Accepting Death: Finding Comfort in a Belief in God


I am awake at an unreasonable hour due to a rare bad dream. The dream was unrealistic and something out of an exorcist episode; however, when I woke up, my first thought was towards a video that was forwarded to me. The video captured the death of some people in a car who were trapped in rushing flood waters. It was not the most appropriate video to forward and I deleted the message. I hate feeling like a spectator to such things.

The video resurfaced some death and dying issues I have been occasionally dealing with particularly after the sudden death of my young niece. Like most people, I am not unfamiliar with death and funerals but her passing was more bothersome due to her age and how sudden the body can go into distress without much forewarning. I thought I had made peace with the fear and accepted the inevitable of death but apparently not so well.

If you are a Christian, then you are familiar with the Bible’s occasional and scant details about life after death. For the faithful people,  they go to heaven where everything is rosy and the bad people get something else. As she laid lifeless, my thoughts were not about heaven or hell. The thing I remembered about the body of my niece was how empty she looked. There was no life and her body was just a stuffed shell. It is almost like a beautiful house that is vacant- it is no longer a home but a structure. I could not connect the person to the body. In my denomination, we interpret the Bible’s comparison of death to a person sleeping but the spirit is no longer there, the person is unaware of the happenings in the world and the spirit is at rest until the official judgment and resurrection day as talked about in Revelations.

The fear of death is prevalent in some cultures while in others, it is seen as a journey to embrace. I have to embrace some kind of positive belief about the afterlife in order to be at full peace with death.  For someone with Christian beliefs, that positive belief is in God. With the one year anniversary of her death about a month away and the terminal illness of my mother, the subject of death is very prominent and so is the subject of faith. I am not implying that I will be one of those who makes it through the Pearly Gates because my many sins are always before me. However, so is the ability to pray and I use it frequently. This is God’s show and I am just the player. Whatever the final judgment for my life, I cannot go through life with a fear of what is on the other side. It can become overwhelming particularly knowing that life is a gift that can be taken away at a moment. Plus, it is disturbing my sleep.

When someone is dying, he typically enjoys or cherishes the moments he has left. For those of us who do not have specific timelines, we freak and stress at the slightest things. I am very guilty. It has become standard practice that we cherish something more when we know we will lose it. I have never been afraid of living and I know that I have to restart my life and death  reconciliation. It is not an easy process being comfortable with the unknown, trusting the words of an age-old manuscript and having no eyewitness who can come back and give full details about life on the other side. It is just something I need to do by trusting in God. Everyone needs to have faith in something and God is my choice.

A quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “Live as if you know you were to die tomorrow; Learn as if you were to live forever”

Spring Cleaning the Mind


The sun is shining; the temperature is getting warmer (to my liking above 70 degrees) and I have resumed my warm weather goal which is to be outside on every nice weekend. Usually, this is the time of year when people start to reassess and declutter,  for me, that is a must-do with my mind.

Winter has always been my most disliked season, I hate the cold and could never seem to get warm, the early sunset affects my sleeping habits negatively and I am very sedentary. I literally do the human hibernation with the exception for work and grocery shopping, I am inside under the covers. If I should do a self- diagnosis, I would say this winter I was struggling with seasonal affect disorder or exhibiting mild depressive symptoms.

My mood was taking a severe beating these past couple months and it was an immense struggle to use the cognitive interventions i.e. doing therapy on myself 🙂 . So here are my issues: I tend to ruminate on everything. I am solution oriented so when I see problems, then my mind goes to town on finding the solutions. I was ruminating on health issues in my family, being a good daughter, work, finances, my relationship/connectedness with the people in my life and feeling way too involved in people’s lives made extremely easy through Facebook. Coupled with the winter season, the struggle was real!

In the pursuit of practicing good mental hygiene, I decided to make some changes by spring cleaning my mind. Two weeks ago, I decided to cut back on Facebook. This is my only social media connection and over time, I noticed how much time I would spend going through my news feed to see what’s new – marriage, pregnancies, family moments, travel, bitter politics etc. It was all there being absorbed every time I logged on. Frankly, I am happy for other people’s happy moments but I started to notice how much I would compare me and my life even for things I never wanted or in which I have limited interest. Travel has always been a big thing for me so when I see old friends (people with whom I have no real connection besides social media) on vacations, I find myself being a little jealous “I should be doing that.”

After my cutback, I definitely noticed a mood change for the better. Two weeks of not being bombarded by people’s lives-fake or real-felt really good. Sadly, last night, I intended to do a quick Facebook check but it lasted over 1hr and the moment I was off, I noticed how much that clutter of seeing everyone’s stuff put me one step back. Behavior modification: I will not close my account right now but I will restrict how often and how much I view. If someone has something important to tell me, then they have my phone number or can messenger me; so everything else is irrelevant because that information was not intended for me.

Mind Spring Cleaning: I want to help fix things or give good guidance to the people who are closest in my life; hence, the reason why mental health was a draw. I will always be a good listener and I have ridged boundaries when it comes to work but not so much for friends and family. I take on their stuff as I perceive it to be an issue and want to reach out to help as much as I can. It is the desire to make sure I am doing my part as a good friend or family member or coworker when the person expresses a problem. However, it is very draining and extremely tiresome because I have my own stuff that I am also addressing but I am not getting that level of investment from others into me. Sure! so I tend to be the listener than the sharer which makes things lopsided. Sure! so I tend to have a barrier in place that limits my desire to share. Sure! so I think it is my responsibility to fix my own stuff. Behavior Modification: I can listen and be in the moment for the person but I will limit how much I take on mentally. Everyone has their own lives and it is not my job to carry their issues with me to the extent it is too much for me. If God is still listening, then I hand it over in prayer and put their stuff on the shelf.

Mind Spring Cleaning: I have certain expectations of myself and I transition them to the people around me. I wrongly expect certain things from others and when they do not come through then it leads to a sense of disappointment and often times feelings of hurt which leads to increasing my relationship barriers. Behavior Modification: I only have control over me. I have decided to adjust my expectations to whatever the person chooses to give. This will improve the relationship I have with the people closest to me. I need to be more aware of when I am starting to ruminate on the situation that led to feeling disappointment, hurt and frustration and redirect.

That is as much as I can work on right now. I am only one person and as a single, I am taking care of everything by myself which includes everything related to me and some issues related to other family members and my aging and ill parents. The reality is I do not have the mental closet space to fit other people’s stuff. It is my responsibility to take care of me in the best way possible. This is not to say that I will neglect my role as friend or family member but I need to limit how much I choose to carry with me.

Blessings Smoke Signal


While rummaging on Facebook, I came across an inspirational post. The gist of it was what may seem like a disappointing tragedy could turn out to be God’s smoke signal that attracts his blessings. I honestly have to say that I tend to ignore most of those religious inspirational babblings. Maybe I am not at that place in which they do anything for me or I just do not subscribe to random sappiness. However, on those rare occasions when I am looking for some clarity, a sappy religious inspirational post hits the spot. Tonight was such a moment.

Being stressed to the point you are drained of your usual resiliency, can lead to a path down a long dark road.  It can lead to a point of losing one’s self in which you do not recognize yourself, your own thoughts or actions. The max stress point pushes you out of your comfort zone but not in a good direction. It pushes to the point in which you are trying to find relief or resolution in the most sinister or inappropriate of behaviors, places and people. There is a consistent loss of direction, identity and clear end goal. In other words, it can drive you to a slow destruction of mind, body, soul, morals etc.

There is the Proverb that says idle hands are the devil’s workshop but so is feeling desperate – desperate for the blessing you have been praying for or the miracle you want to happen yesterday or the pain you want to be replaced by joy, or the peace you are hoping would eliminate your turmoil etc.

‘Wait on the Lord.’ I really do not believe that most believers are impatient. I believe they are long-suffering. In the grand scheme of our lives, most of us may live for no greater than 70 years so waiting for a blessing that may take 10+ years of our adult lives is definitely a long time. While our lives on the earth is supposed to be temporary, it is still our lives and the only one we have to live in the here and now. Therefore, waiting for a blessing that we are not sure will come can drive anyone batty.

It becomes very difficult to have hope in the midst of your life turning upside down. It is very difficult to not just throw your hands in the air and say I am done. It is very difficult to not venture to the dark side because it is so much easier to be bad than good. It is very difficult to continue to believe when the negative unexpected happens and you have no control. There is that helpless feeling that starts to creep into your mind occasionally then over time, without a blessing, it permeates every aspect of your being. It spreads very quickly like an aggressive cancer. It ruins you in ways you could never have imagined. The journey down the dark road has begun.

I really do not know what to expect from God; however, at every religious corner, the Christian will tell you to ‘wait’ because He will answer your prayers or send a blessing in disguise when you least expect it. Actually, almost everyone has a cheery positive religious answer to any distress in your life. I resist this always sunny Christian disposition because reality has never fully reflected that sentiment. Life is filled with good and bad things. If the blessing we are asking for never comes, it forces us to accept that shitty things do happen but we can compensate in other ‘blessed’ areas of our lives. ‘Sure your legs and arms were blown off while you were serving your country but look on the bright side  you are alive and have a roof over your head and food to eat.’

We take our blessings where we can get it even if it is not in the area for which we were praying. Christian are told to ask God for anything but not expect everything because sometimes we are asking for too much and we need to learn to be satisfied with what we have because it may seem like greed or being ungrateful which is the devil; however, if you are long-suffering then it shows religious dedication and a strong belief in God but then God might be telling you no but you are not listening; but then God might give you what he thinks you need which does not manifest in the way you expect so you should continue to pray without ceasing… phew!!! did you catch all that?

The longer you wait for the blessing the easier it is to become blinded.  The longer you wait for your blessing the more you have to fight to believe and have hope. The more issues that need resolution the more you struggle to stay afloat with all that emotional and psychological weight.  Despite the struggle, every now and then something comes along and jolts you back to your senses with some clarity. It is a minor reprieve from the burden that allows you a moment to breathe in order to refocus, refresh and regroup.

Silence Is Golden


There are at least 1-2 people in our lives that we put in the important category. Whether it is lovers, friends or family, these are the people that we support and who can be supportive to us in one way or another. You may have heard the concept that honest and effective communication is important and I am sure we all strive to be that open person in those important relationships. However, being honest, when it is not good news, can be difficult to express.I would be lying if I said that I am always straightforward with others. No matter the connection, there is always silence in a relationship. While this is not the best practice, it does seem to happen.

Do I look fat in this dress?” If you say yes even though it is the truth, it can impact the relationship negatively. While one would say that this should not be the case, it is the reality. Sure, we should all be tough adults who can handle the truth or someone else’s thoughts or questions on a matter. However, people tend to take offense and believe that the other party does not have the best intentions. I remember many years ago I raised concerns about the person a friend of mine was dating. Needless to say, I got a lot of pushback and the friendship ended. When I used to do therapy, I would get the same response from some clients.

A 15 year marriage recently ended due to one individual having an affair. Actually, the marriage probably ended long before the affair started but regardless at what point in that relationship did either the couple or the people who cared about them went silent? If a friend is making questionable choices or acting differently, when is it your place to intervene or keep silent?  If a family member is making potentially life altering choices who says you should always speak up?

I keep silent for a number of reasons. I keep silent because I don’t think the person is ready or willing to hear my observations. I keep silent because I believe I have nothing more I can say. I keep silent because the other person may be too sensitive and may perceive my insight as hostile. I keep silent because sometimes I feel too tired to want to deal with the resistance. I keep silent because I take the person’s cue that he is not open to suggestions at all. Frankly, I keep silent because sometimes I just don’t feel like getting involved.

So when is it a good time to break that silence? When you notice something is a little off? When there is obvious danger? Or after the person have fallen off the cliff and is broken? For people that you care about, it can be very difficult to keep silent and allow that person to find her own path no matter what the consequence. It is sort of like seeing the issue but quietly praying for the best. Does that make you the bad person in that relationship? I once read a book in which a Christian wife said that she knew her husband was making a mistake but she kept silent because she believed it was God’s role to correct him, no matter the consequence, not her. Yep, I snickered and vehemently disagreed. However, over the years, I have found myself in that silent role praying that God or someone else take the responsibility off my hands to speak up.

So, the worse things than can happen if you speak up is to lose a relationship with the intended audience, hurt feelings, or your assessment of the situation could be wrong. What would Jesus do? Well, He had both direct and indirect ways of passing on his messages. Lucky for Jesus, He knew his time was short and he was not highly dependent on others for a lifetime of relationships so his example may not fit. Exhibiting classic cognitive dissonance, I don’t believe in silence in a relationship; however, I do practice the thing in which I do not believe. Welcome to the complexity of the human nature.

Interestingly, if I were the one making errors, I would want the people closest to me to speak up. Yep, totally hypocritical!  I have had one or two people point out some things to me of which I was not fully aware. I had to take a moment to ponder and acknowledge that they were right. It was a catalyst for change. I appreciated those people’s honesty and criticism of my behavior. I have slowly learn that someone else’s view of me can be critical to my life in various ways. However, I am not dependent on others’ views but it is insightful.

Frankly, I am not sure if I have the balls to always be cold-call honest. However, when given the right circumstances and when I am in the right mood, I tend to break my silence – very directly (I have a hard time beating around the bush). I can admit that I am not holding up my end of the relationship bargain with silence. I can admit that it is not the best practice. Silence is not always golden. For the people who are important in our lives, we have taken the role of being the other person’s keeper. Being confronted  IN LOVE and TRUE CONCERN with  difficult questions, harsh truth or criticism, is not meant to be an attack but can be there to provide you with perspective that is different from your own egocentric tunnel vision views. So what if your ego is bruised, you will recover. Sometimes we just need to get a thicker skin with an open mind.

My Struggle to Emotionally Connect


Happy New Year to everyone and many blessings to you all.

My Christian parents came to visit for the Christmas and while we were driving from NY to MD a very familiar conversation ensued. My father asked why don’t I go back to church?Keep in mind that this has been a repeated question almost EVERY time I am around my parents. I give the same answer in a variety of ways but it is not satisfying. The bottom line is I just feel uncomfortable with strangers or large groups of people.

This is not something new. When I was younger, people used words like quiet and shy to describe me. I never liked large groups of people most of the time and I am ALWAYS uncomfortable around strangers. I am very slow to warm up to people. My mind was always social and exploratory but my body did not follow obediently. Ironically, I grew up with family-cousins, aunt, uncle, siblings, grandparents, parents and I shared a bedroom with my older sister. I left my parents to go away to college and lived in the dorm, I joined the military and had to share space. My only alone moment was in the shower (except in basic training) which is still a peaceful place for me even when I am alone. In a swarm of people, I was always trying to find my quiet place.

As I got older and independent, I made a strategic behavioral change to be more social which was a huge effort. I accomplished that goal but in the last few years, my old personality trait is now more dominant again and I struggle to be engaged with people including in a church. Throughout my life, I never had any issues making friends. I have a great personality with some quirks of course. However, something is very different with me now than I was at least 5+ years ago.

I am finding it nearly impossible to make an deep emotional connection with people. It’s concerning. Being on my own, I have enjoyed my single life. I have done a good amount of things with my singleness, I have made good use of my single time and I will continue to do so. However, after years of being in my personal solitude, it feels like I created a distance with being intimate with others. I may have created an emotional barrier that is now taking a toll when I truly do need that emotional intimate connection and support.

No man is an island. I now fully understand that phrase. I find myself being nostalgic of the days when I had my family around me and the strong relationship I had with others. I miss the ability to feel a deep connected love. I miss that support. I was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and I envied the main character. I have inadvertently created an emotional island with no easy means of allowing people to share it with me. Interestingly, my mother has a similar personality (she admitted to never having friends, she keeps to herself and socialize when needed, she has always taken care of herself and others) but the difference is she has had my father for over 48 years. I have my island.

Over the years, I have inadvertently created loneliness for myself and I am now feeling the side effects. This is not to say that you cannot be independent and enjoy single life. This is to say that throughout each aspect of our lives we need to stay intimately connected to someone. I did not realize that I was breaking those connections with the people in my life. I can admit that I am emotionally distant, I have walls with reinforced steel and a moat with piranhas swimming below.  I look at the relationship I have with people who are physically in my presence (versus friends and family far away) and I know that I am missing that connection – the connection I was once able to make. I have sat in churches and felt nothing as if I was in an empty sanctuary.

At this age, I do not want to intrude on other people’s lives. They have kids, spouses and other responsibilities that takes priority over me. I know that if I really needed help there are people I can call without hesitation but due to my emotional barrier, I have a hard time making a connection. My emotional health is not heading in the right direction because I can see a life of perpetual loneliness and emptiness. Don’t get me wrong, I will always crave and enjoy those solitary moments and doing things on my own – that is just a part of my personality because yes, I am 90% introvert. However, I am talking about having balance.

Our society now encourages isolation and there are more lonely people than we can imagine. For example, I do not know anyone in the complex I have lived in for over 2 years. I may be able to recognize two people and I have said no more than good morning to a handful. People make friends, date, and live virtually which is something  that offends my old school nature. I briefly dated someone who believed it was better and easier to text than to talk (hence briefly). So, how does someone connect when the world is disconnecting?

I would love to say I found an answer. This lack of intimate connection becomes painfully obvious when going through personal difficulties. The things I used to be able to manage on my own are now overwhelming at times. I become emotionally tired having to be 100% in charge all the time. I have worn myself out by systematically doing everything on my own all the time. I did not create a balance. I have allowed my emotional connection to become tenuous from building a protective wall without incorporating a flexible gateway. My goal is to try to fix the damage I have created. I am not sure what that is going to look like but I have to start somewhere-anywhere.

Inner Demons


In the religious world, there is good and evil and both are always fighting against each other. The Christians are caught in the middle and we constantly struggle to do and focus on the things that are good. It is sometimes a daily struggle hence the reason the bible says pray without ceasing. If you have been in the religious world for a while, then you know there are some universally accepted rights and wrongs.

Christians always have a moralistic struggle at one or more times in their lives. It’s a fact and we run to comfort scriptures like Romans 12:12 “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulations, continuing instant in prayer.” I am usually deviant in my thoughts and behaviors so during my struggles, I run to scriptures like Romans 8:14-15 “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” For me, this is just a reminder of my human frailty.

This morning I scrolled through Facebook and someone liked a Christian inspiration testimony. Paraphrase: The lady noted her success in her life: married at a young age, kids and both her and spouse are completing higher ed degrees and she attributed it all to her faith, God’s timing and protection. Maybe it’s due to my line of work, but I read such inspirational posts with some cynicism and my thought is “good for them, you are the lucky ones.”

Lots of people do not have their blessings laid out so nicely and some have greater struggles than others (think Aleppo). While reading that post, I was thinking about two things: My current inner demons and that of a new behavioral health patient.  Patient X’s inner demons are a doozy which were created from childhood to experiencing a number of very traumatic events throughout X’s life. Patient X had held it together successfully for many years but the final trauma pushed X to the edge and X is starting to slowly fall apart at the seams. X engaged in self punishment of personal life and career. I do not compare my demons to X’s but if I did, then mine would pale significantly; actually most people’s worst would not measure up. The point is no matter the nature of the demons, each of us still have to face them and sometimes they seem greater than God’s promise of protection and strength “he will not give us more than we can manage.”

The mental battle is epic. I tell patients that doing the right thing always seem to be the hardest. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Ahhh… yes.. that peace that passes all understanding can be darn near elusive. However, when you do find it, life is wonderful but it does not always seem to stay too long. Life or the mind gets into a fight to hold onto the peace that is suppose to be so good for you. The constant battle of the inner demons gets tiresome. People fall away from God and decency because we want the battle to be over and we surrender to whatever we were fighting. The loss of hope and not finding even a glimmer of light from anywhere can be psychologically, emotionally and physically devastating. The battle takes a toll. It leaves behind distrust, despair, feeling defeated, emotionally broken and worst case turning to things that are not the best for us such as people, food, alcohol, drugs, sex and suicide.

Patient X is at the beginning of the battle. I would love to tell X that Jesus can make it better but that’s equivalent to telling someone with a gaping wound ‘let me kiss it and it will all go away.’ Unless God plans to do a divine intervention, Patient X has a major fight on hand. God does not take away our struggles or banish our demons- that would be way too easy. We have to make choices about how we will handle our demons. We have to use all the spiritual, cognitive and earthly supports in which we can get. We will make shitty choices ‘do the thing you should not do’ and we will make good choices. We will exhibit our human frailty in all it’s glory, we will get tired of the fight and we will want to roll over and play dead. I have heard enough patients say that they wish they just did not wake up. It’s not about suicide; it’s about wanting a little bit of peace and calmness of the mind. (Matrix fan) It’s sort of like that scene in the last Matrix when Trinity and Neo were fighting the machines and their ship went up above the darkness and clouds and she saw and felt the radiance of the sun and exclaimed “beautiful.”

You know your inner demons and you know the path you have to take or will be in search of the path you need to take. We can’t ignore them. There is no rule that says you have to get it right the first or even third time. The challenge will be to keep fighting until those demons do not have any power anymore.

I am alone path


These past few weeks I have had more patients on my schedule for short term ‘lite therapy.’ It has been a few years since my schedule have back to back patients for behavioral health since I left full time therapy. God gave me what I asked for ‘to be a little more busy at work’ LOL maybe I should have been a little more specific in what I meant. So, the recurring theme with the patients is about them going their paths alone ie. withdrawal from others due to a desire to feel emotionally safe and lack of trust in others. I do understand and recognize how easy it is to push one’s self into the ‘I am alone’ path.

Here is why I understand that behavior:
1. When I was younger, I always asked my mother to go places with me because I was afraid of getting lost. A few times my mother would jokingly respond with “you were born alone” but she would still accompany me. When I was older and out on my own, I came to realize what that meant. I quickly learn that I had to do things by myself and not rely on others for everything.

2. The life of a single person is primarily alone no matter how many friends or family are in your life. As much as people say they will always be there for you, their lives/family always comes first and you are not their primary priority. This is especially true when those friends and family have intimate relationship/spouses/children.

3. When you truly need someone by your side for an extended time, your support system are only obligated to help you for a finite period of time. After that threshold has been breached, then you can be seen as a burden.

4. As a single, you can feel used. People rely on you to give them support whenever they need it. They assume that you can shoulder their stressors or be their entertainment guide. However, you have to take a number when you need their support, your issues are not as dire as theirs (because single people don’t have issues) and you are not on their speed dial for their entertainment plans (unless they happen to be alone and want your company).

Even though being single is not considered a good thing, I have come to realize that functioning and mostly contented singles need to be strong, resilient and self-sufficient or we can easily sink into perpetual feelings of loneliness, despair, desperation, depression, isolation etc. We can sink into and believe in the ‘I am alone path.’ It is so easy to be suckered into that false sense of emotional safety because you experience people come in and out of your lives, you experience your relationship with family and friends change, you experience the feeling and behavior of no longer being important to the people who were your greatest cheerleaders and confidant, and you are not sure where you stand with others anymore.

As I became a very guarded introvert over the years, I am a prime example of the erroneous belief of the I am alone path. I use every minor negative experiences with people to push myself back on that path. This further solidify why that belief and withdrawal behaviors are sound and just. However, it is a destructive lie in the long run.  I have added that to the short list of things I need to work on about myself.

I had a brief grief moment at work two weeks ago and instead of seeking support I went into rock mode. Interestingly a coworker, who has shown support to me in small ways did a quick check. As usual, in rock mode, I said I was fine and all was well (which I was not because grief has no timetable).  However, with amazing intuitiveness, I was given a surprise hug (I initially refused it due to being in rock mode) and was asked the question “you take care of everyone else but who takes care of you?” My rock mode response “I take care of me.” While that response is true, I make it true because I do not trust enough to allow others to take me off my I am alone path.

I would be lying if I said I do not have support and people who care about me. However, it is so easy to ignore that when something minor goes wrong. My patients who have had negative things in their lives retreated to the false safety of the I am lone path. We hide, we avoid, we pretend.

Of course there will be people who will walk away from you, hurt you, change in a close relationship, betray you or there will be a natural separation due to life. We change, they change, life change. The one truth that I can attest to in my life is when one support door closes I find a way to open another. People have come in and out of my life and I have done the same to others too. I make friends easily and for whatever reason, even with my straight forward personality, I have people who care about me. I really do have people I can call on for help if I choose to make the call. How do I find supports? I have come to realize it is all about how I treat them. I have been a rock and support for them at one moment or another.

Yes as a single I will have to walk the road alone for the most part but my road is not without supports along the sides. I can get so caught up in looking at the journey ahead or even what is directly in from of me and not see the people by my side who are there if I need them. I like being in rock mode, that’s my comfort zone; however, I just need to realize that I do not need to be there all the time and my path is not always alone. It is harder said than done but it is worth the try.

 

 

Refresh Button


Life can be an inexplicable bitch! Whether you are a Christian, heathen, or on the fence etc. The unpredictable nature and the unforeseen obstacles can create a hazardous condition to navigate and figure out your path. This craziness can push you to the edge, break you, destroy you  and or become a challenge to fight through and learn to manage.

When you were born no one gave  your parents a child rearing manual. When we became of age, no one gave us a life as an adult manual. I have to admit that at times I could use one that is written in clear language with bright coloured pictures showing me the way. I know that the Christians will say ‘God is my guide; and the Bible will show us the way.’ Well, if you are to be honest with yourself, then that statement is not always true. God’s picture is like the Ikea instructions which are minimal and it takes a few wrong steps before it becomes clearer.

This year has both been rewarding and challenging. The rewards  are from impromptu personal goals: One was to enjoy my weekends whenever the weather was good and the sun was shinning and another was to get my body into shape. I can tell  you that almost every beautiful weekend I was out, about and loving it. I am also into my 2nd month of my fitness challenge with obvious progress. The challenges on the other hand seem to threaten to defeat the joy of my rewards.

The negative aspects of life weight so much more and last much longer than the peace of life. Between death, family health, family stressors, financial obligations and personal life/choice snafus, I feel like I am desperately longing for the moment I can empty my cache and press the refresh button (computer metaphor for those non savvy techies like myself). I would love to clear out the sludge and refresh the future to something either obstacle free or more manageable. I want a do over with ample warning, an avoidance route and navigation to a better road ahead.

Yeah, I know, I want a lot :-). The problem is (and this is something I always say) “what I want and what is are never the same.” Oh and please spare me the religious rhetoric, I have heard them all-the biblical ones and the stuff people made up. I prefer honesty and reality-an armour, a sword and a shield (The bible readers should understand that reference). I know that I cannot change my past, the rewards or the challenges, and I know experiences are there to helps us learn and become stronger. I get all that quite well. It is just that at times it would be nice if the glitches in the system were so much less and have limited impact in the navigation of one’s life.

The challenges take away the innocence. David started out as a shepherd and after becoming a soldier, his hands were too bloody to build God’s temple. Challenges create scars and it is so hard to go back pre injury. Your life is forever affected and it takes so much energy to figure out which is a good path and how to get  on it. God truly blessed those who have been able to avoid major challenges or who have overcome and life is easier. Whether you are single, married, Christian, on sabbatical or whatever, we all have our challenges. I sit and I listen to people’s issues everyday and recognize that most people carry their challenges in silence. There is no easy road.  However, what we do have is finding a way to survive, live and enjoy life with the tools we have and pray (and pray some more) that our choices are the right ones or our choices will get better the next time we refresh.

Misconceptions of Sex?


Of everything in the Bible and the modern world, sex has stood the test of time to be the most vilified and misinterpreted act. Yet, it is still an intriguing activity in which  probably 99.9% humans and 100% lower animals engage. Frankly, we could have a conversation about poop more easily than sex. Why is that?

For the religious folks, obviously when God created Adam and Eve, He used the act of sex to be the vector in which to populate the earth.  I can speculate that he surely was not thinking ‘listen heavenly host, I am going to introduce some vile and disgusting method to usher in generations upon generations.’ I mean if you thought about it, God could have come up with another non-penetrating way in order to procreate. Instead, He thought it was a brilliant idea for two people to get the closest you could possible be to another human being AND he added some easily excitable nerve endings to both genitalia in order to have…. wait for it…. pleasure.

I am not sure which part makes people uncomfortable. Is it the intimacy or the pleasure? My conversational library is filled with everything known to man – nothing is too (fill in the blanks) to talk about with adults. However, most adults who are sexually active or will be sexually active find it hard to talk about sex. Ironically, sex permeates our lives and can become an issue if left desolate in relationships.  Yes, a single gal will be talking frankly about sex – deal with it or stop reading. So in the words of Salt-N-Pepper Let’s Talk About Sex.

1. Sex is NOT dirty or shameful. Yes it’s a fluid, sticky, sweaty situation – showers were invented to clean up and washing machines for your sheets. I can’t possibly say anything more about this. It’s either you believe it or not.

2. Everyone is not a  virgin. Have you ever met a married woman or a mother who becomes most shocked when sex becomes a topic? I almost want to slap them (not advocating violence) because if you are in either of those categories, then the whole world KNOWS you had at least 1 encounter with the penis kind. Men don’t have this problem and will never be in such denial.

3. Sex is Pleasure and Pleasure is Good. I acknowledge that due to various circumstances some women and men have difficulty experiencing sex as pleasure. On the other hand, for a large group of people, they chose sex to be a duty. Good sex provides great benefits for the individual and the couple. It was meant to be enjoyed by BOTH. Besides pleasure, it’s also meant to be a fun activity. When you see and experience sex as a good thing, then it becomes incorporated in your relationship as something to look forward to with each other. Anyone who has experienced an orgasm will attest to the pleasure. If you are having difficulty finding sex as pleasurable then move to suggestion #4.

4. Spice and Imagination are Highly Encouraged. Think of sex this way – most people like certain foods, for me it’s chicken; however, if I had baked chicken cooked the same way every time, I would get sick of it. Sex can and does get boring when you keep it in the same place and same position every time. SNORE! Seriously, there are numerous ways to have an orgasm. This hinderance to use one’s creativity in the bedroom comes from the shame and embarrassment of sex. I am not talking about 50 Shades of Grey BDSM but making simple changes to sexual positions, spice up the foreplay, use a different location in the bedroom or house. Take a sex-vacation to put some fire back into the bedroom.

Women Get Your Sexy On. It’s a repeatedly proven fact that it does not take much to get men excited. Do I have to repeat that ladies? Better yet, you repeat that to yourself. Forget about the perfect body BS. If your man is sexually attracted to you (80% of the battle is won), then your body is the sexiest thing on earth which will drive him wild.  So, muster up your sexual confidence and start adding something new such as: Initiating sex, engage in intimate massage, play dress up with the items in your home (who knew a colander could be sexy), use some sexy play on words (all pun intended), take a pole dancing or chair dancing class and show case your skills, leave him a note about your fantasy, smack his tush as he walks by or better yet smack yours  with a little wiggle and see where that gets you… etc. Get the idea!!! KISS-Keep It Simple Stupid.

Men, you are not off the hook. It takes a lot more than flashing your penis to get a woman excited. Women want to feel loved, sexy and appreciated. Lead with that and encourage her to get out of her sex shell. Foreplay! Foreplay! Foreplay! Your hands and lips are magic so learn to use them wisely. If you like to shake your booty, then watch a little Magic Mike. It will be good fun. You are also responsible for finding and creating ways to get her excited. Clean yourself up! Make your woman want you like you are the sexiest man on earth. If it had not occurred to you, women can be very visual, so give them something mouth-watering in which to look forward. No woman gets stimulated by a dirty slob. Keep in mind there is a difference between having dutiful sex and pleasurable sex. If you care about your partner, then the latter is your goal.

5. Know your body. Men understand this more readily than women. Their penises are literally handled multiple times a day and they are easily accessible. For heavens sake, they have nocturnal emissions and involuntary erections to deal with from  puberty. So, it’s no wonder they have a better grasp  on their male parts than women. Women on the other hand have SHAME. Most women do not know what turns them because we are discouraged from finding out – it’s just not proper, not christian, not ladylike. Bla bla bla.

How can you direct someone to provide you pleasure when you know nothing about your likes or dislikes. In therapy, they give people take home practical exercises to help them understand themselves better. There should be a standard sexercise for all women – single or married. Take the time to get to know your body intimately whether by yourself or with your partner. Talk about learning to communicate in a relationship! If you can get through a sexploration exercise with your partner, then there is not a thing you can not talk about in your relationship.

6. What’s on the menu.  When I go to Famous Dave’s BBQ, I know the menu and my go to order but every now and then I try something new. If I were a sex therapist, I would introduce this idea to patients – create a sex menu. Starters would be your warm up activities/foreplay, main menu items – some traditional and other ‘exotic’ positions, and finish it off with dessert of your choice. Use your Spice and Imagination to create your menu: What (sex activities are you in the mood for), where (location! location! location!), Time (a quickie, an intermediate or a marathon), when (wake up call, afternoon delight, late night snack) who (what’s your role).

7. Trade ideas. This is the tricky part. To complete this task you must have good trusted open friends (preferable) or internet search button (set on safe search) or local book store AND you have to overcome your shame and embarrassment and be willing to have a serious conversation. Talk with your friends about what interesting or new things they are doing to spice up their sex lives. You could learn something or share something useful. If your friends are lame ducks in that department, there are a number of wholesome technique/instructional related articles on the internet or YouTube to help give you ideas. Note: I did not say pornography.  Treat sex like any other aspect of your life. There is always room to learn and improve. Whatever new information you acquire, you get to share it – with your partner.

8. Using sex as leverage is an absolute NO. This is a prevailing bad practice which women tend to share with each other. Even the bible says that if you abstain in a relationship, then it should be agreed between both partners. It definitely baffles me that women tend to share destructive things they do in their marriages but are not willing to talk about the things that uplifts just as easily. Sex is not a bargaining tool for either partner. It was meant to build intimacy and engage in pleasure. Once it has become a leverage tool, then sex has start to lose its purpose and this does signal minor issue in the relationship. Plus, it’s very childish which can be  demeaning to the other person.

9. Make time for sex.  You make time for everything else under the sun (include watching tv shows) but sex gets tossed in the dirty pile and is constantly left there. Sex is Pleasure. How often do you give up a pleasurable food item because “I am too tired; I don’t have time.” If you are constantly busy and tired 24hrs/7 days per week then there are other issues to address. Life requires prioritizing and so does sex with your partner. One partner should not have to beg or make snide comments about lack of sex. If you both were communicating and making time for each other, then this should not be an issue. Oh and quit with the BS about not having time due to kids.

10. The Bedroom is the Couple’s Sanctuary. It has become a disturbing trend in which the marriage bed is crowded with kids and animals. The quickest way to push a marriage apart and kill intimacy is having anything in the middle of the couple (physically, emotionally and psychologically). Unless you live in a tiny one room abode, then the animals and kids should have permanent residence somewhere else in the house at bedtime. A strong relationship with your partner comes from the connection you share. The more things you put in between the couple for an extended time the more problematic it becomes to maintain that strong connection. Spontaneous sex will be dampened/discouraged when you are too concerned about waking dog, cat and children. Oh and teach your kids to knock before entering your bedroom.

11. Communication and Sex. The old phrase about let your body do the talking is… well old. I hate to break it to you but one sex act does not fit all. For e.g. not all men find max pleasure from getting oral sex or not all women like ‘doggy style.’ Each person has different turn ons and turn offs; therefore, the only way to know (not faking) is through communication with each other. A couple who cannot talk frankly about sex is not mature to have sex. This would be the reason why many (mostly) women go through their sexual lives and never experience sexual pleasure because of silence. For e.g. A husband stops having sex with his wife, not because he doesn’t love her, but because she has hygiene issues. A wife says she is tired all the time, not because she is overworked, but because the sex position her husband is fond of does not stimulate her at all.

Communication is the key in every aspect of a relationship and it is no different with sex. The couples with the most pleasurable sex life knows how to communicate their wants in the bedroom. It’s such a simple concept but a difficult feat for so many. For majority of the couples having issues, the underlying problem is a lack of communication-lack of listening and the lack of expressing one’s self. Most relationships can avoid disaster by practicing this one simple tool – learning to listen and to speak. Here are ways to open the conversation: I like it when you (do an act in a certain spot), I am more turned on when you (do this) than when you (do that). If odour is a problem, then make a rule that before sex you both take a shower. To change-up a routine, suggest you love the regular activities but you would like to change it up a little and add something new. Exchange notes with fantasy wishes and talk about how to accommodate each other. KISS.

12. Sexual Confidence. Yes that is a thing. We were not born with the all-knowing how-to-guide on sex. It comes with time and knowing yourself and your partner. Both men and women can become intimidated by performance which can lead to anxiety and poor sexual enjoyment. If this is an issue, talk about sex with your partner – talk before, talk during and talk after. Women are more plagued with this issue because we are not taught to be sexually confident with ourselves and therefore not able to do so with our partners. We were taught to expect the men to do everything. However, a number of men like it when women initiate sexual innuendos, make initial contact or even take charge. It can make men feel desired.

13. Sexual compatibility. In life we tend to do well with things in which we are compatible. Friends, family members, jobs, spouses and sex. Each person has varying degree of libido and interest. I saw a Oprah special about “Where are they now?” in which years ago the woman complained that her hubby was not interested in sex and he agreed. Well, the recent follow-up indicated nothing had changed. She became complacent and accepting  of a sexless marriage due to his lack of desire. I do not advocate ‘test driving’ for those who choose abstinence, however I do strongly advocate for communication about your expectations. You do not have to engage in sex to know your sex drive. Unmatched sexual compatibility will result in someone being very dissatisfied in the relationship.

14. Sex Mistakes. Like everything in life sexual screwups happen. A position did not work too well, someone jumped the gun and orgasm early, unforeseen interruptions etc. The good thing about mistakes is to learn from them and do things differently. There is NO place for shaming or belittle when it comes to sex. This is actually a good time to experiment with different things in order to see what makes the menu and what gets thrown out.

15. It’s Ok to Love Sex. If someone admits to loving steak, jet skiing, baseball or a ferret, no one blinks an eye. If that same person admits to love having sex, then it is deviant or frown on. Why? I go back to the shame and embarrassment issue surrounding sex. The fact that most people have engaged in some form of sexual activity should be an indicator of its popularity. However, this normal activity has yet to be normalized in our sexually active world. This is obvious when a recent celebrity couple who choose to engage in abstinence  until marriage then disclosed that they had an enjoyable multiple occurence sex-filled honeymoon. The comment section was filled with “TMI” type responses. In my mind, TMI would be going into specific details but not when a married couple express that they had a multi-pleaurable end to a celebration filled day. The fear and myth of sex is so great it’s hard to distinguish normal from deviant. If you love having sex with your partner, then that is a great thing because there are too many sexless or bad sex relationships that have taken the place as the norm.

Now go out and enjoy pleasure filled sex. Feel free to fill in the blanks and share your knowledge to debunk the misconception of sex. Don’t keep the good stuff to yourself.

 

A Child Is A Blessing But…


When I was 16, my older sister gave birth to my niece, who passed away recently, and I was over joyed to be an auntie. I am from one of the Caribbean Islands so it is not uncommon for families to live close to each other or live together in a large home. In this situation, we lived at the same residence. When my older sister went back to work, I, a recent high school graduate with no job, became the auntie and full-time babysitter for over 1yr of her life. This was my first close encounter of the parenting kind.

The things I discovered was a baby is cute, smells good, and needs to be protected. The other things I discovered was that a baby/toddler is demanding, needs constant supervision and can be extremely annoying and exhausting. As soon as my sister got home each day, I was waiting at the door with her bundle of joy because I needed a long break. Years later, I did the same thing for another sister during my between college take-a-break transition period. So, I have empathy for stay-at-home mothers and fathers.

Being the youngest child, with many siblings and therefore many nieces and nephews of varying ages, I have had a wealth of experience with kids that most parents have yet to encounter. I used to work in a child behavioral health clinic for a number of years which showed me the not so sweet side of children and bad parenting. I seem to have been saturated with all things children for most of my life. I should have been overjoyed at wanting my own little blessing. On the contrary, I decided during my early teens  that I never voluntarily wanted to be pregnant and gave birth to anything. At one point in my life, I thought adopting was a good idea because there are so many children who could use a good home and I also knew that I would be a good mother if the opportunity every arises.

However, at the age of 40, I still do not want kids. This was clearly re-enforced a few days ago at a family event in which 3 people I knew had kids under 2y/o. Again, they are cute, they are funny, they are a blessing but they are annoying and exhausting over an extended period of time. I had to briefly watch two of those munchkins while Elmo was playing on the computer screen. After 15 minutes, I was anxious for the parents to come get their little blessings so I could enjoy some adult time.

I am very happy for the families or singles who choose to be parents. It is hard work and one of the most important tasks to choose in life. However, children are not for everyone. Those of us who know what we don’t want are perfectly happy with that choice. Yet, those with kids seem to feel the need to dictate to others about their reproductive rights. I witnessed an uncomfortable conversation in which a friend who has one 2y/o was being told she needs to have another because the child needs a sibling.  I know people are not intentionally trying to be rude but there is a prevailing idea that ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander.’

Kids are life altering. Unless you have a 24/7 nanny or you are a bad neglectful parent, then the burden of responsibility is always on the parent to take care of your child/ren. This is not a burden that everyone wants or is suited to handle. Those little buggers demand your attention, energy, sleep time, constant direction and instruction, you as an adult who knows children shows and songs by heart, they can be frustrating, irritating, and aggravating. They are sweet and sour all wrapped up in one cute body. A parent made a bargain to take on the good and cute with the bad and smelly when it comes to parenting. That is your choice! So, while a child is a wonderful blessing, it is a choice that some made and others rejected.