Trauma is something that stays with us our whole lives. Even when we're doing great, it lives with us in different ways, sometimes triggered in unexpected ways and sometimes affecting us in unexpected ways. Traumatic events like this week's mass shooting may re-trigger trauma for many. One of the ways it can affect us is in our sleep, but there are ways you can treat trauma related sleep issues, and of course other PTSD symptoms.
That is the question. To ensure that we're all on the same page, ghosting is when you intentionally disappear from someone's life--stop answering texts, calls, emails, and any other form of communication. This also includes blocking people on social media platforms. It's not always an easy decision to make, nor one that I ever really want to make, but sometimes you just have to. I learned that there are times, especially as a woman, you just have to look out for yourself. So when is it appropriate to ghost someone or how do you know when ghosting is the best response? I have had this discussion with several friends, male and female, and if you find yourself wondering if you should ghost someone or not, here are a few examples of when is probably an appropriate situation for ghosting. (It's important to note that I am speaking from a female perspective because I am a woman, but the reverse also applies for men in similar situations.)
Does your mom like to momsplain everything? Momsplaining is explaining how to do something you already know, often accompanied by "life lessons" you've heard many times. My mom loves to momsplain EVERYTHING under the freakin' sun. It can really annoy me and get under my skin while I am enduring the momsplanation, but it actually makes me laugh after the fact, because it's kind of pretty funny. Sometimes the things she momsplains are so ridiculous all you can do is laugh. From life lessons, to beauty and health regiments, to household chores, to driving directions, mama covers it all!
Here are my top 6 momsplanatations from my mommy dearest:
It's important to remember that, unlike mansplaining which is an act of egocentric patronization, momsplaining is an act of love...and probably a need to still feel like mom even when her children are grown ass human beings. The truth is, I find myself turning into my mother more and more. So, to any future children I may have, I apologize ahead of time for any momsplaining you will have to endure.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I finally watched the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast, and as an original fan, I found it as magical and moving as ever. It surprised me that I could still be so moved by this “silly” fairytale that captured my six year old imagination, and I even felt a little silly admitting that. However, as I watched it, I thought about all the ways this story possibly influenced my life—my love for books and fancy libraries, pretty gowns and dresses, exploring castles, adventure, curiosity, fearlessness in the face of monsters (or adversity). I also thought about how apparently some folks were offended by Le Fou being gay, and boycotted the film. First of all, who cares. Secondly, if you’re really worried about your child being exposed to homosexuality in this film, well, I highly doubt they will notice it. I had no clue as a kid and didn’t care. All I saw was a funny, short side-kick, and all I cared about was the singing and dancing.
There was a meme going around about how people were so concerned about Le Fou being gay, but had no care or worry that Belle, a human woman, was falling in love with and kissing a beast. This sat with me as I watched the film, because the story does raise some very valid questions. This story is one that leads us to believe we can change a beast into a prince by loving him. In real life, that is not always the case.
Yet, so many of us girls like to love the “bad boy,” or the “broken boy.” We want to be the one who turns him good, we want to save him from his brokenness, we want to be the light to his darkness. I once lived with a beast and no matter how I tried to love him, he kept me locked up, he beat me, berated me, tortured me, and there was no changing him. He was very sick, and it didn’t matter how much I loved him, I could have been Aphrodite herself, and it wouldn’t matter. He needed help beyond me, and beyond love.
I’ve also dated a guy whom everyone loved, and in general is not a terrible human being, but there were parts of him that were very broken as the result of a very broken family. He was highly immature, especially emotionally immature. Could he eventually mature? Maybe…maybe not. He was an ego-maniac who lived off of attention—could he be brought down to earth? I don’t know.
So that begs the question, do people change? Some folks are of the mindset that people do not change. I’m not entirely sure what belief I subscribe to on this matter. I believe that life happens, and the events of our lives can alter our perspectives and the way we live our lives. As I self-reflect on my own life, I wonder if certain events in my life have changed me. I wonder if some of my "flaws" and characteristics that I want to improve on have changed or can be changed. What causes me to act and react certain ways? If I can identify those triggers, can I change? I don't know, but I do believe that people can become more self-aware. The more self-aware I am of myself, the more I can change how I act and react. I also believe that if we are capable of change, the change must start with ourselves, the desire to change ourselves. And that goes back to being self-aware. It all boils down to self-awareness. If we’re self-aware, we can better choose our actions and words.
Be self-aware. Be love. Be brave. Be excellent to each other.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I always feel awkward when people ask me how married life is, because the truth is, it doesn't feel much different. We lived together before we got married, so other than being legally and sacredly bound together for eternity, the only thing that has changed is that my husband says "no" to me more often now. "Wanna go to the Dodger game with our friends?" "No, baseball is boring." "Wanna go hiking?" "Today? No, I've got ten hours of cycling to watch." Whereas, before being married, I could pretty much plan anything and he'd come along. I guess now he knows for sure I'm not going anywhere so he doesn't have to do everything I say. This must be in some ways how parents feel about their teenagers. Still, it wasn't like once the vows were said, that I knew we were eternally committed to each other. I knew that when we decided we wanted to marry each other.
Don't get me wrong, the sacred bond we share now is something beyond beautiful and incredible. It's something that is between us and God. But when we're talking every day living, not a whole lot has changed.
So, if you ask me how married life is and expect a gooey response, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't have one for you. I always think it's great and touching when my friends on Facebook can't stop gushing over their wedding day and marital bliss. Sometimes seeing all that makes me feel inadequate, but then I kick myself in the butt and say, "Snap out of it, Justine." I don't even like to get publicly gushy. My last post about my husband was how my life would be much less obnoxiously French without him. I mean, thank goodness his father is English so he's got some sensibility about him.
What is marital bliss anyways? Is it never arguing? Probably not. Is it having healthy communication habits? Definitely yes, but I highly doubt any couple goes into marriage being complete masters of this. For me, marital bliss lies on a spectrum of going to the bathroom with the door open and exploring the world together. Pretty and exotic pictures that we post on social media have nothing on the experiences and laughter we get to share.
Marriage isn't easy, but it's showing up every day. I sometimes wonder if it's "too early" for me to say that marriage is hard and it's a lot of work. But the truth is, any time you put two people together, two people who have lived a life before knowing each other, two people who have their own personalities, it becomes a journey that we all bring our baggage to and we help each other carry the load. Along the journey we unpack some baggage and learn to leave others behind. But then we also pick up more baggage. I mean, how do you go anywhere and not bring back a souvenir--literally and figuratively.
The thing is, life after the wedding is life. And I'm one of the blessed ones who has a partner for life to navigate calm and stormy waters. So how is married life? Married life is life.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
At 28 years old, I learned how to ski for the first time. It was great, until it was disastrous, and then it was great again. Despite my husband being a former competitive skiier, I decided to take proper lessons. The lessons went great. My teacher kept saying "athlete position" and I squatted, engaging my glutes and my quads, like nobody's business and felt like a boss. When I figured out how to stop, I felt ready to graduate from the bunny slopes to the..."hare" slope. I wasn't ready for anything crazy, but something a little more challenging. This one was actually called "Little Thunder," but it was not so little.
After lunch, we grabbed some poles for me to use, because my husband said it would help me out, and then headed for the lift. On the lift, I could feel my heart tell my head to have no fear, there was no way I was going to fall out of the lift chair--I just sat still and tight. Trying to quiet the fear I completely forgot about what I was supposed to do to get off the lift. By the time it was time to get off, Chris grabbed me and pulled me off with him--it was great, because I didn't even have to worry about falling.
At the top of the this slope my brain suddenly turned to mush as I realized how far down I had to go to reach the base of the mountain again. Needless to say, the next 10-15 minutes were a nightmare, and I totally ate it a few times. I'd go, gain too much speed,
lose control, and eat it with all the dramatics of a Looney Toon episode. At least, that's how I imagined I looked. I partly blame the poles, because they totally threw me off; but what was more challenging was figuring out how to get up whenever I did fall. I hadn't learned how to do that in class, because I didn't fall during my class. I was grateful Chris was with me, but it didn't help that we are exact opposite personalities, so however he was trying to instruct me was not working. At one point I tried to see if I could side-step down the entire mountain. I wanted to cry like a big baby a couple times, because why was this so hard???? And how the heck do I slow down and stop when I want to????
Eventually Chris took all four of our poles, held them in both his hands and told me to grab on. Then he skiied us down the rest of the mountain, and I asked him why we couldn't always ski like that, because that was so fun! When we got to the base, I decided to go back to the bunny slopes and he went off to find our friends. Once I mastered the bunny slopes I slowly moved my way higher and higher up the hill, and practiced stopping. By the end I was proud of myself, and felt ready to tackle "Little Thunder" again, but instead we went tubing to finish out the day.
Skiing reminded me of a few good life lessons, including:
Remember, life is an adventure--embrace it.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I heard that Archbishop Jose Gomez, the archbishop of the Los Angeles diocese was passed up for Cardinal by Pope Francis, because Pope Francis wanted to bring up some of the "smaller" guys. It would have been easy to appoint Archbishop Jose Gomez, because he runs the largest diocese in the United States, which naturally means having great influence. However, Pope Francis decided to show everyone that the guys covering small diocese, the ones who may go unnoticed, are just as important. You can never forget the "little" people, because they too make up our community.
I don't know how true this is, but it sounds like Pope Francis, and it made me think about the state of our country. There's concern that those being appointed to lead our country will only look out for the big guns. Right after our election someone told me, "Justine, you have nothing to worry about, because none of this is likely to affect you. You're not a minority. You're privileged." My mouth dropped a little and I was deeply offended. I'm American-Asian and I'm a woman. How am I not a minority? I understood what she meant though. But regardless of how any policy directly or indirectly affects me, this is my country, my people, my world. These leaders are supposed to stand up for our values and work for the people. Have we all forgotten what the very first line of the preamble to our Constitution says?
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I started thinking a lot about these words as our country continues to feel more and more divided. WE are the PEOPLE of this great country. If we are to always works towards a more perfect Union, we cannot reject parts of the union, and parts of the people. Having a difference of opinions is one thing; but taking action that most certainly disturbs domestic tranquility and divides the people is another. If we don't work to support ALL the people of our country, then we are only allowing ourselves to fall greatly and fall far. True, times were different when our founding fathers drafted the Constitution, and many of them may have been racist and slave owners, but the preamble to the Constitution does not refer to any specific kind of people like "We the white male People of the United States." Nor does it say, "We the some People." No, it says, simply, "We the People..." Our founding fathers drafted and implemented the Constitution on behalf of ALL Americans.
I keep repeating those words to myself, and I keep thinking about my friends' families who are affected and would be affected by any sort of ban on Muslim countries. How are "We the People" able to split up families, upstanding American families, because we are driven by fear? Many of my friends' families fled dire and perilous situations, came here, worked hard, and lived out their version of the American dream. They embody the American values our forefathers laid out to protect in the Constitution.
The sad part is, this sort of anti-immigrant attitude is not new to our nation; but we live in a time where we shouldn't have to fight this. It's the Muslims today, it was the Italians, Irish, and Chinese before, who will it be ten or twenty years from now? It should be no one, if we remember our Constitution, if we remember what is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”), and if we remember that refugees are people, too. They're escaping the horrors from which we are trying to protect our country. So, we're on the same side.
How can a nation ever be strong if it preys on its most vulnerable links? If you want to fly, you must lift those who helped build your wings.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Today we celebrated the life of an incredible man who loved his family and his community. Frank is synonymous with father and police officer. To serve and protect was just who he was.
I'll never understand God's plan, but I will always trust in His love. As I listened to the service and realized the psalm and the gospel chosen were the same ones we chose for our wedding, I kind of smiled to myself. That's because through all the stages of life and death, God reminds us to show mercy and to love one another. And while we're on earth, the thing that matters the most is how we treat each other, because that it was stays on earth beyond our time here.
It seems cruel to take away someone we love when they should have more time with us, but no one is ever really gone from us when we have been touched by their love. After a long battle with cancer, Frank is finally at peace, but his greatest gift to us is his love. His legacy lives on in his two beautiful children and they will pass that legacy on to their kids.
So, as we celebrated one man, one hero's life, we were all bound together by his love and reminded that...
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I was having such a crummy day, and had three different things go wrong before 8am, so I spent the day trying to work them all out. Thankfully, two of them were resolved by the end of the day. I felt beat, but kept trying to remind myself throughout the day to find the good. For example, I was so stressed that the pain I have been feeling in my teeth for the past couple weeks seemed to disappear. My brain was probably so hyper focused on the chaos of the day that it didn't have time to feel the pain. I also kept reminding myself that there are worse things that could happen.
In the evening, I had my last RCIA group meeting, and I was so out of it I actually thought of skipping it, which never happens. This RCIA group has been my weekly vitamin, my sanity if you will. So, I scuffled up the energy to go, and sure enough it was exactly what I needed.
Beautiful Sandra shared with us the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are within each of us, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which we should all strive for. She reminded us that we each carry all these gifts within us, which include: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, right judgment, courage, reverence, and wonder and awe (sometimes known as fear, but better described as wonder and awe). Then she described to us the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which include charity, peace, joy, kindness, goodness, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, truthfulness, self-control, and chastity. More than her just educating us on the Holy Spirit, I could feel her speaking to us with such love and kindness, it was like listening to an older sister inspiring and encourage me to live the good life of Love.
As she passionately and lovingly opened our minds to remembering to use our gifts to obtain the fruits, she asked us to think of the one fruit we could use more of in our life. Between patience and self-control, and thinking of the day I had, I thought I could use more patience. I could always use more patience, but now was a good time to remember that and try to practice patience. Later we each picked out a piece of paper in the shape of a dove with one of the fruits printed on it, from a basket being passed around--much like picking a fruit out of a fruit basket. I ended up picking "joy." I thought, "Hmm, I didn't know I needed more joy in my life, but this must be God's note to me." Joy is responding to life in a positive way. The scripture written under the word read "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete." John 15:11. I contemplated these words for a moment, and realized this is exactly what I need today--joy. God, give me the grace to respond to these unexpected complications and issues in a positive way so that I may bear the fruit of joy.
Later on, Father Ed reminded us of Mother Teresa smiling through everything. She worked with the poorest of the poor, and saw people dying every day, but always did so with a smile. Why? Because the poorest of the poor don't want to be brought down further with your long depressing face. "...the smile is the beginning of love," she once said. Now ain't that the truth?
You can have the crummiest day, but smiling makes it better. It really does. To face tough times with grace is a gift of gifts, because it reminds you to have courage, act with wisdom and knowledge, be understanding, make right judgment, feel reverence, and rest in the wonder and awe that is life. After all, there's no point in crying over your own misery, so you might as well tilt your head up towards the sun and smile.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Without humility, there is no charity...
Over the last weekend I was frustrated when a Turkish football derby was cancelled due to a “serious security threat,” and the national team also postponed its training for some international matches coming up. When you cannot play or watch a friendly sporting event, then your freedom is being taken away. What kind of evil feels the need to get in the way of football?
Tuesday morning I woke up to news of a terrorist attack, that occurred in Brussels, and my heart sunk. I immediately checked in with friends there, and thankfully they’re all okay. For the first time, I felt sort of defeated, like okay, this is the life we face and the world we live in--you never know when you wake up which part of the world might be attacked. It's bound to hit my city soon, isn't it? I know that there are parts of the world accustomed to regular bombings and violence, but now instead of trying to help certain parts of the world, it seems as though we all most stand on guard. Still, I have to believe that through love and education we can conquer hate…or can we?
A long, long time ago, say about a couple thousand years ago when folks sat on the floor to eat, it was important to have clean feet, because it would be embarrassing to come to the table with dirty feet. So, usually when you entered someone's house, you would have your feet cleaned--typically by a servant.
At the Last Supper, Jesus asked us to love one another, and then he washed all his disciples' feet. This was a symbol of his love, and an incredible gesture of great humility and service, because without humility there is no charity. By bringing himself down to the level of a foot-washer, Jesus showed us he is one of us and we must love one another equally.
This week is Holy Week, the most important week of the year for Christians, and the tradition of foot-washing continues every Holy Thursday. At my church, we too, carry on the tradition of foot-washing, and last night I participated for the first time. It was a beautiful experience, because not only do you wash someone's feet, you must have your feet washed, too. The beauty in that is that what we give, we must be able to receive as well. Often times, the latter can be more difficult than the former.
No matter your religion, or lack there of, the significance of this tradition is but one powerful and universal message--love.
So, as I think about the terror that continues to plague our modern society, I pray that we all remember to be foot-washers. Throughout mass on Holy Thursday, as I watched people wash others' feet and get their feet washed, I thought how much more love and peace there might be if we all were foot-washers. That doesn't mean going around washing everyone's feet every day. Even something as simple as letting the person behind you in the grocery line go ahead of you, because he only has one item to checkout is being a foot-washer. It shows you are aware of others.
Pope Francis also continued the tradition, and he washed the feet of Muslim, Hindu, Orthodox, and Catholic refugees. As Jesus did, he reminds us that love knows no boundaries and sees every colour.
Be a foot-washer. Remember to be a foot-washer.
BIG LOVE & HUGS