Category: Secrets

Food For Thought: What’s Hidden In Your Apple?

 

apple Iphone users, let’s talk iOS 10. Love the new night shift mode, when my phone automatically dims its light for ambiance. Love bedtime mode when my phone sends me a soothing signal that it’s time for bed and gently wakes me up with some seriously peaceful music. Love that there are new emoji options from words to memes to GIFs all with the swipe of a thumb. But I’m drawing the line at dictation, which now comes with its own set of rules.

iphone

Before iOS 10 I could hit the little microphone and talk into the text box so I wouldn’t have to type. Unlike a regular keyboard, I’m not stenographer-quick on the phone. So although it frequently overtyped what I said, it did its best to relay. Not anymore. Now we have to “Enable Dictation,” and agree to the fine print.

“When you use Siri and Dictation the things you say will be recorded and sent to Apple to process your requests. Your device will also send Apple other information, such as your name and nickname; the names, nicknames and relationship with you of your contacts, songs names in your collection, the names of your photo albums, the names of Apps installed on your device (your User Data.)  Blah blah blah … It is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services. Blah blah blah … Apple’s Privacy Policy … Blah. Blah. Blah.

ssshh

Whoa…. Say what?

I actually read it this time, then said NO. And that was a downer for sure. In fact, I found it a little disturbing. Because the long, tiny fine print essentially grants Apple access to my entire life. Maybe they were already doing that and for whatever reason now have to tell us. Maybe it has to do with that case earlier this year when the FBI wanted information from somebody’s iPhone and Apple said NO. So allegedly the FBI paid big bucks to have that iPhone hacked.

think-different

I’m not passing judgment on a case I really know nothing about, because when it comes to government and corporate America, nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors. But it’s scary to think that nothing is safe. Our privacy and our lives are open game for the outside world.

It’s hard enough to live with people’s perceptions of what and who we are all about. But to actually know that everything we say is recorded in some giant database sort of freaks me out. I’m not saying anything criminal, but whatever I am saying should be between me and the people I choose, not the whole wide world.

I am guessing this goes on everywhere – social media first in the game. Every website we visit is picked up by Facebook as an advertisement in our news feed. I clicked on a random Twitter link affiliated with an upcoming community event and saw my friends’ tweets in the sidebar. Friends who have nothing to do with the upcoming event. Freaky.

That “Big Brother” thing we read about in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four – the theory that we are under constant surveillance by an unknown quantity – is true. And there’s nothing we can do.

Anyway, I do love iOS 10. You know what they say, an Apple each day and we’ll be okay.

dont-be-afraid

 

Society’s Concept of Custody Leaves Dads Without A Chance

branjelinaBranjelina is hitting a little close to home for Sir Husband and me. First let me say we are not movie star gazers or Hollywood followers,  but we do perk up when we hear something that resonates with our plight.

Accusations from a mother against a father that perpetuate a societal perception that 1. the accusations are unalterably true, and 2. the mother is the victim and thus the better parent, leave us quite perturbed.

Sir Husband is himself a victim – of this ongoing perception. We learned quickly that lawyers usually stand with mothers in defense of a father regardless of what is truly happening in the parents’ private world. In other words – the mother is supported as always right no matter how wrong she may be.

I’m not saying Angelina Jolie is wrong because I do not know. And that’s the point – no one can know no matter what is brought to the public’s eye. The only people who know the truth are the parents and usually the children. But that doesn’t always stop the inaccurate version from permeating the external world. The question is, who is right? Against our perceived accepted norm, it’s not always the mom.

let-go-copyWhen Sir Husband and I reconnected after more than twenty years, we knew our reunion was meant to be and it totally changed our lives. But our happiness at finally being together – this time as more than friends like we were in our teens and 20s – was naturally not well-received by our spouses at the time. Although our marriages were exceedingly miserable, Sir Husband’s Mrs. refused to accept the parting of their ways.

So we found ourselves on the receiving end of her distorted perception about Sir Husband’s rights and ability to be their children’s father. She decided because she was hurt, she would do whatever she could to try to  destroy us – and said so – proceeding on her mission to take away the kids.

fullsizerender-4With zero regard to their children or mine, let alone the participating adults – our extended families too,  she publicly and violently twisted the truth about both Sir Husband and me so vehemently that it was impossible to fight. Her unyielding insistence that her story was completely accurate when it could not be more wrong, was simply accepted because she so whole-heartedly embraced her self-serving victim-role.

I’m not saying Angelina Jolie is a victim or self-serving, our case may be extreme. But when The Mother has spoken, and affirms her version by trying to take away the kids, why do we always just assume the mother is indefensibly right?

I find it interesting that seemingly by nature, divorcing mothers automatically want to remove fathers from their children’s lives. To me that stems from some deep internal hurt in a mother’s own personal vault. She cannot or will not separate from her misery enough to see by doing that it’s the children who are paying for her hurt. Tragically, the children become the weapons in her personal battle.

Sometimes it’s warranted, such as in cases of abuse. Abuse is a big word. What about when mothers claim something that isn’t true? And worse, why do a mother’s destructive actions against a father go unrecognized as her abuse?

Branjelina’s case is spotlighted now and will either justify or alter the trend. In the meantime, “regular” exceptional dads like Sir Husband are left in the vaporous dust.

 

jeff-solo

When the Fearless Pursuit of Peace and Sleep Leads To Trying Vape

We’re not smokers, so when I found out a while back that my 20-something son had been smoking for years to soothe his anxiety, I wasn’t happy. Smoking seems both stupid and gross. That’s not to say I didn’t try a few puffs as a teenager. I’m referring to cigarettes, which now are fairly un-hip.

vape juiceI didn’t realize my boy was so cutting edge when he went from tobacco to vape. When electronic cigarettes came on the scene a few years ago he switched over, touting the benefits of using a tobacco-less product, ignoring the fact that inhaling flavored nicotine chemicals called “juice” may not be such a good idea. In fact, I’m really worried.

vaporizersVaping connoisseurs believe that the clear, sweet-smelling vapor that they pour into their e-cig, aka vaporizer, is not only safe, but effective when needing a fix. Not to mention the devices come in different shapes, styles, sizes, colors and wattage.

I think I’m a little slow on the uptake of cutting edge anything, because I only recently learned that not only can you fill your customized e-cig with juice, you can also use it to smoke pot. I don’t smoke that either, but apparently a lot of folks do.

potThat’s a whole other story – the miracles and magic of marijuana to help with everything from mind-blowing to chilling out to chronic pain to insomnia. In the old days you rolled a few pinches in some rolling paper, licked it, sealed it – sheesh, what a time-consuming mess. Now, you just put it in your vaporizer and apparently you’re good to go.

can't sleepThe pot phase came and went for my kid. But imagine my surprise when a good friend shared a little secret she has. Upscale citizen, polished professional, magnificent mommy, exceptional human – the poor woman has a case of insomnia so bad she makes vampires look like wimps. Not only is she up most of the night, she still functions most of the day. She’s a survivalist.

And a hip one to boot. Because when she revealed her new plan to take a few puffs to aid her sleep, my ears actually perked up. I don’t sleep well either. Although I’m pretty sure I’m too uptight to try it.

Her story cracked me up – middle-age insomniac mom learns from other middle-age insomniac mom that vaping dope helps you sleep like a baby. While her husband is away, she secretly purchases a vaporizer, makes contact with a local and reputable dealer who delivers said product right to her door – arranged to ensure no one was home. She hides her paraphernalia and her substance knowing it’s there but invisible, a tempting little treat that may actually soothe her sleep.

I’m betting this is more common than we think. Melatonin to sleep? Nah, that’s old-school. When that doesn’t work, try pot. I’m not judging her, in fact I wish I was that cool. To not be afraid to try something “new” that is medically-approved for health issues? Longterm insomnia counts.

This isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s about keeping up with the times, and doing so without fear. I can’t condone my son vaping vape, but my friend vaping weed? Right on.

 

if it scares you

Guess Who Moved Into The Neighborhood

 

It can happen to you too. You’re sitting at the dinner table, finishing your last sip of wine, capturing a few special minutes with the love of your life, and the doorbell rings. Who could that be, it’s dark outside and the porch light isn’t on.

Oh, it’s just Officer Friendly, here to warn us about stranger danger. He handed us a printed color flyer of the 27-year-old sex offender who just moved in up the street. “Just making you aware of the situation,” the officer said.

Great. Thanks. Which house is it? The address was right on the paper, we just tried not to look at it. “Gross sexual assault and child pornography” the bold print said. Lovely.

An email had come in a week or so ago from the high school principal letting the parents know that “one had moved back to town.” As if this human was not actually human, but some sort of alien or animal.

Bleh. The whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth and what felt like lint in my throat.

What do we do with this information? My mind started clicking. What happened? How is the victim? Are we safe?

Then I thought about the person who committed a heinous crime, whose picture is in color being handed out to everyone in his town with the words SEX OFFENDER. His age, where he lives, and a warning that people can call the police if they need to. There was more on the flyer, but in all honesty I didn’t get much further. I was having trouble digesting it.

I had never really thought about it before. You hear about sex offenders on the news, you read about them in the paper, there’s a registry but who checks that?

There goes the value of the house, I said to Sir Husband whose facial expression looked like he had just sucked on a lemon.

Is that true? I wondered. Did our house value just go down? Is this what you are supposed to think about when you get this kind of information? Or do you think about the family who lives with the poor soul? He moved back in with his mother when he got out of prison the officer said. I personally wondered how she was feeling about her son’s mugshot being plastered all over the neighbors’ front doors.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the mother, the offender, or the victim. It felt distasteful and quite sad. This man has some problems and they don’t appear to be small. You can’t feel bad for a sex offender, or can you? You certainly can for the victims and as well as both of the families. Nobody has a baby thinking they’ll grow up to commit some crimes, or be victim to one.

What should we do with the paper? I asked Sir Husband who had just put it on the table next to our dirty dinner plates. Do we keep it? Where do we put it? Not on the bulletin board. Do we show it to my son the teenager who lives in the house with us? Or do we just casually mention the issue and remind him of stranger danger.

Every time we drive up the street and past the house we will think about it. We will watch the people who walk by and look to see if it’s him. We will probably lock our doors even when we’re home. His house is next to the bus stop, now what? Stand with our high school-aged son?

Really. Inquiring minds want to know. Trouble is, we really didn’t want to know, but now it’s changed our lives. At a slight distance of course.

Moving on.

fence

 

Honestly.

Want to hear a secret?

Nothing was better than to walk into my hair salon and see Sir Husband sitting there having a local craft brew with the black cape on and my stylist buzzing his little bit of hair. Yes, they serve free beer and wine.

It wasn’t a surprise to see him there, we share a car. But I was early when picking him up and stopped for a minute at the door to take in the scene.

Hidden in an antique home-turned-business near the corner on Main Street, even the shop is sort of a secret. One small sign swings above the door. “Salon.”

Inside it’s just as you might imagine, three late-20-somethings in black leggings and colorful tunics with black aprons wrapped tightly around their waists, stand behind chairs with their clients and talk amongst themselves. Sometimes in code. But always in confidentiality.

The hair salon is full of secrets.

Like the fact that men go there despite the barber shop across the street, and enjoy a cold one, while spending the good part of an hour chit chatting with the 20-somethings. Maybe it’s therapeutic.

But my guess is that the male guests on any given day do not really pay attention to the chatter in this little three-chair shop, the women sure do. I haven’t been going there long enough to know who’s who, but I certainly learn a lot.

There’s a written code between the walls of this hairdo joint. What is said in the salon, stays in the salon. Those girls put that information in lockdown. I don’t share too much, but I hear a lot. And for a gal who has spent most of her life dealing with others’ secrets and lies, I see the other side.

I hate secrets.

And lies. But I’m willing to bet that a whole lot of lies are based on secrets. Here’s where my truth be told. I grew up on the outside of my family’s secrets. My parents had their own stories to hide, and kids sense these things from the get-go.

I’m not talking about regular, everyday things that parents keep from their kids to protect them from the harsh grown-up reality of the world. I’m talking about big, bold, ugly secrets that always made me wonder what was behind door number three. Because surely behind there was the answer to my confusion. Nothing was as it appeared.

I became sensitive to the secrecy, and that blossomed into a life of sensitivity and distrust. My intuition became my best friend and also my worst enemy. I knew when people close to me were lying or hiding something, and it hurt. I learned that secrets always come out in the end, and do no one any good. So of course I went on to marry a liar the first time. His secrets took years to surface, but when they did, the result was the same. Devastation for his family which may last a lifetime.

That’s why I went full-blown truth-telling with my children.

Our identities are formed based on our trust and communication with those we love. I have always been open and honest and truthful and real, without crossing personal boundaries, and ensuring emotional safety and understanding. Some may say it’s detrimental, but it’s necessary and important and even proven valuable. My kids know what’s real and that is probably one of the best gifts I could give them. When I hesitantly mentioned our no-secrets policy to a wise woman lately, she said, “A family of no secrets? Wow, that’s cool.” I think so too.

The real secret was revealed.

As I stood near the door of that salon and watched Sir Husband sit in the middle of a group of women with a beer in his hand and oblivious to the gossip, I smiled. I learned in that moment that as hurtful and destructive as secrets may be, I do not have to subscribe to them. In fact, I don’t have to care. It’s not about moral superiority, it’s about self-care. To thy own self be true, that’s what really matters.

The secret to happiness…..isn’t really a secret.

Got Ghosts?

sageBurning sage is overrated. If you really want to get rid of ghosts, you may need to go a little more hardcore.

How do I know? Because I’ve lived in a couple of haunted houses in my day. Yes, for real, as my my children will attest, and even the originally-skeptical Sir Husband. We not only believe in ghosts, we also have had more up close and personals with them than we care to admit to.

It doesn’t take much for a believer to know when they are in the presence of a spirit, it’s sensory. You can feel it. It’s like a thickness in your airspace – sometimes so close that it feels like someone breathing down your neck – although they aren’t breathing.

Or you get that feeling you get when someone someone puts their hand an inch away from you but doesn’t touch you. You can feel the energy sort of coming out of them and into your personal space.

Maybe you hear a whisper or a sigh and nobody is there. Or see something out of the corner of your eye that disappears when you focus. Or a shadow in the mirror. You may get goosebumps. Or chills. And maybe the creeps.

Ah, now you know. Because you probably have had this experience at one time or another and shrugged it off, or didn’t pay attention to it, certainly didn’t talk about it…or maybe you kind of wondered.

The first time I came face-to-face with a ghost – although I prefer to call him an angel – was shortly after my grandfather died more than 30 years ago. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw him sitting at the foot of my bed. It wasn’t him, more like a hologram of him, but it was him, and it scared me. I was not dreaming, although it’s easy to say that I was.

(You have to have some trust here.)

Since then I have met many floating dead. While I am awake, sometimes while meditating, sometimes in the wee hours of the night when I get up to use the bathroom, it’s completely random. Occasionally they even wake me up from sleep. They may just be passing through, but other times they have occupied my home.

That’s what got Sir Husband. We rented a house that was actually known to be haunted. We didn’t know it at the time, but the landlord finally revealed it to us after we had some encounters and asked him about it – it was a matter of public record. Prior tenants moved out and reported it haunted to the authorities. Who knew you could even do that?

There wasn’t just one ghost, but several sharing the residence, one quite scary. It would chase us down the hall, even in the daylight hours, and make itself visible in the big mirror at the end of that hall. It freaked Sir Husband out. For him, that was the first time he had experienced an true entity, but not the last. Once you become open to ghosts, you start to notice them.

featherThey will live anywhere – in antique homes, in new builds, in the shed, it doesn’t matter. These are souls who have not crossed over into the ether. I actually had my 1757 antique “space cleared” a few years ago, paid real money for a paranormal expert to come in and shoo away the orbs. She used smoke and feathers, chanting and even channeled them. That was better than reality TV.

Still skeptical? So was a friend who we told over a few drinks that her house was, well, haunted. Sure she has kids and pets, even a few field mice, but we meant inhabited. We spent quite a bit of time there and it was obvious to us. She went home with her husband that night without fear and tried desperately to see or hear them. We didn’t talk about it after that, until a few weeks later.

“So how do I get them out of my house?” she asked clear out of the blue when we stopped by to drop something off. “You know, them?” she said as she pointed to the air around her.

Did she finally believe that her doors that mysteriously opened, the lights that turned on and off by themselves, and the howling nervous pets in the nights were not random occurrences? How about the voices? The distant, soft voices you could barely hear or understand, but sent shudders down your spine.

“Yea what do I do?” she asked. “Can you show me how to use those wooden sticks you mentioned?”

Of course. Palo Santo sticks. Much better than sage. This aromatically-pleasing mystical wood from a tree in South America is known for its healing properties in holistic medicine. It’s name literally means “Holy Wood,” and has been used for centuries to help cleanse poor health, and more importantly, remove ghosts. You can get it at your local New Age store. And of course on Amazon.

We had some, and gave her a couple. We never heard if they worked for her, but we will. In one way or another. Who knows, ghosts may live forever.

palo santo sticks

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