Although it is defined as “the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences”, most of us think of karma in terms of how we look forward to it holding another person responsible for some serious misdeed. When someone has acted harshly towards us and we aren’t able to exact our own revenge, we look to karma to take the onus to make sure that person is punished. Sadly, we most often don’t see with our own eyes that karma has done her job, we don’t have the pleasure of watching punishment of that person.

I’ve never seen karma in action, so I have no way of proving that it exists – or doesn’t exist, for that matter. I tend to use the word karma as a way of trying to give calm to another person when someone has brutally hurt him/her in an unnecessary fashion. But recently, I have needed to use karma as a way to try and soothe my own being. Long story short, the woman who was my father’s wife at the time of his death, because she was named in his will as “personal representative” to handle his estate, has ignored the other parts of his will which state that she is to receive nothing, and all of his assets should be distributed between all of his living children. In the state of Florida, probate of a will is not necessary, so the will has never been probated, meaning she’s never been forced to process the estate according to the instructions in his will.

The legal costs to fight this are impossible without putting one or both of his living children into serious debt.

I could write paragraphs and paragraphs and even more paragraphs about this woman and her actions, but that’s not my point. After spending several thousand dollars to a law firm to find out that the apparent steps to get his will validated will easily cost more than we have to spend, we’re starting to say we need to let this go and let KARMA take over. And while I want to believe that will happen, I have no true proof that it will. The money is certainly part of the issue, but for me, the number one reason I am upset over this happening is because it disrespects my father’s wishes, therefore disrespecting him.

And the icing on the cake? When her husband of many years passed away, she was set up financially for the rest of her life. In other words, she didn’t need the money because she had plenty of her own. In fact, from conversations with our father, I know that his intent not to leave her anything was because they had both agreed to do the same in their respective wills, since the remaining spouse would not need anything from the estate of the other.

So that’s going on, and has been for several months, and it’s been a constant stressor in my life.

However, my loyal readers will also know that I’d been dealing with a lot of stress, at the same time, over my car dying and the fiasco of buying a replacement vehicle. And it wasn’t but a month ago that I’d blogged that I’d finally gotten a vehicle. I remain overwhelmed by the number of buttons on the dash, as well as having buttons on the steering wheel for the first time in my life, but since I use it for errands – grocery shopping, doctor visits, nail and hair appointments – all within less than 2 miles away, I’m probably not going to use those buttons anyhow.

I was relieved when that stress was over! So, I took the car to be inspected, because the inspection was due by the end of May and since we can have our cars inspected up to three months earlier than the due date, I’ve always scheduled it for March, both to get it done and off the list of things I need to do and also, just in case something needed repaired/replaced, so I had time to have that done.

Well, surprise. In fact, double whammy! The check engine light came on after owning the vehicle for an entire 10 days. Fortunately, it came on during my drive home from the grocery store (a mile drive) and my appointment for inspection was the next week (a mile drive) and I didn’t need to go anywhere in between. The check engine light came on because the catalytic converter was performing at a much lower capacity than is normal, meaning that the air in my exhaust was dirtier than recommended. In this part of PA, we are required to have an emissions test done to make sure we aren’t contributing to the bad air quality we have. The car was previously located in an area that didn’t require the emissions test.

It appeared in the car history, according to my mechanic, that the light had come on for the same reason several times before, but because it doesn’t affect the use of the vehicle and the car wasn’t required to have an emissions test, a mechanic would just turn the light back off whenever it came on.

Welcome back, stress! The warranty I got, because it was a used vehicle, only covered the drivetrain, the motor, the transmission and the powertrain. The cost of the catalytic converter part was on my shoulders. The cost of the part was just over $900. The 2+ hours of labor to replace it was $190.

All of this crap that’s been happening to me, at least one crappy thing going on all the time for the last 6 months, got me thinking about the idea that karma has come to visit me, and this is the revenge it is seeking. I’ve been looking back through my memories to see if there was something so horrible that I did to someone worthy of bringing karma – and what feels like an overload of karma – upon myself. Yes, I’ve hurt some people in my 65 years of life, 99.9% of the time unintentional, and I’ve been quick to own up to what I’d done and apologized during the 0.1% that I did knowing I was doing it. But, even in that 0.1%, I’m certain that it was something I said to someone and nothing I said that caused permanent and lifelong harm.

I’m unsettled about all of this suddenly. Is this karma? If it is, how I wish I could learn what I’d done to deserve it and have the opportunity to make amends, not to avoid the karma but because it makes my heart hurt to think that I’ve hurt someone so terribly to deserve it in the first place.

I know some people would be quick to tell me that “God doesn’t give you any more than He knows you can handle.” I know I’ve certainly used those words to offer some encouragement. And I know that all of this stress is nothing compared to the people of Ukraine trying to get out of the country, in fear of their lives! I even know that the chances are that I will – eventually – get through all of this. But knowing that doesn’t make me feel better in these moments. To be honest, I feel like my spirit has been whipped long and hard enough to be close to breaking. I need a reprieve. More than that, I need something to go right for a change so that it will put some plaster over the cracks in my spirit.

I like when Karma does its work to punish other people whom I know have done some horrific things (Putin comes to mind), but I don’t like it so much when it’s my turn to receive it!

Message received. Now, please go away!

Turn the Other Cheek

“Be kind, always. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

I’ve read those words countless times. I’ve heard people speak them countless times. I know at least one person who truly lives life with that mantra always at the top of the priority list.

I think I’m well above average on the “be kind” spectrum. I’ve bitten my tongue more than once when someone has said something to me as a personal attack in a way that was meant to be a personal attack. I’ve aspired to be the bigger person. Sometimes, I can let go of the anger and hurt of a comment hurled at me. Sometimes, I can’t.

At the risk of alienating those readers who are at the top of the “be kind” spectrum, I’m sorry that what I’m about to say will not measure up to you and possibly disappoint what you thought you knew about me, but… here’s how I see it….

I am much more forgiving and willing to turn my cheek for a stranger, a person I don’t know who knows nothing about me. Everyone is entitled to have a bad day (or moment) and everyone who is experiencing that has a breaking point. Having worked in the hotel industry where guests checking in are upset because they got lost, or their kids were yelling for the last hour of their road trip or any other reason will often take out how they feel on the front desk agent responsible for checking them in. That job gave me a lot of experiencing learning how to sympathize, apologize and agree that I’m sure they are glad to finally be at the hotel safe and sound. In effect, we learn how to diffuse their frustration without taking on the blame of it ourselves. I suspect almost every person who has ever worked the front desk of a hotel has, at one time or another, been brought to tears by a guest who is beyond the breaking point of frustration and explodes in that agent’s face. It’s not that they don’t deserve the same type of treatment in our response to them (because usually, they do!), but we know that what is best for us, as well as for them, is to get them checked in and away from the desk towards their room as quickly as possible, so we suck it up. (NOTE: If that kind of guest is you, trust me when I tell you that we will alert every other employee who might come in contact with you about the kind of person you are so that they are prepared!)

But, there are times when, in fact, I have “turned the other cheek” to someone who had no qualm about reaching out and slapping that one as well. The way I see it, you’ve had both of my cheeks, and if you come back at me a third time, all bets are off that I will bite my tongue. That third attempt will show me that you’re not having a bad day, instead, it will show me that you’re a bad person.

And I come back to, yet again, those people who loudly talk the talk about being these great Christians and then walk the walk of someone who has no aspiration to be a true Christian. I’m dealing with one of those people right now, and every day, I need to remind myself to keep my mouth shut and just let Karma do the work from me. I’m dealing with someone who I’ve known for over 50 years, who has been a part of my extended family for those years, and who has been intentionally condescending to me on multiple occasions. I’ve held my tongue each of those times out of respect for other extended family members. Recently, I learned that this person has acted in such a way that could be classified as “theft by deception” and has done so to my immediate family. Now it’s become a legal matter, incurring legal costs in order to get back what is owed to my immediate family. Again, I’m biting my tongue, as I have not been in contact with this person since 2015, and truly don’t wish to be in contact ever again in my lifetime.

Oh, but that I wish I could say just one thing to this person’s face: “Remember when you tartly disciplined me for not saying “in Jesus’ name we pray” before saying “amen” to grace before a meal and assured me that I couldn’t get to heaven except through Jesus? Well, for your sake, I hope that forgiveness is a real thing and that you find the way to be true when asking for forgiveness. Otherwise, my chances of getting into heaven are a whole lot better than yours.”

So, be disappointed with me if you must, according to your own judgement, but there are times I don’t think that “always” being “kind” is advantageous to our own well-being. And I can look at myself in the mirror and be okay with that.

The Little Green Man

When I was growing up, in addition to my siblings, parents and an occasional odd pet, our house was inhabited by a little green man. Now, in all of my years of living there, I’d never seen him, nor, I suspect, did anyone else. But I recall clearly, when something was broken/spilled/etc. and my mother asked which of us had done it, to which we all replied, “Not me!”, she would sometimes say that the little green man must have done it.

It didn’t take us long to realize, as we got older, that mom had merely decided that, whatever ‘crime’ had been committed, it wasn’t worth dragging the truth from us. I do remember a time when, asked of us who had done something, my older brother defiantly answered, “The little green man”. That got him a smack in the face!

I’d largely forgotten about the little green man for years. But lately, not only do I think my home might be inhabited by its own little green man, I’m beginning to think he brought some friends along who are inhabiting my body!

Every so often, I walk into a room, something catches my eye, and I ponder, “Now how did that get there?” Other times, I swear I know exactly where I left something, only to return and find that it is NOT there! Obviously, a little green man is sneaking around and moving things when I’m not looking!

And my body! Surely it must be filled with little green gremlins with odd senses of humor! How else can I explain the physical twinges of pain that come and go in an instant when I am perfectly still? How else can I explain that sudden urge that pulls me to the freezer at odd hours of the night and demands that I eat several large spoons full of ice cream? And since I mentally make a list of things I want to accomplish each morning, then find my body craving a nap before I’ve started, can’t that surely can be contributed to the tiredness of those same gremlins who had me standing in front of the freezer in the middle of the night?

Was my mother right? Do all homes have a little green man who resides within their walls? And maybe, just maybe, are the little green gremlins invading my body a punishment for those few (especially compared to my brothers) times when it was me who had done something bad and not the little green man? Is this the karma he wished on me those times I let him take the blame?

I suppose I’ll never know…