Love May Be Blind

Love May Be Blind
But It’s Not Deaf Dumb and Stupid
By: Shira Bethea*

You can have all the fun you want with unconditional love but my love for others has conditions. It may seem unkind to you but it is my unconditional self love that allows me to love others with conditions. Does that sound selfish? Let me explain. I have learned to walk away from situations that were detrimental to my well being. I can love you forever, from a distance if need be. When the company of another negatively impacts me spiritually, emotionally, or physically; ties must be broken. I can love someone and still recognize the need to be apart. It is no easy task to part ways with someone you love. There are times though when it is very much necessary.

I don’t know if love ever ends. Part of me thinks a person can only stop loving someone they never truly loved in the first place. I believe in order to truly love another person, you must first love yourself. Spending time alone helped me a great deal. Self examination is powerful. I continue to examine myself daily. It is a never ending process. It allows me to recognize and acknowledge my gifts as well as my flaws. Having that self awareness helps me to recognize others that see the same in me. Oftentimes people end up in relationships with people they “love” but those people don’t even recognize or appreciate their gifts. Equally disappointing is being with someone who only recognizes your flaws.

If you follow my blog, you already know my stance on soul mates. (https://shirareneebethea.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/search-for-soulmates/) Ideally you want to be with someone who recognizes both your gifts and your flaws. Someone who only sees your gifts is likely looking at you with an unrealistic view. That’s fine if you want to be with someone who is out of touch with reality. I don’t. I recognize the flaws in the people I love and they certainly recognize mine. The beauty in it is we continue to love each other despite those flaws. They are not at all deal breakers. In some cases those very flaws make us even more lovable. I don’t believe in looking to another person for completion. If you do not feel whole alone, you may be more likely to settle for hurtful behaviors in someone you believe you love.

Love does not hurt. Love uplifts. Love encourages. Love positively motivates. I will release anyone or anything from my life that emits negative energy. Once a pattern of anything resembling disloyalty or disrespect is displayed, it’s a wrap. Those behaviors are often deliberate. However there may be times when someone is oblivious to their behavior or more so the affects of said behavior. I find in some of those cases resolution is as simple as a conversation. Take a good look at the people you keep in your life. Think about how you met, how you interact, how you contribute to each others betterment. I am a firm believer in hand selecting the people that surround you. A few years ago I took a good look at my surroundings and realized that some of the people in my life were there only because they had always been there; not because I actively selected them. There may be people that come into your life without an invitation and there are people they may have had an invitation at one time but have overstayed or taken advantage and are no longer welcomed. Perhaps you can relate. It could be neighbors, coworkers, or even family members that are in your life simply due to vicinity but if you met the person under different circumstances you likely would not choose to keep in touch.

When selecting those to keep in your inner circle, balance needs to be found between holding someone to an impossible standard and settling for less than what is deserved. You should honestly be able to say that you meet the very standards that you are holding others to. That goes back to self examination. Once you have been able to examine yourself, find your happiness within yourself, and love yourself; identifying people that deserve to be in your life will be easy. It will also become easy to walk away from people that are selfish and self serving; people that do not meet your conditions. I hope this helps you to understand exactly what I mean when I say that my love has conditions. It has nothing to do with displaying kindness. I try my best to display kindness as well as a brotherly/sisterly love to all those that I meet. I just know that everyone that wants to be close to me will not get the opportunity if my standards are not met. Actively selecting those close to me is imperative to my happiness. I will dive deeper into the subject in my next piece entitled “Redirecting Your Focus-Finding Your Happiness.”

*previously published in Formation Magazine

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Redirecting Your Focus

Redirecting Your Focus
Finding Your Happiness

By: Shira R Bethea*

 

To me happiness is many things. It is something I have. It is something I wear. Happiness looks good on me. In some ways it is a place. It was a journey finding it. It took longer than I had hoped but once I found it all the things I endured along the way seemed miniscule. I learned a valuable lesson. My happiness could not exist in the environment I was in. There comes a time when you really have to take a serious look at all the components of your life and decide what does and does not belong. That was my problem. I allowed too many things to exist in my life that did not belong. There were people that did not belong and they brought behaviors that did not belong. Once I figured that out, life became increasingly easier.

Do not get me wrong. My life still has it’s challenges. It still has its downs. I am just better equipped to handle anything that comes my way. So how did I get the strength to clean out my life. In one word, faith. Faith that I could overcome any obstacle set before me. Change can be hard. I still pray incessantly. Doing this gives me peace. It gives me strength and it gives me guidance. I have shocked myself with some of the things I have survived. I know it was not through my own strength alone that I survived. I am eternally grateful for all of the good gifts bestowed on me by my creator. That is one of the reasons why I have made a routine of meditating daily.

For me, maintaining a strong personal relationship with my creator is crucial in directing me to healthy human relationships. I knew that I had at least one relationship that was anything but healthy. For some reason, I allowed it. To this day I cannot be sure why. Perhaps I was doubtful of what I deserved. Perhaps I thought happiness was a fantasy. Whatever the reason, it went on far too long. Once I started to clean out my life, I could not stop. It was like a cleansing. It was then that something wonderful and unexpected happened. I fell in love. I fell in love with myself. Bit by bit things started to fall right into place. I was increasingly aware of me; what I had to offer and what I deserved. I found happiness in myself. I found happiness in my faith. I found happiness in my career. I found happiness in my circle of people that I had hand selected.

I never imagined I could be so happy. I believe that is precisely why I settled for less. Thank God for knowing better and doing better.

Make room for the better things that are coming.

 *previously published in Formation Magazine

When Is It Okay?

When Is It Okay?
A Public Display of Antipathy
By: Shira Bethea

*previously published in Formation Magazine

A recent trip to the grocery store left me questioning my moral compass. It has been days since the incident and I am still wondering if I did the right thing. I arrived at the store just minutes after it opened. The store was practically empty. I passed only one other customer my first few minutes in the store. Then I passed an elderly couple. The couple was stopped at the end of an aisle. They appeared to be in the midst of a quarrel. It happens. No big deal right. Then I saw it. My peripheral vision caught the man swat the woman across the face. By the time I processed what I saw I had already passed the couple. I was, however, heading towards a store associate. I told the associate what I saw. She without even so much as looking at me told me I need to tell a manager. She clearly was disinterested.

Instead of looking for a manager as I was told. I went looking for the couple. The woman spotted me and started to make her way towards me. She grabbed a hold of my cart and began pleading with me. The problem was I did not understand a word she was saying. I was not even sure of what language she was speaking. When the man saw that she had left his side and was now with me, he began to yell in a language foreign to me. At that point I decided to find the manager. I found another associate at the front of the store. When I asked if she was the manager, she replied “no.” I proceeded to tell her anyway. As I told her what I saw another customer interrupted, “The older couple? Yeah, he hit her. That woman is demented and he has no patience.” My facial expression must have said my thoughts because she began to back pedal. She followed up with, “I mean, not that it’s okay. Just tell him not to do it if he does it again.” I was stunned.

The manager did finally make his way over. Just as he did the couple got in line behind me. The cashier whispered to the manager. The manager just stared as the woman continued to talk to no one in particular. I had no idea what she was saying but her tone was that of someone pleading. No one paid her any mind. I watched the manager to see his reaction. He had none. Even after I checked out I lingered in the front of the store just observing. I left when the couple left but I didn’t do anything else. I still think about it because I just don’t know if I did the right thing. It still bothers me.

I had good intentions. Though the feeling I was getting from the people around me was I should mind my own business. I questioned myself the entire ride home. I wondered what was best for both of them. I have heard stories of people coming to the defense of people being abused only to be attacked by the very person they were trying to defend. I wondered if what I saw was a one off moment or did it happen often. Was the woman actually “demented” and if so how would the customer that suggested it even know? Did that even matter? I know being a caregiver is no easy task. I also know what I saw was not okay. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have been the outcome had the authorities been involved. Would the man have gotten the assistance he likely needs to be a proper caregiver? That of course is assuming that he was a caregiver. Would the woman have been completely removed from the situation? Would her new environment even improve her situation. As you can see I still have not come to anything conclusive on this one. This one may bother me for a while. One thing I have learned over the years is to take a lesson from every situation. Instead of coming down on myself for decisions I have made, I try to use the instance as a lesson. That is precisely what I intend to do. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw that day in the grocery store. I had never considered what I would do if ever presented with such a situation. Now I am giving it a lot of thought. I am spending a lot of time thinking about domestic violence, elder care, caregiver support, and even immigration. Even though I still have not come to a concrete conclusion, I feel talking about the situation will better prepare me (or anyone else participating in the conversation for that matter) should I be in a similar situation again. I am curious to get your thoughts on this one. Feel free to share with me how you think you would have reacted had you been in my position. Email me at WhatWouldShiraDo@gmail.com I may share your thoughts in a future article.

 

Bandage Hostage

Don’t worry. I’m safe. To be clear; I am safe, at home, waiting for a package. A few days ago I ordered dresses I had been watching for weeks. It all came together. It was my favorite designer. The limited stock included my size. Pricing was below retail and I received free shipping. Now today is the day, D day, delivery day.

It’s 7a.m. I’m up and I can think of a few errands that need to be run but I cannot leave my post, not until I get that package.  Days like this I briefly (very briefly) miss having a “real job.”  In those days I never had to be present for my deliveries.  All of my packages were signed for and safely kept until I arrived.

I know what your thinking.  What about surveillance? Well surveillance doesn’t protect my packages it just allows me to see them being swiped.  I don’t want the hassle of trying to track down a person that may or may not have my things when found.  Then filing a claim, ugh…I’d rather be held hostage and wait.  It’s a day of torture but the reward is more than worth it.

I predict my delivery will come at 8 p.m. and I will have stayed in the house for nothing.  It usually goes this way.  If I leave it will come the moment I leave the neighborhood but if I wait it won’t come until the very end of the day.

Well my package finally arrived at 8:15 pm.  I was boiling at 8 when it wasn’t her but I got over it when I saw my dresses.  Pics coming soon.

Take a Chance

I love security. I love my safe places. The less risk the better, right? Well not exactly.  Yes there is a certain comfort in sticking with what you know.  The problem is if you never leave that comfort zone, there’s very little room for growth.

There are a few things I have learned over the years.  One is independence is crucial.  Able bodied people must learn to function independently of others.  It doesn’t have to be a thing of permanence. You should, however, not only establish that you can but also be comfortable with it.  I am in no way saying abandon your circle.  Just know how to function independently.

Secondly, get to know yourself. I mean really get to know yourself.  Understand what makes you special  and embrace it.  When you know who you are then you are  able to grow.  You can honestly identify what’s great about yourself and what parts can be improved upon.

Lastly, take chances.  Occasionally step outside of your comfort zone.  If you are not getting the results you want, do not be afraid to make changes.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the result.  The alternative is wondering what could have been.  The result of taking a chance is usually growth.  You should be able to learn something from every move you make.  Self improvements do not come from being stagnant.  Take a chance and take a step towards a better you.

 

Summer Vacation

This time of year typically has me craving the beach. Florida is usually my first choice. With several beaches to choose from and a short flight, it’s an ideal get away for me. However this week has me exploring other options.

This week I had the pleasure of working with the Visit Austin Texas Summer Tour.  Working this tour reminded me of a few of things.  One was Austin Texas is the live music capital if the world.  Who doesn’t like live music? Austin has over two hundred and fifty live music venues making it a music lovers dream.

The second reminder was all the options for lovers of the great outdoors.  Few things bring me more peace than a nature walk or just quiet moments outside.  Austin has plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Zilker park alone is well over 300 acres.

I still love my Florida vacations but this year two or three summer vacations may be the way to go.  For more info on Austin Texas, visit http://www.AustinTexas.org

USPS Strikes Again

I just took the plunge and it was not a smooth transition. Let me start by saying USPS does not like me at all. It is one of the main reasons I am hesitant when ordering anything online that will be delivered via USPS. I placed my first wig order and had no issues at all with the company. The problems arose with USPS. I missed the first delivery. I received notification of their attempt to deliver. That was not a problem. I followed their instructions and scheduled a new delivery date. I missed the delivery on the 27th and scheduled a new delivery for the 29th. All was well again. USPS emailed a confirmation of my new delivery date and I rearranged my schedule to be there to accept the delivery.

On the 28th I was anxious. My first wig by mail delivery was due to arrive the next day…except that didn’t happen. I came home on the 28th to find my package siting on my porch. To make matters even worse, USPS sent me another email on the 28th reminding me that my package would arrive on the 29th…the package that was already on my porch. I was annoyed but grateful the package was still where they left it by the time I came home.

Did you know I actually am a volunteer postal worker? I don’t want to be.  I didn’t sign up to do it but I receive other people’s mail on a regular basis. Sometimes it is mail from people one door away. Sometimes it is mail belonging to someone a block away. Other times it is mail that belongs to someone on a completely different street. So I find myself delivering the mail on a regular basis and not being compensated; making me a volunteer postal worker, involuntarily.  As a matter of fact, I currently have mail in my possession that does not belong on my street.  I guess I will be making mail deliveries tomorrow.  I hope when my neighbors receive my mail (because I know they do) they don’t keep it or throw it away.

The part that is most frustrating is I don’t see an immediate solution.  Complaints fall on deaf ears.  I am not in a position to completely eliminate mail delivery.  I would love to choose my delivery methods.  Unfortunately some companies solely use USPS.  What’s a girl to do?  Vent in a blog I suppose.