Gratitude for the Thankless Job

blue-line I am an ambivert with a sensory integration disorder. Fancy words in a world that obsesses about labels and how they can provide excuses for behavior and decisions in life. The long and short of it is that I have trouble sometimes with sensory over stimulation, and trouble all the time connecting with people. The extroverted part of me entertains and delights, whereas the introverted part of me hides, because even when shown, people don’t want to see that, no entertainment value there. If I am being completely honest, most of the time I feel subhuman, a beast in a cage, providing a show for a world I will never belong to.

Before you give up on this, thinking it is some sad single-for-the-holidays-again piece, it isn’t. This is a piece of thanksgiving, and asking for thanksgiving, tis the season after all.

For I can think of one sect of people that are never thought of as human. They are rarely thought of at all, and even more seldom thanked. Police. The current social hatred for cops cannot be denied, and the laser focus on the .5% (probably less) of national unfortunate “encounters” with law enforcement only perpetuates the de-humanized image of cops.

Without fail when I present to a critic the “what would you do” question…what would you do if a mentally ill person charged at you with a hunting knife, or if they were threatening kids at a playground. What would you do? The answer is always some variation of, “It’s not the same, it was a cop.” I will say that to some degree they are right, it’s not the same, because even an off-duty cop has the obligation to lay down their life to save yours.

This holiday season, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I urge you to shift your mind and think of cops as human beings that have the almost extinct drive to protect & serve all people in their community, blind of race, creed, or sexual orientation.

I am so thankful for all of my family in blue, because that is what law enforcement is, a lifestyle choice that makes all immediate blood relatives into blue-blood relatives. In this turbulent world my gratitude for being a cop’s daughter is beyond words. It made me strong, independent, aware, and above all, showed me the dire need for compassion in this world.

Cops will miss every important event in their family’s lives if they need to. At a very young age I knew this, I wasn’t tickled by the thought of my dad missing my winning goal, but I understood. I understood that what my dad did was important, and was proud that my dad makes this world a better place. Cops have to cope with the worst of humanity, and do it with customer service in mind in our greedy culture that is so quick to sue. They are the ones to treat homeless with dignity, even though homelessness is not illegal, it is the police that are called when they are a “nuisance” to our delicate sensibilities. Police are charged with upholding the law, but if you knew them, you would know that they are men and women who want to show the world great humanity, compassion and sacrifice.

As you watch these news stories of officer involved shootings, know that taking a life is the absolute last option for officers, it is also the worst option, because it can result in the end of their career, and depending on how much the national media sinks its sensationalized teeth in it, can have that person black-balled from all law enforcement agencies. I have personally known a family that had to move for their own safety. All because one human being charged with protecting their community at the risk of their own life made the decision to take another human being’s life. The weight of that person’s life will always weigh on them. Next time you go to judge a shooting, ask yourself if you could make the decision to take a life; better yet, ask yourself if you were going to be killed by a stranger, could you make the shot to save those around you, or would you hide?

All I am asking is for us civilians to show gratitude to those who have chosen a life that serves us in every way a person has to give. I beg you to see them for what they are, human beings that are fathers and mothers, daughters and sons. In our current social climate, people who wear the badge are being hunted like animals.

We as civilized beings need to have people that are willing and able to sacrifice their time & lives, that give us the freedom to hide behind our computers and write glib judgements about life and death decisions.

It is time for us to express our gratitude. Please, if you see any law enforcement, go up and thank them. Right now is a very dangerous and scary time to wear a badge. If we can acknowledge those that serve us faithfully as human beings, maybe we can start to make the world a little brighter, even if just for a moment in a police officer’s eyes.

I am Your Nightmare…Radio Edit

I am your nightmare.

That monster that will never cease.

The reminder that life

is only fragile

if you lack scar tissue.

I am a waking nightmare

trapped in a body

that can never express

fear or sorrow.

I am a fearsome beast.

A dragon guised as a butterfly.

I snarl with laughter.

I stalk with a skip.

I flash my fangs in a smile.

I am your nightmare.

The personification of

political correctness,

but only out of occupational obligation.

Which of course comes with

self-loathing.

For what beast is really complete

without self-loathing?

To never freely say

or do what I want,

because this monster

dreads ramifications.

This monster that has

forbidden herself

to show how ugly she feels inside,

only wanting others to see

what they want to see,

and feel good about themselves.

This monster cannot

smash with reckless abandon

as humans can.

Humans who’s opinion,

so inflated by

self-righteousness

that it should pop

like a cheap party balloon,

unfortunately are the opinions

that stick to the mind

like a crusty lollypop stick,

but with the weight

of an naval destroyer.

So I guess it’s really

the humans that should

worry you.

Always pushing the monsters

deeper in the forest.

What happened to the days

when monsters were accepted

and appreciated?

Oh well, as the humans say,

‘That’s life.’

I’ll simply endure,

as always.

Growing thicker scars

as I try and assure myself

that political correctness,

and the general anxiety

for selfish progress

that is the human condition,

haven’t murdered

the essence of art.

Breathe.

That’s what I always

tell myself when humans

get me down.

They are just humans,

and I am but a monster.

Each of us imperfect

in our way.

The only thing to do

is to endeavor to not

roast anyone with my breath.

No promises.

I am a smiling dragon after all.

Riding the Waves…Sort of.

“Look up, just look out and take it in. If you look down, you’re going to nose dive every time.”

“You got it, just stand up.”

“You could have saved that wave, you didn’t have to bail, you just got to calm down and find your balance next time.”

“Getting to your feet is the hardest part, after that you just have to stand and enjoy.” 

There’s a bang, loud, kind of like someone dropped a stack of books in the other room. Deep breath. Strong hands keep the board steady as I try not to grip the rails too hard. Gentle rush of water, gentle push, and then you hear yells of “Pop up! Pop up!”

It was like a dream, the pop up was easy enough, and then over confidence took over, balance lost that fight, and the water, while a very nice 75-80 degrees, did slap me back into reality with a sinus flush.

I’m on vacation, why did I wake up at 5:45 to come and put myself through this pain? The answer is that it was totally worth it. Surf lessons at Typhoon Lagoon, home of one of the world’s largest wave pools, was a great highlight of a much needed vacation in Disney World.

The above statements from the three amazing instructors were what made the early morning without a Bloody Mary in hand worth it. Bailey, Kyle, and James (please give them raises or something, because they are truly amazing).

I live in SoCal, and have had many a convo with the stereotypical surfer philosopher, young and old; but until that lesson, I had never got the frame of mind that surfing is a metaphor for life. The above quotes are actual advice that I was getting about my stance on the board, not about my life, but I thought I was getting a session with three life coaches. 

The water was warm, the hard work was being done for me, because Kyle and James were treading water, holding my board steady, putting the leash on me, and pushing me in the wave at the opportune moment. How they had the energy to do it, I don’t know, let alone still be encouraging and enthusiastic in their want for me to stand up and experience the sport that they so love.

I get it now. It is about the harmony, the balance, and most importantly, trusting yourself to have the instinct to work with your surroundings. Surfing does not feel like stand up paddle boarding, it does not feel like boogie boarding, or a combination of the two, as I was expecting it to. It is its own beautiful beast, that challenges you to stand up for yourself, but rewards you with the feeling not of conquering nature, but melting in with it. It fills you with an ecstatic peace that is obviously hard to describe, seeing as I am doing a poor job of it.

In the time it took for the wave machine to suck in enough water for the waves, James and Kyle would mostly let you be at peace, after they gave you pointers of course. At the time I thought it was because they were probably focusing on holding the board, and not feeling the pain of constantly treading water; but now that I think about it, they probably wanted us all to feel the peace of being on the water with your thoughts. Might just be me, but I was absorbing their advice, trying to fuse it in my brain, so that I could essentially forget it, and let my body do what it so naturally wanted to do, balance with nature (or at least the simulated nature of the wave).

They reminded me to look up, that I had my feet under me, so why not trust myself and stand? There was a part of me (the part that wanted the bar stand to be open when we were done with our lesson), that wanted to say, “Hey, life is hard, and complicated, it’s not that easy!” Then there was a part of me that wanted to say, “Stop saying everything I need to hear, I’m on vacation!”

My surfing friends will be glad to hear that I no longer think they are trying to fit into a stereotype when I say that surfing truly is a metaphor. It taught me to look up, I need to stop focusing so hard on what I’m supposed to be doing in the future, I need to look up and take control of my present. My feet are under me, which is apparently the hardest part, so I need to buck up and stand.

Big wave, every time. I was raised in a “go big or go home” family, and I wasn’t going to disappoint. Plus, I know enough to realize the small wave would take more body control…Injury Girl was one of my first nicknames, control does not come naturally. With each wave I got another phrase that reminded me of life, that wasn’t the intent, I know, but it was the result.

Look up.

Trust that you got this.

Stand up.

Balance before you freak out.

Most importantly: Stand up and enjoy.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Never Woke Up

We have all heard the sayings, in various words and languages that basically boil down to the same thing.
“Carpe Diem” “Live like you’re dying.” You get what I’m talking about.

But I was struck with a thought on my drive home today. What if I close my eyes to sleep, and never wake up? A morbid take on the age-old sentiment, but one that struck me as more than a pep talk for spontaneity.

You are in bed, tired and ready to get some shut eye, maybe some prayers are uttered, (the request-to-gratitude ratio is heavily tipped towards the former, if you’re like me), perhaps a to-do list for the next day, week, and/or month bounces around your skull; and then your eyelids shut, and that’s it.

The sayings always imply that you’re going to die the next day, but what if the sayings implied that you were going to die in hours, if not minutes? How would you handle that? Obviously you are not going to jump up and complete your bucket list, because you lived the day like any other, and they just don’t let civilians do high altitude skydives at night. All you have left to do is reflect and pray.

Would you be able to see the miracles that intertwined in your mundane day? Would you be proud of your conduct towards others? Your thoughts towards others? Your thoughts about yourself? Could you accept the not-so-nice things you may have done, and be able to rise above our negative-centric status-quo, and acknowledge the good that you do? Would you want to strive to fix your wrongs, and spread more love and joy in the world; if you got the chance to wake up? Would you endeavor to stop complaining, vocally or internally, about your life situation and take each day for what it truly is, 86,400 miracles; because every second is one more piece of time that you got to be a part of.

I want to be a person that at the end of the day, I would be okay if it were my time to go. Of course there will always be things that I want to do. But if I was called home after closing my eyes, I want to feel like I spent my last day present and grateful in every possible moment, and spreading as much love as I had to give plus a little more.

So take it or leave it, but I think my major attitude adjustment for the year is going to start at the end of each day…What if I Never Woke up?

Buck Up and Merry Christmas Dearest Ones

Family coming into town…ready yourself for the questions. Those loving, and ever invested questions that just make you want to cry. Because the answer is not what either of you want to hear, because their response is so familiar, almost rehearsed in your mind. You could possibly make money guessing what people are going to say to you. That the future is unpredictable, that something great is going to come along, that life is hard some times. Yeah, no shit. These are things I have heard, lived, and gotten over. I’m bubbly, I’m hopelessly optimistic, and I just want to give the world to everyone that I love in my life, even if I don’t have the money for that. Those facts do not mean that I’m dumb. Please, do not let my demeanor and personality deceive you; life has beaten the shit out of me, multiple times, and I come back swinging. I am not, nor shall I ever be a person that settles, that lays down and admits defeat. I may not be winning in the traditional sense right now, but I have the will and The Spirit; and you better believe I have the support of an overbearing family. So give me those puppy eyes when you hear me describe my situation and future prospects, that’s fine, trust me, I get it; but never for a second think that I am losing. I am the underdog that does not pull the “my life is hard”card, in fact, I’m the under dog that wants to punch anyone that does pull that card. Everyone has woes, do you hear me, everyone in their life will be knocked down, that is the nature of life. That is what makes the victories all the sweeter. So I don’t ask for sympathy, I don’t ask for pouty lips, unless they go with a funny joke; because life is far too short to whine, and far too precious to not acknowledge the blessings that I have in abundance.

So if you are like me, and tired of hearing yourself think those “woulda, shoulda, coulda” thoughts…tell yourself to shut up, put on a smile (and possibly an ugly christmas sweater), and go make other people smile. Because trust me, their smiles will cause your smile to be genuine, and your spirit to lighten up.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah every one!

The Many Ways

There are many ways
a butterfly can die.
Same as any other creature.
Fragile to
the many ways
the world goes crashing on,
heedless of the damage,
because the prospect of progress
is too great.
What happens when the
butterfly gives up?
When of its own fruition
it leaves this world
who so obviously
has no time for its
brilliant colors and fragile wings.
This world that does not care
about anything
if it has nothing
to do with progress.
Will it miss it?
Will it even notice?
Or will it carry on, making up fresh
ways to disappoint the butterfly
who has sadly adapted to the curse of apathy.

Numb Routine

“Numb: 2 Unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you.
-Devoid of emotion.”
“Routine: 3 Regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure.”

Most of the people in my life are personally happy for me. Can that count as my own personal happiness?

I feel next to nothing. Sure, my heart beating irregularly, which is normal; my lungs making magic with oxygen…that’s about it.

Other peoples’ facial expressions and tone are my indicators for the proper emotion to convey.

One day I will be a human again. One day I will explain my situation and not have to wait for everyone else’s reaction before having mine.

Hopefully for more than one day.

Until that far off time that starts with a sunrise, and ends with a sunset, I will be. And wait for the “big things” everyone keeps talking about.

Emotionless and empty, but a vase can only hold fresh flowers once the dead ones have been thrown out.