Just say no.

Here’s a way to stop unwanted pregnancies: stop having sex.

Unless you are emotionally, financially, and in every other way ready to have a child, don’t have sex. No birth control is a sure thing like abstinence.

Not sure if the guy you are dating is father or husband material? Don’t have sex with him. Getting pregnant only makes a bad situation worse. A baby won’t bring you closer together. It may make him run away.

No worries about having an abortion if you never get pregnant. You won’t get pregnant if you don’t have sex. Seems simple, I know, but so few people seem to get this.

Sex is one of the strongest impulses that humans have, but it can be gotten around. Sex isn’t like food. You can live without sex. You can’t say the same about food.

If you don’t want to go to Chicago, don’t head down that road. Don’t even get in the car. If you don’t want to have babies, don’t fool around. That train is hard to stop once it gets started.

I have never understood why there is so much debate about being pro-choice versus being pro-life. To me, that seems like people are focusing on the wrong end of the problem. The time to start the discussion is before sex even happens. It is too late when she is pregnant.

The horse is already out of the barn.
Lock the barn door and you don’t have to run around trying to catch him.

Oh, and you say abstinence isn’t a possibility? Really? Are we really just like wild animals, rutting with whatever and whoever?

I’d like to think that part of being human is having some self-control.

As adults, we don’t pee everywhere. We don’t yell all the time. We don’t hit everybody when we are mad. We learn to control these impulses. We learn when and where it is safe to let these impulses happen.

Sex is the same thing.

It is way past the time we stop even talking about pro-choice and pro-life. It is time to start preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

It is embarrassing how many unwanted pregnancies there are in a supposedly “first-world” nation like the United States. It is sad how much poverty and heartache and tension is created from it. It isn’t tragic. It isn’t an accident. It is entirely preventable.

If you don’t want babies, don’t have sex. Or if you must have sex, use multiple forms of birth control at the same time, and use them correctly. Think about it before you even start kissing each other. Think about it while your clothes are still on.

Feel uncomfortable talking about birth control with your significant other? Then you sure aren’t ready to be a parent.

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Adulthood – being independent versus being an “adult child”.

I saw a Facebook post recently that I really liked. It said “I think you should pay for your own mortgage, birth control, college loans, food, and cell phones. This isn’t because I’m a Conservative. It is because I’m an adult.”

If you have to have someone else pay for these things, whether it is your parents or the government, you aren’t an adult.

I’ve never identified as a Conservative, but I agree with this.

I feel that people need to take care of themselves, and the more that we do for them, the more we are harming them. The more we let people take care of us, the more we are stunting our own growth.

Remember the phrase “Age is just a number”? That is usually used to say that it is never too late to play. It goes along with “You are only as old as you feel”. These are meant to be inspiring. These are meant to encourage you to follow your dreams and to be yourself.

But they have another side to them. You can be 40, even 60, years old and still dependent. You can be technically an adult and still act like a child – expecting everybody else to take care of you and clean up after you. You can be an adult legally, but a child emotionally.

Now, is that your fault, or the fault of the people who rescue you? If nobody rescued you, you’d have to take care of yourself.

Some important words here –
Codependency.
Enabling.

I know too many “adult children” who use their parent’s library cards because they have run up the fines on their own. I know too many “adult children” who blame everybody else for their own problems. I know too many “adult children” who live at home with their parents.

I’ve met many “adult children” who still use their parent’s address as their legal address. They say “Well, your parents are always going to be there, right?”

No, they aren’t.

I’m starting to think that one of the best things my parents ever did for me was to die when I was 25. It made me grow up fast. It made me have to become independent. If things get hard, I can’t just move back in with my parents. I can’t just quit my job or get divorced when things get hard and retreat back to my old room. I can’t call them up and beg for money when there is an emergency.

I have to plan ahead and look out for myself. I had to become an adult.

And I expect everybody else to do the same.

Unsatisfied art

Part of being an artist is never feeling satisfied with your creation. It is why you started creating to start off with. You feel that something needs to be fixed. You sense something is missing.
So you get out your brush and your paper or your clarinet and your tape recorder. You get to making stuff. You know that something needs to fill that hole you can sense, and that you are the one to try. But that same feeling that made you start is the same feeling that will make you feel that you aren’t finished – that your art isn’t good enough. That same feeling will make you think you should throw it all away.
Perhaps there needs to be a “Post Secret” for artists. Perhaps there needs to be a revelation of the mental process of artists, in the same way that magicians (sometimes) reveal how they do their tricks. You think you are doing it all wrong, but you just don’t know that everybody else is having the same problem. Perhaps that is part of what this post is all about.
I hate pictures of myself. My eyes don’t match up. One looks more “open” than the other. If I post a picture of myself, I’m either looking at the camera at an angle or I’m smiling so my eyes are squinting. Then it is harder to see that my eyes don’t match.
Then I started looking at other faces. I work in a library, so I can look at author photos on the back of books. I started slowing down and really noticing them. Almost all of them look “off”. Almost all of them have one eye different from the other. I finally realized that I look “normal” by looking “abnormal”.
Then I thought about something I was told years ago. I was told that when making a Persian rug, the artist will intentionally make a mistake so the rug isn’t perfect. It is to say that only God can make something perfect. In a way this seems arrogant. If you can intentionally make a mistake, you could then presumably make it perfect. But I think that isn’t the idea. The idea is that imperfection is OK, and it is part of being human.
Jesus tells us that. Jesus tells us that we can’t ever get to 100%. The test is rigged by the world. Jesus tells us that we are OK the way we are as long as we are trying to do the right thing.
I know someone who rewrote her book four times before she published it. I think that is such a waste of time and energy. Sure, there is something about putting your best work out there. But there is something about knowing that you are constantly changing and evolving, and your work is too. What you wrote/drew/painted/composed a year ago will be totally different from what you will create today. That is normal. Just keep creating. Just keep trying.
I know people who never start anything because they are afraid they won’t do it right. I’ve been that way. I’m glad I got over it. Well, mostly. I understand the logic of it. If you don’t start, you’ll never fail, right? Except if you don’t start, you’ll never learn and grow. You have to start, but you also have to let go. You have to be OK with it never matching up with what you envisioned in your head. That is part of being a creative person.
You’ll get closer and closer to being able to bring forth what you imagine the more you try. And some of being an artist is being OK with the happy accidents, the discoveries, along the way. While you are trying to get to one idea, something else will happen and take you down another road. That can result in some pretty amazing work. That can also derail you and leave you stranded.
Part of being an artist is knowing how and when to rein yourself in, and when to let yourself go. Sometimes the art will try to take over. Sometimes you should let it. Sometimes that is just an excuse to goof off and not get things done.
Trust the process, right? Sometimes. The best learning comes from making horrible mistakes. But you have to do something. Art doesn’t make itself.
A bad part about being an artist is that you never think you are done. Whatever you have made, it never feels “complete”. It is like me with my eyes. But then I got away from looking at myself and I looked at others. Art is the same. Nobody ever feels like their art is complete. You are normal.
Just keep making stuff. Don’t let the monster win. The monster is the thing that says you can’t do it, that you are no good. You defeat it by making stuff anyway.

Time travel dream

I had a dream that I travelled back in time to visit my Mom. We were together in the living room in our old house in Chattanooga. She was sitting on the couch by the windows, where later we would put the hospital bed. She died in the same place she had sat all those years.

When I traveled there in my dream, I told her that I was really 45, that essentially, I was possessing my own body. I asked her how old I was at the time, because everything always looked the same there. She told me that I was 12.

I told her that she died when I was young, but I didn’t tell her when. I told her how it affected me. I told her that she might want to stop smoking and start eating well.

We had a steady diet of junk when I was growing up – no fresh vegetables, a lot of fried food. If we ate vegetables at all they came out of a can or the freezer. A lot of food was brown. The walls of the house were stained yellow with all the tobacco smoke. It was a very unhealthy place to grow up. I had no control over my environment, and the people who should have looked out for me were killing me day by day.

For some reason I felt like I could warn her about the train wreck she was making of our lives by smoking and eating poorly. Her bad choices were my bad choices by default. I was her child and had no control over what I ate and the air I breathed when I was there. For some reason I thought I could change her ways by coming back as an adult to tell her what would happen if she didn’t change.

When I woke up, I pondered on that dream and I thought of this Bible passage. Jesus told this story about a rich man and a poor man. The Lazarus in this story isn’t the same one he raised from the dead – that was the brother of Martha and Mary.

Luke 16:19-31
19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz′arus, full of sores,21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom.24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz′arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz′arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’” (RSV)

So I realized that it didn’t matter. Even if I had been able to go back to tell her to change her ways, it wouldn’t have done any good. She knew that smoking was bad for her but she still did it. She knew that she should eat better but she didn’t do it. She had made her choices and she stuck to them, regardless of the warning signs and the evidence.

How many people are like this? They’d rather stick with what they know to be bad rather than make the change to what they know to be good.

Change is hard. It takes a lot of energy to break free of a bad habit. But it is worth it. And the more you push towards being healthy, the more energy you have to make other changes.