The Inbox is Always Open

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I wrote a blog post last week about unconditional love. I wrote it about myself and my own unique journey in life, because all anyone can truly know intimately is our own stories.

I received dozens of personal messages in response, both from people that I know and people that I don’t. It was the biggest number of messages I’ve ever gotten about a blog post.

All but one of the messages were people telling me how much my words helped them. People came forward and shared their own stories with me about their journeys with family and friends and spouses, and about how they were trying to find love without a “but” attached to it. I will always honor that trust and I feel humbled when I can create a safe place for those needing to tell their truths.

Two of those messages were from people who wanted to tell me that they were touched by my post, but couldn’t comment publicly for fear that some of their friends may de-friend them if they supported what I wrote. They specifically asked me to remain silent about their contact with me. This always hits home with me, because I’ve been told to “be careful” and “not talk like that, or else” for my whole life. As if my own organic words and thoughts and opinions aren’t valid enough to share. Or are inherently dangerous somehow.

Because of this, it has been a real work in progress for me to even find my voice. The messages I received from those who can’t yet speak publicly remind me vividly of when I was not allowed a voice, at least not one that disagreed with anyone.

But when I write from my heart, almost inevitably a message shows up from someone that I don’t know, or some ex or old friend that I haven’t seen in years, wanting to tell me how mean and cruel and spiteful I am. And to point out the ways that I have hurt them. Because they are quite sure that what I wrote was a direct attack on them personally.

If I look at the big picture and take a helicopter view, or just look at statistics, it appears that my words helped more than they hurt.

Because here’s the thing…. If someone is looking for a reason to make it about them and be upset with me, they will always find it.

Just like if someone is looking for the best in me, they will always find that, too.

After the last drama-filled message that I got, I realized that I stopped writing. Again. Or rather, stopped sharing what I wrote.

Without thinking, I let myself be silenced again.

But since I’m not out here preaching hate or drowning bags of puppies, it’s ridiculous that I should not be allowed to speak. Especially because my words are always about how we are more alike than we are different. They are about common ground and love, never exclusion or hate.

So I am going to keep coming here and speaking my truth. I will not gossip or name names because that is not how I work. But I am a writer by nature. I feel compelled to share my stories and thoughts with the world. I’ve been doing that for many years now, in notebooks and on my blogs and in my articles and in my novels. But I do so in general terms about my thoughts and feelings on love and life.

No one is under attack here.

But it seems that in these divided times, honest feelings and thoughts can be perceived as hurtful or cruel. This is true on all sides, with each and every issue we face. It seems that the mere act of starting a conversation, or asking a question, can be views as “an attack.”

This is true not just for me, but for all of us. I can’t tell you how many people have told me lately that they have been blocked and de-friended and yelled at and black-balled from their people. For small things that turned huge. This is not something that is only happening to me. I get a little more attention for it, is all.

But if we are not allowed to speak our truth, how the hell are any of us going to fix any of this? It seems to me that gossip and ignoring the issues are not fixing America the Broken, or its citizens.

Every person that is my “friend” is here is by choice, and someone I connect with and know. But I’m not selling you anything and I’m not forcing you to stay. I get no monetary benefit from your presence. I merely gain the pleasure of your virtual company.

But you should know that I’m not going to sit down and be quiet about any of the things that matter in this life. It is far too important right now to keep the conversation going.

And if the things that I write bother you, you may want to ask yourself why.

The inbox is always open, folks. At least on my end. But we can’t fix it if we all stop talking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Love You But…

I love you but…

I love you anyway…
I love you even though you…
I love you in spite of…

This, for a long time, was my support network of love. A lot of my people anyway.

They didn’t mean me any harm. They really did love me. At least, in the way that they are able to love. But, they made it a point to constantly point out what I had done wrong, what kind of person that made me, and how I should feel lucky that they would still love me after all that.

My transgressions have varied, from having children out of wedlock numerous times to having a small intimate wedding for 25 people instead of a big all-inclusive family wedding for over 300. For no longer labeling myself as a Christian. For being a single mother living in poverty. For posting about politics too much and daring to correct anyone. And through all of this, there was always the inevitable pointing out how it was all was my own fault.

For a long time, the vast majority of my people made it very clear that I was only lovable if…

That I was still okay, but clearly I was lucky they had chosen to stick around. And of course, that I could learn from them.

And they were careful not to give me too much praise or credit, because I was damaged, after all. And because of this, it was very unlikely that I may be right about anything because of how badly I had screwed up my life.

But they loved me anyway and I should be thankful for that.

And for a long time, I believed all that. I bought into it because it was what I was taught and what I had learned. It was built into who I was.

 
Ultimately, I decided that the whole “good enough” thing is bullshit. And that what other people think of me is their business.

 
But that I get to make my own definition.

 

And I stopped going out of my way for people who only love me if..

For people who make qualifiers on who I get to be and what makes me good enough.

I didn’t throw anyone out of my life or even block them.

It would be a clearer description to say that I merely let them go. A process I have been learning and relearning my whole life.

I would be lying to you if I said that parts of this process weren’t absolutely heartbreaking.

But what I have gained is people who love me no matter what.

I realized that there are people who will truly be there for me, instead of just saying they will. People who will show up no matter how busy they get. They will go out of their way to make sure that I know I matter. They will care when they don’t have to and love me at my best and my worst.

They love me no matter what.

People who love me so much that they give me the benefit of the doubt rather than automatically assuming I am wrong, or cruel, or damaged.

People who are there for the good days and the bad days and the worst days and the everything in-between days. The people who always remember to invite you and never stop making you feel welcome.

And the thing is, when I stopped taking up so much time trying to please and be what everyone thought I should be, I made a lot of space in my life for figuring out who I am. And when your main group of people do a mass exodus on you, it gives you lots of time to find out who you are.

And as the people dropped from my life, as I was no longer apologizing to them for who I was, I made space for the people who don’t feel I should apologize for being myself. And found that they actually just love me for me. As simple as that.

I could’ve stayed where I was my whole life. It was safe and familiar, even if I had to hide myself in order to be good enough. I had to tone myself down to be acceptable. I could’ve kept being lucky that they still loved me.

But I define my worth, and when I decided that I was enough as I am, the people who love me as such appeared. Truly, just like that.

I have a much larger circle of friends now. My network of people who love me and are here for me has multiplied tremendously. But only after I decided that I was good enough to be loved no matter what.

How about you? Would your people still love you no matter what? Or do you have to pretend and be quiet for them to love you?

The Have It Your Way Era

 

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It seems we live in a world of Delete. Block. Defriend.

Or as I affectionately call it,
The Have It Your Way Era.

 
You don’t like what someone said on your news feed? Delete their comments! This is YOUR Facebook, after all…

 
Are they bugging you with what they post? You don’t like that? Block ‘em!

 
Someone told you that you are using a word wrong? Or maybe they believe the 97% of scientists who think climate change is real? Defriend them. Who needs that kind of drama? You are educated and don’t need anyone to tell you what to think.

 
I’m going to just say it flat out that I find this behavior just ridiculous for grown adults. It’s like Middle School America around here.

 
I have a lot of friends with a lot of varying opinions and faiths and political preferences. People from all over the world with a wide range of lifestyles. I do not block you or defriend you for this. I will boot your ass for name calling and downright threats, but I’d also do that if you were nasty in my living room. But, in truth, most people simmer down with a warning. Or go away on their own. Thankfully, I get very little drama on my feed. It seems that despite all the diversity, I have civil and open-minded adults as friends.

 
But it seems that some adults believe if they delete, then those things didn’t happen. Or maybe weren’t real? I don’t know, because I don’t get it.

 
I don’t do the delete game. I don’t delete, unless I accidently posted a rainbow or something. I will go in and edit small grammatical stuff, because pretty much everything I do happens while I’m wrangling a toddler and a cat and maybe a dog and a 6-year-old. And I’m kind of a perfectionist so I want to sound like I can formulate sentences. But otherwise, what I post, STAYS. Always. You know why? Because I don’t post it unless I believe it enough to stand behind it. It’s as simple as that.

 
And because I KNOW that even if I delete something, that it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And ultimately, WE still know what WE said. Or what someone else said. We can’t UNDO it or make it unhappen. We all know this, right? RIGHT?

 
It’s like doing something stupid and getting drunk to forget about it. And then you get so wasted that you black out so you just assume that means that none of it happened.

 
Uh, no. It still happened. Still real. You just blocked it out.

 
Which is kind of how so many seem to look at life right now.

 
“I don’t like that. It bothers me. I don’t need to think about that. I’ll block it.”

 
Uh, okay. But it’s still real. You know that, right? And some of the things you are blocking will seriously impact your life, even if you are flat-out on purpose ignoring it all.

 
Which could quite honestly be viewed as irresponsible.

 
So here’s my wish for the day. My challenge to all of you, if you are up for it:

 
Do not be a Have It Your Way Person. To grow as people and as a nation, we need to drop the Have It Your Way Era and it’s selfish line of thinking.

 
We need to grow up and accept responsibility for learning about the world around us. And not just the people that look and think like we do. We need to be willing to listen to different people with open minds, and not just the ones that make us feel good about ourselves.

 
Find who you are and what you believe and share that. Stand behind that. But make it a two-way conversation.

 
Let the world in and stop constantly micro-managing until you only see what you want to see. We don’t learn anything that way. Not when you make sure every door is locked up tight before you walk by.

 
It’s an illusion, this “reality” we try to create in the image of what we want the world to be. It’s not real, not when you constantly shift what you allow into your life.

 
And don’t say it’s only on social networking. Because like it or not, social networking IS where we are.

 

What would the world look like to you if you stopped constantly filtering what was allowed, on and off your news feed?

What Side Were You On?

 

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History will ask us what we said and did in these times. I assure you of that.  They will demand to know what part we played.

Your children and your children’s children, they will ask you, if we each make it that far. They will ask what you were thinking. And what you did. They will ask us you what side you were on.

And so many will have to answer, “I was eating my McDonalds, even though it was ruled unfit for human consumption. Because it’s fast and it’s cheap and I have important things to do. Plus, I never missed a professional football game and that took up a lot of my time…”

Others will say that they could not speak, because the simple words of, “You are using that word wrong,” and posting proof of it is enough to get them banished from their family.

The state of unrest in our America ripples through every single citizen, like it or not.

So many others will claim that they merely wanted to Make Facebook Fun Again, so they were so busy blocking and deleting and de-friending that they skewed the way the whole world looked around them, until they created a space where they only saw what they already knew and believed in.

And yet, ironically, our ancestors will not have to wonder what side we were on. They will not have to ponder what our lives were like. We have laid them out in detail all by ourselves, from corner to corner across the World Wide Web, like road maps to our destruction or our salvation. That part is still up for grabs.

Either way, we are writing own stories as we go along. Choosing what parts get the sunshine and which parts are kept hidden. Choosing “sides” or remaining “neutral.” Ignoring the whole damn mess or getting our hands dirty and helping to clean up the mess.

It could be easy to stick labels on everything, like name tags, and pretend it’s so simple.

But these dividing lines are not about Republican or Democrat.

They are not whether you are Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or atheist.

They are not about whether you are black or white or one of the multitudes of varieties of ethnic origins within the human race.

The dividing lines have nothing to do with where we all fit on the LGBT spectrum.

 

These dividing lines are about good versus evil.

They are about the top of the 1% who currently holds all the wealth and all the power, and the rest of us.

They are about right versus wrong.

These dividing lines are as old and as simple as our human existence.

Some among us are attempting to make things seem complicated. And to divide us, because they know (better than we do) that our strength lies in our numbers.

But this is not complicated. We can look at what makes us different or we can look for what makes us the similar. It is as simple as that.

These are the morals and truths that we were taught by our mothers and fathers. By our kindergarten teachers in classrooms all across this county. By our favorite aunties and our grandfathers and our cool older cousins.

Play nice.

Take turns.

Hands to yourself.

 Share.

Be respectful.

No name calling.

 Use your words.

We are always learning.

And most important, we love one another.

It is the words written in Red and the premise of the holy book of every major world religion.

Love one another.

But not everybody is ready.  One must set down the division to see the similarities. And love lies within the similarities. It cannot thrive or even exist among division. But that is something we can only see for ourselves.

I want to be clear that this is not about what label you put on yourself or what box you check inside your own voting booth.

This is about our America. And the fact that our democracy is being purposefully and systematically dismantled piece by piece. This is about real and actual danger.

And if you do not know this or believe this, then you are simply not paying enough attention. Or not listening to the whole story.

So I’m not going to stop talking about the important stuff that is going on around us. No matter who storms out of my life.

I’m not going to be quiet because it bothers some of you. Because that would be irresponsible.

 

And I assure you, unless you are a member of the true 1%, this will affect you and your family for generations.

 

Did you ever wonder where you would stand if a battle rose between good and evil? Now is your chance to find out.