Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 – The End of the World As I Know It

Although 13 is my favorite number, the year 2013 has been rough, so I will gladly say goodbye to it.

This year I gave up my photography business. It was like giving up a child, but it had to be done. (I had moved to Hawaii in 2012, and I’d given up my Florida clients to other photographer friends.) When I returned to Florida in 2013, I opted for a regular paycheck and steady income. It was a new beginning, but it’s always tough saying goodbye to things you’ve worked so hard to have.

For many people which I love and care deeply, their own lives changed. Many of us dealt with unexpected deaths this year. Earlier this year I learned of my friend’s suicide. It was shocking, devastating, and saddening to know that such a beautiful person was hurting so badly that she only saw one way out. Just after Thanksgiving, I learned of another very shocking suicide of a very well-liked influential person in a community I used to live. But it wasn’t just physical death that people had to deal with this year.

Nearing the end of 2013, when things began to dramatically change for me personally, I was forced to reassess many aspects of my own life. One was the type of people that I had allowed to enter or re-enter my life. Being that spirituality is extremely important to me, it didn’t take long to notice that some of these people were not friends at all. Friends that respect boundaries and care about needs without considering their own interests is essential to maintaining true friendships. So with that, it was time to cut the cords with those that can’t serve spiritually.  And then, by mutual agreement, my marriage ended just in time for the holidays. Although it’s heartbreaking and we still both love each other dearly, we knew we’d grown apart and that it would be healthier for us both to move on. This is probably the hardest part of 2013 for me.

But 2013 also had some new beginnings. I worked at a law office as a legal secretary until I was hired as a technology teacher at a private school. I have met some very wonderful people and work with the most amazing, talented kids. And I get to teach what I gave up earlier in the year – photography! In November, I began another successful part-time job selling some really awesome jewelry.

What I learned from 2013 is we choose our lifestyles and our happiness by eliminating the old and starting new, like a fresh rain washing away the dirt (thanks for the analogy, Eric 🙂 ). So what does 2014 have in store? I’m hoping some really cool changes that will put more smiles on my face and make me feel like myself again. But it’s all up to me and how I want to live my life.

Shannon's Creative Work: Travel &emdash; Crossing Lake Pontchartrain

What will 2014 bring?

Be-good-to-yourself Therapy

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of caring from someone to put a bandage on a wound. During a very difficult period in my adult life when I was learning to express my voice, that someone was my massage therapist. She gave me this little elf book called Be-good-to-yourself Therapy, written by Cherry Hartman and illustrated by R.W. Alley. The hand-sized book is delicately illustrated with elves and loaded with information intended to “help you overcome the distorted notions that keep you from living fully and honestly”.

begoodtoyourself

This book is great for those times when we may be feeling down or anxious. I like to randomly open a page to see what message is waiting for me for the day… and oftentimes, those messages hit the nail on the head. For example, today I opened to message #6:

“Take the time and space you need – even if other people are wanting something from you.”

How appropriate for the holiday season!

The messages aren’t always so general such as the one mentioned above. Some are more specific to the needs of situations and offer solutions, such as message #24:

“When you want to talk to someone new and are scared, breathe. Don’t start rehearsing, just plunge in. If it doesn’t go well, you can stop.”

I suggest this book to anyone who is having a hard time experiencing happiness or seeing the brighter side of life. Its simple messages may be exactly what you need to hear.

 

 

Boundaries in Relationships: Space Invaders

Have you ever played the game Space Invaders? It came out in 1978, and as a small child I played it until I had blisters on my fingers. I was determined to shoot down the enemy if I couldn’t hide behind the walls that almost always got torn down. Of course, in video games, the game always wins. But in real life, we have the power to control what happens; it’s just a matter of learning how to use it.

20081221_SDL_Space_Invaders_v1.0_(Wii_Game)

One day it dawned on me that the aliens in the game Space Invaders are much like people who are space invaders. (Some people often refer to them as energy vampires.) They invade space and suck the good energy right out because they have no respect for other people’s needs or boundaries.

For instance, the friend that has endless relationship problems – you provide an ear to listen. A week or a month later, same friend, same problem. Six months later, a year, two years  – same friend, same problem. Her relationships literally make her ill, and listening to her somehow starts to make you feel ill as well. You’ve invested countless hours listening (the way friends do for each other) to her rant about her ex or about how everything in her life sucks. Now it’s your turn. You have an issue and need an ear just to hear you vent, and now your friend doesn’t have time for you.

Healthy friendships are based on mutual listening skills; otherwise you are an unpaid therapist.

Sometimes space invaders are determined to selfishly grant their wants rather than someone else’s needs. A friend whose ex would not stop contacting her after she broke off the relationship, even after she ignored and warned him, got to the point of having to call authorities. Obviously, he had no self-control and zero respect for her needs and boundaries. She probably set these parameters at the very beginning of the relationship, translating his actions into flattery and “love” at first, instead of listening to her own needs and boundaries. (Unfortunately, many people do not recognize it, because it’s the way they were brought up.)

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē
noun
plural noun: boundaries
1.
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.

Another person I know goes out of her way to “help” people with all good intentions, but she does it without their permission – and then expects things to go her way. For example, she was trying to set her friend up on a blind date with some dude that turned out to be a dud (she invited them to the same party without informing the woman of her intentions). Instead of accepting that her friend had boundaries about dating and being set up with complete strangers without her knowledge, she got upset that she “went out of her way” and didn’t feel appreciated. What she did caused three people unneeded stress – her friend for the embarrassment and invasion of privacy, the dud(e) who was embarrassed after getting his hopes up, and herself because she had expectations for something she had no business sticking her nose into.

Even after explaining to a space invader that they have crossed a line (or many lines), explaining that perhaps right now is not the time to continue a conversation, or explaining that right now we may not be feeling well enough to do what they would like us to do, they continue making excuses and finding ways to invade our space… if that person continues to disrespect your boundaries, it’s time to either set the boundaries or let them go. Space invaders will make us crazy, make us literally ill, and make us want to scream.

Shannon's Creative Work: Abstract Paintings by Shannon Hart &emdash;

“The Scream”

 

In the game Space Invaders, you get 3 “lives,” but in real life we only get one.  But we do have three choices as to how we handle these people: we can either continue allowing space invaders win and slowly kill us, place the boundaries today, or completely end the relationship by announcing: Game Over.