Archive for July, 2014

Faces in the Mirror

Posted: July 18, 2014 in World On The Edge

Beautiful young woman with cocktail looking through a restaurant window.I don’t look forward to old age. Yet I know it’s a stage   that  comes for everyone who inhabits a  long life.

My grandmother lived to be nearly one hundred.  I loved her dearly, as well as my grandfather, for all the many years I knew them. My family lived in my grandparents house until I was five years old. To say that they were influential is an understatement.  They were crucial to each of us.

My grandfather worked his way out of the Great Depression and became  Executive Vice President for the Bay Line Railroad. I’m named after him.  His name was Kenneth Shealy,  but at the railroad he was simply called Mister K.  He was a tall man with a crooked smile, like mine. He was quiet and generous to a fault.  I remember Christmas mornings in my grandparents house when porters from the Bay Line inevitably appeared at the back door with their greeting to him.  “Just wanted to wish ya’ll Merry Christmas, Mr. K.” And my grandfather would have ready in his pocket a ten dollar bill for each. Just one of many examples.

My grandmother, Ethel, could do anything–really! And she ‘ruled the roost.’ She had marvelous ‘good sense’ and compassion.  There were not many times either of my parents disputed anything she said. Both of my grandparents were readers. On their bookcase in the living room were the classics they loved. Among them were Aesop, Grimm, and Andersen; Cervantes, Dana, and Defoe;  Poe and the Bronte sisters, and an old set of encyclopedias called The Books of Knowledge.

When I see aged people, I see my grandparents in them. People who led good and caring lives. And I know that one day I will look in the mirror and see myself as old. I may even say, as I heard my grandmother say, “Oh, that can’t be me!”

There is a textured story, though, in the face of every elderly person. We cannot possibly know the intricacies of their story, but we can appreciate them for the  lives they lived. And we can hope that one day the story of our life will be appreciated, and maybe even influential, in the mirrored memory of someone we care about.

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Are there times when you’ve shouted, “Oh, I just want to be somebody else besides me!” Here are a few examples of people who’d like to be somebody else, from something called, “The Experience Project.”

Ever since elementary school I wanted to act and dress up as anything that’s polar opposites of the real me; whatever that is.

I often find myself living in a dream world, imagining I’m someone else. Being anyone is better than being me. In my dream world, I can be loved, and successful – it’s not that easy in real life

I just wanted to be at least “average” if not pretty, and live in a place I love, with nature all around, having a job and a small house. Is that too much to ask from life? After years of trying I am tired and depressed  that I am not living life.

Why Can’t I Be Proud Of Who I Am? I sit in silence asking myself questions like; “how much is enough?”, “at what point will I have accomplished enough to be proud of who I am?”, or “when can I look in a mirror and realize I’m a good person?” I am 35 years old, overweight, and disappointed in myself. I know several aspects of my life are good, such as, my job, my academic success, my twelve year relationship, and there are many others. I feel sad and lonely, longing to find contentment and self acceptance. I desire physical changes, but lack the motivation and inner strength to enact change.

What has happened to cause these very emotional responses? Do we have unrealistic expectations of life, or have we experienced some particular unhappiness or trauma– either imposed upon us by another, or self imposed by our own actions?  Or have we simply forgotten that we are–really and truly– responsible  for ourselves?

Unrealistic expectations, and lack of responsibility for our own lives and actions,  are huge culprits when it comes to our wanting to be someone else.  Unfortunately, the way of our present world is  ‘the bad teacher’ of  both.  We are not encouraged to be ourselves, but something inaccurately called,  better.  Yet each of us is wonderfully made for unique purposes–not necessarily to be the most beautiful, or the richest person.

So, why are we here— as we are?

Are we meant to be self-indulgent? Are we meant  to cause misery and trauma for others? Certainly not. And we’re not meant to cause misery and trauma for ourselves either. But we are guilty of all this.

We are miraculously-made, and therefore complicated,  human beings, each with free will.  We have the ability to choose who we hang around, who and what we see and listen to, but we have to realize that those particular  people and things  can make us or break us.

If we could just take a few minutes–quiet, undistracted minutes–to contemplate  and wonder why we—each person reading this–have been put on earth at this particular time, we might acknowledge what it is in ourselves, and around us,  that needs changing. We might perceive some mission and purpose for our uniqueness . We might quit bellyaching, or blaming those who’ve hurt us. And we might take a step away from what we know in our hearts is wrong, and walk to a shining future. We might just want to be who WE are made to be.

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When certain people bring nothing but drama to the table…you know it’s time to let them eat by themselves.–Anonymous.

I  admit it. There’ve been times in my life when I’ve been guilty of being a “Drama Queen” and blown small things out of proportion.  Those times were most prolific when I was around ten to twelve years old. Maybe I’d returned from seeing a movie with a friend–a movie that struck us in some way. What else would two ten year olds do but play out the movie again? Her part, my part-and all the drama that went with it.  Or when I went to spend-the-night parties with a bunch of other twelve year old girls and a sad song came on the radio. Oh, how we’d hang on to each other and cry—real tears!

Thankfully, most people outgrow these things, But some don’t, so we have to limit the havoc they can wreak on our lives. We cannot sit at their table . We have to let them “eat by themselves.”

Characteristic of an adult Drama Queen is the over-reaction to minor events with excessive emotion, and obsessive behavior, that exhibits theatrical, attention-grabbing ways. The damaging theatrics of drama queens may spring from defects etched in the brain. This is the type of friend or family member, who derails a casual lunch to tell you a two-hour story about the devastating fight she had with her boyfriend, or the co-worker who constantly obsesses about how he is about to lose his job and needs your support to make it through the day.

The drama queen worships you one minute and despises you the next, based on his or her overreactions.  Living with a drama queen, you may be bombarded daily with accusations and showy attempts to apologize, leaving you feeling angry, guilty and exhausted. Some drama queens are violent toward others, cut themselves or threaten suicide.The extreme behavior can lead to depression or anxiety in family members. Scientists have begun to understand some of the causes of these destructive traits, which are difficult to change without professional help.At the extreme end of the spectrum, if this behavior pervades most areas of a person’s life, he or she may be diagnosed with a personality disorder. Individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), for example, are extremely volatile and impulsive and have wildly tumultuous relationships; those with histrionic personality disorder are highly emotional and attention seeking, with an excessive need for approval. Nevertheless, if you are in a relationship with, or otherwise connected to, a drama queen, a few simple tactics can help you avoid being sucked into his or her spinning world of emotion.

 Trauma to Drama
What drives the drama? Childhood trauma might be a trigger in some cases. Psychiatrist Bruce Perry of the Child­Trauma Academy in Houston has found that children who experience trauma—from abuse to natural disasters—undergo changes in brain chemistry affecting regions that make them moody, oversensitive to stimulation, and unable to accurately assess certain social and environmental cues.

Childhood neglect could also be a factor, experts in the field believe. If parents or guardians habitually ignore, discount or dismiss a child’s thoughts, feelings and experiences, the child may decide that dramatic presentations—from dressing provocatively to telling stories of wild adventures or crises—are necessary to get attention.

Genes could contribute as well. Excessive behavior runs in families, according to a 2004 study led by psychiatrist John Gunderson of Harvard Medical School. Gunderson’s team found that 27 percent of the relatives of BPD patients displayed aspects of the disorder’s problematic relationship style as compared with just 17 percent of the relatives of people with other personality disorders. Shared environmental factors—say, particular parenting practices that a child learns—could play a role in this pattern, although Gunderson theorizes that as yet undiscovered genetic variations may also predispose some family members to difficulties with attachment and mood regulation.

Altered Circuitry
Whatever the roots of their personality, the brains of drama queens seem to be constructed differently from those of calmer people. In 2007 psychiatrist Emily Stern and her colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the brain activity of 14 healthy individuals and 16 people with BPD while they performed a task that required reacting to negative, positive and neutral words. The BPD patients displayed diminished activity in part of the brain’s prefrontal cortex that controls planning and emotional reactions when they had to inhibit a response—in this case, pressing a button—to a negative word.

Thus, seriously afflicted drama queens seem to have weaker circuitry for inhibiting inappropriate reactions to negative emotions, making it difficult for them to stop themselves from acting out. Drama queens may also have more intense emotions: the amygdala, an area of the brain that processes feelings, was hyperactive in the BPD patients in the Cornell study.The results of such faulty wiring leave a trail of distress. The volatility gets in the way of efficiency and congeniality at work and prevents stable, happy relationships at home. Dealing with such people can be difficult, although accepting the theatrics as ingrained in the brain, among other strategies, may help you distance yourself from them and temper the consequences.

This  post was based on an article by Ophelia Austin-Small in  “Scientific American.”

The following video  is  the hilarious assessment and comedic prescription for the Drama Queens in our lives.

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Often we create our own storms,  and then do what the poster says–get upset.

Why? Because the turmoil we created could have been avoided.

Three factors are involved in  the messes that we create for ourselves. The first is  Guilt.

Guilt is an affective state in which we experience conflict at having done something that we believe we should not have done—or conversely, having not done something we believe we should have done. It gives rise to a feeling which does not go away easily. And guilt is driven by conscience.

Conscience is the second factor—though it precedes our actions (if we’re listening to it). Conscience is the part of our minds that makes us aware of our actions as being either morally right or wrong.  And this awareness ought to come before we do anything–always.

Now, that’s  hard due to the many distractions around us. It is surely hard for me. Yet can’t we  make a consistent commitment of even a few seconds of silent questioning before we make decisions? After his conversion to a much more moral life, Saint Augustine advocated a return to one’s conscience and an actual questioning of it.

And what will come from this questioning of ourselves? The third factor: Divine Grace.

Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation.

Guilt  can turn us around.  Conscience can  deter us next time. But Divine Grace can thoroughly heal and change us if we are open to it. It can turn us from the old, flawed years, and create something  brand new within us.

 

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The ten stories in Birds of a Feather are now launched and flying!  And I’m flying with them—to the last mile.  I hope both people of faith and people who have no faith will enjoy reading them, and when they’ve finished the last page and close the book, that something of these stories will stay with them.

Some Praise:

The first story in this collection sits a reader bolt upright. Two stories in, you marvel at this storyteller, who sends us flying over new country, a landscape of modern parables where faith runs river-deep. Kaye Park Hinckley seems to overflow with beautiful, heartbreaking love and lessons. A world with broken wings can surely make use of such stories.
—Charles McNair, author of Pickett’s Charge and Land O’Goshen

“With masterful control and skillful writing, Kaye Park Hinckley boldly explores a wide range of wounded souls in this amazing collection of stories, ultimately finding love in the unloveable, and grace in the sufferings of a complex world.”
—Cassandra King, author of The Sunday Wife

Kaye Hinckley writes deeply textured stories with a distinctive voice.  Characters caught up in complex relationships, against the background of a fraying South, seeking yet often rejecting redemption. Sin as thick as grits and gravy pervades her stories…and Salvations lurks coyly, always just out of sight – it flitters through the pages like the birds who flitter through her stories. This is a wonderful volume, and I recommend it to all who contemplate our human condition.
–Arthur Powers, A Hero For The People, and The Book of Jotham

http://www.amazon.com/Birds-Feather-Kaye-Park-Hinckley/dp/069223473X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405273546&sr=1-3&keywords=kaye+park+Hinckley

OR

http://www.wisebloodbooks.com/kaye-park-hinckley.html

Or your favorite bookstore.

speech-bubblesA human characteristic is the ability to speak, to converse, to give instruction, to make our opinions known. We talk. We use our tongues–sometimes without thinking, and sometimes very intentionally.

Our speech is directed to another, a listener. The listener may be a child, a friend, a family member, or a stranger in the grocery store. Regardless of who or where, what we say to each other matters. Speech is a gift to be used with care. I would suggest loving care, though I’m often guilty of overlooking that.

Matthew 12:36 says, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Wow! That’s a lot of personal responsibility.

Yet what we say to each other is not always done with words. Often it’s what we D0 that speaks loudest. How do our actions speak to our vulnerable children, or the friends and family who learn from us? Are we responsible in our actions as parents and teachers, leaders and co-workers? Do we practice what we preach? Again, many of us often fall far short of that. It’s a good thing we have personal control over what we do, and if needed, the ability to correct ourselves.

There are times though, when we’re not the ‘speakers’ or the ‘doers,’ but the receivers, the targets of speech and action. Over this, we have less control, and no doubt the voices and actions are loud–the media, movies, TV, newspapers, books, and even our own government.

Except each of these voices are made up of individuals like us. Are these individuals any less responsible than us for what they say or do? Don’t they, too, have the ability to correct themselves–or have greed and power simply struck them dumb and immobile?

And for our part—do we listen to them as if they rule us, as if they rule the world? Do we obey when ‘they say’ don’t talk back?  Or do we use our own judgment as to what we’ll allow to take root inside our  minds, and use personal courage–and responsibility– to express it?

The Restorers

Posted: July 10, 2014 in World On The Edge

file0001038191191You know them. You’ve probably welcomed them into in your home: the painters, floorers, plumbers, electricians—all those who help to keep up the house in which you live.

Some of us try to do these tasks ourselves, and some of us know better than to try.  So, we call in the Restorers. Because we want order. Because we want things to work as they were made to work–and because we know what happens if we let it all go.

When the refrigerator goes out, the food goes bad. When the toilets stop up, the bathroom floods, and maybe even ruins the floors. When sparks come from an electrical socket,  fire is a definite possibility. No one can deny that these  problems need attention. No one can deny that to ignore them is foolhardy, even irresponsible. We must use our heads and solve the problem in our house.

But don’t we have another house for which We The People are responsible? And don’t we call her The United States of America? It’s my opinion, she’s in a problematic, even deadlocked, situation, especially when it comes to our ever-degrading culture. Many feel this deeply, and are attempting to right the wrongs. But most of us only comment and move on to something more pleasurable. We are not Restorers. Instead, we are letting our cultural problems go without doing much to fix them. In fact, some even believe our Country’s too far gone to fix at all. I don’t share that opinion.

When my children were little and complaining about a problem and how they couldn’t fix it. I usually sang them a few verses from the following children’s song about using commonsense. It makes a good point about those who are problem-solvers, and those who are not.

You’ll see the progression: Henry’s whining about all the reasons why fixing his problem with the bucket can’t be done, while Liza offers suggestion after suggestion as to how it can be done.

Big Part, Small Part

Posted: July 9, 2014 in World On The Edge

file6311301609831Do you see yourself as ‘part’ of something? Do you play a big part, or a small part?

Maybe you  think “big” is more important than “small.”

The strirrup bone inside the eardrum is the smallest bone in the human body. And the femur is the biggest bone in the human body. Which is most important?  Well, I wouldn’t want to do without either of those parts, would you? How powerful those parts are!

On the other hand, many of the deadliest creatures on Earth are also some of the tiniest (like the deathstalker scorpion) It’s the diminutive size of these animals that makes them so terrifying because they’re hard to see. Their small size gives them power, too

A few weeks ago, one of my sons put a new radiator in his car–all by himself! It took him time, many hours on quite a few days to do it, mostly because he was missing a tiny little part of what it would take to complete the job–a disconnect tool. Everything was fine except he needed that tiny tool to get his big radiator running like it should.

Whether a thing is “big” or “small” is not important. What’s important is that it do the job it was created to do.

Each of us has a part to play in life. It may seem a small part to us, but small things can literally change the world for the better—if we are  not so absorbed in ourselves, if we remember that everyone we meet is journeying through life with us, and if we hold out a hand to another fellow traveler every now and then.

 

 

 

 

 

file0001873407070Today–unless we’re involved in a church, or have parents who are believers, or Christian friends who influence us–we don’t hear much about God. We might wonder: Does God really see me and care about me personally?

Not so  long ago, if you turned on a local radio station in Dothan, Alabama, the music that came up was Gospel. You might hear The Blackwood Brothers, or the Blind Boys of Alabama. You might hear Mahalia Jackson or even Elvis Presley, but all of them were singing about the presence of God in our world.

Many times the songs were a sort of reaching up out of pain, and there was no question that God would reach back. For example, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” verse Three:

Whenever I am tempted, Whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, When hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, From care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me. 

Today’s world is filled with pain and sorrow. We all recognize it, and at times personally feel it, but after pain and sorrow hit us, do we feel as safe as that old gospel song says we should? Do we reach up in order for God to reach back?

Sometimes, when tragedy or disappointment strikes, all we want to do is crawl in a hole and stay there. And personally, I think that’s fine for a while. We have to get used to loss, or disillusionment, or whatever it is that has dented our life. But we can’t stay there forever.

We have to climb out of the hole and look up to realize we are  loved, and that we will always be loved by God.

Translating a World on the Edge

walk while ye have lightWe Christians are in need of a spiritual awakening. We are dulled to our own lives as children of God. We are blunted to examining the actions of our lives in that context. Have we lost our religion, big time?

Catholic historian Christopher Dawson, (1889-1970), an Englishman who strongly believed in the importance of religion’s influence on society, wrote: “A society which has lost its religion becomes sooner or later a society which has lost its culture.”

Look at our culture today. Read about it in the news. We, as human beings, are on front pages and prominent media screens, with scandal after political scandal, murder after gruesome murder–including well over 50 million aborted children since Roe v Wade. Seventy four per cent of students admit to cheating. Premarital and extramarital sex have nearly become the norm. http://realtruth.org/articles/130530-005.html

And still, most people believe in God or in a higher power.

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