Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taking Responsibility, Not Carrying the Guilt.

A person can only take on so much guilt before it becomes too much to bear.  It is hard sometimes to distinguish between personal responsibility and guilt.  I am willing to take personal responsibility for my actions and to take steps to change behavior that caused pain in the lives of those in my orbit, so that it doesn't happen again.  What I cannot do, is carry the guilt around with me, like an albatross.  There comes a time when I have to relinquish the guilt, knowing that I have done what I can.

This is hard for me.  I have always taken guilt upon myself and have a hard time doing things just because I need to, but, I am learning that it is okay to be selfish sometimes.  There is only so much I can do to insure that others aren't affected by my actions.  I can only sometimes predict how someone is going to react and I can never control their reactions.  I am only responsible for myself and doing what is right, for me, is often all I can do.  Now, this doesn't mean I have no responsibility beyond myself, it simply means that I can only control one person, and that is me.  If I have done something that hurts someone that I care about, I can control how I handle it, by apologizing and asking what I can do to help them recover, I cannot control what they do after that.  If they choose to hold a grudge, keep bringing the issue up again and again, or otherwise cannot see their way to forgiving me, then it is no longer on me.  It doesn't absolve me of my original guilt or make it as if I never did anything wrong, but I cannot keep reliving my guilt by taking on the pain of everyone around me and beyond.

I realize actions have a ripple effect and that I don't live in a vacuum.  What I do affects not only those in my inner circle, but also those close to those in my inner circle.  I understand that; but my understanding it doesn't mean I take upon myself  the guilt for all of it.  There is only so much I can do, and only so much I can take and at a certain point I have to say - enough.  I have reached that point at this moment.  Enough.  I have had enough.  Enough accusation.  Enough disapproval.  Enough admonishment.  Enough dressing down.  Just enough, already.  I will no longer be carrying it around; I am laying it down.

I would love to fix the hurt feelings of everyone I know, and everyone who knows everyone I know.  I would love to go back and change the past as well.  Would that I had had a crystal ball, to predict the outcome and full scope of personal involvement, of those around, to my actions, I would, possibly, have done things differently, but I didn't have a crystal ball of prediction.  And even if I could change how I did things, there is no guarantee things would have turned out differently, had I begun the process in a different manner.  What I did had to be done, there is no getting around that fact.  I had to choose self-preservation over saving face.  I had no choice; I could no longer maintain a friendship that had run its course.

In the end there are those who can't forgive me, will never see that my intentions were not malicious.  Selfish?  Perhaps.  But never malicious.  I understand there is sometimes a price to pay for any selfish, self-preserving act. Even knowing that, I can't say I am sorry for some of the outcome.  Often, trial by fire is the only way to refine our relationships.  During these stressful times we find out who survives the fires without reducing themselves to, what I perceive to be, petty, insulting, nasty behavior.  We find out who can remain steadfast, take responsibility, and ask for forgiveness when necessary, without degradation.  Those who don't survive the fire in quite such  admirable fashion; they have shown their mettle.  Do we really want to align ourselves with those who don't value the same things we value in a relationship?  I know I don't.  Understand this: that is not to say I don't regret losing some friendships, I do, I mourn the loss, but when it's all said and done, I need to form close relationships with people who live their lives in line with my own principles.

We all make mistakes, but it is what we do after we make the mistake that shows the world what we are genuinely made of.  I pray that I can redeem myself in the eyes of some, by the way that I live, how I interact, and by the way I make the most of a bad situation, learn from it, and move on into a life of peace and grace.  As for some others, I regret the loss, but I am afraid I will never live up to their expectations, so I absolve myself of the guilt I feel, having given up fighting for their approval.  I press on, hand in hand with those who still respect and love me without caveat.  It is to them, and to my God, that I answer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trusting My Instincts

I have not always trusted my instincts in various situations throughout my life.  I sometimes thought that trusting my instincts was somehow not using my brain.  Smart people use their brain when making decisions, right?  That sounds logical.  What I have found, however, is that life is not always logical.  There are twists, turns, corners we can't see around, and unexpected things that pop up on our life's road, that can't always be predicted by logic and planning.

Life is much like driving, actually, now that I think about it.  We learn to drive we are taught the basics of driving in driver's ed, we know the rules of the road the day we get that little card with our picture on it.  We set out on the road thinking we know quite a bit about what we are doing.  How naive we are, though.  Experience is really our best teacher and for that there is no quick-study course or shot-cut route.  We have to get out there and drive, day after day, learning how to navigate those things they can't teach you in a driving class.  There are blind spots, squirrels that dart in our path, people coming at us in the opposite direction too far over in our lane.  So many things that we knew might happen, we were taught to look out for these things, we even got on the road and drove a bit with other people helping us watch out for the unexpected, but nothing truly prepares us for being alone in the driver's seat with no one to point out potential hazards to us.  At some point we have to learn to do it all on our own, and we often make mistakes in those early days, especially if we don't trust our instincts. The rules are all well and good as a base, but if a squirrel darts in front of us, we instinctively go against the rules and swerve, maybe into the opposite lane, in order to avoid hitting it.

It is the same in our lives.  We have people, usually our parents or other mentors, teaching us the basics of life, the social dos and don'ts, the rules of good behavior, that kind of thing.  Our teachers even help us through relational problems, help us to navigate the unexpected things that are sure to happen in our lives.  As we grow, the allow us more and more road time so that we can get comfortable with making good decisions, but they still come along side of us to aid us in staying close to the center of the road.  Then one day we are on our own.  We often think we are pretty savvy too.  We might even think we know more than the people who taught us do.  We really are naive though, we don't have enough experience under our belt, so we should be really cautious and ever mindful of the pitfalls we may encounter.  We are sure to have an encounter with our own squirrel on the road, a person our instincts tell us to avoid.  If we do what instincts tell us to, we will swerve to go around him.  If we follow the rules of the road, which say to stay in the center of the lane, that is to say, make friends with him, as is socially acceptable, he is a nice squirrel after all, everyone else likes him, our instincts must be wrong, so we resist the urge to avoid.  We encounter the squirrel and it doesn't end pretty.  It never does.  It's not the squirrel's fault.  We should have trusted our instincts and avoided him all together.  It is unfortunate that in our naivete we hit a few squirrel both literally and figuratively in our journey through life.  It is the rare individual who avoids it all together.

Hopefully when we encounter these types of situations, when we are badly shaken having unintentionally injured someone, we can learn from them.  We can take away positive lessons and one of the most positive, most empowering lessons we can learn is to trust our own instincts.  They are usually right.  We should never allow others to sway us toward ignoring what we feel deep inside.  No matter how much evidence they provide to make their logical case, if our instincts say avoid, we should avoid.  It ends up being better for us all, in the end, if we do.  The squirrel scampers off to his den of friends who are just like him, and we continue on to our destination, arriving safely, without the shell-shock of having inadvertently annihilated a squirrel, and go on about our live.

Chalk up a bad experience to a lesson learned.  I will endeavor never again to ever go against my instincts when it comes to my encounters with others.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Summer Project.

One of them, anyway.  This project took me longer than I thought it would.  I admit I did move slowly, though.  I could have gotten it done more quickly if I had really focused.  At any rate, it is done now and I am pretty happy with the results.  The cost of this project was $12.00 for a quart of gloss white paint, $1.99 for the cherry rub-on appliques and $5 for a roll of shelf liner.  I made my own turquoise paint by mixing together the white paint I used for the base and some craft paint that I had on hand.  The handles and hinges I spray painted with paint that was already in my garage.  I probably wouldn't have purposely chosen pink for the handles, but that is what I had, and it does match the colors in my kitchen.  The cabinet itself was free.  My dad built it a few years ago out of some cabinets he had salvaged out of a neighbor's kitchen when they remodeled.  My parents used it in their laundry room for several years and passed it on to me once they no longer needed it.  I think it's not bad for a $19 cabinet. Now I have food storage in my kitchen, plus a sense of accomplishment at having finished this project.  Not to mention, it goes right along with my Reduce, Reuse and Recycle lifestyle.  And it's cute too.

This is the cabinet before:
 And here is the finished product: