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Now that we’ve established that we should apologize for our own good, here are some tips to make sure it goes over smoothly!

1. Do it quickly! An apology that is given as soon as you realize a mistake is prone to be much more heartfelt than one that is put off and ignored for some time (I know this from experience), though you should be calm and prepared for a bit of backlash if the wound is still fresh.

2. Be sincere. If your intentions aren’t 100% positive, you might as well not apologize. Think about what you really want from the apology– if it’s just to get someone back on your good side and you lack true remorse, they will probably see right through your facade. Through deception, you’ll end up making things worse for yourself.

3. Make your “sorry”s count! For many people, sorry has become a meaningless word, as often thrown around as “Bless you” after a sneeze. If you’re constantly apologizing for things like…oh…coughing, your efforts lose emphasis.

4.Curb your bad habits. If you’re regularly committing the same offense, apologizing for it will do nothing. This may go along with being sincere, but with the addendum that you take care to change destructive habits.

5. Forgive Yourself. This one is just for you, dear reader. If you have sincerely apologized to the best of your ability as soon as you realize you were in the wrong and are determined to change your course, let the anger you have directed at yourself go. You might think that beating yourself up over your mistake will do you or the one you have wronged some good, but it honestly won’t. In fact, I believe you are more forgivable when you are at peace with yourself.

Have any anecdotes or further advice? I’d love to hear them!

heaven is this place

warm sand

cool wind

goosebumps on my milky skin

blades of grass

crickets chirping

thoughts of nature always lurking

on my mind

in my heart

brilliant passion begins its spark

sunshine

sky’s choke

has me taking heavy tokes

pure air

life’s grace

heaven always in this place

As my boyfriend and I drove to the emergency room, traveling just a few miles per hour above the speed limit, I calmed my nerves and looked up at the sky. The clouds were so vivid, even seen through the glass of the sun roof. I took a deep breath and relished in the expansion and contraction of my lungs. I felt lucky to have them functioning. We flew past the trees, but I saw every leaf in brilliant green reflecting the sun. This may be my last day to live. My last hour, last moment. I will enjoy it.

I had just awoken half an hour earlier to one of my best friend’s face staring down at me, her voice soft and soothing. “Kelsey, can you talk to me? You need to wake up.” She held my hands in hers and her soft fingers rubbing my palms brought me back into consciousness. “Alright, we called 911. They’re on the way.” I sat up fast and as my eyes welled up I begged “No, no, no. Please, call them back.” I was scared. Scared of my family finding out that I had done something illegal. So scared of the, now real, consequences of something I had seen as harmless for so many years now. Harmless.

They called 911 back and cancelled the emergency, but after 15 minutes of explanation from my friends, and due to their urging, I knew I had to see a doctor. They said that I had passed out. My eyes rolled back into my head, I was convulsing on the floor, and choking on my tongue. They asked if I’d ever had a seizure before. I felt myself start to hyperventilate. A seizure? It was completely unexpected, completely new, but when my friend reminded me of my habitual night twitching, I was beyond frightened. Was something wrong with my nervous system? Was I going to die?

The truth was that I had almost died. I couldn’t move my tongue out of the way to get air. If I had been alone, I might not be here now to tell you about it.

I called my boyfriend, Zain, to take me to a clinic, but by the time he got to my friend’s house I was so shaken up, so disturbed by the fact that my face was pale, my lips blue, and my body slightly numb, I was convinced I might have another episode and insisted on being taken to the Emergency Room.

Zain’s presence during the drive calmed me. He said that he knew everything would be okay. I didn’t believe him. In fact, I was slightly upset by his lack of urgency, but even still, I was able to overcome my fear and embrace life. Every sensation seemed wonderful to me. Beyond the wind, trees, clouds and sunlight, I was able to laugh and adore the flock of ducks blocking the entrance to the Emergency Room parking lot.

Zain dropped me off at the door. While he found a place to park, I approached the front desk. My courage was draining quickly. Saying the words was a surreal experience. “Hi….I just had a seizure about half an hour ago.” The receptionist motioned to the clipboard. I wanted to fill it out quickly so that I could make it in to see the doctor before I had another episode, but my shaking hands and thoughts all in a haze made it so that I was only a quarter of the way through by the time Zain came into the waiting room to meet me. He finished the form, and although the wait seemed like eternity, Zain assured me that it was actually very quick. After completing  paperwork and answering some questions for the technician on duty, I had electrodes stuck  all over my upper body in order to monitor my  heart rate and perform a EKG scan (which measures the electrical patterns of the heart). After that, they drew some blood for testing. I’d had blood drawn before, but my current state must have amplified the pain, because I don’t remember ever having to clench my teeth to counter the pain before that day.

Next, I was transported to another room so that the hospital could complete a CAT scan of my brain and lungs. This part was the most frightening to me, partly because I had never had it performed and also because of the radiation exposure necessary to complete the scan. The radiologist asking if there was a possibility of pregnancy only elevated my level of fear. He told me that he would inject iodine, which would heat up my body, and I was in such a state of dismay that I actually imagined he might be poisoning me. After I returned, the technician told us it would take about 45 minutes for the results of all my tests, but that the doctor believed I had actually fainted as opposed to having a seizure. Apparently the symptoms are quite similar, and lay people often misdiagnose syncope as a seizure.

While I felt relieved that I probably hadn’t had a seizure, I also felt a bit foolish. I had gone to the emergency room to perform a slew of expensive, time-consuming tests and Zain believed my passing out was likely due to the fact that I had smoked marijuana before my fainting episode. I didn’t want to believe it. I had been told by my friends and even looked up studies that said smoking marijuana was harmless. It had been prescribed to cancer and glaucoma patients, and I had heard over and over that it never caused any deaths. Plus, I had done it before with no passing out. Why would it be the cause this time? I didn’t say anything about it to my ER doctor. He came in later and confirmed the diagnosis of syncope. My CAT scans and blood tests had all come back normal, though the EKG  of my heart lining was a bit irregular. He released me from the hospital, but recommended I check in with a primary care physician the next day and wait for his approval before I drove again. I felt drained for the rest of the day, and the idea that my smoking might have caused the fainting episode began to gain credence with me and caused some guilt to build up. I remembered the last time I had smoked with my friend I began to feel strange, like the room was spinning and my vision was blurring. After I went outside to get some fresh air, I told her I thought their might have been a gas leak due to the earthquake earlier that day. After a few minutes of resting and fresh air I began to feel better and I put what had happened out of my mind. Now, though, I couldn’t ignore that what I had felt that day was remarkably similar to my impaired hearing and vision experience right before I fainted. I promised myself, and Zain, that I would never smoke again.

When I went to the primary care physician the next morning, I decided to tell the whole story. The nurse who started my appointment seemed overly concerned when I told her I had been smoking. “I feel so bad for you. That stuff is horrible for your health. Not only is smoking weed doing the damage to your lungs that 10 cigarettes would, but it’s full of antigens that trigger reactions in your body, some of those very negative. Also, because it’s illegal, it could always be laced with a stronger drug. People do that in order to get you hooked on something more expensive. I’ve worked at some seedier places before, caring for people who had some horrible reactions and whose friends just abandoned them at the ER.  You’re lucky to have someone who cares for you so much.” What she said was shocking to me. When the nurse first started talking, her reaction seemed over the top. I thought, “Oh, she’s just some prejudiced person whose against marijuana use due to the War on Drugs propaganda.” I soon realized that I was the one who was being small-minded. This woman is a healthcare professional and I was just believing that marijuana wasn’t harmful because it was more convenient to me. She decided to do another EKG test and more blood testing (I’ll get the results soon).  Afterward, she sent the doctor in.

I wasn’t asking for or expecting a lecture, but that’s what I got, and I honestly think I’m better for it. “So, I heard the full story and I just want to tell you that there are other ways to get high beyond using drugs. Exercise. Listen to music that moves you. Ride some roller coasters. But really, Kelsey, it isn’t worth it.” He told me that he had done his thesis in South America on marijuana use. He felt it was an understudied subject, due to its illegality in the States. “I’ve seen similar reactions to yours– even people who feel they are going crazy after using it. It was hard to cope with; all we could do was give them some Valium and wait for their reactions to subside. We had all sorts of people in this house we were studying, even children as young as twelve. Sadly, the results were that 60% of them went on to use harder drugs afterward. You shouldn’t feel bad, though. Really, who hasn’t tried it? As long as you learn from the experience.  I know that you are saying now that you won’t do it again, but please be careful. People often forget the bad things that happen to them, as much as it shakes them up at the time. You mustn’t forget.” And I won’t. He went on to compliment my low heart rate and encourage me to keep exercising and to create a healthy diet for myself. By the end of this lecture, I felt immense respect for Dr. Gonzalez and an even stronger determination to stay away from the things I don’t really need in my life.

My aim in writing this is honestly not to tell anyone they’re wrong for doing what they do, but to share a real experience so that you can see both sides of the story. I am not going on an anti-drug crusade, but I have made a promise to myself to stay away from marijuana and get my kicks in a more badass  manner, doing things like breakdancing, weight lifting, and roller coaster riding. I’d even like to venture out and try activities I haven’t done before. Maybe mountain climbing and sky diving! Though these activities do involve some risk, they build me up instead of tearing me down. I’ll have a stronger body, bragging rights, and memories that won’t fade. I am truly grateful for this experience because I never have to argue with myself about smoking again or stress out about the consequences to come. I am free. I am alive. I am seizing life.

Photo by Allen McKinney

I remember when days were boring. When, amidst the chaos of life, tasks like chores were painstaking. I remember loathing laundry and dishes, but now, with life simplified, these mindless tasks provide an opportunity to simply “be.”  They are times to meditate, times to find new music and rejoice in it, times to enjoy the warmth of towels freshly dried and catch a kitty staring with its tongue out. Time to realize that who you are is exactly who you ought to be. The indescribable magic of laundry time!

Btw…

I can’t get over this scent and its beautiful packaging! It’s called So Hooked on Carmella by Benefit and it smells like a vanilla caramel latte. I found it at Sephora and, as the named promised, I am  so hooked!

Everyone has certain things they’ve done in the past that they aren’t proud of. It’s amazing how, even after so much time has passed, the selfish and unkind actions we’ve taken can still haunt us. For that reason, I think we owe it to ourselves and others to just spit it out and apologize.

I had a falling out with a friend of mine about 4 years back. Things turned especially nasty due to how close we’d been beforehand. During, and even for a few months after the fight, I thought myself completely blameless. In my mind, my actions were none of her business and I felt she was being nosy and judgmental. Not long after I’d wreaked havoc on a wonderful friendship, I realized she was right. I had acted without regard for others, as if my feelings were the only ones that mattered, and I had seen her criticisms in the harshest light possible, when really she was just reacting with disappointment to what someone she’d had so much faith in had done. After I saw that, I beat myself up for my former stupidity. I cried at random times and got jealous when our mutual friends had a pleasant interaction with her. I even tried to let the guilt go cold turkey. I did everything but what I should have done: apologize.

Guess what happened when I finally did apologize to her. She apologized back! Apparently she had been feeling some similar things, and because we were both open and shared we got caught up on each other’s lives, and it put us both at ease. We may never be the amazing friends we once were (we currently live on opposite sides of the U.S.), but at least we can associate each other with the positive times and let all that stressing and regret go. What a relief!

So, if you’re feeling guilty or estranged go ahead and take a leap! Even if you have to avoid a face-to-face conversation, just do it. A letter, e-mail, phone call, or Facebook message can be just as rewarding without making you shake in your boots. Whichever method you choose, trust me, it’s worth it.

To be honest, I wrote this post to give myself the courage to do some much-needed apologizing, and I think I’m finally ready. I hope this helped someone else do what needs to be done, as well. Wish me luck!

Photo: Mr Flibble

Word of the Day: Moribund

Humanized "Corpse Bride" by Malro-doll

mor·i·bund

[mawr-uh-buhnd, mor-] 

adjective

1.

in a dying state; near death.
2.

on the verge of extinction or termination.
3.

not progressing or advancing; stagnant: a moribund politicalparty.
Origin: 
1715–25;  < Latin moribundus  dying, equivalent to mori-  (stemof morī  to die) + -bundus  adj. suffix

Related forms

mor·i·bun·di·ty, noun
mor·i·bund·ly, adverb
un·mor·i·bund, adjective
un·mor·i·bund·ly, adverb

Cover design by Deanne Hollinger

Textual Quote: When the Declaration of Independence was written, a way of thinking about the individual appeared which completely reversed all the old ideas. The individual would be master of his own fate. Kings were just ordinary mortals. Government would be the servant and not the master of men.  Discovery renewed the thinking of the Declaration. In 1962, Jasper Crane, a vice president of DuPont said that the government established as the fruit of the American Revolution, though fashioned after the nature of man, “wasn’t appreciated. The meaning of liberty was unknown and our heritage was almost wasted away. Then, a book appeared called The Discovery of Freedom. A new literature developed and has now reached great and influential volume.” He meant that this book laid the conceptual groundwork for virtually the entire libertarian school of thought., as well as for much of the then (and now moribund) post-war “conservative” movement.
-The epic Introduction to The Discovery of Freedom written by Roger Lea MacBride

bogdanalbei by Bruno Ricardo

Famous quote: How can the moribund old man reason back to himself the romance, the mystery, the imminence of great things with which our old earth tingled for him in the days when he was young and well?
-William James
Just to get you excited about  Autumn and Halloween far too far in advance!

Grass is Greener

How Frail The Human Heart Must Be by Liz Poage

“It’s time to go already?” K  frowned and started to pack away her things.

“What? It’s been a great morning. For me, anyway. I found $5, got half a shirt ironed, and caught up on the Dexter I passed out during last night.” B raced down the stairs and out to her car, ready to face the day.

K wasn’t so ready yet. She left the house a few minutes after B that morning, owing to the fact that it took her so long to untie and retie her double-knotted shoes, brush her teeth with her finger, and triple check that she didn’t leave her phone behind. As K stepped outside, the birds in B’s neighborhood called in a minor and eerie tone , their intricate trills captivating K as she strode to her car at a steady pace. Her posture was precise and tall, unlike herself. She gazed up at the birds, meeting them head on even while they took her breath away. This day is foreboding. The birds are setting the scene; warning me of something.She surveyed the surrounding area, wondering what cruel joke might lie ahead. What would she lose? What would she face? The world seemed to be spinning for a minute, when suddenly, she grabbed hold of it and turned it on its head. Oh, but wait, that’s pure superstition. The universe must be playing a trick on me.  K started up the car and blasted her techno music, drowning out nature’s pull on her mind.

When she arrived in her own neighborhood, she walked at the same steady pace, but the birds here called out to her as friends. Her steps landed on soft, vibrant green grass and the toads croaked, hopping away to create a pathway. The cicadas shifted in the trees and she realized how good it is to be home.

 

 

Photo: How Frail The Human Heart Must Be by Liz Poage

b girl bookwyrm

I took a small break from blogging, giving me time to hone my talents in other areas. I am currently learning something I thought of as far too difficult to undertake: breaking. I always loved the raw power involved in breaking as well as the thuggish persona b boys incorporate into their dancing, but I  perceived it as a practice for men. In reality, much of breaking is about balance, flexibility, and persistence– and those qualities can be found equally in any sex.

One of my favorite breaking videos is a Nike advertisement starring b girl Sofia. It might seem lame to buy into a commercial, but I fell in love with her style and acrobatic prowess. I noticed in the comments, though, that some people claimed she isn’t a bgirl. “Where’s the footwork?” they asked.  I see footwork in the video, but I also see ballet and contemporary dancing mixed in, and I like it.

One of my preliminary issues in learning to break is getting the “b girl attitude” down. My steps are too loose and jumpy; my face too prone to smiling. Other than Sofia and a few others, most b girls seem to look exactly like the boys and even dance exactly like the boys.  While I’d like to master the actual breaking style, a little voice persists saying “that’s not you.” I told a friend this and her reply was “If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t do it. Find some other form of dance.” But, I can’t! My desire to master the unattainable is too great. Also, I believe I can have both. I will study the classics and add my own twist. I do wonder if I should learn more about the history of breaking and study its culture.  There’s something about me that makes me want to jump all-in to new activities. Still, I think I’ll perfect an complete combination before I run out and purchase an entire b girl wardrobe. Videos of my progress to come!

 

image: Sofia Boutella for Nike taken from  http://bboyingstepforbeginners.blogspot.com/

Karma in the Western World

Hey what would it mean to you / To know that it’ll come back around again? /

Hey whatever it means to you / Know that everything moves in circles.

These lyrics, taken from the 2001 Incubus song “Nice To Know You”, sum up the general idea westerners have about the philosophical and religious notion of karma. When westerners speak of karma, they are likely not thinking of the Hindu religion, which originally documented the term karma, or the Buddhist religion that re-imagined it. Whatever their degree of assumed ignorance, the idea of karma still has power for those people uneducated in Hindu and Buddhist theology. The truth of the idea of karma is based in experience, and also in the way the human brain experiences reality. People’s minds have a natural associative faculty. From our earliest days, we associate mom with food. Later, we associate certain behaviors with rewards or punishments. Soon, we learn to connect a set of facial features with certain sounds: Grey eyes and a thin nose are “Aun-ty”. Our human brains are pattern-seeking, and connection-making. Karma is simply a name for the patterns we observe about the relationship of moral action and consequence.

In order to fully understand the meaning of karma, we must go to the source. Let’s look to Hinduism, the originator of this concept, for a better definition of karma. The Hindu idea of karma stems from a time of change in many religions, known as the Axis Age. The Upanishads, a primary Hindu text, record the intellectual expansion and varying spiritual practices of Hinduism during the Axis Age, while teaching a few core concepts of the Hindu perspective of life. Samsara is the belief that the universe travels in circles, unending, and is one of The Upanishads‘ most important concepts. The Hindu belief is that one has a soul: Atman. Atman is the pure essence of the person who takes on and gives up multiple incarnations within Brahman, the divine reality, through samsara in cycles of death and rebirth. Experiencing the World’s Religions explains the Hindu belief that “human beings have at one or another time existed as a ‘lower’ form, such as an animal, insect, [… or] plant” (p 87). (See my post for further explanation!) There is a quality-of-life ladder one travels up or down when renewing the cycle of rebirth. Plants, insects, and animals are seen as the lowest forms of life, respectively, because of their lack of choice. Humans born into poverty or forced to face cruelty are perceived as a slight advancement from an animal form reincarnation. Those who enjoy happiness and prosperity are one step closer to the ultimate goal of karma– moksha: an end to the cycle of rebirth. Karma can also be used as a justification for social or economic inequality and the effects of the Hindu caste system by placing the blame of a person’s social status on the actions of their Atman in a past life. The idea is that the human stage of reincarnation is crucial because human beings have freedom of choice. People can influence the quality of their next life by performing good deeds while living through their human incarnation. Karma is seen by Hindus as the natural “law” or “way” of the universe. It is not essentially good or bad, but human beings may experience it in negative or positive connotations throughout their lives. The concept of samsara is life as a constant wheel of suffering. This notion of life expresses dissatisfaction with mortality. As well, the idea of moksha as liberation from constant “re-death,” may give Hindus comfort about death as well as promise the power to escape it.

Buddhists use the same idea of moksha and reinterpret it as an enlightenment some may achieve on earth, known as nirvana. The founder of the Buddhist religion, Siddhartha Gautama, was named “the Buddha” after, as the legend goes, “he saw his past lives, fathomed the laws of karma that govern everyone, and finally achieved insight into release from suffering and rebirth” (p 129). The Buddha’s release from the suffering of rebirth may have simply been the revelation that there is no soul which is reborn, but Buddhism so closely follows the Hindu ideas of karma, that there is nearly nothing to say about their differences. The main technical distinction is that Buddha would see each life of a rebirth as being affected by the same cosmic force, and that karma could bring about positive or negative personality traits in every affected individual. The second important distinction between the two religions is the end goal of liberation. For Hindus, it’s moksha. For Buddhists, it is nirvana, which is said to evoke joy and peace, but is otherwise an indescribable state of being. The one thing we do know is that nirvana can be attained within a person’s lifetime, as was the case with Siddhartha Gautama.

It is unlikely that most western thinkers will imagine their future life as a Venus fly trap if they pass by a homeless person on the street without helping him, so the threat of consequence in a future life may not be inspiring. Additionally, the lure of freedom from future lives may not be appealing to Westerners who have been taught that they have only one life on Earth. Western religions tend to focus on the importance of belief and religious practice over the significance of good deeds. Though a person may be harmful to others, in Christianity, he or she may simply profess belief in Jesus Christ and his status as savior, and afterward, live an eternity of peace. Jesus Christ, after all, is a god of mercy, not justice. Similarly, Allah, the god of Islam, rewards those who practice the religion well, not those who are kind to others. Though one of the pillars of Islam is giving to charity, this kind of good deed can be thoughtless and anonymous, not like the Buddhist belief of good action with right intention. To Westerners, karma provides comforting laws about life: that we will get a reward for our good deeds, or that those who have wronged us will be punished. For those lacking belief in mysticism, karma is simply an Eastern tactic for encouraging good behavior, as the Golden Rule is a Western tactic for achieving the same goal. If one is metaphysical, though, moksha and samsara can be more accurately seen as similar to the Western notions of heaven and hell. For Hindus and Buddhists, rewards or suffering in another life must be earned, but for Christians, a bedside confession may be a ticket to forever in eternity. A person who causes much suffering by martyring himself for the sake of Allah may be granted the greatest rewards in heaven. The western latching on to the notion of karma may be a result of the need for justice in the lives and minds of Christians and Muslims. Atheists and Agnostics may also claim belief or practice of the concept of karma, as they take from many other religions and philosophies ideas that they deem worthy. The truth, however, is that bad things happen to good people and good things to people who cause harm. Though we may see an immoral activity and later see a repercussion, this is not evidence for a divine balancing law. Some activity repeatedly leads to a path of suffering, and some to a path of happiness and peace. In this way, karma can still be real for those who follow the Hindu or Buddhist religions, and those who do not. Karma is real for those who believe it, and the proclamation of its truth gives it the power to affect.

P.S. I posted this paper I wrote last semester in my World Religions class, because I was inspired by yet another article from raptitude.com. I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think about karma- is it real, just another groundless belief, or a positive state of mind?