When does the suffering stop?

Writing #2

Time flies.
Ah, my favorite idiom. And quite accurate considering it seems like only yesterday I was sun worshiping on a beach in Spain.

Today is a different story.
I’m knee deep in paper–all the way from toilet paper destined to be stocked, to receipts that date as far back as the Bush administration.

You’d think it would be easier to toss everything in a Hefty bag and be done with it (something I seriously considered when the pile grew so much, I thought I’d have to name it).

But I’m glad I didn’t. If I had, I would not have come across a little folder titled, “The Son’s Poetry.” Not very eloquent on the outside, I agree, yet what lay inside brought tears to my eyes.

Though truth be told, I think most mothers will agree there’s not much a child can do, create, or perform that won’t bring us to tears. But I digress.

On this occasion, I chanced upon a series of poems written by the Son for one of his high school English classes. One of them, not only left me bawling, but also perfectly captured my sadness after the recent tragedy in Paris.

This piece raises the rhetorical question of when does it end?
When does the slaying of innocent lives stop? When can we stop blaming the thirst for power for our suffering? When do mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, and children stop grieving for the loss of a loved one who has died at the hands of murderers?

I’m afraid that like most rhetorical questions, these do not have a definitive reply.

We will continue to seek answers until we realize world peace can never be achieved while there are those willing to kill to obtain power.

Yet in spite of this gloomy outlook, the idealist in me believes there is strength in unity; that together, we have what it takes to spread love. We can start in our homes, with our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our colleagues.

Kindness, respect, and compassion will reign, but only if they are present in our lives.

That said, I want to share the Son’s poem with you. May it incite you to reflect, not only on the recent tragedies, but also on why devastating circumstances such as these are still a reality.

The tragic loss of it all

We sit on the couch my mother and I
Enveloped by warmth we deeply sigh
The TV blaring we both scream out why
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

Out in the Congo, people are dying
killed by the rebels it’s not a lie
Women and children everyone dying
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

And in another corner of the planet
A father and neighbor senselessly die
A ten year old boy shamelessly planned it
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

The waves of terror rise but never fall
The killing the torture at a mighty high
They fight for their lives, the old and the small
The pain, the torment, just makes us cry

And much as they try to put up a fight
The battle will never result in a tie
Victims keep dying night after night
The pain, the torment just makes us cry

Pastors and peacekeepers try to advise
Preach and bring peace as bullets fly by
Deep seeded faith is our only device
The pain, the torment just makes us cry

XOXO,

Note: The Son has allowed me to publish this piece and it has not been modified in any way. It is just as I found it.

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Do you qualify to be someone’s person?

Childhood best Friends

A person.

My person.

Individuals who made a difference in my life were assigned the title “my person” long before Shonda Rhimes introduced it in the television series, “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Some of the traits that characterize this individual have varied throughout the years, while others have remained the same.

Tonight, as I sat on the couch with only Roxy for company, I realized it’s been a while since I’ve called anyone “my person.”

Wrapping my fingers around a steaming mug of coffee, I pondered what a job profile for this esteemed position would be like. Quickly grabbing a notebook, I began to scribble what I deemed would be essential traits.

When I finished, my list looked something like this:

~ Must be willing to listen without judgement or criticism

~ Must possess the ability to comprehend verbal and non verbal communication, including profanity, slang, and unintelligible babble

~ Must possess empathy, kindness, and compassion

~ Must be able to both listen and hear, without interruptions, and for prolonged periods of time ~ Should possess restraint to keep from offering advice and other “fix it” type suggestions

~ Must be patient, sensitive, and supportive

Optional but favorable skills include:

~ Ability to make “personee” laugh, giggle, and feel like his or her situation has a solution

~ Ability to soothe, placate, and provide reassurance

~ Willingness to commiserate, validate, and offer a shoulder to cry on

Note: Willingness to bring good wine will guarantee potential candidates an automatic second interview

Note: Clock watchers, critics, and pseudo intellectuals need not apply

Yes, I’m certain this is how a “person’s” job profile would read.

Why? Because I’m convinced these are universal needs; needs that require us to reach out to our person in times of duress.

In times we feel lonely.
In times we feel completely alone.

A person.

We should all have one.
Every one of us.

Because no matter how tough, strong, and empowered we think we are, there are times we need to hear, “I am here. Talk to me.”

Do you have a person?

Do I have time for a selfie?

New Yorkers love themselves ... who can blame them?

The selfie phenomenon.

All the way from Istanbul, to Buenos Aires, to one horse towns and villages all over the world. It’s here. And it’s here to stay.

From the young to the elderly, from blue-collar workers to the Commander-in-Chief.
The selfie taking practice is being embraced by all. So much in fact, we can’t but wonder if it confirms we’re a narcissistic society.

Looking over my son’s shoulder as he browsed through Facebook this morning, I couldn’t help noticing the dozens of selfies of his young friends. Young women, in an array of poses, ranging all the way from the “head cocked to the side” position, to the “OMG, is this still going on?” duck lips.

Later today, just seconds after I posted my own selfie to Instagram, I pondered the reasons that motivate us to share our mug with, for the most part, strangers.

Do we do it as a way of recruiting external validation, or does vanity propel us to use the selfie to document our beauty?

Were these selfies to be unedited and “au naturel,” perhaps the subject wouldn’t bother me.

Yet, looking at my own Instagram selfie, edited with various filters and a blur effect, I realize we aren’t presenting our “true” selves to the world.

The selfie appears to be another way to conform to society’s definition of beauty; one whose sad message is that you’re only beautiful if you look a certain way.

“Not everything is motivated by the evils of society, mom,” chided the Son when I broached the subject at the dinner table. “Sometimes,” he said, “a selfie is just a selfie.”

But is it? Thinking back to the heavily edited selfies I saw this morning, I’m not so sure.

In all fairness, I’m certain there are those who take selfies for the sake of documenting a bad hair day. Others might take them to evidence what they look like at a certain age.

Yet the fact that so many of us partake in the selfie phenomenon raises the question of, do we need others to tell us we’re beautiful?

And that makes me sad.

Sad because, even words like “You’re beautiful,” aren’t going to help if we don’t believe it ourselves.

Sad because we may always depend on someone to validate us.

Sad because we are placing so much importance on physicality and so little on what truly establishes our worth.

Sad because the majority of selfies aren’t true representations of what we really look like.

Sad because in hiding behind an edited selfie, we fail to show the world our true beauty, complete with enlarged pores and imperfections.

We may not be able to stop the selfie phenomenon, but we can refuse to play by the rules of peers, society, and our own insecurities.

We can turn the selfie on its head and instead, use it as a tool to affirm, “This is me. This is what I truly look like and I am beautiful.”

Inspired by my sister, who posted a selfie of her beautiful, unedited self on Facebook, I took a selfie tonight.

No make up.
No edits.
Just me.

Join me in the effort to turn this phenomenon into something positive by posting your own beautiful unedited selfie.

Let us effect positive change in how the world defines beauty.

Show the world the beauty that is you!

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XOXO,

Note: If you post a selfie, please leave a link in the comments section so other readers can see it.

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