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15 Things I’m Not Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 1This time of year Facebook and other social media websites are overrun with “Thankful” and “Blessing” posts. Everyone takes the time to reflect on what they’ve been given in life, and many hope to inspire others in their quest for inner peace and satisfaction in life. It’s a beautiful tradition. It’s a boastful tradition. And this year I’m not going to participate.

Yes, I am thankful for any number of wonderful blessings in my life. (I’m ALIVE! Let’s sing the Hallelujah chorus to that!) But sometimes I don’t feel so thankful. Sometimes I feel quite jealous reading everyone’s posts about their joy and blessings. Their engagements. Their miracle healings. Their new car. Their career success. It makes me a downright Scrooge with a side of Grinch.

So I’m going to shake things up a bit. I’m going to tell you what I’m not thankful for because, boy, are there a cartload of those waiting to be unleashed! And I don’t write these as a ploy to bring you down from your Holiday High. I just want to be honest this Thanksgiving. Because this world isn’t all rainbows and pumpkin pie.Thanksgiving 2

  1. I’m Not Thankful that I don’t feel safe walking to my car alone after work just because I’m a woman and sexual assault against women (and men) is still a regular occurrence.

  2. I’m Not Thankful that we even have to have a discussion as to whether black lives matter in this country.

  3. I’m Not Thankful that victim blaming is the go-to method of explaining away rape (“She was asking for it with that skirt.”)

  4. I’m Not Thankful that people so blatantly disrespect the President of the United States no matter their party affiliation.

  5. I’m Not Thankful that people use God as a means to manipulate people to help them feel righteous, powerful, or loved.

  6. I’m Not Thankful that despite the fact that we have fun and successful campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, so little money actually goes to good in the myriad of charities asking for our aid.

  7. I’m Not Thankful that cancer exists. Nor am I thankful that there still isn’t a cure.

  8. I’m Not Thankful that people idolize the Kardashians and other rich and privileged celebrities whose lives are so formulated and refined before being broadcasted to the Internet, and yet they are what many people compare themselves to and feel worthless when they fall short of their exorbitant standard.

  9. I’m Not Thankful that social media rules our lives to the point that it causes depression and anxiety in those who use it because they feel like their lives aren’t as “perfect” as all the “Fakebook” posts filtering through their feeds.

  10. I’m Not Thankful that my dad is sick (and has been my whole life), and no one can figure out what’s wrong with him.

  11. I’m Not Thankful that friends betray you, lovers abuse you, and parents ignore you.

  12. I’m Not Thankful that everyone doesn’t have a bed to sleep in at night and the promise of a meal the next day.

  13. I’m Not Thankful that many children are denied the simple pleasure of being children because their existence demands an adult’s mentality when only a child is present.

  14. I’m Not Thankful that people kill, defile, maim, and torture others.

  15. I’m Not Thankful that the world we live in isn’t perfect.

I know this world can’t be perfect. But many things on the list we can change, but we don’t. Why? I don’t know. Selfishness? Obliviousness? Outright nefarious intent?

I wish it were easier. I wish we could just snap our fingers and make these bad things go away. But it isn’t easy. It will never be easy. We have to work to overcome these things unfortunately. One small step at a time.

So when everyone is being thankful on Thanksgiving, remember this list. Remember all the things that we can’t be thankful for because they are still oh so very wrong. And think how you can turn our “Thanks” into change for all these negative things.

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It’s Just One of Those Days

One Of Those Days 1Last Wednesday was one of those days. Those days where nothing goes right. Those days where you just want to cry (and maybe even do) before you’ve even gotten to lunch. Those days that when you think you’ve finally made it out of the forest, you fall right into the deepest pit.

I hate days like this.

The day didn’t start out bad. It wasn’t one of those days where you’re aware from the moment you wake up that it’s going to be a bad day. Where your dreams are filthy and contaminate you for the rest of the day so that you just don’t feel “right.” You can’t quite shake the uneasiness of the previous night’s phantoms away. I hate those days too, but at least they give you a warning.

One Of Those Days 4The day that I experienced was much worse because I didn’t see it coming. I couldn’t just buckle down and deal with it. I kept thinking it was only a minor mishap, and the rest of the day would straighten out.

That is not what happened.

It started with a meeting with my coworkers and the president of my company. It was a careful battle of wills, manipulation, and verve that is usually done through email, but that day I had the joy of experiencing it in person. Essentially my coworkers and I have to figure out a way to be helpful while also not committing ourselves to projects that we just don’t have time or resources for. It is an exhausting endeavor.

While I was in the meeting I then received a voicemail from my doctor’s office explaining that before a prescription that I needed refilled could be called in, I HAD to see the doctor. Well, this shouldn’t have been much of a problem, right? Except that:

  1. The reason I was having a special refill from the doctor in the first place was because my pharmacy had shorted me an entire month but vehemently INSISTED that they hadn’t and insinuated that I was a drug addict.
  2. I was just about to start a three day long video shoot that I couldn’t miss and of course doctors only operate during my working hours so it becomes quite complicated to schedule an appointment when you’re supposed to be running a video taping.
  3. I was completely out of medicine at this point, and had been under the impression that all of this was taken care of the previous day and my medicine would be ready to pick-up that evening. I had been told by several different doctors NOT to stop taking the medication without slowly weaning myself off. If I couldn’t get more medication until after seeing a doctor, it was very possibly I would spend at least a week without any medicine and I didn’t want to find out what side effects that might cause.

This pretty much sent me into a tail spin because I was tired of talking to doctors and pharmacy technicians and being accused of taking more than my allotted dosage and having to explain my work schedule and how I couldn’t miss any time. Essentially, THERE JUST WASN’T ANY TIME TO DEAL WITH THESE PROBLEMS. But they demanded immediate attention.

In an effort to calm down, I went outside and decided to call my mom and talk it out. This backfired as well. I ended up sitting in an oven of a car trying to explain all the issues I was having AGAIN and make someone new understand which only agitated me more because that’s exactly what was bothering me in the first place, I just hadn’t realized it until that moment.

I finally calmed down enough to go back inside where the real work began because our video shoot would soon start. So I spent the rest of the day trying to balance video editing (that has a crunching deadline approaching) and shooting several new videos that took me over my normal working time until about 6:00 PM. But I’m not done then because I need to still finish that editing!

So I stay late (even when my usual latest staying coworkers have left already!) until about 7:00 PM. I cut off all the lights. Make sure everything is rendering appropriately. Gather all my things, lock the office door and the warehouse door (of which I usually exit through), and finally the building door. I walk to my car in the pitch black, empty parking lot and click on the “lock” button located on the door handle of my car only to find…that it doesn’t work.

Why doesn’t it work?

Because you have to have the keys with you in order for the car to recognize that it should open.

The conclusion: I didn’t have the keys.

One Of Those Days 2Maybe this wouldn’t be that big of a deal for most people, but the only way I have access into my work building is with an electronic keycard.

That is hooked onto my car keys.

This means, I am stuck outside without car keys, without a building key, and without knowing if anyone was left in the building. Should I call my boss and have him drive over to let me back in the building and wait in the dark, creepy parking lot alone until he arrives? Do I call my parents have them come pick me up and just leave the car overnight until there are more people in the building who would let me in? Do I ring the doorbell in hopes that a poor soul was working even later than I was and will hear it? Do I just sit on the sidewalk and cry my eyes out?

I was rather privy to the final option, but I finally made it into the building after a panic attack, some brainstorming with my boss over the phone, a few calls to our phone center in hopes that someone was still working (I missed our close time by three minutes), and triumphantly a lot of bell ringing.

When I finally made it home that night, I realized it had been one of those days. I could only see it in retrospect, but goodness was it horrific! I don’t like days like that. I don’t want to do more days like that. I can’t even learn anything from days like that unless you consider “everyone is unlucky sometimes” a lesson.

In the end, it was just “one of those days,” and there’s not much you can do about it. Other than hope you don’t have another one soon!

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Love Ruins Your Life

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In watching the latest episode of Once Upon a Time (episode 407 “The Snow Queen”), I heard a quote that resonated with me. Will Scarlett, originally part of the Merry Men says in response to Robin Hood’s question about his heart-wrenching efforts for his True Love being worth it, “Mate, if you find someone you love enough to ruin your entire life for, it’s always worth it.”

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I don’t think we usually consider “falling in love” to be “ruining our lives.” It seems silly doesn’t it? Love is supposed to be beautiful and wonderful and happily ever after? (Okay, maybe not “happily ever after” all the time.) But actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a television show speak such truth before.

On the one hand, if you’ve ruined your life for a person, it BETTER be worth it. But on the other, do we ever really think about how we “ruin our lives” in pursuing our dreams of love? What about the guy who chooses to go to his hometown college so he’ll be near his rising senior girlfriend rather than attending the out-of-state university he’s been dreaming of since childhood? Or the post-grad who gives up her job, friends, and family to move across the country and live with her fiancé who decides after only a few months they’ve grown apart and breaks up with her? Or what about when you pledge your love and life to someone but you’ve barely been married and they die—stage 4 diagnosis, car crash, freak accident, doesn’t matter because they’re gone?

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But what I think this quote really talks about, and what resonates with me the most is the idea that you chose to ruin your life. You don’t necessarily think of it as ruining your life, but you know you are significantly changing the life you had or wanted or worked for. That’s what real love is, I think. That what makes and break marriages. What builds people up and tears them down. What makes us question our choices. What makes brides or grooms get cold feet at the altar.

Love is a scary emotion.

But is it worth it like Will Scarlett says? The romantic in me says, YES! The cynic in me asks, “Has all the world gone crazy?”

Maybe it has. Maybe it’s worth it. Maybe it’s not. Maybe it doesn’t matter as long as you accept your choices in life and move on?

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Finding My “Drive” to Write: Novel Writing Month 10, Chapter 10

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Month ten!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!

I didn’t finish.

I know! Tragedy! Disaster! Horror! Failure! But by the time I wrote this blog I had finished. It took me two extras days of writing, but it is done! And I think it turned out to be a pretty decent chapter.

I’m still kind of stuck in this weird storyline limbo where there isn’t a lot of action, but there are still things that need to happen and thus writing that needs to be done, and it’s my job to figure out how to accomplish that feat! For this particular chapter I decided to play around a little more with form, which made the writing interesting for me and broke up the monotony of the “this-then-that” chapters I’ve been writing so far.

One of my favorite TV shows is ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” which has a really unique and beautiful means of story telling. Each episode holds two stories—one in the present day “real” world and one in the past Enchanted Forest. These two stories usually interact, intertwine, and reveal things about the other to the viewer as it plays out. It also makes for some creative transitions between past and present and a look at how one’s past can (and can’t) predict one’s future. And in Chapter Ten, I wanted to try something similar.

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Actually, it was more of an accident. I realized that I had started the chapter later than when some of the information I needed to give would have happened. My initial intention had been to do one longer flashback to establish all the information, but after one scene in the past, I found myself naturally wanting to transition back to the present time.

But I wasn’t done! What would I do?

Well I continued on in the present day for a little bit longer before finding another place to transition back into the past. And this pattern continued as I wrote the chapter. I kept finding places that connected between what I was trying to convey in the present storyline and key points I made in the past storyline. In the end, I think I made a chapter of delicately woven stories and timelines.

Now, I will say that eventually I had to give up on whether or not I was using the correct grammatical tense (I got lost pretty quickly there since both are written in the past tense but one has to be more past than the other which doesn’t make any sense.) However, I decided I would worry about the tenses and grammar later. What was important now was the writing. The getting down my ideas down onto paper (or digital files at least) needed to take precedence.

And once I knew where I was going with the story (both the form and the plot), I didn’t mind so much that I would be a few days late finishing the chapter. I don’t consider it a failure because it’s still done and I have pretty much all of November to write Chapter Eleven so no harm done here!

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I think this month taught me about drive. For a little while, mid-month, I lost the drive to write. I hadn’t quite decided yet how I was going to structure the chapter ,and I was wondering whether I would need to rewrite everything or if I should just keep going even though this “back-and-forth-present-to-past” thing looked like it might get complicated. So for a week and half I just didn’t write. I kept putting it on my daily “To-Do” list, but I would always put it off because I didn’t know where to go with it. But once I took a second look and decided—really DECIDED—where I wanted this chapter to go, I got my drive back and I finished the chapter. Later than I wanted, yes. But if I hadn’t had the drive, I could have convinced myself to make Chapter Ten a two-month long writing journey which was NOT my original goal. I don’t want to make consolations like that (although I did seriously consider it around October 29th or so). I want to write a chapter a month. It’s not that hard, and I know I can do it because I’ve been doing it for over nine months now! I just have to say “YES! YES YOU CAN!” to the inevitable questions and feelings of failure. I have to put my writing car into “Drive,” put my foot to the petal, and GO! No looking back. No second-guessing. No wondering if I should stop for gas. I know the tank’s almost empty, but I have enough to get to my destination. I just know it.

So I keep on driving!

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