Happy New Year’s resolution.

Another year, another chance to fufill my goals.

But I’m not into making New Year’s REsolutions. I think, like most people, that they are an optimistic waste of time.

The real problem with NEw Year’s resolutions isn’t what every one says, that being that we just can’t hold ourselves to them.

That is a problem. But the truth is, if you really try, you can keep a resolution.

I have. As I’ve shared before, I’ve gone cold turkey ont hings, and I haven’t gone back to them.

I’ve sucessfully taken a break from doing certaint hings and eating or drinking certain stuff.

It can be done.

Yay!

I think it’s a lame exuse to say Resolutions just can’t be kept. Improving yourself isn’t a bad idea.

But the problem I do see with this New Year’s thing is that it makes resolution a joke. OR at the very least a fun thing. Or, if not that, then a popular fad.

Which kills all power in the resolution.

Resolutions are never fun, they aren’t funny, they usually aren’t popular.

For example, I could resolve to go see every new superhero movie the day of its release. That’s not going to be that hard on a personal level, though financially it would be.

It’s not like that culturally unacceptable. No one’s going to call me a prude or anything if I do it.

But if I were to resolve never to watch television fora w hole year, I’m sure some people would call that overboard.

(Try it and see, it’d be an interesting experience.)

But making a resolution just because everyone else is doing it and it’s a tradition defeats the point.

One has to be  serious about what they resolve. There has to be a real desire to change, and a real will to stick it out. Trust me, when there’s not , yo won’t last the week.

And any Christian would tell you, the grace of God is what makes it possible.

One can resolve and stick to it on mere will power, but that’s not the best way. It’s better to resolve something out of passion. Hiving the correct motivation to.

Those changes just aren’t made a whole lot. They’re the changes we all secretly wish the people around us would make, and wish also that we ourselves could make.

Humanity longs for change. None of us are always satisfied with who we are. Nor should we be.

I am no talking about hating yourself. I mean hating the thing that you do that are less than good. Or just mediocre.

Sometimes you have to hate the dumb things you do before you realize just how dumb they are.

I want to meet goals, but i don’t expect to change my habits all in one day or one week. So I make a dream list every new year.

I should review my old one and see if I did any of those things.

Until next time–Natasha.

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Not my father’s.

 

First of all, my holiday was pretty good. Family; that family’s friends; gifts.

But just the day after Christmas things were back to the old pattern. I got told that I was so influenced by what my father believes it was unbeleivable.

It’s funny, my dad would probably never say that. I don’t think most people who meet me feel I am easily swayed by people’s opinion.

But what does frustrate me is that I don’t explain my own positions. I never have explained my political positions (that is, what led me to that conclusion.) IT’s nto becaue I don’t have reasons. I have lots of reasons.

I actually have too many, and I usually feel that if I laid out my whole line of thinking, no one would listen. People rarely listen when I even begin to explain my views, if they hold different ones.

I’ve learned to keep my disagreement to myself.

Which is, I figure, just what the opposition wants.

I’m not the only one who does this, I know others who do. People who are feeling that the opposing side is so bull headed that there’s no point in trying to explain why we think differently. We never get that far, we figure, so why bother?

Funny, whichever side of a given issue you’re on, you probably have felt this way.

But, no one gets wiser when we all keep in in.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,”

Of course I’m not one to say that we can all always learn form each other’s points of view.

That’s not the reason we share points of view.

If someone’s view is false, then nothing can be learned from it, by definition. But there is a lot you can learn from the person who holds that view.

You can learn why they hold it, how it came to happen, and what effect it has on them and the people around them.

With very extreme views, often that last thing is obvious.

But I submit to you that truth itself is not something another human can teach you, just by telling you something.

We learn from each other’s character far more than from each other’s words, though those are a big part of it.

But that is the danger of looking to the popular, or widely accepted or hated opinions; also of looking to the media, or a celebrity; or a parent to guide you to truth; they aren’t always in it.

I doubt anyone has the capacity to hold all truth in their minds at one time, but it is certain that some people are on the track to discovering more of it all the time, and others to never ending deception.

That’s why we do ally ourselves with certain groups of people. I prefer Fox News not because I believe its unbiased (I don’t) but because I know the people on Fox news hold belief systems closer to my own, and therefore are more likely to point me in what I believe is the truthful direction. But I don’t completely swallow all they say, I don’t know if they really expect that actually.

The difference I do perceive between Fox and CNN is that one seems to expect people of different views to tune in occasionally, but the other really doesn’t.

But I’m not getting into that debate (and I won’t get into it in the comments, just in case there was someone reading who would try.)

My point is, human institutions are like compasses. Some aren’t accurate, some are, but at their best, all they do is point you to the right thing.

So, if I do share a lot of my father’s views on things, it is because I see him as a pretty accurate compass.

But I don’t agree with my father on plenty of subjects. I choose to keep those to myself because I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. not anyone who’s not close to my family anyway.

But the reason I agree, as far as politics goes, is that my faith is the same as my dad’s essentially. Bible-based. And I would only expect our ideas to line up most of the time because of that.

I won’t pretend that my parents haven’t influenced my beliefs, of course they have, and I’m glad they did. They are good, honest people, and I have no reason to be ashamed to agree with them.

But they do not define my beliefs. The older I get, the more I realize this. That even though my beliefs have not really changed since I was a child, they have become more my own, not less.

Actually, whether you like it or not, after a certain age, your beliefs are your own. No matter if you’ve ever questioned them or not.

To all of us there comes a choice to question, or to accept what we’ve been taught. All of us decide, for a myriad of reasons, which we will do. All of us, no one gets left out of that. Once you decide, it’s your belief.

Some folks might whine that their parents ruined their lives, but after a certain age, you ruin your own life.

Depending on where you live and what your family is like, that could be a different age for all of us, but we hit it sooner or later.

I know our parents shape us, but they don’t define us.

And one last thing:

Like everyone, I have doubts. I never reassure myself by telling myself that “my parents are sure, so it must be true.” I can’t imagine that actually being comforting.

No. I have to go back to what I have experienced, and heard, to remind myself why I believe.

And that’s all I have to say about that, until next time–Natasha.

Meh.

I recently reached 500 likes on this blog, so here’s a thank you to all of you who click the like button when you are done reading.

Seriously, when I get views but no likes, I don’t know what to think. Maybe the person just felt “meh” about it.

Meh, I never use that word. I guess it’s an emoji now, I ‘m sure I ‘m not the only one who can’t keep up with them. I wouldn’t even know that one if not for that horrible movie that just came out. (I didn’t watch it by the way.)

You  know, that meh thing is really pretty sad. If you did make the mistake of watching that movie, I’m sure the only emotion you felt was frustration that the two meh parent emojis couldn’t express any… emotion– it was just wrong.

Deadpan characters can be funny, but this was deader and more pan. (What does that term even mean?)

Personally I thought it was sad, the idea of two people never be able to express their feelings with their tones or expressions. It’s like most of communication is gone.

And that’s all the emotion that movie got out of me, except disgust, if you want a review, look on YouTube.

Anyway, meh is kind of like the new “whatever.” You know how people hate it when you tell them that word? “Whatever…” Like you’re just too bored with the conversation.

The truth is , you probably are and just want to get away, but that hurts their feelings. Sometimes with good reason, we can’t always get away from uncomfortable conversations.

I realized today that I have a lot of moments myself where I want to go “whatever” and just back out. I don’t’ want to sort it out. I don’t have the energy or the willpower, just leave me alone, or let me do what I want.

That sounds like both a bratty teenager and a grumpy elderly person.

You know I think elderly people are grumpy because they don’t have to worry about getting ahead in life anymore.

Not that they are all grumpy, but the ones who are.

Maybe we just slip into that when we feel we don’t have anyone to impress. Like how I’m more tempted to just use my authority with kids to settle things and not actually what’s fair; because I don’t have to.

I hate that when I see it in myself, but I realize it’s al too common in humans to be that way. It’s not just me, all of us do that. We let ourselves go when we think we can get away with it.

The reason presumably is that we don’t really like being good all the time, it’s tiring, it feels like a duty we owe God, our family, and ourselves. But when our family isn’t there, we can be okay with shortchanging ourselves and therefore God.

Normally it’s nothing big, not for generally moral people, it’s that little sin yo might not even feel bad about, but you knew it was wrong.

It’s scary when you add it all up and realize how much you do this.

I am not one to say that if you sin in this way a lot, you are going to hell. (If you’re a Christian that is.) I don’t think these sins are always pure evil in of themselves. But in that they are sin for you, they are.

See, personal morality has been twisted around nowadays. It actually means knowing what will be sin for you because it pricks your conscience. Not getting to choose what is right and wrong period.

Sins of unfairness, or inconsistency, or gluttony may not seem that bad, and maybe aren’t bad for others (that is, what you are being unfair, inconsistent, or gluttonous about is not a problem for others) but you struggle with them.

I think we get sick of the struggle partly because we hate that it is a struggle. Why can’t it be easy to be good? Why did we ever make the mistake of letting this become a problem?

Deep down, every human being yearns for perfection. We chase what we once had, wishing we could get it back.

But we also yearn to sin. We don’t like it, but it’s there. Sometimes we give way to it because sin has a way of making it seem more painful to resist, even though it’s actually more painful not to.

We are lazy, I’ll grant you, but my questing is why? Why do we decide it’s not worth an effort?

We do deceive ourselves. Maybe because the truth hurts.

The good news is, you can start again. And you can be your better self and remember that sin isn’t something you enjoy. As always, it’s a choice.

And if worst comes to worst, you can forgive and be forgiven.

But it starts with not saying “whatever.”

Until next time–Natasha.

Of Christmas Classics and Childhood Innocence.

Who doesn’t love old Christmas Classics?

Even though I realize now that there’s a lot of things in those movies that are not explained very well, I don’t think they have to be for the movie to be good.

Actually, I think they make it better.

If you’ve ever seen Frosty Returns, you might recall that Frosty tells one kid that “Some things just can’t be explained.”

And it’s true. I mean, can anyone really explain gravity? Can anyone decide what light is?

 

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I watch Frosty the Snowman now, the nostalgia makes me want to cry.

Because I’m sad for what we have lost.

I love the innocence of these old films. They have songs in them that would never make the cut now. Like the “If you sit on my lap today” Song from Santa Claus is coming to town.

That song is innocent. Whatever might be read into it now.

I am not saying by the way, that we should write songs like that for our modern movies. The problem with losing innocence is that once it’s gone, it’s gone.

You can never un-see or un-know what you know.

It’s impossible for me to forget the threats of terrorism, and drug abuse, and sex trafficking.

And that’s why I would like to encourage any parents our would be parents reading it that innocence is actually a very wise thing to preserve in your child.

It’s going out of fashion now.  The general attitude is that children will have to face reality sooner or later, and hiding it from them is stupid.

And parents who choose to shelter their kids rarely explain why in terms that make sense to those who hold the above view of it.

When parents say they don’t allow their kids to watch or listen to certain things, they usually justify it by saying those things are inappropriate.

But what does that mean? And in the day of gender confusion and school shootings, does that idea have any merit?

I think so.

The way my parents handled the issue was never voluntarily bringing up any shocking behavior. But if I asked about it, they would explain. My dad often more than I wanted to hear. My mom usually more vaguely, because she didn’t like talking about the stuff herself.

My parents used both caution, timing, and natural curiosity to handle the problem of telling my siblings and I about the crud in the world. And that’s the key.

Now that I’m almost 20, I hope I will not be in for too many more moral shocks. (please Lord.) But I am glad that most of the ones I had came when I was over the age of 10.

I am glad I can remember a time when I did not know those things. And that I did not grow up hearing about them all the time. Or that if I did hear, I did not understand, so I cannot remember.

I am glad that I had many years of relative carefreeness.

Why? Because I had no suspicions. I still remember when I could watch a movie and not get the sexual innuendos. Wasn’t’ that great?

I mentioned in my Wonder Woman review that I had the experience later of being horrified to learn about how corrupt people can be. That’s not a fun experience, but I would urge anyone with children not to avoid it by letting their children in on everything without setting boundaries.

Obviously, adults don’t talk directly to children about this stuff (usually) but they let them watch or read things without screening them first. And it adds up.

I am glad to be horrified over sin. It does not make you weak. It is actually a good thing to be sickened by it. To a certain extent. It’s a godly quality. The Lord himself is horrified by sin.

Did you know that there are some sins God does not even imagine us doing? It’s true. It says in Jeremiah 19:5, 7:31, and 32:35 that the sin Israel was committing had not even entered his mind.

God then, is innocent.

You may ask how that’s even possible. And the reason I can think of ties back in to shielding children from corruption.

A pure mind cannot ever conceive the depths a corrupt, sick mind will stoop too. A good man cannot even imagine doing what an evil man does.

The best protection from corruption is to not know about it. Innocence in childhood can be a great foundation fro a strong moral character. Because a child is not ready to process e evil and sort it out from good. That’s why it is the parent’s job to feed them on good things.

I want to make it clear I do not mean parents should pretend evil isn’t real. Children will figure that out no matter how much you try to hie it. What I mean is, trying to give them the best you can and make sure what’s influencing their thinking is a pure as possible. Evil is always evil, and it’s always defeated.

(I recommend A Thomas Jefferson Education for more on how to ease children into knowing evils sometimes wins and preparing them for that harsh reality through their books and movies.)

We are told nowadays that children only grow up with concepts of good and evil because we teach them too. And we are advised to throw away responsibility and treat them like case experiments. Exposing them to all things and letting them decide.

but no matter how hard you pretend it’s otherwise, children will decide based on you. Whether they reject your morality, or imitate it. You will be their guideline. You are teaching them one way, whether you like it or not.

So, why not teach them good, noble things, while it’s up to you. Before friends and school have a stronger grip on them. (Though find the best school you can by all means. And encourage healthy friendships.)

I want innocence for my children because it’s the last part of life that remains a little linked to how things were mean to be. And a child who has that experience will be able to imagine better things more easily than one who only ever saw the darkness in the world.

Irreverence.

I watch a lot of YouTube, and a lot of movies. This often gives you a look into the worst of humanity (the part of it that’s online.)

Like Furrys, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with liking anthropomorphic animals, but do you know the sick connotations that term has?

I hope not for your sake. But I’ve picked it up streaming through videos.

Anyway, you know what I notice, there’s a growing problem that’s being almost ignored by he folks who comment on this stiff. (Like I am now, I guess.)

Maybe this is familiar to you, some one who thinks they are super funny is going on aobut something, and they throw in some remark against God. (It can even be a non christian God.)

I don’t know about Buddhists, Muslims, or Jews, but this really bugs me when it happens.

The insolent tone these folks use is kind of disturbing.

I won’t defend other gods, but I don’t really think they are something to joke aobut when someone truly believes in them.

Take an example from a movie I recently watched (it wasn’t good, by the way) the main character calls God a racist b—, with no real grounds for it that I could see, and other people in the movie think this is great. And funny. She’s applauded for her…moxie, I guess.

You know what’s celebrated in our culture? Irreverence.

We laugh at it, even applaud. Those who are out of control and insolent to everybody are praised as fearless and independent.

I wish I could say it was just unbelievers. but I’ve seen it among Christians too.

Some of you 40+ readers will remember when it was bad to use the phrase “Oh my God.” or any other cockamamie phrase that threw around God’s name.

Now I hear that all the time in church.

It’s hilarious. kid shows even nowadays will not use that phrase, or words like “heck” or “darn” because it would bother parents, but I hear it in church. Even in Sunday school.

I use darn and heck myself. Because to me, they mean nothing, or nothing important. You darn a sock. Heck isn’t even a real word exactly.

But throwing God’s name around implies that you feel the same way about that word that I do about these two words. That it means nothing to you.

And I’m convinced that for many people, it doesn’t. The idea that God would even take offense to that, if they believe in him at all, never crosses their mind.

It may seem like I’m being judgmental to mind this. But I’m really not. It’s a serious problem, your language reflects your attitude.

Now people will swear up and down that that’s not the case. We all deny stuff. It’s not a spectacular example of human failings. That’s why we shouldn’t buy it. People deny plenty of things that are harmful to themselves and others.

It’s like my cousins who use exclamations like that because their parents do, and they never stop to think what they are actually saying. And their parents learned it from their parents. And so on.

Irreverence is a huge problem because it signals a lack of ability to take anything seriously when it comes to the Spiritual side of life.

The Spiritual may not actually be ridiculous, but as C. S. Lewis pointed out, treating it like it has already been found ridiculous is both lazier than trying, and creates a general attitude of flippancy that ruins morality.

I think it is also possible to take things too seriously, but at this point, the only thing we’re in danger of taking too seriously is ourselves.

So the challenge is, do we need to look at how we talk aobut things and start watching ourselves more closely.

I’m pretty sure I do.

Those are my thoughts for now, until next time–Natasha.

Of Driving and Divergent.

Finally! I got a Driver’s License. Now I can hold my head up around my peers again.

You know, I realize that without my voice, my sense of humor may seem kind of flat. Delivery is everything.

You want to know what’s crazy about this. My permit had expired after three failed tests, so I had to get a new one. Guess what, they don’t charge you for the fourth one because in the system it’s like the first one.

In case the nuance was missed, that means I almost literally got a fresh start on record.

Oh, I suppose if one dug it up at the DMV, they could find out I took the test four times, but I doubt anyone is going to.

In a sense, I passed on the first try.

Talk about irony, or maybe just redemption.

I can’t help but see this incident as a metaphor for something.

Anyway, in other news, I’ve watched two of the three Divergent movies.

Did you know Veronica Roth, the author of those books, is a professing Christian? I can’t say I really like the movies any better knowing that.

I don’t think they warrant a full review, but in passing, I will say the entire third movie was basically a very thinly veiled parallel of Christianity. Without the Christ. Or the actual point of the faith. Or any strong moral lesson.

Nonetheless, it was better than the first one.

You know, I hate to come down on Christian movies and books, but why are they so weird?

Some are good. Christian movies tend to shine when they just tell life stories and let the faith be a part of it when it actually fits. Like in “Soul Surfer.”

But when they try to make post apocalyptic or dark and gritty fiction; it turns out really badly.

I mean, why would a christian need to write about a fake apocalypse, when they already believe in a real one that would be a way better story than any of the fiction ones?

My biggest problem with that sub-genre is that it takes any real power out of the faith, because it bases all of it’s events on things that will never happen.

The whole Five Faction System would never work. It couldn’t last. And in a day and age where individuality is being celebrated, if anything, too much, it seems stupid.

What do we learn from these stories? (And everything from Ender’s Game to PBS kids is featuring themes like this.) They set up a fake world with fake rules that function in fake environments that we only believe because our own technology is close enough t it to make it seem possible.

And I know a lot of people who love the dystopian genre, and read it exclusively, I expect. And they claim to get stuff out of it.

But if all you get from these stories is that you should celebrate your individuality then it’s the same stupid message you’ve hear a hundred times by now.

And have you noticed that it’s not working? Insecurity runs rampant in our society. No matter how many times we tell kids “Be yourself, love your special-ness” it doesn’t stick.

I am not saying this message is not important in it;s place. I went through a period of self discovery a couple years ago, and Is till continue that process now, only slower.

But that’s the point, you can’t stay there. You can’t keep telling people, especially children, that self-realization is the one-size-fits-all solution to their problems. It’s not.

Sometimes a dose of humility will work wonders in your life. Not demanding people appreciate the wonderful person you are.

Newsflash: You’re not as good as you think.

You’re not as bad as you think either. The truth it, we rarely see either our faults or our virtues clearly.

It’s not wise to tell kids that if they’re special, they’re the savior of the world. (I’m looking at you Tris.)

I think Wonder Woman’s got the right idea. Remember, she says she can’t save the world. Only love can save the world.

I am all for knowing your worth. But one has to know more than that to get by in life. Well, to thrive. Who wants to just get by.

And maybe,  just maybe, taking an honest look at the real world around us; instead of imagining one that is even worse and wildly unrealistic, would be more helpful.

I know this is coming from an unashamed fantasy lover. What can I say? I find Fantasy to be a better example of real world things that pulp fiction.

It’s kind of like a trashy romance novel being held up as an example of true love. When any Disney movie you like gets closer to the actual idea. (And I don’t just mean Frozen.)

I won’t say all dystopian novels are useless trash, I won’t say that. But I will say that it’s one in one thousand that’s truly profound and inspiring.

Honestly, and I mean no disrespect, but I think they are lazy writing. The plots are so fabricated that they can’t be researched for or based on any actual experience that would require work to put into words. The emotional stakes are also way out of proportion to most people’s experience. (Have you watched your mother get shot in front of your eyes? Have you bee inside someone’s hallucination? Have you had to fight to the death for entertainment?)

Even if someone was to have had those terrible experiences, would they find this kind=d of book or movie helpful? I doubt it. If anything, it’s going to make them angry.

From my own life, I will say that the books that helped me through tough stuff were the ones that did not exaggerate my problem, or try to make it seem super dramatic. The fact was, my issues are dramatic to me. But because of that, I can tell when someone else has actually felt what I’ve felt.

Like in Frozen. Elsa never calls herself a monster. She never makes some dramatic monologue aobut how every day of her life is misery. She doesn’t have to. In the moments when we get a glimpse into what she’s feeling. A few short sentences speak volumes. I buy it.

Anyway, I hope this post made some sense, since it was very spur of the moment. Until next time–Natasha.

Adulting?

Did I mention yet that I got laid off? No? Maybe?

Well now I have.

It’s not the first time, so I guess this isn’t a new experience for me entirely. At least I’m not as hopping mad as I was when it happened before. That was a whole other story.

I won’t really reflect too much on it here, since you’ve all probably had that happen to you.

Anyway, you know that new term going around the internet? “Adulting.” ?

At the store I worked at we actually had plaques and notebooks that said “Coffee then adulting.”

I wouldn’t have a clue what that meant (Other than the adult part) if I hadn’t seen a helpful YouTube video titled “No you are not adulting.” (Check it out, it’s on a cool channel.)

So, because I’m trying to enroll in college; waiting for my first tax return; wondering what new job I’m going to find; and hoping to get my driver’s license next week (if you pray, please throw one in for me;) I seem to be adulting.

I mean, I don’t like that term.

But I think I know why it was invented.

There’s a lot of people my age who don’t feel adequately prepared for adulthood, one minute you’re 17 and haven’t a responsibility in the world beyond school, which isn’t your choice anyway; and then boom! You turn 18 and you start wondering what the heck to do after you graduate. Or you might have just graduated, depending on when your birthday is. And suddenly careers or college is staring you right in the face.

If you don’t live in America, Canada, or some parts of Europe, and I know some of you who read this don’t, then I imagine it’s a little different. Maybe 17-18 isn’t the year everything changes for you. Which is fine and all, not every country has to have the same system. But in American especially, you can’t legally do most things till you’re 18. So it is a big deal.

 

However, just because I can do stuff now, doesn’t mean I want to.

I don’t want to pay taxes, but I won’t get much of a choice there. I don’t want to have more expenses than before.

And I think that’s where my generation is finding itself. When we were teens and kids we were told we could become anything. But we didn’t hear the people adding under their breath “but it will cost you a fortune.”

I’m speaking to someone right now.

For example, if I wanted to get certified to be a ASL interpreter, it will take me at least two years, maybe more, doing multiple classes. And classes other than Sign are required to finish.

And that’s an easy one. And cheap–er.

I think the truth is, we millennials missed the part in every story where the person has to hazard all they have, like Bassanio in Shakespeare, in order to win the prize.

The fact is, you never get time back. Money can be refunded, time never is. And older adults tend to think that millennials don’t take that into consideration.

Well, my theory is, they do and they’re scared to death.

Personally, for all of my eighteenth year, I was feeling almost paralyzed from wondering what to do with my time. Looking back, I hope I didn’t waste it.

Well, I know I didn’t, because if I had had the chance to do more, I would have. When opportunity isn’t there, I don’t think it’s a waste to occupy yourself at home while you wait.

But now, it’s crunch time. I have to make some major changes in a couple months of time.

And I am not qualified to give all people, millennials or otherwise, my five tips for dealing with this period.

But I do have a little piece of advice.

One thing I do think I did right in the last year was choosing not to obsess over my lack of direction. I thought about it a lot. But in between times, I chose to keep reading, writing, and studying language. And pursuing activities outside myself. And learning to drive.

I believe that was a smart choice.

Another thing I believe I did right was committing my time into God’s hands. I may not see why I was in limbo for so long, but there was a reason, and there were moments of understanding. Like getting to go on another mission trip. I might not be able to do that again this year. (Here’s hoping.)

And don’t discount the little things. Getting to spend more time with my cousins, we have a bond now because of that, that I might have missed otherwise, and that’s a precious thing that time can’t wear away. Though it may take a back seat during some seasons.

And being there for my family. I hated being stuck at home so much, but the fact is, my family did need me. I may not feel like I do a lot, but even what I did was more than if I hadn’t been here. And I bring things to the family circle that nobody else does.

I don’t just say that to be cliche, it is true. I’ve observed it over time.

So it was a tough year, but I don’t believe any year spent seeking God is a bad one. No matter what bad things happened during it.

Heck, the Friday before my birthday I spent going to the second funeral of the year. IF that’s not symbolic of what I’ve been saying, I don’t know what is.

And all you 50+ folks have my sympathy for how much more frequent funerals must get as you and the people you know age.

But I don’t mean to be depressing.

Anyway, making the most of your time will make you feel better when you don’t have a clue where you are going next. I’ve still spent too many days sitting around doing nothing, even though I despise that attitude.

Adulting is not something you start to do when you’re 18, it’s something you learn to do over life. In fact, adulting is the wrong word for it.

It’s called growth.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

Dual Misconduct

Can we get right into a nitty-gritty topic in this post?

Sexual abuse allegations.

I am not writing about this because of all the stuff on the media about it right now. I didn’t feel the need. I am actually writing about it because of the last episode of a show I’ve been recommending.

In this episode, a female intern gets propositioned and…touched awkwardly…by a male doctor.

You know the drill. She feels this is just a problem women face in the workplace, and if she makes an issue of it, she’ll get labeled a… a whiner, I’ll put it that way. And also difficult.

What struck me about this situation on the show was that the man in question knew that this intern had an…shall we say active sexual life, right there at the hospital, so he thought even though she was acting disinterested, he could persuade her to change her mind.

I refuse to be more explicit then that, you’ve all heard the story already.

Now to be fair, the situation hasn’t been resolved yet, so I can’t say whether the show will do it right or not. But I can say a continuous problem I see with shows that like to tackle this issue.

And that is Feminine Responsibility.

I will not downplay how serious a problem sexual advances can be. Even if they are invited, they are not always appropriate. But when they aren’t invited, it’s worse naturally.

But what about the other side of the coin?

Have you noticed how the women on these shows tend to throw themselves at men…and make advances on them. Invited or not.

The reason they get away with it is because the shows assume every man watching would be totally okay with a woman trying to seduce him. Even if he’s married, or has a significant other.

And of course, a lot of men probably wouldn’t argue that. But there’s a few out there who would be very uncomfortable if such a scenario actually happened. (And in my opinion it happens a lot less than the shows imply.

Which brings me back to the point of responsibility.

I have to tell you all, and without embarrassment, that I’ve never been sexually assaulted in any way, or propositioned.

I’ve never been asked out in a normal way actually.

And you have to understand, I’m not ugly. Everyone tells me I’m very good looking. And I’m not some wierdo who drives men off or anything.

So I think I can say with confidence that there’s no outward reason I’ve escaped this problem other than luck…or something more.

If women really deal with this so often, and if men like that are really everywhere, maybe we should consider our own behavior also.

And I mean we as a gender, because personally I try to conduct myself like a lady.

Now, no man, ever, should make an advance on a women who clearly says she doesn’t want it. Period.

But…. 

If women really deal with this so often, and if men like that are really everywhere, maybe we should consider our own behavior also.

Just on this show, I see issues with the intern’s jaded attitude.

First of all, she has a reputation clearly. If people know she’s sleeping around with some guy at the hospital, then that says a lot about what she’s willing to do on the job. No body but herself could have given her that rep. It was her choice to do that, the other intern didn’t force himself on her. In fact we see her be the more aggressive one in a different episode.

Again, unrealistic, but if women in real life were to do things like that, and it got around, they would raise certain expectations.

Now, you might say, men could do the same thing without being propositioned by other people at the workplace.

And you would probably be right.

But that’s because women don’t typically go after men the same way men go after them. The women who do get in sexual affairs may not be any less sick and twisted, but they will be in different and often less visible ways.

So, yes, men will do more things we arrest people for. But it doesn’t mean they are always necessarily worse than the women. Not at the heart of it. Sexual misconduct is not always aggressive.

Furthermore, the intern on the show is also known to flirt with other men on staff. By accident maybe, but people will pick up on that.

There is no nice way to say this, if you act like you are easy, people will think you are easy. That’s all there is to it.

See, I believe men, even the sick predators among them, can read women better than we realize. I think that’s why I have always been treated with respect by the opposite sex.

I notice that I, and my sisters and mother, are treated differently by most men than the people we know who are more… morally ambiguous.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t sickos out there who will still come on to us. Sometimes a sick mind takes pleasure in hurting the most innocent of people. But that’s more rare.

The fact is, more predators go for those they perceive as weaker in standards.

And as tired a subject as it is, I think how girls dress is a big part of that.

I think also girls who are less confident, or way too confident, have a certain look in their eye.

And men do too. I can typically tell a gentlemen by the expression on his face and the way he conducts himself around me just in the first time we meet.

Which also suggests that if women are getting a creepy vibe from a man, they need to act on it immediately.

And if they can’t protect themselves, they need to ask for help.

But, they do have responsibility. And also, if they’re job is more important to them than their safety and purity, as this show episode also suggested, then that is a problem.

In that scenario, they are choosing to keep exposing themselves to these advances.

It is no excuse to the men even if that’s the case, the issue should never have to come up at all.

But my point is, we need to make sure we aren’t inviting it either. Think how many female celebrities post provocative pictures of themselves online, or take movie roles that involve doing stuff, they need to realize what they are telling the world.

Anyway, this ran long, so I’m ending it here. Until next time–Natasha.

The secret love of pets.

So, I’ve considered writing about pets on here before, like every other blogger seems to do. But I never really decided to do it.

The reason I’m finally bringing up this noncontroversial topic is that my grandma has lost both her dogs in this past week.

They were 15 years old, and since they were good sized dogs, that’s a ripe old age.

Plus until the last couple years, they weren’t in too bad shape. But they were falling apart and she finally had to put both of them down within days of each other.

You know, I’ve never seen her so down as the past few days.

My family had to put our dog down a few years back, he was a young dog, especially for his size, and should have lived a good 8 years or more, but he had a liver problem.

The truth of the matter was, we later suspected that he had had a problem when we got him. He always had a weak stomach, and at first we didn’t realize he was worse until he wouldn’t eat for days and only lay around. And turned yellow.

Not a pretty sight. He was so miserable we just couldn’t bear to keep him suffering any longer.

It still hurts to think about that.

I am not one of those people who has to live with an animal before I get really fond of it. I don’t go animal crazy or anything. Now that we have three cats, I like cats, but before I was never what you would call a cat person.

So I understand people who can just take or leave animals pretty well. But what I Think is more interesting is what having a pet can teach you about love.

You may never realize it of course, but some people do, and I wont’ be the first to remark on it.

My dad says, rather drily, that we were more broken up when our dog died than when a family member of ours died.

In a way that might be true, at least I know I cried more. For some reason I don’t tend to cry when people pass away. My personal thought is that it’s too close and too real, and I just don’t process it through tears. Not yet anyway.

But I don’t think that it means I loved a dog more than my family. If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick my family. (Though it would be heartbreaking.)

But I notice I’m not the only one who seems to express grief more freely over a pet passing than over family passing. Maybe you know people like that, or maybe you are that person too.

And I think the reason for it is pretty profound.

The truth is, we feel the death of an animal more, or more purely, because we see it with unclouded vision.

Pets rely on us completely. Especially if you’ve raised kittens like I have, and they can’t even go to the bathroom without help (at least people are born knowing that much.) And the reason we love them so thoroughly is because they can’t give us anything in return for our saving their lives. The don’t feed us, or clothe us, and some of them couldn’t even protect us in a pinch. They cost us a lot of money and they don’t pay it back. We can’t even hope that when they grow up they will help us in turn, as some parents do with their children.

And those of us who have cranky, bratty, or strange pets know that our love for them doesn’t change just because they aren’t always loving us back.

Why, our cats are downright ungrateful about us feeding them high quality food. They like junk food better. (The nerve!)

Now I wouldn’t do what some would and use all this as proof that pets are complete wastes of time. On the contrary, I think we should have pets for this very reason.

It’s important to the human soul to be able to love something unconditionally, and even more important to be able to love something that can’t return you anything tangible.

I believe the reason that people’s passing on leaves a different ache in our hearts is becuase we rely on people too much.

It’s not bad to need each other, but we all know that we often need each other in the wrong ways, in the wrong amounts, and that’s why we fight and fail and have to begin again (and that’s in a healthy relationship.)

When you lose something you rely on, part of the grief is, as C. S. Lewis observed, selfish. It’s not concerned with what was best for the person, but what was better for you. Or at least what you think was better.

But when you don’t rely on a creature and you lose it, you mourn it for being what it was. For its own sake, and so you have a purer, less selfish grief.

I do not mean at all to say grieving for people is bad. Nor that admitting you wanted them is bad. I only meant hat it’s a different kind of love.

The beautiful thing about loving our pets is that we don’t think about it. We just do it. We don’t expect credit for it. It’s not about our ego.

And if it were to be, most of us would agree that it wasn’t really the pets we were thinking of.

So those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.

Wins vs Sins–1

This may be an old subject with some of you, but I think it’s one of those that has to be revisited again and again.

And that is the subject of positivism vs negativity.

Since studies have shown that the former is clearly better for health and happiness than the latter, most of us have no excuse to be negative. But you’ve probably noticed that that hasn’t stopped the vast majority of people from being negative.

The problem is that it is and always has been a habit to be negative. I know people who will admit that they shouldn’t be that way, but will not put in the effort to actually change their attitude.

I started thinking about this last night, when I was watching a YouTube video (way later than I should have been, but sometimes it happens.) This video was criticizing this other YouTube channel that those of you who are big movie watchers have probably heard of. Cinema Sins.

I happen to have watched a few of their videos myself (what person hasn’t who looks up internet reviews?) I didn’t like them. Not for any of the reasons this guy was listing, but because the channel was hugely inappropriate in its humor. (And I mean gross levels of it. Not just that tongue in cheek kind of stuff.)

Anyway, so I wasn’t super defensive about hearing it criticized. And I thought the video made some legitimate points, but I won’t list them all here.

What I really was thinking about was the point that questioned if these wholly negative reviews were actually good reviews or good comedy.

I want to unpack that idea more than the actual video did, because I think it’s a whole missed discussion opportunity.

Judging both from the comment sections of YouTube, and actual people I’ve heard talk about this, many just don’t see the point of even caring about movie reviews or reviewers, and whether they are serious or not, because, in these people’s minds, movies should not be taken that seriously.

To those people I would say that when kids are kissing frogs and maniacs are planning crimes because of something they saw in a movie, we had better take it seriously.

Even if what we take out of that is that people are morons.

Well, to be fair, many of them are.

But stupidity, in my experience, is almost always taught. It’s not an innate trait of the average person to be an idiot. There’s always a few who just seem to be born without a clue, but usually it’s choices made between childhood and adulthood that shape someone’s intelligence.

Even so, intelligence is not a permanent thing. People can become stupider, they can also become smarter. We used to understand that before IQ tests cam along to tell us those things are set in stone.

So, the charge that movies are playing to the stupidest parts of human nature, and society, should be taken seriously. Because it reflects on us, what we find funny, and what we support.

People like Cinema Sins are right to be disgusted with cinema that is only there to be stupid and “funny.”

I think the dumbest thing anyone can say about movies is that they don’t matter and should not be taken seriously.

That eliminates about a third of the voices on this subject.

So, turning to the other two main opinions on reviews, I want to explain where I am on this.

At first when I started watching negative reviews, I liked it. I was frustrated with plenty of the entertainment out there, and I thought a lot of it was dumb. It was nice to be agreed with by a public source. Plus, it was funny; and I also learned some terms that people use and how movies and shows are typically rated. All helpful and interesting stuff to know for the movie goer who really wants to be careful about their time.

But the problem was, these reviews picked apart movies I did like as well as movies I didn’t. Sometimes I acknowledged they had a point. But other times, like with my favorite movie of all, it was really painful to hear it mocked to dust.

More recently I started seeking out more positive reviews. Cinema Wins, a spin off of the other, makes good review that are all focused on finding the bright side. Another good channel was How It Should Have Ended; which does poke a lot of fun at films, but ultimately they are positive, and just freaking genius some of the time. (If you like that type of humor. I won’t say everyone would like it.)

Now, Cinema Wins is sometimes naively positive about movies. But the guy knows he is, and admits it. Which is why I prefer it to these negative Nancy reviews I’m so sick of. A reviewer of movies should actually want to like movies. Otherwise how can they admit anything is of merit in any franchise?

See, at first it didn’t occur to me that watching movies expressly to find fault was a problem. But once I noticed that I couldn’t enjoy even movies I liked as much anymore now that I had all this negativity going through my mind, I got upset.

I’m not even a big fan of the entertainment industry as a whole. But when I find a gem, I don’t like it being picked apart.

Now everyone will have different standards for what constitutes a good movie. Often I think people go by the wrong things, but that’s because reviews have shifted to focusing on stuff that is minor.

How well a scene is shot, how colorful it is, or how melodic the soundtrack is are not really major things. And nitpicking every line of dialogue, or every element that doesn’t make perfect sense can completely miss the point both of the movie, and of storytelling itself.

When people used to gather around storytellers (like we do around TVs now) it didn’t matter how realistic the story was. The point was in what it meant. Was it a warning? Did it explain something about life? Did it give hope?

What’s ironic is that now, many movies and books actually use this older reason for storytelling telling as a plot point within their story.

Take that briefly popular The Giver book. The whole story turns on the past, the stories as it were, that the Giver shares with the Receiver.

The same thing with Ayn Rand’s little Anthem story. The books and tales of the past end up opening Prometheus’ eyes to the present.

It’s sad that even though this element of storytelling is used, it has to be done undercover, because people will pick the actual book to pieces over little things.

No one would fault the Receiver for accepting what the Giver tells him. (Or gives him. I haven’t actually read the book.) But in the real world, stories aren’t often received so well.

I think I’ll have to make a part two to finish this properly, so until next post–Natasha.