Saturday, September 15, 2012

Things I learned by judging others...

We all do it...we compare and contrast, criticise and judge. Our society seems to promote it given all of the reality TV shows like X Factor, America's Top Model, The Bachelor and the many others that seem to be taking over our prime time TV slots. "People Watching" (and websites like The People of Walmart) is past-time many of us enjoy for the sheer entertainment value but {generally} without any real underlying mean-spiritedness intended. Well, truth be told, I think most of us know it's not exactly nice is hard to resist.

We try to justify some of this because we don't really know those people and/or they are kinda putting themselves out there for our scrutiny (sorry Jersey Shore cast...but you asked for it). But the repercussions of our judgemental nature come to light when it hits closer to home, like when we catch ourselves judging our friend's behavior or choice in clothes/car/mate/hair color, especially when it's done in a negative way. Sometimes we even view other's Facebook posts as ego-centric and self-serving (ummm,'s their personal wall, what should they post about?). We even catch ourselves discrediting another's accomplishment by saying things like "yes, but..." (i.e. "Yes she ran a marathon but did you see how slow it was??").

I'm guilty. I did do all of this and more. I'd really like to say I am beyond judging others...that somewhere along the way between meditation and yoga and running and growing and reading and learning that I've become secure enough with myself that the need or desire or that judgemental mechanism inside of me has been removed. But it's still there and rather than dwell on how bad of a person I am I've decide to take a deeper look at myself and find a lesson in it all.

O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;

It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~William Shakespeare, Othello

You see, most of the time, when I catch myself judging someone I can trace it back to jealousy, insecurity or even a fault in myself that I see reflected back from someone else's behavior. The easiest for me to identify is when I say something like '(insert a beautiful famous person's name here) isn't really all that pretty' (I said this last night about Britney Spears and then had to correct myself later, she is beautiful). I know that the source of this is my own insecurity. It's more of a reflection of my own self-doubt than of someone else's beauty and actually makes me less attractive inside (which really is all that matters anyway, right?).

Take that to the next level and when I find myself criticizing (mentally or to another friend~call it gossiping or it's heavily veiled nom de plume, 'venting') a girl friend who just lost 20 pounds or finds herself in a wonderful and healthy relationship I can pretty much bet that my own insecurities and jealousies are screaming out for attention...(and it's up to me to decide if they get it).
It is never wise to seek or wish for another's misfortune. If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang. ~Charley Reese

But I also found that when a friend's behavior kinda rubs me the wrong way it's often an indicator that we share a trait that I don't particularly care for in myself. Maybe I don't like how much so-and-so gossips, or brags, or plays victim, or seeks attention, or meddles into every one's business. But if I sit there quietly and ask myself why it bothers me so much (especially when it doesn't really even affect me) the answer may be hard to swallow. It's as if a mirror is being held up to my own face.
 It's the ultimate in deflecting because of course, I can claim they are much worse than me. I might even use the words 'well at least I don't...' or 'I may be ____ but at least I'm not that ____'. What 'we' (because I don't think I'm alone here) are really pushing is the idea that we are the lessor of two evils (well, if you don't count the shit talking we're doing).

One of the most important things I learned from judging others was that it wasn't them that needed to change. It was me. I was the one judging  (and if they were doing the same that was their business) but for my own growth (and sanity) it was important for me to learn and at least try to change. My jealously was making me less...not because their success was stealing my joy or sucking up all of the goodness or beauty available in the world, but by making me into that girl...the one who thought that knocking someone else down would somehow lift me up.

There's enough love and beauty in the world for all of us's an endless supply, which means we don't have to "take" it from one person and give it to another. When I see a beautiful flower it doesn't mean that some other flower shrivels up a little and becomes a sacrafice to the other's beauty. Same with people...whether it's inner or outer beauty there is plenty to go around (not to mention it already exists in each and every one of us...though we often can't see it through our green-eyed veil). 

There's a beautiful piece from Elephant Journal I came across this morning that speaks about this...I hope you take a moment to read it here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What we did forget...

I'm not the type of blogger {or person} to post timely pieces about current events or holidays or even days of remembrance. My dad died on October 23, 3009...a date I will never forget but also a date I have not been compelled to mark in my blog with yearly posts marking the 'anniversary' of his death. But today, September 11th, I have the urge to say something...I feel it in my bones.

Eleven years ago, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, thousands of lives were lost, husbands, wives, children, mom, dads, sisters and brothers...white people and black and everything in between. Some were Christians and some were atheists...and some, like me, were confused in their beliefs. I'm sure of the thousands who perished there were some who were suffering from depression or trying to figure out how to leave their spouse or maybe even how to ask that pretty girl they see every morning in the coffee shop out for a date. And then there were the heroes...the police officers, firefighters, paramedics and the regular, everyday people who risked or lost their lives to help someone else live.

An unfathomable amount of loss and grief, impossible to express in words, was felt by people in my country, the United States, as well as across the world. To this day, like many of you, I find myself in tears whenever I think about that day 11 years ago.

But my tears aren't just about the horrendous acts and loss of lives or even about the incredible sacrifices made by the men and women who gave everything, even the precious time they could have spent with their own families, for people they had never met...and never even knew their names. I cannot imagine...I cannot comprehend the amount of hate and love that was expressed that day, practically at the same time.

My tears are also for what has become of these past eleven years. I live in a nation divided. Maybe it's always been that way and I am just now old enough and involved enough to understand it. It's hard to say declare that I live in a nation where my fellow Americans vocalize not only their hatred toward other nations {not that this is acceptable} but also for each other.

I remember that first week after the Towers came down...the kindness and compassion that was expressed every where I went. People were nicer, held the door open, let you go first, wished you a good day, friends hugged hello and good bye and we tolerated each others differences because we saw, first hand, what happens when hate and fear and intolerance takes over. And I scan past all of the Facebook posts stating Never Forget I can't help wanting to scream "But we already have...we already did...".

Maybe we haven't forgotten that the Towers fell or that Bin Laden was the source of evil {which somehow translated into hating all Muslims and anyone else who might wear a turban} but we've forgotten the bigger, more important, lesson that we could have learned if only we didn't always feel the need to be right all of the time.

Someone out there hates gays and someone else hates the Jews and blacks. Another person thinks the atheists need to vacate this country while another is planning to burn down yet another mosque. There's a person posting a defamatory picture on Facebook of someone they have never met or spoken to...and another is posting a quote from the Bible explaining how it is someone else is going to burn in Hell because they hold different beliefs. The Republicans hate the Democrats so much that our country can't move forward. And the Democrats hate the Republicans so much that they get their feelings hurt and claim that they are all bullies who hate the poor.

We haven't forgotten the brick and mortar that fell that day. We haven't forgotten where we were and how helpless most of us felt. But we have forgotten, especially in light of our nation's upcoming elections, that we are one family, that we all want the same be happy, to have enough money to pay the bills or send the kids to college, to have fresh air to breath and beautiful parks to play in, to be safe, to be healthy, to be able to get help when we need it (whether that means a cop, a fireman or a doctor, we want to know someone cares enough to save us and that we are worthy enough simply by human beings to be saved)...we want to be loved, to be respected, to be treated kindly...

We aren't so different. But even with our few differences we will all end up in the same place...our eyes will close, our breath will stop, our skin cool and our body will be consumed by the earth. Our loved ones will cry and miss us, whether we were poor or rich, straight or gay, Muslim or Mormon, democrat or republican. Our legacy will be dictated by our past actions...words and deeds that touched another human being...that helped another in some way by lifting them up or that destroyed some one's spirit or bred intolerance and hate all for the sake of being right.

We cannot go unchanged in this world but we can become more present in how we are being changed. We can recognize the hardening of our hearts and the corruption of our souls when we treat others in a way we would never tolerate being treated by someone else. It's more than being patriotic and lowering our flags every September's being human

Maybe, on this anniversary of 9/11 you flew your flag at half-mast and hugged your kids a little harder. Maybe you waved that lady at the 4-way stop to go ahead...or maybe you remembered, with tears in your eyes, all of the fallen heroes and innocent civilians who died because of someone else's hate. But will you remember it tomorrow on 9/12 or 3 months from now? Or will it be back to 'normal'...the back stabbing in the office, the gossip, the fear-mongering, the trash talking and hate spewing...


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Just 2 Females...Alone...

So, it started with an online coupon offer for 50% off of the race entry for the Dirt Inspires Half-Marathon in Aptos. I put the call out to friends on Facebook to see who would like to take advantage of the savings...and split the cost of gas and room in the Santa Cruz area. As luck would have it, my friend Lauren, who had publicly announced her goal to do a 5K every month this year, answered the call. And, as luck would have it, by the time I got around to registering, the coupon offer was full.

Well, Lauren was already registered for the 8 miler so I sucked it up and paid full price for my entry and began the search for a cheap reasonably priced hotel for us to share. After reading Yelp reviews and narrowing down the search to hotels that didn't require a 2-night minimum stay I sent a link to Lauren and asked what she thought of Pelican Point Inn. Granted, looking at the pictures and room layouts I was a bit worried that she may think I was trying to whisk her away to some romantic beach front get-away but, they did offer 2 beds (rather than sharing one king) and they had only one room available for the Saturday night we needed. Little did I know she didn't even look at the link when she sent back the "okay".


I'll admit, the week prior to the race I was trying to back out of it...but Lauren was on a mission and had to get a 5K+ in before the end of the month. Plus, the inn already had my credit card number so it's not like I was going to save any money by not going. Saturday morning afternoon late afternoon {ahem} we headed to our lovely little inn armed with freshly made smoothies {thanks Lauren} and 90's tunes. Somewhere in Milpitas we missed an exit (see Getting Lost blog entry) and took advantage of this "accidental adventure" by getting Starbucks.

Then, on the dreaded Highway 17, we came to stand still. Up ahead...a Car-B-Q keeping us from our beachy destination {and a damned cocktail}. Slowly we inched towards Santa Cruz...passed a burned out VW Van (how sad!!) and drove towards the smell of salt water to our charming sanctuary...that strangely enough, resembled a MOTEL. A motel next to a taquaria...

Umm, there must be some mistake. The pictures on line looked like a little bed-n-breakfast kind of place...cutesy and quaint. was already past 7pm and we weren't about to head home so we checked the office...which was closed. I called the number taped to the door and a nice lady, who apparently had a hard time hearing me after I spelled my name 4 times and finally yelled into the phone "There are no men with us...just two females...alone" (smart, right??), told me we must be in room #4 and the key was {she gave me the secret location} and to have a good night.

Bizarre...there's no other way to describe the room...and really, that may be too soft of a word. The walls were barren except for the garish high gloss paint. The "second bed" was an old hospital roll-away...and it was in the living room...near the kitchenette. The furniture was mismatched and just kind of odd. There was a big empty shelf-less bookshelf acting as a "closet" near the door and another empty bookshelf acting as a headboard for the single bed. The bedroom was even creepier due to the lack of pictures. Strange cornice window treatments adorned the 2 windows and looked completely out of place. But the kitchenette and bathroom were well appointed with new appliances and granite counters.

Santa Cruz Harbour Beach
A quick search online confirmed there was no vacancy anywhere nearby...and besides, I would be charged for the room anyway, so we decided to make the most of it. We headed down the street to find some dinner and low-and-behold, the beach was literally right around the corner. We dined at The Crow's Nest, upstairs at the bar and grill, and had a great meal watching the sunset over the water. Amazing location and the bartender made me my first ever Classic Daiquiri {thanks Pink of Perfection}.

Classic Daiquiri at The Crow's Nest
Although we were a little shocked with our accommodations, the location was pretty awesome. About a block away was the best liquor store ever that was stocked full of every alcohol I've never even heard well as fancy popcorn. But, we were there only for water, coconut water and gum...staying hydrated for the big run the next morning.

After the best night of sleep in a long time (dang that little hospital bed was comfy) Lauren (who didn't sleep) and I headed to Aptos grabbing some coffee and oatmeal at the Starbucks in town and on to The Forest of Nisene Mark State Park for the race. Beautiful weather and scenery...a run on a pine needle covered was heaven. Well, except for the huge hills and technical trails along the way.

One of the four stream crossings during the Dirt Inspired Half-Marathon.
It really was a fantastic crossings and towering sunglasses needed on this run! I ended up running the last half of the race with 2 local ladies (I think it was Karen and Kristine) who kept me motivated and encouraged me to keep going. I did suffer some Achilles cramping in my right leg and walked for a few minutes near mile 11 but I caught up with the ladies and we finished strong (thanks for the downhill finish Dirt Inspires!!).

Lauren had finished her 8 miles ahead of me so we met back up and headed to Zachary's for a huge celebratory meal and then went back to the beach for a little recovery before heading home. Yes, we got a little turned around again on the way home...and yes, it resulted in Starbucks again...don't judge.

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