 6 months had graduated the year before and was starting college in the town 30 miles away. I wanted him to come to my homecoming - he didn't want to go to a 'silly high school dance'. I said I wasn't missing my senior homecoming and asked a friend to go with me. Roy broke it off with me. Whatevuh.

My third breakup was with the same dude! We got back together just a few weeks after homecoming when he 'came to his senses' and we dated through the rest of my senior year. Well - all the way up to - Senior prom this time! And yup - same crud - so I went with a friend - he broke it off with me a couple days before I graduated and then I headed into a summer of hell - drinking - partying and date rape. Without stopping to even tell anybody about the rape or deal with the emotions of that - but burying it all under MORE drinking - partying - and acting out - and with no resolution to my emotional nightmares - I headed off to college.

My fourth breakup (are you ready for this?) - same DUDE!! Yup - he came crawling to the next state to find me in school at Thanksgiving that year. Life was good again and in February he flew me home for Valentine's Day weekend. We got engaged and I came home from college. He was a convenient excuse to leave school before I 'had' to. But that's a 'whole 'nother blog'. And no - I don't mean pregnant. :) Our engagement lasted 6 months. Summer brought him living his life - me left alone with no friends back in my hometown. I ended up with another man 12 years my senior and a perverted predator to boot (and oh BOY is that another blog - more like a novel) and ended the engagement. First time I had ever initiated a breakup. And really - it was passive. I just treated him like shit (and he really didn't deserve it) until he broke it off. But I take responsibility for that one because I pushed it to make it happen. But I made HIM utter the words 'we're through'. Pretty chicken-shit of me.

I ended up living with and then marrying 'John' - the man who ended my engagement that summer. Walked from the frying pan right into the fires of hell. Lived the abuse of that relationship for 6 years until 'John' died of cancer. Does that count as a breakup? Hmmm - not really. Though there are times that I feel as though God intervened in my life in answer to prayers being cried on my behalf and offered me a second chance at a life following His desires for me.

So obviously I'm not good at ending relationships - either with class or dignity and CERTAINLY not in an assertive manner of standing up for myself. It took me until I was 38 to break off a relationship in that manner. And I'm sure that my class or dignity would be argued strenuously by the party I broke a relationship off with - but of course this isn't their blog - it's mine! :)

I blogged a few days ago about some realizations that have been a long time coming that had to do with an online group that I have been involved with for a year. At the time - I could tell that I had reached the point of 'filing divorce papers' but had planned to go through the usual 'I want a divorce' talks and discussions before I actually filed the papers (i.e. removed myself from the group). I waffled - I wobbled - I hesitated even publishing my blog for I knew that it was likely that the people I was closest to in that group would see it before I brought it up. Again - not the most assertive. :) I also had very mixed emotions for just as a divorce has fallout - particularly if children are involved and thus the MULTIPLE relationships impacted - I knew that there would likely be serious fallout from this decision. My best friend - my 'sister I never knew I had' was also part of this group and had been encouraging me to stay and work it out and 'deal with' my frustrations with the group dynamic. And I HAD stayed several times because of that. I'd been talked off of this particular ledge three times in the last year - but this time I wasn't going to be talked off. I was ....oh such mediocre metaphors...taking the plunge. I knew it was best for me and that it was a selfish decision and I was concerned that this had the potential to alter my friendships with some of the group forever. I hoped to have 'part time visitation' of my friends from this group - but knew that it would be very different communicating via email - or phone - or other on-line boards like the one we had all met on in the first place. Some were involved there still - and I knew I'd 'see' them there - but others I wondered whether our friendship would survive my being out of the group and moving in a different direction and no longer sharing the day to day bonds that we had.

Life has a way of handing us an entirely different playbook than we are expecting. Of course - because of my faith - I consider this to not be fate - but rather God. When life does a hairpin curve - I start looking around for what God is wanting me to see. I have not always done that. It took many years of going around hairpin curves and totally ignoring the idea that God may have placed that in my way to slow me down and have me pay attention - and only seeing when I got a LONG ways down the road - how God had His hand on the wheel the entire time. At the point the hairpin curve showed up - I generally just felt frustration or anger that I was being slowed down and my 'progress' was being impeded. It was only after that particular part of my journey had ended and I was looking back over the road that I could see it clearly. Gazing from the bottom of a mountain I might see the cliff I would have driven off of had that hairpin curve not been there. Gazing from the top of the mountain - I might see how that hairpin curve brought me through the most beautiful woods I had ever seen - and would have been missed had I continued straight. So now - when coincidences or hairpin curves come my way - I do an abrupt stop and start looking around. For those are Holy Spirit moments in my life. Sometimes - I see the reasons right away. Sometimes - I simply have to go forward trusting that if I have asked God to guide my path that He is indeed doing so. That step of faith.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - in the early 80's - I was a 14 year old sitting by the cute guy five years my senior from my church in a dark movie theatre - not knowing then that this man would come back into my life 12 years later after the death of my first husband and that today we have now been married for 13 years and have two children. I had a mighty crush on that 19 year old but he was already a gentleman and not about to make a move on a 14 year old GIRL. But I remember being there with him - my awareness of his arm being next to mine - and the scary movie up on the screen is indelibly etched in my mind. In one scene of the movie, Indiana Jones came to a point where he realized he needed to cross a chasm in front of him but could see no way across. That trusty whip was simply not long enough to help him out. But the message was 'have faith'. TRUST. And so - he put his foot out into thin air as though there were in fact a solid surface in front of him to catch his weight rather than open space through which he would hurtle. And it was at that point - and that point only - that he could see that in fact there WAS a clear-as-glass way to walk across that chasm. That scene has stuck with me all these years - and is the best visualization of my walking forward TRUSTING that God will support me as long as I am following His will in my life. Two feet to the side - death. 6 inches to the other side - death. But His way - life.

So coincidences hit - the playbook changed - and suddenly my hand was forced. It was time to serve the divorce papers to this online community - days - maybe weeks - before I had thought it would occur. So with assertiveness that I have never shown in a breakup before - I broke off the relationship of Sophia+Group=4ever. And I gotta say - breakups suck. They hurt. I knew I needed to leave - but of course I don't want anybody not to LIKE me! lol Oh yes - the very reason I've never initiated breakups before and have in fact stayed in relationships long beyond the time I should have - including relationships with no commitment. And certainly no God-centered covenant like a marriage. I 'knew' intellectually before I made the decision to get divorced from this group that there would be some pain - that I may not get the visitation arrangements I wanted and in fact some of the group may choose to have nothing to do with me. I didn't expect that any of them would be coming to 'live with me' - but I DID want those visitation rights. I knew that even WITH visitation rights, the difference in 'living' with this on-line family day to day and instead just visiting might hurt the friendships long term. But I also knew - had FAITH - that God needed me to cross this chasm and trust him.

Today - I do not see the full picture. I am not entirely clear on why this step needed to be taken. I'm still operating on faith. But I do know that I have been granted visitation rights by my best friends and will work to keep those friendships alive with the work that entails. I know that I have been looked upon as a traitor by some who, it appears, will not be talking to me in the future or allowing visitation, though they do know where to find me if that should change. I know that the respect I feel for myself in not making 'them' breakup with me by becoming a bitch or even just drifting away for long enough that we grew apart - but instead assertively addressing why I needed to leave - and then leaving with as little drama as possible - is already worth the breakup. Relationships are painful. They are not all light and happiness. And I don't like that I have had to navigate my first ever break-up and the pain that has come with it - but I am trusting that the view from the top of the mountain is going to be spectacular. The path is becoming clearer with each step I take. I'm seeing clearly - I'm breathing easier - and I am trusting that God will guide my path around each curve - away from obstacles - and safely deliver me to the destination of His choice. May His Will be done.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The most mis-used and under-used words in the English language...I'm Sorry

The two most mis-used and under-used words in the English language…I’m Sorry.

Perhaps – technically – it is actually three words as ‘I’m’ is a contraction and we’re really dealing with the full phrase I am sorry. But either way – I see these words as the most mis-used words in the English language. Ironically – they are also under-used despite their regular appearance in our world – verbally – in writing – even in body language.

I’m sorry, that’s just how it is.

I’m sorry if you don’t like my opinion

I’m sorry but you have to hear what I have to say

I’m sorry this is frustrating you.

Now really – AM I sorry? What is ‘I’m sorry’ anyway? What is an apology? Having been in an emotionally and verbally abusive first marriage to a cheater of the worst kind – I heard a lot of I’m sorry’s. Never ‘I’m sorry I hit you’ – but certainly ‘I’m sorry I made you cry’. Inevitably, the next word out of my husband’s mouth rebutted that statement and increased the abuse and brainwashing that what he did – what he said – what he chose – was really all MY problem. That one little word was ‘but’. Seriously – can ‘but’ follow a genuine apology? In my eyes, when I am truly apologetic for something – utterly and completely contrite and sincere - I want to convey two messages to the person I am talking to.
1. I was wrong – in my actions – my perception – my judgments – my whatever – I was wrong.
2. I don’t want to do that to you again.

So if I follow up with ‘but’ – do I not just completely ERASE my ‘I’m sorry’?? It’s so obvious to us when we hear of cases of physical abuse. ‘I’m sorry I hit you….but you made me mad’. Most all of us hear that and say ‘no – you’re NOT sorry – you just want me to stop being mad’. Infidelity – another huge problem in my first marriage. ‘I’m sorry I was with that man/woman…but I just needed some ‘strange’. Uh…then you’re not really sorry – right? Believe me – I did not comprehend this while I was married to the man – it took many years of self-recrimination for what I must have done wrong to drive him to have sex with other people, and a lot of therapy before I recognized that it was his problem – not mine. The fact is – he was sorry he got caught! But there was no recognition of personal wrongdoing – nor any perception that he wouldn’t do it again. That is until he was on his deathbed and finally crushed by the guilt and truly contrite. Before he had to deal with his life as a slowly closing door and stare at his actions and choices for hours at a time as he slipped away – he would have gladly done the same thing again if he could get by with it and not get ‘caught’. On his deathbed, I finally heard a full apology – though by that point I was so convinced from the last 6 years that this was somehow something lacking in me that I could not fully accept or even hear his apology for several years. ‘I’m sorry I unfaithful to you before and after our marriage. I know I made you think sometimes that it was all in your head, but it wasn’t. I did X, Y and Z. It was inexcusable behavior that you in no way deserved. Will you please forgive me?’ And I said the words of forgiveness – though true forgiveness took a long time and did not occur until he was long gone.

The other follow-on word that just doesn’t cut it for me in a sincere apology is ‘if’. Again – it erases the apology. It lightens the load of guilt and is a request that you not get angry at me for what I’m about to say. Well guess what? I still get angry – or hurt – or downright disgusted – with what comes after I’m sorry when it is immediately followed by ‘if’. It’s so rampant in our language. The most common? I’m sorry if you don’t agree. HUH? Why would you be sorry if I don’t agree? What I hear is that you are about to CHOOSE to say something that you fully recognize could piss me off. If you were truly sorry about that possibility (i.e. ‘wrong’ and ‘don’t do it again’) – then you wouldn’t continue!! I’m so attuned now to hearing ‘buts’ and ‘ifs’ after apologies that I sometimes start laughing at rather inappropriate moments because it’s so obviously a 180 turn on what the person is saying or about to say. Empathy – that I understand. When I say ‘I’m sorry, but I flat out disagree’ – don’t I REALLY mean ‘I flat out disagree but I don’t want you to be angry at me for doing so’? An empathetic way of delivering the message would be ‘I realize that this may not be what you want to hear – but you need to leave your husband if he’s beating you and the kids’. Not ‘I’m sorry – but you need to leave him immediately’.

So I’m sensitive to ‘I’m sorry’s’ now. My children are well aware of it. When they are sent to apologize to somebody – buts and ifs are not allowed to follow their ‘I’m sorry’. I have attempted to eliminate all ‘buts and ifs’ from my apologies though it’s a tough habit to break. I call my husband on ‘buts and ifs’ when they come from him in the guise of an apology. And it’s making a difference in our family. A word that can always follow the ‘I’m sorry’ phrase to begin making that change is ‘I’. It’s very difficult to say ‘I’m sorry I’ sincerely and then not continue with sincerity in the rest of our apology. I teach my children that ‘I’m sorry’ is not enough…they must state what action of their own (an ‘I’ statement) they are sorry for – recognize the impact on the other person – and then make a statement of desire not to do so again. Otherwise – what’s the point? What’s the point of even ‘Say it NICE’. HUH? Whether it’s delivered in a sullen tone of voice that’s barely distinguishable as language or with a ‘nice’ tone of voice to please mom isn’t what it's all about!

Even our media does this. ‘I’m sorry to report that we have an accident at Main and Oak’. Ummmmmm – no. Actually – it’s your job to report and sorry doesn’t enter into it. You not only are not saying that you have done something wrong by telling us – but in fact you’re going to do it again! ‘I’m sorry to report that your son has been killed in an accident’ = ‘Please don’t hate me for bringing you this bad news’. However it is not contrition – for the person delivering the news has done nothing wrong. Empathy and contrition have become intermixed meanings for ‘I’m sorry’ and I refuse to add to that anymore! And I’m NOT sorry for that!

So the term is mis-used – in my not so humble opinion – and I’m not sorry for sharing my opinion with you even if you totally disagree or find that you now dislike me for sharing my opinion. But I challenge you to think further on this term that is so totally mis-used today as either an expression of empathy – or as a desire to escape wrath or consequences – for I believe it is also the most under-used term in our language.

How often do we do wrong to others – whether accidently or purposely? Speaking for myself – I must admit that it is quite often. I spend time lost in my own thoughts rather than paying attention to my family. I cut people off in traffic – sometimes even on purpose. I say things in unkind ways rather than choosing kind ways. I react before I think. I judge and pre-judge without having all the facts. I take frustrations out on my family. I take frustrations out on innocent clerks or customer service people. And how often do I deliver a true contrite ‘I’m sorry’? Not often enough – that’s for sure. What would occur in this world if these most mis-used words were suddenly no longer used as an expression to get ourselves out of trouble? And what would happen if we were to suddenly re-adopt the original purpose of these under-used words to show our sincere remorse for our actions without explanation for ‘why’ and simply state our guilt, our empathy to the situation we caused for the other person, and our desire to make it right in the future?

I leave you to think…and challenge you to think about what you really mean the next time you find yourself forming those words: I’m Sorry.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Personality Tests - Yeah - What about it?

It's just that it's, so, so, me!!

Okay - I think that's the POINT of personality tests - but all the things I sometimes have a tough time putting into words to explain 'where I'm coming from' gets caught up in the results of my personality tests. Even the fact that my particular personality type is only 2% of the population comes as absolutely no surprise to me - for it is not often that I find in a group of 100 people - even one person that I feel a connection with - not a CLOSE connection. And yet I am overwhelmed in that same group of 100 people by connections to ALL of them to a certain degree. Hang on - I'll just post this and it'll make more sense....

This is me. In a really BIG nutshell...

My Type is
Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging
Strength of the preferences %
33 12 12 11

Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
by Joe Butt
Profile: INFJ
Revision: 3.01
Date of Revision: 6 Mar 2005

Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.

INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ.

"There's something rotten in Denmark." Accurately suspicious about others' motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.

INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately.

Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.

Functional Analysis:
Introverted iNtuition

Introverted intuitives, INFJs enjoy a greater clarity of perception of inner, unconscious processes than all but their INTJ cousins. Just as SP types commune with the object and "live in the here and now" of the physical world, INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Unlike the confining, routinizing nature of introverted sensing, introverted intuition frees this type to act insightfully and spontaneously as unique solutions arise on an event by event basis.
Extraverted Feeling

Extraverted feeling, the auxiliary deciding function, expresses a range of emotion and opinions of, for and about people. INFJs, like many other FJ types, find themselves caught between the desire to express their wealth of feelings and moral conclusions about the actions and attitudes of others, and the awareness of the consequences of unbridled candor. Some vent the attending emotions in private, to trusted allies. Such confidants are chosen with care, for INFJs are well aware of the treachery that can reside in the hearts of mortals. This particular combination of introverted intuition and extraverted feeling provides INFJs with the raw material from which perceptive counselors are shaped.
Introverted Thinking

The INFJ's thinking is introverted, turned toward the subject. Perhaps it is when the INFJ's thinking function is operative that he is most aloof. A comrade might surmise that such detachment signals a disillusionment, that she has also been found lacking by the sardonic eye of this one who plumbs the depths of the human spirit. Experience suggests that such distancing is merely an indication that the seer is hard at work and focusing energy into this less efficient tertiary function.
Extraverted Sensing

INFJs are twice blessed with clarity of vision, both internal and external. Just as they possess inner vision which is drawn to the forms of the unconscious, they also have external sensing perception which readily takes hold of worldly objects. Sensing, however, is the weakest of the INFJ's arsenal and the most vulnerable. INFJs, like their fellow intuitives, may be so absorbed in intuitive perceiving that they become oblivious to physical reality. The INFJ under stress may fall prey to various forms of immediate gratification. Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the "SP wannabe" side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously; it's not uncommon for INFJ actors to take on an SP (often ESTP) role.
Famous INFJs:

Nathan, prophet of Israel
Robert Burns, Scottish poet

U.S. Presidents:
Martin Van Buren
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Fanny Crosby, (blind) hymnist
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Fred McMurray (My Three Sons)
Shirley Temple Black, child actor, ambassador
Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, martyr
James Reston, newspaper reporter
Shirley McClain (Sweet Charity, ...)
Piers Anthony, author ("Xanth" series)
Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie)
Tom Selleck
John Katz, critic, author
Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary)
U. S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL)
Billy Crystal
Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury)
Nelson Mandela
Mel Gibson
Carrie Fisher
Nicole Kidman
Jamie Foxx
Sela Ward
Mark Harmon
Gary Dourdan
Marg Helgaberger
Evangeline Lilly
Tori May
Introverted iNtuiting Feeling Judging
by Marina Margaret Heiss

INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.

INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.

Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).

This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.

In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually "blurrier" than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted -- yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.
Copyright © 1996-2007 by Marina Margaret Heiss and Joe Butt

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