To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question

After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to try this again.  Unfortunately, I got swept up in life and didn’t write an entry for over a year. 

The title of my entry is pondering the question of the wisdom of blogging at all.  Some will see it as merely a narcissistic desire to feel important.  For me it is not that.  It is merely writing about the things that I find important and how I feel about them.

The impetus not to blog is that perhaps my thoughts and feelings aren’t always politically correct.  And to that I know to be true.    However, I have decided that my opinions tend to be balanced and coincide with the fact that politically I’m neither a conservative nor a liberal.  I am independent and don’t buy many of the arguments of either side.  The correct path is always the middle way.  My blog posts could be used against me, however I’m going to take that chance.  

I am going to blog as I have decided that I have a right to speak or in this case write my mind as I see fit.  I prefer to be open about my thoughts and beliefs rather than hide them.  In my experience, the things that are hidden are those that can be used to exert influence over someone.  Therefore, I’m going to try to be as open and honest as I can be (which is very).

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Loss and Remembrance

I have pondered writing this post for almost two months now.  It has been hard and finally I have come to the point that I can write about the untimely death of my friend Ed.  Ed’s death was unexpected and totally took me by surprise. You see, he was only approximately

two weeks older than

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Leslie Cruz as Victorian Vampiress.  Photographer:  E.L. Hoyle, Jr. (2014)

I am.

I met Ed several years ago. I dated him briefly but when we decided that we were only friend material we became friends.  Ed and I shared a common interest in photography that fueled our friendship.  Although I love photography, he made it his career.  Ed was a wonderful photographer and took several beautiful pictures of me as a Vampiress in October of 2014.  He also worked at the theme park nearby to where he lived taking portraits of the park goer’s.

I learned of his passing via facebook.  I know, a real sad way to learn of the death of a friend.  It was hard to believe….I always thought there would be more time to talk/chat with him and even go visit him.  We had discussed me coming to visit, but I kept putting it off.  There would always be more time…we were only 40….we couldn’t die…. we were too young.  I now wish I would have just known that time would turn ugly and I’d never get to see him again in person.  I wish I had made the time to go visit, instead of putting it off because of the distance and my finances.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from this experience is:  Live every day as if you or your loved ones may die at any moment.  It is too late once they’ve passed on to Summerland (Heaven).  There is a quote/mantra that is on every section of my planner that I get from a success quotes newsletter that I’m subscribed to:  Live Today!  Achieve Today!! Tomorrow is Promised to No One!!!

I’ve been working on getting over his loss for the past couple months.  But each time I think I’ve finally come to terms with it I get some electronic notification on facebook.  A advertisement for Instagram will come up and say that my friend (Ed) is on Instagram. Or a post I made a couple years ago (the vampire pictures) is ready to share as a memory.  It’s always a slap in the face.  It forces me to acknowledge once again that he isn’t here anymore.

Death has always been my nemesis.  I’ve always hated it and as time goes on more and more of the people in my circle of friends and family are going to pass on.  The first person that passed away that was important to me was my beloved Grandmother Effie.  It took me several months to get over her death and I finally accepted that she was gone and in a better place, hopefully.  The difference between her death and Ed’s is that I had been expecting her death as she was 96 years old when she passed on to Summerland.  I didn’t expect him to pass on unexpectedly at the age of 40.  It is  a struggle for me to understand how one can be alive and vibrant one day and gone the next.

One poem that I find comforting is the following:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

____ Mary Elizabeth Frye

I will take one day at a time and remember that death is not the end.  It is only the bridge to allow us to go beyond the veil and enter Summerland where we will be able to see all those from our lives that have gone before. That thought brings me peace.

 

Recent Events

Most of the recent events on the news, both local, national, and worldwide sickens and saddens me these days.  There is too much violence, disrespect, and quite frankly, extremism abounding among too many people. 

My thoughts and morals have been shaped by my background, values, logic and my spiritual beliefs. All of these things combined to make my views more eclectic than the general population and probably a bit more eccentric at times.  A bit about me would be helpful in understanding where I’m coming from when I speak on my beliefs on the state of the current events.  

My general background and the socioeconomic class that I was born into and grew up in was the poor/economic disadvantaged end of the overall economic spectrum.  Basically I was so poor my family couldn’t even afford the last three letters of the word. So we were basically “P”.  However, I was never allowed to feel like a victim of our circumstances. Even when we had to sleep in the car to keep warm during a Northern Wisconsin winter because we couldn’t afford the propane to heat the house.   It was continually stressed that the way out for me was through getting an education, which I did.  I graduated from High School as an Honor Graduate and immediately joined the military so that I could earn the money to attend college.

So, it is with a bit of irritation, that I keep hearing about “White Privilege.”  I’m definitely of Caucasian or white descent, however I’ve never been “privileged.”  Everything that I have so far achieved I’ve worked for from the time I was ten years old – when I began babysitting to today when I work as a Certified Nurse Aide for just barely over minimum wage. If I want more, I’m going to have to work my tail off to get it.

However, with that being said, I see that there are problems with how people of African descent or black are treated by the police.  However the mistreatment is not confined to the black members of society.  Personally I’ve been appalled at some of the incidents that have come to light, particularly the deaths of Freddie Gray and Philando Castille.  The shooting of the unarmed Behavioral Therapist, Charles Kinsey from what I’ve seen was totally unprovoked.  In my opinion, one of the things that would diffuse at least some of the anger would be punishment for those that use excessive force, especially deadly force, when dealing with those being detained for law infractions.

People need to do their part in making these kinds of incidents rare or nonexistent.  As a child and teenage I was taught that you must have respect for the police.   There wasn’t a systemic disrespect for law enforcement that was taught and reinforced throughout the adolescent years.  When I was a teenager, we were taught how to behave if we were ever pulled over by the police.  #1 – Immediately pull over and stop the car, turning the ignition off.   #2 – Put your hands on the wheel, fingers up.  If there is a passenger, they should put their hands in a similar position on the dash.  # 3 – when requested by the law enforcement officer you can roll the window down.  #4 – DO NOT speak disrespectfully to the officer #5 – LISTEN to the officers verbal DIRECTIONS and OBEY them to the letter.  The officer or officers are in charge and YOU HAVE TO OBEY their commands.  #6 – If they decide to further detain you, make you get out of the car, handcuff you, etc.  YOU DO NOT RESIST.  It is OK to be upset, however they are Law Enforcement and have weapons (guns).   It is much easier to make your case in court if you aren’t dead.  

I have been pulled over by Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) on a few occasions.  I’ve even been detained for a short period of time once.  However, that most likely resulted from the fact that I was rude/disrespectful to the officer initially.  They thought me and my passenger were suspicious.  However, after they checked our IDs, they let us go without further incident. But we had to sit outside of the car on the curb for around 10-15 minutes while they decided what to do.  It is never cool when their are three squad cars.   I do feel that there is a problem with excessively pulling people over based on race.  The only way to eliminate this is to institute further training.

Fear is running rampant on both sides of the issue.  People are afraid and resentful of LEOs/Police and the LEOs/Police are afraid of the people.  Both sides in this standoff need to truly meet with each other and see what they all can do to fix this problem.   Fear breeds fear.  The ugliness needs to stop.  The two terrorist attacks on the Law Enforcement Officers were uncalled for by any measure.  An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Mohandas Ghandi.

I realize that I may be simplistic in my views but  I also believe that everyone is created equal.  You have to get past your race and socioeconomic situation to truly achieve a better life for yourself.  You are the only one that can make a difference in your life. You have to take the educational opportunities that you are given and use them to rise above where you come from in this life. Everyone is the same beneath the skin. Race/and/or/skin color does not make a difference in one’s abilities.  People need to love one another and be good to one another. 

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Back Again

Well, here is to a new year and a new start.  Haven’t written in this blog in a very long time.   In the future, I plan on having at least two blog posts per week on various topics.  Most likely on Tuesday/Wednesday and Saturday/Sunday.  

I embarked on a new career in 2015.  Basically, a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA)/Home Healthcare Aide in the state of Virginia.  It has been an interesting transition from an Administrative Assistant.  It is hopefully a step towards becoming a Registered Nurse, as that is what I really would like to do with the rest of my working years.

I still have an interest in becoming a published author, as well.   I am working towards that endeavor each week.  I have a goal of writing 2,000 words per week in my novel.  So far I met my goals.

Although I haven’t worked much on my photography as of late. Going to school in 2015 and working 40-80 hours per week has eaten the time I have to devote to developing my hobbies.  I plan to resume my photographic endeavors in 2016, hopefully.

 

Adventures in Unemployment

My adventure, an unplanned one, began in July of this year.  Unfortunately, the position that I had held for the past four years came to an end.  I was laid off due to the contracts were coming to an end and the funding for my position was eliminated.  It was a bit sooner than I had planned, so thus it was an unexpected and unwanted development. 

The first thing I did upon becoming unemployed was to have a good cry.  Then, I had to put on my big girl panties and make plans for my financial survival.  I applied for unemployment the following day.  The amount of unemployment I was approved for was ok in that it would allow me to cover my necessary expenses.  At the time, I was thinking that it would be only a short time until I was able to secure a position that would replace my lost income.   However, that position remains elusive at the time of this writing.

The next thing that I did was to create profiles on several websites, as well as the required profile on the Virginia Employment Commission website.  Then I started to apply to jobs.  Over the past several months I have tried to limit my searches to jobs that fall into the same category as my previous position.  That search has proved to be fruitless and I am forced to face the fact that I need to lower my standards and start pursuing other avenues of employment.  Broaden my horizons, if you will.

It is hard not to be disappointed and a bit put out over this situation.  Of almost 250 resumes that I’ve put out over the past several months I’ve only received around 5-6 responses, and of those responses a few interviews.   My resume has been tweaked and revised with the help of professionals, to no avail.  The revisions still haven’t helped secure more favorable outcomes.  

I know that I shouldn’t feel extraordinarily bad as the economy still isn’t doing very well. It seems that almost everyone I seem to know are either taking pay cuts or working in jobs that are below their skill level.  I honestly think that it’s possible that the hiring managers for the companies to which I’ve applied believe that I’m overqualified or due to my experience level or that I am wanting to be paid more than they are willing to pay.

This couldn’t be further from the truth… to a certain extent.  While I don’t want to work for minimum wage; I’m very willing to be reasonable in my request for compensation.  I’m realistic about how much the employer’s want to compensate those in my job class.  

Hopefully this adventure in the land of the unemployed will end shortly.  I’m of the opinion that the sooner this unfortunate adventure ends, the better.  I’m trying to keep a positive outlook in the face of adversity.  

In the immortal words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.”

Wonderful Weekend

March 17th was a great day. I attended the Greek Festival that was held at a Nativity of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church near where we live. Everyone had a great time visiting the vendors and eating the delicious Greek food.  All the entrees looked fabulous.  My Greek Salad and Souvlaki was delicious.  For dessert I had the homemade Baklava and it was divine. There was entertainment provided by traditional Greek dancers of various ages. This is an event that my family enjoys attending every year.

That afternoon attended the Relay for Life event that was held in Fredericksburg, Virginia on May 17, 2014. I went with my mother, ex-husband Chris, and my daughters: Lorelei and Kaelin. My mother is a breast cancer survivor of almost 20 years.

The event was wonderful, though I believe it may have had fewer attendees due to a shift in how to get to the event location due to flooding that blocked off the main road to the park. The opening ceremony was very touching, then there were the laps for the Survivors; and Survivors and Caregivers. I enjoyed documenting the event through photography and visiting the vendors.
If you are interested in learning more about the Relay for Life, you can go out to the following website:

http://relay.acsevents.org/site/TR?pg=entry&fr_id=61331

All in all, the weekend of the 17-18 of May was excellent. It was wonderful to spend time with family. It was also wonderful to attend events that are rich in cultural and societal importance.

Wonderful Tattoo Experience

The last week has went wonderfully for me. I am doing well, both professionally and personally. This post is mostly a review. I got a tattoo yesterday evening. I had decided to get a tattoo that I’ve been wanting to get for awhile. The staff at the shop that I visited on Friday evening impressed me with their professionalism and I booked my appointment that evening. I made an appointment with 407 Tattoo & Piercing Studio’s owner, Paul Loh. Paul Loh’s Assistant actually made the appointment and informed me that the Pre-Tattoo instructions were on the studio’s website. She also offered to explain them to me, as well.

 I went back for my appointment on Monday evening,

April 28, 2014. Paul and his Assistant greeted me as I arrived for my appointment. Paul Loh’s Assistant then checked me in. She gave me the necessary paperwork to complete and took it from me when I had finished completing it.

I then spoke with Paul about the design that I had come up with for the tattoo. He took what I had designed and implemented it into his final design. Per his recommendation, I went with a more simplified one-color version.

Once the design was completed, Paul requested that I take a seat in his chair and proceeded to prep my arm to receive the tattoo. Throughout this process, Paul was conversational and patiently answered any questions that I had regarding the tattoo process. Once the area was prepped, he placed the design and was ready to begin the tattoo.

We had decided, per his suggestion, to just go with a basic black ink design. He worked skillfully to tattoo the design onto my arm. He had a very light touch when tattooing. Unlike my previous tattoo experience, I felt only minimal discomfort during the process. At the end, I finally looked at the tattoo. It was beautiful. Going with the simpler design was totally perfect.

Infinity Love Heart

The design that I decided to go with, I call the Infinity Love Heart. I decided to get this design tattoo’d onto my left forearm to remind me to love and respect myself. The idea for getting this tattoo is symbolic came from knowing about the mission of To Write Love On Her Arms organization. Their mission and vision is to present hope and find help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-harm and suicide.

This tattoo and it’s symbolism is deeply personal to me as I have struggled for many years with bi-polar disorder. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar 2. I don’t have the highs that are associated with the disease. I have experienced bouts of debilitating depression. However, at this point I’m considered to be well into recovery. I have accepted my disease and accept the fact that I will need to be on medication for the rest of my life. And that is OK. I am not my diagnosis. I have a diagnosis. And at this point I have risen above it.

If you would like more information on the organization To Write Love On Her Arms, please visit their website: http://www.twloha.com

If you are considering a tattoo, I highly recommend Paul Loh. He and his staff provide wonderful and friendly customer service. He does excellent work and I am totally pleased with the results of his design work and tattooing. Please visit his websites: http://the407tattoostudio.com or http://paullohtattoos.com

You could also drop by his place of business at 13428 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge, VA 22191 for a consultation and to book an appointment.