Saturday, January 24, 2009

Me, Myself and I

Recently there’s been a spate of lists in which the participant notes interesting trivial things about themselves. They were fun to read and I thought I would try it myself. The number appears to range from 25 to 10 so I’ve compromised at 20. Enjoy!

1.I was named for my paternal grandfather who died a little over 9 months before I was born. If I had been a girl, I would have been named Julie Marie. Bizarely, my cousin who was born after me ended up with a similar name.
2.I love cats. I pretended the neighbour’s black cat was actually mine. I renamed it Licorice (much better than Ernie) and pretended it was my familiar and could talk to me telepathically like in “The Cat From Outer Space.”
3.My parents tried for 5 years to conceive me. I’m glad they didn’t give up. My mother suspected that my queer nature was due to hormones she took to be more fertile. It really doesn’t matter or change anything. My brother was born three years later with no trouble at all.
4.It seems odd to me that in the first half of my life, I was in smaller versions of larger cities whereas now the reverse is true. I was born in the “Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas. My hometown was Beloit, named for Beloit, Wisconsin. I graduated from Ottawa University, a small town in Kansas, not the capital of the country I now live in. I see myself living in cities for the time being which is something I never would have imagined saying in high school.
5.I am distantly related to Abraham Lincoln. But can’t prove it. Supposedly he is my great-great grandfather’s great-great grandfather’s uncle. I do know that Lincoln’s mother was a Hanks as was my great grandmother.
6.The last 4 digits of my phone number spell DANO.
7.I’ve been blogging at for almost four years (in April). In that time I’ve posted 155 times, the vast majority of which has been the product of my own work.
8.Speaking of writing, I’ve been pen-pals with my cousin (see above) since I was nine. I communicate probably more with her than any other person. Which is saying a lot since I’m a pretty strong in that area.
9.I’ve been “out” for ten years now. I’ve only had two long-term (over a year) relationships. I’ve had my heart-broken twice and my world rocked once. Still a ways to go yet!
10.I have a more-than-average resemblance to my family. In university, people often mistook my parents for siblings and mistook my sibling and me for twins. Most everyone in my family has this distinctive blue eye colour. Strangers have commented to me many a time. I was even voted “Best Eyes” in HS. They just had black and white photos of only your eyes posted and I’ve always wondered if the results would have been the same if the rest of my face had been shown.
11.I have a collection of neckties that I wear for school. People commonly ask me how many I have. I think it’s around 80 or so but it’s been awhile since I last counted. A lot.
12.I may (or may not) be allergic to penicillin. One of us had a reaction and my mom can’t remember which.
13.I’m a Virgo but on the cusp between Libra. I don’t necessarily believe in horoscopes but a lot of the traits attributed to these signs apply to me. Coincidence? You decide!
14.I am right-handed which isn’t all that unusual. The curious part is that since the beginning, I have insisted on using the left hand for functions on the toilet. My parents thought this was really odd. I found out later that in Asian cultures this is a common custom. I don’t seriously entertain the idea of past-lives but it would explain why I’m drawn to that culture.
15.The best and worst books I’ve ever read were both recommended to me by my aforementioned cousin. In her defense, there have been overwhelmingly more good than bad.
16.The greatest influences in my life have ironically been mostly women.
17.I have always wanted to see a ghost. I am open to the possibility that they exist. I don’t have a fear of death or death-related things. I’ve been to more funerals than I can count. The ones I regret missing were: my piano teacher’s, my godfather’s and my friend’s (GB Dave).
18.I graduated from a private university a semester early even with an extra semester of student teaching. I did this by taking all my prerequisite classes early in HS or during my summer breaks. Because of this, generous scholarship packages, two part-time jobs and a small government loan (that was forgiven by teaching in a low-income district), I am debt-free.
19.I’ve always wanted to be a teacher and knew I would be since I was a child. I feel so blessed I can do what I love. I am praying to get back to the primary level some day, Lord willing. That being said, I have been drawn to writing for quite some time as well and imagine myself being Carrie Bradshaw. Just gay. And Christian. It could happen!
20.I love the piano and singers who play the piano. Sadly I really haven’t played in ages. It’s something I would like to get back to doing. Perhaps in the Year of the Ox!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hooked On A Feelin'

Walking home a few nights ago, I found myself feeling very happy. This was probably due to a variety of factors, not the least being the Yellowtail Shiraz my good friend and I shared over a lovely dinner at his home, followed by a book chat with cheese! I had been thinking about my life a year ago and how utterly trapped I felt. Like when Ani DiFranco sings "There's got to be more than this boat I'm in." I had prayed to somehow find my way out of the dissatisfaction, the feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. And then it suddenly occurred to me in that one cold, crisp moment that my prayers HAD been answered last year. I rediscovered church and my spirituality. I learned about inner joy and peace. I dealt with the reality of my relationship instead of obsessing on the past or longing for the future. My life is now full of potential and possibilty and now I realize that it always was.

And that's just the funny thing I've come to discover about emotions. They are 1) fleeting and temporary and therefore 2) not part of the essence that is me. Being aware of my emotions is not only to acknowledge them but also to separate/depersonalize them from who I am. So instead of being a happy/sad/bitter person, I am merely someone who experiences these feelings. As with all external experiences, these can influence me (if I so choose) but don't determine who I am or my actions(also my choice).

I caught myself personalizing feelings the other day when I was talking to a friend on the phone about my least favourite part of church. I don't particularly care for the "stand and greet those brothers and sisters in Christ" part. I stopped talking and thought about what I was feeling and came to realize that I wasn't upset about that at all. I was actually embarrassed that I was in church alone- feeling uncomfortable, outside my "comfort zone" if you will. I switched gears from a negative place to one that was more peaceful and in tune with my essence.

I've also noticed that my feelings often "overwhelm me" when I'm in periods of stress due to physical pain, lack of sleep or other outside factors. Knowing that these triggers exist, I can make allowances, being aware that I may experience stronger, more ego-driven emotions on that day. It's a bit like a weather forecast I suppose.

Merely being aware of this actually diminishes the intensity of the emotion. It's okay to feel things of course and I value emotions because that's what makes me alive, human. In addition, I treasure the positive joyful feelings I have so much more, knowing that they are precious and fleeting but are not the essence of me.

At this point you may be asking- what IS our essence then? If it isn't our ego, experiences, feelings or ideas? I think Jesus already revealed this when he said "Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Cor.13:13)." When we are born, these are what we come into the world with, everything else is baggage that we choose to carry (or not). And when we die, we leave all that baggage behind. The only things we can take with us are peace, hope and love.

As you go about your day today try to be aware of the difference between your feelings and your center, your essence, your core, your chi, your spirit or your soul. Just like the sun, it's always there, even though (much like the winter lately) you can't always see it!