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. 🙂

 

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.

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.

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.

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

Family; Familia; Famille; Familie; Familj…

I am back from spending a wonderful weekend with family during our biannual reunion. People travel from near and far to commune, discuss, fellowship, and bask in the aura of family love. Family bonds intricately bind our family love together in a beautiful weaving way. We toss away any feelings of bitterness, sadness, or hostility for a moment to gather strength through togetherness. And it is a wonderful thing. But what really is this family bond that we feel? Is it merely a feeling or is it something more that interconnects us? And does a family start with two?

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Missing from this reunion was my complete family – the inclusion of my children’s mother. Through the challenges of divorce my family makeup has changed and it is noticeable during these family functions. However, with the support of the entire extended family me and my kids moments are no less special; different and unique but special nonetheless.

My family bond is created through the desire to belong. Many of us may believe our common blood line might have a special magnetic draw for each of our family members, although, there is no evidence that a purely physical connection draws us any closer to one another. It is our desire to be part of something special that unites us. Family gives us special moments and memories building on top of one another creating lasting memories within the recesses of our minds.

We can connect with friends that can become family. We have family members we do not have anything in common yet we desire to connect. We marry and start a new family hoping the bonds of family grow stronger than the temptations to break us apart. And we constantly search to find that special bond that moves us forward. Connecting with family is an awesome gift.

Divorce changes everything. The new family you created changes. Dynamics within the extended family change. Relationships are different. It is a big adjustment especially when you have had a close relationship with the extended family. Divorce also requires us to change our definition of family. My little family unit has become a splintered family – torn apart. But the bond and love we feel from the larger extended family comforts us and continue to bind me and my kids. Thus, it is crucial to surround ourselves with loving family during challenging times such as these.

I appreciate the experience my children will gain. I love how their lives are touched by relatives, both young and old, and I see how important it is for them to feel connected beyond one side of their two parents. They will have a unique experience for their lives as they develop and nurture the bonds of family. My rich family history shows my kids there is much more to gain from a splintered family beginning. And it is up to me and their mother to help balance these experiences so as to not neglect one family side versus the other. There is nothing more valuable than being accepted and belonging to a tribe – and that tribe is what we call family, regardless of how it is created.

Did I Get Married for the Wrong Reasons?

When I was a boy discovering my sexual appetite all I did every day was to stare at every female booty on this planet. You know, hormones kicked in. And it wasn’t so much I wanted to have sex with any booty that jiggled but I had a deeper, more complex plan. I was beginning to look for the perfect woman, companion, and confidant that I could not only share my inner most secrets but someone who would not judge me for my weirdness – someone who, frankly…could make me some beautiful babies to carry on my legacy.

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Yup, that was it. A nicely hourglass-shaped, physically appealing specimen that would do the work of housing, ahem, I mean, carrying my unborn children; a woman that would become the incubator for my chicks. A conduit in which my babies would come out and look at me and say, “Hey Daddy Dan, I’m here to carry on your good name!” Thus, it wasn’t sex alone that drove me to marriage but the desire to carry on a legacy through offspring. Every man has this desire to see his “shorty” carry on the family name even if from afar. Little did I know my incubator would want something more? I was bamboozled.

I wasn’t really bamboozled. I was in love. Yes, some might consider my view of my potential wife shallow and short-sighted. But I did want children. Women have a tendency to choose a mate, usually a father, based on some physical attributes. It has been proven when women search they desire a man that is six-foot two, built like Adonis, and can beat somebody down when provoked. This is not merely for the woman’s own viewing pleasure and sexual appetite, but it suggests when they have kids the kids will have the traits of the father. The man would be strong yet sensitive, sensual and trusting, yet tough and resilient. Truth be told, men view future baby-mama’s in somewhat similar fashion. Does she have nice child-bearing hips? Is she built proportionately? Or does she have some other physical attribute important to the man that ultimately will determine an important element about that child?

As we venture through this subconscious path of desires, reality usually steps in and brings us back down to Earth. We are generally happy about our babies once they’re born. We care less and less as our babies mature and we pray they are healthy and capable. And we also find some deeper connection and love for the woman that produced the baby for us and she is no longer just the vessel that contained this life form until its birth.  We men do understand the importance of the role.

Thus, it isn’t all about marrying the type of woman that is going to provide you with kids that you subconsciously desire but also a woman in whom can be a good parent. Men desire someone that is a partner and can assist in the duties of child rearing. You want someone that is capable of raising and nurturing a small human being to be the best person they can be.

Concluding, I didn’t marry for the wrong reason, but it was one of many reasons; although, it is a big reason and should not go unnoticed. However, through maturity, that reason – how good of a child can my future spouse and mother of my kids provide me – is less and less important. More important is the love I have for my kids even in the midst of a marriage gone bad. For they are still the legacy afforded to me from a Higher calling. And I am pleased.