Monday, July 31, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017
I grew up in a little backwoods town in Southeast Oklahoma. To say that I didn't fit in that well would be an understatement, but who fully does. However, I knew I wasn't like your average boy. Yes. I did like to explore and got hurt enough times to definitely qualify, but I was just not into the same things that other boys were into. I avoided the football games on the lunchtime playground. I didn't like to wrestle or any form of violence. So, it didn't help when my dad was always trying to get me to go hunting with him or help him build buildings. I am pretty sure that all of that was meant to make me more...manly...to be like him. However, I didn't let that difference define me. I just found places that I could fit in NEAR what they wanted. So, for example, by my senior year I was the bookkeeper in basketball or baseball, and I was the sports photographer for the yearbook. I excelled in my studies and got a lot of awards in many subjects, and that caused my critics to pretty much leave me alone...especially if they wanted good stats for their plays or good pictures or such. However, I found myself being happy with taking a good shot or making friends and school achievements.
Indeed, achievements made it pretty easy for me to distract myself from being different than most guys, all along the way, and ....because I was very friendly and supportive, I had a lot of friends that liked to have me as a friend. Even as I was at work and starting a family, there was always those that I could relate to....and a lot of time they were women. No, I am not saying I am gay..stay with me, though. If you thought that was what I was about to say, this post is for you.
I joined the military and served with honors, along the way. However, I must say that being around a bunch of guys that talked about their trucks and football and shooting and using women only made me feel very different, again, and I was back in that school in my mind or with my father in the woods hunting. Then, as I was leaving the military, my ADHD daughter was having issues with her schooling, and they were isolating her. My ex (we were married then) wasn't about to give up her management job, so I took the initiative of homeschooling her. And, it provided me with years of self exploration. As I schooled her, I also did everything that went along with it at the home, and I wrote freelance and read books and had LOTS of time to think and along the way, I learned that I LIKED myself, as I was, even if others around me were still determined to make me fit their mental mold.
But, I was still confused, and here is where we hit the meat of this blog post and how it relates to both society and recent news from the President and the military. I knew I wasn't like most men, and I felt pressure to just force myself to be like them. However, I chose to start loving MYSELF for who I was. It wasn't a clear path, and I didn't have anyone with which to discuss all of this so I questioned things like my sexuality...I felt that if I wasn't like the majority of guys then I must be gay...only I wasn't sexually attracted to men, only women, which made me all the more confused.
Now, I will pause my story to ask you to participate. In your lives, do you know people that might fit this struggle? Do you know others (or perhaps yourself) that do not like doing the things that the stereotype of that sex does? Do you know tomboy girls that hate wearing dresses, or do you know guys that would rather go to an artistic event or go to a coffeehouse or walk in the park over going to a football game and who never say anything when you talk about who will win the next major fight that will be on tv? That is called...GENDER, and it doesn't mean sexual attraction. And, most people don't understand the difference, so when...for example...the President commands that all men who are not like the other man or women that are not like the other women should be expelled from the miliary, it only reveals their ignorance.
So, I resume my story. As I learned to love myself and make myself happy, I found those that resonated with that person and those that wanted to change me. I chose to cut off those that didn't support me and surround myself with those that do, and in the process of that surrounding, I met my wife...who GOT me and loved me for who I was. We connect BECAUSE I am not a man's man...if I was, she wouldn't like it, and if she wanted me to be different, I wouldn't like her.
But, every now an then, I still fall back into the temptation of thinking she would like that kind of man, so I do things like grow a beard or act more directing and being the "hard working man" figure that I am told in the media that she must like...and in so doing becoming less of the man that she fell in love with and less of the man I had learned to love, myself. But, eventually, one of us will start a conversation that leads to open discussion about how we feel (we both like these conversations to help us work it out mentally), and we go...oh, right...duh, and we make corrections...like shaving a beard.
So, I know it is hard to not be influenced by the world around you, but I would recommend that you take the time to keep yourself centered in remembering what YOU LIKE about being you and what you do not like....and then communicate that to others, around you. Only then, will you be able to filter out those who really like YOU for YOU and give them enough feedback to know what you really like. Only then, will you be able to find true happiness.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
What bothers me... And I think bothers many Americans today... Is that the current wars fought by this president are less about spreading freedom from oppression and more about oppression and hatred of entire groups for how they freely choose to be different from America.
Every year, as we get near Christmas on multiple channels and many times, is the classic a Christmas Carol. The story has been bit different ways from perspectives. The ghosts of Christmas past present and future took on different formats and acted in different ways.
However, central to the character of Scrooge in the story is someone who was all about business and the bottom line and dollars, and that's why he was making a man with an injured son and depressed family work on Christmas day.
I feel that America is getting royally screwed right now in the health care debate. You have one party that is all about the dollars and the bottom line and what they can afford (they specifically); and they explicitly are saying they don't want to pay for things that they themselves are not going to use. They are saying they don't want to pay for women's health care, for example, if they are a man. They are saying that they don't want to pay for the health care of those who can't afford the benefits, which is kind of the point of giving at all.
In fact, that is kind of the point of health care coverage and insurance, in that no one is paying the full cost of their medical bills. They are unable to afford them, and they are receiving help from other people. But, in this debate, we have an entire party that is saying they don't want to give their money to someone else who needs care, which is a cold and heartless thing to say and reminds me very much of Scrooge..
What makes matters worse? Is that the party that is doing this is proclaiming themselves to be "God's party." Yes, God.. The one who fed the 5000 that was hungry and healed the sick has suddenly got in the business of being a banker saying we can't afford to help you please go away, so we can have a tax cut to build our new building.... It's gonna be HUGE.
Of course, that's not God, and this is not God's party. It's greed and selfishness and hate and the things that God himself warned us about.
It's time to call Congress and the President and remind them that a nation that has a soul must first have a heart.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
I remember when I worked in Boston for a year that all along the subway and train stations was plastered the phrase "If you see something, say something." It was meant as a means to stop terrorists from terrorism in our midst.
Well, today, that is more important than ever but for catching terrorists from within our own industries and politics. We have developed a system of homegrown bullies that feel it is their divine right and Destiny to gather to themselves by denying from others.
The fact is that there is a limited supply of money. It is literally not possible to become richer than average without forcing others below average. That is just basic math. But, right now, we have an entire political party that is ADVERTISING their RICHES as the american dream and elected a President that is supposed to be qualified to manage the country, because he was able to overcharge and under cut his customers from what it actually cost him in order to make a huge profit on the backs of others. And, the religious right says... Praise God. Pass the collection plate for our new building.
It is time for this financial terrorism to stop and for those wronged to ... Say something.
Speak up. If you have been short changed, say it. If someone is being unethical, report it. If someone is being unfair, require them to have to publicly defend themselves. Only those doing wrong ask for secrecy, and roaches love darkness. It is time to shine more lights on abusers to the benefit of all.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Recall the Wizard of Oz. In the story, it was very important that Dorothy stayed on the yellow brick road to get to the castle. Aside from the fact that the entire Wizard of Oz story was written as political satire on the vanity of following a "road" made of GOLD and expecting that to fix everything in their life (spoiler it didn't....it was a false hope given by the one that ran oz), the story does say one thing that is important... where you ARE is not as important as where you are GOING. Where does that road take you or not take you. If you are taking a golden road that is based in a false hope, you will end up as deceived as Dorothy, so it is important to determine if the road that you are on takes you where you want to go.
And, that is the other side to it...where do YOU want to go....YOU...not someone else. There are far too many out there chasing the dreams of of others and making others happy. Then, years down their road, they stop and say, "How the hell did I end up HERE...I don't even LIKE it, here." That is because no one else is responsible for how you respond or where you go, and they know much less than you what it is that you desire. If you don't stand up and speak your desire and say NO, sometimes, you will find yourself in servitude to others happiness and filled with regret of your own.
I have said to my wife, several times, and to others that I don't KNOW where I am going in my life. Indeed, how CAN you know all the steps that are ahead of you. And, knowing all of that would take all the fun out of life. As Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides...
"Better to not know which moment may be your last. Every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all."
Exactly. It is an adventure what lies ahead. However, you CAN and SHOULD take note if the path you are on CAN lead you to happiness or just misery. If you are in a miserable job or relationship, and since people don't change and management doesn't change at the top of companies but rarely, to sit in misery and expect happiness would be fulfilling the definition of insanity to repeat the same process and expect different results. However, if you can look around you and see the POTENTIAL for serendipity (happy surprises or happy accidents as the movie says), well...THAT is LIFE.
So, take an honest stock of where you are and the natural progression of events and make your life decisions based NOT on what you see today but what you expect, tomorrow....and THAT is the key to a happy tomorrow.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
The last few months have capped off my exit from a very selfish and destructive area... Tulsa, ok.
Now, I hear you saying that i should not judge an entire city, and i get it... I dislike people that do that, too... Like conservatives that judge those in California or New York. Yet, all I can base my judgement on is my own experience. So, let's talk about that experience, working backwards, of Tulsa and Oklahoma.
Today, I had to spend hours on the phone calling Uhaul, because after I used their truck two weeks ago for 4 hours and paid on the spot for it, i got another charge, today, for the additional costs of having the truck for 2 DAYS and paying late... Neither of which were true. Yet, upon being informed of this...NO ONE wanted to take the responsibility of refunding the money.
The reason for having to use their truck in the first place is the next point... Leaving my Broken Arrow apartments, the Heights of Battlecreek. To say this complex messes up some things is to give them undue credit. The fact is things were always messed up. In the time I lived there the gates were broken more than they were working, which was true of the washing machine at the complex, also.
But, that is just the tip of the iceberg. They took 2 separate summers to come out 15 times each summer to "fix" the a/c and that would only stay fixed for a few weeks. During Christmas day, last year, they put stickers on cars throughout the complex threatening to tow cars that had low tires. However, we renewed our lease in January, which included a rent discount for renewal. Yet, I noticed i was paying more. So, I began inquiring and being told they were right. So, I asked for a detail of my charges (they never sent receipts) and confirmed a few months into my renewed lease that we were being overcharged.
But, we stayed on there, till I got a job offer in Texas and gave them a 30 day notice. Upon getting the notice, the apartments sent me a document with two choices... Either pay back your rent concession and 3 months rent or keep paying for the apartment till they got it rented out. I chose the second option. Yet... 1 week later and still within the month notice (we had not reached move out date) we were charged 4000 dollars. Of course we could not afford that and had to rush out (thus the uhaul), leaving many of our things behind. The apartments response..... Why did you leave? I don't know... The 4k dollar bill?
But, that lack of taking personal responsibility for screwing you is, unfortunately, common in Oklahoma, whether it be a uhaul or an apartments complex or a job where the managers take no time to learn the duties of the employees under them and assume no responsibility to train them but push all the blame for anything not done down on the least experienced people to handle advanced tasks affecting millions of dollars. My time in Tulsa was working for two such companies... IBM and Sutherland Global Services.
But, my experiences are not limited to those. Indeed, I also...
...had my sister that lived there break into my house and cart up my things to her house without asking me. When I asked for my things and an apology, I got my things and a note that said "have a nice life"
...I had the preacher that was going to perform my wedding go onto my page on Facebook the week before my wedding on my birthday to post that he hoped i find Christ, even though I had told him days before that I not only was a believer but had a Bible degree.
...yet, that kind of careless response was not new to me from Oklahoma churches. A few years ago, my daughter was in the hospital for pneumonia for a week. I texted the church where i served as a greeter for a year... Lifechurch... To explain my daughter was in the hospital and that i would have to miss some services. Yet, at no time did anyone visit that hospital, and upon my return, no one even brought it up in the volunteer circle prayer meeting. But, that doesn't shock me that much, now looking back, because most Oklahoma mega churches are only going there for their own ego and concerts... The concept that they would have to actually CARE for the hurting would be a real downer for their mood.
But... Thank God we did get away from that place, and just a few weeks in Texas has already shown me people that are interested in your life and my new apartments were offering to SAVE me money, rather than see what they could take.
I find myself saying, "Oh yeah... This is what normal is like," and I look forward to very happy days, ahead.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
"wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matt 7:13-14
....and that is the subject of this post. Namely, that the path that leads to life will often not follow the well beaten paths taken by the masses but will follow the narrow dirt road few have taken.
This is a reality that I am well familiar with, and I have followed many an unpopular path over my days, from the choice to divorce a non empathetic user to cutting off my spoiled oldest daughter to teach her responsibility to, recently, walking away from a steady paycheck in an accounting job that was working for an unstable company with poor management...BEFORE I had another job lined up and moving my family across state lines to another job, before I had an apartment lined up or a financial cushion to absorb it.
However, one think I am very good at doing is planning, long term, and that requires a focus NOT on how you feel at the moment but looking ahead at how you would feel in a future time and planning backwards. A result of this is that sometimes, you may ... for example... walk away from immediate financial stability, when you see that the job will lead to financial instability and employment history black marks for having stayed where you were. Also, it makes it easier to be sleeping on an air mattress in a new apartment with most of your stuff a state away, if you can look around you and see all the framework in place for a VERY happy future, long term.
I like to do fitness, and anyone that has exercised understands this concept, because exercise is hard and may hurt in the short term. However, it is an activity that leads, naturally, to a better you. The same is true for any choice to step away from immediate stability, if it is a stability that does not lead to happiness. You will lose that stability in the shot term, but it is ONLY from that risk and venture that you create the vacume for better choices to follow.
As has been the case for all of my choices to step away from negativity, you will find few supportive from the crowd of others that, themselves, choose stability over happiness, as well as a little jealousy. But, then, you are not living your life for them, and they do not have to live your days following their advice. The only one responsible for you is you.
So, step out from the crowd and take the path that leads to life, no matter how obscure and original it may be. It is an adventure that will leave you with stories to inspire others on the journey, and adventure is the point of life.