Judgy

I think dealing with your own personal issues is probably one of the hardest things in life to overcome besides great loss. It’s a painful thing to accept something problematic about yourself. It is also quite difficult to have both the courage and ability to change these things. There is no simple step-by-step guide. There will be trial and error, mostly error.

 

However, I have learned that if one does not navigate one’s own issues, not only will everyone else around you have to continue to deal with them, eventually those people will tire of you not dealing with your own issues and will possibly leave your scene.
I personally have grown tired of another’s refusal to grow or to outgrow things that don’t work for them and decided to walk away. Usually, these are things related to drama and drinking. Likewise, over the years, I have had others walk away from me due to my problematic behavior.
I was recently referred to as “Judgy Jaimee.”
Ouch.
But is it true? To some degree, yes.
Does it need to change?
Well, after some deep introspection, I believe it does.
(Even when I am right.)

 
You see, the thing is, I can’t become the person I want to be with this current mindset. And while there have been times that being judgmental has kept me out of a potential problem, it has also lead me into some as well. This is a jagged pill to swallow but I believe in taking my medicine. I believe in self-improvement and personal evolution.
The experts say that the first step to change is to admit that there is a problem and while I have been chewing on this for weeks, this is the first time I am truly admitting my problem. I am actively working on changing it and becoming a more accepting and hopefully more acceptable human being. While I cannot change the past, I indeed hope that anyone who has been negatively affected by this issue forgives me for something I did not see before now. I am sure that during this process of change, I will stumble, as that is part of the dance, though I hope that my actions are harmless when I do.

 

One other thing that I have to remind myself is to not be judgy with myself as well. I have been my own biggest critic for far too long. I have judged myself harshly for every mistake I have ever made. This has kept me from growing into the person I need to become and perhaps cost myself some amazing friendships along the way. I have prevented my own growth and my own enlightenment. I imagine that I am not alone, and perhaps there are those who will judge me for admitting these things. I accept that. This is my path and my road. I will continue to do the best I can to navigate it.

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Dear Friends,

I hate to admit that I still have a few racist friends left. I have justified keeping them out of some strange sense of loyalty. However, as time passes I feel I am not being loyal to myself. I feel that, especially in this current political climate, it is impossible to keep them. Not that being racist is ever fine. But in the past, at least they were learning and growing and (I thought) evolving. Now that the “American” narrative has gone backward (and it has), it seems impossible for me to ignore this problem any longer.
Perhaps I have outgrown these friends anyway? Or perhaps I should overlook their shortcomings and accept them for who they are as I have always done? Perhaps I am overreacting? I am here to figure this out. Writing is the best way for me to do so.
In the past there were bits I could let fly, so long as no active harm was being done. I was naive to think that if I didn’t see it, it wasn’t a problem. At this point in the narrative, EVERYONE now has an opinion on the kneeling thing; some for, some against and I understand the reasoning behind both. But that doesn’t mean I agree. (I honestly hate what football has become and detest organized sports for the most part.) But, I think that when you have a platform you should use it and do something that matters. Whether or not anyone agrees or likes it. (The president is a perfect example of following this unwritten rule.)
But now, with this whole Roseanne thing? Well, I’ll just state things the way I see them. I will admit, back in the day, I used to watch her show. I used to think she was funny but eventually I became disenchanted. Whether I outgrew her or she changed I am not sure. But I started finding her more and more …unlikeable. It happens. I had no desire to watch her new show and still don’t. I have no need for her crass attitude in my life.
Now that she has shown her racist colors to the world as well as shown her fragrantly rude and disrespectful side (example: that one time someone decided to let her sing the anthem) over and over without any remorse, my opinion of her is beyond low. Why are people upset that she got fired? Are these the same people that said Kaepernick should be fired for kneeling? In most cases yes. This is the blatant and disturbing hypocrisy of our time. What scares me most is this is the mental framework that is helping to shape the next generation.
Look, I don’t care what side you are on. Go ahead, pick a side and wave those colors proudly. But when you look to me as a friend and I am gone, you should know why. So, in writing this, I have decided, this is my goodbye letter to my racist friends who are left. I am sorry that we could not continue. But I cannot in good conscience continue to pretend that these attitudes and beliefs don’t go against the very fiber of my being. I am not mad at you. I am disappointed that you chose to quit evolving. I am sad that I have to let you go because you don’t understand that what you are doing is wrong. The words “racist” and “friends” cannot fit together in my vocabulary. And common decency means it never should have had to.

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Novel Number Two

During the month of March, I was introduced to the continuation of the National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) with Camp Nano, which is always done in April. I persuaded myself to attempt the same feat that I had accomplished just a few months ago back in November. There is this one character that I have carried around in my “back pocket” for a few years and knew she was ready for a novel of her own. I decided this was the perfect time to bring her to the surface. I gave her her own spotlight and stepped back to see what would happen.

I started out on April 1st with all the gusto and feeling I had from November. In the weeks before, I had taken the time to develop her backstory as well as creating a current “situation” and even a subplot full of personal tension. I gave her a bit of a platform and set out to tell a harrowing tale! During this time, I also started or was in the process of reading 3 heavy-hitting books. “The Art of War for Writer’s” by James Scott Bell, “Character’s and Point of View” by Orson Scott Card, and “The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris. I also didn’t fully take into account the fact that April is our busiest month of the year at my work and that I was scheduled for almost double my normal workload.

Like I said, things were good at first. Although I wasn’t regularly hitting my word count and I knew it. I was exhausted from work but I kept telling myself that I could catch up. I got sick. I caught the crud. Of course, I did. I was stretched too thin already and barely able to keep my house clean. I was managing to get some reading done and in turn, learning things along the way but not getting much in the way of actual writing done.

As my story became clearer and clearer, I realized that I had more work to do before I could really keep writing, or at least that is what I told myself. The truth was I had lost my way. I had taken on too much and my learning was getting in the way of my writing at that point. For the first time since I started writing again, I hit a full-blown wall of solid writer’s block. Through my reading, I learned why I hit this particular wall, but it did me no good as far as finishing the manuscript by my deadline. I had oversold myself and needed to step back. So I did.

This is also the first time I didn’t beat myself up for not finishing by my deadline. I showed myself some compassion and for once, I learned something by not finishing. I learned that reading a brilliant book like “The Silence of the Lambs” makes your own writing look even more amateurish than you would ever think possible. Also, I would not recommend reading any type of learning books while trying to reach such a tight goal. I worked on things that are developmental in nature instead of just focusing on getting the story out. I ended up changing the direction so much that I couldn’t recover fast enough to keep the ball rolling, not with me on top of it anyway.

So, once again my character goes into my back pocket. Only this time, for the next few weeks, as I finish up these books I am reading, I will be working on her character and her story, but this time from the pinhole points of synopsis and loglines, developing elevator pitches, voice journals and honing her story down to the barest essentials. I will take the current story skeleton that I have and piece it together like Dr. Frankenstein and put meat on its bones like fattening a calf for slaughter. When I am finished, I hope to have done my character justice and while I’m no Thomas Harris, I hope to create a lasting character, with deeper substance and an amazing story.

I did not win the contest (because I did not reach 50k in one month) for Camp Nano this year. However, I did win in general because I am learning to set my character into motion and develop a story like never before. While there is still plenty of writing to be done, I am proud every time I stretch my wings and at least try. I always accomplish more than I would have if I had never tried at all.

Camp

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Don’t Rue the Day!

I was not brought up in what I would call a concise home. My upbringing involved frequent blurted bursts of verbal emotion but genuine communication was not really encouraged. Few, if any, of the values or structure that I abide by now, were present in my youth and have been instilled with the help of people who have cared enough to help me.
Besides my writing, I currently work in a very public environment and am learning to work within a certain set of boundaries with the desired skill-set. There are things that I say, in general, that can be misconstrued. Those who have bothered to give me honest answers when I have asked, tell me things like “people take you wrong” or “you don’t use positive verbiage”. I try to be as concise as possible but not everything comes out the way I intend it. Inevitably, the wrong words are taken the wrong way at the wrong time by the wrong people. I’ve referred to myself as “Miss Understood” or “Miss Spoken” as these titles fit those moments. This is a problem that has gnawed at me for years. While I am still struggling with this, I am actively working on it.
Twice now, in the last twenty-four hours, I have been reminded of RUE… Resist the Urge to Explain. Since the universe has flagged this one down for me, I must take heed and examine this idea closer. Perhaps in the process, I will eventually find out why I do this and find ways to remove this reoccurring problem.
I stole the anagram RUE from a book I am reading, on writing, called “The Art of War for Writers” by James Scott Bell (My favorite writing mentor!). In writing it’s also called “avoiding excess exposition”. As a writer, I can easily go back and cut my dialog and narration using this method and improve my writing. However, when it comes to verbal communication, I am so worried about being understood that I can also come across as Captain Obvious (which no one likes unless C.O. is funny, which is a tough act to pull off, believe me, I have tried).
In many ways, every essay like this I write falls into the RUE pit as I do my best to navigate and share my thoughts and ideas. I can edit my writing. Can I edit my mind before the words come out of my mouth? I have to ask, am I still being true to myself? Or would I remain me… only an improved me? Or an enhanced me? How do I use this technique and strategy to improve my communication overall so that I am better understood in general?
While I have worked hard and in so many ways, changed and edited my own life so that the present reads the way I want it to, I still have some serious work to do. I will have to be dedicated and observant while I try to slow things down and really start paying attention to this aspect of my life. My goal is to become a clear and concise communicator and improve my communication competence, both with my voice and with my words.

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The Divided States

In some ways, our country has always been divided. Our two system party, the American Dream vs. Big Brother, North vs. South, Rich vs. Poor, Cowboys vs. Indians… Yet even with the violence of the civil war, our current divide seems more dangerous and more deadly. Is it because of our ever-growing population? Is it because of the ease of modern communication? Is it because of our growing and impassioned beliefs? Is it because of politics and the political systems in place? Or does it simply boil down to the fact that we are human and have a very primal human nature? Or is it because these continuing issues seem to be uniquely American in nature and are forever woven into the fabric of our life and our flag?
Our divided states are like one big chopping block instead of a melting pot. Combining and emersion are not encouraged; keep things divided, separate from others not like you, alienate anyone who is different. This is how the dividing occurs and we are willing participants because we all have opinions and preferences. I would rather not indulge some of our cultures worst traits, yet maintaining freedom means those traits get to stay. It is a serrated edge that cuts and separates the “what could be” from the “what is”.
“They” have us fighting with each other, solidifying the division, closing our ears and our hearts off to viable solutions. Alienate. That is what an abuser does. If he can alienate his victim, then the abuse can go on as directed, without interruption. The abused usually is clueless as to what is going on, too busy trying to juggle the blame and horror of the situation. That is what many of us are doing or experiencing. And yet we are blind to it.
If you say to me, “The kids don’t know anything about gun control! They were just eating Tide Pods last month!” Perhaps you are right. Still, as adults we are supposed to protect the children until they are old enough to make their own decisions, that is our job. It is our job to raise “responsible members of civilized society”. Whether as an adult or a parent, you have to realize that if we don’t like what the children are doing, then we need to educate them and guide them, not belittle them. The age of abuse is passing out of existence and we must lovingly evolve our thinking. Let us use communication as a tool instead of a weapon.
I believe that we are mainly divided by those who want change and those who don’t. It’s almost like a couple who is continually fighting. One side thinks everything is “just fine just how it is” and the other side is showing all the ways things aren’t fine. Perhaps there are some things that shouldn’t change. But we obviously need to sit down and really look at what is working and what isn’t. Isn’t that what you would do with car trouble? Or financial issues? What is working well and what needs to change? And then how do we change it? It is pointless to constantly point the finger of blame and not provide or explore working solutions.
I believe sometimes problems arise so that we can (together) find solutions. Perhaps strength and change come from having the hard and difficult discussions. Perhaps this is where we find our true humanity. Perhaps in the process of breaking down is where we create the strength of building up. Perhaps this is where we bridge the divide. Let’s fix this rift before it gets wide enough to swallow us up. We can fix things without losing what we have. But if we continue to fight amongst ourselves we could lose all that we have built. Divided cannot be United.

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The Peaceful Wallflower

You think I don’t notice all the ways you ignore me. I notice the way you treat me, different from the others. You make time for them, you include them, you smile at them. Don’t think that I don’t see it. I do. I see it, clearly. I won’t lie that it hurts. I won’t lie that it makes me mad. I wish that I didn’t care.

At least you are not outwardly cruel to me like you are to the un-liked others. Don’t think I don’t see that too, your obscure sense of kindness. At least you ignore me rather than push me, you look through me instead of directing your energy at me. I appreciate the kindness, even if you don’t. I would break under the stress of you and that is not something I want to do. I wish I didn’t care.

You swell in your pride and your hate. I know what it feels like, I know how consuming it can be. You think you are beyond reproach and so far, it seems that way. I wonder if the feeling will hold or if it will fade for you as it has for me? I wonder if you will change. I wonder if you could grow on this wall like I do. I wonder what your path looks like, what those shoes feel like, what your heart beats like… a drum or a nail, pressing deeper into the skin. I don’t want to care.

You don’t think I notice, but I do, I see you.

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The Cost of Value

The concept of value differs depending on how you use the word. As a noun, it’s the importance or usefulness of something. Yet as a verb, it’s the monetary worth. We all value different things. To one person, the truth might be valuable and to another, it might be a cost. The things I value will not necessarily be the same things that you value. Therefore, to me, a value is relative and changing. Value is intrinsically individual.

To draw deeper into this idea, there are also personal values that shape who we are and shape our decisions. What we personally will or won’t spend money on, what we hold dear, what we cherish and believe, what we live for, what we would die for. These are things that cannot be priced yet they often have a cost. I value hard work, not just for the money it affords me, but also the feeling of freedom and satisfaction it awards me in the long run. Putting time into relationships also affords a cherished experience that we could not have without putting in that time. Finishing a project brings pride and a sense of accomplishment that we could not have without putting in the hard work to make it happen. You hear about lotto winners saying that the money did not bring them happiness, this is because life does not work that way. Life is all about hard work and motion, if you just sit there on your ass you will never get anywhere. You must value motion and get to work, that is the cost.

So, while some people value education and pour their time and money into that, others value fun and experiences, spending their money on vacations or toys. Some value their image and spend money to maintain that image on everything from cars to name brand apparel. Some value privacy and freedom preferring to live a simple and muted life. Some value family above all else and solely strive to provide for their family unity and connectedness. My list of examples could go on infinitely, but my point is that many of us carry strong values that permeate our lives and all our decisions.

It should become obvious then, that these differences are the basis for both human connections and rifts. If you and I value the same things, then we are connected. If we value different things, then we are split apart and there is less to connect us. The universe pulls us in different directions and blinds us to the real reason for the rift. Something I cannot connect with is not important to me, leading to an apathetic viewpoint. While variety and diversity are the spice of life, the differences between what people value can separate and divide us (the clearest examples of this are politics and religion). What one person values and cherishes another may find ridiculous and ignorant, yet shared values can hold people together and create bonds that last a lifetime.

So, what can we do to keep our values intact (or perhaps be open to re-examining them) while still respecting the values of others? How can we change the dynamics without going either rogue or militant? How can we bridge the gap and the honor the diversity of all humans? Is there even a way? Does this mean that we must respect the bad and evil in this world as well?

For me, I think that we can all make improvements on how we communicate with our values and value systems. For instance, we can listen and be understanding, perhaps offering a little more caring to someone who doesn’t share our own values. We can try to understand why something is valuable to another and respect that viewpoint even if we don’t agree. It’s doubtful and foolish to try and change someone’s mind about their personal values. I think it is more advantageous to attempt to understand even if we are unable to be supportive.

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