Thursday, October 23, 2014

Be Open

Human emotions are unable to be switched on and off, like a light. We become lost in them, trying to find our way through what seems like a dense forest. We can't see things from other's perspectives because we are not open to new ideas, opinions or options (for anything). We firmly cement ourselves in what we believe to be true, unable to twist and flow like the water in an ever-changing river. Most often, we have to be thoroughly convinced in order to even change in the slightest. However, that does not always ring true. For some, they never change. It doesn't have to be that way. 

Learn to find yourself and exist in the present moment. Leave the past behind - focusing only on today - for a brand new tomorrow. Change and sharpen the focus of your thoughts. Your life will be transformed. The first step is to be open to new perceptions, because unless you do that, everything will remain the same. Break down those walls of ignorance. Be open.. Even cement can be broken... Become like the water..

I always say that it starts with you. Gandhi had similar advice:

- "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves."
- "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
~Mahatma Gandhi~

I know that I wrote something shorter than this on my author page (Penelope Winthrop) several months back, but I wanted to expand on those thoughts because I had previously written it in haste. It was incomplete. Of course, knowing me, I'll just think of more things to add to it. Thanks for reading!!

Many blessings,

~ Penelope ~ 



Double Standards

There I was the other day, finishing a Halloween story/play for my aunt, thinking about my travel blog post, when it hit me that I wanted to talk about hypocrites and people with double standards. You know those people, the ones with the attitude of, "do as I say, not as I do" - the ones who drive you insane and deny their behavior when you call them out. Oh yeah, everyone knows someone like that. So, here I am!

I read an article the other day, which you can find here, about Kevin D. Williamson, who posted on Twitter that all women who have had abortions should be hanged. When confronted with the question pertaining to whether his wife should be hanged for needing to have an abortion due to life-threatening circumstances; he ignored the question - multiple times. Therefore you can only assume that giving women the death penalty, albeit by public hanging or another manner, only applies to those outside of his private circle. What kind of hypocritical, double-standard is that? Typically, hypocrites have values or beliefs that they do not actually believe in, they just present themselves that way. Hypocrites tend to also have double standards because they can do it, but nobody else can, just them or others like them.

He's not the only one with double standards. Social media is the driving force behind our societal expectations of "typical" behavior. These expectations are obviously subjective and dependent upon our exposure. Society tends to mirror what is seen on television, billboards, pictures, articles/books read, etc. These become the standards of which everyday expressions and behaviors are based upon. Let's explore some of these:

- Men can sleep around, but women can't - Some men believe that it's fine for them to sleep around, even with women who are friends or acquaintances, yet it's forbidden and deplorable for women to behave in the same manner. I wasn't aware that any woman needed your permission to sleep with you, your friends/brothers, etc. Men don't ask for permission, so women most certainly do not need a man's permission either. It also doesn't matter if you've briefly dated them. Men are not studs if they sleep around and women are not sluts. In addition, I want to point something out about this sort of behavior. Many individuals that engage in promiscuity most often have attachment issues, depression, anxiety; amongst other issues that they choose not to confront. This doesn't apply to every situation, but it is applicable to many. There is no way of knowing why someone is promiscuous, unless you have access to a record of their sexual behavior and mental health.

- It's OK for men to have more than one partner - Society (not just men, women too!) believes that it's  typical, normal, and even expected, for men to date and have sexual relations with more than one person at a time. It's absolutely unacceptable for women to do the same. I have an acquaintance who believes it's absolutely FINE for him to date several women at the same time (plus having sexual relations with all of them), however, a woman has to be solely faithful to him. What kind of backwards rubbish is that? If I recall correctly, I smirked and told him that, as a matter-of-fact, women can simultaneously date as many men as they choose - AND - there was nothing he could do about it. Again, many individuals with more than one partner at a time most likely have psychological issues that they are not addressing.

- I can have friends of the opposite sex, but you can't - Significant others or spouses who don't allow their partner to have friends of the opposite sex or even go out with their friends, yet they do whatever they want. That's not only a double-standard, but it's manipulative and controlling. If you don't trust your partner, then you shouldn't be with them.

- Women need to be perfect, men, not so much - Women are held to high standards when it comes to their appearance, yet men are not held at these same ridiculous standards. It's "okay" for men to be overweight, but women are judged harshly when it comes to their weight. Why are women judged like this? Are we supposed to be perfect? The standards society sets are not realistic or healthy for young girls growing into teenagers and young women. It's not healthy for older women either. Women and men should be encouraged to lead healthy lives, not based on some superficial standard.

- Abuse - If a male places his hands on a female, he's sure to end up in jail. If a female places her hands on a male, then most of the time, nothing happens. It's a slap on the wrist. Unless you are in danger, you should never place your hands on another person with the intention of harming them. It's disrespectful and shows that you can't control yourself. There are better ways to handle a situation when you feel angry with someone. There is a big difference between what you are capable of doing and what you actually do. You may be capable of physically hurting someone, but it doesn't mean that you should.

- Men are weak if they show emotion - This double standard pertains to the idea that men shouldn't be sensitive or cry. Apparently, only women are supposed to be sensitive. If a male cries, then he is seen as a sissy, weak, or a coward. It's an absolutely ridiculous and archaic notion. Males are allowed to be emotional and express their feelings - even if that means crying.

- The wife must keep everything neat and orderly - The wife (or female partner) is expected to run the household, completing all the chores, cooking every day, etc., in addition to holding a full-time job and/or going to school. Unless you live alone, your other half should be expected to help. Relationships are a partnership. Partners are expected to be there for each other. If you share a household, expect to do chores and cook.

- An opinionated woman is a B**** - I have been called many names over the years because I tend to be opinionated. Of course, I don't take the name-calling seriously because, well, I'm pretty awesome and happy with myself. Seriously, women are seen as hateful or overbearing when they share their views, especially in heated discussions. Why are men seen as assertive in these same situations? Women are allowed to have opinions without being slapped with a condescending label.

These examples are heavily a result of the norms presented by social media to our society. These norms tend to shape our behavior and attitudes towards each other. Obviously, this is only a small portion of examples. I could continue listing various examples of double standards in our society, but I won't discuss them any further.

These attitudes are damaging for any individual involved. It isn't solely gender-specific, as you can see from the few I listed above. The only way to begin to move past these double standards is to identify why some people have these views to begin with. It is essential for the world to grow beyond these views. In the past, I held my own hypocritical double standards, but I abandoned them. Nobody is perfect, especially not me. Life is about learning and growing as a person. I always say that it starts with you. This is no different. It definitely starts with you. Make one small difference in the world at a time. A positive change in you, will have a ripple effect on the world.

Be thoughtful. Be kind. Smile and laugh a lot! Thanks for reading!

Many blessings,
~ Penelope ~

Friday, October 17, 2014

Couples with/without kids and happiness

There's usually a huge debate, between couples with children and those without, about which is happier. I'll admit, it's a little annoying when I have to listen to someone who thinks their life is better than mine or even when parents think their life is better than my friends who do not have children. The entire subject irks me for different reasons. Take it from someone who never wanted children and struggled for many years to find their identity as a result of being a young parent. It's all about perspective and the individual desires of each couple.

(SN: I love my children and would never change a thing. I never wanted any, but I'm happy they're in my life. So, don't develop any ideas that I'm suggesting otherwise. LOVE LOVE my little guys.)

It doesn't necessarily mean that one way of living is better/happier than the other. It's just different. As a parent, I most definitely cannot relate with childless couples or even parents who have more than a couple of children. There's absolutely no way that I would ever want six children. If tons of children make you happy, then that's wonderful. However, I would probably go insane. I love my boys, but I'm looking forward to the day they leave for college. Then, I'll be able to experience what it's like to be an adult without the responsibility of children for extended periods of time. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, but neither are relationships in general. 

Anyone can claim that their way of life is better, but really, it's just different. Perhaps someone is happy with six children and the chaos that is involved. Maybe another couple is happy without children. That's fine too, but it doesn't make either life better. Different things make different individuals happy. Your experiences in life are not necessarily more enriching or fulfilling than mine. Most parents choose to have children, which is the point. They "chose" their path, which is the same as childless parents "choosing" their path. If I choose to color my hair red, but you choose black; then it doesn't mean you will be happier than I will be. I love red and you love black. Choice being the key term. There are always exceptions, but do I really have to spell them out for you? I'm sure you can come up with a few without my assistance.

Another point, being a parent does not necessarily take away from your relationship with your spouse/partner. Relationships are extremely laborious anyway. There are many disparate stresses which affect relationships and cannot really be compared. Parenting is one of those stresses, but so are things like your in-laws, job, money, insecurities, etc. If you are not happy with yourself, then you will not be happy within your relationship. You have to learn to be happy from the inside first. Children nor a spouse can make you truly happy. 

I hope that I've provided a different (more logical) slant on the subject. The next time someone tries to belittle or make you feel as if you're missing something out of life because you do or do not have children, tell them that it's all a matter of what makes you happy. It's that simple. 

Smile, love yourself, and be kind! Thanks for reading! 

Many blessings,
~ Penelope ~

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Solitude

I love being around people, but I really enjoy spending time alone and away from everyone. I know, I know! I DID just state that I enjoy being alone! I can't think if I'm constantly going and don't take the time to reflect. Sometimes we need to take time out for ourselves. It's important for a balanced life. Being alone is a fear that many are not able to conquer. Being alone shouldn't be thought of as negative or frightening. Although, it's seen that way by many people. Most fear being without family, friends, or companionship. While it's normal to fear loneliness, while being alone, learning to enjoy it is extremely beneficial and healthy.

Over the years, I've grown a lot as a person. I've faced many tribulations, which I've conquered head on. I'm not afraid of pain or being alone. I know that I'm a complicated person sometimes, this is a fact. I grew up in the least ideal of situations, this is a fact too. I care and notice more than people realize, just another fact. I've always been extremely observant. I've also always been the person that most people forget about. Of course, I could be imagining that. I'm not sure, maybe it's partially my fault because I tend to fade into the shadows at times. Is it really that odd to want - to need - to take a break from everyone and retreat for a period of solitude? I don't find it to be so peculiar.

Apparently, I don't handle situations in the same manner as the majority of the population. In the past, I would approach something that was bothering me and blow it out of proportion by causing a lot of unnecessary drama. I never actually took the time to reflect over the details. I was also insecure and felt lonely, when really I needed to spend some time working on myself. These days, I prefer to withdraw so I can think about things. I think a LOT! I like to put them into perspective, which I think is much better than being hateful and saying something that I don't really mean. In fact, I enjoy spending time alone on a regular basis.

Honestly, I don't believe I would be the person I am today if I had not taken the time to be alone with my thoughts. It has helped me grow as a person and become more comfortable with myself. I don't feel bad if I go to the movies or a restaurant by myself. If I have to be alone for a week, I welcome it with open arms.

Learning to be at ease with solitude takes time and confidence. However, once you learn to love and understand yourself, you won't feel the constant need to be around others or feel lonely. You'll be able to enjoy your own company, which makes time with loved ones even more enjoyable.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being alone. I'm not saying to overlook your loved ones. Don't forget to spend some time with them too! If you need to take a break from society because it's overwhelming or you're upset, then go for it. Your loved ones may or may not understand, but they usually respect the space you've created.

I'm fine being alone because I love myself and realize that when I am alone, I can listen closely to my thoughts. It allows me to really understand and get to know who I truly am as a person. If this is something that bothers you, then maybe you should simply try it. Learn to create time for solitary walks, meditation, or other hobbies. Step out of your comfort zone. Embrace your time alone. It's extremely freeing and empowering when you become comfortable with it.

As always, thanks for reading!

Many blessings,
~  Penelope ~





Sunday, October 12, 2014

Life's not Fair

Some people will read this and only see negative, but I implore upon you that this isn't a negative post at all. I'm not racist. My family is interracial all the way. The proof is in the genealogical line. As far as religion goes, I'm not religious. I believe that some horrible people manipulate and twist religion to accommodate their specific agendas. It ruins it for others that just want to live in peace. It's unfortunate.

As the years go by, awful crimes, including war crimes, are continuously committed. Most recently, a progressive-claiming society has been on the verge of completely breaking down and strengthening the racial divide, especially between whites and blacks - pretty much ignoring any other ethnicity, which is devastating and ridiculous. If a crime is committed by a white person against a black person, then it receives national news. However, if the crime is reversed or is black on black, black on brown, brown on brown, etc. Then it doesn't warrant very little attention. I wrote a blog post that remains unpublished because I was livid and hurt when I wrote it. It will be deleted once I finish this one. Anger just begets more anger. I'm going to write this one with a different slant because I'm not angry now. I'm saddened by the tragic events that have occurred over the past months.

The crimes committed against the Palestinian people over the years, especially just recently were completely uncalled for and unacceptable. I don't really sympathize with Israel, but it doesn't make me an anti-Semite. In fact, I'm not religious at all, which I've pointed out in the past. I also do not believe the world is fair, but we should be free to try our hand at success and be treated as human beings. It is inhumane to try to control an entire nation because you feel they might soil your image(You really think you're better?? Check again!), because you're paranoid or you believe you have the "right" to control them. In addition, one person is no better than another.

Alas, I care not for your status, religious preference, ethnicity, or anything else. What concerns me? Well, are you a good person? Instead of meeting violence with violence, did notions of letting them live freely and treating them as human beings ever occur to you? Why should they suffer and live like animals because you feel more important or covet more land/power? Why should they suffer because you feel better than them and won't ALLOW them to rebuild? I hope the UK votes for Palestine to become recognized as a state on October 13th. You can read a little more about this, from the perspective of an Israeli here: Palestinian statehood: True friends of Israel will vote yes for the state of Palestine. Simply put, they deserve freedom from the oppression of Israel and a chance at a regular life.

They(Israel and Palestine) have to also recognize each other's existence and work together. This is a two-way street. Turn a new leaf and set the hatred aside for the future. It won't be easy, but everyone deserves the freedom to at least attempt to succeed and be happy. Nothing in life is ever easy. I realize that not everyone agrees with my opinion, so this is all I will say on this matter. I have Jewish and Arabic friends, some even from Israel, Palestine, and surrounding countries. I cherish their friendships and them for who they are as people. They're good people. They don't let their ethnicity or religious preferences define them. We need more people like that in the world.

In my other post, I also touched a little on the history of slavery, but I won't go into the major details in this post. Basically, I listed when slavery started, pointed out that it started in Babylon, with a link to the Code of Hammurabi, which you can still click on and read about the first official record of slavery, along with a timeline listed on HistoryWorld.net. Again, you can click on it and it gives you the world history on slavery. You can also double check the facts by searching online. It's not right that people choose to blame others for problems that had nothing to do with them. You can't blame slavery, from a time when you and your parents were not even alive, for your current problems. Slavery was abolished before the 1900s. So, there's a chance that not even your grandparents were alive either. Blaming someone else for your problems does not solve the current issues at hand.

Oh, and let me point something out: If you believe that blacks are the ONLY ones who are racially profiled, you are very wrong. Yeah, it happens more frequently. Yes, it's wrong, but it's wrong to do that to anyone, not just blacks. Lashing out, in anger or destroying someone else's property, makes you (specifically *anyone* not just blacks) the bad guy. It makes people look at you and say, "See, this is what 'they' do," and you KNOW that I'm right. Let me clarify, I would never say that. I think that sometimes people aren't certain how to handle their emotional reactions to situations and negative reactions come out more often than other ones. It disappoints me when people resort to that type of behavior. It's disappointing because you can be better than that, be better than the people who are pointing their fingers and shaking their heads. You have a choice.

Anyway, my point is that you can't change the past, but you can change your future. You can choose to change your future for the better. Yes, the system sucks when it comes to the way it is set up, but it is possible for you to have better, to be better, to do great things to leave behind for your children and future generations to come. Then, they'll say, "look at that person, see what they did? It's amazing what they accomplished." Wouldn't you rather be that person instead?

I'm sure, I've mentioned this before, but I grew up poor, dirt freaking poor. My house had holes in the roof and the walls. My clothes swallowed me or had rips in them. I had no control over that and I was treated like a pariah by my classmates. I was bullied for many years as a child, which was excruciatingly painful to experience. I've also written about bullying in the past. I never actually admitted this, but once in a while, I actually wanted to stab each person who tortured me. I wanted them to hurt because they hurt me. I didn't though. I could have done that, but I chose NOT to resort to doing something so heinous. Inside, I knew I was the better person. I relied on that to get me through my school days. Today, I have my degree, figuring out exactly what I want out of life, and I'm working hard to get there. You have to WORK for the things you want in life! Also, I avoid the horrid people from my past because of the way they treated me. I haven't anything to say to them, so why should I include them in my life? I have made a conscious decision to try my best to be good and kind to others. You should treat others well despite how they treat you. Of course, I'm human and I falter, but I try.

When are we, as a society, going to get to a point where we've had enough of the violence and anger? When will we, as a society, go against this trending direction and work for the betterment of our future? When are we going to start planting the seeds of kindness for the future of our children? Where are your morals and ethics? When will you start being accountable for your actions? When will you realize that you can't sit back and expect things to change? When are YOU going to come to the realization that we have to work together and treat others the way they should be treated - with respect. Do you really enjoy fighting and being hateful to others? How does that make you feel deep inside? Let me tell you, when I've hurt someone, it makes me feel pretty bad. Staying angry and resentful sucks the life out of you. I know! I've been there. Being optimistic and kind to others makes you feel good inside. When you feel good, you're more likely to spread it, resulting in a huge impact on others. We have to work together, but it starts with you. Go forth into the world and make a positive difference. That's what I'm going to do because it starts with me.

If you made it this far, then thanks for reading. I truly appreciate the time you took to read this post. It's something that has been bothering me for some time. I needed to get it out of my head. I'm certain that I didn't touch on everything I wanted to, but I'll have to come back to this post and figure it out later. Again, thanks for reading!

Many blessings,

~ Penelope ~

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Do it for Yourself...

I've been absent for a while. I've started posts that I haven't completely finished, afraid I might offend someone, but I had an extremely enlightening conversation with a friend of mine last night. We discussed our blogs (amongst other important topics) and came to the conclusion that we hold back because we're afraid of offending others or about what others will think.

We decided that we're just going to write for ourselves from now on and if someone doesn't like it, oh well. It is not our job to please everyone, especially those who will not be pleased with anything we write/say anyway. There will always be people who do not like anything you - EVER - do. That's part of life. We write from the heart, which is the most important thing of all. Sometimes, we lose sight of the fact that we started writing for ourselves. As a result, we become tentative with our writing, sometimes ceasing for long periods of time. We shouldn't do that though. Your feelings belong to you. If you want to write about them and share your perspective with the world, then you shouldn't be afraid to do so.

The same concept should be applied to life. Don't be worried that something you do is going to offend another person if you do not have ill intentions. Live your life to the fullest and be happy. Sure, you'll probably hurt or disappoint someone along the way. Again, that's life.

I haven't been pushing myself lately. I've been a little hesitant and afraid of what lies around the corner, but no more. My writing will be for myself. I'm a little more than halfway finished with the book I've decided will be my first self-published eBook. I accidentally lost a few chapters the other day. Oops.. I have backups also, but they weren't saving either. Technical malfunction. I guess that I need to make a 4th backup. Either way, I should have finished it by this point. I've just been a little nervous that my story isn't going to be interesting or liked by others. I'll never know if I sit around, taking my time because I'm afraid to finish it, right? Right!

Have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself so hard that it gives you that shove you need to keep going. Don't fear the opinions of others. There are people who love and believe in you, but you have to believe in yourself too.

Write for yourself, believe in yourself, be kind to others, and live your life for yourself.

Short, sweet, simple, and best of all, to the point. Thanks for reading everyone!

Many blessings,

~ Penelope ~


Learning to Live in the Present

What I've learned in life is that when we feel that we have nothing to live for--living doesn't really matter.  For someone like ...