Reflections on Half-a-Century (+)

As I washed up for the weekend and ensured I had my most whitest of my tighties cleaned for whatever might await me on the eve of my biggest day of the year – my birthday – I got to reflecting.

I reflected because I was reminded how lucky I am and how great things are for me. It was a clear moment for me and I thought, “I was money and I didn’t even know it.”  (Swingers) And though I haven’t been feeling so lucky as of late I pontificated about the years gone by and the pretty fabulous life I have lived and what has been bestowed upon me. My conclusion:

I am Blessed.

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My memories swirled through my head like an old 8mm film with the voice of Morgan Freeman narrating (as he always does in my head). My emotions rose like geysers gushing from the Earth  as I sorted through the laundry list of situations and loved ones that made me smile and cry. I peeked in on my sleeping kids and stood in the doorway for a moment – thinking of their futures and the guidance I have given them. And it really finally dawned on me that I am doing okay in life’s fast-paced game.

It isn’t that I don’t have challenges about bills, love, betrayal, or the likes (wait, that sounds like an episode of Empire); but it is the fact that I am still in my right mind to shift. Shift my being to something different. It isn’t a big shift, just a nudge, yet it gives way to those memories that reinforce the good that I have encountered.

So on this eve of me arriving on this planet I reflect on the following:

  • I have a great, supportive family full of love, joy, empathy, and faith.
  • I can smell the fresh summer rain outside my window and take it in like vitamins.
  • I live in a country where I can express my thoughts, feelings, and desires and not be crucified. ‘merica, dammit.
  • I have a nice roof over my head and the heads of my offspring. This blessing should never go unnoticed.
  • I ate a good healthy meal. And even if it wasn’t the healthiest it was still a meal worth eating.
  • I can anticipate the upcoming NFL season – with or without Colin Kaepernick (but I wish him well).

I can give love to my friends and I can receive it in return.

  • I have gained knowledge through education and observation.
  • I am able to work an honest shift and be proud of what I have accomplished.
  • I am can enjoy a great beer or glass of wine or even something harder from time-to-time.
  • And I can write…however I want to, whenever I want to, and to whomever I want to. We can all create something new, every day we are alive.

These few things give me pause as the clock strikes midnight and I go into celebratory mode. I will enjoy those things around me and I will look for the good in life – because I have the power to do so. And for this I am grateful.

Go well and with love good peeps.

And Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

 

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.

The (F)Laws of Attraction

We are all familiar with the Laws of Attraction – you know – where you attract what you desire? Well, it has been stated to me by a friend that we are also prone to attract individuals that are at the same level of unhealthiness as we are.

Wait, what?

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Yup, just like that…the attraction laws go both ways. And that kind of sucks if you ask me. But it makes sense.

Let me try an example: let’s say I have some SERIOUS issues with commitment (hypothetically speaking). These issues keep me from finding a great relationship because I haven’t dealt with them head on. Maybe I have abandonment issues, wasn’t breast fed long enough, or just am anti-social (again, hypothetically speaking).

Then I meet a fine, wonderful, intelligent woman, whom I seem to connect with. However, because I have my own serious issues it is inevitable that our relationship will reveal her OWN serious issues! Her issues might not be the same as mine – maybe she can’t manage her money or has she’s irresponsible – but the LEVEL of unhealthiness of her problems rival the unhealthy level of my own issue.

So we find ourselves in a conundrum. We like the person but we don’t want to deal with their crap nor do they want to deal with our crap. And we want to start attracting healthy individuals. So, what to do?

Get your shit together, son!

Yup, it’s about that simple. Decrease the level of unhealthy issues holding you back in life. Rebuke that ‘ish in the name of Jesus! Or find a hypnotist to help you rid yourself of your issues, or at least bring the levels down to something more manageable.

I decided to create a short 5-step program [based on my experience as a PM] to battle these challenges:

  1. Become self-aware – take a moment to recognize your flaws. We all have them so don’t pretend you don’t. The first step to anything is recognizing you have something to deal with.
  2. Evaluate your flaw(s) – not all flaws are created equal, know what it is you are dealing with and determine how serious of an issue it is for YOU! No one else matters when we evaluate ourselves, so be honest and accept what it is you get to tackle.
  3. Make a plan – it doesn’t have to be in writing but it should be something that becomes tangible. Enroll in a self-help group, find a good therapist, or join a gym, no matter what it is just think of a plan for you.
  4. Execute the plan! – A plan is just a plan until you actually put it into practice. It doesn’t matter if you fail just start it. Starting is hard but it really is a matter of setting your intention and let your actions follow your thoughts.
  5. Review your progress – like any good plan-of-action a periodic review and establishing check points is a helpful way to keep your progress moving forward. I usually ask myself daily where I believe I am in my restoration process.

Don’t expect to rid yourself completely of your flaw but manage it to where it becomes a mole hill and not a mountain.

Now go out there and find a healthy love – one that is on YOUR level!

In the end, it’s always a good idea to work on who we are as individuals. However, we are always afraid to face our short-comings and we usually act like we don’t have them. But we do. And that’s okay as long as you recognize, devise a plan to deal with them, and then do it.

I, for one, will start right now.

Go well and with love good peeps.

How to Avoid Love: A User’s Guide

I have become an expert at masking feelings, not showing all of my cards, or just not having an ounce of emotion flowing through my veins. In sports it’s a good thing – “that boy has ice water flowing through his veins;” in relationships, uh, not so much. Let me preface this article by stating that I am not a SME [subject matter expert for non-corporate types] nor have I ever slept at a Holiday Inn proving that I’ve gained some universal knowledge about the subject. I just simply like to think out loud and capture that shit in a blog.

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I’ve noticed through various exploits and other accidental mishaps that I’ve become a stone of a man. Maybe it was all of the Jägermeister I drank, drunk, consumed throughout my life but somehow I seem to have become devoid of feeling. Now I don’t mean feelings for my kids or my mama don’t creep up every now and again, but feelings that are expected in relationships. Don’t get me wrong – I want to have these feelings percolating through my being but they just don’t seem to be happening. Therefore, I thought it best if I just prescribe how I deal in hopes of providing some kind of guide to the other misguided and disenfranchised men out there in dating land. NOTE: in the words of the great Jimmy V, “don’t ever give up, don’t ever give up,” (even though it might appear that I have by writing this column).

The Guide

  1. Avoid prolonged and unnecessary eye contact when out on a date. She’ll give you those puppy dog eyes and next thing you know you’ll be buying rounds for the whole got-damn bar!
  2. Do not engage in small talk after work. I get it. You’re tired, you wish you had someone to talk to. You want to be heard. But, don’t give in. It’s better to stay silent and go into listening mode rather than engage in the fact that your co-worker is an ass and it’s getting on your last nerve.
  3. Ignore compliments – even though they feel reeeaaaalllll good. Let’s face it men, we’re like women in this way in that we want to hear how good we look, how strong we are, or how well we screw. Those are all compliments that get the best of us. And before long you’ll have a hoop through your nose while being strung along like a pregnant mule. But hey, if you’re happy about that I’m not one to judge.
  4. Say stupid shit. Like this blog. And you’ll be sure to avoid any possibility of love seeping into your heart and you being captured like a wild boar. Image result for roasting boar cartoon Roasting over a flame. In the middle of a jungle. Lost.  Damn, that imagery just sucks.
  5. Never, and I mean never, bring your kids around. God knows, she’ll do some nice stuff, the kids will be impressed, then you’ll hear about her for a long time to come. Better to keep the kids guessing.
  6. Get a job! Shit, any job. Three jobs. Stay busy. If you just do that you’ll stay lonely like a mutha. (Just buy a lot of those magazines like The Source or Smut.)
  7. Follow the relationship advice of our male compadres. We don’t usually fare well in this arena so it would only make sense that you’d listen to the gibberish coming out of the mouth of your bro; because your bro is so knowledgeable about sport’s and statistics it makes sense he knows about the opposite sex.
  8. And finally, don’t be such a mama’s boy. How can you turn your back on a woman you damn near fell in love with if your mama says, “so-and-so is such a nice girl?” Before you know it you’ll be saying “yes, dear” for many years to come.

And finally, follow Steve Martin’s “Lonely Guy” for further advice.

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Go well and with non-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.

Music as a Reflection of My Personality

Growing up I had quite the eclectic taste in music as evidenced by my collection. During the days of vinyl and early compact discs, affectionately known as CDs, I racked up an impressive inventory of popular, soulful, rock, punk, new age, jazz, and every genre in between. My music collection was even admired by the crooks that broke into my apartment and stole my entire collection. Incidentally the crooks broke into my neighbor’s apartment the same day but left my neighbor’s CD collection barely touched. My neighbor embarrassingly stated the crooks had a pretty good musical acumen.

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However, for me my selection of songs always seemed to come from some deep place in my soul. Music, as we all agree, can reach the depths of our souls and provide us some type of haven for whatever emotional experience we are dealing with at a given moment. This is no different for me, thus I’m not saying anything new. But what I do recognize is where my mind is as a given song “speaks” to me. My awareness is critical to understanding things about myself.

I have recognized the hills and valleys of my emotional journey and have come to appreciate and manage through most of those times. So far so good considering my stupid ass has made it this far in life.

When I think of some of the bands or lyrics I have connected with and how they spoke to me I shiver. From my beloved Circle Jerks to the heavenly voice of Yolanda Adams I have experienced a musical rollercoaster – sometimes all within a day. Really? I can go from punk to gospel within minutes? There is something seriously disturbing about this – but at the same time quite interesting.

I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything

But then again I was thinking about nothing

And then my mom came in and I didn’t even know she was there she called my name

And I didn’t even hear it, and then she started screaming: MIKE! MIKE!

And I go: What, what’s the matter?

And she goes: What’s the matter with you?

I go: There’s nothing wrong mom

And she goes: Don’t tell me that, you’re on drugs!

And I go: No mom I’m not on drugs I’m okay, I was just thinking you know,

Why don’t you get me a Pepsi?

And she goes: No you’re on drugs!

I go: Mom I’m okay, I’m just thinking

She goes: No, you’re not thinking, you’re on drugs! Normal people don’t act that way!

I go: Mom, just give me a Pepsi, please

All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me

All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn’t give it to me

Just a Pepsi

Institutionalized – Suicidal Tendencies

What my taste have done is allow me to analyze the emotion I’m experiencing and then make some type of assessment on how to cope. Or it might open my mind to a moment when I should be rejoicing. Even more, the music might give me a calming effect [Music calms the beast] that will get me through the day. It’s all good and it is usually needed for the moment the music presents itself.

I can appreciate having this discernment about myself and the impact of music. Nearly every day I have theme music in my head for how I perceive myself for the day. It’s kind of like the Shaft music but not as cool, nonetheless, just as effective. And in my growth as a human being I no longer feel strange because of my eclectic behavior. I am still learning to embrace this part of who I am – I just need to connect with those who have similar experiences with their musical taste.

Go well and with love good peeps.