The 2003 Cubs Collapse as a Microcosm of Life

I was thinking, as I always do and it usually lands me in hot water, about the 2003 Cubs and how the resulting Steve Bartman interference caused the impending doom of the team to reach the World Series. Everything unraveled in such a way that it was like watching a train wreck – you couldn’t take your eyes off of it and you knew the ending was not going to be pretty. And today is that infamous anniversary of this train wreck.

Steve Bartman

However, the biggest issue surrounding this collapse was blaming Bartman for starting the butterfly effect. We’ll never know whether it was Bartman or not but humans are notorious for blaming (me included). And it is a very difficult task to overcome. To refresh your memory; Bartman reaches out for a foul ball as most baseball fans would’ve done – this causes fan interference – runs score and the Cubs lose the game – the next game the Cubs lose again – no World Series. This was further complicated as the Cubs were up 3 games to 2. So close and yet…

So what about life? If an action I take sets some mystical aura in motion that then has an impact on your life am I truly the conduit for the change / impact to your life or am I merely a part of the process? If we were predestined to follow the paths we do in life (unbeknownst to us) then is it really my fault for setting in motion those events that change your life? Or is it just life and your ability to deal with the changes?

Many of us will say it’s our inability to accept the changes that we are dealt and we should be stronger in doing so. Yet, we don’t truly believe this for ourselves because we continue to assert blame in various ways.

We blame the President for a bad economy although the motions for a bad economy were ever looming. Wives blame husbands for their discontent when it might be more to the matter. Children blame parents for the way in which they behave. Nations blame nations for tragic and unfortunate circumstances impacting their individual citizens.

In some cases the responsibility clearly lies with the firestarter – such as Hitler where we can all agree he was the culprit. Yet, life is full of choices. The choice to follow someone like a Hitler. Or another example is slavery. Many blacks were forced to come over on slave ships. And we all agree there is some blame for the African-American’s plight to overcome. Yet, many people feel that by now blacks should’ve already overcome. Take responsibility. Yet, there were so many other elements to add into the history and mix that make this almost an impossible scenario to accept the singularly responsible trigger.

So we stay hypocritical in aspects of life in which we can relate and we stand resolute on our beliefs in other circumstances where we do not comprehend. We are complex individuals no doubt, but ultimately it comes down to choice. And the choices we make can be deadly (to ourselves or families), might be wrong (Sarah Palin as a running mate), or cause more madness about us. But we do have to accept that our responsibility in all this does matter and has unseen consequences.

Are you willing to totally accept your own responsibility and the butterfly effect you have on life or are you still prone to think other individual’s actions are the reason you are where you are in life with mountaining barriers to overcome? The choice is yours, but choose you must. Good luck with that.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Greatness Abounds in All of Us

Derek Jeter’s recent act towards retirement ended in his game winning walk-off homerun. This was an amazing act almost to the script of his career. He will go down as one of the best shortstops in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). All the while I thought to myself – that’s nice, but each of us has some greatness or great moment within us. Yes we do!

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Whether you had your great moment when you were a teen or you are 80 greatness must be available for everyone. God wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can’t imagine there is no one on this Earth that presumes they don’t have it in them. I would challenge each and every one of us whether this to be true.

I don’t write this just to instill positivity in your day, which is easy to do when you are pumping up individuals concerning greatness, but it is the truth. I want my kids to understand their ability to be great. I want my nieces and nephews to know that they are great. I want my cousins and friends to realize the greatness in them.

Greatness is not reserved just for the likes of Derek Jeter. It is available and recognized for all.

And when you build on that great moment as Jeter has his entire career you come away with greatness beyond measure. A beautiful thing when you are paving your own road of life. But you don’t stop at one moment of greatness, although it is nice to reflect, but you catapult yourself to the next. Then to the next moment, and so on and so on until you look back and you smile at all of the great things you have accomplished. There is nothing wrong with admiring the road you traveled. It was YOUR road and YOU deserve to reflect on how you made. Some might even say, “Glory to God!” for the path they took.

Do not sell yourself short of your greatness. Do not boast about your ability to be great. Do not expect greatness to just appear in your life. You…just do it. (Sorry Nike, the phrase fit well.)

Greatness will follow the hard work you put in. It will show up at your doorsteps when you least expect it. It will follow you in life if you dedicate yourself to doing what is right.

And now, as I prepare my kids for school and life I am reminded of their opportunities for greatness. I am only here to clear the paths and allow them to be. They have already done some great things at their young ages, thus, we can all look back and tie these moments together creating a collective string of greatness. In the end they will appreciate their accomplishments and will hopefully continue to build on them.

Therefore, take this as encouragement for yourself – even if you don’t need it – but go out and be great.

Go well and with love good peeps.

BFFs For Real!

Best Friends Forever – or something like that. Regardless, the truth of the matter is the meaning of true friends.

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When I recently met with an old friend (of course we are both young at heart) I could not imagine the feelings I would have as we shared in conversation. We talked and laughed and both had a general appreciation for our friendship. Our conversations picked up just where we had left them almost two years ago since last seeing one another face to face. Having a connection such as ours is special especially in this microwave age in which we live.

Therefore, it made me think and appreciate those BFFs in my life. I can imagine we all have those “ride-or-die” types that will be there regardless of where we are in our life’s journey. Think about what makes that friend special; it can be the simplest of things or actions to the more complex.

  • As for me, those moments of understanding come into play. Having an understanding of one another and how we have gone through life and the journey we each faced.
  • Providing some level of support always makes a great friend. When you turn around and there is no one else to turn to there is that friend who is willing and capable to provide support when all else seems lost.
  • A friend is a person showing a genuine level of appreciation for who you are. While we all have our hang-ups and bizarre nuances it is a treasure when we can connect with another person that still appreciates our personality and quirks. It is not always the easiest thing to do thus we should cherish this effort when we recognize it.
  • Living life to the fullest can include having fun. When you connect with a good friend you have a ton of fun – however fun is defined for you – but usually you all share a similar definition of fun that is recognized and appreciated by both. It is a welcoming experience.
  • Our desire to connect is strong outweighing the highs and lulls of life. Whether we experience down time from friends as life’s activities dictate (family, career, schooling, etc.) we can always find our ways back to common ground as we reconnect. Reconnecting is the great part. This is what brings value to our lives.

Living in this age of social mediums and instant communications we have a tendency to take our friendships for granted. We don’t purposely do this we just develop a sense of instant response and gratification – but we don’t put as much value on the long term emotional connection created with our friends as we should. I for one recognize this with my friends and I routinely attempt to call myself out to show my appreciation and support. I may not be the most together person at times but I can honestly say my heart is genuine. And I am happy that my BFFs recognize this within me and continue to call me BFF.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Don’t Rain on my Parade

I admit I’m not the most positive guy in the world, yet I’m not the most cynical, either. However, I recently had a moment of clarity that hit me like a bolt of lightening. It took me by surprise. The conversation started out innocently enough but took a turn for the worse. It didn’t reach a level of animosity or tension just an uncomfortable inward acknowledgement (to myself) that I no longer wanted to be in the conversation. And what was unfolding before my very ears was negative rain on an innocent accomplishment by precious kids – the Little League World Series US team – Jackie Robinson West All-Stars.

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For those of you out of the loop – Chicago’s own JRW team won the right to represent the US in the title game against South Korea. JRW lost in the title game but the story spread for a couple of weeks as the team made an impact on the city of Chicago and presumably across the nation. It was uplifting to see these innocent 13 year olds compete. The city needed a feel-good story given all of the violence surrounding it and the JRW team was comprised of some kids from the same neighborhoods experiencing the violence. There were other positive stories that surfaced in the aftermath and kept the city buzzing. (JRW T-Shirt Sales by Dick’s Sporting Goods) Thus, the jubilation and attention given the story.

However, there were individuals that were not so excited to hear the story. Other individuals just grew tired of the attention. Whatever the case there were people out there that became annoyed with the limelight these kids were experiencing.

And this is when I thought, “Really? We can’t celebrate this great accomplishment from these kids and put a positive meaning behind it?” 

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world – the truly magnificent accomplishments get lost because of the commercialization process that takes place. And other not-so-magnificent stories rise to the top because of the sensationalism attached to them. It might be time to right the wrongs.

I for one was pretty happy to see the accomplishment – even as it took off to unprecedented levels here in my fair city. It was refreshing to hear news of this feat and how the kids became temporary celebrities. The smiles on their faces was priceless and the air across the city was captivating.

We should all have moments where we can latch onto the good. Take a look around and observe your surroundings. Eye a good story and cherish it. Focus on those positive situations and relish in their aura. Many of us don’t take the time to do this as much as we should. Some of us will even accentuate the negative before pointing out the positive. If you are one of those type of people do us all a favor and keep your negative thoughts to yourself. Let the rest of us enjoy our parades.

Goodbye and Hello

My weekend is filled with blissful fun – like packing and moving. Woo-Hoo! Nothing screams “change” like a new residence. The old residence contains family memories neatly packed away in U-Haul boxes awaiting the arrival of a few young men to complete the transition; while the new residence is a welcome change in eliminating strife and confusion from a wayward marriage. We all welcome these moments as we move past the pain, heartache, and sadness and look forward to new horizons.

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As I packed, I flipped through numerous pictures of me and my family. I looked through albums and smiled as I gazed at the pictures of the births of my kids. The pictures brought me back to all of those wonderful times captured in the four walls of the brick and mortar we called home for so many years. I smiled.

I rid myself of the various toys played with by the kids. I remember nearly every single toy I purchased and when my kids played with them. It’s a wonderful thing how the memories come flowing back. I caught myself basking in the moment. I smiled again.

The items left behind from my previous garage sale were stacked kindly along the curbside awaiting future homes to be adopted by other families. Neighborhood kids rummaged through the newly found treasures making their careful choices among the loot. I smiled again.

And as I prepared my new residence for the arrival of my “stuff” I felt a peaceful calm overtake me. I had a brief moment of bliss that I had not felt in a long time, a feeling that reminded me about the good in life. These are new beginnings, accomplishments through the storm, my kids and their smiles. I can’t help but smile again.

I’ve traveled a long road toward this moment as many people have and I haven’t cracked to the point of no return. I have held steady as I wound my way around those evil moments. I am nervous as any would be, but I feel I am in a good place. My mental capacity is strong, and I see the reaction of my kids to the new surroundings. They feel comfortable and secure even with less. And for this I smiled.

When it’s all said and done – even through the tedious tasks of packing and moving reflections of life are bound to occur. These reflections will be of the good and not-so good of the memories created through my family experiences. I can recall days which I can explicitly recount what we did as a family, the laughter that filled the room, and the smell of the family meal. All these events are happening simultaneously in my mind. The memories may be gone, but I have new ones waiting.

My kids see the change to the new residence and they embrace it. I see the event of change approaching and I slowly make my way toward it. I hope to embrace this change with the desire it will continue to rid me of my pain. I feel there is a positive smell of change in the air regarding my new residence with the smell catching me just under my nose and pulling me closer to acceptance. It pulls me toward the direction where my new future awaits. I smile again for the last time in my current humble abode.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Time to Face the Change, Cha-Cha-Changes…

This is a significant week for me in terms of my transitions. My life is about to take another turn, albeit a welcomed turn, but a turn nonetheless. It’s MOVING DAY! Yah!

I hate moving. It’s annoying, tiring, and never seems to be worth the effort.

I can’t end my procrastination (hence my writing and avoidance) when it comes to preparing for this inglorious day. However, I have moved so many times in my lifetime you’d think I was cool with this (at least 30, but hey, who’s counting). But I’m not.

I remember my college days when my roommate and I moved when I got off work – at 10 PM! Yes, we went until about 4 AM. Let’s just say a lot of beer was consumed during the time.

Then there was the time I moved into my first house some years ago. My friend and I had to move an old, heavy 10ft couch and decided the best spot for the couch was the trash. Unfortunately, the small access areas throughout the old Chicago apartment complexes caused us some difficulties in throwing it off the back stairway. The couch got entangled on the back fence after we tossed it from the 3rd floor. This forced us to do acrobatic tricks in untangling the mess we created. It rained cat hair and loose change for an hour.

There was the moment of clarity when I felt “I’m getting too old for this shit” when I literally had two full 18ft U-Haul truck loads to complete. My small army of volunteers was exhausted from the full day battle. However, I did provide libations at the end of the day and we even had one for our fallen homie who had to “cut out early because of family.” Grrrr.

I finally reached moving nirvana when my employers moved me (multiple times – sweet!). I sat back and watched the magic occur. However, I did have to supervise as they would have packed my sleeping cats if I hadn’t stated “those aren’t statues.” I remember unpacking one of the boxes and it was my kitchen garbage can full to the brim with trash. Talk about being thorough.

So here are my pointers to consider for your DIY move:

  1. Plan as much as you can ahead of time. This is easier said than done but it will prevent you from stressing.
  2. Take a moment and pack a box here and there throughout your hectic week.
  3. Make lots of friends; and then enlist them when the time comes. It’s not manipulation but it is investment for your future.
  4. Get rid of shi…stuff. I know it’s not easy but we are all guilty of holding onto stuff. Like you I’m always hoping there’s that six-figure check I misplaced and happen to find during the move.
  5. Stock up on your favorite beverage to keep you motivated. This includes beer, wine, whiskey, Diet Mountain Dew, or whatever your heart’s desire to help you make it through the event.
  6. Make sure your beloved pets stay clear of packing hands.

Have fun! Regardless of the pain of moving, both physical and mental make it an outing to cherish. It not only gets you through the time but it will become a cherished memory itself.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I No Longer Value Your Opinion

I’m sure we have all been there at some point in our lives. We all have had to deal with a person in whom we once thought highly of and later they mean nothing to us. A friend, a coworker, an ex, your parents, or maybe even your own children have fallen into this category. And something happened along the way and your mind began a slow transformation in where you no longer valued their opinion. I get it.

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A number of thought factors help influence this paradigm shift:

  1. Our minds might become clouded with animosity and resentment. We always hear the phrase “do not let resentment settle into your heart” but it is easier stated than practiced. Hatred and resentment do not go well with living a healthy life.
  2. Stupidity as a measure. It really bothers me, especially in discussing politics and religion where people are unable to have decent conversations about tough subjects. These subjects are very emotional and pull at the heartstrings of who we are, thus, making it difficult to see any other side of an argument. The word that comes to mind is closed-minded. Therefore, we are quickly apt to label folks as stupid. And trust me, I believe as you believe there are some stupid people in this world.
  3. Indifference is that kick-in-the-ass word that really hurts. It says, “I don’t give two-shits about you enough to even think about your well-being let alone your opinion.” It is the idea that the person you project this feeling upon is less than human and does not deserve to be valued, whatsoever. Kind of like an amoeba – you don’t recognize it is there.
  4. Hurt, pain, unforgiving all lead into this scary hole in which we feel less and less inclined to be thoughtful of another human being. If you hurt me, cause me pain, I might find myself in a situation where I am unable to forgive you. If this occurs you no longer have any value to me in my life.
  5. Distrust – too many times people might find themselves on the verge of being distrusted by others. You can lose your job because of your inability to follow through; your marriage might crumble because of broken promises or infidelity; or you may have no substance in your words therefore creating an empty shell of a human being. Whatever the case might be these things lead to broken trust and open the door to devaluing any words that might come out of your mouth (or the mouth of the person you distrust).

Is there nothing we can do about these things? To the contrary we have the power, truly, to overcome anything!

I’m not saying we can change stupid people or we can continue to trust untrustworthy people, I am only admitting the fact that we can look at how we view these individuals through our own lens. It is in the power of our minds to shift our thinking. It is a practice we should all employ. It is helpful in the long run to try to think about individuals we put into these categories in a different way. It won’t be the easiest task to accomplish but it will make sense in the end. And who knows, it might even encourage a positive transformation in others.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Everything is AWESOME!

…when you’re living in a dream!

Yes, according to the fun kids movie Lego Land everything is awesome as long as you conform, keep life light, don’t focus on the hard stuff, and work as a team. Woo-hoo!

But seriously, life is awesome. It is full of beauty and magnificence. It is pleasurable and wonderful. I look around my wonderful city of Chicago everyday and I am reminded of these pleasures. Therefore, I enjoy taking a moment in my crazy world to acknowledge just how awesome life is.

Regardless of the trials we face and the pains we all feel – because they are real – we should always be reminded of how awesome life is. YOU are awesome! I AM awesome! WE are awesome together!

Now go tackle that day with all of your awesomeness!

O-M-G! Am I Really Incapable of Love?

What if you discovered something about yourself that was so hideous, villainous, outrageous and terrifying that it pained you to think about it? What if you woke up one day looked in the mirror and discovered you were the boogeyman, albeit wearing a nice crisp Kenneth Cole shirt with Levi straight legs? What then would you do as you left your humble abode to venture out into the world exposed for all to see? What if? Accept what has become? Push it aside as a non-truth? Or face it head on?

In a recent conversation about L-O-V-E (I shudder at the mere mention of the “L” word) I was the Peanut Gallery throwing small bombs of negativity. In true fashion to my pessimistic, sarcastic, and insensitive characteristics I had difficulty answering the simple statement.

L-O-V-E is _________.

Of course I could have wordsmith and found a very poetic description to fill in the blank. Or I could have quoted Biblical scriptures stating the prescribed definition – say it with me you scholars – I Corinthians 13:4. I might even make light of the moment and awkwardly provide a voice of humor sheepishly masking my real feelings. But the real challenge for me was I could not answer honestly. Maybe it’s just me or maybe some of you have gone through this. But how do you answer a question if you are unsure of the context? Better yet, is it possible that we don’t know what we don’t know?

And I may not know what love is. I don’t mean the love I have for my children, or my parents and siblings. Or the love I have for my friends. Or even the love I have for my cats. But what about love for a significant other?

In my marriage I often felt I was out of my league with love. My past relationships were brief compared to others. I never really engaged with another human being on such a deep level that I found myself shallow of thought. Yet, I felt encouraged and hopeful because I had seen an example of love through my own parents. I also believed in love as I was growing up. But something happened and my beliefs were shattered. I felt ill equipped to nurture my loved one as needed or to show compassion when required. I was headed for a bad turn and I didn’t see any way around it. And there it was – THUMP! I hit a wall of despair and my marriage and family crumbled. In the accident I was relieved of all sympathetic thought and any desire to show another human being love.

Therefore, I became incapable of holding onto one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Maybe I held onto the pain of a bad breakup time and again. Or the loss of my puppy as a child deterred me from loving again. I have felt there is nothing harder to overcome in life than the sadness caused by broken dreams. I have been depleted of emotion giving way to a shell of my former self in an effort to protect. In the long run I know this is an unhealthy place to be. Therefore, I recognize where I am and I move forward in correcting this trait.

I can love again.

If I focus on fixing ME the rest will follow. We all hear and many of us ascribe to the idea that we must be made whole. Making ourselves whole is a matter of discipline and introspection. It might be a painful process in the beginning but the results will be magnificent. Butterflies aren’t born beautiful they evolve. And so must I. Musicians George Benson and Whitney Houston (rest in peace) sang it best in the song The Greatest Love of All – “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

This sounds like a good starting point for me.

Escaping My Reality if Only for a Moment

I started my weekend and enjoyed the refreshing conversation from an old friend. I basked in the aura of my offspring playing games of truth and dare and other innocent pleasantries. I relished in the atmosphere of a wonderful restaurant talking about life’s beauty while drinking cocktails. I had an unplanned but welcomed visit with a college bestie as we enjoyed conversation while being surrounded by beautiful women living a luxurious life of wining and dining. And finally, I had the pleasure of being in good company to round out my weekend of bliss.

And in one moment – POOF! I am reminded in ways that life is still revolving around me and I have much to deal with on my plate. My Houdini act is disrupted as I make my way back to my daily routines. I try to settle into the day in front of me but am filled with fleeting moments of pleasure that take a backseat to the humdrum of life. I long for these tingling moments like an addict that doesn’t know where his next hit will come from. And if I wallow too long the funk will overtake me filling me with despair and indecision.

But this is the life we live, looking for escaping moments to fill the uncomfortable voids in our lives. We expect these moments to last forever. We hope to piece these precious moments together to mask the sadness we might feel when the moments are through. Sad feelings engulf me as I wait in traffic thinking about the upcoming work events; or hear the morning news of death that surrounds us; or thinking of my own health challenges and hoping for resolution. I expect we all have these moments come upon us in some form or fashion; however, we all strive to minimize the influence these moments might have over our lives.

To do this I constantly think of those pleasantries I encountered over my weekend and use these as the building blocks for increasing my quality of life measure. I look at others and I hope to solve their riddles on how they came to build on these positive moments and minimize the negative ones.

When I look around at the beauty of life I allow my mind to embrace these beauties and increase the harmonious feeling in my spirit. I think of the dinners I had and I smile. I think of the deep conversations and look forward to the next. I think of touching moments and let them intimately hug me through my mental recollection. And I think of my children’s laughter and have it be the fuel that gets me through the day.

In the meantime, I work, attend my meetings, address my health, and face life as expected. But I am thankful of having the time to escape these realities of my life if only for a moment, because all of these moments define my reason for living and it is grand.