Choice Is King – My New Years Post 2017

 

It’s a New Year. I wonder how many articles, blogs or puff pieces have started with those four words. It is true none the less and here we are fatter, thinner, richer, poorer, wiser or as the real case may be, dumber. What ever little New Years resolution we did or did not live up to, we have arrived at the beginning of one fresh, unspoiled, hopeful year and left that begging, harsh no good tramp of 2016 in our dust. This year will be the BEST. YEAR. EVER!

At least that’s our plans.

But as Judith Vorst helped Alexander discover in his ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”, life has a way of taking all your plans, looking at us dead in the eye as if to say, ” Oh THIS is your plan? Ha! You stupid, stupid girl (or preferred identity )…”. Then she crumples up all our plans and does a hat dance on top of our hard thought out goals. And life can do a pretty good hat dance too, she’s quite agile.

What are we left with as we stare longingly down at all our dreams laying broken on the ground? Our choices.

As good old Albus Dumbledore said to Harry in The Chamber of Secrets, “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” This statement seems contrite and very “easy for you to say” in the face of an uncertain future, joblessness, death of a friend, depression or anything that is less than a perfect life. We as humans have come to expect that nothing bad should happen. This is the future dammit! Long past are the days of famine and misfortune. We have dentists, doctors and take out Chinese food! We demand that life gives us the best and that we rise to the top like cream.

Dr. Seuss put it best in Oh The Places You’ll Go! A book that at any chance I get, I buy and give to small children, teenagers and adults alike. It is the best self help and life guidance you will ever get. He writes (excuse the long excerpt):

“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.”

We live in an alternate reality called Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or even this here blog. We judge ourselves and our lives and how it should all be sailing by the people online. It doesn’t stop there, commercials and life styles of the rich and famous reinforce these thoughts. We are so surrounded by all of these perfect pictures of how life is supposed to go ( at least in our heads) that when we are thrown a curve ball or bite down on a lemon, we crumble.

Back to that Choice bit. We have a decision to make when life fails to live up to our expectations. We can shake our fists in the air, blaming the economy, the boss, the wife, the president, the parents, etc and so forth, No matter whose fault it is, if any is to be assigned, in the end it’s our fault if we choose to lay down and just grumble. Our other choice is to pull up our big girl panties and get on with it. That doesn’t mean we can’t grieve or get angry. It means to choose each day how much you are going to let a situation or failed resolve to affect the rest of your day. How much power will you give it? Some days will be harder, you will fail and that’s okay. You can start again the next day or even the next hour. The right choice isn’t always the easy ( or the most attractive, lucrative or fun)one.

I write these words to encourage anyone who is still reading  this and also to encourage myself. Like many of you, it’s been a hell of a year. I don’t think 2017 will be a magic elixir that will make 2016 seem worth it. I do believe that if I set my will and work hard towards my goals and choose each day what I’m going to give power to and how I will react, that my days will be better and I will be better for it, not just better but happier. Happiness isn’t a feeling, like love, it is a chosen path.

What ever your resolve this year, get thinner, establish a better routine, not eat so many muffins (me), if shit blows up, just remember to choose where to point that fan.

Be happier this year folks.

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.