A Rhetorical Letter to a Cultural Icon I Once Knew

A Rhetorical Letter to a Cultural Icon I Once Knew

Dear Madonna,

Refresh my memory.  Was it the MTV Music Video Awards where you offered a live performance of the amazing dance number for “Express Yourself?” Or maybe I saw it when I watched Truth or Dare. Regardless of where I saw it, I loved that performance… the walk down the steps; the shaking to the left, to the right; one hand on your hip while the other, held up high as though you were signaling “stop”, moved in front of your body as you sang to me and to young women all around the world who were like me that

“You deserve the best in life
So if the time isn’t right then move on
Second best is never enough
You’ll do much better baby on your own.”

Not only did I believe in the power of your words—that second best is never enough and that I did, in fact, deserve the best in life– I enjoyed that performance so much so that I recorded it on VHS so I could watch it over and over, memorizing each dance step. One night, feeling silly and moved by your music, my very best friend and I “performed” your “Express Yourself” routine on a long staircase (the staircase reminded us of the one you used) just a few blocks from the university of which I was attending and at which I now teach.

I only needed to watch your latest performance once, though.

And as an avid fan—someone who owns every single album you ever recorded; who owns a copy of Sex because I admired it as a piece of art and not “trash” as your critics had suggested; has long wished to see you perform live in concert—I implore you to consider the power you have as an outspoken musician, one who once championed women’s sexuality in a manner that created controversy but made it “okay” for women to embrace their sexuality.

I’m referencing your speech at the March for Women in DC last weekend. 

I do not intend to condemn you for speaking out; everyone has the right to do so and surely that is why you were invited to speak.  But I simply wish that you had been more mindful of your words and their unintended consequences.

In short, your speech sucked.

Please allow me to expand…

Your role as a celebrity, as “Madonna,” gives you some ethos appeal with those women at that march. One could argue that you might have even been a role model for them, simply because you are Madonna, and you have always looked Challenge and Change straight in the eye. I can imagine that had I been there, I would’ve been excited to see you, speaking before me.  Any chance I could get to see Madonna—live and in color—would be welcomed.  I probably would’ve had a similar reaction to those of the adoring crowd who cheered you on as you had them chant that they, too, “[are] ready” for change. So had I been a member of that audience whom shared your views, your speech would probably have been successful in my view, as it obviously was in the eyes of those in attendance.

But I was not a member of that audience, and your speech had a far more reaching spread than the limited one that you’d perhaps intended when preparing your remarks.  I was drawn to your speech from multiple news media accounts that noted your reference to “blowing up the White House.”  Knowing what I know about our flawed and biased news media, I wanted to check the context of that quote for myself.  I became one of your audience members as a result of my own due diligence.

You clearly stated that you are angry, but I am NOT. I am not angry with you or with the current administration or the previous administration. Instead, I am gravely disappointed with your speech; it misses the mark on a golden opportunity to provide direction and inspiration that could encourage actions that could result in meaningful change.

Much of the speech’s “content” (for lack of a better word) relies on poorly used pathos appeals.  The emotional diatribe sent a clear message, for sure: just tell anyone who doesn’t agree with you, “Fuck You.” Great.  That’s different.  So helpful.

For that further-reaching audience—me– those pathos appeals cause me to roll my eyes.  What “tyranny”? What “rights” have you lost? You’d probably argue that we could lose such rights.  Yes, and the sky could fall, too, but let’s not get lost in hyperbole.

You cannot continue to rely on your credibility and relevance as the outspoken controversial celebrity that brought you attention, fame, and fortune in your youth.  You are older now, and with age and experience comes—or at least should come—evolution, mindfulness, and wisdom.  It seems as though you might be resting on your laurels rather than creating an argument of substance.  Showing up just isn’t good enough anymore. The speech suggests that we should all just join in your crusade because you’re Madonna and because you said so.

No, Madonna, I will not join in your crusade because you haven’t clarified what the problem is nor have  you offered any suggestions as far as what we can do about this so-called oppression.  What do you want us to DO? You can chant “We Are Ready” all you want, but what are we supposed to be ready for? What “change” do you want us to transpire? What are we—the maddening crowd—to DO?!? Tell us! Suggest something!

Perhaps you should look to the 2014 TED talk given by Jamila Raqib, executive director of the Albert Einstein Institute.  Raqib acknowledges that public protest CAN be a good thing, but it is only useful if it is strategic and directed.  To elicit real, substantiated change, those who protest must not only organize, but they also must strategize.  What is your suggested strategy? What should women do in order to ensure our rights are not stripped? You said we are going to have to sacrifice, but what sacrifices might we possibly have to make? And by the way—what sacrifices have you or will you be making?

Tell us, Madonna, TELL US! You have long been a voice for women who could not speak (Express) themselves.  You told Papa not to preach, and yet that is all your speech does: preaches.  Women don’t need a sermon.  They don’t need a rallying cry.  They need breakthrough strategies for how to make a difference, how to create meaningful change.

Instead, you rallied the troops, encouraged them to join some nebulous revolution, and responded to Women’s March naysayers with a collective, “Fuck you!  FUCK!  YOU!” you shouted.

Not. Cool. Not. Helpful. Not. Constructive. Not. Inspiring.

Look, I am the first person to admit that I love expletives.  They have so many uses, particularly your obvious favorite one—as a verb, a noun, an adjective, an adverb.  It sometimes serves a purpose (provided it’s delivered to the appropriate audience) of an attempt to be humorous or to emphasize a strong feeling.  I certainly don’t have a problem with cussing.

But it wasn’t kairotic given the context from which you were arguing.

You’ve criticized Trump and his incitant, angry, violent, emotionally-charged language.  You’ve returned his rhetoric with similar rhetoric.  What good can possibly come from telling those who oppose your view to fuck off? You had an opportunity to initiate challenge and change by offering a specific action strategy, and you blew it. As one of your critics of your speech so eloquently suggests, “…liberals should lick their wounds and then set out to methodically persuade them back to their point of view using logic and reason and not emotion.”

Madonna, you were quoted on the red carpet once when you were launching your Hard Candy Fitness Gyms, “My motivation is to inspire people and not get caught up in the noise.”

Take a pinch of your own advice and turn down the political volume. You have it cranked too high. And then get busy about your work that inspires.

Your most recent album is currently in my car CD player.  I bought the album the day it was released because I admire your music, Madonna.  I still admire your music, particularly your earlier pieces.  I think your Ray of Light album was probably your best work. I will remain a music fan of yours.  I will still look forward to the day that I might get to see you in concert.  I still have your “Express Yourself” routine memorized by heart! You have not lost me as a music fan.

As a political activist, though, you suck.  I don’t buy into your politics. Your speech failed. It let me down and hundreds of thousands of women who were looking to you for a coherent answer, or at least a suggestion, as to what you and many like you perceive to be the problems and how to address them.

So until you can offer a compelling speech that will initiate real “change”—please, please, please: stick to singing and songwriting.

Yours Truly,

Dita

 

 

 

The Three Dirtiest Words in the English Language

I love you.

That’s it.  Those are the three dirtiest words.

Disappointing? Were you expecting something sexier or more provocative or obscene?

Whelp, there’s lots of those kinds of words, too, but those words have a power that the three DIRTIEST do not.  No one is afraid to say those “OTHER” dirty words.  No one.  They drip easily from our tongues, becoming common language and even sometimes accepted by our culture at large.

But “I love you”?

Not so much.

It’s nearly taboo to say “I love you.”

So if you’re intrigued at all, I invite you to come along for the ride while I explore the “danger” of SAYING “I love you”  and the importance of opening up your heart and learning to comfortably say it…

Marguerite Heikes.  “Peg” to most,  “Honey” to one, “Mom” to three, and just “Gramma” to me.

Gramma was slight in stature, with her weekly “set” curly short hair, big buggy glasses, and a verbal tick– a sort of “huh”– that she’d let out sometimes as a reaction to something someone said to her, and sometimes just out of general, nervous habit.  Gramma was quiet.  You could never really know what she was thinking, and it was on a rare occasion when I ever saw her visibly emotional.

Gramma taught me how to garden.  She taught me the names of flowers and how to care for them and that when the flowerheads died, you could capture seeds from them so that they could be planted the next year and a new flower would grow and bloom again.  Such is the cycle of life, yes?

IMG_5439
Part of a scrapbook layout I’d created years ago that commemorated Gramma’s Garden.  The woman had the greenest of thumbs.

She taught me that tin foil can be used as an attractive Christmas wrapping paper when you’ve run out of “the real thing.” She taught me how to wash dishes.  She stocked her refrigerator and the candy dish with all of my favorites.  She played with my sister and I, pushing us on the swings on our several outings to Gallitzin State Park.  And when we’d climb the stairs of the “water tower” at the park to see the full beauty of the earth from the highest point we could access, she’d hold my hand to comfort and guide me because I was convinced that the “floor” of the tower was going to drop out, and I’d drown and die in the pooled water below.  “Cmon, Lizzy,” she’d gently persuade as she’d pat my blonde, curly 5-year old mop, “it will be okay.  It’s not going to drop out.  I promise.”  Reluctantly, I believed her, and I’d walk with her, one hand in hers, the other clinging to the railing beside me, to the top of the tower.  When I was away at college, she’d write letters to me.  Weekly. Sometimes even twice a week because as she’d grown older, she’d forgotten that she’d already written earlier in the week.

Yes, Gramma loved me.  She clearly showed it.

But she never said it.

I never heard those three words come out of her mouth.

Ever.

But I KNEW she did.  I just KNEW it.  Because she showed it.  Her actions spoke louder than words, I suppose.  But I just so very badly wanted to hear it.  I wanted to feel more certain.

I’m a writing teacher by trade, and I stress to my students the importance of showing over telling.  “Don’t just TELL your reader something; SHOW them.  Help them FEEL and EXPERIENCE what you’re feeling and experiencing,” I preach.

That advice just might be a load of crap in some respects.  Because, after all, there is something to be said about making an actual CLAIM.  It’s the support and reasoning and details that support the claim.

Gramma could SHOW, but she couldn’t TELL.

What is it about the claim? Why do so many of us struggle to say it? Why do these three words seem to have so much power that they render a large number of us speechless?

Gramma had a hard life.  Her father, as I understand it, was not winning any “Father of the Year” awards.  But I don’t know what her specific life circumstances were for certain or why she couldn’t say it; I don’t know if it was just something that her generation didn’t do or what.  But Grampa said it.  Many times.  So maybe it wasn’t a generational thing at all.  I’ll never know.

Why do we struggle to say it? What does it open us up to? Do we think to ourselves that the other person just automatically assumes that we are loved; that we just know? Are we afraid that if we say it that those three words won’t be returned, and thus we’ll render ourselves “unloved” by that other person who couldn’t say the same thing? Or are we afraid that if we say it, we are committing to something beyond the simple act of loving someone, something that perhaps we’re fearful that we cannot provide or might feel obligated to provide?

And why do I want– and like–  to hear it, and why do I think you need to hear it?

Because it’s an acknowledgement.

It’s a verbal admission that you see the other person.

That you matter to that person.

Words are important, especially to people like me whose love language includes “words of affirmation.”

You can show someone all you like, but sometimes, stating the claim is just as important.  In writing, without the claim, a reader is oftentimes wondering what in the hell all of the “support” is there for in the first place.  The reader, without a claim, is left fending for him or herself, trying to figure out what it is that the author is “trying to say.”

 

And so… as I write, I am thinking about the most significant people currently in my life who play some sort of nearly daily presence in it…and what I’ve been “trying to say” is this…

Mom, I love you.

Dad, I love you.

Jen, I love you.

Rob, I love you.

Greg, I love you.

Amy, I love you.

Dick, I love you.

Patti, I love you.

You needed to know, for certain; I needed to tell you.  And I know that you love me, too.  It’s perfectly acceptable if you are not in this space that I am right now, ready to state the claim “I love you” to those whom I do.  I am not unloved; I know this, too.  I am committing myself to continue loving you, in whatever manner that means for each of those that I love.

I acknowledge you.

I see you.

You matter to me.

Telling is equally important to showing.

And Gramma, I loved you, too.

Dear Reader– will you please do me, yourself, and someone else a favor? Will you text someone, right now, and tell that person, “I love you”?  That person is gonna think you’re weird.  Coz telling someone that out of the blue and without context is just not “normal.”  They’re going to wonder if you’re on your death bed or something because it just isn’t “you” to express yourself like that.  So then send them the link to this blog post.  And then maybe they’ll understand.  And then maybe they’ll text someone and tell someone that they love them, too, and it will just keep going and going and going and going.

Please.  Tell someone that you love them.

And maybe, just maybe…in some universe or galaxy that is pretty close to this home…

those three words won’t be so dirty anymore.

Un-stucking the Rut

Un-stucking the Rut

I never thought I would say this…

But after weight training for almost 30 years, I AM FINISHED.

I hate it.

For those readers who have followed me for quite some time, this is probably shocking news.

Training with weights has been an important part of my life, and it has helped me to reach a number of personal goals.  But recently, I got fed up; disenchanted with what I was doing; and I realized that it was time to move on.

Continue reading “Un-stucking the Rut”

Decision Paralysis

Decision Paralysis

Buying toothpaste is hard. I mean, there’s Crest, Aquafresh, Colgate, Tom’s Natural Crap-Tasting Paste….
And then there’s tartar control, whitening, fluoride-injected, plaque-fighting, breath-blasting, and on and on and on!

On top of that, price is also a consideration. Does this “value pack” really have any sort of value, or is it just a sales gimmick? Or what about the coupon pasted to the front of the carton, urging cost-conscious shoppers to, “Save Now!”

A trip to your local, big-box variety store’s toothpaste section will likely span an entire wall and six racks of shelves. This kind of experience leaves me glaze-eyed and full of anxiety.  Which one should I pick? Oh my god, what if I pick the wrong one?!?! What if it doesn’t leave my mouth clean or kill gingivitis? What if when I smile, friends and strangers alike see mounds of gross plaque stuck between my teeth??? What if my teeth aren’t glistening?!?

Prozac, anyone?!?

I have Decision Paralysis. 

Deciding between a seemingly unlimited number of choices for even the dumbest of things like toothpaste brings me anxiety. 

So imagine the complexity of starting an online business. 

This is my current project. And while I have a really good handle on the service I’m going to offer, I have ZERO website-building savvy. And I kinda need a website to build my business. 

And so I asked around a little.  Should I build the site with Weebly? After all, Weebly was founded by a couple of Penn State grads. I should support the cause, right?!? Or maybe WordPress? And if WordPress, wordpress.org or WordPress.com?  Yes, there is a difference. A big one. Should I use Kajabi? Thinkific? Iy-yi-yi…I don’t know!

Sound foreign? Join the club!

Then there’s this thing called a domain name. Well where do I get one of those, and what is it, and why do I need it? And I should get a private or shared SSL certificate. Huh? And make sure my site is “SEO”. Say what?!?

A host. 

A server. 

Wait. Am I managing a restaurant?!?

What is all this crap?!?

So I asked Google. 

Googs provided some answers, but then more decisions had to be made. 

Turns out that there are multiple providers of the aforementioned “thingees”. GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, Hostgator, Bluehost. And of course, this stuff that I don’t really understand but really need doesn’t come without a price, so then cost comparisons had to be made. 

And when I’d had enough of my own Decision Paralysis, I threw my hands up in the air, and surrendered to the possibility that whatever I choose, I might make a mistake. 

I might choose incorrectly. 

My site, my business might suck. 

It could go horribly wrong. 

But it could also go terrifically right. 

It might offer me the financial freedom I have craved in order to get out from under a boatload of paper grading that I must endure in my primary work. 

It might offer me the opportunity to travel. 

And to be a bonafide “business woman”, not that there’s anything wrong with being a “professor,” but I just want to spread my career wings. 

You see, the danger of Decision Paralysis is that sometimes, we can get so bogged down with comparing choices that we completely forget to–or put off– decide (deciding). To choose. 

To face the fear of failure, and just plow through it anyway, and to just have faith that it will all work out for the best. 

So I picked GoDaddy. My site’s domain name and managed WordPress.org platform and SSL certificate and globbity glob gibberish boombah is “all-inclusive” with my GoDaddy subscription. Or something like that. I don’t really know. But I’m about to find out. 

Buying toothpaste is hard. 

But not as hard as having to replace a mouthful of teeth if I’d never bought the toothpaste in the first place. 

Part Three of Three: Albert Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Daughter

Part Three of Three: Albert Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Daughter

I’ve been seeing someone.

 A psychiatrist.  Or a psychologist. Or therapist.  Or something like that.  I don’t know what she is, actually.   I’ve been seeing someone who’s trying to help me figure out my shit, okay?!? I’ve got some demons that I’m not so proud of, and I’m trying to expose them and learn from them and move forward from them.  

For a long time, I have not recognized these demons that have laid dormant inside of me because in my “past life,” I was too busy being caught up in someone else’s life.  I never really paid much attention to myself because I didn’t even matter to myself.  It was this someone else’s needs that I allowed to matter above my own, all day, every day.  Since that person has been out of my life, I’ve been smacked in the face with some of my own personal crap.  It’s not very comfortable, sometimes, finding out that these things exist inside of me.  But I’m learning to manage them.  I’m learning to identify fears and patterns and recognize that I’m playing old patterns and I’m allowing–sometimes– fear to get in the way of my success– both personally and professionally.

 Currently, I’m working on this nagging fear of not being “good enough.” I’m not a good enough teacher, friend, “plus one”, sister, daughter, cousin, whatever…I’m just not “good enough.”   And so I’ve been reflecting on my life, trying to figure out where this feeling (or false belief) comes from, and trying to have some compassion for myself, and forgiving myself for having these feelings, and even giving myself a bit of a hug and learning that “I’m okay” in spite of– and maybe because of– my past interaction  with life in general.  

This three part series is about some of those discoveries– my earliest memories of not feeling good enough.  This is the conclusion to that series.  Part one can be found here: Mr. Meckis and His Amazing Technicolor Art Projects and part two here: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions.

Continue reading “Part Three of Three: Albert Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Daughter”

Part Two of Three: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions

Part Two of Three: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions

I’ve been seeing someone.

 A psychiatrist.  Or a psychologist. Or therapist.  Or something like that.  I don’t know what she is, actually.   I’ve been seeing someone who’s trying to help me figure out my shit, okay?!? I’ve got some demons that I’m not so proud of, and I’m trying to expose them and learn from them and move forward from them.  

For a long time, I have not recognized these demons that have laid dormant inside of me because in my “past life,” I was too busy being caught up in someone else’s life.  I never really paid much attention to myself because I didn’t even matter to myself.  It was this someone else’s needs that I allowed to matter above my own, all day, every day.  Since that person has been out of my life, I’ve been smacked in the face with some of my own personal crap.  It’s not very comfortable, sometimes, finding out that these things exist inside of me.  But I’m learning to manage them.  I’m learning to identify fears and patterns and recognize that I’m playing old patterns and I’m allowing–sometimes– fear to get in the way of my success– both personally and professionally.

 Currently, I’m working on this nagging fear of not being “good enough.” I’m not a good enough teacher, friend, “plus one”, sister, daughter, cousin, whatever…I’m just not “good enough.”   And so I’ve been reflecting on my life, trying to figure out where this feeling (or false belief) comes from, and trying to have some compassion for myself, and forgiving myself for having these feelings, and even giving myself a bit of a hug and learning that “I’m okay” in spite of– and maybe because of– my past interaction  with life in general.  

This three part series is about some of those discoveries– my earliest memories of not feeling good enough.  The series will end with how I’ve learned to deal with those demons, what actually might have been happening in these moments that I describe,  and what I now tell myself when these demons pop up in my current life. Part one can be found here: Mr. Meckis and His Technicolor Art Projects

Continue reading “Part Two of Three: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions”

Part One of Three: Mr. Meckis and His Amazing Technicolor Art Projects

I’ve been seeing someone.

 A psychiatrist.  Or a psychologist. Or therapist.  Or something like that.  I don’t know what she is, actually.   I’ve been seeing someone who’s trying to help me figure out my shit, okay?!? I’ve got some demons that I’m not so proud of, and I’m trying to expose them and learn from them and move forward from them.  

For a long time, I have not recognized these demons that have laid dormant inside of me because in my “past life,” I was too busy being caught up in someone else’s life.  I never really paid much attention to myself because I didn’t even matter to myself.  It was this someone else’s needs that I allowed to matter above my own, all day, every day.  Since that person has been out of my life, I’ve been smacked in the face with some of my own personal crap.  It’s not very comfortable, sometimes, finding out that these things exist inside of me.  But I’m learning to manage them.  I’m learning to identify fears and patterns and recognize that I’m playing old patterns and I’m allowing–sometimes– fear to get in the way of my success– both personally and professionally.

 Currently, I’m working on this nagging fear of not being “good enough.” I’m not a good enough teacher, friend, “plus one”, sister, daughter, cousin, whatever…I’m just not “good enough.”   And so I’ve been reflecting on my life, trying to figure out where this feeling (or false belief) comes from, and trying to have some compassion for myself, and forgiving myself for having these feelings, and even giving myself a bit of a hug and learning that “I’m okay” in spite of– and maybe because of– my past interaction  with life in general.  

This three part series is about some of those discoveries– my earliest memories of not feeling good enough.  The series will end with how I’ve learned to deal with those demons, what actually might have been happening in these moments that I describe,  and what I now tell myself when these demons pop up in my current life. Continue reading “Part One of Three: Mr. Meckis and His Amazing Technicolor Art Projects”

An English-Speaking American White Girl in Punta Cana: Primer Tiempo

imageMy sister and I recently travelled to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. To be honest, initially I wasn’t overly excited to be going there. I embrace new situations and adventures, and I say “yes” to nearly every opportunity, and I did say yes to this too, but I was scared to death. I’d never been out of the country, let alone to a third world country, and I was actually scared. Feeling scared is not completely foreign to me, but this was a new kind of fear– one I wasn’t certain I knew how to handle.

After a long day of connecting flights, we’d finally arrived. We passed through immigration and customs before getting to our final gate where we were greeted by Dominican heat and humidity. The Punta Cana International Airport is mostly outdoors. Its roofs are made of thatch. Although it had some modern conveniences inside, it was becoming more and more abundantly clear that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. And naturally, everyone spoke Spanish. I took a little Spanish in high school, but I certainly didn’t remember much more than hola and bueno. Immediately, I was out of my English-speaking comfort zone as this was something I’d never seen, felt, or experienced. My anxiety continued to rise.

Frantically, I began to text some loved ones back home of my arrival. My efforts proved futile, as I was unable to connect with anyone. The anxiety continued to rise. And I also grew disgusted with myself for my abundant reliance on technology to “feel connected”.

We were on a group trip, so we had plenty of experienced travelers with us, but that didn’t seem to subside the unease that continued to grow in the pit of my stomach. A bus would take us to our resort, and it was during that ride that I began to feel a very heightened sense of my own white, middle class privilege.

The road was long and dark. Dominican locals on mopeds and other travelers accompanied us on the 70 mph speed limit “highway,” but they were few and far between. There were no street lights, traffic lights, or convenience stores along the way. No Starbucks on every other block. There were very few four-wheeled vehicles. There was darkness. And what seemed to be desolation, although of this I could not be certain because it was after 10:00 pm.

And still, in spite of being a part of a group, in spite of having my older sister sitting beside me, I’d never felt so alone and scared at the same time.

Things seemed to improve as our bus rolled up to the gated resort. Palm trees illuminated by twinkle lights lead our way to the grand hall where we would check into our rooms. The check in procedure was antiquated by American standards, as there was no computerized check in, rather our reservations had been tracked on form documents that had been typewritten. Resort personnel filed the paper documents in wooden file cabinets rather than in a nebulous iCloud. Wifi, I was quickly coming to learn, would likely be sketchy.

When we arrived in our room, my anxiety had piqued, and I began to cry. Over and over, I apologized to my sister because I didn’t know why I was crying; in fact, I was laughing at myself through my tears because I couldn’t pinpoint what in the hell was wrong with me. Why was I crying?!? Here I was, on the vacation of a lifetime; a trip I hadn’t even had to pay for; a sunny island where all I’d be asked to do was relax. And that was part of the problem– I don’t know how to relax. I’ve spent most of my life always “on”. What would happen to me if I gave up total control? If I allowed myself to let my hair down and really take in my new environment? If I allowed the discomfort to transform me rather than trap me?

I’d decided on the former. I wanted to transform.

To be continued…

The Purge

Comedian George Carlin had this skit where he comically postulates about the very human and very American condition of collecting stuff. It’s one of my favorites. According to Carlin, we are in a constant state of collecting stuff. For the whole transcript– which is hilarious, I might add– you can go here:

I’m no different than those Carlin criticizes. I have quite the accumulation of stuff: stuff I have from my childhood, stuff I’ve collected in my career, stuff that I don’t know where it came from, all kinds of stuff.

My stuff was suffocating me.

My house is fairly small, and yet I managed to pack it full of stuff, so much that I anticipated the floor joists breaking and perhaps the siding falling off the outside of the house.

But here’s the thing: I don’t need all that stuff. I suppose most of us don’t need all the stuff we cram into our homes, yet we all seem to keep accumulating more and more stuff.

During the last two weeks of summer vacation, I purged the shit out of my house. Every room fell victim to a ruthless inventory. My closet was first. If it didn’t fit or I hadn’t worn it in over a year, it went into the Goodwill pile. For kitchen and other household items, if I hadn’t used it in a year or it was worn out, it got tossed. If an item didn’t serve me, it got tossed. If it was an item that I hadn’t used in a long time, yet was inexpensive enough that I could re-purchase it if I regretted shedding it, tossed.

And then there was the memorabilia. I made some tough decisions there and decided that at the end of the day, the memory of those “events” was all that mattered. They would be forever etched in my head, regardless of any insignificant momento that might’ve been attached to it. So some of that stuff got tossed too.

And for a number of years, I’d saved a bunch of journals and letters that I’d written to Jeff when we were struggling in our marriage. What was I hanging onto them for?!? To remember that painful past? Why?!? That hardly seems useful. But I thought that maybe I could learn something from some of them so as to not make the same mistakes that I’d made in the past. My letters, my own words, caused me some shame and also some enlightenment. There were some things I wrote that I thought “what a bitch!” of myself. Other things, I thought, “I will never do THAT again!” And then I refused to dwell. I read them once, processed what I’d read, vowed to never repeat my mistakes, and then threw them in the garbage. Why hold on to that pain from my past?!? So I let it go.

I don’t consider myself to be a tree hugger or a hippy or a spiritualist or any one particular sort of “weirdo” by societal standards, but I do believe in positive and negative energies. I believe that much of my stuff– the stuff I no longer used, was worn out, no longer served me, it was a reminder of a painful past– was negative energy that I was allowing in my home. And I fully believe that in order to bring more positive into my life, I must release the negative.

So I sent some unused furniture to a local charity. I stuffed my GMC Terrain full of stuff I no longer use. My negative energies that I’d stored in my house for years will likely become positive energies in someone else’s home. Someone out there needs my stuff that I no longer need.  It can serve someone else. It will have value for someone else.

A loaded Terrain, moments before being driven off to the local Goodwill.

And the other stuff that nobody needs? It’s going to the landfill. Probably still not the best place,”earth-wise”, but the right place. For me.

two giant garbage bins filled to the rim, 15-20 garbage bags, and other assirted junk awaits refuse removal.

I can breathe more easily now. I sleep better. The walls in my house don’t feel like they’re caving in on me anymore. I feel like I’m more open to positive experiences in my life. Coz its not “stuff” that brings me joy. It’s the people in my life and the way I share my life with them that brings me joy. I’m ready for more of that. So very ready. Bring it!