Present Tense

Breaking up is hard to do……

A friend of mine posted an old proverb on her Facebook page that said, “habits are at first cobwebs, then cables”.  Boy, ain’t that the truth!  And for many of us, they morph from cobwebs, to cables, to chains, to cages!

I’ve been working on trying to break some unhealthy habits for the better part of a year and the analogy of the proverb is accurate.  They start out innocently enough, perhaps from some catalyst in your life that requires action. In many cases these habits or behaviors start out as productive and protective, but over the years, they fossilize into something that is hard, crusty and paralyzing.

For me, it’s control of well… everything.  I had slowly taken over the majority of responsibilities in our household, based mostly on the belief that ‘it’s easier to do it yourself’.  Sound familiar?  This is of course, in addition to being a control freak about my job as a radio host.  It got to the point where I felt completely overwhelmed, confused and downright panicky.  I was seriously thinking of walking away from my career, my marriage was rocky and my own personal substance abuse problem was rearing it’s ugly head…again.  Drunk, panicky and miserable is not a good place to be.  And it most certainly doesn’t allow for a proactive approach to what’s bugging you.

So, first habit to go:  Alcohol.  Which is kind of interesting, because I’ve found that addictions can sometimes be easier to kick, than something that is merely a bad habit.  I can’t gradually stop drinking; it has to be cold turkey.  I can’t have one or two drinks like most people and so when the booze goes, it GOES.  I’m not saying it’s easy and I’m most certainly not saying that it won’t come back to haunt me sometime in the future, but having to give something up completely can actually be easier than making other behavioral alterations.  I should know; I’ve done it several times.  (Fingers crossed)

However, with the whole control thing, I’ve had to pick and choose what to completely let go of and so, that old habit doesn’t die, it’s merely suppressed or lessened.  Which means that you are still sort of in control of some things and not others and those boundaries sometimes blur and you’re right back in the driver’s seat, clutching the steering wheel AGAIN!  Without help and vigilance, you can fall right back into the chains of that habit.

If you dig a little bit, being a control freak is really about trust.  Oh, here we go: trust issues, right?  Jane is learning “therapy-speak”.  Actually, I figured this one out for myself after a great deal of introspection and all of that good stuff.  Having to maintain complete control of your little bubble on earth, is really about not trusting anyone else to be able to meet your very high standards.  Control freaks secretly, or not-so-secretly, believe that we’re smarter than everyone around us.  Only WE could possibly juggle all of these responsibilities;  anyone else would screw everything up!  So, at a certain point you have to ask yourself, “why the hell did I surround myself with such incompetents”???????  Or, you ask yourself a more healthy question:  “what the hell am I doing?  I’m panicked, overwhelmed, miserable to be around and I’m screwing everything up.”  At that point, you might want to delegate some of your extremely important duties (like balancing the checkbook, grocery shopping, and changing the sheets) to someone else.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, I’ve been reading quite a bit about Buddhism and have been incorporating meditation into my daily life. What I’ve found appealing is they are both about ‘letting go’; of control, craving, anger, frustration, bitterness, striving.  I’ve begun to realize that I can only live effectively in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.  Life is temporary and constantly changing and evolving.  Struggling to somehow control the infinite variables that influence and affect our lives is futile and causes a great deal of distress.  The more we try and control and influence, the more unhappy and ineffective we become. Think it over; see if you can’t find examples in your own life, where it might be better to just quit grasping, clinging, shoving; let it go, let it play out, don’t try and influence.

Here is something that I learned in swim class as a kid.  We were told that the worst thing to do if you find yourself in water that’s over your head, is to panic.  Don’t struggle; relax and you’ll float to the surface, where you can breathe and begin to swim to safety.

Let’s try it.  Next time, we’re struggling to influence or move or control a situation to suit our needs, stop; just float.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , , | 8 Comments

You suck…NO, YOU suck…..

I need to write something, since I’ve not posted in a while . It’s not that I don’t have anything on my mind, although the meditation practice does seem to empty it a bit.  My problem is that I’m not sure that I really want to write what I’m thinking. Does that make sense?  I’ll give it a try and maybe some of you feel the way I do, but can’t quite verbalize it, either.

Here’s what’s been on my mind:  politics.  Ugh, right?  Hold on a minute before you click away to sunnier topics. It’s not politics from the policy, detail perspective; it’s politics from the aggressive, angry, “I don’t want to hear what you have to say or maintain our friendship, because we disagree” perspective.

I will be honest and declare that I am a longtime Republican.  Many of you just shifted your view of me. Be completely honest with yourself.  When you find out that someone that you generally like or respect is Republican or Democrat, you alter your view of them.  Be truthful; I’ve found myself making these generalizations.

Here’s the thing:  it’s okay.  It’s okay to wonder why someone holds a different viewpoint or philosophy than you. We are after all, a two party system and the two philosophies, along with checks and balances provided by the various branches of government and the media, are designed to make sure that everyone is heard and that one party or the federal government,  can’t become tyrannical.  Now, I’ll admit that there have been times in our history, perhaps you feel it’s now, when one side seems to be holding all of the power.  I’ve found in my personal observations that the pendulum tends to swing back the other way, if things get a little nutty.

Here’s what’s not okay:  to hear someone’s party affiliation and IMMEDIATELY jump to the conclusion that they are some parody of a person that’s been portrayed by talking heads of either side. That is what I see happening among friends, family, co-workers, etc. to the point where we can no longer discuss or debate politics without threatening these important relationships.  Blindly following the talking points and narrative of either party, results in the current climate of distrust, name-calling, anger and closed-minds.  Personally,  I’m sick of it.

Let me tell you a few things about me, Jane the Republican.  I don’t hate blacks, immigrants, gays, communists, or muslims.  I believe that it is our responsibility to care for those among us who cannot care for themselves, with a combination of private charity and government aid.  I believe that the military’s ‘don’t ask-don’t tell’ policy is antiquated, discriminatory and wrong and that gays should openly serve our country and I hope that policy is soon history.  I am cognizant of my own carbon footprint, but do not believe that the government should dictate what car I drive or what I eat.  I can make those decisions myself, based on my own economic, health and happiness factors.  Not to mention my common sense.

I am not a member of an evangelical movement, nor am I comfortable with the massive infusion of religion into politics.  Dogma on both sides is counter-productive, divisive and tends to deflect from the nuts and bolts act of leading and governing that is supposed to go on in Washington.  It seems to to me that many politicians have elevated ‘religion’ over ‘ethics’, in their quest to get elected.

I DO believe that a central government out of Washington D.C., can’t efficiently manage the wants, needs, desires, finances and health care for over 300 million people, living in diverse states and circumstances.  I also believe that this central government should be a bit more responsible in how they spend the precious tax dollars they collect and I think both parties are guilty of OPM syndrome.  (Other People’s Money–it’s always a little easier to spend it, no?)

So, there you go.  Scary, eh?  I’m sure that some of you have written me off and never proceeded past the 3rd paragraph where I declared my allegiance to the party of ‘right-wing nutjobs’.   I’m also aware that I may have turned off some of my own tribe as well with some of my ‘liberal’ views.  That’s okay, too.  My point is that very few of us fit the stereotype that is constantly drummed into us via the media (of which I am a longtime member, by the way. I used to host a conservative talk show, until it made me crazy and I had to look for a ‘normal’ radio job).

And here’s a little secret for those of you who worship at the alter of the various right-wing/left-wing pundits:  it’s pretty much about ratings, advertisers and money.  Not that there is ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!  That’s how I’ve paid my mortgage for 25 years.  Just realize that sometimes things get a little, um…. exaggerated, for drama and effect.  I’m not saying they don’t have good intentions to inform you and agitate you, but a lot of it is closer to theater, than real information.

There, I’ve said what’s been on my mind.  And you?  Would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear your thoughts and comments. One request:  let’s have a rational, respectful discussion:)

April 10, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , | 23 Comments


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