Bad or Good, It’s Still Your Life

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maxresdefaultSo I was raised pretty religious and uncommonly materialistic, a pretty weird success-driven combo I must admit. I had a strict (anal), virtuous upbringing – built upon hard work, loyalty, watching your money, watching your back and fearing your god. Somewhere out there was a belief that some sort of karmic retribution for all your good actions paid off, except in this version of the story it was called heaven. That by being a “good” person who doesn’t drink, do drugs, swear or believe in idle actions…you will get an everlasting and happy life.

So many times I let events, validation and others create my happiness. Having them bail on plans, not accept my friend invite or not accomplishing my goal made me feel less than. For some reason I always had some little project, next step, someday in the back of my head to when I would feel complete. Of course we all love going to Disneyland, but whether or not your life is good shouldn’t be marked only by the highlights. The act of falling in love, the rush of a rollercoaster, the joy of a birthday present, the praise for a promotion, yes they are good, but they are not everything. When your happiness is determined by what is happening around you, funnily enough you aren’t really happy. Sure, in the great moments you are, who isn’t, but you have no idea what to do with the not-so-great ones. For some reason they feel like negative results of something you did wrong. You question your world, your finances, your sanity – if I’m a good person leading a virtuous life, then why is this happening?

Well, as many of us know, it’s not always about being good or bad. The trick is to change your perception so that all in – upbeat day or rotten, you know you are going to survive. The clock keeps on ticking, your heart keeps on beating…so try to have as much joy in watching a leaf tumble in the breeze as winning the lottery. Okay, that example may be a bit extreme, but I hope you realize that I mean good will happen, bad will happen…and so is the circle of life. There is no cosmic curse out to get us, weeeeellllll within reason. I’m not condoning starting a Dexter-esque crusade to tickle your boredom, but swear a little, drink a little, grump a little. It’s gonna be okay.

I had two things happen to people in my life that reminded me how important this lesson is. One had a weekend of tough shifts, tears and boy drama…yet standing out in the sun with me awaiting a taco she had a wave of how good her life was. Though there are down times, it doesn’t take away from the good ones. I too have that from time to time – just an overwhelming rush of gratitude towards a nice day, feeling, movie, hug or laugh. A little look at how lucky I am even though lots is going wrong. I think it’s about realizing that wrong isn’t justice for something you did or didn’t do, but just another day in the field.

I also have an aquaintance going through a breakup. A painful, messy, awful breakup, but his naivety is astounding. He isn’t handling it well, he is frankly, losing his goddamn mind. And I shouldn’t judge because I have too. It is easy to wonder what you did when all is going wrong. But, this poor lad, publicly crucifies himself – lamenting about why she left him, how bad his life is and why is karma out to get him. His status updates tell everybody that his life was perfect for 38 years, he was a rockstar and now he is a failure. That for the first time in his life he is suffering hardship – but he worked diligently, saved money, never tried drugs, doesn’t drink, has never cheated and doesn’t deserve it. What I so badly want to tell him is that trying to be perfect doesn’t always create a perfect life – there is no such thing! We all deserve dirty in doses. We all need a little bad to remind us of the good. We all need some struggle to make us stronger and better. We all need to appreciate life in all its terrible glory to understand that it isn’t the absence of bad that makes a life good, it’s the survival of it.

The Ginga Ninja

Just because there’s a Way, doesn’t always mean there’s a Will

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Not too long ago a very talented man took his own life. The loss of Robin Williams and the outpouring of opinion in the days following got me thinking. Strangely, I heard the song “This Life” by Edward Sharpe (a very sad and depressive take on life), then “If you want to be happy” by Jimmy Soul, followed by “I guess that’s why they call it the blues” by Elton John. It made me realize how juxtapositioned this compliation of songs were…completely and utterly on the opposite ends of the spectrum. – like life?

This brought me to a bit of a controversial topic. Like Voledmort, it’s awkward to use the word, but for lack of the real one, let’s say…Self-induced Death.

Suicide is a tricky topic. Because even though I have a knack for turning the bad into good, the lost into lessons and the sad into funny, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been down. I think if anything this proves that I have. As have you. And her. And him. And his mom. Maybe even his dog. Or hamster.

But, more seriously…it’s a topic that I’ve kind of always understood. And that in itself has sometimes made me misunderstood. For reasons we won’t discuss, I was introduced to it from a young age. And unlike all of the people around me…I was never angry. I was empathetic. But, no matter how down I got or how mad I was at the world, I knew this was an avenue I would most likely never walk down because it would kill my parents, not to mention my chance at a future, not to mention well…myself.

It’s a shame, when somebody takes themselves out an inning too early – everyone on the outside feels that things could have still changed; the hail mary pass, the over-the-fence homerun, the last minute touchdown. But, what if they couldn’t…really…truly.

Life is a big old rollercoaster of ups and downs and hopefully the ups outnumber the downs, but what if you never feel your ups all the way and the downs more than you should? I have definitely felt downs that were unwarranted and extreme…in my family, we call this Situational Depression and there are a number of medicated comics amongst us. Life is hard, alcohol is harder? (Hardy, hard, har)

But, turns out some of the hard stuff has brought me to a better place…lifestyle, diet, acceptance of faults and realizations of the world have led me down the path where I want to know more is coming. But there were nights, so many nights where I didn’t know if there was more. And I wished time away because I didn’t want to know.

Well, what happens if it isn’t 17 years of ups and downs, or 12 years of increasing health issues. What if it is a lifetime. What if it is medication, padded walls or voices in your head. What if you had all you ever wanted and still barely managed to get out of bed each and every day? At what point do we stop calling these people selfish and start to realize that they have held on for us. For you. For him. For her. For me. These people who were in so much pain that they couldn’t see a happy ending held out for as long they could in a world they didn’t love, so that they didn’t hurt the people that loved them. Sometimes they aren’t trying to hurt anyone, but they can no longer keep hurting themselves.

You are dying since the day you are born. Sure, walking off the court early is cheating the game of life, but it’s going to happen eventually whether we want it to or not. So, give sympathy, give empathy, give support, but please don’t ever give in to your anger.

“This Life”

I’ve been trying to pretend
That death is my friend
Oh, this life
Yes, this life ain’t for me now

I’ve been lying to myself
Not to nobody else
Oh, this life
Yes, this life ain’t for me now

LIAR
I’m telling the truth to y’all
HIGHER
Gonna give a little proof to y’all
HIGHER
I’m gonna jump in the fire

Well I walked into black
Said I weren’t coming back
Saw my angel in blue
She tell me “This life ain’t for you”
Oh, this life
Tell it to me – this life ain’t for me now

I woke up feeling new
‘Cause now I know this life is for you
Yes, this life
Oh, this life ain’t for me now
It’s for you!

The Ginga Ninja

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free

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x354Money makes the world go round. It’s sad, but hell, it’s true. Truer than true in fact. There are so many old sayings about money that it’s not even funny (maybe I should go back to sad), but that’s because it is so integral to our everyday life. Long gone are the days where you forage the land for food, trade services for survival or even when just having one income, one car in the garage and a roof over your head were the definition of success.

No, today success comes in many forms. Unfortunately the most obvious being vacations, wealth and things. Do we really need so many things? Should there really be at a minimum THREE television shows about hoarding?  And since when did “likes” on Facebook mean more than actually liking your own life? Who cares if somebody else likes that you went to a concert or how you set up your new coffee table, isn’t all that matters that you do?

I’m as guilty as the rest of them. I’ve had periods of being pretty “modern-day” poor and I can worry like a champ. I can splurge and spend as well as I can save and thrift.  The funny thing when it comes to wealth is it’s all about liquidity. How much do you have access to at any one time? For some reason that integral point seems to be the defining factor between perceived wealth and actual.

I am as poor as I’ve probably ever been – don’t own a house, still have loans to pay, yet for some reason have started handing out dolla bills as though I’m a big deal. I think it’s because suddenly that money is in my hand and it is my choice as to whether it goes to debt, vacation, entertainment, stuff or savings. It is up to me what percentage goes where and for some reason, this empowering feeling is a misconception of being successful. In reality, I am no better off than when I made less money and spent less on things, food and “stuff” – but it’s all about quality of life, all about how much it feels like I have, not actually about how much I have on paper (well, online statement, let’s be green here).

It got me thinking. I have a very wealthy family member…remarried and up to his eyeballs in debt, yet the fact that he has an enviable yearly income makes him seem untouchable beyond compare. On a daily basis I also see homeless vagabonds – holes in their mittens, scuffs on their shoes, pride on their signs; begging with their coffee cups. That hobo, that scruffy bum with $10 in hand is in truth wealthier than that lawyer, doctor, entertainer or dentist with debt. It’s not about what you have on paper, but in theory, right?

Well, once upon a time credit wasn’t accessible, credit cards didn’t exist and people didn’t need so much space or so many things. Toys were baseballs and ragdolls, cardboard swords, tree forts and old bicycles. Once upon a time there was no social media – nobody cared about your boring trip to see your grandparents in Florida, or the time you went camping. Vacations for me were roadtrips, summer jaunts, campgrounds and cabins. There was no European cruise, or South American jungle tour. There was no credit card for kids or even education funds to prep us for the all important (and expensive) education we are now forced to obtain.

That brings me back around to where we started – money makes the world go round. Whether you are happy or sad often depends on money, which is too bad. But, all those things that make you happy – books, gaming stations, vacations in the sun, hell, even heat for your house – well, they all cost money. So, though money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you the things that make you happy.

Oh the sad, sad irony.

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”   – Groucho Marx

The Ginga Ninja

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That’s Why They Call it the Blues…The Winter Blues

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winter-bluesI’ve been extremely, overwhelmingly sick in my (well we’ll call it short) lifetime. Sometimes more than others and probably for different reasons. At the end of the day, normally I end up fatigued in the winter, get a respiratory infection, land myself on antibiotics and eventually get really ill with stomach problems and bacterial overgrowth. But, even hospital-inducing illness aside, the one thing I’ve always been known to struggle with is SAD. No, not just a big old frown on my face, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (otherwise funnily enough known as SAD, which is exactly what it makes you).

In changing a fair bit of my lifestyle and diet, I was able to somewhat escape it. Heaven forbid I live like a normal sucker and just get the winter blues instead of sweating, fainting and illness. This year however, well a flu led to a cold, let to lethargy…led to…and that’s where it ends goddammit. We’ll call mine, the Winter Reds.

It’s a cold, dark winter and I’m in the heart of the most depressing month. But, I’m doing my best to stay above water. Stay positive, accept that a basic “not giving a crap” attitude may come out of this and I will probably survive. Probably. Maybe with too many headaches, cramping muscles and bad moods, but probably still at least a step away from death’s door.

Well, I’m not alone in this battle. Cold cultures have a higher rate of suicide and divorce in January. People struggle with lethargy, lack of motivation, fatigue and a general depressing state in colder months. It’s why vacation hot spots peak and prices skyrocket. It’s why cold month babies are created and love handles exist. The winter months have our basic instinct bodies reverting to a sense of hibernation. Deep down, all we need is to stay warm, feed and save our energy. If we don’t, we just may not make it through alive.

So, this year I’m celebrating my SAD. That’s right, I said it, I’m HAPPY to celebrate my SAD.

A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ. – John Steinbeck

The Ginga Ninja

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Money is power, Freedom a cushion

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Recently I splurged. Okay, recently I’ve splurged way too much. And it appears as though my opportunities for overspending always come at a time when I’m trying to save money. Or perhaps more appropriately my realizations about my overspending are at times when I’m paying attention to money.

But, I have been on the lookout for new pillows. Maybe it’s because my brother got some new ones and I am now suffering from pillow envy, or perhaps it’s that the ones I only got 2.5 years ago now have feathers sticking out. Whatever the case, I had started keeping an eye out for decorative pillows, only to uncover the motherload.

Well, self-restraint may not be my middle name because I managed to spend a small fortune on you got it, pillows. Not charities, food or a vacation, but gosh darn pillows.

Life’s short. I say buy as many pillows as you want. – Anonymous

The Ginga Ninja

Lose your Keys, Lose your Mind

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e3a60c0cfa92ffd6a76ee790d593db35I heard something funny recently. You know how people lose something and then they search for days and finally find it…often you hear them exclaim, “Augh. It’s always in the last place I looked!” Well, hello, Einstein…OF COURSE it’s the last place you looked.  If you found it, why would you keep searching?

When I heard that I gave a little giggle.  I never thought of it like that…and yet, how many times have I heard that announced when the precious item is at last discovered?  Well, I am that genius today…and many days.  I am completely, 110% guilty of misplacing things.  I always have more than one thing on my mind…so when it comes time to put something down, I truly put it down.  I rarely think about where, when, in what room or what state. I figure that you can only strive for perfection in so many areas and elsewhere something has got to give.  For me, losing things is my something, but whether it’s my keys or my mind is usually the real question. Amen to that.

The Ginga Ninja

Still Tastes Sweet

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il_340x270.298542240Dear god it’s crazy what only a few hours can do. One moment you are convinced all is okay in your world and only a few short hours later you are looking up strays online to prepare yourself for the crazy cat ladyhood that is bound to come your way.

Dating is frustrating. And tiring. And there are just so many ups and downs. Every single time I think I have wrapped my head around it, and around me in it…a new twist turns up. (Get it? Twists and Turns). You get it.

But, I don’t. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because for every 40 losers we try, there might be 2 with actual chances of survival and even those have slim odds nowadays. I guess we do it for the glimmer in our eye (or ache in our loins), the Rom Coms we love so much, the elderly couple holding hands and the tear shed on a wedding day. Even if that wedding didn’t last so long, the emotions of the day will live on forever. On our iPhones.

Seriously though – why does dating need to be so exhausting? Don’t hate the player, hate the game so they say.

I know the answer. I know that it’s the payoff every now again that makes it worthwhile. It’s the partnership, sharing, intimacy and desire to validate the meaning of our life with another living soul. But, somehow I feel there has to be an easier way. Like ice cream. Or for us hypoglycemics out there some horrible sugar-free alternative. Maybe that’s what we need. A sugar-free alternative to love.

The Ginga Ninja

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