Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE UNKIND

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to those teachers. ~Kahlil Gibran
Instagram_Day296
It's always a good reminder when someone who hates you with an unholy fervor unleashes their wrath on you. It keeps humility in the forefront of your ego. My reminder came when I least expected it, when I wasn't feeling well, and after I had a great time at a photography seminar. It was a brief encounter of hatred from someone I've written about in a previous blog post. A person whom I barely think of or regard in a reverent manner. 

But that night I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The fury directed at my presence looked similar to a volcanic eruption of the magmatic kind. As I vamoosed my butt far away from destruction I felt pity not for myself but for the person who wastes precious life moments stirring the toxic cauldron of hatred. I prayed for this person whenever I'm reminded of their intense loathing for me. There is nothing I can say or do to make amends or dispel misconceptions. 

Like Khalil Gibran's quote above I'm grateful for the hateful people in my life and the lessons I learn from them:

  • No amount of Botox or plastic surgery can erase the toxic effects of hatred festering inside me. In order to look youthful as I age it's imperative to release the hatred and instill forgiveness. The fountain of youth can be found in the well of forgiveness.
  • The person whom you hate isn't harming you. YOU are poisoning yourself from the inside out and causing irreparable damage to your health. 
  • Being old and terminally ill doesn't give me a license to act like an A-hole. Life would be worth living if I focused on the blessings instead of the people and things I hate. 
  • Misery loves company. I attract what I harbor inside and surrounding myself with miserable people is the worst way to live an abundant life. 
  • I can't control the people around me but I CAN control how I react to them. It's unnecessary to dwell on the actions of others. Better to concentrate on the good I can bestow on others. 
I'm grateful for these lessons Life sucker punches me with to keep me humble and youthful looking. Why choose to live a life of decay when I can live a full one that thrives and shines?

Monday, August 27, 2012

FOCUSING ON LOVE

Photo taken and edited by Ray Belling
My new mantra: 
Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. 

I saw those words on Purpose Fairy's Facebook Page and immediately claimed them. Since the beginning of the year I've done my best to change the direction of my wayward thoughts towards positivity. My progress resembles a derailed speeding train.

I've noticed my casual use of the word "hate". The other night I was hanging out with my street photographer friends when one of them shared how he just quit his day job and will be traveling all over Asia for a month! The stream of jealousy rose up from my gut and the words "What?! Ohmigawd I HATE you!" expelled from my lips. I just met the poor guy that night and felt obligated to add, "I meant that with a lot of love." Everyone laughed and blew me off which meant they didn't take me seriously. But still...
  
If my thought patterns were x-rayed the film would reveal hate tumors littering my mind. 

"I hate my job. I hate people who don't value my time. I hate stupid drivers. I hate reality t.v. shows. I hate celebrities. I hate my pain. I hate my dumb relatives. I hate traffc. I hate snarky people on the internet. I hate know-it-alls. I hate people who give unsolicited advice. I hate weird people. I hate the Kardashians. I hate stupid people. I hate demanding clients. I hate indecisive people. I hate superficial people." 

Nannette, party of hate. Nannette, party of hate. I also noticed my thoughts dwelt on my loved ones and what I hated about THEM!

Ugh! 

Controlling, disciplining, and redirecting my thought patterns is no easy feat but determination is the first step. When I catch myself thinking "I hate..." I don't waste time in pulling the emergency brakes on my runaway train of thought. I change my thought to "I love my job because..." 

Life is fleeting. Why waste it on a useless emotion that has the power to destroy from the inside out? I don't want to grow old looking like Elphaba in Wicked. Do you? 

Friday, August 24, 2012

STRONG IN THE BROKEN PLACES

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms, 1929

Have you ever lost your voice? When I was in 2nd grade a handful of kids lost their voices from a viral infection. The virus must have decided my vocal chords weren't good enough to infect because my voice remained intact. I went home for a few days and screamed into my pillow hoping my voice would disappear. It was futile. Jealousy ran rampant in my veins as my mute classmates were never called on by the teacher to answer arithmetic questions. My voice never left me. 

Until...

My first marriage. My voice was strong, clear, and articulate but I might as well have been voiceless. Ignorant, young, and naive I became the typical battered woman as I learned to be a wife and mother. In my self-imposed captivity I was bound by fear, the welfare of my children, and family traditions. My attempts to leave were thwarted by promises to reform and so I remained. For my children I convinced myself to stay. It's funny the lies you tell yourself when you believe you're acting in the best interest of your loved ones. 

But as the years multiplied and my children grew older, the abuse intensified. Friends, outings, and independence were prohibited in my life. A life which existed solely to revolve around my children and their father. We lived under my parents' roof and they were deaf to my pleas for help. Their fear of the stigma of divorce on our family outweighed their concern for my well-being. As they turned a blind eye to my pain I learned to swallow my voice and hoped my irrational behavior conveyed the desperation I felt to escape. The farcical life I lived was for my family's benefit not mine. I accepted the messages my parents' inaction imparted: I was nothing. Unworthy. Unvalued. Tainted. Used goods. 

It wasn't a courageous act that freed me from the ten years of abuse and oppression I endured but a cowardly one that almost cost me my sister, my children, and my freedom. (That story is for another blog post.)  

The restoration process of my self-worth was long, arduous, and tumultuous. I harbored a burning hatred toward various people in my life that it distorted my ability to make wise choices. Eventually, with the help of my faith I unearthed the bitterness/hatred/resentment/anger putrefying inside me, released them, and learned to forgive. The key to forgiveness was one I resisted with ferocity believing it would further weaken me. On the contrary, my choice to forgive was the key to my mental, emotional, and spiritual freedom. I'm not going to lie, it was far from easy. There are days when I still have to consciously forgive several times a day. If I fail to do this I spiral into a black hole of misery. 
  • I forgave my parents for never defending me, fighting for me, and protecting me. 
  • I forgave the perpetrator who stole my self-worth, my dignity, my confidence, my femininity, my soul, and my spirit. 
  • I forgave MYSELF for allowing people to dictate who I was and placing my well-being in the hands of others. 
  • I forgave God; for his ways are not my ways. 
In the lengthy process of my inner healing I discovered restoration through fighting against human trafficking. It's the global issue that never fails to wreck my heart or cause a shortage of tears. Instead of screaming into a pillow to lose my voice I use it to defend the voiceless, fight for the voiceless, and seek protection for the voiceless. In an indirect way I understand the turmoil of rejection many young girls experience when their parents sell them into sexual slavery. I KNOW the self-recriminations that torment a young girl after an abusive attack. I've also been plagued by doubts of my worthiness in society and family.

People often misunderstand the reasons why I took up the gauntlet to fight against human trafficking. They assume I have a humanitarian heart or desire self-validation for doing something "good." My reasons are personal and lean toward a deeper objective: intolerance of social injustice. I'm certain a majority of volunteers for this cause will attest that recognition and accolades for our work are non-existent. We fight because social injustice moves us to action not to have praise heaped on us.
  
I can't sit and do nothing. In my broken places a supernatural strength resides that compels me to do something. Doing something means I've dedicated my life to volunteer for My Refuge House utilizing my time, talent, and resources to battle against the rising tide of human trafficking. I'm not a commodity and human beings shouldn't reap more profits than the drug trade. 
"An FBI agent told me that sex trafficking is the new drug trade--it's less dangerous and more profitable and gangs are binding together to invest in this market." Julian Sher, Global Trafficking Conference.

Pictures from the 2012 Global Human Trafficking Conference  at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA. I volunteered my photography services helping Crystal Sprague and Russ Bermejo from My Refuge House. 








Wednesday, August 8, 2012

MAINTENANCE ALERT

My posture this past week has been one of frustration, despondency, and pull-my-hair-out-in-chunks. I didn't have the funds to renew my Google storage plan which resulted in over 975 photos disappearing from both my blogs. 

I've spent the last 2 days scouring my external hard drives for 4 years worth of photos to re-upload onto my blogs. I thought no one cared but a nice Google+ friend of mine was thoughtful enough to inform me that my past blog posts have black squares with exclamation points in place of my photos.

Thus, I've learned the hard lessons of 1) renewing Google storage in a timely fashion, or 2) Don't upload your photos directly to your blog posts. Instead, I now upload to Photobucket (which is free), copy the HTML link and paste it within my blog post. My photos actually look sharper when I do this.

One thing I AM grateful for is my organizational skills. I was able to find most of my photos in the folders I created on my external hard drive.  Whew! But having AT&T's slow internet at home is another matter. Let's just say I will be making the Cerritos Library my home to use their Wi-fi. Good time ahead, people, good times! 

 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

MY MISSION TO GO IS AT HOME

Three years ago I heeded the call to "Go" and traveled to the Philippines to meet and work with the girls at My Refuge House who were rescued from the sex trade/slavery. You can read that story here. It was my first mission trip and the first time I returned to my birthplace after 40 years. It was an experience that impacted my heart, shattered my soul, and altered my mindset. I was forever changed. The faces of those girls continued to burn in my memory and I remember promising them I'd return soon. Since then several girls have been blessed by the restoration and rehabilitation provided at My Refuge House. Every year I tell myself to organize plans for my return. But three years have passed and I haven't stepped foot outside of America. I continue my volunteering efforts with My Refuge House whenever I'm needed but can't help thinking it's not enough. 


Lately, I've been willing myself to hear the word "Go" again. I sit in solitude pleading with God to send me now, somehow, someway. In my arrogance I negotiate and barter trying to convince him those girls need people like me to help. Frustrated and discouraged I secretly sulked like a spoiled rotten child. But this week the Author of my story opened my blind eyes to the reason why I wasn't being sent outside of my country. I was already laboring on the mission field God prepared for me. 


Home


I chafed at being stretched too thin and pulled in a million directions by my kids, grandchild, sister, boyfriend, parents, extended family, etc. I RAILED at not having enough alone time and having to make myself present for them. But I realized I had to readjust the lenses of my vision and tweak the way I viewed my circumstances. Instead of looking at my home life as one holding me back from my mission I forced myself to clearly see that I AM fulfilling my mission. 

My daughter, Chloe, has a continuous love/hate affair with stairs and last week it almost crippled her. She strained her achilles tendon while stepping on an uneven bottom step and had to use crutches. My granddaughter, who was overly concerned the night she came home with them, cautiously helped her mommy up the stairs to her room. 

The following night we went to Disneyland and guess who pushed the wheelchair with both of them on it? I laughed at myself. If it's not a stroller, it's a wheelchair. As I huffed and puffed around Disney's California Adventure I knew I had to take care of my people at home before I would hear the word "Go" again. If I'm blind to my family's needs how could I be entrusted with the needs of those at My Refuge House? Until that time arrives I'll continue to plow and harvest the mission field I'm assigned to with a grateful and humble heart.