My dinosaur-sized bone of contention.

Don’t let anyone mess with your head. It can happen easily if you have been in a long-term relationship, or are in love. Being human, we all know everyone has different takes on what happened and what was said. We experience things differently, each one of us. Humans are fallible. If you have ever been on a jury, you will know that even if all twelve jurors hear the same words, there will be twelve interpretations of what was said. I’m here to tell you, do not ever let anyone tell you your version is not the truth, not true for you, or let them tell you your memory or opinion is wrong.

Back when I was married my husband would tell me my memories were not accurate, if things didn’t go his way in a discussion. And I mean he’d say this two seconds after I told him my version of..whatever. Like he thought I would not remember what I just said two seconds ago. I realize not everyone hears or sees things the same. That is not what he meant when he said that. He meant only he remembered things the right way or the right thing. You will not be surprised to learn this man had to win absolutely every discussion to make him feel good about himself. I realized long ago he loved arguing for the sake of argument and all he wanted was the win, at others expense. It made him feel superior. If he had a bad day at work, it made his day to squash me in anything. I tell you, love makes you blind!

My only defense in this impossible situation was to say “That’s how things are in my Universe.” I started to use that phrase and I really liked it. I lived by it. I guess I had to create my own space to be me. To experience things as I experienced them, to remember them as only I remembered them. A place to be me and be comfortable and safe. Now that I’m not in that relationship, I don’t use that phrase anymore. (I just realized that!) I don’t have a need since I’m a part of THE Universe.

My ex had a very high IQ and he thought that gave him carte blanche to be the head honcho, the winner, the boss, the man. But of my memories? No I think not. He constantly told me I had a problem with my brain and that I had memory recall problems. He really wanted to make me feel small and insufficient. He needed to win to feel he was alive. He was adamant about this, and insisted, to the point of having a week long hissy fit and personal implosion, that only he had the correct memory of anything we did or discussed. In his world, he was God. For him this was not negotiable to think anything else. This was a bone of contention for me. A big bone….like dinosaur sized.

Our relationship did not start out this way. At first his intelligence and creativity made him fun to be around. As the years passed he was fired from over 30 jobs due to his terrible Prima Donna attitude. The core of this attitude was he had to be right, always. It was never possible in his world that he was the one that needed fixing. To tell me I had memory problems was his way out of ditching any personal responsibility for his problems.

I learned years later of one particular meeting he had at a major university where he was presenting his web designs. He arrived late with no excuse, and told his boss, and people above his boss’ level they were wrong and he was right. Who were they to tell him anything about his designs? Then he stormed out of the meeting. No wonder he was fired. From there he slid into chronic unemployment and chronic anger at the outside world. It did not occur to him that he needed fixing. He always insisted his IQ was his identity and his best tool. How could it possibly be broken? To him it was inconceivable.

As his new mantra of ‘what you remember is wrong’  was more frequently used, it would make me furious. I had no way to combat it other than to insist I had my own views, in my own Universe. It was a construct that, at the time, worked for me. Those feelings of being furious at him for bringing up this myopic and unyielding viewpoint was my intuition telling me there was a huge, huge red flag in this relationship. I was not being treated right. This was not in my best interest. I was finally starting to wake up! I started to listen to this feeling inside me. I started standing up for myself more and more. I didn’t know it then, but I was finding my voice for the first time ever. This happened in my early 50s.

There were many red flags like this in a short period of time as the marriage crumbled. Like a house of cards falling, or the Matrix where the illusion falls apart. This occurred as I stood up for what I believed more frequently. As a result of me seeking equality and freedom, the arguments became more agitated and violent, and escalated very quickly, like Vesuvius going off every few days. There was a crack in the veneer of the marriage. It needed to happen. It was painful to experience, and I really had a hard time being on the planet. But it was necessary in my education about life and about finding my own voice. I believe Hell exists because it is here on Earth. I have been there. The saying “If you are going through hell, keep on going” was apt.

Now that I have had years of distance, those nightmare days seem like a faraway land. But the pain and suffering was very real at the time. I can still feel wave after wave of relief coming to me years after getting out of the abuse I suffered daily. Many lifetimes of relief! I sometimes wonder how many past lifetimes I affected by freeing myself. The relief feels so good, still. I feel like kicking my heels up! Now I would never listen to such advice about one person having ‘the truth’ or the God View. I would laugh at anyone who told me only they had the correct version of the truth. Then I would look back at the old me with some forgiveness and understanding.

The takeaway lesson kids is, it’s never okay for anyone to tell you your truth is wrong and their truth is right. No matter if they love you, or you love them. Listen to your instincts and intuition. Your truths can be different and leave it at that. Is it really that important to remember exactly what was said? Is it really important to win an argument? Instead of one person being right or wrong, shouldn’t we seek harmony as a result of any disagreement?

Lesson two would be the long-term view. When things brew slowly over the years and you are in it, you can’t see it happening. I didn’t see it happening until we were in the thick of things. It took years for me to wake up. Please don’t let that happen to you. Be vigilant of your values and how you let yourself be treated by others. If you find someone in your life does not have your best interest at heart, something is off. Reconsider what is really happening. Dismiss all the little things that the argument seems to be about, and look at how you are being treated overall. You might find the courage to scratch them off your list of friends or even spouses, as you find your own truth and your own voice. (Cue happy ending music and unicorns jumping over rainbows.)

What nature tells us about bullying.

I am not sure I know if bullying is a good thing or a bad thing. For people, yes, it’s not a good thing. Or is it? I have two examples taken from nature and it has made me think about the subject  much more deeply than the knee-jerk “no it’s never okay to be a bully” line of thinking. At least it warrants a deeper look.

Please know, in no way am I making light of anyone who has been a victim of bullying. And I am not condoning the practice. Too many people have been hurt by it. But maybe there is a better way around things? Maybe nature is trying to tell us a few things about it? I always look to nature for examples on how to handle what life throws me.

Example 1: North America’s smallest hummingbird is the Calliope, small and delicate with beautiful, long, deep purple-magenta throat feathers. The Calliope is a gentle creature. Hummingbirds come to New Mexico in early spring. They have a few short months to enjoy nectar at feeders and flowers until mid July when the Rufous comes and takes center stage. The Rufous has been described as a ‘relentless attacker’ at feeders and flowers, chasing of any and all other birds. Except, that is, for the diminutive Calliope.

The tiny Calliope is unflappable as he sits and sips as much nectar as he wishes. How is that possible with the bully around? Their secret weapon is to totally ignore the big bully of the neighborhood. That’s his take on it. Ignore the bully and that seems to solve the problem. For hummingbirds that does work, because they rarely, if ever, actually make physical contact when fighting or defending territory. It’s just a big show of flying around, making lots of noise, ‘sword’ fights mid air with those long beaks, airal dogfight pursuits, and no-contact dive bombing others at the feeder. So, no matter how relentless and ongoing the attack of the Rufous is, the Calliope simply ignores the attacks, and keeps on quietly sipping nectar. I have seen it dozens of times.

I wonder if people that bully are the same. I would think bullies are loud and obnoxious and ‘relentless attackers’ but would rarely make physical contact. Is this true? It seems to me bullies are hiding behind their cowardice. That’s what all the bravado is about—fear. So, it might be worth a shot to try something different like ignoring the bully as much as possible. At least it is worthy of thought. In no way am I giving advice here, just seems to be worthy of examining what makes a bully tick, and how to handle an encounter with one. I would think that being sweet and kind in response might throw a bully off track. They usually expect fear, retaliation and anger in response to their efforts. Kindness might totally throw them off track. This is not the reaction they expect at all. I call it killing them with kindness. In any case, it might be a new way to unhook from the bullying scenario.

Example 2: Switching to horses, the story is different. A neighbor of mine, Bud, recently acquired a 10 year-old gelding named Sarge. Sarge was raised by a sweet lady, with no other horses around. He had a nice area to run in, a lovely stall, saw the best vet, and was fed grain, and lead a pampered life as a trail horse. She had to sell him because of her declining health.

Sarge had a nice attitude and was obedient when he first got to Bud’s home. (My horses are kept with my neighbors for five months of the year.) Upon releasing Sarge to the pasture where my horses live, his attitude and obedience changed over the space of a few short weeks. He started kicking and biting both of us people! What? How come? He was so sweet when he came to us. What happened to turn him? I figured it out simply by being observant. For most of my life I have been an ardent observer of nature and animals. So much can be learned by observation alone.

I realized his horse, upon being introduced to my old-timer horses, well seasoned in the way of herd mentality, changed him into a bully. In a herd of horses, there is a dominant horse. There is a hazing of sorts and a pecking order that exists and it must be adhered to for the safety of the herd. Horses are taught this by living in a herd, or small group of other horses. They trust their lives to this lead horse. But it is a position that is fought for.

My older, larger horse, Scar, weighing in at around 1400 lbs, was the lead horse in my little herd, or anywhere he went. No one messed with him, but normally he was a gentle giant. He was not a draft horse, but very well muscled and large. Think Hoss Cartwright of Bonanza (Dan Blocker). My other horse, Silver, is about 900lbs, slight frame, and almost always the bottom of the bunch. He’s too sweet and never wants to fight anyone. I think he’s a closet unicorn! With the introduction of a new horse, he was no longer on the bottom rung of the ladder. But not for long.

As the horses mingled over the weeks and got to know each other, we noticed this change happening. Sarge would bite or nip us when we were leading him to the front yard to be brushed and saddled. Horses usually don’t do this to people. Especially horses that have been sweet and gentle. He bit Bud on the chest, hard, and left a mark. He also kicked him hard in the leg one other time. This can be a dangerous habit if not fixed. Most lead horses will not kick and bite people. They have good boundaries and respect for humans. Sarge should know those boundaries when it comes to people! So what happened to make him a bully?

My observations: Sarge was a horse, raised totally by a human almost from day one. A sweet human at that. So he was not raised in a herd of horses. He was raised with gentle human hands. There was no hazing, no biting and kicking to say “Hey, you are not above me. Get back! Move away. That’s my hay! Get your own.” Sarge was raised by a very gentle human. His ‘herd’ was himself and his human owner. She showed him no real boundaries nor asked for his respect. Once he was introduced to other horses (mine), they showed him how horses act in a herd. How to find his place, and know who was leader, whose example to follow. Sarge learned from the other horses that it was totally okay to kick, bite, charge, and run after other herd members if you want a shot at being the leader of the pack. It’s how they do it. That’s how life is lived in a herd where someone is seeking domination. This reasoning is sound, but does not explain his behavior toward us. I had more figuring to do, which follows.

I reasoned it this way. Sarge thought we were part of that herd. After all, at his former residence, his herd had a human in it. We must be part of the herd! After we saw this naughty behavior from Sarge, I asked Bud to spend time with him every day, to show where respect can be learned and foster a better relationship between them. His horse did not respect me or Bud. Sarge felt we were simply others in the herd to be tested and bossed around, bit and kicked to put us in our place. This is a dangerous situation and it needed to change pronto. Unfortunately his owner, Bud, was a softie and very afraid of any sort of confrontation, or rocking the boat in any way. This sort of attitude is okay for some things, but not okay for all things in life.

When I was leading Sarge out to be ridden, he took a hold of my hat between his teeth from behind and yanked so hard I almost fell down. I quickly grabbed a lunge whip and ran him around the small pasture until he was tired. Please know in using a lunge whip, it never has to touch the horse. They will run from the noise and physical action. As he was running, he bucked and bucked, which was his “I don’t like it! You are not the boss of me” showing. Good. Let’s get all that pee and vinegar out of him. Finally he tired out.There was no physical harm done, but this horse learned to respect me a little bit more. We had some better boundaries.

It can be dangerous to have a 1000 lb animal not respect you, and kick and bite you. But I didn’t like the feeling that went with having to boss him around. What bothered me was, I had to be a bully to do it! I had to be more assertive than my normal self. I had to walk the walk, talk the talk, and be mean to him for it to sink in. I let him take no quarter, did not give him a break, until he got the lesson. After the lesson I dropped the whip and kissed at him to come to me. He gladly came and put his muzzle in my hand. There was no lead rope, or reins. Just him and me. I had to prove I was higher up than him in the pecking order, but also a kind and gentle leader. I find that being a bully with Sarge works. He respects my loud and brash tone of voice and body language. When a horse is bested, they quickly are obedient and polite again. They have found their new place in the herd. When we walked back to the trailer to get ready for a ride, he was peaceful and polite. But for me, I had to go well outside my comfort zone of making everyone happy. It really pushed me, and I felt like a bully. I didn’t like it, but in this case, it was necessary.

As of the writing of this blog entry, Sarge is now lead horse, and Scar, for the first time in his 24 years, is not. Yet Sarge is learning to be a much more polite and respectful horse to people. He is stretching and learning about being a true leader, not just a bully.

These two scenarios with bullying in nature does not seem to point to any quick, obvious answer. I know for humans bullying is not acceptable. But should it be? In some instances? Are there weaker, smaller people who need to exhibit some bravado to chase off someone else? Does this person need to ‘bully the bully’ if ignoring him doesn’t work? I don’t know. It might if a woman is being followed down a dark street, maybe she has to turn around, face this person and be assertive way outside her comfort zone. That could be a case where bullying and assertiveness comes in handy. That’s why I am writing this. For input and rumination.

In no way am I intending to diminish or not respect those out there who have been the subject of being bullied. But I feel this topic does merit some discussion.

What say you?

The elegant and obvious solution to feeling rushed off your feet.

Last night I had errands to run after a full day at work. These days a full day at work is a bit much to take, but I do my best. My meds for my neuralgia make me feel like I’m going through molasses. Some days I work at home and that helps cut the stress. It cuts out 4 hours of commuting per week, and that is really helping. Every bit counts.

I had groceries to unpack after my long commute home, then picked up the pup from the neighbors. As I get in the door I have a lot to take care of right away. Geese need to be put in their pen, check water and feed. Make sure the door is raccoon proofed. Haul in and put groceries away. Put the clean dishes away that are on the kitchen counter, and do another batch. (I can’t stand having dirty dishes.) I make dinner for my three dogs. At my house it’s the rule that animals are fed before humans. I make sure the Senior and favorite soul dog, Mr. Google, gets his meds, and I take his leg brace off for the night. Only then I can make myself dinner, and finally sit down. At this point I’ve been going since 5:00 am. It’s now 7:30pm.

duotone Google.png

In the middle of doing dishes, I hear my favorite dog whine that his dinner is not enough to eat, I blow a gasket….almost. How can I be grumpy at Soul Dog? He’s 84 in dog years (12 in people years) and my favorite of all my animals. We have a deep connection and he rarely asks for anything from me. If he begs, he is in need. I check my anger and frustration at the door, er, rather in mid dishwashing. I can change my behavior so there is not so much stress. Slow down. Now. Yes. Oh, that’s better. Now I’m not spinning way out of sync with the Universal Flow of energy.

Since I started daily meditation, even if it is only 10 minutes per session, something slides into my reptilian brain and tells me to slow down. There is no need whatsoever to feel rushed. Ever. Not while running errands, or bringing home groceries, or feeding dogs, or doing dishes. The buddhist mindset of doing things mindfully, and being fully into whatever it is, finally makes a spark in my brain and neurons fire. I’ve been telling others about this for years, now I’m finally taking my own advice.

“Hey, I don’t have to ‘hurry’ and do dishes, and all these crazy chores, in order to sit down at a later time tonight and relax. I can relax NOW. In this moment. While doing whatever it is I need to do.”

I re-mind myself that being mind-ful, and deliberate in my actions and thoughts is key to not ever feeling rushed or stressed. Going a little slower, helps me to enjoy all my moments. Not just some. I don’t have to rush around like a nuthead and wait till 7:30pm to enjoy my evening. I can do that any time I want to. It was another moment I realized how silly I was being. I was being a human-doing, not a human-being. 😉 My guru’s Pema Chödrön and Eckhart Tolle have been telling me this for years as I read their materials, quotes, and articles.

For years I have read about, and really tried integrating this mindfulness into everyday life. But life has a way of making you rushed and crazy sometimes. At least I feel a little more connected to this way of being. It’s going to take some time for it to really come home to roost. I’m not yet at the point of 24/7 mindfulness or totally unstressed life. But, coming a little closer to it doesn’t suck!

The reason for sharing this in blog form is, I teach people about not stressing out, being mindful, dumping drama and chaos. Yet I also get caught up in it, like everyone else. Even Ghandi and Mother Theresa got caught up in it! We are not perfect—’specially me. 😉 I like to share my human, not-so-perfect side. It’s part of that great ride of this crazy life! Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has a chance to change course.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences, thoughts, and opinions. This blog is meant to be not only educational but part of a community dialogue with other souls.