When Life Bites

How Life is Like a Mosquito Bite

Mosquito bites are one of our greatest teachers.

Mosquitoes. Those winged creatures capable of spreading disease and driving us crazy with swollen bumps on our skin.

Who knew they were also one of life’s greatest teachers?

It’s Not Personal

Great news: It’s only female mosquitoes who come after us humans. They need our blood. Think of them as winged vampires, needing their next human sacrifice so their species can continue. Without their next “blood meal” this flying insect wouldn’t be able to produce her eggs.

Sometimes, people get under our skin–just like a mosquito. But it’s never personal.

So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic or your cousin hangs up on you for no good reason, remember: it’s not personal.

Poor behavior of others is never about you. It’s what the hurt person is doing to cope in that moment. Just like that mosquito biting into your flesh–sure, it may sting or itch, but it’s not about you; it’s about what they need.

A Different Kind of Condom

The prefix dis means not. The body can experience a lack of ease (dis-ease) throughout a human’s life. Mosquitoes, like humans, can carry diseases. And while mosquitos are known to be “the most formidable transmitters of disease in the animal kingdom,” there are plenty of diseases we humans carry.

We have COVID-19, people! We have STD’s and Monkeypox!

And I’m not even a doctor! (though I play one on TV;-)

So what can we humans do to protect ourselves from the bites of mosquitoes and human nature? We wear:

  • condoms to protect against STD’s.
  • masks to help stave off the never-ending variants of COVID-19
  • bug spray to fight off creepy crawlers

There’s also different kinds of condoms to protects us from getting figuratively bitten: earplugs, the technology to block a caller, the ability to close our eyes.

So cover up, let it go, and stop scratching that itch. Now go out there and thank those mosquitoes for being such fantastic teachers!

*Post originally published on The Orange Journal. (8/4/22)

Lessons from the Dead

The veil between this world is always one breath away.

I was enjoying lunch with two close friends when a text popped up on my phone. A colleague wrote to share a new’s article that the police had located the suspect who had killed our former student.

I hadn’t even known our former student had died.

Death Over Shoes

Our former student (14) was shot in a parking lot by a 17-year-old over a pair of shoes. Fourteen. A freshman in high school, weeks away from enjoying summer vacation. Fourteen with parents who love him. 

Fourteen no more.

Death Over Cancer

Earlier this week, my mother’s best friend passed. Cancer, silently arrived to her breasts and within a short window, spread throughout her body. Her last words to my mother:

“I know I’m not going to make it.”

She passed only a handful of days later.

No One is Immune

The sweet boy who died May 6th left us too soon. My mother’s best friend, left us too soon. Short of the 101 year old who dies peacefully in their sleep, most deaths create a powerful domino effect of pain. No one is immune from that person’s loss. And even the lucky few who cross over once they have reached that 3 digit status, even their passing is painful to those who love them.

Gift of the Dead

We all know we are going to cross over. We all know there’s an invisible expiration date in our future. We know no one’s getting out of here alive.

But there’s a gift the dead bring us: a stark reminder, a yanking away of the Denial Curtain we comfortably drape ourselves in most days. 

The dead were once no different than you or me: they had dreams, hopes, pains, fears, yearnings, hungers — you name it, if you have it, they did too at one point. The permanence of their passing is a raw reminder of our impermanence, a reminder that this ride of Life in the Earth School comes with a graduation for all.

The Dead Make Time Matter

I can still hear my mom’s best friend talking, the light in her fair eyes as she spoke, the way she always dressed like a million bucks, the way her New York accent made me feel home.

And although the teen who died wasn’t formally “my student” but a student at the school I taught, I can still recall his kindness. 

Both deaths, although worlds apart, remind me how precious and fleeting this life is. The veil between this world and the next is always one breath away.

The Dead Give a Reality Check

The sons of my mother’s best friend, now grown men in their 40’s, spoke at her funeral.

There is nothing like Death to bring a Reality Check to Life. Both spoke of their mother’s essence and actions — not the house she lived in or the car she drove, not how many friends she had on Instagram, not the size of her bank account or the quality of her wardrobe. 

What Matters Most:

Here are the highlights of what those grown sons shared at their mother’s funeral:

  • Thanksgiving was the most important holiday to her — she loved to have her family and friends together.
  • She loved ordering cupcakes for her grandchildren exactly the way they liked it — never forgetting which one loved chocolate and which one loved sprinkles.
  • She was a source of strength and encouragement to her sons, family, and friends — known for her positive outlook in life.
  • She was close with a cared greatly for her hairdresser

Death helps us remember what matters most.

Death Gives the Greatest Gift

Death gives us the greatest gift: Life. It’s through Death that we appreciate the miracle of an ordinary life. The sunsets, the smell of coffee, the feel of a rose petal between our fingers, the first kiss — the list goes on, doesn’t it?

The great mystery (Death), knowing it is coming for us, can serve to help us appreciate this very moment that much more.

The Dish of a Hard Lesson

Our harshest teacher is often where we find our greatest strength.

We all have someone or something in our lives that pushes us to do the very thing we may not want to do or don’t think we can do. Today, I ask you to consider the following idea:

Our greatest teachers or lessons are often the ones that involve falling to our knees.

Why is this? Why can’t we get the lesson or experience like one would experience a massage? Why is our greatest teacher often the person who makes us feel ready to pull our hair out?

The Universe works in mysterious ways, but it is always working in its own intricate and beneficial way. We are like fish in a bowl, looking out at the world around us but only having a limited perspective of what reality is. Hindsight often offers us a better view in our respective fishbowls.

When I reflect upon the very things that I was certain would break me (the death of a loved one, the belligerent colleague, the litigious ex), it is hindsight that demonstrates time and time again, how each hardship, each challenge caused me to push past my comfort zone and grow. Each seemingly impossible situation or person caused me to get up off of my figurative knees and figure out a way. Had the person or situation not felt so overwhelming or heartbreaking, I would not be the strong, capable person I see myself as today.

We all arrive on this planet loving ourselves. We never see a baby embarrassed about the size of their derriere! But over time, many of us are taught to doubt ourselves. That doubt attracts us to all kinds of lessons and teachers. Once we get the lesson, the problem or problematic situation disappears.

Some of us—like myself—needed some tough lessons. It is once I thank those teachers that I notice they start bothering me. 

I encourage you to consider a figurative dish in your life—a person or situation that is challenging you (You know, the ones that cause your blood pressure to rise or the ones that make you feel like your heart is breaking and will never be whole again.). Serve yourself an alternate perspective: what if this person or situation is here to teach me another way? To show me an inner strength that was dormant until now? To help me realize what really matters and what I need to let go of?

When we thank our hardest teachers, we receive the invaluable gifts of peace and growth.