To follow your heart… <3

Today a close and wonderful friend of mine got married.  Her happiness means so much to me and I am excited to celebrate this important life choice with her and our other friends.  As a feminist, marriage brings complications and an inherent challenge to historical traditions that treat woman by their gender.  I struggled with the assumptions that such a choice brings and I know my friend has already experiences her own anxieties over the same.  bell hooks puts this situation in a great context:

“I still think it’s important for people to have a sharp, ongoing critique of marriage in patriarchal society — because once you marry within a society that remains patriarchal, no matter how alternative you want to be within your unit, there is still a culture outside you that will impose many, many values on you whether you want them to or not. ”

These challenges will continue to plague feminists and non-feminists alike in the future.  For my friend, I wish her luck as a feminist and congratulate her on her love.  Love knows no bounds and it should be celebrated in all contexts.  It takes a courageous person to stand up and announce their desires to those in their life.  To take action and face the world for what you believe, care about and find passion in is bold, each and every time you do it.

I am currently finding myself at a crossroad.  My own desire to develop myself in new ways is competing with old habits and passions.  It is hard to know what is right when you care about so many things.  However, at some point, somethings must take priority over others.  It is on that note that I must inform my lovely readers that I’m taking a break from In the Margins.  I am not sure what will happen for the future of this blog and I welcome feedback(!).  I just know that my priority is not here right now as evidenced by my lack of writing in the past couple months.  My attitude has shifted and my focus is wandering.  I need to take time to refocus my cluttered brain and find what brings me joy!

Just as my friend dares to stand up for her love today and in coming days, I am taking the daunting task of standing up for myself and what I need in this time.  The challenge of tomorrow will always come but today, we must do what we feel is right.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do” and that is where I’m headed.

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Give yourself some value votes…

Lately my brain has been funneling many things.  It is sometimes hard to vocalize your thoughts and feelings when you have some much going on up there.  So, before I dive into deeper thoughts, let me get a few surface thoughts out-of-the-way:

1. The Republican presidential nominees are crazy, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-everything nutbags.  End. Of. Story.

2. I got new running shoes and can’t wait to make use of them during this (very) mild Chicago winter we are having.

3. There is an outlandish woman I have to interact with almost daily and hearing her voice is like listening to nails on the chalkboard.

Those things being said, I can now move on.  The past month or so, I’ve really been contemplating being valued.  Value is something we all have but obviously some of us are better at understanding or feeling it than others.  This morning on the train I was sitting near a young, college-aged couple.  The male was talking in a slightly aggressive manner, which concerned me, and then the female opened her mouth and I was even more alert.  The woman sounded like a four-year old.  Her voice was weak, high-pitched and submissive.  Her conversation with this man was full of questions, validation and need for approval.  It made me sad to listen to them, knowing there was little I could do, and even more I couldn’t understand about what this woman was going through.

So often, we understand so little about other’s experiences in life.  If we are truly lucky, we have a close friend or parent who can listen, guide and support us but at the end of the day, all we’ve got is ourselves and feelings to come to terms with.  When we don’t feel valued by others, it can be frustrating, angering and leave us feeling alone.  When we don’t feel valued by ourselves, it can be all of those things, only multiplied.

We leave so little room in our day-to-day lives for placing value in ourselves and others.  There is always something to be done or somewhere to be.  When I don’t feel valued, I become bitter towards others, emit anger and my brain gets scattered.  Everyone has their own responses but as a whole, value is an essential part of our daily lives.  Value may be found in different places for different people, yet, placing value into yourself and those around you will make a difference in how you feel and in others experiences too.

This month, I’m working to let my friends know when I need a little bit of a value-boost.  I come off as not needing this all the time since I’m generally on top of things but regardless, the need and desire to know I’m cared for and appreciated is there.  Thankfully I have great friends so this shouldn’t be an issue.  I’m looking to see if there are areas of my life I can show others their value to me too.  I encourage everyone to do this and see if it has an impact on you or on those in your life.  We may not be able to have great influence over those we don’t know but we do have the ability to extend ourselves to others each day.  Thank you readers for your support of my writing today and everyday!

Posted in Ideas, Living, LOVE, Mindfulness, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Happy Belated New Year!

Well, for those of you wondering, I’m still here!  This past month has been a lot between work, trying to increase my cardio and adjusting to a new year.  I’m actively trying to balance my schedule (an ongoing goal of mine), listen to my body and learn to relax more.  As a result though, I have not pushed myself to write at the end of long days.  While a part of me feels guilty about this, I am determined to strive for a balanced life, which means sometimes something has to give.  I do hope writing can once again become an outlet for my stress and serve as a tool to create such a balance in my life.

That being said, I have some exciting topics coming up in the next couple weeks.  The holidays brought about much conversation on giving and I want to follow-up with some thoughts on how to handle other’s receipt of gifts, even when it’s not what you’d planned or would expect.  There is also SO much going on in the news right now, including some interesting conversations about wealth distribution.  Given my sociology background, I must give a few comments in this area.  Finally, I have to comment on libertarians.  After a rather brick-wall conversation in the park with a fellow-dog owner, I think I grasp this group more than ever and need to get it out!

I look forward to sharing these topics and more in the coming new year with all of my wonderful readers.  Your support and encouragement make this space one I love and I thank you all for that.  Happy New Year!

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To balance giving by taking

This time of year can be so wonderful and yet so stressful sometimes.  I have been quite busy lately and this weekend I have not been feeling great either.  As I often discuss I have a strong desire to get things done in a day and to feel productive.  Today, though I was feeling like crap, I had a long to-do list.  My partner stopped me and told me not to worry about a bunch of items on my list.  He said that since he’d be home tomorrow, he’d take care of these around the house things for me.  I, of course, began to protest and he again stopped me and just said he’d do it.  He told me to rest and not to worry about things not being perfect.  I stopped and I listened to him.

Today, I rested and didn’t overdo it.  I didn’t exercise or do my chores.  And you know what?  It’s okay!  Nothing bad happened and the world isn’t coming to a crumble.

My point here, sometimes it’s okay to take.  Giving to others in the form of being a great friend, partner, parent comes out in many ways for most people.  For me, staying on top of many things in a day or week is part of who I am.  It means I’m able to give to others by spending time with them, spending time by myself and in general being on top of things.  But we can’t do everything and it’s okay to ask for help when needed or take help when it’s offered.  It’s not easy all the time but brings balance to the giving we do otherwise.  On that note, I’m going to bed early.  Take that to-do list!

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Now is the time to give

Tis the Season! or so it appears… Christmas has crept up on me this year.  I say Christmas because that is what I celebrate with my family and loved ones.  This year though, I’m lagging in spirit.  It’s not that I’m uninterested or not looking forward to spending time with everyone, eating traditional Scandinavian foods or giving and receiving gifts, it’s just that I’m a little stuck on the process this year.  It’s like I can’t swallow the what this holiday has become in our country.  It feels like a month leading up to just purchases… Now I like giving gifts and receiving them but where I’m stuck is what that looks like beyond me, myself and I.

I have decided I personally would like to give to others more.  It is not enough to  only consider my needs during this time of year or any other.  Of course there are things we all do but I’ve reached a point where I want to kick it up a notch.

The reason for this change is partly connected to the holidays but is also part of a longer ongoing conversation I’ve been having with myself about when to extend myself to others.  Earlier this year, I pondered the topic in regards to giving to the homeless.  In response to that blog post, I had a friend tell me she has the opposite reaction of me… she always gives to people on the street.  She grew up with not a lot but she said her parents always found a way to give and she took this message seriously as she’s become an adult herself.  Thinking about the issue from her eyes opened mine a bit more.  To consider that those who really are tight can find a way to extend themselves to others made me realize that I can always do so too.  There is a limit but there is a way to give.

Extending this message is important to me and I’m finding ways to extend my spirit to others, outside my family, in little ways both now and in the months to come.  Happy Giving to Everyone!

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When to keep the talk and when to walk

A few weeks ago, I met a man while waiting for the brown line.  I was headed home from an appointment after work and he was headed home after getting two bags of groceries.  He said hello to me, which I was happy to reply to but then he kept talking to me.  I didn’t really want to talk, I wanted to get home.  But, I had no book to read so I kept chatting and after that the conversation took off naturally.  My stop was before this man’s and when I got off the train, I was surprised to feel refreshed and connected with someone else.

The reason this conversation was enjoyable was because it was connecting with someone else in a community setting.  When I commute, I am usually to myself and I generally prefer it that way.  Yet, once in a while, having a conversation with someone opens my eyes to what else is going on around me.  It is easy to be introverted when the train is crowded because frankly it is uncomfortable, yet everyone else is experiencing it to.  Thus, on a rare occasion, two or more people may connect with each other due to their shared living experience.

This experience of chatting with the man on the platform and then train has got me thinking a lot about being an individual within a community.  We must know ourselves enough to function daily and take care of our responsibilities.  At the same time, if we only do our things, we are missing out on being with the people around us.  We might miss potential time with random strangers on the train, neighbors or even our family.

Holiday times often bring up this issue.  Family is wonderful but for some it is hard to be around family members who you are not always on the same page with in life or in family situations.  It is difficult to negotiate behavior when you want to be with others and yet are bothered.  It is in these moments that we must know ourselves enough to know our limits.  Some days you can handle more than others.  Some days you may need the quiet and reflection of your commute and others you are perfectly comfortable striking up a conversation.  It is important to know when to leave a situation for your own sake and likewise, sticking around in a situation for the same reason.  I’m not quite sure how to determine when to do either but I think somewhere inside each of us, we have an indicator that will help us gauge what to do, while treating ourselves and others with respect and care regardless.

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Mindful Living Update

Alright, here is a bit of an update on trying to live in a more caring state through my thoughts and actions (see my last post for reference):

I overheard a woman talking on the train about trying to get a voucher for the bus to attend a thanksgiving celebration.  Normally, I might get annoyed with this woman because she had bags blocking the aisle and she was sitting half-way out in the aisle too.  She was talking semi-loudly on her phone.  Yet, her conversation made me stop my judgements and listen to her situation.  She can’t potentially attend her Thanksgiving celebration due to a bus voucher…!  I really can’t imagine being put in this situation so I tried to mentally shift my energies to be more positive towards her.  I hope she makes her celebration this week.

This mindful experiment to change the way I think and interact with others is proving two things so far:

1. This is going to be more about how I think about the world around me.  This may influence the way I talk to others in my life or comment to them about my experiences.

2. Going off number one, there is often very little for me to do in these situations.  I generally offer to help others in public settings when I see them struggling.  I don’t do this from a judgemental place but a caring place since I can see their struggle.  I think part of being mindful is not so much these actions (which I will continue to take) but rather approaching the world differently via my thinking about what happens around me (see number one).

I will continue to keep updating with more thoughts and experiences as they happen.  Thanks for the support!

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