Beliefs and Thoughts

Even though none of us necessarily think about it when we are reading an interesting novel that keeps us turning those pages, throughout that novel, through the actions and interactions of the characters, the author’s beliefs are there. Whether it is intentional or not, it is hardly surprising that it should be this way. All of us have a belief system in place, and our thoughts are based upon that foundation. Whether that foundation is based on something as solid as rock or as weak as sand, many times, has no bearing on those thoughts until something comes along to pull the proverbial rug out from under us. Leaving us to stop and ponder those revelations and possible changes. For some it doesn’t matter, they continue along as if nothing has happened. Pragmatic in their views and thoughts, thinking that the other one or ones who presented the facts that countered their beliefs had to be wrong. After all we all have those self-fulfilling, self indulging ideas that say we are right no matter what someone else may present. In other words, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts”.

Yet if enough is presented, eventually we have to accept that those personal beliefs may have been accepted on faulty information, once realized then reevaluate and adjust those beliefs in a new direction. It’s never easy to admit that one is wrong, especially when we have been so adamant that we are right. At this point, because of our pride, many times we will think that, “Yes they are probably right, but I wasn’t wrong either.” Again, if any of us are that illusionary “normal”, then we all talk with ourselves continually on that mental plane, discussing our internal views, thoughts and ideas, as we work through those changes and our personal belief system.

We have to be strong enough to admit that there are many outside influences that do work either with or against our personal belief system. Of course many of us say, as I stated earlier, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” After all it is easier to remain with what we know. Add to this mix experience and time and what at one time in your life seemed pretty black and white, becomes heavy shades of gray. And if you are willing to admit it you find that your beliefs have taken a hit and changed, sometime subtly and other times radically. That you are not (Even though we must live with ourselves each and every day, making it more difficult to see those personal changes.) the same person you were that so many years ago when naivety seemed to apply much too well to your person. Yes, time and experience has made me better at understanding my personal beliefs. And if you believe that then you really do not understand yourself or your motivations at all.

I think that mentally we are always questioning ourselves, second guessing, reevaluating, searching, and testing ourselves. Whether any of this actually does us any good I really don’t know. Although if one isn’t careful such can destroy our confidence in ourselves, our belief structure, with our thoughts leading to a negative impact on every aspect of us. Many times when we begin that negative spiral it takes us down roads that should not be traveled. Here we deal with the bad side of ourselves where our personal beliefs can be a destroyer, and continue to push us in directions that can have nothing but bad outcomes.

Many times we recognize this but seem powerless to stop all that negativity, leading many to deep depression. It is a personal belief system that has gone wrong. Unfortunately we can find much too much support for this thought process in the real world, reinforcing those very negative beliefs and thoughts. Destroying our confidence in ourselves to the point of questioning everything that we do. To shift gears a bit as this brought up this subject to me: In an abusive relationship we see that direction taken by the one who is abused. It leads on an ever downward spiraling road that eventually leaves the abused with no self-confidence at all, no belief in their own abilities – none at all.

Once this point is reached then the abused only lives through the approval of the abuser. The abuser now is their belief system and anything they do and say is fact, whether the statements are fiction or not. After all they are the ones in control. That is why so many times the abused will deny that they are abused even when witnessed by another. After all it is their fault (the abused) that such has happened. It must have been something that they personally had done to make it happen. With ones that have never faced this, it seems to be impossible to understand. After all if this is happening to you why not leave? If only it was that simple.

Many years ago I purchased a used item from a private seller. Here I found a wife who seemed different. I couldn’t explain it at the time, and unfortunately it was years later before I understood what I was seeing. She was an abused spouse. The signs were there, only I didn’t recognize them. Too many years had passed to be able to help as I was young at the time and they were older. By the time I had figured this out I suspect that both would have passed on. This abuse and subsequent change happens over a period of time. It leads to a slow degeneration of the abused belief system, their personal confidence in themselves, and their view of the world and personal relationships. I’ve often thought about this and think about these abused individuals. They’ve entered into what they believe is a happy healthy relationship only to be betrayed and destroyed. Living their lives in a hell that they cannot or do not know how to escape from.

By the time that it reaches the point that I witnessed above, they no longer have any personal beliefs and thoughts that aren’t first approved by the abuser. It reaches a point that they feel that they cannot live without this other, and everything must go through them – everything. After all they cannot do this on their own, and unfortunately this has too much truth at this point. They begin to lie to all their friends, and worst of all to themselves. They adjust their personal belief systems to match the abusers and accept that the abuse is a normal part of life. So when it happens in public, as the lies build over time, of course it really didn’t happen – no not really.

If one is new to this blog, one may ask, rightly so, how I could know anything about this subject. And until I met the woman who became my wife, it would have been a very valid question. I learned, over time, that she had just come of out a ten-year abusive relationship, and with many sessions, so to speak, the two of us worked through the damage done and eventually she healed from that devastating experience. Yet for me it was a learning experience. Part of my belief system felt that one’s life mate (husband or wife) was the equal to the other. That her strengths would help offset my weakness and visa versa. Yet, here before me was the evidence that this existed (abuse), something that I had never considered before. So I became more aware, and this was added to my personal experiences and to my personal beliefs. Unfortunately abuse is prevalent today and one of the many hidden shames that we face as a society.

Let’s be honest for a moment, and admit that there are many things in this world that can lead to disbelief, only to have those things proven to be true later. All of us have problems accepting these proofs because of the way our personal belief systems are. Many times it takes years before one is willing to admit that they were wrong and yes the other was right. Such is pride, such is ego, and both can extort a great cost on us. Other times it is ignorance that is the factor, such as the abuse described above. Yet, once that ignorance is erased, what we do with it is personal. We can add it to our personal beliefs or reject it. After all, these beliefs do not and many times are not based on fact or logic, and therein lies the problem. So as you read this, take the time to evaluate and really understand your personal beliefs and thoughts. Can you laugh when you learn how much is based a faulty information, or will you just ignore it anyway and continue as you are? In the end that’s your call. They say that knowledge is power. If that is so do you really have knowledge of the foundations of your beliefs? If not then the power lies with them not you. And until you decide to see them as they truly are nothing will change.

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The Move

It’s time for another short story (Kind of takes one back to kindergarten where we would gather around the teacher to have a short story read to us.). This one I wrote with the idea of submitting it to a writing contest. I usually do not win these things but I’m forever hopeful. While there are contests that require a story to be even shorter than this one, the fictional story had to be 1500 words or less. So to go from a 100,000 plus word story to something this short takes some time to put together (Who would have thought?). Even though I may never win one of these contests it is good to try now and then since it forces one to be concise and still put a story together. It forces one to be efficient, to choose your words carefully, to make sure that everything happening within the story is sharp and leads quickly to the conclusion. Yet, at the same time, not to leave the ending obvious and at least attempt to put maybe a twist or two within those few words. And one must, as it is written, remember to place hints as to the direction and flow so that the ending isn’t a complete and unexpected surprise. After all we’ve all read those types of stories where one feel betrayed because there was nothing within the story that suggested the ending.

So, what is the difference between a novel and a very short story other than the length that story? Nothing really. First off, and this applies to both, they must cover a time period. In a novel it can be years, decades, months days or just hours. And again it can be that way in a short story. The difference is the novel and the distance you have available lets one develop much of the story over chapters, verses the short story where it can only be a few words or maybe a sentence or two. Plus it must reach the critical “point in time” that exists in that short story quickly. The scenes must be sharp and well-defined, again being revealed in just a few words. Everything about a short story exists in a novel but is compressed to only a moment and those few words. In a sense it could be seen as a synopsis, although not really. Still, if one compares a short story to a synopsis there are similarities, although even 1500 words might be considered too long for a synopsis, since many request the submitted synopsis to be one page only.

One is left with the question; is it possible to develop a character that the reader will care about and root for when you are faced with those limitations? The obvious answer is; you must, otherwise nobody, other than yourself, will care. So overall it pushes you, as a writer, to take that little slice of time, your small cast of characters, make them real, make them ones that the reader will care about, and do it with as few words as possible, with the goal of making the story have impact, leaving one, hopefully, a better writer in the end. And with that introduction and for your enjoyment here is, The Move.

It felt great to have made the move out of that small dingy apartment into this more spacious one. Well, at least it felt that way if it truly wasn’t. The place appeared to be brighter, cleaner, and definitely newer than the place that they had left. Smiling happily as she looked down at her growing abdomen, she could just see the changing shape as the baby grew inside of her. Looking up at her husband she teasingly said. “Look what you’ve done to me. Now I’ll never have that sexy figure that attracted you to me in the first place.”

Laughing, he playfully swatted her behind and said. “Now, that’s just not true. I love all of you, and that includes what you are adding to this family. And your changing shape just makes me love you more, and I really couldn’t be happier.” He frowned, “I just wish that I didn’t have to be away so much. I mean with so little time together I am surprised that you’re pregnant. And I have yet to meet any of our neighbors.” He paused briefly and with a smile he continued, “Yeah I know, I’m usually away when they are here, and it’s quite the opposite when I’m home.” Shrugging, he said, “Oh well, such is the life of the working class hero.” He bent over and kissed her heartily, and somewhat lustfully, sighed and said, “I do have to leave, even though I want to stay and enjoy all of you.”

Laughing she replied, “I know, I know, but I haven’t been able to find a job yet, and even though my pregnancy isn’t that far along, few want to hire someone who will be leaving for a baby sometime in the near future. So I guess we really don’t have a choice on this. But . . .” She said as she hugged him hard, “I really, really do miss you when you are gone.  Now get out of here before I beg you to stay.” She saw him to the door and then as he left, slowly closed it, sighed, and thought, I miss him already, and now I won’t see him for a few weeks. I guess I knew what I was getting into when he asked me to marry him. Heck, we had been dating for over a year, and I knew exactly how it was going to be. This didn’t make it any easier when he had to go. And it just seemed like it took too many days, hours and minutes until he was back in her arms. Oh well, in a few hours that nice next door neighbor Mr. Samuels, and his wife, oh what was her name? Oh that’s right, Kellie . . . anyway they will be coming over to visit – to help welcome us to the new neighborhood. Well then, I better make sure this place is presentable.

Ceri quickly cleaned the small apartment so that it would be presentable for company, and finished dressing. The couple had promised that they were going to give her a tour of the gardens that were close by. And they had said that the sight was well worth the time. Besides, one got to exercise, even if it was just walking. And while this would be her first child, she knew that exercise was important. She also knew, from observation, that as she entered her third trimester, that exercise would be the last thing on her mind. Just as she finished everything there came a knock on the door. Taking a deep breath, because she really didn’t know them yet, and at the same time wanting to make a good impression, she got herself in order, opened the door, and with enthusiasm and a big smile said. “Hi! I’m ready, if you are.”

The two standing at the door looked at each other and then at her with Kellie saying, “Great! We’ve been looking forward to this. And it’s a sunny warm day out there. So, I’m sure that the birds will be singing and we will have a wonderful time.”

Looking again at both of them once again trying to hide her nervousness, she said, “Great! Then let’s go.”

Over an hour later she was back full of smiles. They had been right, the gardens were beautiful, and seemed to just go on forever. The day was bright, sunny, with a soft cool breeze and the birds were singing up a storm. It seemed so peaceful and invigorating all at the same time. She was only sorry that Jesse, yes that was Mr. Samuels first name, had to leave. Still Kellie was great at pointing out everything that was there to see. Well, it was time to relax a little then finish the unpacking, followed by a lonely lunch, but maybe as she got to know the couple it would not be so.

* * *

“So what do you think?” Jesse asked. “That’s if you have the time right now.”

“About what? The day? The gardens?” Then Kellie paused smiling, as she leaned on the desk in front of her, “or everything in general?”

He laughed, “Now that’s one of the many reasons I married you – your sense of humor.” He leaned back placing his hands behind his head, “So sorry that I had to leave today. I so wanted to go through the gardens with the two of you.” He leaned forward asking, “Did it go well?”

* * *

Even though she was early in her pregnancy she felt a little tired and decided that after lunch she would take a nap. She laughed at this since as a kid she always fought her parents over doing this. At least this apartment is starting to shape up, she thought. But she had to admit that the bed was looking awfully good.

* * *

“Oh I have a few seconds before I have things I must do, so I guess the answer is yes.”

“So what’s your impression of our new neighbor?” Jesse asked.

Kellie, looking down at her watch realized that she needed to leave and interrupted saying, “We’ll have to continue later, not enough time to go into that now. Something light and simple yes, but on this subject no. I’ve really got to go. See you tonight?”

Smiling Jesse said, as he looked down at his overloaded desk, “I can hardly wait, but I have too much paperwork that needs to be brought up to date and it will keep me here. So reality pushes in once again, but tonight, it’s a date.”

* * *

For the next couple of weeks she went on daily walks with the couple next door and found that she was looking forward to both the walks and the company. It was nice to get out of that apartment and have someone to talk to. With her husband on that run she would have been alone, and she really hated it. So these times out in the bright warm sunshine, listening to the birds, the small talk between Kellie and Jesse, which reminded her of the same conversations between she and her man – idyllic days for sure, which helped fill those lonely days, leaving her happy, if not missing her man even more, helped. It was still at least 2 weeks before he returned and with those walks she was slowly learning the area. She had so much to tell him when he got back, saying so to her neighbors. The two looked a bit puzzled but accepted what she had said.

* * *

Later that same day, as Kellie and Jesse met in the office, discussing work, he said, “That woman, who is in the apartment next to us, seems so normal, leaving one to wonder why she’s here.”

“Ceri?” She asked.

“Yes. Anyway who’d have guessed that everything she is seeing is an illusion – a fantasy. When her husband died in that traffic accident she witnessed, it almost destroyed her. And that pregnancy of hers is from artificial insemination, since he died before she became pregnant. After his death she just went off the deep end, separating herself from her friends and family – leading to her being placed here. I know that she believes that we are her next door neighbors, and that her husband is alive, but, in truth, this is a mental facility and even though she doesn’t realize it, we are her caretakers.”

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 8:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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Emotions and Feelings

Almost every aspect of the human condition revolves around emotion, and if not emotion then the feelings that are generated by such. All of us ride the highs and lows throughout our lives. Fear, to joy, to sadness, to elation and everything that exists in-between is a part of each and every one of us. And as such, these emotions influence every aspect of our lives. It can push us to great heights, or it can freeze us into indecision and failure. It doesn’t matter what the mind says, postulates, rationalizes, the bottom line, those emotions and/or feelings can easily be the controlling factor – not our logic.

In psych classes and even the classes dealing with sociology, these aspects of our beings are discussed, dissected, and explained. Yet, even with the knowledge about the power that these emotions and feelings project we find that they still have a major influence over how we both act and react to situations. Whether this is something that is built into our DNA, the way we were raised within our families, a combination of both, or is just a part of who we are, this knowledge can allow one to understand what is happening, but not necessarily allow one to control it.

As a writer, examples of this would be the elation of finishing that first draft, and feeling proud that it is accomplished. Followed by feelings of dread as you realize that there is still a very long way to go before this becomes something that can be published and made available to the public. Then once this is accomplished you wait breathlessly for those reader reviews hoping for good ones, and at the same time realizing that there will always be readers who will hate what you’ve written. And because, at this point, all is unknown you are left with anticipation that those first few coming in will be good. If not, then it is easy to have your emotions and feelings come crashing down, making you feel inadequate, somewhat depressed and the thoughts, emotions, and feelings run rampant in your mind. This is usually followed by some personal bashing about what could have been or should have been.

Here is where you begin to question yourself, wondering, with all the effort and time that you’ve invested, if maybe you should just give up and move on to something else. After all, writing might not be your thing. The problem , one of many of course, with these emotions and feelings is that they can exert enough control over our lives that we can completely lose confidence in our abilities and we continue to beat ourselves up. Running, in our minds over and over again the same scenarios, and all the bad reasons as to why we don’t deserve this or that, and if only this had happened or maybe something hadn’t happened, so much could and would be different. In other words instead of a confidence builder they are confidence destroyers.

It could be on one of those days that you’ve come into your job happy and upbeat, and with a single word from either a boss or a customer find yourself down, confidence shattered, and the bright day become one of darkness. Why? After all are we  still that same person who just arrived at work feeling good about ourselves? Why can such drive us to such lows or even anger? Anger over some imagined or real slight that seems to have destroyed our fragile ego and apparently ruined our day.

In fact emotions and feelings can either strengthen our faith in ourselves, or put us in a place where we cannot trust ourselves in any situation. Such is the strength of emotion, such is the strength of feelings. In a movie “Remo Williams”, the mentor stated, when the protagonist found himself afraid, that fear was just a feeling. Stating I feel hungry, I feel tired, I feel afraid. Those darn emotions, those darn feelings which is running rampage over us. If we truly think about this we are not alone in this. If any of you have pet animals such as dogs and cats, then you’ve personally witnessed these emotions from your pets. You’ve seen their happy expressions, watched as they struck out in anger, and have seen the fear in their eyes, know when they want to play, or want to be left alone. They can say so much without a word.

Let’s be honest here. They (emotions and feelings) can lead to a fall when we become, as the old saying goes, “too big for our britches”. And we see this aspect way too much in this culture – especially in politics and Hollywood. It seems that here especially that ego, emotions, and feelings are paramount. And both (politicians and actors) are good at manipulating all three. Still, we must face the fact that even with our minds, our logic, that too many times, it is the emotions and feelings that do the controlling. And no matter how much we know and understand, we still, and most likely, always will, fall prey to their power over us.

It’s not that emotions and feelings are bad because they aren’t. Without such we wouldn’t feel compassion, love, the desire to help, where needed – all very important parts of our makeup. It is only when such is manipulated, when they drive us to the negative, to where they are out of control that we face deep problems. We all have our ups and downs. Without those changes we could never recognize any particular situation or emotion. It is only when they reach the extreme that they can lead to dangerous behavior, and sometimes self-destructing behavior to the point of suicide. So as it states in the Bible –  do all things in moderation.

So where are you on this rollercoaster of life? Do you recognize, in yourself, when these emotions and feeling are out of control? And if so, can you bring them back where they should be. Or must they run their course over a period of time before you once again feel normal – whatever that mythological normal is? After all I’m no different no matter how many years have passed. After all, like you, these emotions and feelings are an intimate part of me, and as in all things that are that close, they can inspire, or they can destroy. So really, where are you?

Published in: on February 8, 2014 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Loss and Sorrow

Life is such that we are never in the same place twice. Every day that passes presents us with new problems and new directions that we must go. As much as there is joy and happiness, we face almost as often loss and sorrow. It seems to be a part of the human condition. Many times with that loss and sorrow comes anger, deserved or not. After all, emotion is something that is quite hard to control let alone direct. It is something that we fight with all of our lives. And to be honest women have a more difficult time with it because of the hormone rollercoaster that they ride. Men are not immune, but in comparison appear to be muted, although it can and does run as deep and strong, even if not witnessed.

Life is such that we learn these lessons early and are reminded all of our days. From when you were a very young child and found your gold-fish floating in the fish bowl to that first lost of a family pet. And when you look back upon these incidents they can bring both a smile, a sad one of course, and a tear. At those young tender years it is something we do not understand, and even though our parents try to explain it, for many, what is given as an explanation doesn’t give them closure. Yet, these early incidents dealing with death and loss are the foreshadowing of things to come. After all the words , “When I was a child I did childish things, but once I had grown all of this was put behind me,” speak volumes of what we will face in life.

It still doesn’t make it easy when that loss strikes. Many times it arrives unexpected and always unwanted. If nothing else, it shows us our mortality, and this is something that most of us would prefer to leave until later, and just face life in the day-to-day grind. Here it is easy to push such thoughts far away and let the busy daily world keep our minds away from such morbid thoughts. Somewhere along the way one generally finds their life mate or soul mate. At least that is the goal for most of us anyway. And if we are lucky enough to have found that person then we feel fulfilled and willing to help our other in just about anything. We find that as time passes, and boy does it go by quickly, that we and our love for each other grow stronger and deeper.

It is during this time (for most of us anyway) that our parents begin to reach the end of their time on this world and hit us with our first really deep loss and sorrow. If the relationships between yourself and your parents have been strong then there is a sense of loss that takes quite a while to get beyond. Many times, after a parent’s death, we deal with our past at home nostalgically, remembering the romantic and good times that we had. It is a time again of family as they come together to mourn as well as celebrate the life of the one who has passed on. And for a while it is easy to fall into a minor depression as your thoughts continue to turn to that loved one that is gone. Fighting over regrets, of not saying what you needed to say while they were alive, and thinking, with some guilt, that maybe you should have spent more time with them.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, all of this is leading to the greatest loss that any of us will face, and that is the knowledge that the odds are high that one of you, you or your soul mate will pass on before the other. Leaving a devastation behind that makes all the past losses seem minor in comparison. For example, my mother was married to her husband (my father) just short of 65 years when he passed away. How do you reconcile something like that? I produced a video honoring his life, and to this day 3 years later she cannot watch it. The loss, the sorrow, the wound is still too fresh – too deep.

I know that any who face this, and most of us will, it is compounded by the fact that everywhere you look there are hints, signs, and items that tie you immediately back to your loss. It causes you to pause, to remember, to expect them (the ones who have died) to walk into that room any second, but it doesn’t and cannot happen. Still you hope that just one more time you can see them. Many times it is here that the photos and maybe a video or two will be viewed. Yet, many times when such is viewed, it immediately brings back the tears and the emotions dealing with that loss. Eventually like those wounds that heal, so does the sorrow as it diminishes with the passing of time. Leaving behind hidden scars that can surface at inopportune times, as we try to reach beyond that loss, feeling that there is something critically important missing within ourselves, and not really knowing how to replace that deep part of “you” that had been cut out. At these times phrases such as; life sucks and then you die, enter one’s mind.

Still, as the years move beyond that time and the memory dims, we move on. For it is the only way to heal, to become whole, to possibly open our hearts once again and reach out looking for another to fill that void, knowing that if one is so lucky to have it filled again that the same wounds may be opened once again in the future, but that is the chance all of us take, until we are the ones that precede the other and pass beyond this life. After all it is a door that each and every one of us must pass through in our time. Just as sorrow and loss are part of the human condition, and probably one that most of us would like to skip, but alas it is not to be. After all it is part of the tapestry of life, the dark and light threads that make us who we are. How we will react will be up to each and every one of us, and only you can decide that outcome.

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 8:16 am  Comments (1)  
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