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This topic is currently very sensitive to me. With my dear friend’s recent suicide, I believe this contributed to her depression. Therefore I feel the need to reiterate. The path to happiness, the quest out of depression, is personal.

No two people will find their peace in life in the same manner.

For some, it will be religion, for others, it will be family, or friends, or finding their passion and embracing it with open arms. It will be similar for many people, but two families are not alike, two friends are not twins. As people are so vastly different, so must their journeys be.

This means that you cannot force your path to happiness on anyone else. You cannot tell them that the only way to happiness is “blank”. It is simply not true, and sometimes it can even make things worse for others.

I will say that those of religion are often the biggest offenders in this matter. I believe that it is because religion gives many people such a sense of peace that they do not see how it cannot give others even a small piece of it. The path to happiness through God or through religion is often so dramatic, so instant compared to the others, that it is easy to see why one would believe that it is indeed the best path.

And while I will not go into the folly of an absolute religion, those who tout theirs must realize that many people find their happiness in other religions, in other methods. There are people who found their happiness through Christianity. Some through Judaism, Buddhism, even Atheism. Some found their happiness through their family, some through their best friend or lover. Some have even found it in solitude, in passions such as acting, running, or painting.

The paths to happiness are as varied as the people seeking them. Always remember to keep that in mind when helping others on their quest. You cannot force them onto your quest.

I recently finished reading Zen And the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss. I liked it.

I approached it with an open mind, and I enjoyed the read. The idea of the book, at it’s core, is that to be happy you must realize that the Universe is looking out for you and regardless of what happens, it is the best possible thing that can happen to you.

Or, in other words, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

I loved the emphasis on this, and I loved the story examples the author gave. I loved that the author mentions using this method in his drug rehabilitation center especially. [Even though many people didn’t.]

I loved the mention to drug rehabilitation because as an aspiring Psychologist, it was very helpful, and I believe that it is a far more effective treatment method than many therapists use, especially in the case of drug rehabilitation. This is largely because of my own personal experience. I went to a treatment center that included drug addiction as well as other at-risk behaviours. They taught there the ‘rule of thirds’: One third will recover, one third will relapse and one third will die.

Very depressing stuff, hearing that constantly, always wondering which third you’ll be. They also largely focus on shame and making the patient feel bad for what they did. While it is good to feel regret for their bad choices, regret and guilt are two different things. Guilt can be toxic, and the more loving philosophy would, I believe, benefit the patients much better. With the belief that the Universe is looking out for you, recovery can be a much more relaxing place.

On the other hand, there are definitely some cons as well.

Zen and Buddhism only play a minor role in the book, which is misleading based on the title. While it covers the subjects in a broad sense, any practitioner [or practitioner to be] should take it with a grain of salt. It does not mention a lot about meditation or mindfulness, [though the argument can be made that he is talking about mindfulness in the philosophy of ‘everything that happens is the best possible thing that can happen’].

It is also simply written, which can be either good or bad. I didn’t mind it, but sometimes it took him some time to get to the point of what he was trying to say. He often spent more time sharing his personal stories than explaining his philosophy.

It’s definitely more of a philosophy book mixed with a disjointed memoir than a How-To. Which to me, was fine.

I don’t believe any ‘How-To’ book on Happiness is anything more than philosophy with some direction anyways.

3.5/5 stars. It’s a quick read, and I got it at a discount. Worth the read, but there are better books out there.

Continued from “Camping Trip“. I said I would put it in a separate post.

I realized something while talking to two of my guy friends.

I keep to myself about certain things- mostly those things that a lot of people find easier to talk about with friends. For example? I do not share my beliefs with my friends as a general rule. This came up because we were talking about one of my guy friends is the most faithful person in the group, and it came up that well, I have never shared in any real detail, what I have faith in.

And I kind of refused to explain it to them. Not in a rude way, but I explained that I don’t talk about such things with a lot of people. I may have offended my ‘faithful’ guy friend, however. He didn’t push too much, but he said “well I’m not just anyone” or something to that effect. Whether he actually was or not, I don’t know, it’s hard to tell with him. Either way, I can understand it. He’s the faithful/religious member of our ‘group’, I am [or to him, I claim to be] much the same. [Though I see it as more spiritual than religious, but we’ll not get into the details of the difference.] And I am pretty much refusing and avoiding telling him about my beliefs.

It shows a lack of trust, which is obvious. Though the why isn’t. There is a long story and a better explanation in some of my previous posts, but the short of it is that I have been mocked because of my faith. So, since I consider it personal regardless, why bother sharing it with others?

Especially since my friend, as much as I care for him, is prone to being judgmental himself. He also mocks me [in a friendly, joking way] often, and I have become quite convinced that he [in addition to my other friend, the two are roommates], has a very specific idea of who I am, and it is not who I think I am. I act rather playful, ditzy and oblivious. I don’t often show them much of who I am for two reasons:

The first is they tend to like to talk. And talk, and talk. Right over my own quiet voice. And of course, they’re always right, and fairly sure of it, as well. The second is because they continue to make comments that confirm what I believe: that their idea of who I am is already quite firm. Apparently, I am easily distracted by shiny things and immature. Most of this came about from our first campaign in D&D, where that was the character I played. Now they seem to transpose this on me. So I feel the need to continue this charade.

A third, which may seem a bit silly to some, is I do not hug them. I don’t know why it ended up this way, but the truth is, I do not hug them, I often times even feel awkward about it. I feel awkward wanting to give a hug, and I also feel awkward not hugging them. It’s fairly essential in many of my friendships and I don’t know where it got cut off in my friendships with either of them.

I can hide who I am, not let anybody see, lie and pretend. I’ve done it all my life. I don’t assert that I’m bisexual, I rarely tell people at all. I had one year in school where I wore baggy cloth, cut my hair short and was called “tranny” by my peers. I never said I was a guy. I was wearing what was in fashion. Without wearing clothes that were too tight, as I always got unwanted attention for my chest. I was only thirteen. I didn’t want to be called a slut, either.

I know how to play the roles they assign to me. I can act and I can fool them. I play my role when I need to.

And the melancholy claws at my soul.

I can pretend I don’t like girls. Or I can pretend I don’t like guys. I can pretend that my gender is perfectly normal and in line with my sex.

I can pretend that I don’t love sex and don’t want to have it. That I don’t like it. That when it’s forced on me it’s doesn’t destroy me.

I lie so well, I often think ‘I could be a spy’! It’d be fun. My masks would serve a purpose beyond saving face. Beyond protecting me from pain.

I’ve only had rocks thrown at me for trying to be me. I’ve never been beaten for it. I’ve only had words cast my way. I’ve never been ostracized for it.

I’ve never been alone. I always had someone to turn to. I always had people who understood. Even if it didn’t make sense to them.

I’ve never gone to the hospital because of someone I love. Just a few bruises, nothing too bad. I got out of it before it got too bad.

I’ve never worried about the safety of my children, because I’ve never had them.

I’ve never had to make the hard choice between keeping a secret… And keeping someone safe. I’ve never had to tell people I just fell off the swing, or ran into a door. That’s never been my lie.

I can pretend I’m happy, and content, and that nothing is wrong.

It’s easy. Because nothing’s gotten too bad.

But I shouldn’t have to.

No one should.

But I know I’ve had it easy. Because there are people who can’t pretend. Who are cast out and aside and scorned and hated for things they can’t change. And as I’ve only touched on these things. Only felt the briefest edge of them. I know that it’s hard.

So I work to make it so no one has to go through it. I only ask that others do the same.

 

Love,

Samie ❤

I’ll have a real update later today, but I wanted to share this song right now.

 

 

This is my friend’s band, RaeRe. Great music!
 
Definitely a good feeling to it for me. 🙂

I had a very set plan for this blog when I started it, but it’s faded into the background.

Which, I’m okay with. I’m still keen on trying new things to try and combat depression, sharing the results of these attempts, and generally talking and helping others on the adventure of life.

But I’ve never been good at planning, and you know what they say about the best laid plans…

So one example I’d like to mention of planning, forgetting, and being pleasantly surprised?

My oldest brother just got married on the 20th in Hawai’i, on the island of Maui. I’ve never felt the draw to Hawai’i, especially with the pricetag, but I went because I wanted to see my brother get married.

I excepted it to be hot, dreadful, and touristy. That was about how my other brother found it.

I, however, fell in love. I’ve always been a fan of the ocean and water, and the temperature was actually pleasant. 70-80 degrees most of the time, with a high humidity and a breeze made the journey outside enjoyable.

And my pale skin was kept covered in sunscreen and I amazingly remained sun-burn free throughout the trip.

I didn’t mind the touristy things, though navigating Front Street in Lahaina was a little annoying, but that was it. I realized I loved the island and I could definitely live there for some time and be happy. I didn’t want to leave. My mother is still amused that the girl that didn’t want to go was the same that didn’t want to leave, but I really am not surprised.

Travel keeps me happy. I had planned on taking my St. John’s Wort and such with me, but I forgot them and ended up not needing them.

Filled with such wanderlust as I was, I did not want to stay in and watch TV. I liked exploring, going out, doing things and generally having fun. I didn’t need anything else. I had energy, and excitement, and despite some small annoyances due to funds, nothing dampened my spirit for too long.

And I believe a spirit of Wanderlust can do some good. Even if you’re not traveling, taking the time to notice the small, wonderful things about the world can be amazing. Perhaps visiting an amazing location can get you started, but you always have to remember: Even though it’s the same old to you, it’s new to somebody else when they pass through.

So due to an amusing turn of events (and a mild challenge), I ended up dressing in an androgynous style. Part of it was because my friends didn’t believe I could, but part of it was because I’ve always been obsessed with Androgyny. In my last article titled ‘Sex‘, I discussed gender binary and my belief that it’s no ones business but your own how you identify and portray yourself in terms of sex and gender.

But I decided to give the whole thing a bit more thought. My obsession with androgyny is linked to my gender identity, but not the whole picture. Part of the reason, I believe, that I like the idea of being able to look androgynous is rooted in the fact that I like to pretend to be someone else.

Not just role-playing or acting, but being someone else. I have always used the metaphor that I wear a mask, and while thinking about it, I truly do. While I think on it, I wonder how many of my friends I know and truly trust to see the real me. Not many. In fact, very few.

And a part of it, I believe is my unhappiness with myself. I will say flat out that I have a hard time believing that my friends will accept me for who I am.

Because I am quite convinced that they will not.

That I am somehow damaged, odd, and abnormal in such a way that people will not like me. That I am annoying. A freak. I know that many of us feel this way.

But the issue of showing who we are to those we love is an important one, because if we don’t trust them enough to see who we are, there is no way we will ever know.

So I encourage you to share yourself with your friends. They may surprise you.

If nothing else, it may be the proper reminder that you need to go out and find real friends. Those who can’t accept you for who you are are not worth your time.

'Masks' by Seraphim Azriel '07

Identity is more than how others view you, however. It is how you view yourself. Happiness in your friendships and your identity comes when you feel that your identity is accepted by those you love. When you’re afraid that they will not accept you, whether it is because of a history of such actions from others, or from your own fears and ideas about how society is, then you will be unhappy.

So many of us, myself included, will wear ‘masks’. These faux-identities that we believe people will accept. My most common one is a happy, ditzy, hyper and, let’s be honest, somewhat stupid individual. Another one is a hardcore woman who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Both ‘masks’ are a part of me, but neither are the whole picture, even together. When I am hiding the whole picture from people, I am not letting them accept me. And I believe they recognize that. Those who do not get to see the whole picture keep their distance just as you keep yours.

So, in an effort to take my own advice, I am going to be sharing this blog with my friends. And I will admit, I am positively terrified to do so.

I just wanted to share this video and poem with all of you. I am also including the youtube descriptionin it.

A video by fiilmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

Davis wrote the beautiful poem and performed in the video which Dorfman directed, shot, animated by hand and edited. The video was shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was produced by Bravo!FACT http://www.bravofact.com/

For more information on Tanya, go to http://www.tanyadavis.ca or visit her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Tanya-Davis/8063194647?ref=sgm You can purchase her first two CDs Make A List and Gorgeous Morning on iTunes and look out for her third CD which will be released in the fall!

For more information on Andrea Dorfman, visit her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Dorfman-Films/110789945626226?ref=mf or http://www.andreadorfman.com

This video was shot on a Panasonic HVX 200 and the animation was hand drawn+painted and then scanned into Adobe After Effects, exported as QTs and edited on FCP.

HOW TO BE ALONE by Tanya Davis

If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you’ve not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren’t okay with it, then just wait. You’ll find it’s fine to be alone once you’re embracing it.

We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You’re not supposed to talk much anyway so it’s safe there.

There’s also the gym. If you’re shy you could hang out with yourself in mirrors, you could put headphones in (guitar stroke).

And there’s public transportation, because we all gotta go places.

And there’s prayer and meditation. No one will think less if you’re hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.

Start simple. Things you may have previously (electric guitar plucking) based on your avoid being alone principals.

The lunch counter. Where you will be surrounded by chow-downers. Employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they — like you — will be alone.

Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.

When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You’re no less intriguing a person when you’re eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.

Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one’s watching…because, they’re probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you’re sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life’s best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.

Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.
Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there’re always statues to talk to and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence if only for a minute and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in by sitting alone on benches might’ve never happened had you not been there by yourself

Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. but lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.

You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner, look both further and farther for the endless quest for company. But no one’s in your head and by the time you translate your thoughts, some essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept.

Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high school’s groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cuz if you’re happy in your head than solitude is blessed and alone is okay.

It’s okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can’t think like you, for this be releived, keeps things interesting lifes magic things in reach.

And it doesn’t mean you’re not connected, that communitie’s not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. take silence and respect it. if you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it. if your family doesn’t get you, or religious sect is not meant for you, don’t obsess about it.

you could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it
If your heart is bleeding make the best of it
There is heat in freezing, be a testament.

Male or Female?

Male or Female?

Alright, so this blog is also partially, to contain some philosophical and social thoughts. Especially as they pertain to myself and my emotional and mental health.

One of these topics is gender binary, and to a lesser extent, sexuality.

Let’s start out with one thing: I am a bisexual, gender-neutral ‘female’. Thought perhaps ‘pansexual’ would be a better term, but I prefer the sound of ‘bisexual’. Anyways, let me explain.

I was born with female parts and have no desire or belief that I should have otherwise, therefore I am female.

However, I find the idea that my ‘gender’ is defined by what’s between my legs to be laughable. While I usually tend to refer to myself as female in public, I also do not find it odd to call myself a ‘gentleman’ or a ‘boy’ either. We’ll come back to gender in a moment.

And bisexual means I like both ladies and gentlemen. As I said, pansexual is likely the proper term, as I don’t care if they are transgender, transsexual or genderqueer.  As I find gender silly and sex to be a personal matter, I don’t think of it as more than ‘ladies and gentlemen’. I prefer to call my friends either ‘my friendlies’ or ‘my lovelies’, and prefer the neutral term of endearment there.

So, there is the background. Very good. Now, Gender binary is the idea that there are simply two genders: male and female. It often accompanies the idea that your gender and your sex and one and the same.

Women have vaginas and like to go shopping and wear pink.

Men have penises and like to go hunting and wear whatever is clean enough.

The idea of gender binary never made sense to me, even as a child. My best friend in kindergarten was a boy who would play barbies with me and we’d dress up together and then go catch snakes and play in the mud. You could say that it’s just that we were children and such, but I still like dressing up and catching snakes.

‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ were just words, though I learned that certain actions were considered ‘manly’ while others were considered ‘womanly’. As I grew older and became more aware of my sexuality, the idea of gender identity also began to come and I realized… If I were to be so black and white as to list my own activities and attributes under ‘male’ and ‘female’, I would come up pretty evenly matched (often times leaning more towards ‘male’).

Again, as I do indeed identify as female sexually, I was a bit confused by this. Instead of dwelling on it, I ignored it and decided it really didn’t matter.

So ever since I’ve defined myself as gender neutral, without gender, or both genders, because my identity is not determined by the plumbing. I will also note that I have only recently actively sought out the gender-neutral world, and I still tend towards there being only two genders and two sexes. I know this is not true.

I won’t go on trying to convince people to agree with me on that, so I’m going to finally arrive at what brought on this rumination.

The idea that women need to be ‘pretty’ and not ‘slutty’ and all the implications therein. My friend recently linked to and discussed the article ‘The Death of Pretty’; the idea behind the article is that women are no longer striving to be pretty, but rather to be ‘hot’, and the author distinctly identifies ‘pretty’ as portraying innocence and beauty, while ‘hot’ is portraying yourself as a sexual object.

My friend (or more accurately, my friend’s sister, who posted This Article in response), covers the innate wrongness of the articles assumption that your worth as a woman is determined by how you are viewed by men, and she states that beauty is more your strength of character than your physical representation. Which is something I wholeheartedly agree with.

The problem is, and I’ll say it straight out: I am a slut, a whore and a sinner. I like sex, I like tight clothes, lowcut shirts and miniskirts. And I don’t see anything wrong with that. Yes, I understand that some people may see me as a sexual object when I dress and act in such a manner, but we, as humans, are sexual beings. I have a bundle of nerves between my legs that serves no other purpose than sexual pleasure. Whether your believe in creation or evolution, we were designed to enjoy sex. It’s as simple as that, really.

So the idea that my sexuality is anything but my own business is a little insulting, really. I was given these parts, and I have the knowledge to use them. I’ve had more partners than is socially acceptable and I don’t see any of it as a problem. I consider myself a sexual being. I came to terms with this a long time ago, when I was shoved into an inpatient treatment center and branded as a ‘sex addict’ for my sexual proclivities. I do believe there is a such a thing as a sex addict, but being a sixteen year old girl who is emotional and just finding her sexuality, I don’t think I was, or that I am to this day. I like sex, but I have no overwhelming need to have sex with someone to get them to like me. Nor do I believe that I use sex to escape from ‘reality’, at least not anymore of an escape as a nice run or a bubble bath.

Sex is a fun activity to share with someone you trust. At least it is to me. So when I see these articles that lead women to believe that we must be pious, virtous and innocent in order to be loved, I think it’s a load of rubbish. I am a wonderful, loving woman regardless of who I spend the night with. I don’t belong to anyone because I have sex with them and I damned well and not ‘inviting rape’ by wearing a low cut shirt. ESPECIALLY since I have a very hard time avoiding low-cut shirts in general. (Any large busted ladies know this.)

And so many women who find themselves against the idea of being treated as an object don’t seem to see the other side of the virgin/whore dichotomy. So many of them decry the objectification of women, often ignoring the objectification of men, but also ignoring the fact that it doesn’t matter if I’ve stripped down to nothing and am strutting around naked. No one deserves to treat another person as an object. For any reason.

We are people. We are all people, who deserve to be treated as such. No matter what it is that differentiates you from others, you are still a person, and we would all do well to remember that it’s the same with everyone else we meet as well.