Be Kind, Coping, Don't Judge, Invisible Illness, Support, Uncategorized

Invisible Battles

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about….be kind!”  I’ve seen this quote many times, and can still remember the first time I saw it.  It was on another teacher’s desk.  I read it, and it stayed with me.  We all have battles that no one sees.  They may be emotional, personal, physical, or mental.

I saw a couple grumbling about a healthy looking young man parking in a handicapped parking spot, but he had the proper tag allowing him to do so.  I guess his handicap wasn’t apparent.  Maybe he was perfectly healthy, and driving his elderly grandfather’s car, but maybe he wasn’t.

Not all conditions or illnesses are apparent.  Arthritis, lupus, cancer, diabetes, tumors, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, OCD,  hard of hearing….all of these conditions may or may not be apparent, but each one impacts the person’s life each and every day, whether we see it or not.  As someone who has had some scary health problems that haven’t always been visible, I’ve been told to “Get over it,” “You’re not sick,” or my favorite….(from one of my least favorite people)…”Liven up!”  Feeling pain from arthritis in my back, knees, hands, and now my feet has been excruciating at times, and I’ve been dealing with that for most of my life. Having social anxiety is also very difficult (I think we used to just be considered “shy”), but I just have to deal with it.

It’s not for us to decide how someone deals with these conditions.  It’s important to offer support and understanding to anyone who may be struggling.  We don’t walk in their shoes, and don’t get the right to condemn or criticize them for the way they’re coping and managing, or criticize them for where they park.  Each day is different, and there are highs and lows.  I’ve known people who seem perfectly happy and healthy reveal that they suffer from clinical depression or bi-polar.  They’re just really good at concealing it in public, or are under the care of a physician who has found the right treatment for them.

Recently, I’ve been dealing with some serious physical health issues.  A year ago, I also went through something very serious.  Ten years ago, I went through some other health issues.  None of these are/were obvious by looking at me.  I’m also very good about pretending that I’m okay, and making jokes about my conditions.  But sometimes it really is scary.  Sometimes we just need understanding and not judgement.  Sometimes we need a hug.  Sometimes I just really want my mother.  I’m fortunate that I have supportive people in my life, and not ones who judge or criticize me or how I deal with pain or illness.

So if that perfectly healthy looking young man parks in a handicapped parking space, don’t judge.  He may be epileptic, or have a bad back, or maybe had recent surgery. Remember, everyone is fighting a battle that we may not see…..be kind.

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Art, Don't Judge, Respect, Tattoos, Uncategorized

Tattoo or Taboo?

Tattoos…..once reserved for military (I think of the Navy), and motorcycle gangs, have become quite the norm today.  A lot people consider them trashy or crude, or unnecessary.  It’s actually hard to find someone without a tattoo today. I’ve seen trashy and poorly thought out tattoos, but I’ve also met rude, classless people who have no tattoos.

I am not pro or anti tattoos.  If someone wants to have one, that is entirely their choice.  I wouldn’t want anyone to get one from peer pressure.  I also wouldn’t want anyone to get one just to have one, without giving much thought to what they’re putting on their body.  After all, it is permanent.  I don’t think anyone under the age of 25 should have one, unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as honoring a family member, or commemorating a special date.  What we value at 18 is not necessarily what we value at 25.  Therefore, I’ve told my children that I would prefer they wait….if they still want the same thing at 25 that they did at 18, then go for it. Also, a tattoo or piercing should never keep you from having the job you desire, so location is also something to consider.

I haven’t always felt this way.  I used to think they were inappropriate, and you shouldn’t scar your body this way.  However, as I have gotten older, and have faced some personal tragedies in my life, I don’t have such strong feelings about something that shouldn’t make a difference in my life.  Someone else’s tattoo, and the way they choose to express themselves isn’t my business, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone.  I don’t take issue with someone who is practicing self expression.  If someone wants a tattoo, and wants to express themselves in an artistic way, that is their choice.  I have seen some beautiful tattoos on women who have had mastectomies.  I have seen others cover other types of scars that may be a reminder to them of a painful time.  To cover their scars with beautiful artwork is coping in a positive way, a statement of survival, and it is their choice.  To some, the choice to have a tattoo is a very personal one, and the message they choose to display may mean something very deep, or be very emotional for them.

Some tattoo art is also beautiful (and some is quite hideous!).  Artists of different styles and methods should respect another artist’s work.  I can’t imagine that it’s an easy art to master!  It would take years of practice, patience, and talent.  I would think the skin as a canvas would be much different to work on than a mural on a wall!

Self expression, creativity, and honoring what we love in a display on our bodies is not something to criticize or condemn.  Respect the message.  Respect the artist’s work.  Respect the individual with the display of self expression on their body.  Respect.