Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's All Fun and Games Til It's Not.

Cindy Pitts Gilbert, Buford Weekly Illustrated September 2nd 
Are you a planner, a worry wart, or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person? Are you that person who offers a warning from your experience or the person that says, “That will never happen to me”? We live in a world of uncertainty. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.  
Everything is going along just great until you spill your coffee on your shirt before a big presentation.  You rip your suit pocket before you meet with the boss, or you accidentally wear two pair of shoes that are identical, except one is blue and the other is black. Do you carry a change of clothes, “just in case?” Do you drive too fast or too recklessly, making your passengers gasp in all the air in the car? Have you ever drank too much at a party and maybe even lost your dinner hanging over the porcelain throne exclaiming, “I’ll never do that again”? How about that ridiculously fragile cell phone? Is the cover on or off? Everything  will be alright, until someone screams at a spider, and hello, cracked screen, or plop, plop into the toilet it goes.  I once picked up my phone from my desk, forgot it was plugged in, the cord yanked back, it literally, flew out of my hands and flipped right into my full cup of coffee; true story.
What is it about humans that we naively believe that all the terrible things that happen are not going to happen to us?  Experience has a lot to do with it.  I’m not suggesting living in a bunker and not living life. I am just suggesting that perhaps taking advice from those who have “been there, done that” might be advantageous to those who haven’t, and more importantly, shouldn’t. I will admit I did things when I was younger that I now know were unwise. Did I listen to anyone? Probably not. I am now more cautious in my car than my children would like because my car once sailed across the highway into ongoing traffic all because of a thin sheen of water on the road. Those same children that didn’t heed the words of their wise mother have learned the hard way: it’s all fun and games until it’s not.   
We walk through this thing called life making multitudes of mistakes and hopefully, yes, I said, hopefully, we grow wiser and learn a lesson. There are, of course, those people you know that seem to be a bit more stubborn than others about this lesson thing. We learn very young that if we touch the stove it may be hot and burn us, but some children may touch it a time or two more than others. It’s a personal journey, though, isn’t it? We can’t seem to save many the benefit of our mistakes, or can we? The lucky ones become “the elders,”  those wise ones who survived the carelessness of not listening to their elders. We shake our heads at the young and offer words of wisdom and warning from our own mistakes while the young shake their heads believing that the elders know nothing. “OK, grandma,” they say. “I’ll be careful,” until they are not, the fun is over, the “I’m sorry” is said, and the lesson is either learned or not.
Could it be that there are no accidents? Maybe accidents are only incidents due to a lack of focus and experience. To be a  great photographer you have to learn how to focus a camera. You can either do it yourself by investing a lot more time than you’d like into figuring it out yourself, or by learning from a skilled professional. Make life easier on yourself, learn how to focus your camera of life from someone who knows how to get a clear picture of the consequences before you shoot. And try to remember, life isn’t digital. It’s 35 millimeter film; once you shoot, there is no delete.

Wear Your Own Guilt

by:  Cindy Pitts Gilbert Buford Weekly Illustrated 8/10/2016

Recently, I had a very short conversation about guilt.  It prompted a very long thought process about where guilt comes from. Who is responsible for causing the guilt? 
We all feel it, I would venture to guess it happens daily. The question of the day is who's fault is it when you feel guilty.  It may be that you feel guilty because someone spoke up and let you know how your actions made them feel.  Is this type of guilt their fault or yours?  I believe you have to wear your own guilt. It's yours to either wear like a badge of honor or brush off. Guilt can be crippling or it can help you become a better person, unless you are a sociopath everyone feels guilt. 

Parents feel guilt if they want some me time, when they can't  help  with  homework, your expectations are too high or too low. It is a no win situation isn't it? How about the guilt you feel in relationships maybe you aren't spending time with your significant other. Anytime you stand up for yourself to do what you want to do you run the risk of feeling guilty about it. I love to read but will admit, sometimes when read for pleasure I feel guilty about it. I feel like there is something else "more productive" that I need to be doing.

Don't even get me started about religious guilt? It can be a major part of the experience and issued in big doses to keep you on the straight and narrow path of morality.  Parents can in turn use guilt to ensure their children follow the rules.  How do our friends use guilt? If we just don't feel like going out with friends how can they possibly have a good time without us? Our friends may lay on the guilt because you decided to stay home. What if you'd like to be out with friends but feel guilty if you leave your loved one at home alone? Is it because we believe that if we leave them they can't survive without us? Who is responsible for the guilt?  Did the significant other make you feel bad by hanging their head low, wrapping their body onto your leg and begging you not to go?  Did they cry and scream like Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie, "You hate me,  You hate me."  That may be the story guilt put into our heads.  

Have you ever felt guilty for leaving a pet at home? Seriously our entire family is whipped. We all  feel guilty leaving our dog alone. We pick up the keys she begins happily wagging her feathery little black tail, sure she is about to go for a ride. The ritual starts with "You have to stay," then promptly followed up by, "We'll be back"  Why do we feel compelled to tell the dog we'll be back. Her tail immediately stops wagging as she stops dead in her tracks and then slowly looks up with the those sad little hound dog eyes. Ah, there is it, the guilt.  Now, did the dog set out to make us feel guilty. Was it a manipulative attempt on her part to make us change our mind and do her bidding? Of course not.  The next time someone makes you feel guilty be it a parent friend, boss or colleague, take a moment and evaluate the intent.   Is it really guilt they are trying to evoke or are they just expressing a need and we heap our own personal  guilt?  It could be a bit of both.

So, is guilt  emotion or a learned skill? We are taught from a very young age to feel guilty to correct bad behavior.  The key word there is "taught"  Have you ever witnessed a baby feeling guilt. Um, No! Guilt is a learned response. Guilt exists because we allow it to. So, wear your own guilt , take responsibility for your own reactions to it.  Let the available lesson serve you, then let it go just like a pair of old jeans.

From the Other Side

By Cindy Pitts Gilbert  Buford Weekly Illustrated August 17, 2016

I know you are thinking this is going to be one of those  articles about the afterlife.  We’ll save that for another day. Today I want to speak to those who are in the depths of a struggle.  When trauma and heartache happen to us may it be; a breakup or a divorce, or perhaps you are in a career that isn’t working for you anymore or some overwhelming financial crisis.

Whatever it may be, all you know is that you are in pain and what your friends and family know is that you cannot think clearly.  You literally can’t see the forest for the trees. Your heart just aches. I have experienced some pretty significant personal losses and traumas. I have had to completely start over more than once and ask myself the question through the anguish, how will I survive this? Can I tell you a secret from the other side? 

You will survive it. It will take time and it will also mean that you have to make the choice to move past the pain, and often you have to learn to forgive and let the past go. Then you make a decision to put a new plan in place and start again.  We are all so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for.  The key for me now is to know that although some of the things that I feared would happen did happen yet I not only survived them,  I learned from them and came out stronger on the other side.

After my worst fears came to life, I mourned the losses sometimes wallowing in them for a while, then slowly the pain and the discomfort of hardship or sadness settled. I learned to appreciate what I have, Then developed a new plan and started over again.  Each and every time becoming more peaceful, stronger and a happier version of myself.  So from the other side let me assure you that you will be ok. 

Choosing the simple things over the complicated ones is better and when you are ready, learn the lessons from the experience.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, no really don’t! Things are just things and do not make you happy. Healthy relationships can replace unhealthy ones, that is provided you learned your lesson. We all have a road to travel and each experience is unique. You are not alone please remember that we, your friends and family want to be there to help you through it, so let us.  Look out, because you are gonna love the new you.