Pro Choice

We decide how to act and what to do hundreds of times a day.  We decide who to text, call, think about.  We decide who to smile at, be kind to, or ignore.  We decide what to eat, what to drink, or not.  It is EASY to say that we wish for things to be different, but in fact it is only each of us, as the individual in possession of that glorious principle called Free Will, who makes the choices that puts us where we are, right this second.  There is a line in one of my favorite movies of all time, Steel Magnolias, where Julia Roberts character says to her Momma that she would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special…I love that line…mostly because it is really a definitive statement about free will; making a choice to have the life you are in desire of and not necessarily the life that is simple or best.

I have tried in my life, in my past, to be quiet and passive about my feelings, but I learned years ago that for me, it is better to tell or write to a person about how I feel, or what I am thinking, and to be clear, than to do nothing.  The outcome I desire isn’t always achieved by this forthrightness, but at least I know that I have done what I can to express myself, my wants, my wishes, and thus I am making a choice to share my feelings.  Sure, at times they are not reciprocated, or there is a compromise to be had and a balance is found, and other times no balance is found and things end…but to have feelings and choose not to express them, is not me, does not work for me, and simply does not feel good for me.  It is my choice to express myself when I feel things.

I’ve been a bit baffled and perplexed this past year by many of my choices and by many of the choices that others have made.  The last two weeks I have been thinking a lot and to be clear, growing confused, as I am prone to do, about what makes people do or not do what they do.  What guides behavior and human interaction other than free will?  If I call somebody then it means I want to talk to them.  If I visit with somebody it means I want to see them.  If I tell a person how I feel it means I want them to know how I feel.  If I order salad and not a mushroom Swiss burger then it means I want to stick to my points and my better diet.  If I spend money on a new ipod because mine broke it means my music pumping through my house is more important to me than the $245.  My actions & choices are all I can do to try to bring to fruition the life I desire.

A week ago I decided to give up my afternoon coffee habit.  I was a person who used the expression, only half jokingly, that I would walk around with an IV pole and just have a constant flow of coffee, if I could.  But, for some reason, I decided that getting a headache every afternoon at about 2 o’clock and “needing” coffee, was a habit I did not want anymore, so I stopped.  The day I decided to quit smoking I did not say aloud that I was going to try to quit smoking I said aloud that today is the day I will smoke my last cigarette, and I did and it was, it was a habit I did not want anymore, so I stopped.  Free will is an extraordinary thing.

I can complain about wanting to fit into my skinny jeans but if I overeat or don’t stick with my better diet, then the complaint is meaningless because I am choosing otherwise.  Somebody can complain about not having money but if he still buys two packs of cigarettes a day then he is effectively saying that he would rather smoke than have the $5,000 that year.  I can complain that my weeds in the driveway are driving me crazy, but if I choose to play on the computer or write and not pull weeds then I am essentially saying that playing on the computer or writing matters more to me than clearing the driveway.   EVERYTHING is or is not because of how we choose.

I have had a number of situations occur since March that have “shown” me my choices are good and right for me.  That is all that matters; my choices have to work for me and your choices have to work for you.  I have learned so much about who I am, what I want, what I need, who I like to be with, who I don’t, what matters to me and what does not.  I would not know so MANY of these things with SUCH clarity and certainty if I had not made the choices I made that let me experiment with life in such a way that I can determine what is good for me and what is bad for me.  It seems so simple now, to look back and say to myself “oh I should have paid attention to those red flags, I should have followed my gut instincts, I should have let the stories and actions speak to me and not paid attention to the spoken words” …but I did not follow my instincts, I made choices and now I know more about myself.  I learned, by the choices I made this last year, that I actually can live with a person, that I actually don’t love being alone as much as I thought I did, that I am more adaptable than I realized about some things and less adaptable than I realized about others…by making the choices I did make, I learned.  Next time I will do better, or not, but I understand more about myself than I did this time last year, and I will understand more about myself tomorrow than I do this morning.  The choices we make every time we decide are what shapes us, constantly alters our state of being on this planet in this universe at this moment.  Becoming a better version of me, a little bit more with every choice I make…yes I am pro-choice.

In the name of the father

J.  Not Jay, Not John, “just J” is what I have heard him sometimes say.  My Dad can do anything and fix anything and make anything and well, you see…I have not, as far as my memory goes, ever had an experience of needing help or something constructed or created or fixed or modified that he has not been able to fulfill the request.  He is what some would call a “handy” man, be it engines, houses, plumbing, electrical, earth…he just does stuff.  I have however never seen him throw or catch a ball.  I saw him ride a bike once when we were little and rented bikes on Martha’s Vineyard.  He is the least lazy person I have ever met and the most regimented in his habits that I will ever know.  He wakes up at the same time every day, has his two breaks at the same time every day and eats the exact same food every day.  We are VERY unlike in this way.  He loves to work and does not relax well, at all.  He does not do “recreational” activities.  These are two of his traits that I am trying at this time in my life NOT to copy.

My father had no desire to go to college but the story goes that his father very much had a desire for him to go to Villanova, as was expected, and after one semester or one year, my Dad either quit or flunked out and the familial tale is that my BigDad shook my father’s hand and said, “John, we have fulfilled our obligation to society, you may go” and at 19 my Dad hitch-hiked to Florida and got a room to rent and a job as a mechanic in a garage and got on with the business of being a man.  He lived and worked in Florida, was later drafted into the Army, and had the good fortune to be sent off to Germany and not Vietnam.  When he got out of the Army is when he came back to Long Beach Island, where he had summered most of his life.  My mom was a local and he was a city boy but they fell madly in love and that story is its very own tale…

My father is a master carpenter, a true craftsman, but is so humble that no one would really ever know his level of perfection and skill unless they worked with him.  He has always made me want to be “better” and I am not sure what that means exactly, but it is what comes to mind when I think of that question, “what kind of feelings do you get when you think about your Dad?”  …and my answer to that question always is that he makes me want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be.  I know how to do, or at least try to do well, a lot of things that are not traditionally “girl” things to do, and I am sure it is because I had a Dad who taught us ‘stuff’ and because we did not want to disappoint him, learned to do a lot of things that I guess sons would generally learn.

My only regret or wish about him and his parenting is that he had taught me to play the drums. He did throughout his youth and teens and I sure would have loved to know how.  He did however instill in me a love of music and the knowledge that it is, more often than not, best played loud.  There was ALWAYS music in our house growing up, speakers in every room and outside, and I find that that is the case here, in my dream house, that he helped me build, there is almost always music playing and there are speakers in every room and outside.  Some of my fondest memories from childhood are associated with music; we had a jukebox filled with 45’s in our playroom and my Dad had a wall of albums and our house had more stereo equipment than any of our friend’s houses and whenever our mother was not home the music was WAY louder than when she was.  That playroom with the giant Peter Max poster, wall of painted penguins, and checkerboard floor was a place where lots of joy was shared and my life long love of music begun.

What is interesting, to me I guess, is that in general my Dad and I seem to have so little in common…he lovingly refers to me as his ‘Lefty, Liberal, Pinko, Commie” daughter and I have said time after time that the only thing I have in common with any of my family is that we love many of the same people.  We do not agree on social issues or fiscal issues or global issues of almost any topic, and yet, when I think about disappointing him, I feel a physical ache.  But to be clear, no matter how much I love the man and dearly wish to make him proud, I will not vote Republican ever, will not willingly listen Rush or watch Fox, and will never ever ever NOT be pro-choice.

I know many people who no longer have a Dad, my Dad lost his own father just this past winter.  I know many people who had a dad who was a total asshole or who was lazy or who treated their mom badly or well you know blah, blah, blah…lots of people have BAD DAD stories.  I do not.  Years ago I wrote a thank-you note to my Mimom and Bigdad for Father’s Day, thanking them for my Dad.  It seemed like the only thing to do, to at least give thanks for a really great man who just so happened to be MY Dad!  I read a quote decades ago that “the greatest gift a man can give to his children is to love their mother” and if this is one of those universal truths, then in addition to ALL the other WONDERFULNESS that is J, he has given my sister and I the greatest gift in the universe, because he sure does love her.

Hello world!

Good day gentle reader.  My pseudonym is RStar and this is my on-line journal.  I am a woman who loves men, coffee, the color purple, sterling silver jewelry, her grand-babies, her home, her truck and her job…and frankly LOTS of other things but those are the first things that popped into my head when I thought about what I loved.  I am however a woman who is trying to drink less coffee, who is trying to reduce her present weight, and who quit smoking almost five years ago and still tries to blame THAT (and that she had a baby, despite the fact that the baby is now a grown woman and a wife and mother herself)  on why she does not fit into any of her jeans…

I have found, over the last few years, that my cyber-space-life, as I fondly call it, is a place where I have discovered more ‘common ground’ than anywhere else…now to be fair, I reside in a small town, I work alone, I live alone, and I don’t have a particularly active social life, and while I love my extended family, we have little if anything in common…so my cyber space social life makes my rather small real life far bigger…it expands my world if you will.  I have found so many like minded men and women with whom I can share my ideas and my thoughts, even if we never meet, because of this modern world of social networks.

Over the last couple years I have shared some of myself with readers in my various blogs that explored weight loss, anger, love, heartbreak, and familial relations.  I have found many like-minded and forward thinking friends, both real and cyber, through my writing and so now, in a new season and a new year I start anew and always hope to find in any relationship, if nothing else,  common ground…