A Decade

If I added up the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years I have spent missing my mother, I am pretty sure it would be an astronomical number. All those moments have brought me to this day; the tenth anniversary. A decade without my mother. It makes me sick to my stomach, putting the words out there into the universe.

My life has changed in such dramatic ways since I hung up the phone for the final time the night she passed away. No matter far I have come, no matter how much growth I have achieved, no matter the rises and falls, I am still gutted by every moment that led to her death.

The people who loved me the most are all gone. I live in a world where no one mentions my mother. No one talks about her, no one acknowledges that she even existed, and it deeply affects me.

I remember when she was alive and people would often accuse her of being “too emotional”. I don’t think people, especially now, are emotional enough. I don’t think people are anywhere near as human, kind, caring, or compassionate as my mother was. Occasionally I catch myself looking for those qualities in others, and I find people sorely lacking. Perhaps this is why I am more introverted and isolated than ever before.

I am by no means searching for a “mother figure” or “mother replacement” because those are simply things that do not exist for me. No one else could ever be her. I can hear my father’s voice whenever I speak to my brother, but my mother’s voice has grown distant and foreign, and for me, that is very sad indeed.

I’m never not going to be disgusted to have someone, be it a family member or a friends, act like today is “just another day”. Today is the day I lost my mother, my best friend, and my guidepost. As imperfect as I am, I will never be the kind, caring, loving person my mother was to her children and other people. I have learned to accept that.

Lighting Yarhzeit tonight was difficult and highly emotional, but I did it. I’m doing my best. My Mom always told me “Your best is all you can ever do, and if people don’t like it, at least you know you didn’t sit around ignoring a situation.”

I’m a writer because of my mother. She introduced me to power through my voice, and that’s something that will never change. Nor will my commitment and devotion to her memory.

“Seek the sweet surrender of simplicity. Listen to the sound of faith like a flute playing inside your chest. Go within. Serenity lives always within your reach.”
-Ching Qu Lam

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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I’m Still Processing

Hey, everyone. 🙂 It’s been a rough time for me. Unfortunately my “rough time” is on a never-ending loop. No one is more tired of it than I am.

During all of this chaos and pain, I haven’t had “Writers Block”, but I have certainly had “Writer needs a break.” and “Writer needs a fucking vacation.” Unfortunately, the devil is in the details and any kind of break isn’t in the cards.

For me, one of the most crucial things about being a writer is choosing your subject matter. Do I want to write about people dying? Not so much. Do I want to write about Kate Middleton giving birth? No. Do I care about every single thing going on in the world? No, I don’t. That doesn’t make me a bad person, it simply means my priorities are different. My brain has an insanely fast processing system for certain types of information (I’m not kidding. Even when I’m asleep, I feel like I haven’t ever been “powered down”.), and sometimes I want silence. Okay, more often than not, I genuinely want silence. Inner peace is more difficult to achieve than one realizes.

I had a horrible experience last week that I do want to talk about, but in fairness to myself, I am still processing everything so that when I do speak up and speak out, people will understand why I am doing it. It’s important to call certain things into question and raise awareness. When it comes to mental health, any form of chronic pain, and migraines, I am NOT going to be silent about my experiences. These are small medical communities full of daily sufferers who aren’t being taken seriously. They are being cast out and demoralized by the very people they turn to for help. It’s disgusting. I refuse to be someone who doesn’t use the power of her position and voice to help others to the best of my ability.

Initially I was quite embarrassed over the incident. I do plan on talking about it, probably in my next major post. In the midst of having to feel ashamed and embarrassed, I thought “What if this happened to someone who wasn’t as smart or as strong as I am? What if this happened to someone who couldn’t advocate for themselves and go home at the end of this?” It’s been slightly over a week, and my mind is still in shock that I went through it and came out the other side. I know my behavior was in check, and I know I didn’t lose my temper until things escalated, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed at all. It’s important to explain and share it. I would hate for any of you to have gone through this. I had a few minutes where I was angry and afraid, and then this deeper part of me responded. Sometimes I forget that I’m a knock down, drag-you-by-your-hair, lay you out on the ground, make you cry for your mother, FIGHTER. Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. Of course, I’d like to be reminded without the outrageous drama. This will all make sense soon, I promise.

To those of you who have reached out to me over these last few weeks via social media, or by phone or text, please know how much your thoughts, kindness, compassion, and words mean to me. When friends and readers come to you with support, those are some of the best moments in life. Cherish them.

I think part of why I felt overwhelmed by the support I received is because I don’t ever assume my words or thoughts are making a difference for someone else. To then hear how my experiences, struggles, humor, and grace under pressure have helped someone get through their own battles, well, it puts a lot into perspective for me.

For the most part, I write something and I click publish. I might look at it once or twice after the fact, but I don’t usually go back. I put it out into the universe to be read, and I go on with my life. There’s only so much self-promotion I am willing to do. I don’t respect anyone who shoves their work down your throat, so I refuse to be anything like that.

More and more, people are coming back to me, sometimes months later, to thank me for speaking up, for sharing my very real thoughts, and for inspiring them. I am only egotistical to a small degree in that I am proud of the things I put my name on, and I’m the first person who has to laugh at my jokes and weirdness. When someone calls me and they’re genuinely hurting and upset, but by the end of the call they are laughing hysterically, I realize I have a gift that helps people. Perhaps G-d really does work in mysterious ways. 😉 I am a firm believer that people are drawn to you for specific reasons. Anyone drawn to me is either looking for strength, loyalty, a genuine ear, a genuine friend, or all of the above. Because in the beginning, we are all just words. You have no idea how that will transition into real life, but anyone who has ever met me and become a bigger part of my life will tell you I am consistently the same person. I can be hysterically funny and make you feel better, I can completely have your back, I will take your secrets to the grave, and/or I can be detached. I don’t think a single one of my true friends has ever witnessed the detached side of me. I am well aware that I’m rare. I have had to accept my rarity throughout the course of my life, but I feel like the right people come into your life and they stay. Anyone with an agenda, who doesn’t get what they want, is going to leave. It’s difficult to know what someone wants when they’re “new”. I suspect anyone who first meets me is meeting the cool, detached person who isn’t about to kiss anyone’s ass or try too hard for anything. I’m not looking to impress anyone. I am not starving for attention or friendship. I would rather have one genuine friend than one hundred “friends” coming into my life with an agenda. I can spot bullshit immediately.

In the midst of the ordeal I am still processing, I was asked “What do you think your purpose in life is?” I think we can all safely agree that is an exceedingly DEEP question to ask anyone. Like anyone else, I am still discovering my path, navigating my talents, and taking things one minute at a time. I will almost certainly spend more time wondering about purpose, and seeking it out. For many people this is defined by their roles in life. Mine is not. It’s a little bit like when someone says “You’re obviously a great Mom because you have cats.” The look on my face when people say this to me is always one of “Where the hell did that come from?” One thing has nothing to do with the other, and the analogy is kind of disturbing to me. It’s highly possible for a woman to be great at something and not have it likened to anything other than “You are great at this.” As human-beings, we wear many hats, but those hats should not be all that defines us.

I often find myself in situations where I feel appointed as the chief “slayer of demons”. While some people might say I don’t have to take on that responsibility, I will take on that which is of deep importance to me. If something could become a much bigger incident, I am more likely to see the bigger picture and get on board quickly, as opposed to backing down.

As a Scorpio, my sign is ruled by Mars and Pluto. Only one other sign in the zodiac has the same ruling planets. I’ve always found it interesting that Mars, which falls in line with the Roman God of War, would be attached to me. The way other people describe me is much the way astrologers and astronomers describe Mars. Combined with the constant regeneration of Pluto, it makes an awful lot of sense to me. Whether you believe in this sort of thing or not, I always notice how much these things tend to influence us. For many, it is without any knowledge whatsoever. I much prefer to be knowledgeable.

This incident is an enormous demon, and will probably not be the last one I have to slay in my lifetime. Not for a single second did I hesitate about retaliating. So while I navigate all the legalities and take a stand, I hope others will understand that I’m not only doing it for myself, I am doing it for everyone and anyone who is too afraid to speak up, or for those who fear backlash and/or repercussions.

I’ve been reminded of who I am. It’s taking a little time to mentally process all I’ve experienced and the knowledge that followed. I am determined to keep my head fully in this battle, and I know I will get there.

Wishing you all an empowering weekend and a fierce Full Moon ahead. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Well-Placed Word

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Not that long ago, what I can only presume is an “older gentleman”, and by “older”, I mean over fifty, but probably closer to seventy, sent me a private message on Facebook to complain about my use of a word. I remember reading the message and thinking “Are you for real?” Initially I ignored it, until I decided to reply and set him straight.

As a writer, and especially with something like this platform, I don’t feel I have to edit myself or dumb myself down. In fact, I transitioned to this platform from another one that is still “active”, because I felt like I was neutering myself there and wasn’t fully being the outspoken person I always am. I needed to remind myself how I started out and how I have grown, but not changed my voice and how I use it.

I have come to resent myself whenever I am not 100% me, especially when someone turns to me and gives me any type of “warning” about how vocal I am or how they would like for me to “behave”. I’m not a child or a trained dog, so that kind of behavior, when directed at me, is a quick way to get yourself on my shit list. I revel in authenticity. You cannot ask me to me something I’m not; because the results will be negative.

The word this man took such issue with is one I did edit, slightly. Instead of using the word I wanted to use, I said “effing”. If that offends someone, that is a sad state of affairs to me because that’s pretty clean in my eyes. I couldn’t get more “clean” with that specific word, either. Perhaps I should have used symbols, instead? I know lots of us use this word in our daily lives because no one is perfect and it’s probably an overused word in many instances. I’ve never counted, but I’m sure I use it daily.

I remember consciously making the decision to use it in that “edited” way so as not to offend anyone. And yet, I get someone who is offended by it. Big surprise. He somehow felt the need to inform me that I shouldn’t use it in connection with God on a public forum. I love it when people think they’re lecturing me. <rolls eyes>

“I don’t mean to come off judgmental…” Really? How did you expect to come off? When surfing Facebook or the Internet at large, I am certain we probably all come across things we don’t like, or things that affect us in a negative way. You have the right to engage or scroll on. Hell, you can walk away from your phone, computer, tablet, etc., and disengage entirely.  I will usually scroll on if something isn’t worth my effort because unless I know someone, what’s the point of engaging? Would I engage with a stranger on the street who said something stupid? It depends on the situation, obviously, but for the most part the answer is “No, I would not.” I’m not that nice, or approachable.

As a result of this person’s comment, I ended it with respectful wishes for the upcoming holiday (Passover) and left it there. I’ll probably have to block him if this comes up again, lest I offend his delicate sensibilities with my honesty and directness regarding Israel, Judaism, or perhaps the placement of the sun in the sky.

When something is titled “Poison In Lethal Doses”, you can come to expect certain things from me, since I’m the one producing the written content. Anyone who has read my bio can probably figure out that I’m a “take no prisoners” kind of chick. From day one, the way I have conducted myself as a writer is the reason I have received respect, not to mention a widespread audience. There are Harvard educated doctors who read my work (Yeah, it shocks me, too.). If they’re not offended by the occasional use of profanity to make a point, I’m good with that. This is definitely not the place for anyone who is sheltered or buttoned-up so tightly that an edited word bothers them.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had someone approach me in ANY way during the course of my career and tell me that one word I used bothered them. I think I’ve maybe offended one other person with my “brazen authenticity”, but for the most part, people either like me or they don’t. I can’t control how I affect others. I’ve mellowed over the years (sort of-ish) and curse a lot less than I once did, so I found myself staring at this message for a while, pondering how to handle it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replied in such a polite fashion, but I was incredibly polite. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE contacted ME, and that if someone takes issue with a word I use, the issue lies with them, not with me. I’m not so sheltered that people have to curb their words with me. I’d be more concerned with the tone of voice you use, because that’s something I am more inclined to get in someone’s face about.

On the Internet, unless you’re on YouTube, you can’t really pick up on tone from people you don’t know. I have relatives who I communicate with who I am positive do not pick up on my tones when we speak. If they did, they’d stop talking. I have several tones that are “warning tones”. My voice drops several octaves and my responses become icy, or short. A lot of my text messages are “warning tones” because I’m probably pissed off at the other person for being nosy, presumptive, rude, disrespectful, hurtful, etc. I don’t always pursue my anger towards someone if I know how it will be received. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s knowing who and what to argue about. If someone keeps talking or texting through the “warning tone”, I do not feel sorry for them when they inevitably incur my wrath.

I have many different tones to how I speak and express myself. There’s my “dry tone”, which is all about timing. In my family, we refer to it as my “dry, British humor”. It’s my Judi Dench tone, along with the accompanying expression, and sometimes I throw in the accent for good measure. It can be delivered in a myriad of ways. There’s my “funny tone”, my “sarcastic tone” which are also, all about timing and delivery. What I find interesting is how people who know me well are never entirely sure which tone is which. Whereas my brother KNOWS if I’m being a smart ass or just being me. He knows my “warning tones” because he will often remind me, when I use them, that stabbing someone with a fork is illegal. He can even pick up on it in a text message. He gets me, even though he often pretends not to.

Nine times out of ten, I get accused of being sarcastic when I’m simply stating the obvious. That’s when you know, for sure, that a person is making an assumption. Don’t make assumptions via text message, because you’re probably wrong. I simply don’t have time in my day-to-day life to use a “tone” via text. Unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m probably just stating facts. No one said I’m not rolling my eyes while swiping my reply. I might be, but the other person can’t see me and that’s probably a good thing, though I wouldn’t shy away from rolling my eyes at them if they were in front of me. I’m not two-faced.

My daily vernacular is a combination of varying expressions, both in English and other languages, along with wit and measures of sarcasm and honesty. In certain situations, I dial myself down approximately five to ten percent, because I have to filter myself with the other person. I don’t like being unable to fully be myself, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

A family member pushed my buttons last winter. After giving them ample time to “get over themselves” and apologize, they continued to treat me like shit and be rude and dismissive. Publicly, they behaved like nothing had occurred. Because this person married into my family, I have to shield my actual blood relative from the incident, and my subsequent feelings. But first, I wanted to verify if the behavior was normal, so I asked this person’s sibling, with whom I am equally close to, if this was normal. They told me “That hasn’t been my experience.” and proceeded to ask if I had said something offensive or hurtful, leading the person to respond negatively to me. I had done no such thing, and I found the question borderline absurd. They quickly dismissed the subject after I replied that I’d done nothing but be nice and kind, and went back to talking about themselves (Yeah, that’s my family. I wonder if group rates are offered in family therapy…). I have now spent over a year shielding this family member from my true feelings. Someone I respect said “Well, you’re keeping the peace because you don’t want to lose another friend.” I stared at him blankly, because he clearly forgot who he was talking to when he said that. “Keeping the peace” isn’t how I do things. That’s “people pleasing” behavior, and I REFUSE to do it.

Since the initial incident, I have tried my best to be polite to this person, but I’m sure I’m failing miserably. My concerted effort has clearly not been well-received because even after sending this person a birthday card, something I did NOT have to do, I’ve continued to be treated as a threat. However, I have to be honest with myself about how I feel. I cannot be fake.

Fast-forward to last week, when I received a text message inviting me for Passover. Normally I am invited at the last-minute each year to most holiday occasions, and while I consider the invitation supremely kind and genuine, it’s the last thing in the world I want to reply to. I’m not known for my diplomacy. I know I can’t say what I truly want to say in response, so naturally, that upsets me.

On pretty much any given day, the last thing I want to do is sit in a room with a group of people I don’t know and pretend to be interested in forced, polite chit-chat. It’s not who I am. Food is of zero interest to me, and people I’ve never met before rank up the list, too. I appreciate the invitation, but there’s no polite way to say “I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller.” On top of my very real feelings, there is always my health to consider. I try to be around as few people as possible with uncontrollable chronic migraines and all the other health issues I am currently trying to navigate. I just took my last round of antibiotics this morning, and I don’t even know if they helped, which is worrisome.

Chronic illness makes me unreliable for many events, especially anything short notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to heavily caffeinate in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else I committed to in advance. Inside, I feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but on the outside I don’t think people ever notice that something isn’t right. After all, the majority of people are only looking for visual clues. They’re not going deeper.

I ended up sending a very polite text reply to the invite last night. I was downright polite and borderline diplomatic (for me), but I didn’t get into any detail as to why I could not attend. If I’d been asked, that would have been a problem, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was told I am welcome anytime. I know it was genuine, so I was genuine in turn. I’m good with large crowds of strangers when I’m speaking in public or have a commitment, but there are still times when I will say no to such things.

This year, I need to spend the holiday focusing on my health, and giving myself a short break from all the craziness because I’m really suffering in terms of quality sleep. My body needs rest in the worst way. 😦 I won’t make any appointments those first few days (March 31st might have been a good day to get my MRI out of the way, but I’d feel bad doing it on a holiday.), but I do have things that I will need to get squared away during the following week.

Words are important in society. It’s how we communicate, because not everyone responds to non-verbal cues. I find that the well-placed word is crucial. It can be the difference between “keeping the peace”, should you enjoy the route, or starting a fight, but it can also be the difference between complimenting someone and making their day or going through life as an extremely unpleasant person. Each day, we make choices with our words.

No matter how you choose, I’ll be over here, maintaining my authenticity as a “Speaker Of Powerful Words”. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Peaks, Valleys, and Being Named

It’s disconcerting to be sitting here several years into this platform, and feel less sure of its direction than I did when I started out.

‘Poison In Lethal Doses’ was my decision to walk away from something that no longer suited me personally or served a greater purpose, and allowed me to return to my roots. It is, without question, one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s important to feel rooted in one’s self, without ego. A lot has changed from the first post to now, but I feel as though I’ve grown in leaps and bounds as a writer.

Last month, I was named “An Inspirational Writer of 2017”. I have no idea what I did to earn this acknowledgement of my efforts, as my readers don’t get to see 90% of the work I do. I have never promoted any of my works in progress because I’m not going to promote anything until it is published. It’s a strict rule of mine. but I couldn’t help but be completely overwhelmed, and emotional, to be declared an “inspirational writer”. That declaration makes me want to ask questions.

I have always felt that the smartest writers are sometimes silent; taking on causes they can truly get behind in their work, and I find peace in being silent when it’s important for me to do so. No one will ever accuse me of not using my voice for good, or say I haven’t advocated for change. It’s always obvious to me when someone is trying too hard, and over-compensating in ways I, personally, find unattractive. I have to stick to my guns and I have to stick to what’s important to me. I cannot bounce around like a heavily caffeinated Bobble head, with an over-inflated ego, desperately seeking out the approval of others. That’s not me.

Over the summer, one of the greatest compliments given to me was “You TRULY know yourself.” I loved the observation and comment SO MUCH because it is the absolute true. I know a lot of people feel lost, confused, hopeless, etc., and I’m human, so I’ve certainly felt those emotions, but for someone to say I “TRULY know myself” made me feel good. It helped set the tone for the final half of the year where I’ve likely felt a wide array of different things each day, and I openly admit, little of it was positive.

My mind is always at work, and sometimes it’s a curse, but mostly, it’s a blessing. What is the creative mind like? Anxious, because the creative mind is pulled in many different directions each day, wanting to complete the tasks it comes up with. The creative mind, one that is natural and not forced, is committed to creativity and expression. The creative mind, depending on its specific genre, wants to create something each day, even if no one else sees it. Printed paper is my canvas of choice, but so is a notebook and pen.

I inherited my creativity from generations of people who were unable to follow their dreams. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately; how much talent I come from. My parents were both talented photographers who were unable to do more than pursue it as a hobby. Whenever I snap a photo now, I am reminded to follow through on it, even if the photo isn’t perfect. My mother played two instruments, passing her love of music down to her children. My father didn’t sing, but he had a knack for hearing something once and being able to duplicate the melody. A few years ago, I noticed my brother does it, too.

I am a trained singer because a teacher called my mother one day and said “Did you know your daughter can sing?” Obviously she’d heard me sing before, but she’d never heard me be loud about it. There was a time when I tried to blend in, so as not to stand out. Gymnastics, singing, and writing changed all of that for me, slowly, but surely. They were outlets that said “Go out there and shine.”

Earlier this year, I found myself annoyed when I dumbed myself down in order to deal with my health. But at the beginning of this month, I saw a new doctor and not only did I not dumb myself down, but I was treated with kindness and compassion. I was listened to. I now have referrals to follow-up on, which I’ve physically been unable to do, thus far. I keep saying “I’ll call tomorrow.” I haven’t been feeling well. I’ve been in tremendous amounts of pain, feeling weak, often unable to get out of bed for more than a few hours at a time, but after doing a little research I felt comfortable enough to tell myself that it’s okay. I knew this would be an emotionally harsh month for me, but I made it to that appointment, and I will make phone calls for a spine specialist, a new neurologist, and another physician at the hospital where my new doctor is affiliated. I’m not happy that the Fibromyalgia pain was not addressed, but it was one appointment. The next time I go in to meet with one of her colleagues, I think I will see if I can get in to see her, too. I’d feel better if we discussed it and came up with an action plan. Because while my neck and back hurt like hell, and my migraines are definitely a serious issue, I worry that the Fibromyalgia may have caused permanent nerve damage. I desperately want to find some measure of relief for this.

2018 will have its challenges, I am sure. If I can deal with my health, finish the novel I worked on the majority of this year where I set personal records for myself during NaNoWriMo, and go back to writing dark urban fantasy, I think it will help me a lot.

I’ve never set out to inspire others by being myself, but if I have inadvertently inspired you through something I’ve written or said, then it’s the icing on the cake. I thank you for the comments you’ve left me throughout this year, and the e-mails you’ve sent my way. I thank you for acknowledging me, and I tip my hat to those who’ve remained on this journey with me.

There’s so much more to come. Of this, I have no doubts.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Be Honest With People About Who You Are

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Earlier in the day I was thinking about someone I know, and how long he had to keep his sexuality a secret, out of fear that his friends, family, and career would all fade away. It disturbed me. It still does. I’m happy that he was able to tell everyone in his life, met someone, got married, and his friendships and career remain in tact.

I don’t sit around much thinking about hiding anything about WHO I am as a person. I believe we all deserve a huge measure of privacy for things that simply aren’t someone else’s business, but I’m also judged as a heterosexual woman who isn’t married.

Between the cat jokes, which I don’t find humorous, to men, on occasion, slamming a door in my face in public. I don’t believe I am a minority, but as I look around, I know that I am, in pretty much all aspects of my life. There is always an assumption made about me. Each one is wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with knowing your worth and adding interest. There’s nothing wrong with being a strong person who, on occasion, needs to meltdown and rebuild herself out of the ashes.

I am still trying to accept me, and I imagine many people struggle with this privately. I find myself needing more quiet than normal, because I’m going through some awful things and it all wounds me deeply. But I’m trying.

I’m real. I have standards, and there’s NOTHING wrong with any of that.

Empty As A Shell

I have both nothing to say, and a lot to say, so I’ve chosen to remain silent for the past few weeks. You can never get into trouble by keeping your mouth shut.

I sit here tonight, coughing my brains out, questioning how I somehow got sick in twenty-four hours when I’ve obsessively taken precautions against illness. I’m loaded up on Benadryl, in case it’s “just my allergies”, which I love hearing every time I see a doctor and ask if I have an ear or sinus infection (except for earlier this year when I, indeed, had both). I’m trying to soothe the sore throat that I swear, I did not have a few hours ago. I swear by Ricola herb cough drops.

If you’ve been reading my work for a year or two, you know I hate getting sick. I especially hate knowing it will happen right before my special day; the one day I don’t have to share with anyone else, unless I want to. Every damn year, like clockwork. It doesn’t exactly excite me. 😦

After last year’s debacle, I don’t want to do a whole lot this year, and frankly, no one is willing to tag along. Yes, I still want to feel special, I still want to enjoy something, but I don’t want anyone making a ridiculous or offensive comment about what I enjoy, or saying something hurtful because they think they’re owed something. That attitude and behavior doesn’t fly well with me.

Someone messaged me earlier to ask if I want anything special for my birthday. I was polite, mainly because this person accused me of something I find heinous over the summer, and then I talked with my brother about it. He gives the best advice. A lot of people would be dead if it weren’t for my brother talking me down at the height of my anger. I love how he said “Don’t hold it against her for the rest of her life (Apparently he has forgotten how legendary the “female grudge” can be in my family.). Just take note that she rolls like that and remember.”

As much as I try to accept everyone as they are, I struggle with people who say shitty things and think it’s no big deal. I hate having to rein in my temper when I genuinely want to haul off on someone. It’s a boundary thing, really. Also, a person clearly doesn’t know me very well if they are asking me, on the night before my birthday, if there’s something special I’d like. Yeah, my sanity, but bourbon will do (I’m being a smart ass. My actual response was far more polite than I would like to be.).

I want things that help me create. It could be a set of artist’s markers and some very cool coloring books, or it could be a new eye shadow palette and some brushes. It could be paint and things to be painted, etc. Writing isn’t my only creative outlet. I appreciate when people honor that, as opposed to criticizing it. If someone is talented and I know they need things to occupy their mind during sleepless nights or bad days, then I am absolutely going to do something to encourage their creativity.

For a while now, I’ve been painting shells for the garden. Not because I have to, but because for 20-30 minutes here and there, it gives me something creative to focus on. It takes me away from my writing and gives me a different type of canvas to work with.

Shells with texture absorb a lot of paint to truly be “painted”, but it’s worth it when you see your crazy designs in the end. Every single design has been mostly intentional. I have about eight to finish, and even though they’ll likely come inside for winter, they are glazed to withstand the elements. After all, most of these shells once housed ocean creatures, and they survived the rough waters. Rain and snow are nothing compared to the deep, blue sea.

So as I sit here on the eve of my birthday, I encourage you to create. But most importantly, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. It’s worth it.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Follow Your Gut, Because It Doesn’t Lie…

A few weeks ago someone friended me on Facebook. Under normal circumstances I only accept requests from people I know in real life or people I have met via a migraine or Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Pain group. I’ve met some great people who have become good friends almost immediately. Sometimes you click with someone and you’re good, despite not seeing them every single day of your life. But every once in a while, someone comes along and their intentions are less than honorable.

Here’s precisely what went down with this particular person.

#1: He friended me and I was busy, so I accepted it thinking he was from my migraine group. When I went to do a little recon, I found that his profile had exactly three photos, and he’d joined in February of 2017. He had the prerequisite photo of “himself” in the desert holding a gun. He claimed he worked “at U.S. Army”. Red flag. Why? He didn’t have a single friend or family member listed. That’s odd, especially when a person is friending you out of the blue.

#2: He immediately messages me. And by immediately, I mean I don’t think it took him thirty seconds. Everything about the interaction screamed “This is not the person in the photos.”, and because I trust my intuition, I reported him to Facebook. HUGE red flag.

#3: Facebook, as usual, did nothing. The profile was deleted for less than a few hours and then he was suddenly back on my friends list. I decided to let it go, as long as the messages stopped.

#4: When he messaged me after midnight and his English is about as American as my knowledge of Indo-Iranian languages, I called him on his shit.

#5: Instead of being honest, especially after I said “Your profile states that you’re U.S. Military, but your command of the English language shows otherwise.”, he tried to maintain the charade. “Sorry! I didn’t understand you better.” Americans don’t talk like that. We know proper tense.

#6: “Okay, but you hardly ever talk to me dear.” How many guys do you know who talk like that? I responded by saying “You are an absolute stranger and I’m not dumb.” He stated “What does that mean?” Even the dimmest person would realize I’m on to them and back off. Someone smarter would have immediately unfriended me. He didn’t. I was very direct with my response. I flat-out said he was not who he was professing to be and he replied “Are you kidding me? I am who I am and no one else is me.” He said a few other things and again, the English was SO off. Instead of continuing the nonsensical back and forth (which I do not have time for), I unfriended him, reported him again, and blocked him.

If someone friends you, do a little background on them if you don’t know them from work, every day life, etc. I attract different types of people because I’m a writer and I’m affiliated with some pain groups, one of which I founded and maintain, as well as some groups for specific interests, etc. But I’m NOT fucking stupid. I speak more than one language fluently and I know how Americans sound, even via text message or Facebook Messenger. There is a distinction to American English that does not translate into or out of other languages. Two of my best friends are German and Israeli, by birth. Each speaks English as a second language. I’ve been friends with both of them for over twenty years. On occasion, one or both of them will say something and they’ll state “This may not translate into English well, but…” They are honest and they own the fact that certain things get lost in translation. I have other friends who are polyglots and they, like me, will be the first to say that a lot of things can get lost in translation when English is your first language.

There are all kinds of people out there, but you are my readers and I want each and every one of you to be safe on the Internet. Don’t take anyone at face value until they prove themselves to you, just like you would expect in real life.

I know a lot of people are lonely and they look for people to chat with in chat rooms and assorted forums. IRC is one of the larger forums I know of because my brother has used it since he was a kid, making good friends along the way, but also losing friends because of it in terribly tragic ways. 😦

Be careful who you “friend” and be careful who you talk to. Not everyone is authentic. Don’t be so quick to trust. Trust your intuition and don’t be so willing to give out personal info.

Always, ALWAYS, trust your gut, and even more so if you see a red flag go up. Your gut instinct is the one part of you that will never lie.

There are real people in this world, but there are also fake people and fake profiles. Unfortunately, that is the land of social media.

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.