Social Media and Who I Want You to Think I Am.

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We all do it. We take that picture, look at it, delete it, take another and even another before we finally decide it is post-worthy. What is Post Worthy? It is the ideal picture, the one that shows us laughing carelessly and having a great time. It’s the one that shows us in love. It’s the one that portrays us as the ideal parent as we roll in the fall leaves smiling. This is what I want you to see. The ideal. The perfect. The lie.

Here’s a shocker: We all want the world to see us as perfect. We want to see how many ‘likes’ on facebook we can get for our nonchalant selfie that we want you to think we didn’t take ourselves but we did, because we are hella good at editing (sorta). I stopped trying to take selfies. Number one, every time I did, I either looked pissed off or my eyes looked wonky. Number two, who has time to take twenty photos of themselves? After three and still not getting the look I want, I start to feel dumb. What am I, a 13 year old girl again?! I am 35 years old, that’s too damn old to be doing the same things my teenage daughter does in the bathroom mirror (for 45 minutes no less!).

Here’s another shocker: Not everyone who posts how in love they are with their significant other is really feeling that way, it’s another ruse. I’m not saying there aren’t those who do, whose love will stand the test of time, but I am saying I have seen more people post some really romantic, I’m talking Shakespeare shit, only to see in a few weeks that their love ended in a flame of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Jaeger Bombs and some ho named Jessica, and the lady of love scorned is “going to beat her face in the next time she sees her so she best watch it!”

Social Media is more about presenting this Identity of who you want to be, or who you want people to think you are, to the world. Having real, deep friendships, ones that last longer than a couple years and don’t involve back stabbing, are becoming a thing of the past. In my opinion, we are all too involved in trying to look a certain way or present ourselves as a tough guy, to take time to let the wall down and really get to know one another. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and even WordPress provide a certain anonymity. You can be whatever, a yoga posing hippy, a pierced and tattooed rebel, a baby wearing and crunchy mamma or just a good old fashioned asshole. There’s no shame in being any of these things, if that’s who you really are, even if your an asshole, at least you’re genuine..

So, who do I want you to think I am? I don’t know. I will tell you who I am though. I am married to a wonderful man, that being said, we haven’t had a perfect marriage, there have been lots of ups and downs. Times where we wanted to kill one another and times of complete adoration. Am I happily married? Abso-fuckin-lootly. Has it been easy? No. But things worth the time seldom are.

I am also a mom, I became one at age 21. I had no idea what I was doing then and I seldom know now. I thought I would be a natural mom, I wasn’t. Turns out I am pretty bad at this job, but I do love my children fiercely and I know the world is a better place with them in it. Am I getting this parenting thing wrong? YES. Am I doing some shit right? YES. Again, it’s hard and I am not always that good mom you see rolling in the leaves with her kids, in fact, I don’t roll. Especially not in leaves.

I have tattoos and piercings. I am not tough. Not at all. Nor am I trying to be tough, I don’t have anything to prove. I am a nerd most of the time. I am a mystery novel lovin’ lady, but my favorite books are children’s books. I love my British t.v. mysteries, country folk rock and stoner rock equally. I love archeology and I get way too excited when lost items under the sea are found. I do cuss too often but that’s a bad habit that I am trying to break, apparently it’s not going to happen in this blog. Maybe the next one. Sorry Grandma (she is the toughest woman I know, she reads my blogs and hates the cursing but she loves me ).

I have been a good person and a horrible person of equal measure, and if you had to really scale it out, I bet horrible would win.

My point is that the infatuation I see on social media with being perfect is out of hand and it is only encouraged through television, magazines and other media forms. But the worst encourager of this distorted view of beautiful or ideal, is us. We only perpetuate it by falling in line and posting 10,000 selfies or hippy quote that makes us feel good momentarily. Who cares what the world thinks, if you have faith in yourself and at least one good friend(not the one that makes excuses for you, the one who helps you grow), you have won. Faith in yourself is so important. It gets you through when no one else can help you.  I admit my confidence in myself is fickle, some days I have it, others not at all. I have to work at it. It’s not magic. The temptation to post something consciously or subconsciously for the prospect of people ‘liking’ it, is real. I am a victim of it’s game. And, I will always lose, because just like a good drug or alcohol, in the morning I am still left with me.

My challenge to myself and to others out there (if anyone reads this) is take time to be yourself, whatever and whoever that is. Posting pictures in and of itself isn’t bad but if it’s filling some void where confidence should be, maybe invest in you for a while. It’s hard work but it pays off.

So, Who do I want you to think I am? In the words of Rhett Butler, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Hopefully you don’t either.

Life is Grande or Get Yo Shit Together!

I have become that person. That lady with the invisible disease. Hello Auto Immune Disease, my name is Maggie and it’s nice, well not nice per say, but it’s notable to meet you.

My “Invisible disease” (because there’s no hard evidence as of yet, aside from my symptoms), is either Chronic Fatigue or Fibromyalgia. According to the neurologist, it could be early signs of something bigger that “we’ll just have to wait and see about”.  I’m a sitting duck and until then, we are just going to treat it as one of the two mentioned above and hope it’s right.

I know this sounds hyper-paranoid and I also know I’m not the only person who has dealt with all of this, my own mother had Chronic Fatigue,  my Mother-in-law has MS, a friend of mine has Fibromyalgia. This brings comfort, not that I’m happy they have these auto immune disorders but it helps knowing there are others out there. That being said it still feels very lonely. I feel tired, angry, sad, frustrated and dare I say the D word? Depressed.

It’s been a hard few years, so depression happens. I hate bringing up the negative but there’s no way to polish a turd. truthfully, the last three years have been filled with broken relationships, death of loved ones, medical issues and just plain old life thrown in the mix. Now, this. So where do you go when seemingly all hell breaks loose?

If I look long and hard enough at Instagram or Facebook, I’ll find any number of uplifting quotes designed to make me feel better about my situation. I don’t even have to look long and hard, actually if I just scroll down a few pictures, I’ll find one. And Oh Shit, I think I posted the last one, but there’s a kitten in the picture too so maybe you’ll forgive me.  These little quotes draped over animal cuteness often say things like : “When you want to give up, push harder, success is around the corner” , this one has a turtle walking through mud, or alternately featuring an albino tiger, ” You are unique and you are the only you there is, don’t be afraid to be different”. I can appreciate these and the reason they are posted, I myself have definitely posted some that I thought had something great to say. But in the end, they are just words. Words have the power to wax elegant and it makes us feel all gushy inside, essentially they can butter us up emotionally. In the end, without any real action, without any physical push, these inspirational quotes remain empty, saccharine and powerless. Essentially posted quotes are the strippers of the internet, they make ya feel good but you go home empty handed and longing.

I want reality. My dad used to say, “Don’t spit on me and then tell me it’s raining”.  Tell me the truth of the situation, I don’t care if it’s dressed up with flowers and butterflies, just tell me what’s really happening. And I think that’s the frustrating part. No one seems to really know 100 percent what’s going on with me medically. On top of this, there’s no blood work that can prove it. Not knowing and just following a formula that you hope works, is a bit unsettling.  So how do I stay positive AND truthful about my situation?

I know only what helps me and I’ll be honest, as of late, most days aren’t good days. But what I have started to find help in, is meditation. I get up before anyone else is awake. No matter how glued to the sheets my body feels, I peel myself from it and walk to the dining room where my yoga mat is. I do yoga and pilates and then I focus my day and my mind. It’s not a cure all for sure and sometimes it’s easier on some days than others. Some days it changes my attitude  and I walk in grace and awe at all the beauty around me. Other days, I stomp around and yell at “whoever left their damned cup sitting on the chair, come pick it up for the last time!” So, it’s not magic.

The other thing I am practicing is telling my mind ‘no’. When I get so inside my own head, I become very selfish and self loathing. I get angry at my husband or kids for not ‘getting it’. My world becomes small and I started pointing fingers at all the people and things that aren’t ‘right’. It’s a high horse to come up off of. But telling myself no and looking at the facts of this thing, keeps me better in tune with the reality of life right now. My husband ‘gets it’ and is trying to help , my kids are kids and honestly shouldn’t be concerned or worried about any of this, the docs well, despite what I think, I do love my General doc and I do trust that she is being a good advocate for my health. This invisible disease is just the luck of the draw. It’s not God’s will, it’s just life baby.

No one way works for everyone, just like all of life, we find our paths, the one that our hearts beat in rhythm to, and then follow it. Some folks find solace in group therapy, or just online groups. Some read all they can on something to gain a better understanding. Still others invest in their faith and religion. There are many roads to peace and happiness. Mine involves a bit of meditation, faith, reading, attitude adjustment and reminding myself I’m not the only person out there dealing with something that seems to eclipse the good things in their life. I am surrounding myself with positive people, cutting out the negative ones and enjoying weekend nights with my kids, my husband and my mom.

Life really is good , that’s not to say shit doesn’t get sideways on me, it does a lot.  But as Agatha Christie said , ” I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

To be alive is a grand thing. So, with Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia Fog beginning to take over and not being sure how to tie this all together neatly, I say, go out and be bigger than your situation, be more than you think you are and stop reading this garbage and actually do something.

To Be More Than I Think I Am.

 

Just who am I anyways?

Recently, I have been challenging myself with this thought, it is coupled with the question, ” and what will I leave behind ? ” Oh sure, I know basically who I am, my likes, my dislikes, my goals, etc. With the death of my dad and my grandmother in the past 6 months, I have found myself going deeper. Their lives and their legacy have guided me to question my own life. Am I doing enough? What will I leave behind when I’m gone?

It has always been of great importance to me, that I leave behind something physical, something to prove without any doubt that I, Magdalene Belle, not only took breath but walked and loved. Movie stars have film and reviews, authors have books, chef’s have the legacy of amazing food that resonates from generation to the next, what will I leave? Is it a control factor? A way for my to TRY and control how much death takes away? Yes, undoubtedly it is. After all I am a bit of a control freak, which has been one of the greatest factors in my dealing with my father’s death. It was unexpected, my grandfather (my dad’s dad) lived well into his 80’s, so surely my dad would do the same. He was, unstoppable and bigger than life. Somewhere in my mind I planned for him to live forever. Then, he went and did the unexpected, something outside of my control and way outside of my comfort zone, He had the audacity to die on me, my mother, my brothers, his sister and certainly not least of them, his own mother. My mind that had formulated how this life would go, suddenly could not compute and I still find myself shaking my head and saying quietly to myself, “It doesn’t make any sense and this wasn’t supposed to happen this way.” Again, admission of how controlling I am and an example of how little control I actually have. So yes, my desire to leave a physical mark, is a way for me to try and control the uncontrollable.

However, over the past almost 7 months but specifically the last few weeks, I have been examining both my father’s and my Grandmother’s lives. They were as opposite as could be and in truth I am not so sure they cared for one another, but they had two things in common; one was a deep love for my mother and the other was this, they both were more than they thought they were.

I have spoken before about how my dad didn’t see how his life truly affected those around him, he didn’t see the beautiful qualities in himself that those around him saw so clearly. My Grandmother was much the same way. Both faced terrible times and mental scars that they would carry their entire life and never fully heal from. Though they had these things in their past, they still somehow chose to fight and move forward. And they were successful. No, they never made lots of money or became famous. There is no written record of theirs lives, save some journals and the oral stories we will pass down. They did leave however, an indelible mark on the lives around them. People worked harder for knowing them. People were more loving for knowing them, more understanding. I know they are my family and of course there is a partiality in me, but they truly touched the lives around them, I saw it in their life and I was reminded again of it in their death.They left behind something more precious than a book, they left a library of knowledge and love that I can learn from and pass on to my children, who will hopefully in turn, if I am successful, pass on again to their children and the people they meet.

So what do I want to leave behind? I wrote this the other night and after re-reading it, I think I am satisfied, for now, on this list:

‘To be more than I am. To leave a lasting impression on those around me,to leave behind a light that will continue to shine long after I am gone. To find a balance, to love and not judge too harshly. To again, find a balance and not focus on the fame or vanity of leaving an impression, but to focus on the impression itself, what kind will it be? To know my worth but not be arrogant. To love people, to be kind and thoughtful. To be a person of peace, to be a person of healing. To seek the face of God. To be a person of unity and not of division. To be me wholly and unapologetically with humility and love.’

To be more than I think I am.

The Journey

I’m not as centered as I seem.
And I’m not who I’ve been.
Somewhere deep there is a girl,
Trying to reinvent her world.

Tomorrow is a new day
And every step seems out of the way.
But forward I’ll go beyond my sight
Looking for the path that is right.

I do not hope, for hope begs,
I’ll stand with faith on my last leg.
The future unknowing, I’ll leap quite blind.
Beyond the sadness that is mine.

So the day next, when I wake
I’ll disregard what’s at stake,
I’ll fly off this cliff with such delight
Embracing my search for what’s right.

Into the darkness I’ll search through,
Your hand with mine, and mine with you.
Together we’ll tackle a foreign land,
With thoughtful reverence for times hand.

Death, Beside Me.

1354     I believe everything is wrapped up and converges with one another. For example, I believe all of life is spiritual, that what I put out there is felt and reaches out beyond what I can see. I try to approach daily life with the awe and respect I believe it deserves. I also believe all of life is art. In everything I do, be it the decorations in my home, the way I dress, where I place a piercing on someone or what I cook and how it’s plated, I look at it aesthetically  and do my best to make it pretty and functional. And so, in all of this life I believe , is incorporated death. I have been fascinated with death since I was a young child. It started with my Great Grandfather dying. The church where the funeral was held was small and had basically two rooms, the sanctuary and a room directly connected to it that was for food and visiting. The room with food and visiting was where my Great Grandfather’s casket and body were. Everyone in this room was almost jovial, in contrast to this were the people in the sanctuary who were close to renting their clothes in a good old fashioned biblical way. It was such a stark contrast to me and it made me curious about this death. From that point on I loved anything to do with dead things. Egyptology was a big interest for me, mummies fascinated me and the Egyptians take on the after life was such a mysterious journey I wanted to learn more about. Myself being raised Christian, death was a very prevalent theme, after all the guy being worshipped was killed, nailed to a tree and died. Death surrounded me. I wasn’t fearful of it though, until one evening I watched a documentary on Nostradamus with my parents. I was probably 7 or 8 at the time, and the video largely revolved around his predictions and the fulfillment of them. One of his predictions was about the end of the world, which according to the professors in this documentary would be in 1995. That night, laying in bed, I did the math. I had between 8-9 years of life left. I thought of all the things I wanted to do and wouldn’t be able to accomplish, the people I loved and would never see again. However,  It wasn’t the dying part that was problematic for me, it was the time limit in which I had to accomplish all my goals. Now I’m 34 and there still isn’t enough time. My aspirations are huge, and the list just keeps getting bigger. I want to publish more writing, and get payed for it this time. I want to write a couple of children’s books. I want to hone my craft and provide the most bad ass piercings for the public. I want to go to Egypt, I want to be rich both in spirit and financially. I want to travel, more and more and more. I want to live closer to nature. I want to become more spiritually aware. With the death of my Dad, these wants and the fears of not completing them are starring at me like a rabid wolf, threatening to eat my spirit. I have felt the depression seep in and weigh on me, it’s like being under water, the pressure and the ache in your ears, it pulses and vibrates until finally you come up for air and have moments of clarity. I have found you have to seize these moments, and if it makes sense, to practice them, push against the weight and force your freedom. I know one day these clear blips will be longer and more stable. I am starting to become more accepting of death, though not entirely comfortable. Death is no longer a concept or word, but an understood reality. Death holds my hand , as he has since I was young,  he reminds me to push forward and work harder and to fight against the kind of sorrow and complacency that would trap me. My dad used to come in my Tattoo/Piercing shop on a weekly basis. I am still waiting for him to come in, I will always be waiting for him to come in and sit and talk about everything and nothing at all. His death has effected me and it should. Death should change you, it should cause you to look at everything. His death has made me aware of my own looming death. The legacy he left behind has begged of me  to answer the question of ‘What will I leave behind?’ I know some of the answer and I am developing the rest. I know one thing, I want make a difference in peoples lives, the way my dad did. And if that’s all I can do, then it’s enough. So, though Death is a robber and he stole someone very precious away from me,  he also has gifted much to me. He has caused me to pause and reflect. So to Death, Thank you. I’m still not too crazy about you and though I won’t be inviting you for tea, I am learning so very much from you.

6 months in…..

Ah Death, the unintentional, yet totally intentional, theme of this years blog.

I did not know 6 months ago when I went to sleep that night, that the next day would be my fathers last day on earth. Tomorrow marks 6 months of his death. I use the word ‘death’  because this is what happened. I do not use words such as departure, passing, moving on etc. I don’t use these words or others like them because it makes light of what death is; death is a slap in the face, it is harsh, it is raw, it is death. You can paint it how you want it, but in truth we can not dress it up enough. When I was a kid my Grandma would light this Rose incense in her bathroom anytime she ‘smealt’ it up. She didn’t succeed in neutralizing or even covering up the stench, only in making it smell like rose covered turds. Much like bowel movements, death can’t be covered with niceties, it will always smell of decay.

Part of me understands why people spew forth these hallmark greetings, (He’s looking down on you, He’s out of pain) when you speak of death and spirit there is a pressure to say things like, “He’s in a better place” etc,. I am a very spiritual person, full disclosure here, but just because I believe we go on in one way or another doesn’t mean that this idea comforts or fills the gigantic pothole in my life that my father left when he died. What people fail to realize, is that the loved one was here yesterday and the day after he wasn’t, your mind even 6 months later, is still trying to understand it.

I still find myself planning the future and my subconscious still registers my dad as being a part of that future and then very quickly, before the thought is in it’s complete stage, I recognize that my dad will not be there. I saw a man who looked like my dad today (or rather the man’s beard looked like my dads, really after seeing that it wasn’t my dad, the only resemblance was the facial hair). For a moment I almost said aloud, “There’s my dad”, as if it was any other day before his death. Each time you make this mistake and catch glimpses of your loved ones ghosts everywhere, it serves as a rude reminder that you’ve lost something very dear that you have no hope in getting back. On top of dealing with daily touchstones, you now have to deal with ‘ghosts’. Great.

So tomorrow marks 6 months of my dad’s death. I have learned to celebrate him when I feel like crumbling, to hold on to his spirit for strength  and to look at his life like a good book, full of adventure, trials and lessons, beauty and sadness. In the end of all good books there are people to carry on the story to pass on to generations, and in the history to come, perhaps there will people to carry on my dad’s love for others, the forgotten people, the misjudged, the addicts, the tinkers, the clowns and just the plain regular folk.

I took this photo below 5 years ago Mardi Gras day and in all the horrible signs and banners people were protesting with, there was this little girl with this shirt, and the shirt sums up my dad.

Finally someone with something positive to say at Mardi Gras, thank you little lady.

Finally someone with something positive to say at Mardi Gras, thank you little lady.

The Bat, The Girl, The Rock

And the bat devoured her entirely, except her fingers, which he found too boney and her breasts, which he found too fatty.
The bat was death. He stalked her by the night of her soul; The times her guard was down and she thought only of the mediocre, when she was tired and her mind was overwhelmed, when her feet ached from the walk. When finally she sat upon that rock, the rodent fell upon her.
Her thought faded from memory, her feet ceased to ache, she felt only nothingness.
And in that split second of consciousness and death, she wished she had kept walking.

Heratio! I die! Heratio!

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