Friday, December 23, 2005

cross-posted from my personal journal

Dr. Helen: Excuse Me While I go Throw Up

Which brings me back to blogging. There is something refreshing about the ability to post one's thoughts and tout one's wares (such as documentary films, books etc.) over the internet while barely being able to hold a fork to one's mouth before rushing to the bathroom to throw up from some stomach bug you picked up from your kid's school a few days before. I wonder how many other bloggers are out there posting on a regular basis and keeping the world amused because it is one of the few outlets that requires little physical exertion? I could be wrong but it seems to me that if one is vibrant with good health and stamina, they would be out snowboading, skiing or just enjoying the outdoors. I know I would. Anyone else out there blog to distract yourself from feeling bad--whether physical or mental? It would be nice to know I had some company.

Amen, sister.

Seriously, it's the only thing sometimes that keeps me from curling up into a ball and giving up on everything. My dad likes to believe that if I cut back on connecting to people on the Internet that I will suddenly get better and get tons of stuff done. He tried to force his will on this matter when the kids and I still lived with them and you know what - never happened. I will go and do a few things and then I will curl up into bed and not move because I am in so much pain.

Right now, my lower back is pulsating and my head hurts. I did some cleaning in the kitchen and I'm typing up a few things while everything subsides enough to let me do more. If I wasn't sitting here reading other people's stuff, IMing a friend and typing this post, I would be back in bed, losing all track of time, with nothing to show for it.

Yes, my hands are tingling too and my arms are achy, but compare to the back at the moment, those are no big deal. That's the fun part of fibromyalgia - you're almost always in pain, so you kind of learn to ignore some of it. You can't totally ignore it, because it gets you back. Usually by denying you the ability to use your muscles. I sometimes have to curl up and not do anything because I lose my coordination.

To put it all into perspective. I get my B12 shots in the upper arm. I can feel the needle enter my skin and I never flinch. Compared to everything else, it's hardly worth noticing.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I had to join.

You see, when I was barely 18 months old, my mother found a dried-out tree frog in my mouth and freaked. And since that day, I have been connected with frogs in my family. I even had a six-foot long stuffed frog as a kid. I was always receiving frog stuff as a kid, thereby assuring that I would be scarred for the rest of my life for an action I have no memory of, nor could possibly hope to remember.

Now, I shall have my vengence!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Six Core Elements of Character

What do you know? Someone figured this out a long time ago and the following are considered to be universal:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility (self-discipline)
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring (compassion)
  6. Citizenship (obeying the law, staying informed of current affairs, voting, etc.)

Aristotle's Four Classic Values

  1. Fortitude (perserverance)
  2. Temperance (controlling human passions)
  3. Prudence (practical wisdom)
  4. Justice (fairness, lawfulness)

The Catholic Church later added Faith, Hope, and Charity.

Death of a Salesman Summary

Willie Loman based his most of his life on lies. The saddest part is that he actually made the lie that "all you need to succeed is to be liked" part of his core belief system. It appeared to be the only thing he really did believe and all his efforts went to presenting an image he thought other people would like and admire. He even lied regularly to keep his mental world intact.

So strong was this need to be popular and liked, that he broke commitments and promises to gain immediate ego boosts from whoever he was with. He behaved in some ways like an narcissistic personality disorder in that his focus was gaining admiration and maintaining an image of himself that he was in love with and he was willing to protect that image at all costs, even though there was evidence that most people didn't believe in it. His image of the charismatic and successful salesman only hid his insecurities and failings. Deep inside, he knew he wasn't that, but the fear of facing his true self was so great that he couldn't stand to see anything that disproved that image.

Unfortunately, by following a faulty premise, he blinded himself to reality and it caught up to him. It caught up to him as a parent, when the son he put all his dreams on lacked the discipline to even hold down a steady job, because he treated the oldest son as an extension on himself and couldn't stand to be firm with him as a child. He also alienated his eldest son by having an affair, which shattered his son's image of him and led to a desire to hurt his father by not going to college and becoming a football star. Willie's behavior also affected his other son, who in a desperate attempt to get his father's regard, modelled himself after his father's idea of how to succeed and was showing the same lack of results.

It caught up to him as a worker, when he slowly made himself a failure by not paying attention to his mistakes and faulty premises so he could correct them and be effective in his job. He made himself unemployable and because successful businessmen didn't take meager jobs, he refused the only real chance he had of rebuilding his career.

It caught up with him as a person, when he found himself facing truths he didn't have the strength of character to withstand. His only path was suicide and in his death we find that his beliefs failed him so thoroughly that when it was all said in done, the only people who grieved for him was his family and two neighbors who pitied him. The man who spent all his time trying to be liked in the end wasn't liked by anyone.

The only person Willie seemed to not have offended was his wife Linda, who was willing for whatever reason to believe his lies and support his dreams. If she knew about his infidelity, she never let it affect her publicly. She was so emotionally enmeshed with Willie that she never really asked herself if his core beliefs held water. To Willie's credit, he did recognize how important his wife's support was to him, something a true narcissistic personality disorder probably would never admit to himself.

While it is easy to see why Willie chose to value some of the things he did, it's hard to understand why he didn't see his own failure sooner. We all have believed inaccurate "rules" in our lives, yet most of us would re-examine our beliefs when there is evidence that we were in trouble. Wille doesn't do this. He ended his life instead. But he did his best to end in way that it would give his family some benefit. He was still trying to provide for them. For all his failings, he did love his family.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Last module

Some of the discussion questions I did for homework.

Think of how your parents and grandparents view God's relationship with man. Can you see any parallel between that and how they relate to other people? If they don't believe in a Creator, then use their idea of the relationship between natural law and the individual and compare it to how they relate to other people.

I once did an exercise where I was to write down and compare the beliefs of God that my ancestors had to what I believed. After I wrote them down, I realized that the beliefs I recognized in them mirrored how I saw them treat others. Over the years, I've noticed that many people showed this mirroring. A person who believes that God blesses some people more than others for reasons other than earning those blessings, often will play favorites herself. A person who believes that God is harsh and unyielding will treat people the same way. Someone who believes that natural law is where organisms only does what profits them, will only interact with those who are benefit to them. While those who believe that natural law includes supporting the community will seek for more communal integration.

Should character-based instruction be reintroduced to the public schools? Can it be reintroduced after being removed for decades? Can there be agreement as to what is good character among those of differing beliefs?

In an ideal world, character-based instruction would be introduced. However, as things stand, I don't think it will happen just because many people have no idea what character really is and confuse it with beliefs. These people will oppose the introduction of character-based instruction on principle alone. I do believe that if society crumbles enough that character-based instruction could be introduced, but I'm not happy that it would have to take our world coming to the brink of disaster to convince people to do this. I think if we keep it simple, agreement as to what makes up good character can be found in the values similar to all stable cultures.

Is it possible to reach a point where no one is critical of you?

I personally think this is an impossible pipe dream, but I know several people who believe it with all their hearts. They refuse to accept the concept of making peace with the idea that there will always be someone who is willing to tell you you're worthless because of personal agendas or mismatched values systems.

Podcast spot

this is an audio post - click to play

Listen to the first installment of Radio Free Burrito at WWdN: In Exile.