Sunday, October 30, 2011

Popularity - GBE2, Week #24

I have never been popular. I was always the one nobody picked for their team, who was called names and teased, who wasn’t invited to parties or sleepovers. There were a few years in high school where I did have a group of kids I hung out with and within that group, I felt popular, which helped me through high school tremendously; but I also gravitated towards others who were on the outside looking in. I befriended those who were also shut out because of whatever factor of the day was being held against them. There were a few times I found myself having to draw back because the person had more “issues” than even I could grasp or overlook; but for the most part, the friends I made then are still friends now. 

Not that I have a huge number of friends or do a lot of socializing. Occasionally I wish I had
Something we all seek to some degree.
 more “normal” social experiences than I did because it would have helped me overcome some of my insecurities and the extreme shyness I grew up with. Other times, I see how far some people go in an effort to be popular and find that I am much more content with my station in life than I’d have ever thought possible. Things that some think are important are much less so for me. I don’t have the stress of maintaining an image that some have. There is no overt competition for me in social circles because, in most cases, I can take them or leave them.

It isn’t that I’m anti-social. It’s more that, after years of looking in from the outside, I can enjoy my own company and don’t really need to be entertained by others. I do enjoy it but am glad that I don’t have to schedule my social events in order to remember what I’m doing when or with whom.

Unfortunately, though, I have found that many situations in the so-called “real world” are more of a popularity contest than an actual acceptance of a person and their abilities – jobs, for example. I have worked in places where who you’re friends with has a far greater impact on your ability to promote up than how well you do your job. Far too often, it’s who you know or what you kiss that gets you the position you want. Not that knowing someone is totally unnecessary – often, it’s who we know, or how we network, that helps us locate the jobs we don’t know about. But, if that’s the only criteria in obtaining a position, then I would rather not be a part of it. In those jobs, your days are numbered if any manager takes a dislike to you, regardless of how professional you might be.

All in all, though, being popular can be more of a headache than a benefit.  There’s nothing wrong with being popular if it’s because you are a genuinely likeable person who treats everyone equally. But, if your popularity is based more on peer prestige than personality and something you work hard at maintaining, then I think you stand a greater risk of losing something of yourself along the way than someone who isn’t as concerned with being popular.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Safe Haven – Week #22 GBE2

Tornado Shelter - another safe haven

Safe havens exist everywhere and are different things to different people. Some are actual places where someone can go to be safe and feel protected. Battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters, even foster homes, can be safe havens for many. There are also designated safe havens for women who don’t want their infants and for children who feel threatened walking home from school.

For others, they imagine escaping into alcohol or drugs as a safe haven from the realities they can’t face sober; regardless of how wrong they might be, they feel better when chemically enhanced.

Some of us have music or books or even writing – a place we can go that affords us shelter from whatever events around us are a threat or too stressful. As a child, I escaped into books – I lived vicariously through the lives of the books’ characters, often as the hero, which was quite the opposite of how I felt in reality. I honestly feel that those books saved what sanity I retained since my mother didn’t really understand how affected I was by my father. I could live a “normal” life through books that I wasn’t living in our home.
Even psychological problems may become involuntary safe havens for some. Think of those with multiple personality disorders – how often is it that we learn of the traumatic issues in their lives that these personalities were able to help them escape. In some ways like me with my books, they became heroes, infants, controlling personalities dominating some aspect of their lives with the personalities they couldn’t themselves bring into being as the situation warranted.

The most extreme and ultimate safe haven is death – we all either know someone or know OF someone who has chosen death rather than deal with the pains they were experiencing in life.

No matter what, we have all experienced one safe haven or another – mothers’ arms, grandma’s house, under the covers or the bed in our rooms, or church; wherever we have been able to feel secure and comfortable and protected from the evils of the world, real or imagined. I think everyone could use such a place in their lives.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #35 October 27

Week 35's Book Blurb assignment will be using this photo provided by Ashley Ortiz. We are to write a book blurb that introduces the imaginary book behind the jacket this photo represents. The blurb is meant to draw you in wanting more the book has to offer. Thanks to Lisa Ricard Claro for providing this meme to draw out of us what we have to offer.

The Mosaic of Life – Assembling the Pieces

There are few among us who can’t see beauty in a stained glass window. Yet, each individual piece of colored glass has no real beauty in and of itself. It isn’t until it is all combined into a single cohesive unit that the design intended by the maker is visible. The same is true of life. Each of us is a composite of many different events, good and bad. This book is meant to help you assemble all those parts into a cohesive mosaic; a thing of beauty; a life you can be proud to call your own.

Learn your strengths, learn from your weaknesses and find acceptance within yourself. You’ll be amazed at who you really are and who you can become. Don’t let adversity stop your progression. Let me help you become who you were meant to be.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Trails from Old Rails - Book Blurb Friday #34

Lisa Ricard Claro sponsors this flash fiction meme on her blog. We are to create a storyline using 150 words or less that could be found on the inside flap of a book jacket of an imaginary book cover featuring this photo. This week’s photo was provided by Becky Povich.

New Trails from Old Rails

Thousands of miles of no-longer-used rail rights-of-way have been converted by communities all across this country into biking and hiking trails, often using funds meant to keep areas in a nearly undeveloped state. Most often, these are in areas of higher population, but can be located anywhere.

Often, newer residents in an area are totally unaware that at one time there was rail service to their community. Our goal is to provide you with the locations of these new trails as well as the history behind them. A change in use shouldn’t cause history to be forgotten.

Join us on our journey across country as we visit these rails to trails to see how the past has benefitted the present.

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Simon's Plight - Succinctly Yours by Grandma's Goulash

Ambivalent is the word we are to use.

Grandma’s Goulash  is the place sponsoring this meme.

A story in 140 characters or less is the goal of the assignment. My story is below. How did I do?
Simon’s stage fright finally got the best of him after years of being front and center. No longer ambivalent, he was ready to put out the lights.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ownership - GBE2, Week #23

Wow – what a perfect topic for me to come back to. It was meant to be.
There’s more to ownership than merely having legal possession of something. It’s easy to own your car, your home, your pets, your clothing or any number of other physical objects. What’s hard is owning your behaviors – taking responsibility for how you act and what you expect of others.

So many people find it very easy to put blame on others when the problem lies in their own actions. The problem there is that they don’t want to own their behaviors; don’t want the responsibility that comes with being wrong about something or making a mistake of any kind. They find someone else to hold responsible so that they don’t have to face their own fallibilities. Whether it’s because they believe that admitting to being wrong is a sign of weakness or simply cannot see the errors of their ways, they can make it terribly hard on those around them who would love to help them, but who are tired of being held responsible for their failures.

I have a dear friend who is far more intelligent than he considers himself. Yet, there are days and times when it seems he’s doing his best to live up to his low self-image. But, since he can’t admit that he is doing just that, he finds it easier to hold me responsible if I refuse to help him out of the hole he has dug for himself. I don’t mind helping when he’s in the hole digging with me. I do mind when he expects me to do all the digging while he sits back and critiques and attempts to put me on a schedule that is usually a tight one because he has failed to even have the digging implements ready and available to do the digging.

Confused yet? Let me explain. My friend is attending school under the TARP program for people who have lost their jobs because their employer sent the jobs overseas. He already has a Master’s degree, but Political Science is pretty hard to market these days unless you’re a politician. To add to it, he managed to graduate without learning how to use a computer. So, now he needs to gain some marketable skills that will mesh well with his previous education and provide him with today’s computer skills in order to do the job he plans to obtain as a paralegal.

I do not mind helping him write his papers or type up his assignments. I type better than him, but he does need to become better versed with the keyboard. I told him he MUST take a keyboarding class – he will be expected to type, whether he likes it or not. Instead, he has been concentrating on the law courses, which is fine as long as he actually does the work assigned. His problem is that he doesn’t even open the book. He waits until the assignment is due and comes running to me demanding that I do his assignment for him, how I shouldn’t do this to him (when I refuse), how I’m being selfish because I start arguing with him over his irresponsible behavior, and then throwing out reminders of the things he does for me on a regular basis, like take me to the doctor or shopping or to the bank – which obviously aren’t the same kinds of things at all. Plus, I always counted those things as partial payback for the help that I give him with his assignments. He just can’t see the inequity in his actions and tries to play the guilt card if I don’t jump to do just what he wants after he has failed to do anything himself.

He is very spoiled. His parents have always given in to his and his brother’s demands, however irrational they might be, however self-centered they might be. His parents are older than me, but I have had to tell them they have created monsters because they don’t say no. His brother is far worse than he is which is why HE is my friend and his brother isn't  The one who is my friend is loving and kind and has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know – yet, he also has this spoiled, childish side that rears its head periodically and needs to be put back in its place as quickly as possible lest it grow into something far less endearing. Their parents are finally stepping up and placing boundaries, but it shouldn’t have taken three decades to occur. But, I also don’t think anyone has ever actually told them about it before, either.

But, that’s my story about ownership. Take ownership of your actions, of your words, of your behaviors. Don’t think that someone else should be held responsible just because you didn't do your part. While there may be times that someone else shares responsibility, you almost always had some say in the process and you need to recognize that. If you don’t, then you’ll never learn from your experiences. I think you’ll be a lot happier, too, because you won’t be as likely to harbor anger against others since you’ll no longer blame them like you were.

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