Hidden Fees

In 2012, a Los Angeles restaurant owner discovered a neon light on his property that had been walled over but never disconnected.  After 77 years of uninterrupted use, it had amassed $17,000 in electric bills.

When I read this, it made me think:

  • What is walled up inside of me that continues to amass spiritual bills?
  • How do I disconnect the power?

No matter how much I meditate or spend quiet time replenishing my spirit, I have not been completely successful in turning off the power of a hidden element with its “red” emission.  Programmed into my psyche, behind a solid wall, is the continually running low-voltage current that quickly changes to high-voltage when I encounter certain triggers.

Unless you happen to be the one who sets me off, you’d likely never know this light exists.  The other day I mentioned that we all have a dark side.  My grandson said, “Not you Lala, you are always thinking about other people and trying to be fair.”  While I admit that this is true, and am grateful that he has that perception of me, I sometimes respond in unkind ways when I feel as though I’m being provoked.

Neon has no stable compounds, much like anger, often used as a protective mechanism to cover up fear, hurt or sadness.  I know that my sometimes automatic reactions are learned.  My father often had intense, emotional responses triggered by a variety of things.  If you happened to be the target, it left its mark.

I’ve done enough research to know that anger can be a useful emotion.  It’s a signal that something’s amiss.  So I will continue to take apart my wall, brick by brick, until I completely reveal the hidden circuits and hopefully rewire them.

A jackhammer does not work because it may demolish important circuitry.  A chisel allows for gradual revelation and the opportunity to really see what is beneath the surface.

Some chisel-like tools I’ve used to crack open my wall are:

Journaling – by writing about the basis of my anger, I can scrape away the insulation and examine the exposed wire.

Breathing – slow in and out breaths give me time to think about what is really happening.  I can experience my anger and own it.  I can think about how I want to respond.  Or if I just want to let this one go.

Listening – What is going on with the other person?  Is he/she really wanting to attack me?  Or is this fear or hurt disguised as an assault?

Neon is an inert element.  That’s what I want for my anger.  I want it to live in stillness.  I want it to be informative, not destructive.  I want it to be a catalyst for change and self-discovery.  I want to honor and respect it.  It is, after all, an important element of perfectly, imperfect me.

Originally we were immigrants. When Columbus met the Arawak people of the Bahama Islands, he and subsequent European explorers noted that they were remarkable for their hospitality and belief in sh…

Source: I’m A Descendant Of Immigrants

Originally we were immigrants.

When Columbus met the Arawak people of the Bahama Islands, he and subsequent European explorers noted that they were remarkable for their hospitality and belief in sharing.  A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants were left on the island as a result of forced slavery and the search for gold.

Originally we were immigrants.

In New England, the elite of the Puritans wanted war but the ordinary Englishmen did not and often refused to fight.  The Indians certainly did not want war but they matched atrocity with atrocity.  When it was over three thousand Indians were dead.

Massacres took place on both sides.  The English developed a tactic of warfare: deliberate attacks on noncombatants for the purpose of terrorizing the enemy.

Ultimately the Indian population of 10 million that lived north of Mexico when European explorers first came to the Americas would ultimately be reduced to less than a million. All this because of the desire for land and resources.

I’m a descendant of immigrants.

When I read Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States, I was appalled at what took place when we first settled this country.   These immigrants were my ancestor’s ancestors.  As a descendant, are my hands not stained with blood?

I don’t believe that by characterizing a whole group as terrorist, we will solve this problem of violence.  I look forward to a time when we do not vilify a whole group of people based on the actions of a few.

Perception is what you think and feel, but may not be fact.  Our perception is tainted by our experiences, culture, outside influence, etc.  If we interpret the world through the eyes of a racist, homophobe or extremist, it will be our truth.  If we interpret the world with eyes of kindness, compassion and optimism, that will be our truth.




This is not a usual blog post, but one I feel compelled to write.  It’s an open letter to the person who backed into our car at SUNY Oneonta and didn’t leave a note.

Dear Seems-to-Lack-Integrity Hit And Run Person,

The damage you did to our car cost us.  It cost us time and inconvenience, as we had to wait for the campus police to assess the situation and submit an accident report.  They determined this to be a hit and run.  We had to fill out an accident report for New York State and make sure it was submitted within a certain period of time.  It cost us time as we reported the accident to our insurance company.  We lost more time from our lives having the damage assessed and will suffer the inconvenience of not having our vehicle for two days while its repaired.  And it cost us the amount of our deductible, $500, as the damage exceeds that amount.

All that considered, I think this incident cost you even more.  It chipped away a large piece of your integrity, the foundation of character.  Integrity is the value that guarantees all other values.  Even if you feel justified in leaving the scene, deep inside your psyche, you’ve done damage.  Allowing this type of behavior to be your modus operandi, will result in your good karma looking like Swiss cheese.

I understand that you may have felt fear or embarrassment, causing you to flee.  But allowing those feelings to be your life compass will only make you weaker not stronger.

But the most significant damage may not have directly impacted you.  If you were there to watch your preteen daughter play basketball, you’ve demonstrated to her that it’s okay to lie by submission.  You’ve taught her that when one no one is looking, it’s okay to not own up to your mistakes.  You’ve taught her that other people’s property does not matter.  You’ve taught her that fairness and integrity is inconsequential.  You’ve now constructed a faulty compass for her, that will weaken her as she navigates her way through life.

This has cost you much more than we have suffered.

My Valentine

Source: My Valentine

My Valentine

It didn’t start out as a love affair. I took everything you offered and seldom thought about what you needed. We were never apart. You’d think that would mean I’d have more awareness of you. But for so long, I took you for granted. I abused you. I tortured you and asked more of you than you could easily give. And yet you rose to the challenge.

In the beginning, it took you awhile to do what I asked. We floundered together. Trial and error. Bumps and bruises. Until finally, we were off and running.  Together forever.

I was often ashamed of you. Yet I never took responsibility for our relationship. I was envious of what others had. I began a campaign to change you.

I starved you and denied you. I didn’t listen to you. I ignored your voice in favor of the transformation I so longed for. And yet, you stayed with me. You made your best effort to be what I wanted you to be. But always, we’d end up back in the same place.

Eventually, you began to let me know that you needed something different. At first I resisted the change. I knew it would be hard and after all, I get to choose how we journey through life. You may have your little ways of letting me know what you need, but that didn’t scare me.

Then your warnings magnified. No longer little hints that surfaced occasionally, now every day and often, your message was delivered.

I need love!

I need nourishment!

I need protection!

I need to move!

I need attention!

Your cacophony made my head swim. Your twinges, restrictions and throbbing could no longer be ignored. I began to realize that, while you’d never leave me, you could certainly make life more painful and difficult.

I started paying attention to you. I’d notice your hot buttons. I’d notice how you reacted when I put something inside of you. I’d notice how you got even when I didn’t take you out.

I decided that we did indeed, need to make this a love affair. If I want you to be your best, I have to help you. I promise to nurture you. I promise to walk with you. I promise to fill you with what you need. I promise to be gentle with you. I promise to love you as you are and not try to change you.

I am so grateful for you and the places you take me.

Happy Valentine’s Day dear body.


Source: Christmas Memories, story by Linda McKenney (ME, DURING THE HOLIDAYS Poetry and Prose Series)

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