Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Death of Empathy

I think I've been spending way too much time lately in parking lots, probably because Christmas was just a few days ago and thus I've been shopping for presents about 22.5 hours a day for the last 3 months. So I realize my observations here may be fueled by over-caffeinated, overspending, lack-of-time frustrations, but I still believe them to be valid. So what I want to know is why people these days treat parking lots like a pedestrian-only zone?!

Almost every time I'm in a parking lot these days (parking my car, as per the parking lot 'How To' guide that is widely available), people are walking directly in the line of traffic, many times paying zero attention to the cars trying to (say it with me) PARK in the PARKING LOT. I'm not saying that pedestrians shouldn't have the right of way. I mean, they're usually slightly smaller and made of less reinforced steel than cars, so it makes sense that cars should yield to them. But people wander, seemingly aimlessly, through the area where cars drive, without notice or care. It's the second part that bothers me the most. Inattention is one thing (although its still annoying and actually pretty dangerous), but complete disregard for other fellow humans in close proximity just drives me crazy. Some folks will even turn and look at you, realize that you're driving 3/4 mph because they're walking at a snail's pace directly in the middle of the driving lane, then turn around and just keep on going. WHY?! Again, I say, WHY?!

I have many theories, most of which would morph this blog post into something either hardcore-rant-like (if it isn't already) or 25,000 words long, so I'll leave most of that for later posts. But my main idea is the lack of empathy and connection we have with our fellow peoples these days. This is obviously not a new idea. We hear it every day.  What's the cause? Facebook and social networking? Cell phones? The internet? Our culture of individualism ("Enough about me, what do YOU think about me?")? I'm sure it's all of these things plus eleventy-billion more. Aside of my parking lot example, I see this issue play out in almost every setting. We don't see each other as the valuable, feeling, fragile beings that we ALL are. Tragic, really.

^Nice way to encourage kindness.

I realize that, these days especially, it's apparently cool and hip to be rude, cynical, and uncaring. Since I gave up on trying to be either of these things a long time ago, I try to make it a point every day to empathize with others. While I'm far from perfect, I at least make an effort. If someone is rude at the bank, I try to imagine what might be making them so unhappy as to treat others this way. Or if an elderly person is toddling too slowly through the store, I try to think of how difficult it must make life to have such limited mobility. In many situations, people don't make it easy to empathize, but that just makes it that much more valuable. When someone is rude and, instead of being rude back, you smile at them and ask how their day is going, I bet this will spark a little something positive in this person. 

This is an issue that Ace and I discuss frequently, as we both notice what a problem it seems to be both in our society and many personal relationships (including ours sometimes). Thus, we've made it a priority to teach this habit of being empathetic to The Mayor because, as with so many other behaviors, I believe the parents play the most important role in children understanding how (and why) to empathize with others. I think it will drastically affect the person he becomes in a way that I'm sure I will be proud of one day. 

Oops. I guess I didn't empathize enough with my readers to stop writing 500 words ago. Sorry. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not Everyone Can Celebrate

So I mentioned in a prior post that I try to contribute either my time or money to causes when I can. Money is easier, luckily, because I don't have much time to give. (Not to say I have a lot of money, but certainly enough to share some with those in need).

But I got a big slap in the face this morning on my way to work when it hit me how little I have given and how much I have and how selfish I've been this holiday season. I've spent so much time worrying about buying gifts for my family, about baking cookies for my friends and others (who already have food and shelter), about the gifts I want from others, about decorating the house, about spending time with friends....and the list goes on, all relatively selfish things.

This morning I drove by one of those homeless dudes who stands on the street with a sign, begging for money or food or "anything you can spare". Now I drive by this guy, or one like him, every single work day. Sometimes I notice, sometimes I don't. But today, when it was 20 degrees out and I was cozy in my car and drinking my coffee, thinking about all the cookies I was planning to give away and Christmas presents I have to wrap, I suddenly felt very upset with myself for not bringing this guy some cookies.

I've also been feeling sorry for myself lately over so many (now realized) stupid and unimportant things. I've spent too much money on gifts that I shouldn't have. I've been sick twice in the past month. The Mayor has been crabby a lot lately, making things around the house more challenging. Again, the list goes on. But guess what? I forgot to spend time thinking about all the things I DO have and that are wonderful. Even after I just posted about this very thing (being thankful) around Thanksgiving!!! How quickly we/I forget. I have a wonderful home and family. I am warm and healthy during this cold season. I have the clothes and shoes and coats I need. I eat (too much) whenever I want.

Now I don't know if this guy on the street this morning is REALLY homeless. Maybe and maybe not. But even if he's not, someone else is. And that person or family probably doesn't have ANY of the things I mentioned above. And I won't even get started about the other needy people, such as those that may not be homeless but don't have heat or food, those that don't have shoes that fit to wear in the snow, those that are sick and don't have family to take care of them...etc.

So what am I going to do? I haven't yet decided. Just thinking about these people and being sad does nothing for them. I plan to return with an update of what I've done. Something, anything, to make a difference directly to at least one person in need this holiday season.

Update #1: Just wanted to clarify. I'm not saying I do nothing charitable around the holidays. This year, we've given to 2 toy drives, donated $ to the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, and I frequently give cash and change to the Salvation Army bell ringers and to other various collection points. I guess what I'm looking for is some way to impact a person in need more directly. There's just something so rewarding about touching a person directly, for both parties, I think. I volunteered to cook dinner for 35 children with 3 coworkers in a church basement this summer. It was such a wonderful experience. While I feel donating $ to charity is amazing and 100% necessary for their support, I miss seeing and interacting with the people/animals that those charities support. My biggest problem is time. There are many, many organizations looking for volunteers that I would love to donate my time to like I used to before The Mayor was around. Now these chances are few and far between.

Update #2: BIG, FAT FAIL. So, I got really sick right after I first posted this and was on the couch, miserable, for a few days. And then Christmas day was here and it was insane trying to get all the presents wrapped, the house cleaned up, etc. Long story short, I didn't get to do anything good for another in need (aside of our usual donations). I try to do what I say I'm going to do, but this time it just didn't work out. But I will take a lesson away from this and hopefully remember for the future.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shut Up...I Have Something In My Eye!

I guess I've always been an emotionally sensitive person. I've been described as intense, moody, and many other, less-flattering words I can't say/type here. Sometimes being that way is a good thing. The psychotic sweet love I feel for my husband, son, and other family is a wonderful emotion to experience intensely.

However, I've noticed that it's gotten even worse in the past couple of years.  Whatever the cause of the emotional change I've undergone since The Mayor was born, I find that it's so easy to cry these days. Maybe not a full-on, snot-streaming-down-the lip cry, but at least getting wet in the eyeballs. Sometimes the situation where I find myself weepy surprises me, and sometimes it doesn't. Many are related to babies or children, which just makes me reflect on my little dude. Others are just ridiculous. Lately:
  1.  Any diaper commercial
  2. Watching a video of people dancing to Lady Gaga's "Let's Dance"
  3. At the holiday Parade of Lights this year
  4. Gymboree song sung to the tune of We Will Rock You by Queen
  5. The ending of Monsters, Inc.
  6. Creating a video of Santa for Jack
While these situations can be embarassing, especially when I'm in public, I find them humorous for the most part.

                + Me =

Then there's the much more serious part, the one that's harder to handle and not so funny. Somehow, I used to be able to distance myself from human suffering much more easily. This may sound terrible, but I think I had an issue with being able to empathize and connect with humans due to things that have happened in my life. It's been very hard for me to learn to trust people.

So, before Jack, animal suffering was the cause that really tugged at my heart. I gave money, I volunteered time, I signed petitions for legislation, I adopted every single animal I've ever owned, etc. Since The Mayor, though, I've changed. While I still have this soft spot in my heart for abused/neglected and homeless animals, I am much more drawn to helping humans, and especially children, in need. And it's really no mystery to me why that is. I am now able to see every.single.human.being as someone's child. I can picture Jack in their place, whether homeless, starving, abused in the sex slave industry, illiterate and uneducated due to complete lack of opportunity...the list goes on and on. It brings immediate tears to my eyes and a pain in my heart to ever think of Jack being in need or pain or forgotten by society. All of these people suffering in these situations were/are someone's child. And that just tears me up inside. I can barely watch a Feed the Children commercial, see an ad for the The Smile Network, or see pictures of AIDS orphans who are all alone in the wide world, without crying or feeling ill. And, while it hurts to feel these things, I realize it helps me to be more connected to my fellow humans. To care for them in a way that I wasn't completely capable of before. And that, in my (sad and teary) eyes, is a wonderful thing. Crying at a Pampers commercial is just a silly by product, and I'm OK with that. 

    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    Through The Eyes of a Nose Picker

    So last night we took The Mayor to the big annual holiday parade here in Denver, The Parade of Lights. It's at night, everything's covered in lights, and it's Denver, so it's cold in December at night. As awesome as that may sound, Ace and I are not always good about taking Jack to stuff like that. We're kind of old farts and don't always have the time and energy and enthusiasm to go and do the super-duper-rah-rah-family-happy-time stuff. But I thought this sounded fun. And you know what? It really was awesome , and I almost cried while we were there. I know...hard to being a big, emotional wimp.

    As we were waiting in anticipation for the parade to start (45+ minutes), I kept telling Jack how excited I was (and he should be) and trying to explain what we would see and how neat it would be, since he'd never been to a parade before. He could tell something super cool was going to happen.
    LOVE ME or I'll come after your family!

    Long story not-so-short, I had a really, really fun time at the parade. It was so cool to see the look on Jack's face when the horses went by, and when he saw the dude dressed like a psychotic red muppet Elmo. He was 100% mesmerized for almost an hour. And it hit me while watching him and feeling such inexplicable enjoyment at watching a silly parade, that I was getting the amazing opportunity to see things through the eyes of a child.

    Yeah, yeah, I know. We've all heard it so many times from parents. But when it happens to you, it's just really cool. As we grow and mature, most of us lose the magic and the ability to see the beauty and wonder of the world. And the kids can't really appreciate it for what it is. This experience was the best of both worlds, and THAT is what made is so special, freaky puppets or not.

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    There's A Lightbulb In My Bum...and Other Things We Teach The Mayor

    Now if Ace and I aren't anything else, we are complete, idiotic goofballs. While Ace tries to somewhat hide this fact from everyone but me and The Mayor, I personally celebrate my absolute stupidity and ridiculousness. Having a good sense of humor, being silly and making fun of myself, and having the ability to laugh when I'd rather cry, are things that get me through life in a more enjoyable fashion. This silliness is such a part of who we both are that it would be no small miracle for The Mayor to grow up without this trait. We never set out to purposefully have this influence on the little guy, but it just can't be helped in our household. And this makes me very, very happy.
    So, the other day, I catch Ace standing up and pretending (for The Mayor's benefit) to poop the TV remote out of his (fully clothed) bum. Of course, little dude thought this was hysterical. How could he not? I think it's hysterical and I'm older than dirt more mature. I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise when, a day later, The Mayor walks up to me with a light bulb he's playing with (I know, safe, right?) and proceeds to pretend-poop it out of MY bum. It.Was.Awesome.
    It also made me reflect on some of the other things we've been "teaching" him that probably would not gain approval from many folks, which bothers me so little that I can't even finish this sen.......
    Here are some of them:
    1. Whenever I ask a question such as "Who wants to go to the playground?", I've taught The Mayor to raise his hand and say "Me!". This also works with "Who smells like a turdbucket?", "Who wants to go fart on Daddy while he naps?", and many, many other useful questions. I was so excited the day he learned this that I pooped a remote looked for a "Proud Parent of..." bumper sticker, although never found one that fit well. 
    2. Pretty much anytime Jack does, says, or accomplishes anything, he applauds himself and says "Yaaayyyy!". This is particularly hilarious when he...OK, it's funny pretty much all of the time. You just can't help but to smile at a 2 year old cheering for himself for throwing something in the trashcan or finishing his pancakes. 
    3. And one of my favorites that I didn't even teach him, and am not sure how he learned. If he's around a group of adults (especially more than just me and Ace) and we all laugh at a joke or moment of conversation, The Mayor picks up on this and will, literally, throw his head back and laugh like he's totally in on the joke. Which just makes everyone laugh that much harder. 
    While this quality is super awesome and fun in a toddler, I really hope it helps him throughout his life to be able to always see the funny side of things and to not take himself or anyone else too seriously. If more adults would just learn to pretend-poop stuff out of their bums instead of yelling at their kids or kicking the dog, wouldn't the world be a more enjoyable place? In my opinion, Yes and Yesser. 

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    It's Big, Andy, Real Big

    When Ace and I got married, we were both OK with either having or not having kids, especially since we're both pretty career-oriented. Some people may think this is wishy-washy, but I prefer to think that we're both flexible in the path that our life (together) takes. I would rather have it that way than to have one of us feel very strongly one way and the other feel completely different, and it's worked out well for the last 10 years.

    So, after we finally got settled in our careers and home, we decided to go for it and along came The Mayor. After we had him, we thought "Yep, one is enough. *Yawn*". However, once he hit 1 year old, we began to come out of our first-year catatonia and feel like we might be able to not totally screw up handle another one. Ace is/was an only child, which has been a good experience for him. On the other hand, I have an older brother, which was good for me, but mainly because he's pretty cool and we get along well. In general, I don't think there's a right or wrong as far as how many children to have. I think the most important thing is how you raise those 1, 2, or 6 children. That being said, here are the things twisting around in my pea-brain that are making this decision really hard:
    1. Time With Baby Dos: I was super lucky to be able to stay at home with The Mayor for his first 18 months. Part of this time I was working from home and the other part I was unemployed and looking for a job. It was probably the most awesome (and hardest) 18 months of my life. Now that I'm employed full time and The Mayor is in daycare, I don't know how to accomplish this with baby #2, as we really can't afford to live on one income for very long. And I really want to be home with Baby "Dos" for at least 1 year before he/she goes to daycare. 
    2. It's Really For The Mayor: I, personally, don't care if we have another child. Not to say that I wouldn't love him/her just as much as The Mayor, but I feel pretty fulfilled with having just him. My main reason for thinking about Dos is so that The Mayor has a sibling to grow up with, to be his playmate, to have someone to connect with as family once Ace and I are gone. this enough reason to have another? 
    3. Solo vs. Team Sports: I've read recently that, in general, only children grow up to be happier adults. They typically cite the undivided attention of their parents, the lack of sibling rivalry, the increased financial stability of the family (without another mouth to feed), etc. I would love to give Jack my undivided attention and focus on him. But... is this enough reason to NOT have another?
    4. Dolla' Bill Y'all: Luckily, I don't worry too much about our finances, as Ace and I both have good jobs and could easily afford another munchkin. But, it would also require a bigger house, double the daycare expenses....basically another cool ~$250k over the lifetime of baby. Ouch. 
    5. Mommy Broke Her Hip Again: So, Ace and I are not getting any younger. I was 35 when we had The Mayor, and Ace doesn't want to have another after he's 40. This gives us very little time to make a decision and get 'er done (I'm so sorry). We don't want kiddos in the  house when we're already retired and wanting to invest in shuffleboard lessons. And it gets harder to be a parent to little ones when you're older. My 25 year old mommy friends have much more energy and better joints than I. And that will only get worse the longer we wait. Ouchier.
    There are a hundred more thoughts that torture me daily about this issue, but these are the main points. I really wanna slap envy people who are certain about what they want as far as children go, whether they know they want one or five. All in all, I know that we will all be happy either way. Who would've guessed how hard it would be to know what's best for your family?  Not me. Nope. 

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    What I Am Thankful For...If I Must.

    I know, I know. This time of year, every.single.person in the universe is forced to think about what is important to them and their lives. I've recently been trying to make a major effort to be grateful on a daily basis for the things in my life that are super fantastic. But here, in one easy-to-tote list, is the big stuff in my life that I'm thankful for and couldn't live without (in no certain order):
    1. Family. My parents and brother used to come first, but now I also have my own little fam.  Overall, they all rock pretty hard.
    2. Mayor McPoopypants. OK, so I mentioned him vaguely above, but he's worth mentioning a quadrillion times over. He's the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me. He gives my life purpose and meaning that I never had before. His smile, his eyes, his soft little hands, his sweet buddha belly...all of it do I love fiercely. 
    3. Ace. Again, vague mention above, but he's pretty super special, too. We have our tough times, but he's a good person and tries to do the best for our sweet little family. 
    4. Friends. A few I've known for a really long time and they know me like no one else does. A few are newer, but are just as important and provide me with support and laughter and they listen to my crap like they really care.
    5. A J-O-B. OK, so I hate my current job. provides income that helps us to do the things we want and have the things we need. So many others are doing without because of not having one of these.
    6. A Home. Yeah, we're trying to get rid of it, but it's still a warm, cozy, comfortable place that belongs to us and makes us feel good to be there. 
    7. Security. As with most people, life has thrown me and us for many loops, so I treasure the times when things are calm and normal and safe.  
    8. Health. Yes, I need to start working out again and eating better. But I don't have cancer or some other terminal illness or disability. And that's big in my book. 
    So those are the big 'uns. Here are some smaller, yet still important items that I think about almost daily:
    • A dog who cleans up the floor after The Mayor is done eating
    • Whirled peas
    • 3 donut shops within 2 miles of my house
    • Microbrewed beer and chicken wings
    • Cozy pajamas and fuzzy socks in the winter
    • Happy hour
    • That The Mayor doesn't like Barney
    • Coffee
    • Nonjudgemental people
    • Being a child of the 80s
    Hopefully I can add to this list through this week. I think it's important to recognize the things that you're grateful for, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. It really does make life much sweeter when you keep these things in mind.

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Bumps and Bruises and Burns...Oh My!!

    So, I'm pretty sure if you saw me without clothes on, you would (first, laugh hysterically, but that's beside the point of this post) think that either 1) I've recently been in a serious car accident, 2) I lost a fight with a grizzly, or 3) I enjoy throwing myself down flights of stairs. "Au contraire", I would say. Watch me for a day. Approximately every 12.3 seconds, I am either falling down, bumping my leg/toe/elbow/eyeball on something pointy and hurty, or running flat into objects that are clearly visible to everyone but me.  Bruises, cuts, scrapes, and burns abound on my poor body.  It's really quite amazing I've never broken a bone or had stitches or otherwise been hospitalized for anything serious. I'm pretty sure this is Mother Nature's way of ensuring that I have no good stories to tell and cannot get sympathy for my thousandy-or-so daily injuries.

    OK, that's partially a lie.  When I was ~9, I fell head-first over the handlebars of my bike, going downhill, on a patch of gravel, and landed mouth-first on the road.  I ended up in the ER with a ginormous, blimpity lip that did not allow me to close my mouth for around a week (only partially an issue, see I, Mouthbreather).

    BUT, I did not get stitches and the only thing close to sympathy I received (other than from my family, who doesn't really count when you're a kid) was the kids at school running from me and calling me a monster.

    Yep, that's as awesome as it gets at that age.

    Luckily, Ace is much more graceful than I and doesn't constantly look like he fell off a cliff onto a pile of ______ (insert your choice of painful, sharp, burny objects here) .  And, thus far, it appears as though Smelly is taking after Daddy.  For a little dude of 2 years, he's had very few injuries, especially for a boy, and somehow manages to perch precariously, climb very high, and fall on his head without busting it open like an egg.

    Is this not enough to deal with, you may ask?? In addition to the harm self-inflicted every day, my clumsiness also causes me to constantly have food, drink, or some strange bodily fluid (gross...not that) stain on my clothing.  Even when I don't eat mustard, a mustard stain will magically appear on my right boob. Ace was incredibly proud of himself for thinking to put Shout wipes in my stocking for Xmas one year. While I'd like to think it was to help me in looking a little less gross while in public, I'm pretty sure he did it for himself, just so people wouldn't look at him and wonder what he's doing with the chick who just crawled out of the trashcan at McD's.

    Now. Excuse me while I go and try to lick off the mystery food spot that just magically appeared on my new arm bruise. Ow.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    I, Mouthbreather

    One of my biggest issues in life has always been my need for people to like me. I'm pretty sure it stems from moving around so much as a child, since my Dad was in the military.  Each time we moved, I had to start from scratch making friends and being accepted by my peers at school.  At almost any age, this is tough.  As a young girl who didn't have nice clothes, who "bloomed" pretty early, and at one point had an Annie afro, this was even harder. Although, admittedly, I never cared if everyone liked me.  Just the cool kids.
    So, I thought just for fun and to show myself how silly it all is, these are some of the things about me that, in many peoples' eyes, are definitely not cool:
    1. Most of my clothes and "lingerie" are from discount stores. I'd rather save my $ for other things.
    2. I grocery shop at Wal Mart. It's cheap.
    3. I'm a "breeder". Smelly rocks, big time. 
    4. I like music such as James Taylor, smooth jazz, and Sade.
    5. I still love to say "peeps". 
    6. I don't like yoga. And, yes, I've tried it 100 times.
    7. I love Oprah book club books.
    8. I've seen every episode of Scrubs at least 3 times. 
    9. I have no artistic ability to speak of, other than painting my toenails OK.
    10. I don't always understand New Yorker or other political cartoons. 
    These days I guess I consider myself to be a social chameleon.  I can adapt to almost any group of people, any type of friend, any social environment, etc.  I don't care if it's a hillbilly hoedown or a black tie event.  I've always thought this was a good skill, and still do.  But...somewhere along the way, I lost who I really am by trying to adapt to what everyone else thought I should be.

    Now, finally, at 37, I'm trying to get "me" back.  It's a daily struggle.  I still find myself constantly worrying about doing or not doing things or looking a certain way that the "Fonzies" of the world will like me for.  For example, yesterday I was driving to work, singing "Goin' to Carolina" by James Taylor.  A happy, fun song that makes me feel good.  But at a certain point I thought "I can't post this as my Facebook status.  People will think it's so dorky" (or something like that).  I can't help it.  These thoughts just happen, as ridiculous as they are. So, what did I do? One of the first things I did when I came to work was post as my FB status "Sarah Campbell Mahalik is goin' to Carolina in my mind.".  And guess what? It felt good to just say what was on my mind, without regards for what other people think.  And guess what (part 2)? Many of the people that I love and respect responded positively to that post!  How awesome is that? And guess what (part 3)? I don't give a rat's pooper if anyone thought it was dorky. Yay me! Sarah:1, Fonzies:0. 

    So then later yesterday, I encountered another situation that made me think.  I was sitting in the office of a coworker who intimidates me a little.  Why? Because she's beautiful, stylish, skinny, and very put together.
    Here's her:

     She's also very nice, smart, and not at all intimidating personality-wise.  So, there I sit.  Super aware of how beautiful and awesome she is and how I am not any of those things. I, literally, could hear myself breathing through my mouth (I have a deviated septum that makes nose-breathing difficult), felt my thighs looking like tree trunks in my thrift store pants that are too short, and realize my (turning gray, frizzy) hair had gone flat in my face.
    And me:

    And all I could think of was "I'm such a mouthbreather".  Sarah:1, Fonzies:1.

    So, every day may not come out in my favor.  Some days, the Fonzies will stomp me like so much pathetic nerd-dust.  But that's OK.  My goal is to get the Sarah score a little higher each day, until the Fonzies have "bageled" for a long time and I feel like the super-awesome me that I really am.

      Wednesday, November 3, 2010

      What The Fudge?

      So, I thought a lot yesterday about this new thing, my blog.  I sent it to one person, a good friend who I know would never judge me.  Let's just call her "Placey".  It was a big step for me to share some of the stuff I wrote yesterday because its very difficult for me to be completely honest (and I don't mean I'm typically a liar) with people face-to-face about who I am.  Placey gave me good feedback.  But it still left me wondering what I'm doing here.  What do I want to get from this?  Is it just for me to vent some of my thoughts and feelings in writing?  Is it to share some of these things with other people? Is it meant to be informative for others on things like motherhood, being a working mom, my career experiences, etc.?
      I think I struggle with these questions because a big part of me doesn't believe that anyone will really care about or be interested in what I have to write, and that's sad.  Just shows how much work I have to do on myself.  So, for now I'll continue just to ramble like this until a more clear picture appears of what I'm supposed to be doing.

      Tuesday, November 2, 2010

      This Much I Know

      So, I created this blog over a year ago, fully intending to post on it.  I just couldn't quite decide what to write about.  Should it be funny? Informative? Personal? Am I writing more for others or for myself? I still haven't totally decided these things yet.  What keeps running through my head is the old adage "write what you know". That got me thinking today while I was driving for a while, and then a stream of consciousness began that was very inspiring.  I'm afraid I won't be able to remember all of it, but this was a start.

      I know the most intense love in the world.  I know abuse at the hands of men.  I know depression and loneliness and heart stopping sadness.  I know what it's like to have been an outsider most of my life.  I know the unconditional love of a parent.  I know extreme physical pain that ends in something wonderful.  I know that marriage is now the 2nd hardest thing I've ever done.  I know that I can do absolutely anything in the world that I set my mind to.  I know that friends can be the most awesome gift or the most toxic relationship.  I know that animals should never suffer because of humans.  I know that I don't do enough to help others in need. I know that my heart aches immensely for children raised in homes without love, and for the adults they become.  I know that I'm grateful to have a husband who loves me through thick and thin, even though I'm so difficult sometimes. I know that I haven't deserved so much of what's been given to me. I also know that I did not cause those things.  I know that dogs have more beautiful souls than many humans.  I know that politics is disgusting and I want no part of it.  I know that always wanting more is so unhealthy, yet I always do.  I know how to take care of my body, yet I don't do it.  I know that having a child changed the #1 goal in my life, forever.  I know that I need to have a more positive outlook on life.  I know that people disappoint me constantly, and that's my fault for having high expectations.  I know that I am not very good at accepting responsibility for things that happen.  I know that I have done awful, immoral things that I will never, ever tell anyone.  I know that moving around so much as a child directly caused many of my adult issues.  I know that people think I'm confident, even though I'm shrinking on the inside from my insecurities.  I know that the oceans move me, and I should've become a marine biologist.  I know that writing is a wonderful way to express ourselves. And I know that I worry way too much about what people think about me, which made this very difficult to post.

      While I realize this is not necessarily what was meant by "write what you know", its what came to mind and I thought it important enough to write down.

      Whew.  I was going to continue in another direction for a while, but I think that's enough.  More later.