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Saturday, 29 June 2013

A Birthday That's Strange for its Lack of Strangeness

Today is a completely normal day for me, and the only thing exceptional about that is the fact that it's my birthday. Now, most people would have made plans, had cake, partied...something. I sat at my computer exactly the same as I do any other day. It's just the way I roll - or don't roll as the case may be. Zero complaints, believe me. I like normalcy and routine. When I shake thing up it's because I'm in the mood for it, not because it's a particular day.

The funny thing about birthdays - at least that I find funny - is that we often end up doing what others want for us on those days, rather than what it is we really want to be doing. People want to do the whole grand gesture thing, spending time and money on the cake ceremony, even when it's something we're not that keen on. We tend to let them, just because we want to avoid hurt feelings. Thankfully my daughter is very similar to me in how she likes to spend her time, so she's the last person to push a celebration on me.

The closest I came to celebrating was to have ice cream, which of course I'll pay for later. Milk products are not my friends, any more than vegetables or fruits are. I won't get into the nasty details for now. I do love ice cream, though, and maybe one day I'll be smart enough to buy the little tablets that will help me process it better before I'm dumb enough to dig my spoon in.

Now my ex, who's apparently going to be our roommate for a while, has a surprising habit of actually remembering my birthday, and he did this year, too. I'm quite confused by this behaviour, as he can't remember his own mother's birthday usually. We've been separated for more than five years, but every year he remembers it. Sure, I remember his, but then I usually remember his mother's, too, along with anyone else who is directly in my life, as long as I know when it is.

I have received lots of birthday wishes so I'm not feeling neglected in any way - from friends and co-workers, as well as from my daughter who shouted a very funny all-caps Tweet at me right after midnight. We have that kind of quirky relationship. We thought about pizza or something, but I'm not a big fan of it. If I were going to eat something special it might be Chinese food maybe. Frankly I don't want to go to the effort of finding a lost wallet that has $50 in it right now. We're pretty sure our ferret stole it, just like he hid a loose $5 bill. Pepper has been known to grab it and try to run off with it, and this time he may very well have succeeded. Tomorrow is soon enough to clean up the apartment and go through his stash of stolen goods.

These are the best kinds of birthdays, these quiet ones. I'm not obligated to go anywhere or smile. I don't even have to wear anything other than my usual sloppy attire - bike shorts and a t-shirt at the moment, although pajamas aren't out of the realm of daily wear for me. I don't know if it's typical for writers to be this reclusive, but I don't like direct attention or being on display. I don't want to be on TV, and I blush if my name is even mentioned on the show I produce (which it has been by the host a couple of times).

Writers may want to become famous as writers, but we certainly don't all want to be in front of a camera. The funny thing is, I have been quite a few times. I've been on the news, I've been in a commercial, I was on TV as both a figure skater and a highland dancer, and I think there were a couple of other times, too. When I was out in Edmonton a few years ago, there was a big fire that destroyed the house next to my parents' house - there were explosions involved, too. Reporters were crawling around the conflagration, interviewing people. Once I let the firefighters know there were explosive gases in my parents' garden shed, I ducked down the lane to get away from the reporters. A strange dichotomy, perhaps, since I put a large part of my life on display with my writing, particularly in the case of this blog, but there you have it. There are just certain kinds of attention I don't want, and a big production for my birthday is one of those things.

Instead I feel like Brain the mouse, from Pinky and the Brain. "What are we doing tonight, Brain? Narf!" "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Trying to take over the world." Well, except that I'm not actually trying to take over the world. Talk about getting unwanted attention then!

Birthdays, as I get older at least, are a bit like New Year's Eve to me. There's the impulse to make resolutions, set goals, and make promises to myself that I may or may not keep. At this point in my life everything is completely uncertain, and none of those things can be done. I do like to look back and see the things I've actually managed to get done in the last year, but I haven't even bothered to do that much this year - well, until I started thinking about it just now. The list is almost the same as it was for New Year's, with a couple of nice additions in those 6 months. Started a new business enterprise, started produced the show, started writing for another site, and I think that's about it. There's probably other stuff, but I tend to forget things like that.

The strangeness of today isn't something that feels strange to me, though. It's mostly other people who find it odd. To be honest, I'm usually just grateful when it's over, and I'm like that with a lot of 'special' occasions. If you read my post on Valentine's Day you'll see what I mean. I get really weird and awkward about stuff. When I turned forty my ex and I talked vaguely about having a party together, because his would have been less than a month after mine. It was mentioned once and then we both forgot all about it. I can't imagine that we'd have gone through with it, though, even if we'd remembered. That was two years ago, and the urge to celebrate birthdays has decreased to non-existence now.

So, for now, I'm going to spend the remaining hour doing the same thing I doing every night - trying to take over the virtual world in a computer game. Narf!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

So Much to Say, Such a Short Attention Span

Yesterday was an unbelievably crazy day for me. Mentally, emotionally, and time-wise. I was verbally abused by some asshat who told me I had to have sex with him, even though I didn't even know his last name, who then accused me of lying to him because I told him I wasn't going to be. I mean, the sheer ridiculousness of this is making me giggle uncontrollably. Like, really? Wow. Some people just have no pick-up skills whatsoever. Most people consider me too blunt and open. He was young, though. Zero patience, wants everything now I guess. Next time, dude, if you want to have sex with a woman, you might try starting by telling her your name. It helps.

And then...there was a bit of a feline emergency for my ex, whose cat got over-heated and stressed out and had to get to the vet right away. Poor little guy. He's a purebred Siamese (the cat, not my ex), however, and purebreds tend to be skittish and sensitive in general. My ex had already been over here earlier in the morning (we may have a new roommate for a while), and it was here that the cat got overheated, I think, but I'm guessing the stress was a huge factor. He was in a separate room that has no air conditioning because there are issues with my cats and my ferret, but my ex was in there with him and didn't get full-on heat stroke I don't think. Still, I feel bad. We'll have to figure something out for him. Maybe a plywood gate to keep him separated, but allow the door to remain open for the air conditioning.

And then...there was the fall of DOMA and Prop 8, which if you've read almost anything I've ever written, you probably know I was doing a massive happy-dance a la Snoopy. I don't know what took SCOTUS so long to do this, because I have to say to y'all down there that we've had marriage equality in Canada for the last 8 years or so, federally. If we were going to be smote for our strike against an almighty, I'm sure it would have happened by now. Of course the fundies are all up in everyone else's business, despite the whole freedom of religion thing that supposedly exists down there, but really doesn't, because according to certain politicians America has always been a Christian nation. Wut? No. First there were the mound people I believe, and then there were the tribal people. Somewhere before all that there were probably neanderthals or something. My history is really rusty, but even I know there were people in the United States loooonnngg before there were Christians. Oh, and there's that little thing about religious freedom again where no religion is supposed to have a say in the government - called 'separation of church and state' I believe. Yeah, that little thing.

And then...there was the fall of SB 5 (a bill that would have closed 47 of 52 abortion clinics) in Texas, mainly destroyed by Wendy Davis and her outstanding filibuster, and the hundreds of women who stood there in protest as she read letter after letter from Texas constituents, berating Texas politicians for sticking their non-medical noses into their vaginas. Yeah, that was a run-on sentence, but I get so darned excited when these things happen that I have air-to-spare I guess. The Republicans apparently tried to alter the time stamp on the documentation to make it appear as if the bill had actually passed, when it hadn't. Now there's a petition going around to try to initiate an investigation into this.

Of course, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, is also the same moron who brought you, "Come to unregulated Texas so we can blow up half of it," and when he spoke about Wendy Davis later he couldn't even be bothered to use her name. He called her, 'that woman who filibustered' or something to that effect. Blew my mind. Then he promptly announced that they'd be trying to pass it again on July 1st. Granted, he also approved Texas' 500th execution since 1976 yesterday, too, this grand pro-life example of humanity - of a woman, of course. It gets even more bizarre! No, I'm not kidding. He then proceeded to criticize Wendy Davis for having a child so young. Um, dude, you're a pro-lifer. Was she supposed to have an abortion? You know, I don't think anyone can write a biography about that man. There is no way it would make a lick of sense. You'd be reading it, and the whole time you'd be saying, "He did what? But he..."

And then...there's this other guy name Cucchinelli who wants to ban oral and anal sex. Now y'all just know that you're going to read about him getting a blow job from a prostitute one day, and quite possibly a male one. That's just how these things go. It seems like it's always those hyper-conservative nutbag Christian Fundamentalists who are sticking their Snausages in places they supposedly aren't supposed to be. Not that I've got anything against prostitution as a chosen profession. As far as I'm concerned 'chosen' is the operative word there. I have nothing against someone even going to a prostitute of any gender for sex, of any kind. That's a choice, too. I think it's morally wrong to do it if you're cheating on a partner. I think it's stupid if you're not using protection and you bring home diseases to someone else. If I knew someone was actually risking someone else's life with possible STDs, I'd tell the potential recipient of said diseases in a heartbeat.

And then...I spent all day on the phone, which I'm sure y'all know is something I generally hate to do. We had the show last night, so I was kept busy with stuff for that for a bit, and also spent a bit of time chatting with a station producer who taught me a couple of things about how things work at the station. Of course there was my Facebook time. Now, most people use Facebook for fun stuff, and I like my joke memes as well as the next person probably, but the majority of my time on there is spent gathering information and staying aware of what's going on with the political situation. Believe you me, I never thought I'd see the day when I would bother with anything the least bit political. My how times have changed!

Considering the dither I was in yesterday, I know there's a giant bunch of stuff that I'm forgetting to mention, but I think that covers the basics. All of this was on an hour's sleep in almost two days. I feel like I just went through a spin cycle for a heavy-duty wash load. Speaking of laundry, however, if I don't want to be running around naked, or at least going commando from a lack of underwear, I'd best get moving on mine tonight. Whenever I say, "I've got nothing to wear," it usually means I actually have nothing to wear. My ratty old bathrobe just isn't going to cut it for me. Sure, I spend a lot of time in my pajamas, but robes have a tendency to fly open at the least little provocation. This is not an option for me. I'm not going to traumatize my daughter any more than I already did just by raising her, and if my ex does end up staying here I'm certainly not flashing the goodies at him either. Totally not the message I want to be sending, and it's highly unlikely to be the one he wants to be receiving either.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Past, Present, and Future on The Kovacs Perspective

Our next show is going to be pretty intense. Tonight, 9 PM eastern, tune in here for a call-in show with a psychic on The Kovacs Perspective. Yes, you read that right. It's a little different from our usual fare, but on our next show +Steve Kovacs is going to be interviewing a psychic, and we're inviting you to call in to speak directly to her. If you have any problems viewing the show on our UStream feed, please go to our YouTube feed to watch the show. The number to call is 1-888-572-0141.

Lorraine Moore is apparently a clairvoyant, medium and psychic, and claims to be able to communicate with animals as well - living ones. She's worked with the police and was recently featured in NYBlue Magazine (NYPBA Magazine), so it looks like she may have some very interesting stories to tell us about that.

From the research I've done on her, she visits pet supply stores to speak with animals there, in order to better understand the behaviours pets may be exhibiting. Pet owners can then respond to the reasons their animals may be acting out. She doesn't correct the behaviour of the animals, but she explains it to the owners.

I'm rather fascinated by the idea of communicating with animals, and our guest does it with a pretty wide variety of species, including cats, dogs, horses, birds and livestock. As someone who has pets, including one ferret and two cats, I know very well that they have their ways of communicating. In fact, a study was done recently by a university in the U. S. where they were decoding the actual language of prairie dogs. There's a good chance we're going to one day be able to understand the things that animals are saying.

What's pretty funny to me is that it's only humans who can't seem to interpret animals, whereas animals can learn words from us pretty well. It makes me question who is really the more intelligent species. We give commands to dogs and cats (and ferrets in my case) all the time, and if the animals are well-trained they can usually follow those commands. I have a cat that corrects my grammar, actually. I can't tell him to 'lay down' as he simply won't do it, but if I say, "Lie down," he will. Stubborn, elitist, grammar Nazi is what he is!

Now, Lorraine Moore, being a medium, is willing to help our listeners talk to loved ones that are no longer with them. If you've lost someone I urge you to call in. For that matter, if you're looking to have questions answered about your own future - whether it's your love life, your financial or work situation, or even questions about your family - we also want you to call in. Basically, whatever is on your mind that you want an answer to, give our guest a try and see if she can help you. There's no cost for you to call, and it's a chance to get some free advice from someone who has even helped the police.

Remember, the number to call is 1-888-572-0141.

We only have three phone lines, however, so it's possible you may be on hold for a bit, but you can still hear the show. Please make sure that when you're on the air to have the volume on your computer turned off so that there's no feedback, as the station manager will have to disconnect the call otherwise. If you are disconnected, please call right back. We'd love to have you on the show, asking your question, so we look forward to hearing from you.

If you would like more information on our guest, Lorraine Moore, please take a minute to check out her website to see what she's capable of. You can find her here. She does private consults over the phone, so it doesn't matter where you live. If you like what you're hearing, but our phone lines are too busy and you can't get through, try giving her a call after the show. Her hours of operation are listed on her website.

Now don't forget, we air the show at 9 PM eastern, which is basically New York/Toronto time. It's going to be a very interesting show tonight, as it always is, so I'm looking forward to watching it. I hope you are, too. See you there!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Limits: Balancing Positivity, Grief, Reality and Escapism

I thought I was going to have a tougher day today than I did, but even though a vast majority of it was very positive, and turned out better than expected, there was one really hard part. Every Monday is a bad day for me right now, and unless I happen to sleep through it, noon is the absolute worst. Right at noon, every Monday, is when grief kicks the crap out of me. I actually have a reminder set on my BlackBerry that allows it to do that. Does that sound strange? Maybe it is. However, because I'm more afraid of losing my emotions than I am of feeling them, I choose to face up to them whenever possible.

It was noon on a Monday, eleven weeks ago, that I lost the love of my life. If you think I'm sick and twisted because the love of my life happened to be a ferret name Stimpy, that's too bad. I don't actually care what anyone thinks about that. It wasn't a romantic thing by any stretch. I'm not actually that sick and twisted. No, he was really like a child and best friend to me all rolled into one, and there was a connection there between us from the moment I met him. So, losing him at the age of five to pancreatic and kidney cancer was absolutely the worst thing I've ever been through. I've lost a lot of people - people who were family and friends that I truly loved - and none of those losses hurt me like this one. I'll never be able to explain it to anyone who hasn't felt that connection, and who didn't know his personality. He was family, and he was the epitome of love and companionship in my life. I love animals in general, particularly ferrets, but Stimpy was special beyond that.

Many people try to avoid and ignore grief, and some people revel in it. I do both within set boundaries. I have my Monday ritual, and for the rest of the week I try not to think about it. I get on with my life and do my thing. I distract myself with the myriad parts of life that have the ability to do that for me, whether they're work and writing related, or simple escapism. I learned a long time ago that escapism and denial were healthy and necessary, within limits. Facing reality is healthy and necessary, within limits. Even drinking wine is considered healthy and necessary, within limits.

The nature of humanity is that extremism isn't good for us in anything. When we become obsessive about things, it's simply not healthy, and it doesn't matter if the things we become obsessive about are actually in the realm of health. There are people that work out constantly, thinking they're doing their body a lot of good, but the truth is that constant use of joints and muscles will tear them down and age you prematurely. As much as I like lifting weights, I'm very well aware that to gain visible muscle mass you actually have to lift more weights, more often, than is optimum for your physical health.

Bodybuilders limit the damage as much as they can by choosing to alternate body parts, but that's mostly because they've discovered it's counterproductive to work the same muscle group two days in a row - it tears the muscle down rather than building it up, because muscle is scar tissue that needs time to heal. They're not actually taking into account the real health of their bodies, however. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, ten minutes of resistance training, three times per week, is what is needed to maintain and build muscle mass and slow down aging, without causing damage to your body. I'll be the first to admit that I go over that when I'm doing my weight routine, but I'm pretty tame. My routine is around fifteen minutes every day, and I combine isometric and dynamic tension while I lift - when I'm doing it and not being a lazy git, that is...

As much as I prattle about balance in life, though, you'd think I would be better at it. I have a tendency to go all-out on things sometimes, and burn myself out so that I don't even want to look at it anymore. I'm being more careful about that. I'm just sitting back and enjoying what I'm doing, and not forcing myself to do stuff I'm not in the mood for. I was actually doing too much writing at one point, and realized I needed to slow it down. It was getting to where I didn't want to write at all. The depressing subject matter didn't help. When you write about nothing but the crappy things people do to one another, and to other living things, it can suck the life right out of you.

I've also been scattering my focus too much for me to find real balance, or to achieve anything real. Not to mention doing stuff I never wanted to do. It's hard to be passionate about things when you just don't care about them, and if something is worth doing, it's worth being passionate about it. Not obsessive, just passionate. Mostly I'm talking about my writing, and how I haven't been doing the fiction stuff that got me into writing in the first place. In my head there have always been those, "What would it be like if..." thoughts. I wanted to walk through a scene in my head, watching it play out. I would talk to myself, out loud, as I ran dialogue between people. Well, to be fair I do that about real people, too, and not just my characters, but I can pretend it's a writing thing so people don't think I'm completely off my nut when they hear me having a full-blown conversation with thin air.

Now that I've finally sorted through the crap that needed so desperately to be handled, I can take a moment to breathe and see where I'm really at. I can pat myself on the back and play for a while. I can make a few lists about my goals for the future, and then I can get on with doing the things I enjoy and do best. To start, I'm going to relax and do pretty much nothing tonight. I'll play for a while, eat, and then go to bed and read. Tomorrow is soon enough to crack the whip, and you know self-flagellation has its rewards, too. It's all about balance.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

A Falling Out Becomes a Favour

I didn't have the best weekend. I had a misunderstanding with a friend, and we both got angry. However, I'm the type of person who is a realist. I like to know what the facts are in any given situation. I don't like fooling myself, so I prefer to know the truth at all costs. I got an answer that I was looking for, even if it wasn't the one I wanted, and quite frankly that's better than a delusion any day of the week. Seeing as I intend to remain friends with this person, and I prefer to say things directly to people, rather than do so passive-aggressively in a misguided blog posting, I will refrain from sharing details. Suffice it to say, things happen for a reason, and I'm content with the results.

You see, with every conflict and challenge in life, we're provided with the opportunity to learn things if we so choose. I've learned more about myself this weekend, and that's never a bad thing. It's not really a new lesson, but it's one that bears repeating in my life every now and again. I've known for some time that I'm a strong person, and I can get through pretty much anything, and to have that lesson confirmed is reassuring in a lot of ways. It was confirmed when I lost my ferret about two and a half months ago, and it was confirmed the other day. It was also reiterated that I really do prefer the truth to a fantasy. I don't think there's anything worse than believing something to be true, and focusing your thoughts and efforts on that, then finding out that it isn't. It's a huge waste of time and effort.

I think people are fooling themselves when they run away from problems, too. Say you've got financial troubles, and you avoid talking to the bill collectors. You're pretending to yourself that the situation is something it isn't. It's not going to improve the situation in the least, and will most likely make it worse since you're not facing the problem, but so long as you pretend everything is okay you're being comforted by a lie. I'm not comforted by those things. That isn't to say I've never run away from problems before, because I have. I've gotten much better with that sort of thing, but I'm certainly not perfect. Escapism serves its purpose, as does denial. Sometimes we need those things to be able to handle a complicated life. I'm certainly good with the escapism thing, seeing as I like to play my PC games a fair bit, especially when things get to be a bit much for me. Everything has to be in moderation, that's all.

The end result of this weekend is that I seem to have a lot more time to myself, and I can focus on other things now. That'll be good for business, as well as for my writing, but it will also be good for me. I've been on an uphill swing the last little while anyway, pushing to bring my life to where I want it, and the extra time and energy will be a big help. I've taken care of everything that was stressing me out, with the exception of one thing I just found out about which means a phone call first thing in the morning, but then I can really relax and let my creative juices flow. My financial issues are disappearing, and things will be getting even better there shortly. That's one thing I find to be difficult for me to get past, actually. When I'm worried about money I have a very hard time focusing on anything else, and that's when I'm most likely to do the running & hiding thing. I choose not to do that these days, which is all to the good, because recently it meant things were resolved more quickly than I had expected even.

I was thinking the other day about getting back to working out, too, and despite the likelihood of further damage to my hip joints I think I'm going to get back into my dancing anyway. I mean, they have to do the stupid surgery to repair the damage anyway, so what's the point in holding myself back. Yes, there's the pain, but I'm in pain anyway so what's the difference? I've definitely got to get back to my yoga and weight lifting, though. I enjoy it. I like the way I feel when I'm using my body for things. Feeling your physical limits expand is a good thing. I enjoy the 'good pain' that comes from having used my muscles just slightly more than usual. It's a pain that tells me I'm alive.

For so long I've been feeling as though I've been in limbo, and not just because of the issues with my injuries. I was in limbo personally, too. However, if you're going to do a dance with your personal life, your better options are either the mambo or a solo act. Limbo sucks. Thankfully I'm happy as a solo act. Some people never can be, and feel empty inside when there's no one to share their life with. Sharing your life with someone can be a beautiful thing, or so I've been told, but having the freedom to completely be yourself with no constraints on your time and lifestyle are a huge blessing. I've been in relationships many times where I was constantly judged, never accepted for how I live. I'd never do that again. I'd never allow anyone to suck me into that cycle again that can only result in resentment and anger. I am who I am, and quite frankly I think I'm a pretty damn decent human being. Someone else's inability to accept me is not a reflection on who I am, but it's certainly a reflection on who they are. That was a painful lesson that I learned many years ago, and thankfully I haven't had to put up with any reminders of that one.

Tonight is going to be a beautiful night, I think. There's supposed to be this whole Supermoon thing happening, so I'm going to be out on my balcony to take a look at that tonight. I like the moon, but I suppose that goes with being nocturnal. I'm a pretty happy person in general. I'm lucky in my friendships, even when there are disagreements, and I value the people in my life. I've got another friend who's facing a difficult day tomorrow, but will have an answer to something she's long been worried about, so I'll be thinking about her and wishing her luck. I have another friend who has recently undergone surgery, and is recovering now, so I'm thankful he's okay. I even have a couple of ex-husbands who are still friends, and can be counted on in a pinch (and vice versa). I also have my daughter, who has been through thick and thin with me, and who has been there for me when I've gone through some very difficult times.

Maybe lucky isn't the word for it, though. I purposely am friends only with those I feel are good people, and I don't waste my time on anyone else. When there is someone I don't want in my life, I simply don't keep them around. They're a waste of the time and energy that is so precious. The ones I do keep around are worth a bit of extra effort, even when misunderstandings occur. In many cases those misunderstandings can make a friendship more solid and more real. Certainly there are some friendships you walk away from because the misunderstandings are actually serious problems. I've had some of those, but as I've gotten older I haven't been encountering those kinds of issues. I choose people much more wisely now.

Friends are friends because they care about us, and we care about them. If that isn't there, then there was no friendship to begin with, and when we care about people and are cared for, our lives become that much more meaningful. I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I like my life to have meaning.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Paula Deen, Racist Queen, Been a Scream

People are mad because Food Network dropped a racist pig. Well, too bad, so sad. I mean, seriously. What on earth was so important about a woman who cooks for a living? Why does anyone care what she does, where she goes, or how she gets there? She's disgusting. Every picture I've seen of that woman, she looks pink. I don't know why. She's not a Barbie doll, but somehow she's pink! Is it a bad make-up job, or self-tanners gone awry?

Anyway, that's hardly the point, is it? I wouldn't be prattling about her pinkness if she wasn't such a bigot. She must think that being pink is a step up from those sporting other shades of skin. Well, it just makes her look weird, and now she sounds like a moron. The people who are complaining because she's been fired for being a bigot need to get their heads examined. That's what really pisses me off about the situation. It isn't that she's a bigot - after all she did get fired for it, so all's well that ends well - it's the fact that people are actually mad about her being fired for being a bigot. That tells me a great deal about the mentality of those people. Either they're full-blown bigots themselves, or they're simply so privileged that they can't bring themselves to care about anything beyond the latest trend in canapes.

I was talking to a friend the other night about the whole thing with chefs being treated like they're something above 'ordinary' people, and it just isn't something I can understand. It's one reason I never bothered to watch Ramsay's tirades. If you feel like watching a two-year-old on PCP throwing a tantrum, then go ahead. I despise that kind of display of anger. Talking to people like they're dirt just because they're not cooking something right is just ridiculous in the extreme. It boils down to, "You're not doing it my way while I scream in your face, so I'm going to scream even more and call you names."

Sure, cooking is a skill. It's still something pretty much anyone can learn to do. Maybe not with the passion and attention to detail of a good chef, but guess what? It still turns to crap! That's right. I said it. We eat food, we digest it, and then we poop it out. It always becomes crap!! With the exception of food poisoning issues, it really doesn't matter in the slightest how it was made, or whether it was made by a chef, your mom, or you. The ingredients matter for health reasons - the person who makes it...not so much. When you really study food, nutrition and human anatomy, the fact of the matter is many of the foods we eat are healthier for us when they're not cooked. Oh my God! Did I utter a blasphemy?

Fruits and vegetables lose many of their health benefits when they're cooked. The more processed something is, the worse it is for us. Yes, that includes genetically modified foods, which is not the same thing as the hybridization that's been practiced by farmers for centuries, no matter what Monsanto would like you to believe. Grapefruits are a hybrid fruit. They're an Indonesian pomelo and Jamaican sweet orange combined. There is nothing unnatural in them, however. They weren't genetically modified or chemically altered. That's a whole other kettle of fishiness. Sadly, it's getting to be almost impossible to find seeds now that have not been genetically modified and patented by Monsanto. The truly scary thing about that is, it means they control a large part of the world's food supply.

When you control the food supply, you control everything. It's one reason I'll be having my own garden, along with some chickens for eggs. I can't get by without eating meat. I've tried. I get very sick from eating nothing but vegetables. They also cause me a fair bit of pain when I eat too many of them. It's the same with fruits. I have to have decent levels of meat protein in my diet, and since I do like eggs it's an option for me to have a cruelty-free food supply. I'm the one who would be looking after the laying hens, so I'd know better than anyone how well they're treated.

Yes, believe it or not I have experience raising chickens. I grew up on a farm. We had chickens and rabbits for meat. Sadly, my two pet rabbits were sacrificed to the dinner table. Flopsy and Mopsy were already old, so I noticed the meat was tougher than usual. That's how I found out. No, my grandparents were not nice people. Empathy was not one of their character traits, which isn't surprising to anyone who's read some of my previous blog postings where they've played a role in the festivities. They probably would have loved Paula Deen. I don't think my grandmother ever knew that I've dated outside my own race.

My grandmother certainly had a great deal in common with chef Ramsay. She used to throw tantrums, too. She'd hop up and down in one spot if she didn't get her way, and then clutch her chest in a bid for sympathy for the sudden attack of angina. What a woman!

My childhood wasn't all about pain and misery, of course, even if it felt like that at the time. There were some very good aspects to it. I learned to garden and farm. I was given an extremely healthy diet consisting of fresh, home-grown foods. I learned to despise white bread, and I'm not fond of white pasta either. They taste like glue to me. I was taught how to use a real lawnmower at a very young age, along with a table saw, drill press, wood-burner, and pretty much any other tool you would find in a workshop. That actually spawned my love for designing and building furniture, and enabled me to invent things that I've sold.

No, I learned pretty much everything I needed to know about self-reliance and survival as a kid. I knew how to survive out in the bush in the middle of winter. (No, that isn't a skill that every Canadian learns by osmosis. People die of exposure up here, too.) I even learned to cook and clean - to some extent. I'm actually pretty darn good at the cooking thing, but I don't actually give a crap. Sure, it's nice when people compliment my efforts - it's polite, after all. However, I certainly don't base my self-worth on a pot roast. No matter how juicy and tender it might be when it comes out of the oven, it doesn't make me better than anyone else. The golden skin of a turkey I've roasted isn't more precious than that of beef rolled in peppercorns, just because it's a lighter shade.

Paula Deen, just because you're pink doesn't mean you get to be a racist jerk. If you're still one of her fans, I'd seriously start questioning my morality if I were you. When you spend your hard-earned money on things that she's got her hand in, that money goes in her pocket and encourages her to continue being exactly the person she is right now - a bigot - you're paying her to be a bigot. It's no different than going to a Mel Gibson movie now, or buying a Chris Brown CD. As long as these people keep getting paid, it will never occur to them that they might be wrong about one or two things.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Contest Heat-Up, Production and Rasputin

It's amazing what can be accomplished with perseverance, promotion and research. Today's line-up has been pretty interesting for me when it comes to things I've managed to do since about ten in the morning. Yes, that is early for me. I'm a total night owl, so for the first hour or so I was doing nothing more than playing around with a PC game. Well, that and I had an appointment for my disability stuff. I started doing some more promotional stuff today, to hype the contest we're having right now for The Kovacs Literary Perspective. If you're a writer and you weren't already aware of the contest, check it out. We're offering a free, 15-minute promotional interview vodcast for authors who have published a book. It doesn't matter if it's through a traditional publisher, or it's self-published. Details and instructions on how to enter are at the above link.

We're in our final phase of research when it comes to what programs we plan to use to produce the new show, which means +Steve Kovacs and I will probably be doing a few video chats to get things down to a science, but that's okay! There's a good reason people watch The Kovacs Perspective already. He's a great interviewer and someone I enjoy talking to tremendously. He's got a lot of enthusiasm for what he does, and that comes across not only to the audience, but also to the guests he has on the show. Now, it's not likely you're going to see snippets of our conversations on our YouTube channel, because I tend to be a bit camera-shy. That's going to suck for me when it comes time to promote my own books, but it's the price I'll have to pay. Y'all are just going to have to wait for that special occasion to see what I'm like on the air. There's a reason I blog rather than vlog these posts.

It looks like the station that broadcasts The Kovacs Perspective will be on hiatus for the month of July, and this is apparently an annual thing they do for upgrades and maintenance, which is actually perfect timing for us. It wasn't confirmed for me until yesterday, so I was already lining up the guests for next month, but this break gives us a chance to judge the contest winner, and do our final video testing, as well as recording the winning entry's promo video. We'll be featuring the winning author's video on our website for the entire month of August. July is going to be a busy month, even with the break from the original show.

Strangely, in amongst my research and self-training today, I stumbled upon some very interesting details regarding the murder of Rasputin. There's just something strange about the way my brain works. I got a line in my head from Ghostbusters 2, quoted as spoken by the evil Vigo, where he was reputed to have said, "Death is but a door, time is but a window. I'll be back." Well, I was somehow putting that together with the line from The Mummy - "Death is only the beginning." I wanted to verify for myself which line came from where, so I Googled it (of course). For some reason a web page on Rasputin came up. That really caught my attention.

I think there was just a comparison to the character in Ghostbusters, however, because it didn't actually say Rasputin had said that. It was more about how hard it was to kill him. Vigo was supposedly shot, hung, stabbed, stretched, drawn and quartered, or something to that effect. It's been a while since I watched the movie, so I don't remember it exactly. I do remember taking Rasputin in school when we were studying Russian history, and most people would admit that he was a fascinating character. There was a lot of mystery surrounding his death. There was more than one person involved, and although two people admitted to killing him, it was another member of the extended Romanov family, apparently, who was exiled for the crime.

Now in the original reports it was stated that he was poisoned, as well as beaten, shot and drowned. There are also reports that he was dug up from the family's private cemetery and burned, only to sit up whilst being torched. Some of this is true, but I was rather stunned to learn about recent information that has come to light with regard to his death.

For one thing, there was no active poison found in Rasputin's body. They may very well have attempted to poison him with the food and wine he was served, but he simply did not partake of the provisions. There is a process by which people can inure themselves to certain natural poisons. It's called mithridatism. It doesn't work with synthetics, and it doesn't work with all poisons, so I certainly don't recommend that anyone try this at home. Most poisons will either build up over time in your body and eventually kill you, or the doses are so low as to have no impact on your ability to build a resistance to them.

The reason I bring up this practice is because it was rumoured that Rasputin did this, and that was the theory posited as to why he was supposedly immune to being poisoned - at least by those who did not believe he had mystical personal properties. However, according to the records recently found with regard to his autopsy, poison simply wasn't a factor. He was shot four times in total. The third bullet (which was considered to be the fatal shot, as it went into his head) is now believed to have come from a British weapon, fired by an SIS agent. Very interesting forensic science turn of events, and entirely plausible in the grand scheme of things, considering the first World War was a factor. You see, Rasputin had great influence, and was convincing the Tsar and Tsarina to withdraw from war. This would have meant the allies were vastly outnumbered. The Tsarina being of German descent, this was a real fear. According to available documentation, there were three SIS agents commanded to assassinate Rasputin to remove him as a threat to the war effort.

This information kind of blew me away, personally, because this was not something they taught my class. It simply wasn't known at the time, as far as I'm aware. This is all new, and it confirms something amazing for me, about history in general. The supposed 'facts' are always changing and being challenged. We have the ability to test for things now that we didn't have even twenty years ago. If I remember correctly, even Albert DeSalvo was posthumously exonerated of one of the murders he was convicted of through DNA testing of the remains of Mary Sullivan. Granted, the entire case of The Boston Strangler is rife with inconsistencies, and there's a great deal of doubt as to Albert DeSalvo's actual guilt in the whole affair.

Getting back to Rasputin, though, one of the things that may very well have been true was actually what seems the most incredible - his body sitting up while it was being burned. You see, when tendons and such are burned, they will contract. If the people who burned his remains practiced improper cremation techniques - basically simply burning his body without cutting the tendons - the legs would have pulled up, the arms would have bent, etc. When remains are found that have been burned, they're in what's called the pugilistic pose, which is like a fetal position with the arms up as though the victim were in a boxing match. At least one set of remains from Pompeii were found cast in that position from what they termed thermal shock.

All in all, today has been a very educational day for me. Thankfully I'm not a cat, or my curiosity would have killed me by now.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Fear of Power Beyond Measure, Belly-Fire, and Love

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~ Marianne Williamson ~ A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

This quote is misattributed quite regularly to Nelson Mandela, supposedly spoken as a part of his inaugural address. It wasn't. It's certainly powerful enough to have been spoken by Mandela, however. There's something seriously potent about it, and I find it to be true of myself more often than not. I feel my own capabilities inside me, and I know I'm not fulfilling my potential. Not even close. It angers and frustrates me that I do this.

When I was a competitive figure skater, I spent most of my time on the ice being afraid of what I could do. On very rare occasions I let loose and really tore up that ice. I could almost fly. The freedom was intense and terrifying and something beyond pleasure. This self-knowledge, that there's a power source to be tapped inside me, has only increased my dissatisfaction with my own lack of action in my life. Smothering that 'fire in the belly' as it's called, has smothered a good portion of my life. I feel like I'm choking on the smoke sometimes.

There are a lot of people that think I do a lot, and that I'm already outspoken about things, so what more could I really do? Well, when I'm totally honest with myself, I know that it just isn't true. I'm not doing what I can do. I'm not talking about activism, either. I'm talking about living. There is a rage to live inside me. Yes, rage. It's a primal instinct that tells me I can be so much more than what I've been. It's a need to growl and roar, while grinning in sheer happiness. Of course, to some people that might look like nothing more than insanity.

Admittedly I'm a somewhat aggressive person. I don't always play well with others. I try not to hurt people, because I feel a great deal of empathy, but I'm not what anyone would call a team player. I'm strictly a solo act when it comes to running things, and I don't take orders from anyone. Not even in the past with various employers. I knew what I was doing, and they knew it, so it was in everyone's best interests to simply let me do my thing. That was business, though. In my personal life I've been too bloody content for too long. It's not enough.

The fact is, I'm pissed off. I'm pissed off at myself, and I'm pissed off at my situation right now. This is a good thing. Pissed off is good. I'm not bitter or anything. I'm just angry enough to push past pain and get a handle on my life again. People treat anger like it's a bad thing, but it can be very productive if you're like me and use it to your advantage. I'm not cranky about it. I'm just not going to take the sh*t anymore.

One of the things I'm dealing with is my hip injuries. I found out today that the second doctor recommended to me isn't taking new patients for 6 months. Not good enough. So I called the referral service back, and I'm getting in to see a third doctor. If she doesn't listen to what I have to say, we're going to have a problem, but I'm going to make that clear to her from the beginning. I've been living with this problem for too long, and it needs to be fixed. If it were something irreparable, I'd accept it and move on. However, I just need a bit of surgery and I'll be fine.

I've taken care of quite a few things so far this week, and forward momentum is always a good thing. I've got plans for the future. Hell, I've got plans for this week, and I aim to fulfill every one of my dreams. There are some things I have no control over, because they involve other people, but at the very least I can explain to people what it is I want from them and see if they're willing to cooperate. It's always better to know where things stand. Sometimes all it takes is one person to trigger things and get them going. It's a bit like the Gloria Steinem quote about one person speaking up and giving others the courage to do the same. I'm not referring to activism at the moment, but it still works.

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." I'm not big on poetry, but that line from the Dylan Thomas poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," has always spoken to me. It isn't enough to just survive. We need to live, we need to feel and be powerful. We need intensity and purpose in our lives, and we need our lives to have meaning. We need love, and we need hope. We need to know that we matter to people, and we need to know that we're necessary to the world. Anything less is half of a life, if that. Maybe even a waste of space and breath. I don't want to merely suck up the available oxygen. I want to be powerful beyond measure. I want to feel and know all of the things it's possible to feel and know.

I'm ready to make some major changes to my life. I can't change who I am, but I can change the way I've held myself back. I can stop tamping down my own power, choking the joy out of living. I'm getting involved in way too many things that aren't where I intended to be. A vortex of negativity has been sucking me under. Well, there's a lot more to this world than all the bad crap I've been living off of for such a long time. My voice won't be silenced, but the tone is going to change.

The only way to make a change in this world is to come up with a way of doing things that works better than the old way. People will abandon the old ways on their own when they see the proof. You can talk about it all you want to, about how things are wrong and how much people are being hurt in this world, but people shrug their shoulders thinking there isn't a better way. I'm seeing this in everything, and it's making me sick. There are too many people complaining about what's wrong, and not enough people coming up with the solutions that will work. We become adversaries, rather than leaders. If there's a better way of doing things, the first step is to do it that way.

I think there's a very good reason I get along with men so well, despite the fact that I'm a feminist. I don't think of men as the enemy, I don't think of myself as less than a man, I don't have to act like a man to be equal, and I don't focus on feeling oppressed. I started to for a while, and like I said I was being sucked under by the negativity. One of the biggest chauvinists I ever encountered was my ex-husband. It didn't take long before he changed his opinion. All it usually takes is a single encounter with someone who challenges your beliefs, and that's the way to change the world. Show people what can be, not what's wrong with what is. Let people judge for themselves, rather than attacking them for what they're doing wrong.

There's just something in me that I wish I could share with everyone. It's power, hope, belief, faith and a sense of trust. It's a determination to do more with my life and my love. That may be a vital difference, of course. I'm not afraid to love. I'm far more terrified of not loving. I spent a number of years with no ability to open my heart, and once I got it back I realized what a mistake it was to shut myself down like that. Sure, we love people and sometimes they hurt us, but when we love...we live. It doesn't matter what kind of love it is. It's an instinctive need. Not just to be loved, but to give it. If our actions come from a place of love, people will respond to that. If our actions come from hate and anger and mistrust, nothing good can come of it.

Of course, there's something to be said for loving only a few, but loving well. We pick the ones we know are worthy of our deeper feelings. I'll never be the kind of person that can have a million friends. I'm not a social butterfly. When I love someone, though, they have my loyalty. I love my friends, or they wouldn't be my friends. I worry about them, they cross my mind frequently even when I'm not being talkative, and I always have them near me in my own way. I have more friends in my life than many people would expect, considering my solitary nature.

Here's where everything circles back, though. Love in itself is power. It's one of the most powerful forces in the universe, if not the most powerful. We can use the power of that love to move us in the right direction. If we have love for the world, we're more likely move in a direction that will help the world rather than hinder it. I refer to real love, of course, not obsessive love. Obsession is, by its very nature, destructive. It isn't love. People who are obsessed want to possess the person or object of their 'affections' no matter what the cost. Real love means giving someone what is best for them, rather than trying to lay claim. Obsession is objectification. It's like that old expression, "If you love something, set it free..." After all, if people aren't in your life voluntarily, it just doesn't count.

It's a philosophy I literally take to heart in every sense. It may be an odd comparison, but I'm like that with my ferrets. When I still had Stimpy, and with Pepper to this day, I love them like crazy, but I don't hold onto them when they want to be free (unless it's for their own safety, of course). I pick them up, say hello, and give them a quick snuggle. If they start to squirm I put them down. After all, what's the point of loving them if I'm making them miserable with it? Loving is powerful, and it's freedom when it's given in its purest form. When we love, truly, we willingly give every measure of freedom to what we love. We want their happiness, not to entrap them.

When we love we don't judge, we accept. When we live powerful lives, we are capable of great love. When we fill ourselves up inside, we have more to pour out to the world, and if we choose to fill ourselves with love, power, hope, belief, faith and a sense of trust, then those are the things that are going to come out of us.

Maybe you're wondering why I'm writing all this stuff today. Well, mostly as a reminder to myself. I need it. I tend to remember the things I write, because I have to think about them in order to write them. If there's anything that I really need to remember in my life, though, it's that I need to embrace my own power rather than fear it, and that when I use it I need to do so with love in my heart. It won't stop me from making mistakes, but it will minimize the ones I do make.

Well, a fire in the belly needs fuel. I need to eat something. I'm hungry!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Kicking Butt, Taking Names, Pouncing on the Unsuspecting

I'm in a pretty kick-ass mood today. I just need a pair of sh*t-kickers (cowboy boots if you don't know what I'm talking about) and I'm ready to ride! I feel good for the first time in a while. I've been getting a few things accomplished lately that are pulling my life together. I finally wrote off that doctor whose office was so disorganized and got re-registered with the referral service so I can get another family doctor. They work fast, so hopefully I'll be in for my first hip surgery before I can blink. I actually have something I want to do before I have the first one, but I'll get back to that.

We finally have hot water in the damn kitchen again, because the plumber/superintendent fixed it when he was here to look at a leak reported by the people downstairs. It was just a washer that shifted inside the valve. Now, though, our toilet isn't getting any water, but I actually reported the issue this time, rather than waiting months to do anything about it. He was here earlier, but my daughter was actually using the shower then, so he said he'd come back tonight. We've been having to flush the damn thing with a bucket of water, and I always end up spilling water all over the floor. I do the same thing when I changed the water in the pets' bowls every day. I can't pour water without spilling it everywhere. I don't think it's actually me being all that clumsy. It's more my total lack of patience.

Considering how little patience I generally have, though, it's kind of surprising I haven't been able to accomplish much with my personal life until very recently. I was actually trying to be patient while I waited for the doctor's office to sort out their stuff. Now I'm fed up. I live every damn day in a great deal of pain, and I have a life to get moving on, so I finally said enough was enough yesterday. Things are going to happen fast now, or they're going to have a whole lot of explaining to do.

I was listening to music today, drinking a big-ass cup of coffee, doing a bit of cleaning, and dancing a little (yes, despite the fact that I'm probably not supposed to - screw it - what difference will a little more damage make). Once I get the surgery I'm looking at anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months of recovery time, just for one hip. They can't do both at the same time, or I'll probably be in some sort of torso cast and stuck in the hospital. Life will be difficult enough just doing one at a time with me probably being on crutches, especially since I live on the third floor of an apartment building that has no elevator. Yeehaw.

Now, before I end up on those crutches, and at the mercy of my daughter's whims (I'm just kidding - she's been great), there's something I want to do that involves dancing - and the cooperation of another individual - which means I'm either going to have to take a quick trip, or nag the other individual into doing so. We've got plans, and I aim to see that they happen before I go under the knife. I'm kind of stuck with the life I have right now for a little bit longer, but I'm working on it. I've been patient long enough, I think, and I'm ready to get a move on.

For the last couple of months things have been really difficult for me, because I've been grieving a lot still. Many people will have a hard time understanding why I would grieve so much over a ferret, but if they've ever had that kind of connection with an animal they'll know what I went through. What I'm still going through, to be honest. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss Stimpy. The little bug was my heart and soul for the five years I had him, and I'd give anything to have him back with me. I've been moping around here, having a hard time giving a damn about anything really, so I haven't accomplished much when it comes to dealing with the issues in my life. It was all just too much for me. I'm still grieving and it still hurts, but I feel like I'm ready to start moving forward again. Considering the fact that Stimpy was the least selfish creature I've ever come across, I'm sure he wouldn't mind.

I've got back taxes to get done, and since the government owes me a lot of money I'll be able to buy myself a car as soon as those are processed. Maybe by then I'll be recovered from my first surgery enough that I'll know if I can buy another standard. I really don't want to buy an automatic. I'm not able to use a clutch pedal at the moment, though, so I had to get rid of my other car. I suppose I could buy an automatic and give it to my daughter as soon as I can go back to a standard. Maybe it'll inspire her to get her bloody licence finally. If there's one thing I know, it's that a licence is a necessity if a person wants to have their independence.

If I want to get anything done, money always helps, so I have to find the spreadsheet I need so that I can fill out the stupid tax forms - so that's the first task on tonight's list. I can only hope it doesn't take them as long to process them as it took me to do them. I'm looking forward to having a bit of financial freedom again. Not to mention vehicular freedom. It'll be awesome to have a car again. Maybe I'll go with a convertible this time. That might just be the summer air talking, though. In the winter I may be singing a different tune. I know I'm getting another BMW, however. The one I want isn't expensive, because it's an older one, but they're still very reliable and they're really fast, too. I miss my car. It was a '96 318 iS. This time I'm going with a '98, I think, but I still want a 3-series. I'm thinking a 328 would be good. It's got the bigger engine, so it'll be even faster than the one I used to have.

Life is about to get pretty interesting, I think. I'm starting to feel alive again, and it's time to go all out and go after the things I want. I've got the second half of my life to live, and I'm not going to spend all the rest of it sitting in a damn chair. Sure, I'm a writer, so a part of my life will always be in front of a computer, but if I want to write well I need to have the experiences behind the writing. There are so many things I want to do. I need my SCUBA certificate, for one thing. There are a lot of places I want to go diving. I also have to finish writing my book. I've been getting bogged down in writing that isn't the kind of writing I ever planned to be doing. I need to get back to fiction. I'll do my part to make the world a better place, but I'll decide where and how I do that. I'm not going to allow myself to write nothing but depressing pieces that don't help anybody with anything. I want to see the good in the world, and then I want to show it to other people. Nothing gets better in this world when all we see are bad things.

That's something I've learned about activism over the past few months. I've seen so many horrible things. Some of those things happened to other people, and some of those things happened to me. Still, my own life isn't defined by just my horrible experiences. I did my time figuring out my issues, and then I moved ahead with my life. We have that option. Too many times we define people by the worst thing that has happened to them, rather than the sum of their life. I'm a survivor of multiple bad things, but I'm also a survivor of many, many good things, so why would I want to be labeled as a survivor of anything in particular? For that matter, does anyone else really want to be known for only the bad things in their life? I'd like to be known for the things I accomplished, not the things I got over. Besides, if you can show someone an alternative, it's a hell of a lot easier to convince them that the bad doesn't have to keep happening.

Well, if I want to have that life, I'm going to have to get started on it, and that starts tonight. Technically I started before tonight, but I've got a firmer foothold on starting tonight because I've already made progress. It feels good to have that foothold, finally. I've been in limbo for far too long, waiting for something to happen, when basically all it boiled down to was a decision not to wait anymore. So, here I go, world! Ride 'em cowgirl!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Many Angles of Father's Day

As most of my readers know, I don't talk to my family, aside from my daughter. I actually have really good friendships with my two ex-husbands that are still among the living, though - one of whom has been my daughter's dad since just before her third birthday. It didn't matter to him that we had split up. He was still her dad. Her birth father was killed in a trucking accident, when she about four years old, but he hadn't been a part of her life for a couple of years by then, so he wasn't truly a father to her. It's kind of amazing to me the variety of relationships we can have with people, and the ways in which we become families

I'm glad my daughter ended up with a real dad, though. As much as we weren't compatible as a married couple, he's a really good guy. Years after our divorce, actually, he apologized to me about our marriage, saying that it was his fault. It wasn't even true - not from my perspective anyway. It wasn't necessary for him to say it, either. I wasn't angry with him in any way, and there was nothing to be forgiven. To be perfectly honest, I was a terrible wife to him. I kept trying to change him, and I learned years later that that's one of the worst things you can do to a person. I know, because it's been done to me since then. I was basically telling him I didn't love him the way he was. Looking back I know that was the truth. I loved him for who I wanted him to be, and that person didn't even exist. What a terrible thing to do to someone. Thank God I've learned a few things since then! We were never compatible as a couple, but we were very young when we met, and married in our early twenties. Back then I was still in the 'waiting for Prince Charming' mindset. I've long since outgrown that.

Whether or not my relationships worked out, he's still a good person, and he was (and is) a great father to my daughter, so I have something to be thankful for on Father's Day. I grew up without a proper father figure in my life, but that didn't matter to me so long as my daughter had someone decent in her life who she could call Dad.

I have many friends who have lost their fathers, too, and this will always be a difficult day for them. I'm friends with a brother and sister, actually, and knew their dad many years ago, and I know they go through a lot of pain whenever Father's Day comes up. Their dad was a pretty tough, strict guy, but he loved his kids and they knew it. Those are the best kinds of fathers. They're the ones that care enough to be tough on their kids, because they know how important it is for them to grow up the right way. I see their posts on Facebook, and what they remember about their dad is simply beautiful. They remember the love, and they know their dad was doing what was right for them.

There's a Garth Brooks song that comes to mind when I think about losing people in my life. "If Tomorrow Never Comes," makes me cry damn near every time I hear it, because I lost so many people in such a short span all those years ago, and it taught me that we can never take for granted the people that we love. This may seem strange coming from someone who doesn't speak to their family, but the truth is there's no love lost there for me. I've never felt real love coming from them, and never felt real love for them. The obligatory "I love you" at the end of a phone call was just that - an obligation.

This isn't about me and my myriad family issues, though. It's about fathers. There are some damn good ones out there, and then there are some exceptional ones. Particularly those who didn't have to be fathers, and weren't obliged to do so, but they chose to be a real dad. Step-fathers, like my ex, who took on the real role of a father. It was because of him that I was never truly a single parent, even when I was on my own. He shared custody with me, he covered his share of her expenses without any argument or complaint, and he was always there with a bear hug for her whether she needed it or not. So, here's hoping he has a great Father's Day, and here's hoping every other father out there who takes pride in raising their children is also having a great Father's Day. Then there are the mothers who have taken on both roles, and they deserve a tribute for that, too.

Happy Father's Day, everyone! You know who you are!!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Trust is an 8-Lane Cloverleaf on a Freeway, not a Two-Way Street

People talk about trust like it's such a simple thing, and they talk about it in a very two-dimensional way. Either you trust someone, or you don't, in their estimation. I've never felt it was that simple, and I think there are a couple of parts to that argument. One part deals with the person you're placing your trust in, and the other part deals with your own psyche and what you're actually capable of trusting in other people.

The fact is, people aren't one or the other when it comes to trust. Let's use criminal behaviour as an example, seeing as it's one that's pretty obvious. There are people that we can trust with our money, who would never steal a dime from us, but who would punch us in the face without a second's thought. There are people that would steal your life savings in a heartbeat, but literally wouldn't hurt a fly. Our ability to trust a person is based entirely on aspects of that person's unique personality traits.

Another obvious example there is romantic relationships. Trust is always a huge issue there for about a zillion reasons. There's trusting someone not to cheat, and then there's trusting someone with your secrets and dreams. In an ideal relationship, you want to be able to trust a person in almost all the ways you can think of, but the reality is people have flaws. There are people you can trust in every way, except for the fact that they'll never be where they say they're going to be, or they'll never be on time for things. Our trust of people should always be contingent on their personality.

I do this with my friends, of course. I've never had a friend that I trusted with absolutely everything, and it doesn't matter how inherently good a person is, they're bound to fall down on at least a few things. If they were bad people I wouldn't be friends with them in the first place, obviously, but we're far better off placing our trust in things that we know a person isn't going to fall down on. You can think about it in the opposite way, if you're uncomfortable with the idea of not trusting someone. Think about it in the way that you go to certain people for certain things, because they're specifically good with those things. I mean, there are people you know you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to, and they will never tell another living soul, so that's the person you're most willing to confide in. We can conveniently forget the fact that there's no point in making major plans with them, because there's a good chance they'll cancel on us.

I've had friends that always put their current love interests above everything else in their life, so if they got involved with someone, I knew for a fact that I wouldn't be hearing from them for a while. It's just the way they were, and there was no point in moaning about it. If it's a trait we find unacceptable, then we let the friendship go. It's that simple. However, we're not going to find anyone in this world that's perfect. We all have flaws. We all have things we can't be trusted with. I have a few of my own flaws and I quite willingly warn people, "Don't count on me for something like this. It's not my best quality." Yet, I can probably be trusted in most other respects.

On the flip side of things, there are the issues we have as humans where we simply can't trust other people with those things, and it has nothing to do with who they are, but everything to do with us. You see it in business all the time, for one thing. Small business owners are particularly guilty when it comes to micro-managing things. They need to know every single thing that goes on in their business, and are incapable of letting go of the controls. It can be anything from buying the office toilet paper, to entering the latest invoices. This is a serious problem in any business if they're planning to grow their company. You can't grow a business if you're not willing to delegate the various tasks, because you'll be too bogged down in the crap.

On the more personal end of things, there are people who have been seriously hurt, or even traumatized, by past relationships, and simply can't get past those experiences. For example, a person who has been cheated on may have difficulty trusting another partner not to do the same. A person who has been abused by a partner can experience fear when a new partner becomes angry, completely out of proportion to the situation. This lack of trust will be very damaging to the new relationship, and quite frankly a person who is this damaged shouldn't be getting involved with anyone new anyway. They're not ready.

A different portion of this side of the issue is when we can't trust ourselves. One aspect of that has to do with our own, potentially untrustworthy behaviour. Another aspect is when we can't trust our own judgment of other people. This last one is something I've faced personally. In particular after my last relationship ended over five years ago. Not only did I not trust my ability to judge the merits of other people, but I also didn't trust my ability to pay attention to the signs when it came to behaviour that would be a problem later on. It took me a long time to get past that.

The fact is, I do recognize things people do, and am capable of learning quite a bit about them. So, that takes care of the first portion of the problem. Then I have to remind myself that I did indeed pay attention to the signs. I saw them, recognized them, and knew exactly where the road would lead me. When I was first confronted with a choice, I made the wrong one. However, I eventually grew up enough to start making the right one, and that's what happened when I ended things. Basically I had to learn to trust that my judgment, and my ability to act on it, had improved over time. It had, or I wouldn't be single now. I'd still be going back to those same problems, over and over again, not having learned my lesson.

Trust is a very convoluted issue. There is no right or wrong, black or white answer. Granted, there are very few things in life that are like that anyway. We trust as much as we are able, based on the actions of others and our own experiences. Just because someone demands that we trust them, does not mean that we should, or have to. If they've shown themselves to be trustworthy in a specific aspect of their lives, then we need to work on trusting them with regard to that particular thing. We don't have to give our trust willy-nilly. It's the same as respect. We give respect to those who earn it and deserve it. We don't give it to the people who are unworthy of it. Trust can be no different.

Friday, 14 June 2013

If You're Going to Fight for Equality, Be Real!

Something happened to me today that I'm having a hard time getting over my anger about. I'm beyond livid. A man who supposedly fights for the equality of women was spreading hate messages about homosexuality. At first I thought he was standing up for homosexuality, and so I defended him against someone else, but when I realized (there's a slight language barrier as English is not his first language) he was actually promoting the message that homosexuality was evil, I was completely blown away.

First, if you're fighting for equality of anyone, it has to be inclusive. We'll take equality for women as an example since it's certainly appropriate in this case. You simply can't say, "Women are equal, except for lesbians," or, "Women are equal, except for Muslims." There's either equality or there's not. Period. End of sentence. The very definition of equality means that we have to include everyone, and place them on the same level as everyone else. Christians aren't better than Jews or Muslims, and neither are atheists.

Second, this was coming from a man who, if he were living in my country, would be marginalized and oppressed because he's not white. He doesn't live in my country, and I honestly don't have a clue what things are like in his country, so I can't say whether or not there's oppression based on race there. It seems to me, however, that he can't really understand what it means to be oppressed or marginalized, if he's willing to do it to a huge portion of the population.

Then again, speaking as someone who has been guilty of unknowingly oppressing people, I have to check in with myself there. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and just because I intend to be inclusive does not mean that I've been successful. The fact of the matter is, I'm white, straight and cisgender. The only thing that works against me in this world is the fact that I'm female. I have it pretty damn good where I'm sitting, comparatively speaking, so I don't have a realistic view on oppression. I keep going back to the article I read a few weeks ago that compared privilege with difficulty levels in gaming. If you're white, male, Christian (in North America anyway), heterosexual, cisgender and healthy, basically you're on the lowest difficulty setting when it comes to life. If you're a black, transgender, lesbian, Muslim woman who has to get around in a wheelchair, life isn't going to get much more difficult than that. Or, so I would imagine, since I haven't actually lived either of those lives.

Basically the problem is this: When we treat any human being as being less worthy than another human being, based on things over which they have no control, we are bigots. The only things people are capable of controlling, are the things that relate to their actions. We can't control our sexual orientation or gender-identity - if you think we can, then try it yourself and see how successful you are - I dare you to choose to be gay (assuming you're straight). We can't control the colour of our skin, or the religion we were born into. We can't control whether or not we're disabled, other than to try to prevent the disabling injuries that happen because of our own actions. We are human beings that naturally crave sex, and trying to tell people that they can be gay, but they shouldn't act on it goes beyond ridiculous, so I'm not even going there.

The end result of the very brief conversation I had with this person is that I told him I couldn't justify remaining friends with him if he was going to spread hate messages, and I sunk to the level of calling him a bigot. Probably not my finest moment, seeing as name-calling isn't going to get me anywhere, and I'm not going to make excuses about being provoked. I said what I said out of anger. Then I removed him from my friends list. I also ended up posting a warning status message on Facebook for anyone else who felt they couldn't stop themselves from spewing hatred. I have friends who are gay and bi-sexual. I have friends whose children are gay and bi-sexual. I will speak up when I see this kind of behaviour from people who are supposedly friends of mine. I'll speak up in my writing, whether it's here in this blog, or in the articles I write.

The most effective and helpful thing I know how to do when it comes to fighting for equality, is to write about it. Occasionally that means chastising myself for doing things wrong, however well-intentioned those actions might have been. My biggest enemy can be my temper, although it helps to give me courage to speak up when I'm so mad that I absolutely HAVE to say something. Otherwise I might chicken out in the face of confrontation. So, my temper is also my friend, as long as I keep it controlled. In this case I let it slip a bit. I'm not going to change anyone's way of thinking by being like that, though, and this means I've lost the opportunity to possibly change someone's mind. The more time passes, the more sad I am that I allowed myself to do that. It was self-indulgent and childish. If I keep beating myself up over it, though, hopefully I will do better the next time I'm faced with this sort of challenge.

Admittedly, there was no guarantee I could change the mind of anyone who believes so strongly that it's evil to be a homosexual. In fact, it's highly unlikely. If he were the type to have any sort of open mind about things, and was willing to learn anything, he would already know that his statements about there being no homosexuality in the animal kingdom were patently false. It happens all the time. One of my cats is gay, for crying out loud! He has no interest in females whatsoever, but used to go after another male I had all the time - and he's actually neutered!! No homosexuals in the animal kingdom my foot! It's only homophobia that's a distinctly human trait, which should tell us a great deal about which is natural and which isn't.

I'm still angry, both with him and with myself for letting my temper get the better of me. It hasn't been a good day, or even a good week, and I'm only making it worse by reacting the way I did. Maybe one day people will stop seeing other people as being less worthy, and I hope that it happens soon enough that I see it in my lifetime. I'm thankful that I live in a country where we've had equal marriage rights, federally, for the last 8 years. We haven't been smote by God, no giant sinkhole has opened up and swallowed my country, and our divorce rates haven't gone up for straight marriages. The only thing that's changed is that some of our citizens feel more welcome here, which can only be a good thing.

I'm so tired of the arguments of people who have no idea what they're talking about. If anything they were saying was true, my country would have been obliterated from the face of the earth. We'd all be living in some fiery pit, because God would be so angry with us, assuming there is a God. Canada has proven that equal marriage rights aren't going to destroy a country. It only makes us stronger and more united. It shows that we care about our fellow citizens enough to allow them the freedom to be themselves without persecution. It shows that we are truly a free country. People can whine about socialism and communism in Canada all they want to, but are we actually oppressed? I'm writing this blog, and saying whatever I want about my country (right now it's good stuff, but it isn't always). Nobody comes to my door to tell me what to do or say. No one cuts off my internet access unless I don't pay the bill or something.

The fact is, people here appreciate the fact that they can have a baby without ending up on the street because they had to sell their house to pay for an obstetrician. Our health care system isn't perfect by any stretch, but we don't usually allow people to die because they have no insurance either - simply because we all do. People in the United States appreciate the fact that their garbage is picked up, I would imagine. That's a socialist thing, whether they want to admit it or not. Any service provided to you by your government, that is paid for with the taxes you pay, is a socialist service. Complain all you like about that, but the United States is not strictly based on capitalism. It's a combined system of government, just as it is in Canada. It's simply a matter of degree.

I didn't intend to veer into that argument, but I'll let it stand because it does apply to what I was saying. Communism comes from the same root word as community. Look it up if you don't believe me. Community doesn't mean giving hand-outs to everyone. Community means everyone is treated the same. Well, it should mean that, anyway. It shouldn't matter who is male or female, gay or straight, Christian or atheist. We all have our beliefs, and need to be left alone to live them, so long as we're not causing suffering to others because of them. When we spew hate messages because of our beliefs, we're causing suffering. When we prevent the equality of others, and in fact oppress them, because of our beliefs, we're causing suffering.

I know I need to occasionally check my own moral compass, and also that I slip sometimes. I know I lack understanding and patience many times. I have to constantly be vigilant about my own flaws, reminding myself to think about what I'm saying and doing. I can't demand that everyone like homosexuality in society. I can't force them to think it's not a sin, because I would be contradicting my own beliefs, and violating my ethics. All I can do it ask people to respect that the lives of others are none of their business, and hope that they listen. I can ask people to stop hurting other people and to stop taking away their freedoms. They wouldn't like it if it was being done to them, and they shouldn't be doing it to others. It never hurts to ask. Maybe, just maybe, someone will decide to listen.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Catch-and-Release Mentality Just Leaves Scars

There are two expressions that I think everyone in the western world has heard numerous times. The first is, "You always want what you can't have," and the second is, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." In fact there's a great Cinderella song that takes it's title from that phrase. The phrases are like bad cliches, but there's so much truth to them, for most people, that they just won't go away. I see things a little bit differently, however.

In my mind there's a great deal of immaturity to those thought processes. If you truly can't have something, then you need to let it go and move on. If you can have it, then get off your butt and go get it. Far too many people waste their time daydreaming about things that will never happen. We've all heard the statistics about how much more likely we are to get hit by lightning than we are to win big in the lottery, but for some reason the lottery is still a big revenue generator for the states and provinces that have them.

People gamble in other ways, too, because they dream of hitting it big, and usually end up losing everything they own in their foolishness. I've watched my own mother lose tens of thousands of dollars on VLTs (video lottery terminals). I couldn't understand it, and never will. They say gambling is an addiction. Well, then, she obviously needed some serious therapy that she never bothered to get. As far as I'm concerned, if she wasn't willing to go get help, she can suffer the consequences.

I'm not the co-dependent type, as you might have guessed, and I'm not an enabler, either. You get help or I walk away from your problems. I have enough of my own, and I can't afford to let someone else's addiction mess up my life. I've watched countless people throw away their lives on addictions, and if I had allowed myself to sink with even one of them, I wouldn't be here today.

Wanting what you can't have applies to relationships almost constantly, too. It's the reason people cheat, and the reason people play mind games. They don't necessarily know that's what they're doing, but it is. People get intrigued by greener grass, when it comes to the cheating thing, and they get intrigued by a mystery and a challenge when it comes to trying to latch onto a partner. Maybe we're built that way naturally, but I don't personally think it's an excuse to continue behaving like that. Eventually we all have to grow up and learn to value things for their real worth, not their perceived worth.

This is where not knowing what you have comes into play. I learned a long time ago to value what was already in my life. It may be because I lost eleven people in three years. It wasn't an easy time in my life. It seemed like everyone I knew was dying, and the majority of those people were really young. A few, like my grandfather and great-aunt, were at the age where it isn't so unexpected, but most were in their early twenties. One shot himself, another was in a trucking accident, another had a drowning accident, and one had a disease that killed him. That's not a complete list, but it gives you an idea what I was going through at the time.

It was at this point that I learned to value my time. I realized it was all I had. It didn't matter what kind of money or material possessions I had, my time was the only thing that was important. I learned to respect it, and I was highly insulted when others did not. The fact is, we've only got one life, and when someone wastes your time they waste a portion of your actual life. So, my patience (never being a virtue of mine) was in very short supply from this point in my life. I hated living in limbo on anything, and I wanted everything to happen right away. Of course, that's not how life works, so I had to learn patience, which was only effective up to a certain point. No matter what it is in life, there's comes a point when I say that enough's enough and I'm done with waiting. There's that whole giving up or going after something mentality. As far as I'm concerned, those are the only two choices in life. Things do take time to progress naturally, but if you're not helping them along you obviously don't care enough about it in the first place, and it doesn't matter what it is. I had to take that stance with my writing, in fact. I either had to get moving on it, or let the dream go.

To this day I see many fully-grown adults fall into the traps of those two cliches. It drives me batty, but then a lot of things do. We're not children. We can't always get what we want. If we can't have it, we need to let it go. However, if it was worth wanting it in the first place, then throwing it away once you have it is very much like catch-and-release fishing. All that work to catch a fish, only to go hungry because you throw it back. Of course, we can equate this to toys and people quite easily. Admittedly, sometimes what we suddenly have isn't what we thought it would be, so we're no longer interested because that wasn't what we really wanted in the first place. In that case, we need to take a much closer look at what we're really looking for, whether it's in relationships or toys or fish.

If, on the other hand, we're no longer interested simply because we have the object of our desire, there's something seriously wrong in our psychological make-up. Having a 'chase' mentality in everyday life will get you nowhere fast. Nothing will ever be good enough for people who are only interested in something when it presents a challenge to them. They're incapable of taking pleasure in the simple things that life has to offer. They're not satisfied to sit still and enjoy the fruits of their labours, and need to go after the next big thing. Many successful business people are like that. They make lots of money, perhaps, but never settle enough to enjoy it. They're in it for the games.

When it comes to relationships, though, I think the mistake may lie in not appreciate the challenges that are actually there. We get picky about our challenges. We're not interested in the challenge of working out problems, or trying to get to know someone as well as possible. We're only interested in 'getting' someone, and don't progress beyond that point. Thankfully I grew out of that a long time ago. I honestly learned to be grateful I had people in my life.

Despite the fact that my last marriage was a failure, as were the other two, it wasn't a failure because I lost interest. It was a failure because the relationship was destructive to both myself and my ex. There was never any chance of the two of us having a successful marriage, and the failure was in not allowing myself to accept that before we chose to make it legal. He was something I really couldn't have, if I ever wanted to be happy. Strangely, perhaps, we became good friends, but we could never have been good partners. We were never friends while we were together as a couple either. Things were too combative and too competitive for that, and we were both looking out for our own needs, feeling as though the other person was trying to take something away from us. We weren't a team, and we didn't have each other's backs, as the expression goes. We developed more of that - and began to look out for each other a bit better - once we became friends, but by then the marital relationship had completely disintegrated.

Having been single again for more than five years, I've had a long time to analyze everything that went wrong in my own relationships, along with what I see going wrong everywhere else. I didn't run right out and find a new man. I filled the void in my heart and my life and turned myself into a whole person, so that I didn't need a relationship to make me happy. I chose to learn from my mistakes, but many people don't, and so I see far too many who perform the catch-and-release routine over and over. There are theories about people being addicted to the rush of feel-good hormones that comes from being infatuated, and possibly they have some merit. However, like any addiction, therapy is something to look into if that's what the problem is.

I certainly don't have all the answers, but what I can tell you is this; when you have self-esteem and self-knowledge, the catch-and-release thing gets old really fast. It's a head game, whether it's intentional or not. Personally, I have zero interest in anyone who has no interest in me - nothing deadens the libido or emotional attachment for me quite like someone who couldn't care less if I was with them. While that may spike their interest in me again, my interest doesn't fluctuate quite so easily. Once it's gone, it's gone, so it no longer matters to me what their interest level is.

Generally speaking, however, I see far too many who fall for the routines and patterns. Far too many people have a need for drama, too, and I can't stand it. I get enough drama in my professional life just writing about somewhat controversial topics. I sure as hell don't want it in my personal life, and I don't understand those that do. (I will never be a fan of Jerry Springer, obviously.) I've known people who always fell for the ones that were married (and still with their respective spouses). One friend always fell for her doctors and dentists, who of course were way of limits just for the sake of professional standards, on top of the fact that they were always married. She ended up resorting to stalking behaviour, and it was of the more dangerous variety from what I could see. I told her flat-out, numerous times, that what she was doing was illegal, it was wrong, and she needed help. I also told her that if she didn't get help, she wouldn't be hearing from me in the future. I haven't talked to her in years.

I've had male friends that catted around a lot, too, despite the fact that what they were really looking for was a relationship. They just didn't want anyone to know that they were that vulnerable and 'needy' as they seemed to see it. So they acted like players, which had the effect of distancing women who might have been interested. They were 'fronting' as their ego seemed to demand, and truly there isn't anything more painfully obvious than a false ego trip to a mature person. We all know what it looks like when people do this. It happens during mid-life crises. It happens when people are at their lowest and most depressed. They try to inflate their own self-esteem by looking good to others, and it comes across as patently obvious fakery.

People that are evolved and mature no longer feel the need to go after what they can't have, and they cherish what they do have. When we find ourselves unable to do that, it means we have some work to do. Maturity requires that we be honest with ourselves and others, no matter how difficult it might be, rather than playing silly games. It's not a good feeling to be hooked over and over again, only to be let go because you're no longer interesting. It's not good for the poor fish who ends up with nothing but holes in his face, and it's not good for the person doing the fishing who ends up with nothing for dinner.