Learning. I am a sponge. I learn from books, and listening intently to perspectives from other individuals. I stare. I become fascinated with the nuances of why people say the things they do, and act the way they act. Often we do not realize how we are perceived, and whether people are nurtured and inspired by our presence, or if they are repelled and drained by us. At times the story we tell, and how we express ourselves greatly dictate other’s perceptions of us.
Each of us have such a unique past and specific experiences that mold us into who we are and how we embark on our day. We constantly absorb the moments, attitudes, mood, and energy of those around us. As we consume those around us, we decide moment by moment how we are going to respond and react, or maybe do nothing at all. Some of us have a harder time letting go of any bad energy that exudes from those around us. Others make it their mission to get rid of any toxic energy that comes into their experience.
As a sponge, it can sometimes be hard to react quickly, because the absorption process happens so quickly. In that way, we have to protect ourselves from others, and sometimes ourselves. For those of us who are sponges, we have to be aware and take care of ourselves. Keeping tabs on the energy around you, and what drains you can be a step in determining if you are breathing in toxic energy. Learning how to be less absorbent in those moments is a protection in sanity, and what you want to breathe into your world.
Soak it all up, just watch what you let touch you.
Recently I read this Daily Om titled: “Having It Easy.” It made me think — how often have I thought about people in my life that from the outside look to have it easy? This idea made me think:
“Some people’s lives seem to magically fall into place. We can see the blessings they have received, the ease with which they have attained their desires, their unwavering confidence, and their wealth. But, because we can never see the story of their lives as a whole, it is important that we refrain from passing judgment or becoming envious.”
I wonder at times, do I judge others? Do I wish to have what they have? Maybe my perception of their world is actually completely off. I ultimately am not walking in their shoes so I have no idea what it takes to live their life. I have no idea how easy or hard things are for them. They might have been through hell and back. Loss, health challenges, relationship issues, the list can go on. From the outside they might look like they have it all, but maybe what we really see is the confidence they exude based on all the curve balls they have caught.
I think about it in my own life. Chris and I have worked very hard for what we have and we still continue to work hard. Sometimes I wonder what others think (even if it does not really matter what they think). Everything is relative. I can look at a friend and be in awe of their confidence, and yet they might feel not the slightest bit confident. I can think that someone is wealthy by looking at the car they drive, their house, or other possessions, and yet maybe they cannot afford it. Appearances are interesting. They lead to assumptions, and often assumptions are wrong.
This was a reminder to me to not judge others and rather think about the bigger picture. We all have everything we need. We have blessings, confidence, and wealth. Rather than judge others look at their story, and be grateful for your own unique story too.
It has been a while since I have read a book that I could not put down — until this past weekend. I read a book titled: “After Perfect: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Christina McDowell. It is about the Prousalis family and their demise. Think Bernie Madoff. Think scandal. Think fraud. At first when I started to read it I thought this is going to be an annoying book. It will be all about the 1% that had it all and so much more and lost it due to lies and deceit. And it is, but also about so much more.
The book is told by Christina, Tom Prousalis’s daughter. It is her story. It is how she learns about her father and his crimes. He goes to prison for three years after taking a plea deal. They lose everything and she and her sisters and mother must learn how to live. Her mother has never had to pay a bill and Christina realizes that her mother has been taken care of for so long that she does not even know where to begin to pick up the pieces of her life that is now in shambles.
It gets worse. Christina finds out that before heading to prison, her father had taken out multiple credit cards in her name and racked up debt to the tune of $100,000. She believes that he will fix her credit and pay off her debt. He makes her believe on the infrequent calls and letters from prison that he will take care of her. It takes her years to learn who her dad really is, and to truly understand the lies, and deceit, until eventually he literally vanishes from her life.
You might look at her story and think she is a child that had it all. She lived in such extreme wealth, she had things most others did not. Yet, in a lot of ways she was just the victim all along. She did not know about her father, the kind of man he truly was, she knew only what she knew. Her 20’s turned into a period of abuse. She lost the footing of who she was and turned to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Until she had enough. She came clean and searched for the truth. As painful as it was to find. She changed her name, and set up a new identity, free from the past, free from her father.
“After Perfect” was a page turner. It makes you see into the world of the 1%, and those that fall from that world. How they deal with it, how they do not, and in the end they are people just like the rest of us. If you are looking for a book to read (especially a memoir) I highly recommend it.
I was not feeling well over the weekend, which in my house means: snuggle up on the couch and catch up on movies. On Saturday we decided to start watching “Boyhood” at around 10:00 pm, not knowing that it is a 2 hour 45 minute movie! It took a bit for me to get into it (especially in the flu-bug fog that I was in), but once Chris told me a little more back story on the movie, I became intrigued.
The movie was shot over 12 years between 2002 and 2013, so over time you see the actual actors age and metamorphosis right in front of you. Directed by Richard Linklater, the movie has you wondering what is going to happen next and how quickly will you see them age, or how different will they be. From what I read, Linklater developed the script as they went through production, which is an interesting concept as you watch the actual actors grow. It makes the movie feel that much more real, almost as though the actors really are a family growing up together.
As you watch, you do not always know how old they are or how much time has passed as they grow. As their lives evolve through divorces, alcoholism, successes, moves, and other family adventures, you see how they make it through it all. In some ways this movie is the life of so many. The single mom, who tries to become more educated, marrying men who turn out all wrong and how it impacts her children who live with her, while also trying to maintain a relationship with their aimless father. I can relate from my own childhood (except the multiple marriages). The rest of the movie is very much my story too.
Linklater is clever. Filming over 12 years made this movie different and intriguing. If you have not seen it, definitely add it to your list!
I just read a heartfelt article from Fast Company called: “Anderson Cooper: Why ‘No Plan B’ Is the Only Plan.” written by Anderson Cooper himself. I have had a news-crush on him for years. I think it first happened after reading his book: “Dispatches from the Edge” that is about his life growing up and his career in journalism. Maybe because his integrity seems to ooze out. Sure he comes from a rich family, he knows luxury. How could you not when your mom is Gloria Vanderbilt. Yet, he chose a different route.
He chose his passion. How many wealthy kids choose to go and be in the middle of a natural disaster, war, riots, poverty, just to tell the story? Not many that I can think of. He has an interesting life. If you read his article, you will learn a bit more about him — about the loss of his father at the age of ten, and the suicide of his brother when he was in college. I love this idea that he shares:
“I’m a big believer in creating your own opportunity if no one gives you one.”
What if we all did that in life? How many opportunities would we bring to ourselves and the world? When did we stop looking for them?
Maybe I relate to Cooper because I have lost a lot of my family. Losing my parents at such an early age made me in some ways grow a shell. It made me realize that I had to look out for myself, and that there wasn’t any “adult” that was looking out for me. Sometimes I think we have this built-in defense mechanism that says oh my parents will be there to pick up the pieces, even when we are 30 and 40 and so on. That never was a reality for me. The words he shares to explain how he felt after losing his father and brother are exactly how I too felt:
“I wanted to become autonomous, prepare myself for any eventuality, and protect myself from further pain.”
While my autonomy means I still have a Plan B, and C through to Z, my story is different. My fears are mine, how I react to them is my story. I hope Cooper’s story resonates with you. You might just find a new opportunity opens up because you are looking for it.