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When Friends Tear You Down

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We’ve likely all experienced this in our lives by now. You make friends, you grow up, you lose friends, they move away, you acquire different interests and go down different roads, and things change. That’s natural, it’s expected, and eventually one day you might reconnect and find that you still have at least a few things in common. But when a friend crosses that unseen line and betrays your trust and attempts to bring you down to a level that you’re not accustomed to then it becomes something entirely different. If there’s one thing that can end a friendship quickly without allowing for anything resembling a comeback it’s the act of tearing each other down, as this is a serious betrayal of what it means to be a friend.

There are moments when such a thing is done out of spite, misguided fear, anger, and even jealousy, but no matter how it happens that sudden split is often enough to sever or at least severely damage a friendship. Manipulating another person, especially a friend, is an act of psychological violence that is hard to forgive, and tends to stick in a person’s mind for some time to come. There might be some that say such things as “get over it” or “you’re overreacting”, but the truth is that a person that attempts to manipulate a friend for their own ends is someone that will generally stoop to anything to get what they want.

Let’s be honest.

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We all manipulate one another at some point in life even if we don’t mean to. But quite often those manipulations that are meant to enrich a person’s life rather than coerce them into doing something that goes against their better judgment are to help them, not hinder them or in any way force them to do something they are opposed to. Friends aren’t there to force or coerce you into anything, they’re there because they want to be, because you want them to be, because there’s a mutual respect between the two of you.

Unfortunately there are empty people in this world that, through some tragic twist of fate, have learned how to attract friends as a spider attracts flies. Once you’re stuck, it can take a monumental effort to get free. Cutting loose a toxic friend is a difficult proposition, as many friends want to believe that they can help a manipulator by showing them how to act like a real human being. The trouble with this however is that a manipulator knows this act quite well, but they lack the capacity to trust anyone for various reasons. A person can choose to weather the storm and get to the root of why such an individual acts in such a manner, or they can cut them loose. It’s a hard choice, but those that are hard-wired to tear others down don’t usually stop on their own, and will defend their behavior through any means possible.

Sometimes moving on is necessary.

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Nobody wants to abandon their friends to an uncertain and possibly miserable, lonely life, but no one deserves to be continually torn down either. It’s very hard to forgive those that have done you wrong, and in some cases it might never happen. But moving forward is the best way to make the sting go away, as is finding those who will truly respect you for who you are and not for what you can do for them.

We all have at least one friend, or more, that we had to let go of in our past, and it hurts to think about them sometimes. But the toxic nature of those friendships in which only one person truly worked for it is not the kind of life that people need in order to grow. Friends are those that are there when you’re down and do their best to lift you up, who share your triumphs and your losses not to build themselves up, but to insure that you have your moment. Friends are those that will do such things because they know that you will do the same without question.

Life’s too short to stop and wait for those that don’t want to make that journey with you.

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You’ll go through friends as you grow, you’ll see some leave and some pursue different interests. Some will come back occasionally and you might welcome them. But those that were left behind for a good reason are often better left in the past, as their constant need to be built up by your efforts would only insure that you remained at their level and never grew as a person. It’s hard, it’s painful, but sometimes it’s necessary to keep on living.

You might never forget them, but friends that seek to tear you down are best as a memory and a life lesson, not as a constant fixture you can’t get rid of.

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

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A comfort zone is a real thing that can be seen, felt, and can also act as a detriment to the kind of growth that humans need as they continue to develop through the lifespan. It’s a hard thing to break through once it’s become your habit, as you feel in control, comforted, and absolutely safe inside the bubble you’ve created. Nothing can touch you there and….wait….EVERYTHING can touch you there. Your comfort zone is the space or environment or lifestyle where you reside, where you think you’re the safest, and as a result you might feel more at ease when people find their way into your orbit, as you can guide the conversation and any situation as you see fit.

That’s not living however. Despite how it might feel, how it might seem, your comfort zone is a little pocket of the real world where only you feel absolutely at ease. Even those that know you best and understand your needs would likely rather see you break out of it a time or two just to take a look around. It’s not easy, that’s understood, as some people are natural introverts and don’t do well with change. But if you don’t poke your head out and see what’s going on every now and again you might miss out on a life that could have shown you wonders that can’t be seen from within your perfect little zone.

Change can be disruptive, frightening, and even damaging if taken too far too fast.

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However true this is, and it is without a doubt, that feeling of control slipping away when you manage to step outside that zone is only the fear of the unknown, of that which can’t be easily absorbed because it’s not meant to be. Life isn’t meant to be compartmentalized and focused into tiny parcels that fit neatly into your frame of existence. It’s meant to be lived, experienced, and enjoyed. Your comforting little zone will still be there if you step away for a few moments, the world won’t simply trash it while you’re gone.

Do yourself a favor and do something crazy. Step out of that zone for a spell and realize that life is about the thrill, and feeling your heartbeat increase with fear, joy, or just the sheer wonder of what lies outside your own little world. Don’t be afraid to live a little, and to poke your head out and see what the world around you is doing.

If you do the same thing all your life then you’ll have lived only a percentage of what you could have had.

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The chance you’ll take in this life, be it one or many, is the fork that leads away from your comfortable path and offers a change to your normal routine. It’s a bit dim, but that’s because it’s waiting to be lit as you traverse its winding course, not because it’s fraught with unknown dangers. If you want change in your life you’ll have to take a few twists and turns along the story, otherwise your life might be summed up in one page rather than an epic tale that modern day bards would be proud to speak of.

Okay, that was a bit dramatic, but really, if you want to change your surroundings then you’ll have to do more than the same things you’ve been doing so long. If the scenery never changes then neither will your point of view.

Ready for the kicker? YOU are in control of whether you live in a bubble or in the real world.

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Nobody’s saying it’s easy to break out of your zone, but everyone will likely agree that doing it once or twice will give you a taste for it. Ever try eating one potato chip? It’s entirely possible, but your tongue still starts to tingle for that taste once it’s had a chance to experience it, right? Use whatever food analogy you want, but the point is that once you’ve seen past your own self-imposed boundaries you’ll want to see what is really out there.

And the best part is that it will be waiting and ready. So come on and see what you’re missing already.

Working in the Modern World

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Let’s start off by saying that lack of motivation at work, or just being flat out lazy, is not just a Millennial issue, or that it has anything to do with anything generational. Each and every generation has had their fair share of slackers and workers that “don’t feel right” at one job or another. The idea of work isn’t fun for a lot of people, as in the media and in real life it seems like a grind, a constant, daily, soul-sucking obligation that eats away your life one increment at a time until you’re left with nothing but the spoils that are earned from your back-breaking, mind-numbing labors. Sounds kind of miserable doesn’t it? Unfortunately work is not always fun, but it does have a way of producing that green stuff that we tend to use as currency for those ever-important necessities, which of course vary from person to person.

Money isn’t exactly the reason for working, but what it can provide is. A home, food, clothing, a means of transportation, a life outside the office, or wherever you happen to work. Some say money is the root of all evil, yet those same people don’t seem too proud to accept their paychecks every two weeks or so. Yet work is still a grind, and there are simply too many that would gladly say “I’ll just quit and find a new job”, when there are people out there simply glad to have one, or are working two or three jobs and don’t have the option of saying “Oh, I’ll just find a new job”.

Does that sound a bit irritating? It should really, as picking and choosing your job might sound good in theory, but in truth having a job at all is an accomplishment in today’s working world.

It takes work to run the world.

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I get it, some jobs are a grind. Some places of employment aren’t that great and some decide to give you the runaround and others even actively try to make you quit. That’s part of the working world however, it’s no more perfect than the people that run it. So yes, if a job is causing you that much grief, go on and find another, but don’t gripe if you can’t find THE ONE that fits your personality or your dreams. Very few of us ever find the job that we would gladly spend the rest of our lives at, and a good percentage of the world work the jobs they’re at for a couple of very good reasons.

  1. They are glad to have a job.
  2. They have a family to support.
  3. No matter how bad the job gets, THEY ARE GLAD TO HAVE A JOB.

To be clear, if an employer is a abusive, shows no sign of treating their people fairly, or just has massive issues that for some reason can’t be worked out by talking, reasoning, or even coming to compromise, then by all means feel free to get up and find another place to work. Despite what people seem to claim there are always jobs out there to be had, be it the lowest position on the metaphorical totem pole or the highest executive office you can find. So long as you have the skills they want, then you have a chance, and that’s better than nothing.

At least try to find the joy in your job.

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With some jobs it’s simply not possible. I can recall trying to sell a “revolutionary” vacuum cleaner to some of the poorest people on the face of the earth, and the system’s retail price was nearly $2,000. The slickest salesmen in the office didn’t accept the jobs I did because they were considered to be the low-end, but they were the way a person moved themselves up. Some jobs don’t have a lot of joy, or hope of advancing, or even fair and even-handed treatment between employees. But there’s a bright spot in every place and no matter how hard it is doing your best to see it will open up new ideas and innovative thoughts that can help you get through the day.

Moving on from any job is much harder than trying to make it work, as the effort required to snag a job is so much greater than it is to keep one. Don’t give in too soon, at least not without trying to find some hint of a silver lining.

Oh yeah, I couldn’t forget this. Those that seem to NOT want to work are definitely a turn off, especially when they’re allowed to be lazy.

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It might work with ants, being as ‘lazy’ ants are a part of their workforce that can take over when other ants die or grow fatigued, but with humans it tends to swing the other way. Truly lazy people, not those that are on a well-deserved break or have been working all day and need a moment to unwind or just chill, tend to be a drag on any business and for the most part are a burden on those that actually work. The pace of any job tends to be set at what it needs to be during optimum work hours, or at least that’s the hope. Laziness more or less disrupts this optimal efficiency and threatens to kick it down a notch as those picking up the slack have to work even harder, thereby making the job even less enjoyable.

So what can you do?

Honestly? Unless you can prod them into working or just let them pay out enough rope to hang themselves with, metaphorically of course, then there’s nothing you should do. Do the job you’re being paid for, be glad you have it, and let those that think work is a drag and don’t want to do anything sort themselves out. Sure the job will drag on a little more at times, and they might seem as though they’re getting away with it. But think on that when you’re still there making a living and they have to go pad their resume when the bosses finally get tired of seeing the efficiency rating go down.

Then you can kick back and smile. Enjoy the fact of having a job, because far too many people don’t these days.

The Psychological Aspect of Hoarding

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So what is hoarding? It’s defined as disorder that makes it hard, even impossible, for an individual to part with belongings that might have no practical use but are still seen as valuable in their eyes and impossible to replace. Many people still don’t understand this disorder and tend to call such folks pack rats, meaning that they will gather as many items as they can, regardless as to whether they’re useful or not, to put on shelves, on top of other items, and to basically create a den of clutter that makes them feel comfortable. That isn’t quite right unfortunately as there is a fine line between being a pack rat and a hoarder.

Both suffer from the compulsive need to acquire more and more belongings in order to either make themselves feel good or fulfill another need that others simply can’t understand. Pack rats however, while still suffering under their compulsive behavior, tend to be more akin to collectors and thereby do manage to acquire things that make some kind of sense. Collections are still a kind of hoarding but they are often seen as an organized and slightly more orderly practice, whereas hoarding means that a person is actively filling a space with anything and everything that strikes their fancy and will eventually begin to let it take over their home.

Want to know the real difference?

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A pack rat will more often than not be able to find room for their belongings and keep them from disrupting their everyday lives. They might create a bit of clutter now and again and even take up more space with their items than is necessary but they will at least seek to make their hobby conform to their life so that it can go on as is usual for them. It is even possible for a pack rat to clean out their space from time to time by selling or giving away things that they don’t use as often and no longer have a practical purpose.

Hoarders on the other hand cannot seem to get rid of anything as it is a strong compulsion, indeed a disorder, that keeps them from being able to part with their things. Hoarders tend to ascribe a deep connection to everything they have even if they tend to forget what’s buried beneath what. Walking into the average hoarder’s home will seem as though you’ve entered a maze of garbage that you can’t easily decipher. Calling it junk however would be the worst insult you could give a hoarder, and trying to cart it out of their home for them would no doubt cause a fight that most people simply aren’t ready for. Unfortunately this is a very serious mental disorder that can’t be fixed by a few trips to the dump.

There are some serious concerns with hoarding.

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Hoarding can lead to a great risk to the individuals and to their families if they happen to be living in the same home. Due to the inherent danger there have even been cases in which children have been removed and people have lost their homes as a result.

Significant hoarding can put individuals who hoard and their family members at serious risk of heath problems, injury, removal of at-risk children or older adults from the home, homelessness or in the worst case, even death. It might seem a bit extreme to make such statements, but when you can’t walk, sit, or do anything other than move around the piles of junk and items that are stacked everywhere it becomes a massive health concern as well as a possible hazard that people somehow force themselves to live with.

From serious health problems that can arise to the loss of one’s home, hoarding is a real problem that has no easy solution. There are ways that it can be helped, but the road towards taking control of this compulsion is a long one and not easy to tread.

 

 

What’s a College Degree Worth?

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Does anyone remember the days when college was more of a sacred place that only the brightest and most promising students managed to get in? It was a bit exclusive and not exactly geared to be as pleasant for everyone, but the main point of it is that it meant something. Nowadays it still means something, but instead of being a ticket to a better life it’s become a ticket to massive debt, uncertainty, and the art of having to survive until you find that perfect job that will suit your needs and wants. The only trouble with this is that too many people still rely upon college as a golden goose that will provide once they’ve passed all their exams and written their final paper. With resumes in hand a great number of college grads seem to think that being armed with a diploma and four or more years of college experience that they’ll waltz right into the job of their dreams.

Reality is a harsh kick in the teeth, metaphorically-speaking, when a lot of them come to realize that they might be stuck working in an hourly paying job until that perfect moment comes along. There are many ways that a person can guard against this and prepare for a life outside of college, but the unfortunate truth is that many people simply don’t think about working their way into a job while they’re in college. Honestly college is stressful enough, and the fact that some people have to work during their school year and even raise their children if they have any is enough to drive a lot of people over the deep end. But the saddest part of all? Those that have the brightest futures are sometimes those that think they can get by simply by having that degree in hand.

Your degree isn’t even worth the paper it was printed on if you aren’t prepared to apply what you’ve learned.

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So you’ve got your degree and you’re ready to take on the world, right? Well guess what, the world will chew you up and spit you out before the day is out if you can’t apply what you’ve learned to a real world setting. Businesses don’t want anything to do with you unless you know what you’re talking about and have learned how to apply yourself. You went to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech? Wooha, they won’t care unless you can prove that you can do something for them.

That’s why it’s so important during your school years to network, to build up a rapport with those that can help you when your college days are over, and to seek out an internship that will help you step into that job you so desperately want when you graduate. Those jobs you so desperately want won’t look at you twice unless they get the idea that you’re worth their time. An internship can go a long way towards giving you the experience you require and the consideration you desire from any business. Otherwise you’ve got a pretty piece of paper with your name on it, and it cost you more than most people will pay for their car.

Getting the degree isn’t the hard part.

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Just about anyone can pass a test or write a paper if they’re properly motivated. Learning isn’t a hard thing so long as there’s a reason to do it. The value of a diploma isn’t in the actual diploma, it’s in the application that comes after it. By taking that diploma and framing it you might have a nice keepsake and something to remind you of what you went through in college. But to have a future you’ll be better served by moving forward and applying that knowledge in a way that will make the diploma more of a symbol rather than a sign that you did something but never followed through. If anything, a diploma is a road sign on your way to bigger and better things.

Remember how everyone says the sky’s the limit? Don’t believe it.

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You’ve graduated, you’ve survived, and yet there’s still so much to do. You have a long road full of possibilities ahead of you, and that horizon you see is not the limit. It’s the beginning. Take what you’ve learned and don’t bother trying to limit yourself to the view when so much more lies beyond.

The US Military Budget

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It’s difficult to argue for or against this matter without having to take a good long look at why it’s necessary and why it seems to drain our country dry when it comes to funding. Protecting our country and making certain that those serving in the armed forces have the necessary equipment, materials, and funding they need to continually protect our nation as well as America’s people overseas and around the world is important, but somehow it seems to get left out that other aspects our lives require funding to continue as needed as well. There is no doubt that a country that can defend itself is far more secure and able to care for its people than those that have no standing military at all. Yet for all that it seems as though that our country is severely lacking in other areas when it comes to the necessary funding.

Funding for the military is a necessity as it not only helps those that serve this nation to protect and defend it, but it can also help to stimulate economy. Looking at the various charts and graphs that are produced by the day on military spending and how much it takes away from other areas you might find it difficult to believe that such a thing is possible, but then think of the commodities and necessities that will be needed when preparing a military that comprises so many that are willing to serve their country.

Instead of attempting to debate at this point I get the feeling it’s best to point out a few pros and cons and let people decide as they will just how military spending can be positive or negative for our country. As always I tend to believe there can be a healthy balance so long as folks are willing to discuss what’s really needed.

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Pros

  • It’s used for important matters within the military. This means training, healthcare, equipment, facilities, and anything that is deemed as necessary for each branch of the armed forces.
  • There are funds allocated for emergency and supplemental spending. Such funds are included in the federal budget and are used in “as-needed” situations.
  • It’s used to deter foreign threats that could still pose a problem to America. By maintaining a state of alertness it’s possible to keep those would be enemies at bay, but it does require spending in order to maintain such vigilance.
  • In order to keep the military ready and prepared it takes funds to keep them trained, to keep the equipment maintained, and to keep up with the needed technology that is necessary to stay alert and aware.

Cons

  • There is such a thing as overkill. The USA spends roughly 18 times more on its military than many nations do combined. While it keeps America alert it also breed paranoia.
  • It can be used to fund wars that are not real and therefore only fund the idea that one politician or another has stated is worth supporting. In this manner it becomes a needless expense that becomes a drain on the economy.
  • There isn’t a lot of balance between foreign aid and diplomacy and overall security. In order to prevent conflict it is sometimes necessary to divert spending to helping others rather than seeking to arm or disarm them.
  • There is a very real danger of the funds being used in an irresponsible manner. Whether it happens on a regular basis or not, or if this is rumor, does not assuage the fact that military spending at times seems rather wasteful and prone to abuse.

The military budget of the USA is just one way to look at the nation’s military power. How the money is spent really depends on the ability and number of adversaries that are being defended against. How well the military uses the funds it receives is always up for debate since it involves a great many individuals, all of whom have their own opinion on the matter. It is quite necessary in order to defend and protect this country, but there are times when it seems that the amount spent on the nation’s military is hard to justify, especially when those that serve in the armed forces tend to find it so difficult to receive the care and attention they need when their term of service is up.

But that’s a discussion for another post….

 

Writing a Horror Novel

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So you want to write a horror novel? That’s great! You must have some exquisite nightmares stored away in that head of yours that are dying to get out. Even if you don’t the horror genre can be just as basic as the rest of them, as all you need to do is beat feet down to the same pool where the authors dip their toes or dive in headfirst and partake of the ideas that come swimming to the surface. Careful though when deciding what you want to do, as what might materialize could be something you’re not quite ready for. Does that sound crazy? Good, it’s supposed to.

The masters of horror know what it takes to grab your every last nerve and tweak them individually in an effort to get you to squirm, to toss and turn, and to even scream if you feel the need. They’ll find ways to make you look over your shoulder whether it’s night or day, and you’ll swear that the sounds you hear in your home are not at all natural thanks to their words and the manner by which they describe something as innocuous as an empty room.

Ready for the trip into madness? Okay then!

Just remember, chaos breeds horror, while order gives it that much-needed edge.

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Chaos is everywhere within a horror novel as it can be in front and driving the story with a logical base that keeps it on track, or it can have a chaotic lean that is finally honed into that much needed logical point that pulls everything together. In any case horror will cause chaos in just about any story, no matter if it’s well-controlled and hidden away, or if it’s in your face and trying to eat your spleen while you’re still breathing. The act of creating horror doesn’t need to be one specific method, as there are many upon many ways to scare people and insure that their dreams will be the stuff of nightmares.

Embrace the nightmares, as they ARE your inspiration.

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Never be afraid of your own darkness when it comes to getting it out and onto the page. Don’t be ashamed if you are, as some of us harbor secrets, desires, and shadows within the depths of our soul that are terrifying to unearth. But in order to make a horror novel into something truly special it is best to uncover those shades, demons, devils, and other ill-mannered beasts that exist within the human soul to take advantage of them and allow their inspiration to flow onto the page. The story you write will be as dark and as tormented as you make it, but with horror the more disturbing it is the more likely your readers will want to partake.

Plus, it can be rather therapeutic in a way if you really look at it.

Always go for the WTF moment.

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With a horror novel you WANT your audience getting creeped out. You want them to read the book and then jump at every sound, as though someone is trying to sneak into their home or a gateway to hell is opening up right behind them. The goal of horror is not to coddle or even guide the reader, it’s to shock the living hell out of them and then grab them back with a logical segue into something pertinent to the story. Then go ahead and shock them again, and again, and again until you think they can’t take it anymore.

Then do it again.

Writing a horror novel isn’t much different than any other book to be honest, but in this case you’re actively trying to get the person to keep flipping those pages no matter that their heart might be racing and their eyes peeled, looking out for the next shock their imagination is going to serve up.