The Dugger Factor

Anna Dugger. A name synonymous with the phrase “stand by your man.” Being a good and loyal spouse is commendable, but there are limits to what anyone should be expected to endure. A recent Facebook post about the topic went viral, and it did start me thinking. Many have criticized Anna Dugger for not leaving her child molesting, porn addicted, cheating, Ashley Madison account having husband. But instead, I have an incredible amount of empathy for her.

One can only assume that a man, or anyone, who can be so despicable and deceitful to those closest, certainly must also be very manipulative as well. That kind of manipulation is successful because it’s so very subtle, so much in fact, that you can barely recognize it changing you, chipping away at your self-confidence, until a large part of yourself is gone.

Now consider that she has no education, and that her family and social circle blame her for her husbands shortcomings. Her parents encourage her still, to stay with her husband and would shame and ostracize her for leaving him. That coupled with the slow tear down of confidence and spirit…She was the perfect wife, sticking to all the rules, and yet it still wasn’t enough. She is still expected; demanded even, to give more of herself for someone who has cared for her so very little.

It is a shame that anyone should be expected to stay where they are mistreated so very badly. While I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, are limits. Maybe we are all guilty aof staying in a relationship longer than we should have, but at some point you have to wake up, take off the rose colored glasses and get out.

Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, be made to feel like they are valued, and matter. To be needed, loved and valued are basic human needs, and if someone, anyone, whether it be a friend, a family member, a spouse, or a co-worker, does not value what you bring to the table, then you have the very basic human right to leave.

You also have the basic human right to demand that you be treated with respect, kindness and decency. To know that you are worth those things, that you have value in and of yourself, to know that your soul is important just because you exist.

The Facebook post that went viral stated that men are born with power, but women have to demand it for themselves, and that they should be taught to make a man cower in the corner if they need to. I agree. But not just women, though that is what we see mostly, because women are typically taken advantage of more than men. Everyone has the right, and if you must make a person cower in order to escape mistreatment, then so be it. But these lessons have to start young.

In addition to instilling a healthy sense of self esteem, boys should be taught to value women, not use them. Teach them that women are to be cherished. But also teach girls the value that men have, and that they deserve to be respected too. If both are taught, as children, to value the other, as human beings, then the world would be a much better, kinder place.

To know your worth, to know that you deserve to be loved, that you alone, are Enough. These lessons can make such a difference in shaping lives, and save those lives from an immense amount of pain later When both men and women realize the value in one another, that is when humanity is at its best. So I refrain from criticizing Anna Dugger, but instead feel much empathy and compassion for her. She was never taught that she alone is enough.

The SImple Life

These days, in the world of fast cars, fast food and faster turn-around, I have been enjoying the simple things in the slow lane. It’s not as much taking time to smell the roses as it is just catching my breath, and letting life catch up with me. That’s the thing about moving so fast, sometimes you have to let everything catch up. And sometimes when you are knee deep in it, just getting through it, you don’t have time. So you just move ahead at light speed and get it done.

But then what? After it’s all over, and the lights are dim, crowds are gown, cheers or jeers have subsided and all is quiet…then what?

Then you are left with slowing down, taking a break, catching your breath and just being still. I like to be still. That’s one of the things I like best about early morning (yes, I am occasionally up before or at sunrise – it does happen!).  The early morning is so peaceful, still and quiet. It is pure, before the day has set in; before traffic, and bosses, and deadlines, and emails, and phone calls, and bills and concerns,and …everything. Morning is when you can hear the voice of God, I think.

And so in this moment, I am taking time to slow down and be still. To find my grounding and roots. To make sure the foundation on which I build, and whom I might build with, is solid and secure. I take time to let all my emotions of the past year or so percolate and catch up with me, so that moving forward there are no remnants. There have been plenty of tearful moments as it all comes back – almost losing my Dad, seeing my Mom so tired and worn, being so weary myself, saying goodbye to old dear friends, and wondering if they were ever really there at all.

Knowing the pain of caring too much, knowing too little, and having just enough. Of deeply hoping, praying in earnest, crying profoundly from the deepest parts of the soul, genuinely loving and wholeheartedly believing, mostly because, all because, you simply could not bring yourself to believe anything else. To believe with such sincerity and passion,that by the Grace of God, it is so.

And so it is now, that I sit,on a Friday night, glass if wine in one hand while typing with the other. What about all those parties and invites? What about all those good times, places and people? Oh, they’ll keep. Right now, life is all about my warm blanket, a fireplace, a good book, maybe a TV show or two, the sound of a purring cat, my favorite fuzzy PJ’s, good music, a soft bed, the sound of the dishwasher and the knowledge that the simple things are what feeds my soul right now. Oh, I am not ready to come out of hibernation, not yet. Just a little while longer in my own warm little world. Maybe by spring I’ll be ready.

And then when I return, the foundation will be set, them support strong and life may resume at regular speed. To be flexible you must first be stable. And until then, there are my soft fuzzy sock, hot chocolate, and warm snuggles. Yes, it is the simple things in life.

The Oposite of Seasons

This is the season for parties, festivities, socializing, seeing old friends, making new friends and just a lot of hustle and bustle. It is a season of extraverts. But this season I am feeling anything but extravert.

This year I am feeling very be cozy and warm mama bearish. I just want to be home, or with a close circle of friends. Yes, the invites have been pouring in for this and that.  And surely these are people whose company I have enjoyed in the past. But my couch is so very comfortable and the fire is warm.

This year, after being terrible displaced from my home due to toxic mold, I am more appreciative of e safe place to hang my hat.  I want to make this space warm and welcoming to all those whom I love and care.

And as the pictures of festive parties, pretty dresses, fixed hair, perfect make up and lots of drinks are posted on Facebook and other social media outlets, I smile and click like from the comfort and warmth of my own hearth, on my flannel PJ’s and fuzzy socks (yes, super sexy, I know).

I sip wine and listen to my favorite music, unpacking, organizing, arranging furniture and getting settled.  And who says you have to be and about on the town seeing and being seen to be social? I have my friends close by, still meeting for dinners and drinks.  I run to theirs or they come to mine. It is nice and quiet and small and quaint.

There is home cooking – soups and sauces, new recipes and old favorite, smells and fragrances filling the house. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, with all the old ornaments from childhood that make me smile and love my parents. There is eggnog and mistletoe and kisses and laughter. There is the gentleness of starting over.

And sometimes, in the big world, it is good to be small and close.  It is good to make sure that all of our fingers and toes and accounted for and painted pretty colors, enjoying the small comforts that build the foundation of a good and happy life. Sometimes the small celebrations are even more meaningful than the big ones.

And sometimes, when it is all said and done, it is the building of many of those small moments that make a life worth living and loving. Sometimes being the opposite of the season is what gives it it’s meaning.

Question: Mercy, Compassion, Grace and Forgiveness

Rex, one of my best friends asked me a question:

“Have you ever had a man love you enough to  hold you while you beat up on him because you were more important to him than his ego?”

My Answer: Yes.

The question was so raw in it’s honestly it stopped me in my tracks. And I started to cry. It was almost 20 years ago, but that question brought everything back like I was right there in it.

His name was David. I was 19.

I asked Rex later why he asked that question, he said: “It’s one of the 3 or 4 lowest points and/or most charged-up situations in any relationship run into. Without those turning points no relationship turns real, it just stays cursory.”

There is a time in my life I call “The Dark Ages,” and it lasted from age 19-21.  Terrible things happened during that time. No one knows everything that happened. I have never told. And I never will. Somethings just hurt too much to ever tell another.

David was my angel. He held me as I sobbed for hours, weeks, as I sobbed for months, even over a year. I sobbed for everything I had lost, all of myself that I could never get back. I wept for my heart, how it was so broken, I was broken, from the inside out. I had to look up to see rock bottom.  That was during the time I would drive 1,000 miles a day, just to be moving. I couldn’t be still because everything horrible would catch up with me.

I put that man through every kind of Hell imaginable. I yelled, lied, was so mean, wishy-washy, temperamental, distrusting. I never cheated, but I did treat him horrible. I put him through the ringer emotionally.

And he was there for me the whole time. He held me through it all, telling me it was going to be OK. He knew, whatever it was that hurt me so, I had to get it out.  He took my anger, pain, loss, confusion, loss of faith, disillusionment, emptiness, distrust, meanness….turned it into love, and gave it back to me.

That is Grace. And that is what I have prayed to have. It is not easy. Because you do have to care less for your ego than anything else. And sometimes, you do get beat up, quite a bit.

I thank David, to this day. I can never pay him back for what he did for me. His kindness, his wisdom, his Mercy, his Grace, saved my life. I cannot repay the debt, but I can pay forward.

Mercy Street, by Peter Gabriel is what he gave me:

Chances, Changes and Superman Returns

There is nothing like dating a superman. A man who is sexy, funny, smart, helpful, a gentleman, but can still make your scream, compassionate, mature, intelligent, good looking, crafty, handy, snuggly, romantic, talented…in essence, the whole package. The kind of man that you say you want when you are a little girl, and wonder if still exists when you are an adult.  There is nothing like being smitten and there is nothing like having another chance and working things through. And sometimes that means taking chances and making changes.

Taking chances for me in being vulnerable and exposing raw emotions, being brutally honest with myself and others.  And what is so great is that, even though it has taken me a little while to build up the courage, there has been respect, compassion and understanding waiting for me. It is a truly amazing thing that has renewed a very weary soul and jaded outlook.

Making changes is taking the time to truly slow down and absorb. It is putting my money where my mouth is when it comes to giving compassion and asking for the gift of Grace.  You cannot just ask for these things when you pray, you have to actively seek them out and practice them. As with all novices, I may be bad at it in the beginning…but I will keep on trying, until I have Grace that is a reflection of God, or at least I will come as close to it as I can. But it is hard. I must first seek to have a true understanding of Grace — what is is, what it means, what it looks like and how it moves, in order to have it and give it.

Another change is to stop being so defensive. Being defensive, if I am truly honest,  comes from fear and insecurity.  Fear of being judged and insecurity that people will not like what they see and walk away. Everyone fears those things to some extent. Especially when mistakes have been made, or you feel ashamed of some decisions that were made, or outcomes from those decisions. And when we are defensive, we block the love, patience and compassion that are extended to us from others, rejecting their very wonderful gift. Not being defensive, I also suspect, is another aspect of having Grace.

So while I am truly drowning in the wonderfulness of my Superman, I am also busy joyfully working on taking chances and making changes. Life is delicious and it is up to me to keep it that way. I want to slow down and be still. I want to enjoy each. Little. Moment. Drink it up and savor it, so that nothing of this time slips by or is forgotten.  I want to do all those wonderful domestic things that make a house a home. I want to be fully engaged in my life. And I want the Grace to make sure those I love feel at home where ever they are with me.

What gives you Peace will make you happy. And where there is Peace, there is love.

Love and Support

When you go through a very hard time, you often lean on your friends and loved ones for support. That is part of what they are there for, to help and support you when you need it. No man is an island. A wonderful thing has happened this week and it is only Tuesday. This week has shown me that I have more love and support than I could ever imagine.

Love, support, compassion, understanding. Those are just a few of the things that I have experienced thus far. There have been calls, text messages, emails, visits and more. They truly say you really know who your friends are when the going gets tough, this is very true and I have learned I have many more than I ever thought possible.

Every person I thought would be supportive, except for one, has been. And there have been so many more I thought would not notice, who have taken special care to check in, to make sure I am ok, to ask if anything is needed, to offer a hug, or a shoulder, or some wine, or chocolate or dinner. Even offers to just sit quietly with me, so I simply do not have to be alone.

I wrote earlier that this week would be about love…indeed it is, though not in the way I originally thought. And girls, those people who aren’t there for you? Don’t worry about them. If they are not willing to be there for you in the bad times, then they are not the kind of people you want in your life long term anyway. Marilyn Monroe said: “If you cannot handle me at my worst, then you sure as Hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

With this is mind, we must also have compassion for others as well, just as we ask it for ourselves. It is possible that some of those who are conspicuously absent may be going through a rough time of their own. So handle on a case by case basis to be fair.

So I move through this emotional week, knowing without a doubt, that I am loved. I know that I will be OK, not just because I am strong, but because of all those around me who have me in their arms. Teary eyed, puffy cheeks, red nose and all. And I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.



The Space Between Discovery

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. – Buddha

I often look at the above quote and it makes me excited about life and about discovering all that is in this world. I have often said that we must always be curious, about life, about others, about love, about the world in which we live and about oursleves.  Sometimes that can be hard because being curious is tiring and as we seek so shall we be joyful, and so shall we be hurt and feel sorrow.

And in the times that we feel that sorrow, when our soul is weary, tattered and torn, as pieces of our heart lay littered across streets of life, we must remember that these times are only temporary.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha

Life is messy. We have to, in our lifetime, deal with betrayal, lies, heartache and false friends. But in the end, those that try to harm us and hurt us only make us stronger. Better. And they hate that. The best revenge truly is simply being happy and living a fabulous life. And when you move on, happy and confident, it is your life returned to you. And each time we feel pain, we feel it a little deeper in our soul, until we are the beautiful, complex works of art we were meant to be. But life must carve out those deep spaces in us first.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. – Buddha

And what we do and say carries an echo through life to those around us. Yes, the Karma bus is coming and it is far better to be a passenger than running trying not to get run over. Not even Nike shoes can help you win that race.

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. – Buddha

When we live purely and become the best that we can be, then we truly do shine. Now I am not talking about being a door mat and letting others walk all over you. As the president of the Feisty Red-Head Club, that will not do. And sometimes a bit of anger is needed to push us to finally stand up for ourselves and handle situations that we might otherwise ignore. But there comes a choice in everyone’s life whether or not to hang on or let go of that anger. And this is the moment of which I speak. Once the anger has served us, it is best to let it go, which frees us to pursue our own happiness.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

What works for me is to become very still. To be very quiet and start to listen to what my soul is saying. What my spiritual self needs and wants. I listen for the voice of God. And at first it may be hard to hear, I may have to really listen and strain…but eventually it always rings clear, even if soft in tone.

What I have found is that this allows me to act with Grace. While most who know me and have seen me try to walk or go down a flight of stairs without falling may laugh, it is a life of Grace which I seek. Grace allows us to be gentle as we go through life and interact with others. Grace also allows us to pick the battles that truly need to be fought, as Grace leads to wisdom (at least in my humble opinion).

Grace does not mean not ever getting mad or standing up for yourself. Quite the contrary.  It just allows us to focus on the battles that truly need to be fought with vigor all while guiding us through our daily lives in gentle kindness and compassion.

Yes life is a never ending process of experiencing and evolving, exploring, learning, moving and trying. We try, we fail, we try again…maybe we succeed maybe we fail, maybe we come up somewhere in between. And it is in that space between which we truly discover ourselves.

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.  – Buddha

The Origins of Compassion

We all have things in which we wonder. We all have questions to which we seek answers. One of those questions for me is what is the origin of compassion? From where does it come? Where is that spark first ignited? Compassion literally means come with passion. But it is much more than just that. It is to share suffering and feeling the pain with someone, to share the vulnerability of being known. And yet it is more than a necessity, in my opinion, it is survival. We must have compassion for those around us. We must take care of those we love and be there for them, serve them, with compassion.

When it comes to compassion, and just in general, you can’t force the heart. You either feel it or you don’t. You cannot press a bottom and make it appear. Genuine compassion cannot be composed. And true compassion is a hard thing, especially when we are tired or worn out ourselves and feel like we have nothing to give. So from where does compassion begin? And why is it that some are much more compassionate than others?

I don’t know why others seem to be born with more compassion than others, but I do have a theory of how it starts otherwise. I think that living life and going through struggles of our own gives us compassion for others. God takes us through the journey of our life, gives us these experiences, so that we might understand and be compassionate to those around us. The struggles we experience strip us down until there is nothing left, no ego, no pride, no superficiality, just our true selves at the core. This experience, this vulnerability, gives is the birth of compassion.

We are often like wet cement, and the events of life mold us to be the people we are supposed to become. You follow a journey that transforms your heart to compassionate space. It is a process. As we go through life , the hard times and experiences we have carve out deep spaces within us. And each time we hurt, we hurt a little deeper, so that each time we feel joy or love, we feel it deeper too. Our emotions fill up those spaces from the depths of our soul outward.

I also think a little time alone helps develop compassion. Solitude often lets us get back to our true authentic selves by getting us away from the noise of outside distractions. We prioritize, contemplate and listen deep. Once we get rid of distractions, we are able to sit still and listen, to ourselves, to God, to the hum of the inner Divine – that part of ourselves in which God truly lives. Some call it the soul, some call it the inner self. Regardless of the name, I think this is where compassion lives

I also think compassion is God’s gift to the Human race. To have the ability to share and lighten the load, to be a shoulder. Compassion can help heal a broken soul, sooth a hurt, fix a bad day or make someone smile. Every day I strive to be a better more compassionate person. And hopefully I succeed a little more every day too. And maybe if we all try a little every day, we can make the world just a little better every day. Sound corny? Just try it…

The Special in the Ordinary

Today met me with cold, golden arms and a good-morning kiss of autumn on on my cheek.  After a morning of sleeping late and relaxing around a bit, I listened to some music, pet my two wonderful purring cats, surfed the net, then met with some friends for breakfast and catching up. It was long over due, this breakfast meeting.  He has been a steadfast friend and I got to meet his wife for the first time.  There is just something so wonderful about seeing your friends happy. It was just an ordinary breakfast, but yet it was very special. To reconnect with those who have known me for so long, who have been loyal and wonderful friends.  It was a pleasure and an honor.

And that is the special in the ordinary. The rest of the day was spent doing various household duties, rearranging plants that have been brought in from the cold, cleaning a messy kitchen, vacuuming the toughs of cat hair that seem to appear out of no where and dusting. I did  laundry, went out and saw an extraordinary painting that I am in the process of buying, and even found some time to watch a movie with one of my favorite celebrity crushes Alan Rickman (maybe it’s that English accent). And when I was on my couch watching this movie, I looked around at my clean cozy home, and my happy cats…and found the special in the ordinary.

Maybe that is one of the great secrets of life and happiness.  We must make a conscious effort to find what is special about the world around us, the people around us, to see those wonderful specail moments that we should never take for granted. maybe that is the secret to keeping gratitude close and appreciation as a freind. And to never get bored with what we have in front of us.

That does not mean that we stop searching or looking for more. I still am. But it does mean we stop and take notice of the little miracle that surround us every day. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our lives and the daily rat race, that we forget about what is right there. I know I have done that as of late. I have been so caught up[ in legal drama and just trying to get through and heal, that I have overlooked and failed to appreciate some of the wonderful things in front of me. And I have no doubt that taking pause to notice my world will help in healing this somewhat broken heart.

The breakfast with my friends today was very special. because I saw two people who are so very happy and in love with each other. They do not have a perfect life, they do not always have it all figured out, but they don;t have to. They love each other, and that makes it special. And that is what has inspired me. A happy heart is out there, for me, for my life. I can have what they have, I just have to be patient and have faith. And see the special on the ordinary.