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My Best
Good and Evil


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The "Wu Word" Blog


Way back in the early 2000’s when I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college student, I took an introduction to a communications class that fascinated me so much that communications became my minor.  One of the facts that fascinated me was that first impressions are important because we make our judgments about people in a mere few seconds and definitely in less than five minutes. 
I could not believe that.  In less than five minutes, people (myself included unto others) would unknowingly and unconsciously judge me, which would then either jumpstart a potential relationship or the person would just dump me on the spot.    
This factoid has carried on in my life with always trying to put my best front in hopes that my best would click or connect with someone from the start.  My gut feeling about people was also turned on and has heightened with time. Although I know that no experience with one person is the alike and to judge on my own merit and encounters with a person, my judgment is affected by people’s experiences with others being bad or good. Does the same happen to you?  I thrived on the people I met who I felt and was sure the other felt an instant connection.  Like many and especially in this fast-paced world, I thrive on an instant connection and turn my back on those who do not really rub me the right way from the very beginning.  I think we live in a time and place where we are all about instant gratification with these technological devices used with every intention to try to fill a void we all have.  We all want to be connected, but are we really connecting?  Then, something happened.  A light bulb moment, if you will.    
Those who I felt a fast connection with would usually crash and burn just as quickly.  Those whose first impressions did not really impress me from the beginning actually ended up surprising me with slowly revealed softer sides that was a sharp contrast to their initial edges on the surface. The relationships that hit me the hardest are the ones that lasted the longest only to fade away slowly or end very suddenly.  After being rejected and dejected by many while also and especially treasuring the very few gems in my lifetime thus far, I’ve come to a realization that my trust level has done to subzero and my suspicion level has gone sky high.  I no longer believe in people’s words and only believe in their actions.  As one of my family members summed it up to describe the me I am now: “You do not trust anyone.  You are also very hypersensitive and tend to judge based on what others say about a person.  Your trust only grows with time pr never move or grow at all.”    
Over time, I understood that first impressions will mean something, but they do not mean everything.  It is the last impressions that mean everything—these are the impressions encased in actions and people being there for you at your worst, best, and in between.  These are the impressions that made me learn that it REALLY takes time and efforts to get to know people and that people will surprise you with the best they can and will do for you or shock you with the worst they can do to you.  Everyone actually SEEMS normal and nice until you get to know them.  Everyone has stuff.   Everyone has softer sides and sharp edges.  Everyone has beautiful and ugly to them.  I go on my gut more than anything else when I first meet someone than on their external image, because now I know more than ever that it is only internal truth about someone that will only be revealed in time.  People are people.  Most of all, nothing and no one is a waste of time.  Everyone and everything serves a purpose in your life. 
There are people who have made first and last impressions on you, but how many can you say have made an everlasting impression?  Do you go on gut and on your first impressions of people?  Who are the people who you did not think much of in the beginning and even disliked, only for that person’s softer side to be revealed in due time and for that person and the relationship to grow on you?  Who were the people who made a great first impression on you where you felt an instant connection only for it to crash and burn as quickly as it started?  Do you put your best impression in the beginning, or are you much more guarded and will only reveal your true self within time? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 

My Best

Close the eve of this past Valentine’s Day and after exhilarating and thrilling fun at a Methodist Church about 30 minutes north from me, I wrote out a check to enroll in Square Dancing class.  I cannot even recall the last time I enrolled in any class and was in the active student learning mode, completely dependent on experts to teach and guide me along.  I did not miss being a student and, contrary to popular belief and surface appearance, I am not an academic embracer.  Then again, I always said and believed that I was a student of life and that we learn something new every single day more so from life experiences than sitting in a classroom listening to lectures. 
Every Monday night for an hour, I would dance.  For as long as I could remember, I have always loved to dance.  Even when the pain was really bad with my body that felt so broken before my hip replacement, I loved to and would be the first one to get up and dance.  However, my idea of dancing was the move freely without formal steps and lessons and to the rhythm and beat of the music. The music would guide and teach me.  I would move with the music.  After my hip replacement, I embraced dancing even more by taking Zumba and even Line Dancing briefly.  I have always been so full of humbled gratitude for movement and even more so after my hip replacement surgery.  You never realize how bad your body or really how anything was until you are pain free and until you no longer have the weight of whatever was troubling you weighing you down.  You only understand the great gift that our bodies and just moving is when you can actually physically do it that frees you emotionally and mentally.
I never laughed so hard and so much until I did square dancing.  Some of the other members nicknamed me “The Giggler.”   I laughed so hard that my stomach would hurt and tears of joy would roll down my face, and people exclaimed to me: “You are having way too much fun!”  If only they knew that there is never such a thing as TOO much fun in this one life that can often be much too serious.   I loved Square Dancing for many reasons that went beyond the dance moves because you learned about the power of listening over talking, trusting complete strangers until they became familiar faces, and, above all else you—you were never alone.  There was always someone right next to you with a hand to hold right or multiple hands to grasp on to in complete faith that you would all complete these steps together. 
Then, disaster struck with nausea and dizziness after one too many circular movements.  Since my latest surgery that cut into my abdomen yet again, my nausea has worsened significantly.  The nausea will come on suddenly and sharply.  I literally feel like my body and the world is shutting down around me.  My previous transplant doctor says my blood pressure runs low and he thinks these nauseous and dizzy episodes are my blood pressure dropping or dehydration.  Through a dizzying haze, I heard many of the members call upon me to get up and dance.  I felt like I was going to pass out and weakly joked: “I feel sick.  I do not think you want me puking on you.”  I purposefully waited for the twang Country music to start so all the dancers could dance and I could slip out quietly to collect myself and before I started crying out of physical and emotional exhaustion.  Before anyone could see me, I left.  I did not want them to see me at my worst.  I did not want them to comfort me.  I wanted to be alone.  I wanted them to see me at my best, even though, I knew as the ultimate worst critic of myself that my best was not good enough this time around and that my body could never keep up with my brain. 
That night and into the next day, a couple people from the Square Dancing class checked in on me if I was okay.   I explained to the presidents and to a very dear member that I kindly had to bow out.  My body has always spoken loud, and I always listen to it even louder.  As usual, people do not know what to say (I am guilty of this to), so I say to them: “I do not expect you or anyone to know or what to say.   If it weren’t for my hip replacement, I would not even have been able to take this class.   So, how can I be sad when I am just grateful?  I always focus on what I can do and not on what I cannot do, because I have done my best and the best is yet to come.” 
 My father had recently said to me that he always wants people to remember him at his best.  I am just like my dad in this sentiment, but as the ultimate student of life, I am understanding that we may want to be remembered for our best but it is the worst that is the most vital that builds us to our best.  We think of the ‘best’ as ‘that is it,’ but I am learning that there is always a work in progress and it is about ‘being better’ and not ‘the best.’
Do you always want to show your best?  When have you been at you worst that has led to your best?  When have you done your best only to realize and understand that your best is not good enough? Do you remembered for your best? 
Keep smilin’,

Mary ;-)


I am always out and about.  I am just about never home.  My friends and family have said one too many times to me that they are unable to get a hold of me.  I am notorious for never picking up my phone because I am on the phone all day at work that I do not even want to hear the sound of the ringtone at home.  My text messages have become shorter and far and few in between with even fewer people.  If I am home, I always doing something at—cleaning, cooking/baking, organizing, and, essentially, always DOING something. For me, there is ALWAYS something to do. 
But, something changes when you turn and well into your 30’s and marching forward to 40’s.  It isn’t a sudden change.  It is a slow change.  It is change you do not even realize that it is happening and that YOU are happening in the process.   Going out and about until the crack of dawn no longer is appealing or really feasible.  Rather, staying at home envelopes you in a glow of happiness and cozy comfort.  Loud crowds and hustle and bustle with those you are not so familiar with fades into a great and new need to spend time alone, one on one, or with the extremely small circle that has come to be as we get older.  FOMO (FEAR OF MISSING OUT) begins to dissipate and is replaced with FOTO (FEAR OF TIME OUT) with time rushing and running so fast that there is no way you can even try to keep up. It is change in joy and that the ordinary and everyday that we can so easily take for granted is the truly extraordinary.  It is a change in priorities in your life because, after all, we all have the same amount of time in the day but not the same priorities. 
This past Wednesday, I was forced to stay home because Mother Nature unleashed her fury and wrath in an unexpected and most dreaded snowstorm that came after trees were uprooted, wires downed, broken traffic lights, and power outages.  In the midst of the worst, I saw the best where I bonded with complete strangers who were now forced to turn to love and loved ones rather than technology in a time of need.  Staying home and connecting with complete strangers who would now be familiar faces made me realize just how much of a homebody I have become.  I can blame it on the 30’s and getting older, but it isn’t that.  It is this: I am becoming a homebody, and I am loving peace, harmony, quiet, calm, and simple more than ever.   
In 30 years of my life, I have had the great gifts and privilege to travel around to many different places.  I have treasured every wonder in the world as I wandered.  However, I have found that the greatest place that I never really valued or even discovered was home.  I never realized the richness and wealth in just lounging lazily on my couch with a furball on my lap, reading a good book, me stirring cake batter at the kitchen table, the aromatic scents of a home cooked meal, the warmth of the oven radiating on me on a cold winter night, chatting on the phone with a good friend as I am sprawled on my bed, or watching and witnessing the magic of a full moon and fat snowflakes falling to make a white blanket right outside my window.  I never understood how sitting with my father at the kitchen table I grew up around and over a home cooked meal is such happiness.  I never cherished the car rides with my sister right here in the Hudson Valley under the bluest of skies and fluffiest of clouds.  And, I do not mean home in the walls that are covered with my family and friend’s photos or the kitchen cabinets that are filled with cooking essentials and tools.  I mean HOME in the little that means a lot and sense of community and connecting with and understanding myself, neighbors, family, and few friends.  I mean HOME in the right here and now, in the present as the greatest gift.  I do not ever see myself losing my wanderlust, adventurer, and zest for life self.  I am now just expanding and including the ‘HOME’ side to me that deserves a place for me to embrace.  Discovering and understanding yourself is NOT necessarily found around the world, but can be right at home—which can be one of the most daunting and yet comforting places of all. 
Our views and ideas of joy and happiness changes as we get older and as our priorities change.    Were you always a traveler? Or, were you always a homebody?  How have your priorities changed that impact your very own happiness and understanding of you and your surroundings?  Does something change in our 30’s when it comes to joy and happiness?  What is happiness to you now as opposed to when you were younger?   
Keep smilin’,

Mary ;-)


I am accustomed to people verbally bashing my biological mother.  I know they do this to try to try to make me feel better and show their loyalty to and siding with me when my mother’s loyalty wavered and left me.  The number one comment that is a question put unto me about my mother with disgust, shock, and sadness is: “How can a mother leave their child?”   
What they and many do not know is the #1 gift I received from my mother was a lesson on loyalty.  The only way I learned about and could fully open and appreciate this gift was through my mother crushing loyalty by her leaving.  When she left, I made promises to myself: I would be the strong one when everyone was weak.   I would give and people could take from me.  I would stand up when everyone sat. I would stay when everyone walked away.  I would be loyal when everyone left and turned their backs.  I would NEVER become her.  I would NEVER become my mother. 
Over thirty years later and I finally get a glimpse into explanations to why my mother and why some people leave others when life is at its worst rather than its best.  The truth is that it is exhausting, tiring, draining, and completely unrealistic to always be the strong one who stands tall and who has EVERYONE taking.  The truth is that feelings of resentment, anger, and being taken advantage kick in and the thoughts run faster than the speed of light going: “Well, who the heck cares about me?”  The truth is that there is a very thin and fine line that I am learning about loyalty that there may come a point when you have to leave.  Everyone wants to be cared for and considered.  It is never just a one way street, but when it becomes one way, that is when the roads split.  There you are at a crossroads to keep on walking and staying the same course out of loyalty and comfort and the roles that were created or to leave and try new and change with boundaries and limitations.
I recently had a conversation with my sister about loyalty:
 I said, “Well, you cannot just leave someone when that person is at their worst.  It is easy to leave at the worst and stay at the best when it needs to be the opposite.”
“Sometimes, you cannot always stay.  Sometimes, you have to leave.”
“When do you know to leave or to be loyal?” I asked.
“When it is toxic to you.” 
So, I can understand.  I can even say that I get it.  I can even now explain (not defend) my mother by saying: “Well, sometimes, the greatest gift you can give a person and to yourself is to leave.”  It is only when someone leaves and when you yourself leave that you learn the value of loyalty.  A person cannot be completely selfless without any boundaries or limitations.  A person cannot always be loyal and stay true on the outside when there are negative and ill effects on the inside.  Suffice to say, the unwavering loyalty that I held dear to me and against my mother wavers and I am about starting new.  People may not like it.  People may not even like you.  But, what I am learning about at the core of loyalty is to be loyal to others, you have to be loyal and true to yourself. 
Loyalty is very delicate that entails you continuing to stay or maybe eventually having to leave.  When does loyalty end and the choice is to leave and start anew?  Have you ever reflected on the roles you are in and how they were created and kept or when you had to leave these expectations of you?  Have you ever said that you will never become one of your parents only to realize that you are following in their footsteps?  When have you had to purposefully leave and loyalty ended because it was toxic to you? What does loyalty entail?  How loyal are you? 
Keep smilin’,


Good and Evil

When I was about 8 or 9-years-old, I heard about the devil for the first time.  I did not know or really understand much about the devil except that the devil was bad news.  I was introduced to words like ‘good’ for God and ‘evil’ for Satan or the Devil, and that you go to heaven if you do good and go to hell if you do bad.  I interpreted that the devil was evil and was the leader of wreaking havoc and hypnotizing others to do bad, while God was good and had all these flowing guardian angels to watch out for us to ward away the bad and the evil.   I was told from my Mom: “The devil can make you do bad things.”
I did not really understand this.  Were God and Devil the masters and we were the puppets that would do good or bad because of them?  Weren’t we in control of our own actions and ways?  Weren’t our environment, friends, family, and life experiences all just as important to bringing out the best and even the worst? 
Then, in high school, I visited prison for the first time as a requirement to my Criminal Law class.  I was absolutely petrified and more willing to take a “F” for failing the class than to have to step foot in a prison.  As my teacher joked jovially, “We are only going to maximum security prison of the mass murderers and not the sex offenders who are in a whole other prison.”  The prisoners screamed profanities that made my classmates and I shake in our sneakers.  After their screaming fest, they served us wide-eyed teenagers tuna casserole with four slices of white Wonder Bread. Surprisingly, the prisoners homemade tuna casserole was very tasty. 
The prisoners who were grown and aging men broke down crying and sobbing: “There is ALWAYS someone watching you!” I wondered if it was the God or the Devil watching them, and watching all of us.   Learning about the criminal law system and visiting these prisoners made me begin to feel sympathy of how they were ostracized and how certain circumstances led to their committed crime in the heat of the moment and not being able to undo the damage they done.  It hit home with me that there are moments that completely change the course of your life and that all the remorse and even guilt in the world cannot undo the damage done on yourself and the people that you hurt.  It hit home with me that people can never really forget and forgive.   
Then, in college, I took a social psychology class.  We had a whole course on the mind and actions of murderers that can heavily be caused by society, our social settings and situations, our upbringing, and our experiences.  My professor said: “We are quick to blame and call murderers ‘monsters’ and I am not alleviating them or anyone of sins and committed crimes, but I want you to think about what drives a person to kill?  What are the explanations behind the actions to then remedy them?”  I took away from this class that everyone plays a part and there is always a side to every story based on our very own reality.  No human is free of flaws and sins. In footage, murderers’ faces were blank and empty expressions and, the scariest of all, a smirks or what appeared to be an evil glimmer of satisfaction.  With a chill that blanketed me, this is when I began to believe and understand that evil does exist and question: “Are people born evil?” 
Recently, I learned about a boy no more than 8-years-old who is being trained alongside his classmates of the three following drills: Weather Drills, Fire Drills, and he could not remember the name of the third drill, but it was a ‘lockdown drill’ where he and all his classmates must hide and keep quiet.  This pierces me in a way I cannot put into words of the world we are living in.  I believe that as much evil exists, there is also good.  It has been hard for me to focus on the good in these times, and I sense the heavy and heartache and anger and bitterness around more people than not.  I also know that there are positive changes of light that must be made in a world that is hurting and appears to be quite dim and dark now.  I do not know the answers, and am filled with more questions of God and Devil, good and evil, and the flawed humans we are while we try to balance our sinful sins with good deeds. 
I think the world we live in now makes us question and ponder more than ever about the good versus evil.  Are people born or have a predisposition to evilness or evil tendencies and actions?  How about on the flipside- are people born good?  When were you told of God and Devil and do you believe in heaven and hell?  What causes good and evil?
Keep smilin’,
Mary ;-)

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