James Altucher on radical honesty (plus my thoughts)

An interesting podcast titled “Ask Altucher Ep 81 What Are You Reading Right Now”:

The portion I share for purposes here occurs beyond the 10:00 mark. Radical honesty. Hmmmm… I have ALL SORTS of thoughts on that topic. And I dug where James was coming from there, as someone who’s shared more than I ought to on too many occasions. Yup. The idea of being radically honest with oneself I can get behind, but James is right about putting the burden over onto someone else, particularly the ones we love. Mea culpa there.

Living and learning is a tough process. Heaps of thoughts on the topic of cheating (from all angles) have played on my mind for years. Continue reading

Yes, he is a human being. And so am I. And so are you.

Happened to stumble across this video clip this morning:

He is a human being. Very humbling to listen to his words and to take time to consider how close any one of us is to experiencing that same fate. Many are only a couple paychecks away from possibly losing everything…

Homeless persons have always pulled at my heartstrings, as I’m sure is true for many others out here. They remind us of our shared humanity as well as how rapidly luck can turn, how bad circumstances can spiral and snowball into desperate situations. Puts into clearer perspective one’s own pains and problems.

Might sound cliche, but I’m going somewhere with this.

Ya know, one thing that always comes to mind when I’m confronted with a homeless person, as occurred again yesterday, is what tools are at my disposal to ward off such a fate. Not all have access to the same tools though. It might displease some people to hear it, but I’m going to be blunt here. I got lucky by being born a reasonably attractive female in this day and time. Why? Because I could always trade my sexuality in order to access what I needed, primarily money. Hence why I worked as an escort throughout much of my 20s. Does that come with its own downside and psychological baggage? Of course it does, but I never went homeless for more than a night. Been mistreated and put up with more than I cared to, but I was luckily savvy enough to steer clear of most druggies and dangerous individuals, and there I’m referring to my teenage years, prior to becoming an escort, which I believe the education provided during those years conditioned me to handle. It’s tough out here for young people who don’t have protective families to provide for their needs and to keep them safe, and some of us had to learn many things the hard way. Some of us got luckier than others, if we’re to make that crude comparison.

But that realization can’t help but humble me, knowing I possessed something naturally bestowed that could be honed and used to attract what I needed to get by. And not just tens of dollars but hundreds of dollars per client. And like a lot of inexperienced youths, I took that for granted at the time, not realizing yet how time would take its toll eventually. Though, luckily, another business opportunity presented itself to my imagination and so I transitioned that direction and have remained there ever since, leaving behind that old lifestyle, though carrying forward its lessons, as well as its psychic scars.

Those scars came primarily as a result of how people label you, the words they call you, how they look at and judge you…how some come to see you as less than human (“lower than a dog” is one insult that stayed in my mind over the years). In that respect, I can relate to that man in the video and others like him, though our paths were very different. Words do hurt, absolutely they do. They have power. We can pretend they don’t, but when one’s humanity is denied and you realize some people see you as completely disposable, as irrelevant, as something different from themselves to either be used or avoided, it can’t help but mess with a person’s mind and damage the soul. Thankfully better people exist who do not view others in that narrow of a way, and I was fortunate to have known plenty who treated me fairly decently and noted the potential within me. Not everybody receives such a fair shake as that though, particularly when they’ve grown old and appear physically worn out or belong to a race that some others choose to disdain.

That’s a sad truth in this life. Everybody needs a helping hand from time to time. Every single one of us. And everybody deserves to have their humanity recognized, setting aside all the labeling garbage.

I can be in my worst hours, feeling like I don’t know where to go from here, feeling that rock bottom isn’t terribly far off, and then I come across someone in a worse situation who’s humbled and sad and in need. A look in my wallet tells me I have something that they could benefit from more than I likely will. In my life, money has generally been easy come, easy go. So I share it with others who might hopefully be able to put it to better use. Figure I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attract enough to cover what I need, so the rest is just a gift, an extraneous offering intended to be shared when paths cross and needs are going unmet. Feels like the right thing to do, ever since I was a young teenager and first confronted on the streets by a homeless elderly woman in Gulfport, Mississippi. We share, because we are human. What else is money for than to provide what we need to survive?

Material desires feel trifling as time moves on. Don’t need so many fancy gadgets or designer brands or decorative furnishings. They don’t bring much pleasure, not usually, not unless received as gifts from people who cared. My life has simplified tremendously since around 2007. I am largely content wearing the same garments until they become too tattered to restore. Have shoes I haven’t tried on in years. Appreciate the jewelry received as gifts along the way, but there’s no real desire for more. All of the art on my walls was either painted by me or received as gifts. Most books I purchase used for cheap, and some of them belong among my prized possessions. Clothing and lingerie hang in my closets that haven’t been worn in years, awaiting the day I might fit into them again. Sometimes I go through phases of buying makeup, but mostly it sits unused, causing me to feel guilty for wasting money on petty indulgences. During daytime hours I ceased wearing makeup anyway.

Most flowers I receive these days are clipped out of people’s gardens, and it really brightens my day when someone makes the offer and asks me to bring by a vase for them to fill. The homegrown peonies on my counter currently mean more than store-bought roses ever could. Because it came from their own garden, which is a product of their own skills and effort and time spent. Same for when people offer to share with me vegetables they’ve grown.

Very thankful that my vehicle is paid off, though it requires repairs soon. Still sad that someone who knew how to fix it led me on and never did so, but that’s on him now, considering I did try to do right by him by buying him nice things and making sure he had some of what he needed to get by, like snow tires for his car this past winter. But we shouldn’t think about that right now. A friend has offered to help me with that instead. And that’s been a harsh lesson right there — expending energy on someone who didn’t truly appreciate it while depriving myself in the process. But whatever. We live and we learn…

And now, lately, I’ve been frequenting bars more often than I probably ought to, wasting money on drinks that only contribute empty calories, in an effort to numb some of the feelings I have inside. Pacing the cage, yes. Using these outings as opportunities to meet and converse with new people, some of whom are in more troubled spaces themselves, others who have wisdom to offer up, while keeping an eye out for those who just wish to exploit and take advantage since those types are everywhere. But it beats sitting at home drinking alone as I have been doing too much of these last two years. Can’t bear doing that anymore. Not even allowing myself to purchase alcohol for home consumption anymore. Because it got to feeling like a slow death. The opposite of living. Isolating myself away from others and our shared human concerns and the ways in which we might help one another. When I’m out I see people, including those in unfortunate circumstances, and a part of me feels guilty for wasting as much as I do and not contributing more. Though I suppose it’s impossible to live within a consumption-based economy without participating to whatever extent as a consumer. Either way, I choose to share. I’d probably just drink that money away anyway. And if that individual chooses to do so, maybe it was their turn. What do I care? If it brings them a little peace for the evening, then isn’t that worthwhile?

We all hurt and we all go through rough times in whatever form it may take. Pain is pain. Sometimes just sitting with a person and listening to them is more valuable than anything else you can provide. Sharing meals is the simplest and most meaningful form of communion. The more greedy I behave as, the more miserable I become…that’s something life’s been teaching me over time as well. My things don’t bring me as much pleasure as interaction with good people does. My day feels purposeful when I am able to offer useful assistance of some kind. And I think that points to what it truly means to be human.

Some say that I am selfish woman. They are correct, but that’s not all I am. Never claimed to be a good person, though I’d like to think I’m not the worst, troubled as I obviously am. But when I share what I do have, my burdens feel a little lighter and my outlook appears a little less gloomy. Because I’m reminded that we’re all in this together, and it can be no other way.

Saturday night in May update

Just finished up a conversation with a Serbian man I’ve met a time or two before (not at what’s becoming my regular bar nowadays). We sat beside one another silently at the bar for about an hour, then began chatting. I’m not one for small talk, particularly when something heavy is weighing on my mind. We wound up outside having a very real conversation about life, and I’m not going to go into the details of it here, but I appreciated his insight. The gist is that one has to find a way to become rooted, grounded, in some sort of way to where he or she doesn’t allow the opinions and claims of others to sway him/her into accepting a false narrative about oneself. And, of course, that’s the hard part to figure out how to implement, which can’t help but be a personal struggle. Either way, he was a nice man only a couple years older than me and wise beyond his years. It’s almost as if fate puts some people in my path to repeat, albeit in new ways, what I need to keep hearing.

Aside from that, I’ve been reading short stories from Harlan Ellison again lately. Picking back up in his book Deathbird Stories, now on the final story. Fiction feels like more of my speed right about now, particularly quality fiction that I can get wrapped up in and let my imagination roam over a reality so different than our own. Feels therapeutic. Just happened to see that book in my backseat the other day and took it with me. Been pretty engrossed in it ever since, having already read a book or two by him before. Glad to have found that author, dark as his writings largely are (which I dig). Watched interviews by him in the past and appreciate where he tried to come from.

What else? Continuing working with my gym trainer, though this past week my diet hasn’t been the best and I believe it shows a little. Gonna try to stay on track in the coming week. Need to. Feels very necessary for me to drop more weight and slim down while gaining muscle.

I have a (thankfully not too) early morning awaiting me, so it’s soon time for bed.

To bitch or not to bitch…

Been reading more from James Altucher recently. Really enjoy his writings and can relate with the stories and tidbits he shares (though not the parts about making gobs of money and then losing it all, over and over — but give me time.  haha).

One point he repeatedly makes that I’m doing my best to take to heart is the need to reduce my complaining and gossiping. Even I tire of hearing myself bitching so much.  lol  Yet, it’s the norm for me, just as it was for nearly everybody I’m related to. And that’s a norm that’s run its course and deserves to die down. Makes me feel wicked to grumble and growl as much as I do, though some of my complaints are meant in a sort of dry jest (not that hardly anyone ever seems to pick up on that). Sometimes it feels like a form of personal entertainment, but nowadays I feel so damned bitter that it’s coming to rob me of all positive sentiments. My Papa was a master at griping, so I followed suit naturally, he being one of my favorite people. Well, there’s a limit somewhere that I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed along the way, as did he, and neither of us were better off on account of that.

Though, it deserves to be stated, I’m more prone to gripe publicly while holding inside my positive feelings because I’m worried about others pissing in my cornflakes, so to speak. So I tend to hide my positive sentiments and instead share my disgruntlement more so. That’s not ideal, but that’s what I tend to do. With close friends I’m much more free with positive sentiments since I trust them to not trash them — it’s strangers I’m leery of. And I work very hard to not complain around my clients about anything either — they get a free pass there, as they rightly should. It’s the rest of the outside world I grumble to and about. Though my close friends do hear more of it than they deserve, admittedly, and I’m ashamed of that fact, especially lately.

But it’s just so darn easy to complain and gossip. Continue reading

“Man plans and God laughs.”

Perspective shifts by the hour…

Some hours I feel very serious and contemplative and mired in. Other hours I feel a little lighter, humored even. Life is crazy, life is mad — that being one of my favorite lines in a song by Enigma. Just is what it is. Nobody’s perfect and we humans love to make a mess of what’s before us. Just prone that way, I guess. Perhaps it’s in our DNA. The need to create is the flipside of the inclination to destroy and to try to control. We like to focus on the one side while trying to pretend the other isn’t a part of us as well, but it most definitely is. Feels to me like the sooner we come to terms with that as individuals, the better off we’re likely to be.

A blog I’ve been reading regularly lately that tends to cheer me up a bit is called Altucher Confidential. That just happens to be the link to the post I’m looking at currently, though I’ve read quite a bit on there so far. Useful stuff. Gets pretty raw in places, which is what I’m able to identify most with. Helps to put things in perspective when we hear or read honest stories from others who are willing to be open and real. Helps one to feel like less of a freak, since, truth be told, we’re all freaks.  ha

Sometimes I do just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Mine and everybody else’s. Crazy creatures, we are. No getting around that. Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it — to quote lyrics from Green Day.

Per that blog post linked above, I used to know some daytraders, and yes, they were miserable people, and yes, they lost all their money in the end. They too were playing with investments back around 2003 before going belly up. That struck me as one of the most neurotic lifestyles one could get involved in. The fellow investors they thought were their friends weren’t around any longer once they went broke. I watched it tear up one guy’s family relations as well. He actually had been someone I dated back in high school, though we’re no longer speaking since a few years ago when I grew tired of putting up with his poor treatment. He was a very arrogant man, not a good friend. Flighty and always chasing unrealistic dreams while hanging with cruel people and emulating them. One day I had no more time for that and simply stated I no longer wished to be his friend, and neither of us have attempted to contact one another since. Don’t know what became of him or his brothers and am not too concerned either way. Just somebody I used to know…

Known all sorts of people and witnessed all sorts of bad ideas implode or explode. Everybody’s searching for something…

As am I. Whoever told us there was an easy script to follow toward success in this life lied to us. There are no guarantees out here. None. There’s just you and me and a bunch of other people all trying to figure shit out and find our way through this life. That’s all there really is. Of course the devil is in the details. It’s in the how and the why.

I especially appreciate the Yiddish proverb James Altucher referenced in the blog post linked above:

Man plans and God laughs.


One minute we take things too seriously, the next not seriously enough. Full of lofty ideas and ambitions while remaining tethered to and frequently enough dominated by our primal desires, regardless of whether we realize it or not.

The tragicomedy that is human life goes on and on and on…

“Understanding Anger Lecture 5 – Emperors and Slaves Above the Passions: Stoic Philosophers on Anger”

Lecture 5 in a year-long series on understanding anger by Dr. Sadler:

Just finished up watching that one this morning. Hmm…I’d make a shitty Stoic.  ha

“Aristotle, Anger, and Akrasia (Lack of Self-Control)”

Another worthwhile lecture from Dr. Gregory B. Sadler:

Friday morning journaling

As has been the case all week (not that it’s uncommon normally), I woke up earlier after only a few hours of sleep and am unable to nap before it’s time to head out to the rest of my day’s appointments. So I’ll write instead.

Superficiality is the name of the game these days. That’s true all across this country and however many others. Feels especially true around here in this city. I sit back and observe it while I’m out. Won’t pretend to like it and won’t attempt to become better at it, though it’s what others tend to want. They have each other to play that game with — no need for me to join in too. Just weird to listen and see how people play up to one another and how they police one another into “remaining positive” at all times. They try that with me as well, but I have no time for it. Not interested in making “friends” like that anyway. Perfectly content sitting by myself, enjoying my brew while listening to tunes and leaving the other people to mingle in the background. Most of them aren’t my kind of people anyhow.

I see how some of them look at me and understand how cliquish this area is. Raised up together, work together, grouped up. Doesn’t appear they understand much outside of their bubbles or people who don’t aspire to become part of their bubbles. But ah well. I’m not going away. Gonna be around. Likely going to continue staying to myself for the most part while out also. Not expecting folks to understand one way or the other. That’s fine. Just nice to be back out again. Even oddball soloists are social beings with social needs.

Nice to meet the ones willing to be real, willing to talk directly and honestly, even at the risk of offending others. Willing to admit their past mistakes and to show their humanity without cloaking it in a bunch of conformist niceties. By that I mean being willing to speak up, to say no, while also showing real compassion for others. I find those kind of people inspiring, particularly compared against the rest who prefer to pretend, to play stupid games, to say what they think you want to hear, who act catty and passive-aggressive and flaky. Those games confuse me too much. Wastes too much of my energy trying to read between the lines and grasp what they really mean. Yet their attitude tends to be the norm, so far as I can tell. They seem to prefer to be well-liked and to come across as “fun” and carefree and non-confrontational. Well, they can keep it. That’s not how I am or what I aspire to be.

To be serious around such people is to invite criticism for being too “down” or “pessimistic.”  lol  People see whatever they want to see, hear whatever they want to hear, and it matters not the words you actually speak. Thoughtfulness (meaning one who sits with their thoughts) is like a repellant to the types of people I speak of here. Because that’s what they’re running from, I assume. A lot of folks come out with the ambition to drink themselves into nearly a stupor and to jabber on about the latest gossip and where they’re vacationing next and how much they spent on their clothing and how much they (fanatically!) love their pets, ad nauseam. I’ll listen to some of it when they mosey over and share it with me. But if I bring up some ideas, some thoughts, perhaps a philosophical inquiry I’m considering or an interesting article I recently read, they tend to glaze over in a hurry. Not all of them, but most of them. So I learn to sit fairly silently for the most part and just listen to what I’m able to, per my custom. Though I do find it interesting when I pipe up with a life topic, particularly if I state where I’ve been wrong in something in the past, they immediately launch into the “get over it” spiel. Not supposed to admit any wrongdoing apparently. Everything’s supposed to remain private except gossip about others, so it seems. That’s a very weird thing to me. I’d rather speak of my own thoughts and experiences than to speculate about the lives of others, but that’s just me. I find that barrier to communication quite odd…it’s another script belonging to those who believe public personae are everything. I don’t subscribe to such ways of looking at life.

But the majority likes to think it rules. Likes to think it sets the parameters that the rest of us are to be caged in by. My answer to that is “no.” Especially now. I’ll smile and say my “hellos” and “goodbyes” and keep it fairly light for the most part, but I won’t pretend to be joyful when I’m not, nor will I play up to people who will only speak behind my back first chance they get. Not worth it. Dumb game. We’re getting too old for this shit. Many choose to go along in order to get along, and that’s fine for them. I’d rather sit alone and wait for the two or three people who are actually interesting to chat with, who have more to them than what’s on the surface. While I understand we all have our internal lives and our lives behind closed doors, some (perhaps many) prefer to present a wholly different impression to others while out and about. Almost like a traveling form of Facebook where people brag about what’s good and pretend that’s all there is to them or their lives. I find that odd, but whatever. The only problem is when you’re not like that, it’s perceived as some sort of weakness, as if they pride themselves in the narratives they carefully construct for public showing. I’m in a whole different world from such concerns at this point. I just want to be human. Plain and simply, in everything that entails.

Others don’t have to like it, but I’m not asking permission anymore. I am a serious person, and a sensitive person as well, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Been told I’m “overly analytical” my whole life, and so what? Been told also that I am “intense.” Have we come to the point where mindlessness and superficial emotionality is all we’re willing to tolerate? Where we view others as mere entertainers for our own kicks and that be all? Looks pretty pointless to me. Mind-numbing is what it often is, and for what? To take flight from reality? Well, it’ll persist regardless of whether we seek to actively lobotomize ourselves or not.

Depressed thoughts in late March 2015

So I’m an emotional putz. Guilty. Already know I am. Not sure it can be changed either.

But most people are very emotional as well, despite claims to the contrary. Just that they express their emotions in anger and frustration and then somehow see that as different than openly expressing pain and remorse and sadness.

I think a lot of people, online especially, jump on causes more often due to emotional concerns than simply due to rational, reasoned observations. And I sometimes think what people rail against can be the very thing they want but fear. Or they go in support of an idea that they themselves don’t have access to but wish for or are currently striving for. That’s the way we humans are. No matter how much we think we know our own selves, how much can we really? Not as if we’re static beings — we change little by little all the time based on what we experience or are otherwise influenced by. Continue reading

The way of one Primitive Baptist preacher

Mentioned in a recent video that my ex-in-laws were Primitive Baptists, so let me elaborate a bit so people have a better idea of what I’m getting at here. My ex-father-in-law was a preacher (as well as owning his own bricklaying company and before that being a chicken farmer when his kids were young) and he came up in a Primitive Baptist family who all lived near one another in the same county, not too far off from where my own lived (my ex-in-laws lived for many years right directly next door to one of my Grandma’s sisters, coincidentally, years before I met my ex). I mentioned that my ex-father-in-law was a harsh man who took his position as the male leader of the family too far and wound up being very abusive to all of his kids and his wife, finally resulting in his wife divorcing him after approximately 24 years of marriage (when my ex was about 14, which is what freed him up to attend public school beginning in the 9th grade, the kids having all been home-schooled while the parents were together, with only one exception who paid for his own attendance at a local private school for his last couple of years).

My ex-father-in-law for many years now has been running a column in their local newspaper where he preaches his brand of fire and brimstone. I’ve noticed a little while back that he now also has a website with his sermons uploaded. I recall reading more than a few columns of his that were outright vitriolic against homosexuals (he completely and utterly detests and condemns them and states it loud and proud any chance he gets), but he’s a very judgmental man who takes issue with damn-near everything. When it comes to females, he and his family firmly believe women should never wear pants or shorts and must always wear skirts of long length. The mother is expected to only be a caretaker of the home and kids and vegetable garden, forbidden to work outside of it. Children must be home-schooled (as mentioned above) since they consider the rest of society to be filled with dangerous sinners, and religious education occurred every single day and ALL DAY on Sundays.

[And for the record, I’m not even opposed to home-schooling. Just didn’t care for how all they did it, though all 5 kids received educations superior to the rest of us attending the public or private local schools. Even though their mother only had a high school diploma, she did a good job there — I give her that. My ex-husband came up with familiarity with classic literature and understood human anatomy well enough that he was granted admittance into a rural medical scholarship program as a teen. Out of 5 kids, 4 attended college and I believe 3 completed their bachelor’s degrees. Though they obviously did grow up in a very insular environment, surrounded by relatives and cousins, except where they participated in local sports.]

When I speak of this man being abusive to his family, I am referring to excessive control and psychological mistreatment and bouts of violence. For example, choking out one of his sons out as a teenager. Another example that was mentioned in the divorce papers (which I read while dating my ex) was continuing to whip his adult daughters with belts when they’d return home for visits while attending college. My ex was particularly traumatized by events that he witnessed, he being the youngest of the kids, such as his father mistreating his mother and almost running her over with a vehicle on one occasion. We’re not talking mild or vague abuse here, and all of his kids (last I knew) and his ex-wife turned their backs on him and moved away (and all were seriously impacted as adults when I met them, having since abandoned the denomination they grew up with). By the time I met my ex-husband (when I was 17 and he was a senior in high school), he had converted to atheism/agnosticism and never again returned to Christianity (though he remained extremely knowledgeable of the bible and could quote scripture and explain verses in a way I found fascinating and illuminating).

To give a small taste of who my ex-father-in-law was, I’ll transcribe a portion of one of his columns that was printed in the local newspaper in 2013:

Some of you are so ignorant as to suppose that because you have not bowed to a statue of a heathen “deity” that you are not an idolater. But go read Colossians 3:5 and you will see that covetousness is idolatry. If you have something or someone that you love more than God, you are an idolater. Some of you have made money your god. Some of you have made pleasure your god. Some of you have made your base lusts your god. Some of you have made your children your god. Some of you have your religion your god. Ultimately, a lost man worships himself. You are not saved, because you have never turned from your idols to serve the living and true God.

Now God’s word is clear. “Idolaters… shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). Dear reader, unless you turn this moment from your idols, and turn to God, you will spend eternity where the fire is not quenched, and the worm never dies. Sinner, turn or burn!

The man pretty much considers damn-near anything and everything a sin too. VERY hard for anyone (outside of his parents and certain relatives perhaps) to escape his condemnation. Very insular thinking. And he preaches to a congregation mostly made up of his own extended family these days (or at least last I knew).

In his view, divorce is completely unacceptable, even when exposed to cruel and unrelenting abuse. I noticed when I checked Wikipedia’s page on Primitive Baptists it didn’t go into much detail, and I assume that the extremes can and do differ depending on particular groups’ and individuals’ interpretations of scripture and whatever else, as is the case all across all denominations of Christianity. So this man represents only one small clan in rural Mississippi that I came to be exposed to.

But I offer this information just to help flesh out the points I’m aiming to make, one of which is that there are patriarchal setups still alive and well. They do exist and have for a long, long time. If you asked my ex-father-in-law if he considers himself a patriarch, he will unequivocally say “yes.” To him and his people, it is the proper order, because they deem men as closest to God, then women, then children. That is how they structure their own community and lives, and it’s what they preach as right and proper for all others as well. So this is not simply a myth fabricated by feminists, even as feminists have tended to blow it all out of proportion. For the record.

And I may have actually written about this man on here before, but ah well. Felt like adding a bit more. He appears to have mellowed out a good bit in recent years, so that’s positive at least.