The picture says it all

lent

My father is Lutheran and my mother is Catholic, so sometime before I was born it was decided that I would be brought up Catholic and attend Catholic school. I wore the very fashionable plaid school uniforms till 8th grade and was lectured by nuns time and time again when my skirt was not of proper length, not only did I attend church on Sundays but a couple of times during the week as well; joys of going to Catholic school!, Ash Wednesday was always a big to do, next to Christmas ….. my classmates (all 30 of them) and I would compare “ash marks” to see whose was bigger and discuss what we were going to give up for the next forty days. It was always the same “I’m giving up being mean to my sister” or “I’m not going to drink soda” …….midway through the Lenten season all was forgotten and I would slip, but then get reminded that I was going to hell because not only was I weak and couldn’t make the 40 days but due to my disgust for anything seafood I would end up eating something with meat on Fridays.

I remember sitting at the dinner table as a young girl hearing my father excuse my carnivorous rebellion to my mother, stating that eating fish on Fridays during Lent was due to some pope (back in the day) helping out the fishing industry therefore making eating fish acceptable. The case he presented made sense,  why wouldn’t I believe him? granted he was the one who also convinced me that fish had ears and if I made a sound while fishing I would scare away all the fish; to a naïve little girl this made sense.

As I got older this “Church-fishing industry conspiracy” always got the best of me and little ole me would go one on one with the head strong nuns when I would show up to school with a salami sandwich on Fridays….I always lost, of course. As an adult I’m still very curious, my dad wasn’t the only one that shared their Fishy Theory, it was almost like a made for television CSI movie. Was there some medieval Pope who had a hankering for fish and declared it to be the go to meal during Lent? either way, I’m still not eating it.

AND…. yes I do know that the purpose of Lent is for prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial. We also are told to sacrifice something for forty days…..my question is why does this “something” have to be food or of material value. I’ve read so many posts on Facebook stating that they are giving up the internet, fast food, wine, bread, clothes shopping, soda etc. What’s wrong with giving up being inpatient, manipulative,unfaithful, self-righteous for forty days? instead of losing your cool and yelling….work on holding your tongue for forty days.  (Jesus did sacrifice more than just a loaf of bread for you right?)

Is it easier to “sacrifice” and go without your favorite Starbucks coffee than to actually come face to face with something within yourself that is your own personal down fall like anger issues, low self-esteem, gossiping and stopping your bad behavior for forty days? can you imagine how your life would be forty days from now if you were able to give up yelling, or being inpatient, or cheating on your spouse or being a doormat for a bully to walk all over. Sure it will be tough, of course you will have to be on your toes making sure you don’t fall….but isn’t sacrifice suppose to be hard? once all is done YOU will have found your own inner strength to get past your struggles, you would have fought those inner demons and in the end have found inner peace.

What’s better than that?

Love, Phenotypes, Baseball Magic, and “Soul Mates” – Guest Blogger

Earlier this week I wrote about Soul mates and I had several bloggers share their thoughts on the subject which I am very grateful for their assistance…..there was one who I knew would take  the subject of Soul Mates to another level and I would like to share her view on the subject. Thank you Aly for taking sometime out of your busy busy schedule to be my guest blogger! for those that maybe  wondering where the link it to her blog is, she is on hiatus from blogging for a while…that is why I am thankful for her to take this time to write for me. I really enjoyed her views on life,relationships and let me just say this ……she’s smart….she’s like Bernadette and Amy smart but Penny beautiful. Hope you enjoy !!

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What is love? Love is an intangible emotion. It is a feeling. It means something different and feels different to each individual. Each person is a product of both biology and cultural factors and experience. No two people have the exact same combination of the three; therefore, it is impossible to declare exactly what love is beyond the fact that the feeling of it begins chemically in our bodies, that spark we feel. It is chemistry, literally. Our hormones rage, our endorphin’s get involved, and the rest is history.

In evolutionary history, the phenotype of emotion (tenderness, love, compassion) was selected for. A phenotype is an observable trait of an organism. For example, morphology, development, physiological and biochemical properties, behavior and the products of behavior are all phenotypes. This observable behavior is coded for genetically in our genotype, Deoxyribonucleic acid.

One must conclude that the concept of emotions, such as love, had an evolutionary advantage to the human species. This is what makes us sociable creatures. Let’s face it. No matter how much animosity, hatred, and anger we exhibit for one another, we are still sociable creatures. As one anthropologist, a professor of mine, put it, try placing 200 Capuchin monkeys in one small area with no food for two hours and see if they can fly in a plane for hours without biting each other.

Love must serve some sort of purpose regarding species fitness. Reproduction? Probably not. I doubt dung beetles have emotions such as love, yet they still reproduce. The idea of cooperative makes the most sense to me. Humans banded together in hunting and gathering, they banded together for cooperative; therefore, those with the emotional phenotype, those able to make emotional connections to people, would have more successful reproduction and would pass those traits to further generations.

One also must combine history in the search of soul mates. When did monogamy begin for humanity? Most societies practiced polygamy until polytheistic religions developed. The concept of one man and one wife must have something to do with the “Soul Mate” theory. The idea of “Soul Mates” could very well be merely a social construct created by the culture of Judeo-Christian beliefs. Before this, many men had multiple wives; therefore, establishing that the concept of a “Soul Mate” was not always of significance. Humans have survived a millennia without being soul mates.

The other idea is that how do we know someone is our “Soul Mate?” It is only after a successful partnership ending in death that one can confirm someone was one. How many times have you thought you had met your soul mate? I know I have several times. I was only disproven when a relationship fell apart and the male in my life was replaced by another. So are we just “Souls Mates” until it ends? All relationships are doomed to end at some point, be it human error or death.

One must also consider the evolution of women’s rights. Historically, women were unable to divorce their spouses and we forced to deal with cheating spouse, abusive spouse, and everything else. In many points of history, it was just downright illegal for a woman to divorce her spouse. Women have come a long way in the past 100 years. Our culture has evolved along with it. Now, women no longer have to put up with such treatment. Of course, divorce rates will sky rocket once it is socially acceptable for the woman to divorce her spouse. 100 years ago, 50% of the population could not file for divorce. Think about it.

Whenever I hear of stories of people being married 50 plus years, I am reminded that they were married 50 years ago. American culture was completely different than it is today. Divorce was still socially unacceptable. Those women were raised to put up with whatever treatment was offered, that was the culture they grew up in. They grew up with the idea that men make the decisions.

With 7 billion people on the planet, it is rather hard to believe that there is only one perfect person for someone. There are multiple possibilities. There are multiple ways the feeling of love manifests itself. It can be passion based; I had many relationships where the emotions manifested themselves in intense passionately feelings. It can be companionship based; only once have I had a companionship based manifestation of romantic feelings. I desired him, do not get me wrong. It wasn’t the intense “Let’s make love right here and right now before we are consumed by the insanity of unfulfilled desires.” I felt like this person would be an ideal companion, but the feeling was not returned. For him, relationships were less about feelings and more of an idealistic we must match in this, this, and this kind of way. Love means something different to each and every person. I can honestly say that I have loved more than one man. Unfortunately, most relationships are doomed for failure.

Is the concept of a “Soul Mate” something we still delude ourselves with when we fail?  It’s okay; he just wasn’t “The One.” He wasn’t your “Soul Mate.” Is this a comforting notion when we are down and depressed from our latest romantic failure?

Some people say there are “signs” when you meet that special person. I used to believe in signs, until I thought I read them appropriately and got my heart ripped out “Kali Ma” Indiana Jones Temple of Doom style. Thank you, sir. There were many signs I thought were there. Out birthdays are the same, but different months. We met at one point, only to find out later that his best friend is married to one of my friends from high school. We kept randomly walking into each other on campus.

The physiology of our brains forces us to create patterns, much like it forces us to see in binary opposites. We see patterns, we create superstitions from them. We use these patterns in religious rituals. Baseball players are infamous for having ritualized patterned behavior. “Lou Skeins used to reach into his back pocket to touch a crucifix, straighten his cap and clutch his genitals (Gmelch).” There is a whole genre of anthropology just about “Baseball Magic.” We see patterns and we claim “SOUL MATES. IT IS KISMET!” in much of the same way.
Gmelch, George J. “Baseball Magic.” http://www.faulkner.edu/academics/artsandsciences/socialandbehavioral/readings/an/baseball.aspx

Soul Mates – is it just a bunch of bologna?

God created androgynous souls—equally male and female. Later theories postulate that the souls split into separate genders, perhaps because they incurred karma while playing around on the Earth, or “separation from God.” Over a number of reincarnations, each half seeks the other. When all karmic debt is purged, the two will fuse back together and return to the ultimate.

~ Edgar Cayce

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As a young girl I based my whole existence on finding my knight in shiny armor/soul mate/ Prince Charming (I know pathetic) only to come to the realization in my early thirties that this whole Disneyland fantasy of finding my soul mate was just a bunch of bologna.

The topic of Soul Mates came up when I recently received a message from an old boyfriend of mine who came across my blog and said

I’m happy with Melinda and all and am grateful as you are that we have found our soul mates

I stopped, reread that sentence and rolled my eyes…… because I never claimed that my husband was my soul mate. I just don’t believe in soul mates. Then I recalled when MM and I were dating he referred to me as his “soul mate” this freaked me out more than the words “I love you” did and I told him that I wasn’t his soul mate. I soon learned that this was a total mood killer. He wasn’t the only one that threw out the “S” word………..I think some men thought by saying that I was their soul mate that I would melt and I succumb to his every desire…..but this was met with a look of “you got to be kidding, really??

I believe that there is that one person that you can totally click with, that you love with all your heart, that you could somehow tolerate his/her strange habits or silly routines. I believe in love, I believe in romance, I believe in passion but to roll it all up and label the person you’re married to or dating your “soul mate” is just setting yourself up for a huge disappointment. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I was in a serious relationship and thought “This is it!! he’s the one, I can feel it!! he’s my prince charming” only to find out later that he was nothing but a world-class jerk. I even went as far as proposing to a man to only have my heart seriously broken because he would rather pop pills,play Madden, text his old girlfriends “ya wanna make out” rather than making out with his fiance’  and fully realizing that he did have it all….until it was too late.

I asked several people their thoughts on the subject and the majority of them didn’t believe in soul mates.

I don’t believe in soul mates. I used to (mainly from watching too many chick flicks), but as I’ve aged I think that the concept, while lovely, is unrealistic. The Bloke is my best friend certainly, but I truly believe that if we lived in different cities and had never met we would be in equally fulfilling relationships with other people. There’s seven billion people on the planet and what I believe is that people are more compatible with some than others depending on their personalities and their interests~ Suzie

I do not believe in them.  I believe that there is enough differences in everyone that to be perfect soul mates does not exist.  I thought I could find the perfect one, but after looking for so many years I figured it did not exist.  Even after finding “The One” i found that we both had so many differences that something had to hold us together.  Had that little girl not been part of the equation, we would not be together. ~John

I hate to be the rotten tomato, but no, I don’t believe they exist.  I originally thought my current hubby was my soul mate, but I eventually realized that he’s only the exact opposite of my first husband.  It’s my opinion that there are certain people with whom we have more in common with, but even those relationships take work, and if you’re with that person long enough, you’ll eventually see that there are MAJOR differences with that person, too, that need to be worked out.  Not every day is pleasant and all sunshine and roses with ANYONE.  I feel like if there was a such thing as soul mates, that wouldn’t be the case. -Alicia

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We see those rare stories of couples that have been married for over fifty years, one of the spouses die and within the week the other spouse passes on to. The caption usually states “Wife/Husband dies of broken heart”. I admit I secretly wish to be THAT lucky but still that doesn’t mean they were “soul mates” destined by a greater power to walk the earth, life after life until they happen to find each other.

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I’m not sure if I believe in soul mates, I guess when Phil dies and I then I do soon after then I will truly know that he was my soul mate.  -Andrea

I have learned that there’s not one definitive soul mate out there. I think we fit a relationship to last, souls need to connect, but our souls can connect with many people, as humans are so dynamic ~ Dawn

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I love hearing the opinions of the young at heart, still open to the phrase “Love will conquer all”. My oldest daughter strongly believes that God will place “The ONE” in her path and she will know without a doubt when she meets him that this is the guy brought to her by God. I love her faith and belief that she doesn’t need to date a handful of guys because the first man she dates will be the one. I hope that this does happen for her. At the age of 22 I don’t want her to experience that dreadful feeling of “but I just thought……I knew God heard me, I believed….I had faith”.

I believe that you have a soul mate…cuz when you have a relationship where you just have that super strong connection, were you can’t live without them…you would DIE for that person because you love them so much. They are your best friend and your better half….I also believe you can have more than one. In those cases where you become a widow/widower you can meet a new love/soul mate. ~ Ann,19

Soul mates exist but for their relationship to last it has to be true love. Love is not a feeling it is an action of selflessness, always doing what is best for the other person. Two people with that kind of love striving/centered in God will last ~ Marie, 22

After speaking with my daughter Ann last night she asked  “Your husband is your soul mate right?” …. “No, Lily (my furgirl) is”. I knew she would get a kick out of that response. Yes, I was making light of the topic.  If I were to believe in the whole meaning of a soul mate then I think a soul mate doesn’t necessarily have to be your partner, maybe it could be your best friend who just gets you……..and why couldn’t it be Lily my furgirl?? hahaha…..granted my husband says animals have no souls….which only leads to a whole other disagreement…………Heck, hasn’t he ever seen “All dogs go to heaven?”

Where do you stand on Soul Mates? Do you believe or do you think it’s just something that has been exaggerated over time by romance novels and chick flick movies?

Spinster…..aka Hopeless Romantic

This morning while catching up on my favorite must read blogs  I came across 1 Year of Single post called Denial of Points. It was almost like reading something that I had written years ago in a previous blog  depicting my frustration with single life.

She wrote:

I feel like I’ve been thrown multiple life lessons and I’m failing every one. Why else would the lessons be never-ending? When I look around, I don’t see everyone else going through years of endless dating torture.

I want to know when these stupid little life lessons are going to end and I’m going to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Where’s the damn prize? I feel like I’m getting nowhere, like a salmon swimming upstream; I don’t even know what the lessons are, or what the point of the lessons are. And yet at the same time, I look back on my decisions – like how I chose to continue being ‘friends’ with a guy who can’t decide if he should leave his cheating wife or not – and think, “God must be tired of me spinning my wheels all the time like a Gafatch.

I totally felt her frustration because I WAS her (up until last June)….I felt defeated by each life lesson that was thrown in my path……I mean COME ON already how many lessons and failed relationships does one person have to go through in order to find the one? It’s so simple for some……like my sister, she may have only encountered two dating life lessons to my fifteen years (give or take a year or two) of spinsterhood. At times I felt that I had been cursed or that Karma was being a REAL BITCH and paying me back for something that I royally screwed up on in  a previous lifetime….whatever it was I couldn’t figure it out. I tried to….but to no avail I kept making wrong decisions when it came to men….and I was actually beginning to believe the label my ex-husband placed on me…..Spinster, but I prefer “Hopeless Romantic”.

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I tried dating the good guys, you know the type that complain that women only want bad boys….so I gave the good guys a shot. All I found out is that line is just that ….. a line, because the “good guys” that I dated were just as bad as the tattoo’d bad boys. For instance….Paul. Looked like a good guy, smelled like a good guy, we had a lot in common, was very attentive only problem was that he was also attentive to two other women, in two different cities.

I tried the bad boy, tattoos ….tongue ring….a bit younger but that boy couldn’t carry on a conversation to save his life. He was nice to look at during those brief summer months but after that….adios!

There was the guy who claimed to want to marry me, we moved in …..things were good until I found out that he was still in love with his stripper ex-wife, but he claimed that it was over. Five months later I began to feel that something was just a bit off and after snooping around I noticed he had a profile on a dating website saying he was looking for love. We broke up and I was left living in a place I called “hell in the desert” while he was off loving on someone new.

imagesI then decided that I needed to change things up……I would just date a guy based on his personality and not dismiss him based on his looks. That brings me to Gollum or the white ET as my friends called him. We dated for quite sometime, but his overly health nut attitude and my love for carbs became a problem……looking back now I should have stood my ground  when he scolded me for putting too much butter on my bread and the lecture I got when I ordered a Dr. Pepper . I should have stuffed him full of pasta and bread to just relax him a bit or put him in a carb coma with my yummy manicotti. The breaking point was when I caught him twirling around in my lingerie….yeah no one wants to see Gollum in a silky nighty from Victoria Secrets.

There came a point that I had to admit defeat my choices in men were horrible (not including the Major who I ended up marrying in December) so I had only one option. I found myself in a church, kneeling before the Lord and prayed. I cried. I prayed some more. I gave it up to him, I was no longer going to search for THE ONE because I was exhausted. Broken hearts suck. I was there for a good hour praying, well more like reading the prayers on the back of the missalette. I walked out of there with a new sense of peace because when it was time he would deliver …..well that’s what I had been told anyways…..so instead of Match.com finding me a man I went to the Big Man upstairs to be my matchmaker.

What he brought me was Mr.Crazy…….and from what I learned from this experience was you can’t fix crazy or fix Mr.Crazys momma who was unable to release this overgrown boy from her bosom. I guess in a way this was the test of all tests. It taught me to never settle, just because you may think that you are approaching 35 years old, you think no one loves you and that all the good ones are gone…..does not mean in any way that you should marry some guy who has no direction. Remember you can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to fix themselves….and it’s a losing battle when they are in denial about what we all see as a problem.

There is hope to all those singles out there……there is a light at the end of the tunnel, believe me…….I definitely paid my dues, learned some very tough lessons, realized what I truly deserved and most importantly became comfortable with the thought of just being alone…..because really was I ALONE? I have good friends that would never turn their back on me, I have my children although grown they still keep in touch (one more than the other two), I have my health……yeah eating a Lean Cusine for dinner and watching reality television with your Furkids staring on day after day can be a bit lonely but just think…….he is out there, but it’s just not time yet. He may just need to figure somethings out before he is ready to cross your path and be yours 100%.

I had to wait ten years to before my husband and I crossed paths again…….

yeah I hear some of you saying….. “TEN YEARS…i have to wait TEN years!!”  I know ……I know.

A long awaited gift

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“Hi my name is Martin, come right this way”…I followed Martin into a little room, there was a small table, two chairs and the smell of incense filled the air.  “Please have a seat”……he took a drink of his water, smiled and asked me what brought me to see him today. “Well …. uhmm…I just couldn’t shake this feeling that I needed to come and see you…plus, I’ve been having these strange dreams…in one, I was in danger and all of a sudden an older man came up to me wrapped his arms around me, but they weren’t arms….maybe it was a cloak, but then we were engulfed in beautiful light, I felt safe ….next thing I know we were standing in a beautiful garden with a magnificent  tall  oak tree in the center…this older man has become a frequent presence in my dreams”

Part of me was second guessing this visit and that I should have seen a therapist instead but then another part of me told me that I just needed to relax.

“Please hand me your keys”…..he held onto them tightly, took a few deep breaths and mumbled something that I couldn’t quite make out. I can only believe that it was an incantation of some sort. He began to glance in one area of the room and then back at me again. “Your grandfather is here…he’s tall, stocky build, he’s wearing a plaid shirt and he’s smiling….there is also  another man here but your grandpa wants to talk”….chills ran through out my body, my grandpa?  another man?? ….. “Your grandpa is telling me that he loves you so much and wants you to know that he watches over you, he is also telling me that you were supposed to get something after he died but you never received it”.  I was supposed to receive something?? “ I have the pictures….the pictures of their wedding and war pictures. I am taking good care of them” I said. “No, you were supposed to get a pocket knife. He is showing me how he would use this to peel the skin off the apples and give pieces of apple to you when you were a little girl, this was supposed to be for you”  As I was trying to make sense of everything that was being said I just knew that the knife was probably long gone or that it had been given to one of my cousins….just then as though my grandfather heard my thoughts, Martin said “he wants you to go ask your father”. I laughed out loud “He wants me to ask dad? Ohhh this is going to be interesting”.

See my father doesn’t believe in spirits, mediums or anything on that level and for me to come out and say that I saw a medium today my father would just laugh and shove some opinionated comments my way.

Martin began to describe the pocket knife to me, the small details and color and again emphasized that I would need to ask my father. He then stated that my grandfather chose to be my guardian angel and reaches out to me through my dreams and that is why I had found my way here. I looked at Martin and brought up the moment when I was a little girl and saw a figure next to my bed (while everyone was asleep) I asked if that was my grandpa….he looked towards the corner of the room and turned back and nodded. I really didn’t need validation because I knew back then that it was him, but still it didn’t hurt to ask. Martin then told me that the other man was my great-uncle who was a pilot in the military and his body was never found during WWII and that he was my grandmother’s brother. This was interesting news to me but I knew that I would have to verify this with my parents.

He also mentioned that my grandfather didn’t like the guy that I was dating and thought I deserved better….then Martin laughed…..”Your grandpa does things to make this known, if you pay attention he has been showing you that this man is no good for you”….I began to think of the recent situations between me and the man I was with and things started to make sense. “Thank you Grandpa, I get it”.

After our session was over, I felt drained …….. every ounce of energy I had in me was gone. I felt as though I ran for miles. …..I made my way to my car and called my dad.

The conversation went something like this:

“Dad, hey I have to ask you a question…..did grandpa ever give you a pocket knife?”

“How do you know about the pocket knife?

“You KNOW about the  pocket knife?” I was beyond excited!!

“Jolene…HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE KNIFE ?”

“Grandpa told me”

Silence…..Ok, maybe I shouldn’t have just thrown it out there like that.

“Grandpa told YOU about the knife…what are you talking about?”

I told him about my visit with Martin, he didn’t react like I thought he would ….I could still hear the doubt in his voice though.

“Jolene the day of grandpa’s funeral your grandmother told us to go into the bedroom and grab something of his that we wanted. The knife was on his nightstand and I grabbed it…… Well, I guess you are getting an early birthday present from your grandpa”

Tears filled my eyes but a calmness filled the air….it’s a calm I felt before when I would start to cry or if I was having a rough day and was at my breaking point…it felt almost like a comforting hug, it was then that I knew that my grandpa was right there…….kinda ease dropping on my conversation with my dad.

“Dad, did grandma have a brother who was a pilot in World War two?”

“Yes, why?”

“Because he was there as well”

There was no more doubt in my father’s tone any longer.

“They never found his body, but yes he was a pilot”

He told me briefly about my great-uncle before we ended our call and a  week later I received an envelope in the mail.

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The pocket knife

This happened more than five years ago …….I carry the picture of my grandpa and I in my wallet and the pocket knife is tucked away in my purse ……I miss him and holding onto these items just makes me feel closer to him in some way.

Moral Compass

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Daily Prompt: Morality Play

Where do your morals come from — your family? Your faith? Your philosophical worldview? How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?

I would have to say my source to the creation of my moral compass would be from the lessons I have learned in the triumphs and failures throughout my life and of course my faith in God. Many may ask, “what about your family?” and I would calmly reply that I have spent twenty years trying to not be like my parents, not to say that they are horrible people but I  just don’t see eye to eye with them…….but no where does it state that I have to believe what they believe nor do I have to behave like them.

I have my own thoughts and beliefs just like everyone else. I believe strongly in “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you”. This has been instilled in me as a young girl growing up Catholic; have I always practiced this?…….honestly no, sometimes pride won over humility………sometimes I took it word for word and through the years if someone hurt me (mentally or physically) I hurt them back, words can be just as damaging as the physical act….was this right? No.

My faith, although at times questioned has played a role in who I am today. I believe in God and I believe that he is our savior. What I don’t understand is how others will judge me and belittle me behind my back because I don’t practice to THEIR liking…….Do I go to church every Sunday? No. Do I pray? Yes. Do I thank God for the giving me another day to breathe his air and enjoy his creation? Yes. Do I have to Facebook and tweet my church goings and visits to the confessional to prove to the judgemental “Christians” that I am in deed walking in the way of the Lord, maybe so…….but I won’t; because my relationship with the Lord is my own and the only one who is to judge me is him….not those who have their own questionable moral compass.