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Identity theft (02/12/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns
"It's not what someone calls you, but what you answer to that matters." Thanks Maya Angelou!

Name-calling has been going on since the first word spoken - "mine." Recently looking back in time and sorting through my older articles, a menagerie of titles, labels, and classifications keep popping up, new to me in the past ten years or so.

Stereotyping is as prevalent today as ever, just more technical. It's been an epoch of defining individuals by their modus vivendi (way of life). Even worse, a person is readily reduced to a number as he or she waits in a line or on a hospital gurney along with other numbers.

I admit I was excited as I read all about "HSPs" (that's "highly sensitive people"). I had no idea there was a handle for it. My subsequent column "Off-plumb and right-brained" described "ME." Aha, now my family and friends are aware that there is a bevy of us out there!

The folks in this particular limelight (or is it the moon's light?) are easily overwhelmed, highly aroused by new and prolonged stimulation, deeply affected by others' moods and emotions, and unable to tolerate exposure to pain. It's true, I always had that gut feeling when my children were coming down with something.

Kids often suffer the cruelty of mean-spirited nicknames. "Bully" has become a more sinister character. Words are both the sting and the balm of human communication.

Old definitions: Back in the uncomplicated fifties, when you asked someone if she was on-line you meant, "is Mrs. Snodgrass rubbering on our telephone party line again?" A "redneck" is no longer a second class citizen...the cream of the crop.

I recently read an article that takes identity to a whole new dimension. Just call me "Gambler Granny." A Mayo Clinic study revealed that Parkinsons patients who take the drug Mirapex often develop a compulsive gambling habit. A Chicago medical center reported similar findings.

They've found that when they lower the dose or cease taking Mirapex the behavior usually disappears. I take that stuff. Am I having fun yet? I didn't realize that I enjoyed gambling all that much. Oh well, I'm destined to be an oddball - an HSP and wabi sabi, you know.

I think it was the way the words tumble through the lips and melt in the air that first piqued my interest in that "wabi sabi" article. Before I knew there was a name for such tendencies, I had written a line in a poem which said, "I am drawn to imperfections, the undisciplined beauty of things."

A wabi sabi lover seeks the rugged, weatherworn, threadbare, knotted and flawed. (It may be wise to omit that from a resume.) Such curiosities as antiques (bordering on junk), cobwebby and dusty nostalgia, musty attics, and frayed denim are so wabi sabi! Is this merely an idiosyncrasy?

Did you ever have someone's "yang" (masculine energy) short-circuit your feminine "yin?" A mantra may restore you.

Repeat a special line over and over as you fade into a meditative state. The words meld like a rosary bead worn thin. A mantra can facilitate the intentions of a person to empty a cluttered mind - not to be confused with "airhead" or inebriation.

One of those "handles" I've written about I can't relate to. It's all too overwhelming for an HSP with warped instincts! Recognized for over 4,000 years, "feng shui" may be the suitable path to tranquility for Martha Stewart groupies and interior decorators. Some of us choose not to get bogged down with details.

Seeking balance and harmony in your work and home spaces sounds logical but, let's face it, we're not all on the same wavelength, or painted into the same corner.

Even if the cards are stacked against you, play your hand the way you see it. "Okay, Poker Face?"

Later dates,

"Bag Lady" 


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