Freedom Riders

By , May 16, 2011 10:23 PM

What would you risk in order to stand for what you believe to be right?

This year—this month, in fact—is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders.  I’m ashamed to admit that if I hadn’t watched Oprah a week or so ago, I might today still not know who they are and what they did.

I watched a PBS special tonight entitled simply Freedom Riders.  I think it should be required viewing for everyone.

If you, like me, have not previously heard of the Freedom Riders, they were a diverse group of civil rights activists intent on testing the Supreme Court ruling that stations serving interstate travelers were not subject to local segregation laws.  They boarded Greyhound and Trailways buses in Washington, D.C. and headed for New Orleans.  The first busload of Freedom Riders was attacked and set on fire.  After hearing this news, more Freedom Riders from all over the country got on more buses.  They signed their last wills and testaments before getting on those buses because they knew that there was a good chance they might be killed for attempting to desegregate transportation systems.

The Freedom Riders were a nonviolent group.  Mostly, they were students.  Some dropped out of school during finals in order to participate.  They were threatened, beaten, and imprisoned.  State officials in Alabama initially ignored the President of the United States, but the truth was also that, until things really escalated, President Kennedy’s administration didn’t give them much attention either.  Mississippi imprisoned hundreds of Freedom Riders.

It does make me wonder if I’d have that kind of courage.  I don’t know.  I hope so.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Pay the Price

By , May 2, 2011 10:46 PM

Another trip to Dallas has been completed.  What does that mean?  It means I had a chance to finish the book The Shack.

Having the perspective of the entire book at this point, I would recommend it.  There’s a strong religious component which wasn’t of particular interest to me, but I was impressed by the spiritual message.  In fact, I can’t help but wonder if the religious facets were included as a familiar vehicle for people to expand their viewpoint to one more spiritual.

On a completely different note, tonight I posted on Facebook a quotation I stole from several friends’ postings.  I love this.

‎”I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” -Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the wake of news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, I am a little disturbed by the celebrations.  I understand that many feel a sense of justice as a result of his execution.  I in no way condone his actions or his message of hate and terror, but I also don’t see how this was anything other than an act of revenge.  I suspect that his death will prompt many more innocent lives to be lost in retaliation.  What have we really gained by this?  Are we really accomplishing anything in the big scheme of things?  Are we making the world a safer place?  Are we building bridges or tearing them down and further widening and deepening the existing chasm?

One of the classic spiritual questions spirals around why bad things happen—or are permitted to happen.  I really liked the message on this subject in The Shack.  The author’s explanation is that we humans are given free will and that means that we will all sometimes make bad choices.  Those bad choices have repercussions well beyond the immediate, visible effects.  A difficult reality is that some people make very destructive choices which are rooted in their own woundedness and fear.  This doesn’t absolve them for their actions; it does, however, behoove us to step back and assess how we can make the negative into something positive.

Watching the World Trade Center disintegrate before our eyes nearly 10 years ago was heartbreaking.  Images of that day still bring me to tears.  But, you know, another thing that makes me cry is the degree to which people pulled together to save each other, to support each other through this tragedy, and to re-evaluate the priorities in their lives.  Perhaps some might argue it was an uneven trade, but there was some real beauty that resulted as well that day.

Hmmm…  Having just typed that out, I am struck by the irony at the fact that the events of 9/11 occurred at the World Trade Center.  What are we trading in this world—love or hate?  What’s your currency?

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Being Conflicted

By , April 17, 2011 10:34 PM

I don’t know how it happens but some of us are really conflict-averse, while others seem pretty comfortable with conflict in whatever form it takes.  Perhaps it’s a difference in personality or upbringing.  Perhaps it’s related to fearlessness or fearfulness.  Perhaps it’s something else altogether.  No matter.  It’s all about how we choose to deal with it, right?

The truth is that I tend to be someone who shies away from confrontation if I can.  I’ve come a long way and I’ve become more willing to engage with people in the last several years, but I’d like to go further, especially in my dating relationships.  More than anything, I’d like to shorten my reaction time.  In other words, when something happens that rubs me the wrong way, I’d like to learn how to speak when the situation is actually occurring.  For me, it’s usually not until several hours later that I understand what about the circumstances bothered me, realize that I am upset, and assess how to communicate what I need to say.  The problem is that, by then, it can be difficult to broach the subject again.

I notice that when I suck it up—either because I’m trying to suppress my anger or because I’ve been unable to understand what’s happening—I can sometimes choose self-destructive behaviors to try to soothe or numb myself.  In fact, it’s gotten to the point that I can look at those negative choices as a beacon to help me work backwards and investigate what isn’t working for me.

Someone commented to me the other day that she felt that I was perhaps too big-hearted, preferring to hurt myself than others.  She’s right—especially in my dating relationships.  I think it’s about time that I developed a bit more reluctance in hurting myself so that I at least put myself on par with how I value others’ feelings.  There’s no good reason for me to always punish myself for being displeased or upset.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Spring Cleaning

By , April 16, 2011 10:19 PM

I find it interesting to see what trends occur in television entertainment.  Of course, the advent of “reality” shows has dramatically changed what we see on TV, but there are other sub-trends as well…

Shows investigating ghost and psychic subjects seem to be popping up everywhere, as have fashion intervention series.  Then there are the ones about weight loss, cooking, or other competitions, and—my personal pet peeve, which I absolutely refuse to watch—voyeuristic peeks into celebrities’ lives.  The category I haven’t quite figured out yet is that which deals with mental illness.  Do people watch to educate themselves or are they just tuning in to validate themselves and feel better about their own lives?  I have no idea.

This evening, as I flipped through channels, I stopped briefly on an episode about hoarding.  A man a few years older than I am had committed to cleaning up the mountain of items he’d accumulated which was suffocating his family.  He was able to easily discard several empty boxes, but the next object for assessment was a power adapter.  As he held the adapter in his hand and pondered for a long time whether it was something he could actually discard, I realized that there really is a message in this for everyone.

While most of us might not be choking our lives out through a hoarding disorder of items, we can all do better.  In the realm of the physical products, how much excess do we have in our lives?  Do we rely on the acquisition of stuff to give us a sense of safety and control in our lives?  Perhaps.

What’s more interesting to me, however, is the emotional hoarding we do.  As we make our way through life, so many of us have filled ourselves to the rafters and beyond with emotional experiences that we allow to define us.  We store up stories of being wronged and victimized.  As painful as they may be, we stockpile familiar patterns so that we can continue to use them time and again, even when the outcome makes us feel terrible.

Why do we keep all that crap??  Is it laziness?  Or a fear of losing a critical part of our identity which then keeps the awareness hidden in the shadows?  Is it simply a matter of timing—that we’re just not ready yet?  Maybe it’s a combination of everything.

I would challenge you to take a look and take steps to do a little housecleaning of your own world.  Spring is the time for fresh starts.  It’ll probably be useful to get some help.  (I know I need it!)  So much of what we really need to let go is very difficult to even recognize ourselves.  Finding someone you trust, who is also objective, can be one of your best resources and guides in identifying what needs to be let go.  For good.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Embrace Emptiness

By , April 13, 2011 6:59 PM

My patience is wearing thin.  Very thin.  I’ve had the sense of being in a holding pattern for the last couple of years.  I think I’ve handled it pretty well—going with the flow, trusting that the timing will work out perfectly.  Now, I’m having a moment of extreme impatience.  Of course, it’s not the first such moment, but they aren’t as frequent as they once were.

In a fit of whiney-ness to which my teacher is the regular witness, I declared that I was fed up.  Of course, that did nothing.  Darn it.

But my teacher suggested something that I’ve since been pondering.  Embrace the emptiness, she said.

You’ve probably heard that what you resist persists.  I know from experience that that’s true.  I think embracing the emptiness is actually the next phase of that.

If you’re in resistance to a situation, you’re expending a lot of energy with no result.  Trying to deny what is is just a waste.  It actually moves you backward because you’re not in the present moment (living instead in some sort of fantasy and delusion) and you’re not able to act in the reality of now.

Once you accept the reality of whatever is, what’s next?  How about stepping into it fully?  What about diving into the depths of whatever it might be—an emotion, a fear, a frustration—to see what it has to offer you in the way of insight and information?  Make friends with it.  Let it become your teacher and guide you through to a better place.

Well, and worst, case, it’s probably better than embracing the crankiness.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Retracing Steps

By , April 11, 2011 9:22 PM

My Mercury retrograde experience is especially challenging this time around.

In case you’ve never heard of “Mercury retrograde” it’s an astrological event that happens approximately three times per year in which the planet Mercury appears to move backward in its orbit.  During the three weeks or so that Mercury is retrograde, communication challenges, technology snafus, and travel hiccups are notoriously common.

I usually make my way through Mercury retrogrades pretty painlessly.  Not this time.  One of the mottoes I often repeat anyway is, “It could be worse.”  The same holds true here.  As much pain as I might be feeling over my computer acting up, the webinars I’m doing for work crashing my computer literally one minute before the session is supposed to start, or the tools being down altogether when I need them for a class, I know things could be worse than they are.  And, in whatever small measure I can manage—even in the worst moments—I am grateful.  After all, I have the funds to get my computer fixed, I can reschedule the class without anyone dying, and I have training materials with enough screen shots in them that I can rely on them instead of the tool itself.  Perhaps it’s not ideal, but it’s all workable.

Another aspect often associated with retrogrades in general (all planets go through them for different lengths of time and at different intervals) is the opportunity to reflect on the past.  You’re afforded the chance to revisit past experiences, assess what you learned and integrate it, and evaluate the usefulness of old patterns during retrogrades.  In other words, it’s a great time to try to gain some awareness of the old, entrenched habits that perhaps no longer serve you.

For me, I’m looking at my ability to surrender.  I used to rely on a sense of control and these days that’s feeling a lot like an illusion.  Maybe even a delusion.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Two Faced

By , April 6, 2011 9:42 PM

What does it mean when some of the people closest to you seem to have no interest whatsoever in your life, your feelings, your experiences?  Seriously, I’d like to know.

Perhaps most ironic to me is that these people (ok, they’re usually men) inevitably seem to think they really know me.  I find it curious.  Maybe it’s some kind of new math, but I don’t get how that adds up, without me actually being part of the equation.

Another thing that I find fascinating is that for every man who never asks me anything or doesn’t express any interest in my life, I have at least one man who shows up, as if on cue, in the wake of the disinterested guy, to genuinely check up on, support, and share with me.  I just love how that happens!

Is the Universe trying to teach me something?  I think so.  It’s showing me that there are guys out there who are truly caring, compassionate, and interested.  It’s allowing me to move away from a pattern that has haunted me since childhood.

In the dichotomy, I get to see my own progress.  For that, I have to thank both camps of men, even as I watch the disinterested ones fade from my life.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Excuses Exploded

By , April 4, 2011 10:53 PM

Late this afternoon, I caught part of a talk show in which the subject was rage.  Apparently, there’s a “warrior” gene that can predispose people to having problems with rage.

What was fascinating to me was that of the three guests who had known rage issues and tested positive for the “warrior” gene, two seemed sincere in wanting to address the problem and transform their lives because they’d realized that their anger wasn’t really benefiting them.  The third person, however, seemed incredibly arrogant and actually said that now he had an excuse for being the way he is.

The facilitator for this discussion gave up on that third guy.  It was clear that he wasn’t interested in changing; he expected the world to accommodate him, no matter what the facilitator suggested or the perspective he attempted to provide.

I couldn’t help but think as I was listening that perhaps an excuse is not an excuse at all.  Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement of unacknowledged responsibility and not an absolution.

If you’re aware of something, you do have responsibility for it.  In the case of these three rage-aholics, for example, as the facilitator said, they have a “steeper hill to climb” to manage their anger than perhaps others do.  And, the fact is that not everyone who has the “warrior” gene rages.  So, to me, it’s an interesting mix of nature, awareness, triggers, and choices.

The question surfaces…  What will you do with your strengths and your challenges?  Will they be vehicles for growth or anchors in the status quo?

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Subjective Truth

By , April 3, 2011 10:10 PM

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a black and white world– meaning that things were either right or wrong, true or false.  There was little room for grey because my life experience as a youngster didn’t really allow for much.  As such, I was a proponent of everything I felt was right and I was pretty judgmental of everything that could not be categorized as “right.”  I suspect that this is pretty common.  Our socialization as children relies on clear messages about what’s acceptable and what’s not.  But sometimes that early mindset hangs on a little too long.

A funny thing happened then.  I grew up.  I lived my life.  I learned just how grey life can be.  I saw how differently your life experiences could color your perception of what was right or true.  In gaining perspective and learning to observe my life, I had conversations with my sister and saw that even though we grew up in the same family, with less than 2 years between us in age, we had very different experiences of the same situations and people.  Suddenly, everything was grey and I no longer had a good sense of what was actually right or true.

In especially the past decade or so, the judgment I’ve carried with me through so much of my life has waned.  After everything I’ve seen and done, it had to.  (And seriously, in many ways, I’ve led a very, very sheltered life.)  My mind couldn’t deny the grey anymore.

What I’ve come to notice is that the next phase of this evolution involves developing compassion.  And, that, of course, is the heart’s inability to continue to invalidate the grey.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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Five Years

By , March 29, 2011 9:44 PM

I’m a daddy’s girl.  When I was a little girl, it was during the time that he and I spent together that I felt most loved.  It was like the sun shone for me when he was in the room.  He used to call me his “partner” and I loved it.

This does not mean our relationship was all peaches and lollipops, because it most certainly wasn’t.  Like so many parents do, my father treated me as a surrogate partner.  It wasn’t until about a year ago that I learned that there’s actually a term for that: emotional incest.  As I read up on emotional incest, as much as the term made me cringe, I couldn’t help but see myself in the descriptions of the situations outlined in the books.  I learned a lot.

As I grew up, my relationship with my father underwent several metamorphoses as circumstances changed and I entered adolescence and, ultimately, matured into an adult.  Our choices and worldviews were different and, very often, incompatible.  And yet, through it all, I always knew he loved me.

Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.  I’m baffled at how quickly the time has flown by.  I love you, Daddy.

© 2011, Tamar98. All rights reserved.

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