This is how I feel right now…
I recently received a phone call from a dear sister-friend, who had been missing from my life for several years. We met when I was pregnant with my now 13-year old daughter, and I was shopping for maternity clothes at my friend’s mother’s consignment store. My friend and I have both experienced first-hand the power of the government to destroy lives and tear families apart, and we have both grown stronger and wiser through our similar experiences. Many times we have been separated, sometimes for years, but we always find each other again and somehow pick up where we left off, as if never apart – this time was no different.
I also recently received a rather nasty comment on this blog – another in a series of bitter, hateful, accusatory and derogatory attacks which continue despite my repeated attempts to make peace. There is no making peace with this person, and as if the verbal vomit directed at me wasn’t bad enough, this person has taken to dragging my younger children into the fray. I have stated before, and I will state it again – this must stop.
The most recent spate of hate took issue not only with what I have written about parents and their children’s happiness, but with my assertion that if the personal attacks don’t stop I will have attorney take up the battle on my behalf. It is only a technicality at this point that I gave birth to this commenter, and blood ties do not require me to accept any type of abuse. If I cannot convince someone to stop harassing me, and to stop harassing my children, then I see no other option but to have an attorney do the convincing.
I have told no lies about my life or my past, and there is nothing in my life I have done that I harbor such guilt or shame over that I feel I must hide it. This does not give anyone permission to attempt to publicly mar my reputation, and especially does not give anyone permission to fabricate events – most especially to my younger children – that I must spend time setting the record straight about. I hope this commenter really has “unfollowed” me – but I doubt it – it’s apparently a great source of happiness (satisfaction?) for her to stir up trouble and this blog seems to be a favorite source for contention.
At any rate, as a parent with many years’ experience, I continue to abide by the hard-won understanding that parents cannot be responsible for their children’s happiness. This doesn’t mean a parent should have no interest in their children’s happiness, it simply means that children must learn their happiness does not come from others, or things. It comes from within. My younger children have learned this, but obviously my older children haven’t. And since they were taken from me (no, I did not give them away) and I was not allowed any contact with them – I did not raise them – I really cannot claim responsibility for the fact that they were not taught to simply be happy and not fall into the trap of claiming victimhood.
As for my dear sister-friend, I am most grateful for her return to my life. Dear friends like her are priceless, and I am blessed with many wonderful friends. These are the people I choose to surround myself with, who choose also to be with me.
We all deserve to be among people who understand us and love us for who we are, and who hear us when we speak.
I long ago gave up on “therapy” because it seemed always to center on trying to resolve the past. When I recently encountered someone from my past, with whom I had long anticipated again having a relationship grounded in the present, I was surprised not only by how far I have moved beyond my past, but by the resentment and anger that was spewed at me for having done so. As I live now, even yesterday is the past, and while I enjoy reminiscing about many daily experiences, I don’t dwell on them, and I certainly don’t wallow in whatever negative experiences I encounter.
It is difficult to explain to those who have little life experience, that many times life demands that people make a choice between 2 really awful options. While there is no escaping having to make a decision, a choice, it is possible to escape a sense of guilt, to forgive one’s self – not only for the choice, but for even being forced into having to make an impossible choice at all. Being forced into such a situation does not make a person “guilty” or even responsible for the outcome – that responsibility, the guilt, lies with those who forced the situation.
Sometimes, the reasons for a choice make no sense to anyone who hasn’t had to make that choice. I touched on this in a previous post in this blog: we cannot judge anyone else because we have not lived their life. Some people, however, are determined not just to have you explain your reasons, but are determined to extract an apology for whatever choice you made, judge you, and have you accept responsibility for the perpetual misery they insist has resulted from your reasons or your choice. I don’t accept responsibility, or make apologies, for things that are not my fault.
I have learned that we simply cannot be responsible for the happiness of others, and those who expect others to provide their happiness are doomed to a life of unhappiness. I have learned, too, that this means I can’t expect anyone else to be responsible for my own happiness. And as much as this goes against the grain of modern parenting…I have learned that parents are not responsible for their children’s happiness. For those who have not yet had children, I caution against spending extraordinary amounts of money – or time – someday trying to make your children happy….you will end up broke and exhausted, I assure you. Children can learn to be happy, but you can’t make them that way, you can’t give it to them or buy it for them – and ultimately it boils down to the fact that “no one is the reason of your happiness except you, yourself.”
It took me quite a long time to understand that, really, “What others think of you is none of your business.” You can make it your business, but then you are only making your sense of happiness, well-being, or worth dependent upon what others think. For me, this has been the toughest concept to apply to my life. I wouldn’t doubt it to be extremely difficult for any human being who doesn’t live in isolation.
So much of what people get hung up on is not only in the past, but what there is in the present that is dissatisfactory. I have learned that satisfaction – happiness – depends mostly on what a person chooses to dwell upon.
My final paper for an elective I took, about the 1960’s:
[Note: I wrote this before I realized I do not want to pursue a graduate degree in legal studies]
Aside from my own birth, only one event in the 1960s causes me to wonder what life would have been like if it had not occurred: the birth of the Internet. More than any other invention, the Internet has revolutionized the world; the stage may have been set by the invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, and computer, but it is the Internet which is simultaneously a global broadcasting entity, a mechanism for the dissemination of information, and a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard for geographic location” (Brief History of the Internet). The Internet enables people to communicate and share interests as never before, and as the Internet has become ubiquitous, ever-faster, and increasingly accessible, social networking and collaborative services have grown rapidly; sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest, as well as blogs and wikis, enable people of all ages to instantaneously (and continuously) share their interests of the moment with others everywhere (History of the Internet Timeline, 2011).
The early internet was used by computer experts, engineers, scientists, and librarians; there was nothing friendly about it. The first proposal for a global network of computers came from J.C.R. Licklider of M.I.T., who relocated to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in late 1962 to head the work to develop it. Lawrence Roberts, also of MIT, connected a Massachusetts computer with a California computer in 1965 over dial-up telephone lines; this showed the feasibility of wide area networking. Roberts moved over to DARPA in 1966 and developed his plan for ARPANET. The first information packets were sent on ARPANet on Oct 29, 1969, by Charley Kline at UCLA. As Kline tried to connect to Stanford Research Institute, the system crashed as he reached the G in LOGIN. E-mail was adapted for ARPANET by Ray Tomlinson of BBN in 1972; he chose the @ symbol from the available symbols on his teletype to link the username and address. (Howe, 2012).
The Internet was initially funded by the government and was limited to research, education, and government uses. Commercial use was prohibited unless such use directly served research and education; this policy continued until the early 1990s, when independent commercial networks began to grow. In May 1995, all “pretense of limitations on commercial use disappeared…when the National Science Foundation ended its sponsorship of the Internet backbone” (Howe, 2012). The entry of Microsoft in the browser, server, and Internet Service Provider market marked beginning of a shift to a commercially based Internet, and the release of Windows 98 in June of 1998 completed the major shift to a commercialized Internet (Howe, 2012). The benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research are represented by the Internet and the development of an information infrastructure. (Brief History of the Internet).
The Social and Economic Impact of the Internet
My life today would be much different without the internet, although this has become apparent to me only recently. I have no doubt that without the Internet I would not have returned to college a year ago, and I certainly would not be nearing completion of my Bachelor’s Degree as I am now. The Internet has made education available to countless people like me, who are unable or unwilling to travel any distance to attend classes, and online education is available to students at every level, from elementary school to graduate degree programs. Even M.I.T. has realized the value of the Internet as a tool for education of “the masses” and offers all of its courses for free over the Internet; while completing online courses from M.I.T. will not lead to completion of a college degree, the value of the availability of the education cannot be understated. Even Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan are beginning to offer open online learning projects. Those who complete online coursework from these elite universities will not earn official credit, but will earn a certificate of mastery; the internet has opened “vast new learning opportunities for students around the world” (Lewin, 2012).
Without the Internet, the work I do now would not be possible, and I am certain the same could be said about untold numbers of other people around the world. Only a decade and a half ago, while living in Denver, I wrote articles for the Journal of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians with the aid of a computer, but without the Internet my submissions all had to be hand-delivered on floppy disk to my editor. Research was performed at the library, and interviews were a time-consuming chore for a person like me who relied on public transportation (or my bicycle) to get me anywhere away from home. My home was cluttered with stacks of books, newspapers, and periodicals, and I was endlessly frustrated by searching for materials my (well-meaning) family had either tossed into the trash or returned to the library. With the Internet to assist me nowadays, not only can I perform research via the Internet and interviews via Skype, but my home is no longer filled with stacks of papers and magazines collecting dust, and I don’t waste much time looking for books my family has misplaced; nearly everything I need to read is available over the Internet. Better yet, all my submissions to my editor (now the newsletter for the Kaplan Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society) are easily transmitted via the Internet.
When I moved from Colorado to Oklahoma just over a decade ago, the Internet was still in its infancy, and while I did not realize then how my life was hampered by the lack of the Internet, I certainly realize now how my life is – and could have been – enhanced by use of the Internet. While living in Denver I earned extra money by transcribing micro tapes of interviews performed as part of a study on Parkinson’s Disease at the University of Colorado (C.U.); when I moved to Oklahoma I continued to transcribe the tapes until the logistics became too frustrating and I had to concede that the work could be more easily performed by someone still in Colorado. For several months, C.U. would mail tapes to me, I would transcribe them using my computer and a special tape player, and then I would mail the transcriptions and tapes back to Colorado. If the Internet had been in wide use as it is now, the audio of interviews could have been transmitted to me, and I could have transcribed the interviews and e-mailed the completed transcriptions. Without the Internet, I lost not only a stream of income, but a working relationship that was dear enough to me to endeavor to continue even long-distance. If the Internet had never been developed, I would not have been able to develop the network of personal and professional relationships which replaced those I lost.
Without the Internet, there would not be Facebook, Twitter, or blogs – all of which have proved to be not only entertaining but useful to promote worthy causes and to join others around the world with interests akin to my own. Without the Internet, it is not likely I would have discovered what Hinduism really is (it’s not Buddhism in India), and I would not have become part of a formal internet study group comprised of Hindus from around the world. And, without the Internet, and especially Facebook, my marriage would not have suffered what has become known as cyber-cheating and the bane of many modern marriages. While I have found the Internet to be immeasurably useful for academic study and networking with others to promote worthy social causes, my husband found the Internet to be useful for studying scantily clad women and networking with women whose only social cause was the promotion of promiscuity. At the very least, it seems the Internet might have proved useful in making it more likely that an adulterous relationship will be discovered by a faithful spouse than it would have been if the Internet had not ever been invented. It might also be said that perhaps the Internet forces honesty and openness into relationships like never before.
If the Internet had never been developed, I doubt first that I would have decided to complete my Bachelor’s Degree and second that I would have chosen my current course of study; I doubt that I would have been able to participate in causes which interest me to the extent that I can with the aid of the Internet, and I doubt I would ever have had the good fortune to meet such people as I have the pleasure of interacting with on a daily basis now. A number of personal experiences led me to choose Legal Studies as my major and to plan to attend law school. The growing acceptance of the Internet as a viable alternative to traditional schools from elementary through college has made it increasingly likely that I will be able to attend (and afford) law school online. The fact that there are not presently any online law schools which have the proper accreditation for me to ultimately practice law anywhere but in California has led me to alter my education plan and delay attending law school; while I still intend to study law with the hopes of helping others, I have decided instead to pursue an online Master’s Degree in Applied Legal Research. I believe it is safe to say that when the time comes that online law schools are accredited by the American Bar Association, students of law will not be the only ones benefitted – it will be society as a whole (but that’s another story).
The Internet and its many tools – Facebook, Twitter, blogs – are proving as useful to me in working toward helping others as I ever thought a law degree would, and maybe more so. Online studies lead me to the knowledge (and credentials) I need; online tools lead me to the people I need to help and the people I need to work with. Countless numbers of other people certainly view the Internet as one of the most useful tools in their personal and professional lives. Without the Internet, the quality of my own life, and my ability to have a positive impact on the lives of others, would be greatly reduced; without the Internet, the quality of lives around the world would be substantially lessened, and the task of people working together toward improving the quality of life for those less fortunate would be much more daunting.
Update 12/14/2012: related posts…the links will take you there in a new window 🙂
It’s Official, I am a Flirt !! on Bluefish Way
Sprinkle: Saying I Love You on Sprinklin Thoughts
Love: Quantifying the Unquantifiable on Brandy Desiree Collins – Living, Dreaming, Waking, Seeing, Becoming
History of the Internet Timeline. (2011, August 26). Retrieved May 19, 2012, from high-speed-internet-access-guide.com: http://www.high-speed-internet-access-guide.com/articles/internet-timeline.html
Brief History of the Internet. (n.d.). Retrieved May 18, 2012, from internetsociety.org: http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/internet-51/history-internet/brief-history-internet
Howe, W. (2012, May 3). A Brief History of the Internet. Retrieved May 18, 2012, from walthowe.com: http://www.walthowe.com/navnet/history.html
Lewin, T. (2012, May 5). Harvard and M.I.T. Offer Free Online Courses. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from nytimes.com: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/education/harvard-and-mit-team-up-to-offer-free-online-courses.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general
Vedder, R. (2012, May 6). The Promise of Lower Costs and Quality Education. Retrieved May 8, 2012, from nytimes.com: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/05/06/got-a-computer-get-a-degree/the-promise-of-lower-costs-and-quality-education
I’ll admit, one of the things I’m best at is procrastination. I’m procrastinating at this very moment, even as I write…I don’t feel like making phone calls or doing dishes or laundry. I’m not lazy, mind you, and I’m not laid back, either. I’m somewhere in between. There are just some things I don’t feel like doing and some decisions I don’t feel like making – and I really do work best with a deadline close at hand. But, things have a way of always catching up with me, and eventually I’m forced to either take action or live with the results of my inaction. Sometimes I’m glad I procrastinated; other times I have to rationalize results.
A few months ago I was asked if I would be interested in being the Communications Chair for the Golden Key International Honour Society. Actually, I was offered the opportunity to choose between the Communications Chair and the position of Secretary and the former seemed far more interesting and challenging. Weeks went by with no word about the position after I communicated my preference, and it didn’t seem appropriate to inquire about it. I figured it if was meant to be it would work out.
I did go to the trouble of scheduling entry into graduate school immediately after completing my Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies, since accepting the Chair hinged on my remaining an active Kaplan student through March of 2013; before being offered the opportunity I had been planning on attending Drexel’s graduate program in Communications, but I rationalized a change to Kaplan’s graduate program in Applied Legal Studies as being well worth the experience I would gain as Communications Chair for Golden Key.
As the weeks rolled by, however, I began having doubts about this new plan, and when I happened to stumble upon a link to Full Sail University one fairly recent morning I knew I was looking at my future. I wasted no time in arranging an admissions date; my graduation from Kaplan was to be August 17th and my start date for graduate studies in New Media Journalism at Full Sail was to be August 27th. I was happier than I could remember being in many, many years. And then an e-mail came asking me if I was still interested in the Communications Chair; I’d known I was going to have to let Golden Key know I had changed my plans, but I hadn’t figured out how to do that when I hadn’t really officially been offered the position. It seemed pretentious, even obnoxious, to bring up the subject to anyone at Golden Key; but this e-mail brought the subject up for me. It also set my procrastination in motion, if that makes sense. I did not get around to replying to the questioning e-mail before I received another e-mail congratulating me on my appointment to the Communications Chair by unanimous approval of the executive board.
My procrastination put me in a real bind this time. I couldn’t not accept the position, but I knew I did not want to pursue Legal Studies beyond my Bachelor’s Degree. Fortunately, in a strange twist that a few months ago would not have seemed fortunate at all, I recently learned that I am going to have a minimum of 2 surgeries (and quite likely it will be 3) to repair the damage done to my hip from the auto accident that led me to return to school in the first place. I realized last week that I am not going to be up to the task of taking all 18 credits I’d enrolled for this semester, especially with upcoming surgeries and most especially with having assumed the duties of the Communications Chair. And fortunately I did not procrastinate in making a decision to reduce my course load; when I called my academic advisor it turned out to be the last day of drop-add week.
By dropping one course this semester and scheduling the third (and final for my degree) course for next semester, I have moved my graduation date to October 30th. That’s still 5 months shy of my commitment for the executive board position, but I have time to figure out what to do about that. I may have to take next semester off anyway, due to surgeries, and take my final course in the semester beginning in November – that would bring me to a graduation date in late February and a start date for Full Sail in March or April. A far cry from my original plan of beginning Full Sail in late August, but I can certainly rationalize that this is all for the best 🙂 At the very least, I will have time to learn to use the Nikon camera my husband bought me (not to mention learning to use photo editing software) – and I’ll admit I was a bit concerned about taking on Master’s level courses in communications, especially communications centered on photography and videography, when my background is in legal studies.
Now, I stand to gain much-needed experience from the position on the executive board, time to hone my photography skills, a much-needed break from taking a “full-time-and-a-half” course load, and – best of all – some time to relax a bit and spend time with my children (who all together asked me once several months ago, when I was studying at the dentist’s office during their checkups, if I was ever going to pay attention to them again). I’m sure I can live with these results of my most serious case of procrastination ever, although now I need to stop procrastinating on the coursework that’s been awaiting my attention for more days than I care to admit (and I will admit, I am tired of legal studies right now).
“Let us look within and see if we are reacting to anything right now, holding any resentment, holding any fear. Let us know that that is just a gauge of experience of the instinctive nature. Loosen it and let it go. “~Gurudeva
Welcome to my blog!
This is where I’m going to write about the second half of my life, in which I am endeavoring to make up for squandering my youth. Although I try to tell myself I needed all those years and the experiences they contained to make me the person I am today – with the abilities and goals I now have – I remain questioning whether I could have, should have done much better with my time and abilities than I did.
There is no use crying over lost time, so I am gathering myself to take advantage of whatever time I have left, to make the best use of the abilities I might still have to somehow make a positive difference in this world.
I am a Legal Studies student at Kaplan University; I attend classes online. When I complete my Bachelor’s Degree, I will continue on into Kaplan’s Master’s program, to study Applied Legal Research.
My studies have gone much better than I hoped, although I’ve worked hard for my grades; I’m a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and write articles for my chapter’s newsletter. As I write this, I am set to assume the position of Communications Chair for the Kaplan GK chapter. I’ve also been asked to join the Alpha Beta Kappa Honor Society; however, money is tight and it will be a few weeks until I can afford the membership dues.
Late last year, while researching for a Humanities paper (on happiness, believe it or not) I came across a book by a Hindu guru: Merging with Siva. The chapter I came upon was about preparing for the latter years of life, as well as about death and dying, and the more I read the more I became convinced that what I have believed and how I have understood life, living, and the world is more in line with Hinduism than with Christianity. I began receiving daily e-mail lessons from Himalayan Academy, and two months ago I began formal study of The Master Course with the intention of converting to Hinduism. My husband and I have visited the Hindu Temple north of OKC once, last fall, and tomorrow we are going to return there to at least take photos.
All in all, although money is too tight to mention (as one of my favorite Simply Red songs goes), life is better now than it has ever been. I really no longer regret the past, and I certainly no longer dread the future.