Survivors of Marital Bliss

61 Years and Counting…

On May 5, 2017, my parents will celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary.

6 – 1 or sixty-one or seis-uno (okay, I made that up).

But still, 61! The proclamation of this anniversary is not to admit my own years on this planet, although, not near 61, but to expose what it takes to make 61 years of marriage.

Thought bubble: didn’t Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris have a 61 milestone at some point? I digress…

We all have either blessings occur in our lives or a little luck or some combination of the two. We might have good things occur on occasion or bad things that occur in bunches. And every time we overcome those obstacles or celebrate these good times one thing is certain – we made it through.

Making it through isn’t just about you – although you might think it is – but it’s about everything around you. It is how you leave an impact on this world or how you touch (influence) others. And usually we aspire to touch in a positive way.

Therefore, to put in perspective of the magnitude to survive this momentous occasion I want to explore the significance of “making it.” I thought and wrote about one statistic at a time and in no-particular-order; although the first is most significant to me:

  1. Today’s divorce rate is a whopping 50 percent! The odds of making it past year 8 is off the charts – you can take that ‘ish to Vegas, baby. And may the odds be forever in your favor.
  2. Surviving military service during the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. Downright lucky to have survived both let alone the streets of the inner-city.
  3. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, and all kinds of other bogus shit that crushes us humans daily! To survive the percentages is nothing short of a miracle. logo.png
  4. Car crashes is still a major killer in America. Count yourself lucky if you have avoided a disastrous outcome via unsure hands at the wheel of a steel killing machine.
  5. Natural disasters – thes
    e are easier to avoid if you stay put – but if you’ve traveled the world to Timbuktu and back you are liable to have encountered a disaster or two. Not my folks.
  6. Raising a shit-load of kids and staying the course. Hey, if one of the parental units said, “f- this, I’m out!,” I couldn’t be mad at them.
  7. One in four black men in prison – NOT my daddy!
  8. Shot by a cop – this would have been easy pickings back in rural Mississippi, circa 1950, but, alas, the good Lord was watching out.

And there are multiple other challenges, ahem, “opportunities” [as we like to call them in business] where my parents overcame or luck was on their side for their longevity.

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But I will say this – commitment, perseverance, respect, admiration, being on one accord, and love is the glue that held them these 61 years. And for that, I feel truly blessed to be witnessing this rare occasion. Good job parental units. Well done. I pray God will see you through many more anniversaries.

Now each of you go find your life partner to help you achieve that 61.

Go well and with love good peeps.

 

My Tank’s on ‘E’

I don’t remember when I heard the phrase love [emotional] tank but I do understand the concept of it needing refills on occasion.

It didn’t register with me in the past because I merely thought it was sensitive speak taken from a woman’s magazine, or from that guy that always appeared on Oprah, or just some talk on the street from new-age metro-sexuals. But I must confess over the last few years it has begun to sink in. I have exhausted much of my emotions on my kids, family, friends, co-workers, and others and I have yet to fill up my tank. Therefore, I began feeling the emptiness that existed and the effects of my tank on ‘E’.

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I may be a bit late to the game, especially considering I coin myself a Man of Wisdom, but I am always open to learning and understanding. I remain open to educate myself so that I can learn from past experiences and not repeat the same mistakes…over…and over…and over…and over again!

Better late than never seems an appropriate statement at this juncture.

Therefore, I am now on a journey to fill my tank abundantly! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my tank filled by the love of my kids, family, friends, and co-workers (you know, that work spouse we all brag about), but I tend to go full throttle until my tank is nearly depleted. And this can’t be healthy. For anyone I deal with – kids, family and friends, etc.

I know what a full tank looks like and I know how if feels. I know how it drives me and provides me with the emotional nutrients to sustain me. I recognize when it’s present in me and the effect it has on others around me. I become a beacon of L-O-V-E that burns intensely. And I long for more when already my tank is full to the brim. I can never get enough.

My challenge is to position myself to receive love – because I will be better equipped to give love in return.

There is more than enough love within us to spread across this wonderful space in which we occupy. But somehow, we tend to get caught up with the craziness around us and forget what it really means to love. Fill your emotional love tank to the brim and see how it feels for you – it can’t steer you wrong. There’s nothing like operating with a full tank.

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Go well and with love good peeps.

My Growing Kids

I had a moment of clarity where life hit me in the gut. No, it wasn’t anything like a life-threatening illness or heartbreaking loss (i.e., an Ex doing you wrong…grrrrr…but I digress); it was a simple act. The act seemed so innocent in its nature – almost like a flower deciding the time was right to bloom; or a butterfly determined to leave its cocoon. No, none of these things. But, yet, what happened to me was powerful beyond words and an eye-opener to boot. I was floored when the situation presented itself as well as at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe this shit was happening to me – but folks had warned me so. And here I was, face to face with the biggest decision in my life – minus the vasectomy I decided against. The decision you ask? Well, to let me kids walk alone to the corner food store. By themselves.

Albeit – there were about 30 other kids going with them…at least that’s what I told myself. And the corner store is approximately two city blocks away, in a neighborhood in which the President himself entrust the local law enforcement to serve and protect (minus the whole “Rodney King experience” we seem to be dealing with in this current year). It was, in fact, a safe passage for my kids to take – they knew the route and simply had to follow the directions provided by me.

But I was tentative and afraid.

I wasn’t afraid that they might be snatched up from deranged lunatic or that they might encounter Bozo the Clown asking them to feel the candy deep inside his insidious pocket, but that my kids were growing up. I felt sad as a tear slowly drifted down my cheek with this realization. Of course I didn’t let them see me cry because I never do but I felt it nonetheless.

I had explained to them in the past about being careful out there in this crazy world and to know that society will not be kind to them because of their race and gender and age; but I had a sense that they were smart enough not to be taken.

I felt confident in their awareness of their environment and that they were able to discern right from wrong. For this I was comfortable in my decision to let them experience this new found independence for themselves. I remember my own satisfying experience of going to the store and dropping “Abraham Lincolns” for a bag of goodies. However, it was eating me up because they were no longer my little angels. They were growing up.

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Those of us with kids clearly understand they do not stay the same size as the playful Raggedy Ann or Andy dolls we hoped they would. We get that they will experience their own taste in clothing, music, food, and other worldly desires. They’ll zoom through life collecting these various experiences and create the being they were intended to be. And we get to sit back and let the magic happen, regardless of where we are in our experience of “letting go.”

My kids were safe. They didn’t run into a creep or a thug or even a homeless guy running game, but just simply an innocent walk to the corner store in which they spent a total of $5.56 on items I’d rather not disclose. (FYI – I was unaware cotton candy can now be bought in a cellophane bag.)

So here I was, accepting life’s facts as she threw me what was inevitable for me – my youngsters growing up. It wasn’t an easy acceptance of the truth but I had very little choice in the matter. Instead, I let go and let God (a favorite of us Christian folk) watch over them and protect them through the valley of the shadows of death and so forth.

And they returned. Unharmed. Excited. And empowered.

All because they were able to buy an Orange soda and a bag Twizzlers on their own – forging their own path for their lives and realizing the power of independence.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Confronting the Bully

A strange thing occurred this morning as I walked my offspring to school. We ran smack face-to-face into a kid who has been bullying my boy.

I only recently found out about this bully who is older than my 9 year old and much bigger. As with any bullying story the described bully tactics made me angry and even fearful for my child’s well being. My very reason for the school drop off this day was to ensure the school was acting appropriately. Little did I expect to encounter the young thug and his cronies.

My son didn’t point out the bully to me, we just walked past him. However, I could tell by looking at my son that this was the bothersome kid. My son kept staring straight ahead as we beelined for the door. My daughter was with us and her involuntary signals gave the perpetrator’s identity away as well. And I was beginning to fume.

My kids ran off to the lunch room as I made my way for the office. I expressed my frustration and displeasure about the previous incident and demanded it be handled correctly, otherwise I would handle it myself.

I only felt somewhat satisfied as I left the office back out into the frigid Chicago Fall air. Thoughts were running through my mind on how me and my family came into this situation. I was not bullied as a child and I didn’t understand why kids did it. Heck, I even came to the defense of the bullied souls back in the day. However, the only thing that mattered to me now was my son’s safety, and no disrespecting bastard of a kid was going to cause issue with my boy.

Then it happened. It almost felt like time paused for a moment as the Universe (or maybe God) cleared the path for me to confront the bully as I left out of the school. He and his partners were still outside talking. He was looking directly at me as I slowly approached him. I knew it was him.

Without hesitation I pardoned myself into their conversation and I began talking. I asked him if he bullied my son and he sad yes.

I said to him, “listen my man, we all need to be sticking with each other ya know? My son needs friends and doesn’t deserve to be harrassed. He’s a good boy and needs someone to be a leader not a bully. Can you be a leader to my son and others instead of picking on them? Can you be that person they look up to instead of fearing? Man, I’m counting on you to be better and do better, my man. Can you do this for me?”

The little boy was intensely focused on me as I spoke to him. His eyes were a beautiful soft brown and his complexion was smooth. I could tell he really wasn’t bad at all, just misguided and probably mis-parented. I felt for this little sixth grader.

He looked at me and shyly stated “yes I can.”

I said, “Thank you. I know you can.”

All the while I kept a fairly stern demeanor not wanting to show all of my cards. I wanted him to know I meant business yet I was willing to work with him. I asked each of the boys their names and said I was counting on them to be better and to befriend my son.

I’m not sure where my talk will take them but I hope it resonates in their souls and they understand the role they were playing as bullies is not as becoming as the role of a leader.

Go well and with love good peeps. For real.

PS – Let’s stop bullying. Support your local efforts to putting an end to this nonsense.

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Get In Where You Fit In?

Kanye West’s song “Clique” says it best: “ain’t nobody f*king with my clique, clique…Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique…” Well, some of you know the rest.

And what about getting in with a gang of folk? Who are my homies? What makes up my clique?

If you’re like me you might wonder whether you even fit in a defined group. I’ve never fit in just one group. I sometimes felt like an outcast searching my way through trying to get in where I fit in. Or should I fit in where I get in? Conformity. I tried this as well but it didn’t do it for me. Thus I was an empty vessel adrift at sea looking for similar vessels as me.

When you come from a diverse upbringing it may add to these feelings of exclusion. However, other people come from a homogenous environment and still feel the same. Those of us who feel this way usually fumble our way using a trial and error approach hoping and wondering whether we will find that friendly clique there for us. It is only human nature to belong to something; defining that “something” is the key.

I went through my punk rock stages but I didn’t dress the part.

I tried on hip-hop fashion, but didn’t dress that smart.

I even bought a pair of cowboy boots only to realize I wasn’t a Southern bunk.

It wasn’t even the clothes I was wearing that would hide my dismal funk.

When I was a young lad my father said to me and my siblings, “ya’ll are different because of your life experiences. You will forever have to deal with this.” He was right. We traveled around the world due to his job and always found ourselves trying to get in where we fit in. But what I didn’t realize is that eventually I would find my diverse clique merely by the laws of attraction. When I stop trying to fit in the universe guided me to where I needed to be.

The journey has taken me some time over my years and now I am lucky to have such a diverse group of influencers. These friends and family are all unique and I suspect we have all felt very similar with this journey. And the great thing is recognizing our uniqueness and cherishing it. It has made me a more enlightened individual who understands the value of being unique brings to our world.

So I finally found my clique, clique, clique. And ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique, clique.

But the Words Just Slipped Out

I know I just met you and we’ve only just begun to hang out. And yes, I think you are the most beautiful creature this Earth has created. I couldn’t find another like you if I searched all four corners of the globe! I know you will bring the best out of me and me of you. Seriously, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Is this real or is it just fantasy? I…I…I feel a little confused because of this feeling. Yet, I want to tell you. I want to tell you, “I love you.”

Screech! “Hold on there little pony!” my inner being states.

Back da hell up! Did it really just come out of nowhere? Did I really say what I think I said? Was it an out of body experience? Or was I transported into another man’s body as he was just popping out the most loaded phrase ever – I love you.

Three little words that carry so much meaning and can transform a relationship. These words are not to be used lightly nor taken lightly. It is the phrase that can defuse most any situation and bring back peace after a calamity. We all have found ourselves in this situation at some time in our lives; whether we were 16 or 45. And there is that moment of unsteadiness, insecurities, and nervousness before we let it rip from our lips. But when it does come forth we exhale as if we were holding our breath for a million years.

What next then? It’s like I just climbed Mt. Everest. It’s like I just defeated Godzilla. How do I top that?

You don’t.

You build on it. You live it. You nurture it. You believe it.

So goes relationships. If you both believe in these spoken words you do what you can to make it happen. You will find yourself trying to do what you can to ensure that the words you spoke are real and the meaning behind them never fades. But as our day-to-day realities set in (bills to pay, kids to nurture, a job to perform, sanity to maintain) we have a tendency to move on with our lives and the phrase begins to carry less weight as it once did. Oh, we will say it constantly, and we might even show that we mean it but the first time we spoke it becomes a distant memory. And all we have left is that diminished memory of when that time first occurred. I imagine a fuzzy picture from the past that reveals something nice without the details to show.

Some of us will continue to believe in the “love” portion of the phrase for eternity. However, I am more skeptical that can be the case – there may be too much time passed to really truly solidify the statement in our hearts and any pain received during the relationship may bury the phrase as if it were the Evil Villain from a James Bond movie. We have separated the “I” and “you” to only reveal an empty “love.” And so ends that moment we hoped would last forever.

At some point after a breakup the phrase has to be discovered and uncovered like an archeological dig. It will be carefully excavated from our damaged hearts and delicately washed to reveal its wonderful form. The time it takes to bring the phrase back to the surface depends on so many factors and is going to be different for each individual; we just know that it is possible.

As for me, I’ll keep my thoughts and words to myself for now. I will closely guard them as the treasure I believe they are. I will use them with extreme caution and hope that when the moment comes for me to release these incredible words of hope I will do so with the commitment and fervor I once did. And there will be no second-guessing or confusion, just love with a purpose – longevity of the moment.

Daddy Dan

Cheerios in My Pockets

As I came into work this morning I grabbed a bag I hadn’t used in some time. When I got into the office and pulled the small bag from my computer bag much to my surprise I found something…

A few remnants of cheerios.

These small morsels have been there for a while. I’m certain they were there when my babies were…literally…babies. It made me smile and I realized how I missed them at that precious age. I’m sure many women can relate. I wonder if men relate to this as well – I know I feel sentimental when I am reminded of my kids during the early years. The time passes by so fast. Enjoy it for sure.

To our kiddos! Love them to pieces.

Daddy Dan