Thursday, August 31, 2023

Self Esteem

 When I was in the military, and they were training us for responding to a gas attack, they told you to put on your own gas mask first.  Then, you can attend to others with their masks.  It seems odd that the first step in caring for others is to care for yourself.  However, even Jesus in the Bible says to love others AS you are already loving yourself.  It begins with self care and love.  You can’t pour out of an empty cup.

I have a problem of giving till I’m dry to others that give nothing back.  Then, I feel like a failure for having nothing left to give.  Indeed, my ex’s that gave nothing back judged me for having nothing to give in the end or my choice to stop giving one way to them.  I was so wrapped up in defining myself by seeking their validation that I accepted their judgment and felt bad for ending my self sacrifice.  But, someone that truly loved you would not be seeking you to be less or sacrifice but would want you to be more and happy.

Too often in my life have I accepted someone’s decision to not accept me as my own, when it simply meant I was not their cup of tea.  In truth, if I do not make them happy, what would I have to gain by being fixated on winning acceptance?  Either I am pleasing to them, or I am setting myself up for a rocky road that more likely than not will end in failure… which has been my experience with that.

I think if someone wants you in their life, they will dismiss minor differences or problems to keep you, and if they do not, they will look for anything to blame.  So, if someone is looking for those excuses, move on to someone looking to keep you.  Or, just be happy and look past your own issues.  But, whatever you do, don’t define your own value by those who are not equipped or willing to see your value.  Put on your own mask, fill your own cup, care for yourself.. then, you can care for others.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

 You know the lyrics..

“In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry, you make it double
Don't worry, be happy
Don't worry, be happy now
Don't worry
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy
(Ooh-ooh-ooh) Don't worry, be happy
(Ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Don't worry
(Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) Be happy
(Ooh-ooh-ooh) Don't worry, be happy”

This is an important truth I have reflected on over this week… one I used to know well and post about.  What is worry?  It’s fear.  What benefit comes from being fearful over the future.  What’s going to happen is going to happen.  Yes, you can prepare for it, but if you fear over it, you just end up losing your balance and your peace.  It’s much better to just be your happy self and make others happy.  

I know it’s not easy, especially when you have major stuff affecting your life.  In two days, I’ll be arriving at a hospital for a surgery with weeks of recovery, after.  But… that’s going to be the case with or without anxiety.  The outcome will happen with or without my attention.. in fact I’ll be out when it is going on.  So, why fear over it?  Why think about the future at all, short of as I said in preparation?

This is true in every area of your life, and I have been failing at applying it to my life.  Blame the day job I guess.  Accountants tend to think they need to control all parts of their job to be effective, even though the office never goes as planned.  Life outside the office can be the same way.  If you worry over your life and try to control things, you end up frustrated and missing a life happening around you and the joys that can be had in it.

I’m definitely not perfect with this.  It often takes a few glasses of wine to chill out enough to silence those internal worry and criticism voices so I can be in the mental state I should be in all the time… let it all go and just find joy in the moment.. or .. don’t worry, be happy.  Just live the days and let tomorrow work itself out.  That’s my intention going forward.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Life Happens


A long time ago, a popular car bumper sticker and T-shirt said, “Sh.t happens”… with all the letters but running a blog, here… ha.  The point was to say that you can’t always control what happens in your life.  That is repeated a lot out there, including a coffee cup I picked up when I worked in the kitchen and home department of a Dillards.  I like it better… LIFE happens, because it’s often the story we all face in varying degrees.  The Bible puts it that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  We all have struggles, but we don’t have to let them define us… nor rob us of happiness that can be happening at the same time.

I am in the middle of a challenge that hit me, and for a little while I let it define me… rob me.  I mean.. I didn’t completely cut myself off from the outside world, and my time with others helped me escape the bottoms of depression, but I did touch on depression and let it have a bigger hold on me than it should have had.  True.. in the Maslow pyramid of needs, I was hitting base levels, as my very safety and physiological needs of having a place to live was at risk.. I am going to be out of work and do not have a savings to withstand that… haven’t had the ability since the divorce and move down here in the pandemic and restarting my life, rebuying things, dealing with car problems, finding jobs, and etc happened.  Luckily, that is now covered, so I can spend less time in that area of the pyramid and more in things like belonging and love, esteem, and self actualization that needed and needs attention.  But, you can’t think about love and etc freely when you’re worried about base needs.

But, now, I’m turning my attention more to those things.  I will have several weeks to build on those things.  My self esteem definitely needs some work, though I think that will be easier.  I have developed that over years since the divorce, so it’s just a matter of re-inspiration and not letting others define me.  My self of belonging and love is.. I think.. best sourced in friends. If you are trying to find love AND validation or belonging, it is too easy to just go with anyone that makes you feel good about yourself and not what is wise.  I was married over my life twice to two people that didn’t give back romance or express love to me, just because they accepted mine.  I won’t do that, again.  I will be valued by my mate.  I will work to get worthy of their affection, but I won’t be a consolation prize or THEIR self esteem booster.  I will be their prize, or I will be happy being single.

But, moving off love and relationships, happiness in general is not found in waiting till or if everything goes great.  I recently saw a YouTube video of a neurodivergent girl giving a speech, and she said…

“Listen to me.  You have to stop putting conditions on your happiness.  Boo.  Don’t do that.. saying I’m gonna be happy when or I’m gonna be happy if.  That’s dumb.  Don’t do that.  Here’s why.. you’re waiting for a perfect life where you have no flaws and everything in your life is just going well.  Well, let me tell you something.  That’s never gonna happen. Sorry.  You are a human.  That means you have flaws, and your life is gonna have flaws.  Nothing is ever gonna be perfect.. ok?  So, just choose happiness.  Be at peace with your imperfect existence, because that’s all you’re ever gonna have.”

That’s a good way to end this.  Life happens.  But, that doesn’t mean happiness can’t happen with it.

Friday, August 18, 2023


The other night, I watched a couple movies about being happy being single that were recommended by a friend of mine. The first was How to Be Single, and the other was He's Just Not That Into You.. the first probably more about being happy being single, but there are elements of the 2nd that is good, including the final monologue, which I will quote.

"And maybe this happy ending doesn't include a wonderful guy. Maybe it's you... ...on your own... ...picking up the pieces and starting over. Freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is just... ...moving on.... Or maybe the happy ending is this: Knowing that through all the unreturned phone calls and broken hearts... ...through all the blunders and misread signals... ...through all of the pain and embarrassment... never, ever gave up hope."

The Past

Let's begin with my childhood.  Some people had a wonderfully loving and blessed childhood.  That's great for them.  I wasn't really blessed with that.  It wasn't HORRIBLE, but it had its challenges, for sure.  I know I point to the good and happiness not found in relationships, but my life definitely had more bad over the years than the good.  One could be amazed that I didn't become a completely bitter and angry person that couldn't love or be happy.  But, I think part of it can be explained by looking at the dark.

I grew up poor... I mean POOR.  As a kid, I didn't know poor.  I just knew what we had as a life.  I think almost everything I wore was bought at a garage sale or was handed down from my older brother.  I recall a time when we were sharing bath water for baths.  We never went hungry, and my mom is a great cook.  But, we lived on free school lunches, peanut butter sandwiches, and earning our own money for what we bought after school as a snack.  We didn't have cable.  We had an old tv and a big antenna out in our rural town that we turned with a pipe wrench to watch one of the 2-3 channels we could see for television.  But, most of the time, my entertainment was found driving my bike around town or over at my cousin's house, where they had a laser disk machine, and we could rent things.  

My dad was a hard worker, and I learned the value of working hard from trying to please him and watching him.  But, he was stressed about his own life, as well.

The town was the size of 500 people, and there was almost nothing to do.  I wore glasses, and I would be mocked and bullied over my years in that school, though my academic achievements in high school and being the sports bookkeeper and yearbook photographer would buy me a little less of that negative judgement.

I say all of that to say this.  I knew where I lived... I knew my family.  I knew our poverty, at some point.  I KNEW that if I was going to be happy, I had to make my own happiness.  So, I did... I did science experiments, I listened to music, I sketched with my pencil, I explored, I read choose your adventure books, and so on and so forth. This would carry forward into other stressful periods of my life.  Through every challenge, I was always looking forward...towards a happy goal, as I was making my days as happy as I could with HOPE for something better.

Now, I will add a criticism of that, which I have only come to understand in recent years and months.  Hope for something better can be empowering, but it can also be depressing, if it is not coming about.  So, you have to realize something of my own thinking the last days in discussion with a friend and on my own.  HOPE is it's own reward.

I used to say ... let's assume that tomorrow a tornado will tear your house apart and kill you.  Would you rather live your last day stressed and depressed about that, or would you rather live in hope and happiness... right up till it ends.  If I have a negative ending, I don't WANT to know about it.  I would rather be happy in ignorant bliss.

The Present

Right now, I'm preparing for an extended period of being stuck, face down, at home following my 3rd and 4th surgeries connected to a retinal tear, then detachment, then more detachment and a cataract that formed.  It's already been a long ordeal, and now I have to go without work pay for a month and still pay for rent and necessary bills.  To say it is a lot is to be light about it.  But... what am I gonna do?  How will stress over it change it?  The best I can do is find ways to make my own joy and hold to hope.

The Future

Hope.. not that necessarily things will all just fall into place, romantically and non romantically.  The older I get, the more I realize that success means just staying ALIVE long enough to enjoy life happening around me.  In How to be Single, Alice says...

"This story isn't about relationships. It's about all these times in between when maybe...just maybe... our real life's happening."

And, it is happening around all the negatives happening in those days, as well.  So, I will hold to hope, find my daily joys, enjoy my friends, and not let things I can't change or what I lack rob me of the joys I can find, every day.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Honey and Vinegar

You know the phrase… you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  Aside from wondering why you’re trying to please FLIES, the point is that people will want to be around you more if you are nice than bitter.

Those newest to my page.. say within 2023.. will find this harder to believe, but I used to be very… vinegar.  I spoke my mind about my independent political leanings, my questions about the vaccines, and more.  I felt like some things needed to get said, and I was contributing to the great societal discussion… I didn’t mind opposition.  I liked it when people were honestly thinking, even if I disagreed and often found them a source of information to educate me, as well… though there were times I took it personally.

However, what I found was that most people have resistance to opposing views and harden their shells and positions upon hearing different views.  Rather than changing minds, I was reinforcing them.  Further, I lost friends and turned off acquaintances.. both for my views and for being openly political.  Once upon a time, it was a firm rule that at the dinner table you did not speak of politics, religion, or other controversial things.

But, while my personal life took a toll, society grew more and more divided and nothing was improved.  I came to value recognition of the good in others, more than being right… unity over victory.  So, I stopped being political at all, publicly.  Instead of being critical, I made people happy.. said positive things and listened to others and just focused on being happier.

As a result, I have stronger friendships with people than ever.. even among those with whom I used to publicly disagree.  I have more peace in my day, and… society remains as broken as ever.. but not in my feed or my conversations.  I used to have rules like I see among those that date not to date someone that didn’t agree.. but if you don’t talk about controversial things, the only thing that should matter is.. do they love you.  So, I hope this will help others to find a path to happier days.

Echoes of Joy

More simple echoes of joy from my past with commentary.  Again, relationships CAN be a part of joy, but joy is more simplistic and broad…

In no order but as it comes to me..

- my first two years of college were full of many joys.  I think they often play a big part in helping someone become who they will be.  My first year, more joys would come from my work than my classes.  I worked at a movie theater… AMC in Lakeland.  I worked my way up from being an usher to concession to usher trainer, and finally projectionist.  I literally put the movies together (back when they had film.. I bet it’s not that way, now) and fixed breaks and more.  It felt nice to have such trust and influence, even if it was barely paid more than minimum wage.  I enjoyed going to free films (sometimes with someone.. I was wearing contacts and was more popular) but sometimes on my own, and it felt great to be making money to pay rent for an apartment that I shared with two guys and have independence.

- In the years following my first divorce, I was flying into Tampa each month to spend a weekend with my children.  Of course that brought me joy, alone.  But, I also liked driving rental cars like a Mustang or Camaro (probably my personal favorite).  I also loved to go to the Clearwater beach in the evening after dropping them off to stand under or on the pier and listen to the waves .. it carried me away to bliss… and no woman was involved, though doing it with a woman would be very nice, I assume.

Joy is not tied to a person, other than your person and your willingness to let it touch your soul.

More memories  to come…

Saturday, August 12, 2023


If you’re familiar with this blog address (before I deleted it for a few months), you had come to expect a certain type of posts.  It’s going to be different, now.  Please, give me a few minutes to explain my new direction, though.  You may find the new direction much more relevant and useful.

Forward to Happiness was initially set up as a response to my divorce, and I processed out loud a bit to help others in similar situations learn from my mistakes and my lessons learned.  It pointed towards new happiness, but it tended to point in only one direction.. towards finding new love and romance.  That is extremely short sighted and somewhat inaccurate.  While romance CAN be an element in a happy life, there are two fatal flaws in that thinking in opposite direction.

First, romance is much more than happiness.  It is also pain and struggle.  When your partner hurts, you hurt… or they hurt for you in your struggles.  Or, it’s not happy OR sad feelings but curiosity as you learn things together or about each other, awe in the wonder of things, peace of quiet security in just knowing they are there for you and more.

But, also .. happiness is found in so many other places, people, and even in yourself.  It is found in the connection with friends, the excitement of a ball game, a concert. a sunset, a discovery of a new fact, or in something you achieved in yourself or enjoyed BY yourself.  Indeed, even sex can be a singular joy, though obviously that isn’t the same as it increasing the connection to another.  Still… if you are alone, try that rather than with someone that you know is an unwise mistake.

When I was young, I was kinda nerdy and wore glasses and was kinda overweight.  So, my opinions for romance was rather limited.  The only girls I kissed before I graduated high school were at church camp.. ha.  So, I had to find other paths to joy.  I spent a lot of time by myself, and I came to like myself and my curiosity.  I found joys in building electric things, burning things with the sun and an old glasses lense, exploring with woods in my home, riding my bike, reading comic books, learning things, winning awards for learning things, listening to music, playing sports, and more.

Later, I would be married for a long time to one ex that hardly noticed me and would later repeat that error, so… again… I had to find joys in other things in those times and the time in between.  I went to Niagara Falls twice, I walked the park and explored the city of Boston, I read books to my children and played a big part of raising them, I read books, I saw art in museums and ball games and fireworks and much more…all without a woman as the source of those joys.  Did I have joys with my ex’s or others (before they rightfully ended or toxic problems were revealed)?  Yes.. but they were just a part of my happiness, and it would take me YEARS to realize that the me that was with them was still me and that the joys I experienced were still valid, even if not shared and would not remain.  THEY were not the source of MY joys.. simply the target or influence.

So, the new direction will be more broad.  There’s a LOT of means to happiness, and I do not believe and will not maintain that you should wait on a person to start enjoying them.  Make your own happiness, today… in whatever form that will take.  I hope you stick around as I build up this blog and reform it into an avenue to assist you in that process.  Thank you.