Oh my stars! I have not laughed so much in a long, long time. First it was www.AwkwardFamilyPhotographs.com. Today it’s www.DamnYouAutocorrect.com. I am feeling grateful to the world for providing me with so much to laugh at! iPhone autocorrect, I ❤ you. Internet, I ❤ you. People of the world, I ❤ you. Most of you, that is.
I generally love learning new things. Today, though, the lesson that there are two sides to every coin has been reinforced again and again. For example, today I learned about the autocorrect site. No elucidation needed there. But I also learned about the Wesboro “Baptist” Church (more on that in a minute). I learned a new word “caliphate.” But I also learned about David Yerushalmi. I read a little bit of the enlightening philosophy of the Greek Stoic Epictetus. I also re-learned that Microsoft products suck. All in all, the good won out over the bad. At least for me. But I also know that evil triumphed yesterday in homes and nations world-wide. Someone once told me life is a balance sheet. What she meant was that in order to have something, you had to give something. I refuse to believe that evil has to triumph over good. I firmly believe that good can win the day.
The Westboro “Baptist” Church. Where to begin on that one. Merriam-Webster defines crackpots as “given to eccentric or lunatic notions.” I’m afraid that neither quite covers the members of this congregation. They protest at funerals of public figures–Elizabeth Edwards, children killed in bus accidents and soldiers killed in war. I try very hard, and generally succeed, at not judging people by their looks. But Phelps-Roper, depicted at left, is probably going to give me nightmares. According to NPR, Phelps-Roper has stated that congregation members want to “punish Americans for tolerating homosexuality.” Most of the 100 members of this congregation are the offspring of one Fred Phelps. Only four of his 13 children are estranged. I can say nothing else about the subject except that these people (?) test the very limits of my tolerance and made me pause for a second over the constitutional right to free speech. Only a second mind you. And then I was mortified. Horrified. And a whole bunch of other ‘fieds. To see the whole article, here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134198937/a-peek-inside-the-westboro-baptist-church?sc=fb&cc=fp
Moving on. I love learning new words. Yesterday I learned two, but damn my my memory, I meant to mark the other in the book I was reading, and forgot. So…I learned caliphate, the stem of which is “caliph,” which Merriam-Webster defines as, “a successor of Muhammad as temporal and spiritual head of Islam—used as a title.” The difficult part comes in where I learned this word–from an article in Mother Jones about a radical bill introduced into the Tennessee legislature. This is another tale about crackpots (we are animals of with the highest–alleged–brain function). According to the article, SB 1028 would make Sharia law a felony. What is Sharia law? Apparently it is the entire body of Islamic law–not just law but also personal rules which regulate matters of jurisprudence, hygiene, politics, business, banking, family, sexuality, diet, and society. It is meant to serve as the governing principle both within the Muslim world and for Muslims living outside it. We’re all aware of the increase in far right anti-Muslim legislation and activity, but none has been as far-ranging as the Tennessee bill. This activity is credited David Yerushalmi, crackpot at left, an Arizona-based white supremacist (what kind of name is Yerushalmi anyway? What etnicity, Mr. White Supremecist?) who previously called for a “war against Islam” and tried to criminalize adherence to the Muslim faith. Sigh. And wouldn’t you know, his group is called SANE–Society of Americans for National Existence. Great. Tim Murphy, the author of the article, writes, “Despite his racist views, Yerushalmi has been warmly received by mainstream conservatives; his work has appeared in the National Review and Andrew Breitbart’s Big Peace. He’s been lauded in the pages of the Washington Times. And in 2008, he published a paper on the perils of Sharia-compliant finance that compelled Sen. Minority Whip John Kyl (R-Ariz.) to write a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Chris Cox.” (WTF has happened to the Washington Times?). Again, here’s the link to this article: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/david-yerushalmi-sharia-ban-tennessee
Did I fail to point out that both of these crackpots are lawyers? The whole frickin’ Phelps family practices law. It’s another bad news day for lawyers. I’ve digressed. I promised no political talk. But it’s scary. The world as I know it seems to be turned upside-down these days.
I also learned of a Greek Stoic philosopher I’d never heard of before. His name was Epictetus. He was apparently born a slave, and later became a well-respected philosopher. It always amazes me when I read the ancients that they have so much that is still so relevant today. If we’d just read them, we’d have answers for so much that we puzzle over, and we wouldn’t have to re-invent the wheel time and again. For example, Epictetus says that everything has two handles, one by which it can be born and one by which it cannot. “If your brother sins against you,” he says,” don’t take hold of it by the wrong he did you but by the fact that he’s your brother. That’s how it can be borne.”
He also said, “If anyone is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault. Nothing else is the cause of anxiety or loss of tranquility except our own opinion.” What’s really fascinating about this is that yesterday when I had my therapy session with Dr. M., we talked about this very thing. She’s being trained in some new science, forgive me, I have forgotten the name. It’s similar to Emotional Freedom Technique in a way. Current scientific study of the body has shown that living in a highly emotional/stressful state all of the time is extraordinarily hard on the body because not only are your adrenal glands pumping because you’re triggering your freeze, fight or flight hormones constantly, but apparently, your heart also goes through an enzymatic reaction (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090309191511.htm). Somehow or another, and about this part I’m very vague on the details, the patient wears a monitor that’s clipped to his or her ear, and I think she said computers are used somehow…but the end result is that the patient, with assistance, teaches him or herself how to lower the response to stressful and emotional situations. Apparently, when you are more level emotionally, you are able to connect better with reasoning and intuition, and when faced with a crisis, you then have access to more options than you would if you reacted in a highly charged way to the stress. Something to chew over, definitely.
More from yesterday’s therapy session, because this is a blog about mental health, and we covered a lot of ground. My life is still fairly tumultuous, but nothing like it was before when I was un-medicated. Nothing like as turbulent when I was just re-starting treatment and therapy again (I’ve been in therapy on and off with Dr. M., but in fact I first went into therapy in the 80’s in my college town). In fact, my life is becoming much quieter, and in most ways, I’m okay with that. After last summer, the details of which I haven’t yet divulged, I’ve been very consciously removing toxic people and situations from my life, or perhaps distancing myself from them if not completely removing them. I don’t think I had an epiphany of any sort. It’s just that over the past seven months, it’s as if all of the work that I’ve been doing has suddenly coalesced. Please don’t take that to mean I’m a different person. My friend Katherine* once told me that my energy trills, “Let’s go have fun.” I saw something recently written by a young person that she was seeking new experiences. I remember always saying that an experience, regardless of the outcome, was always valuable. Ha ha. How naive! Well, I’ve learned otherwise. There are desirable and undesirable experiences. Some might use the word “drama” here, but I hate that. It’s judgmental and everyone has “drama” in their lives, just at different levels and in different ways. For one person to talk about the drama in another’s life is to turn her own eyes from the mirror.
When one does this, disposes of much of the toxic influence in his or her life, one opens up so many possibilities. I remember a friend of mine, who I didn’t consider very wise and who is very judgmental, once told me that letting go of stubbornness gives you so much more of what you want. When we cling to what we have had in the past, we don’t have our hands free to grasp what life has to offer in the present or future. My horoscope this week seems to support my learning this week (I love it when that happens):
“In her essay ‘The Possible Human,’ Jean Houston describes amazing capacities that are within reach of any of us who are brazen and cagey enough to cultivate them. We can learn to thoroughly enjoy being in our bodies, for example. We can summon enormous power to heal ourselves; develop an acute memory; enter at will into the alpha and theta wave states that encourage meditation and creative reverie; cultivate an acute perceptual apparatus that can see “infinity in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower;” and practice the art of being deeply empathetic. Guess what, Cancerian: The next six months will be one of the best times ever for you to work on developing these superpowers. To get started, answer this question: Is there any attitude or belief you have that might be standing in the way?” http://www.freewillastrology.com/horoscopes/20110224.html
I suppose that leaving behind what I’ve been embroiled in leaves what feels like a void in my life, but at the same time, it opens me up for more of what I want. It seems that these days I’m letting go of that which really doesn’t matter, and inviting into my life more of what I do.
In my therapy session we deconstructed a dream I had. The dream, or perhaps my remembering of it, was very disjointed. It was a family dream, of course. But here’s how it went. We were in a motel, or it was actually more like a condominium where we used to stay at family reunions, part of the time. I was in my room, and my sister came in. She was asserting that I should be more friendly with her, more sisterly. My reaction was naturally, why? She seemed to be supremely confident that I would and should be this way towards her. Thinking about it now, it sort of reminds me of the GOP majority these days. But in therapy, we discussed how it might have to do with a co-worker. Dr. M says that three-fourths having our buttons pushed are reactions from past events, and one-fourth is from actual button-pushing. I’m having an unpleasant reaction to this co-worker. And perhaps it reminds me of something about my sister–her basically telling me to trust her, and me saying, “Fuck you!” There’s something about this co-worker who tries to act very sweet and smart being untrustworthy that perhaps triggered that segment of the dream.
There was another segment of the dream in which my mother and I were sitting side by side on the coach. This was at my house. There were lots of people there (extended family). She was very ill and my father called the paramedics. They tended to her. At the same time, I became very ill, but I had to call the paramedics for myself, because my father and I weren’t communicating and I am an outsider in my family, as Trey* reminds me. We were sitting there together, but I didn’t know what was wrong with my mom. That comes from being an outsider too, and not knowing what’s really going on with my mom. She will tell me one thing, my father will tell me another, and I don’t get any details to support either claim.
The last part has to do with weddings. My father and I were driving in a truck, and I was making inconsequential conversation with him. We were driving in a wealthy part of town, and it wasn’t Albuquerque. The houses had more than one story, to begin with, and the foilage was lush (that part reminded me of San Francisco). Every few houses we came across, there was a wedding taking place. Brides and attendants milled about or were posing for photographs. There were tons and tons of flowers everywhere. I asked my dad if he didn’t notice the weddings taking place. This is something I couldn’t figure out on my own. I was clueless until Dr. M. told me that if you have a dream that’s aesthetically please, beautiful, it means that you’re connecting with something in your life that’s beautiful. Her suggestions about what it meant were that maybe there’s something beautiful about my house that I’m in touch with, or about the possibilities where I may be next. It is spring, and I have been thinking primroses, daffodils, and pansies. I actually had on my shopping list to pick up some flowers for the planters on my front porch (not in the budget, but I can dream!). Maybe that’s the connection.
I’ve been verbose today. I’ve also fuckered up my day. I was supposed to be at a board meeting at noon and only remembered when 11:49 hit. Lord, I miss my mind. I’m going to have to use my phone’s calendar function religiously.
1.) My children, for so many reasons, including they love hens just as much as I do, and share my “Let’s have fun” energy.
2.) Trey*, I can’t wait to share DamnYouAutocorrect with him in case he’s never seen it. We can never have too many laughs.
3.) My friends, they are amazing.
4.) Dear Dr. M.
5.) My puppy loves, Pennie and Lady, for all their love.
6.) Flowers, especially primroses.
“Tis my faith that every flower, Enjoys the air it breathes!” ~ William Wordsworth