My 2014 Year in Review…

I survived.

That’s pretty much it. I made it through. I didn’t croak, end up on America’s Most Wanted or beaten down by a rogue cop.

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I survived.

As you become older and presumably wiser you actually look at longevity as the ultimate measure of success. No more of the foolish thoughts that I will live forever, take caution to the wind or let the chips fall as they may. Clearly life doesn’t care about my longevity or yours – death does not discriminate (although being rich has its perks in minimizing this risk I’m sure).

I survived.

As some of my brethren’s lives were snuffed out at the hands of evil individuals perpetrating as police officers I continued to live my life. As loved ones fell to disease and other ailments I found myself looking to make life changes, however, not timely enough to escape the constant hurdles of health life threw along my path. I was acutely aware of these challenges and I thought to myself, “I survived.”

I witnessed by way of CNN the peculiar disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the capsizing of a South Korean ship claiming the lives of hundreds, the emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their terroristic ways, and the continued antics of North Korea. There was also the quiet killing of thousands along the Gaza strip as well as the collapse of the Ukrainian government.

However, I continued to survive.

I saw where we landed a probe on a comet with the joint efforts of the European Space Agency [ESA]. Meanwhile, while the country was in an uproar over domestic violence and child abuse Bill Cosby was about to be crucified for past indiscretions (rightfully so). The world kept an eye on America’s racial divide as an NBA [National Basketball Association] owner was booted out of that exclusive club. The Ebola virus was on the verge of kicking off a real live (or Walking Dead) Apocalyptic future – thank God it did not come to fruition.

Yet, I still managed to survive.

Germany was out winning the World Cup after a long absence and celebrations ensued across the globe. Sochi’s Winter Olympics proved climate changes are real as experts continued to warn of global warming albeit to pessimistic minds. The popularity of the 2014 Super Bowl continued to thrive as the world watched Bruno Mars croon his way across the stage. My thoughts drifted to an upcoming baseball season proving to be a farewell tour for DerekJeter.

And I was still surviving.

Same sex marriages prevailed across the land. Pot smokers rejoiced as prohibitions for recreational uses were lifted in two states. People came and went in and out of my life. I endured challenges of health and wellness while the Affordable Care Act and the State Exchanges became operational. I had the pleasure of watching my kids grow another year and I laughed and cried with family and friends. I sat back and reflected on 2014 and through this I thought…

I made it. I survived yet again and for that I am thankful.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Check out CNN’s Year End Review for further information.

Happiness is From Within

Yes it is – at least the starting point is from within.

We all hear this phrase. We all know this phrase. Presumably we all believe this statement. But the real challenge is creating that fire to ignite happiness so that it fills your soul and begins to burn brightly from within. Once it is burning it emanates on your outside for the entire world to see.

Then you don’t fret about hearing the phrase – happiness is from within – because you have obtained it.

There is no greater feeling than to be on top of the world. You will be looking down on your fellow human beings as you float among the clouds or stars. You look at them from your floating station wishing they could float with you. You breathe the clean air, you feel the warm sun, with a fresh gentle breeze whisking against your face as you glide through the pillows that were once clouds.

I remember this feeling from various moments in my life.

There was the day when I became a father. I had a son. I was on top of the world. Prayerfully I thought my legacy would live on and take this world by storm. This was a moment in time forever frozen in memory.

Then the day I became a father for the second time – but now I had a princess – a cute, wonderful, joyous baby girl. We would give her a name that accentuated who she was before we ever met her. Her name would have meaning just as my son’s; her name stands for “beautiful work of art.”

Or I would conjure up memories of my childhood when I ran the neighborhood with my childhood best friend. We would have innocent fun but careful not to bring out the wrath of our parents.

And there were my high school days with my BFF. He and I would talk for hours about life, all of life’s mysteries, and where we fit into the big picture while we lay on our backs looking up at the silvery stars.

These are those moments when I distinctly remember floating in air. I had achieved happiness. I wanted to bottle these moments and the emotions that came with them so I might retain them for future needs. Hide them in a safe haven awaiting their use for myself or others in need.

Therefore, my effort to regain my inner smile must then start from memories. If I can remember these times while facing storms I begin to have a sense of overcoming anything.

  • I can picture the faces of my children’s smiles as they run toward me when it is my turn to pick them up.
  • I almost feel my children’s little arms around me as they hug me tight before bedtime.
  • Periodically I will grab my phone and dial a friend – sometimes randomly – just to hear their voice on the other end.
  • Other moments I open up a book or read a blog [like this one] about a great story, one that connects with me at the right moment.

And then I share my thoughts with others hoping that I touch another soul searching for their own bit of happiness. And in the world in which I live we are all searching for it. And searching for it is not bad at all as long as you know the recipe on how to ignite the fire.

Go well and with love good peeps.

COMMITAPHOBIA (kuh-mit-a-foh-bee-uh) –noun

1) A man’s irrational fear of being in a committed relationship; 2) Fear of “settling down” for a man; 3) Usually a condition found with men, difficulty being faithful; 4) A man’s emotional state when dreading the thought of only being with one female companion over and over and over and over again.

Sentence: Jason had been stricken with commitaphobia as he contemplated his future with his main squeeze Sheila.

We all have heard it a thousand times. Many of us have lived through it numerous times. And some of us men have been stricken by this disease in our lifetimes. How does it manifest itself in our lives and what can we do about it?

I have studied this disease among my male compadres and am puzzled by the same results – the fear I see in their eyes as they try to live a rich, deep, meaningful life by committing to the woman of their dreams. It doesn’t matter what walk of life this poor man comes from but any man is capable of contracting this condition. And once he gets the condition it is virtually impossible for him to recover. Or at least we know it will take him some time.

Symptoms of this ailment are usually the following: a) the inability of a man to focus on one single woman; b) a man backs out of conversations that deal with commitment when initiated by said female companion; c) the desire to sexually conquer a female – ALL females; d) lackadaisical attitude toward female companions when prompted for emotional intimacy [also known as “the arm’s length syndrome”].

Studies have shown more than 50% of men deal with this affliction yet help does not seem to be readily available. Some statistics have shown 2/3rds of the male population is screaming for assistance due to the onset of this terrible state. These numbers increase dramatically after divorce or over age 30. It is a serious epidemic in our communities. We need the government to take action and provide assistance – like mandated health care.

But wait; there is help for this affliction right around the corner!

I have personally enlisted the help of various psychologist and medical professionals to understand, dissect and learn more about our disease to see if there is a drug, similar to Viagra that can help a man overcome this fear. There seems to be hope on the horizon. I have found many times the affliction can be treated by mental stimulation. Other times it is best to wear a man down. It is also treated by constant catering to the man’s desires. Other sure proof methods show a way to a man’s heart (which is one source of this issue) is by his stomach and this still stands true.

Do not despair my female accompaniments. And do not act rash by switching gender teams (not that there is anything wrong with that). Instead, work with us men to eliminate this awful condition. Most of us men don’t want to be stuck with commitaphobia and are willing to go through treatment.

However, our studies need money. There are ways you can help. For the price of a cup of coffee a day you can save a man from this dilemma. You can help him find his way. Or you can adopt a man to wean him of his commitaphobia. It will take time but believe me it can work. I know this because I, too, was afflicted by this disease. I was a commitaphobe.

Be Blessed.

Next topic: Why are men pigs?

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.

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.

Thankful Tuesday

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On occasion I like to acknowledge that I am thankful; therefore, here is my list of things for which I am thankful…

Thankful for my beautiful kids – God could not have given me finer gifts,

Thankful for life and it’s abundance – even though in the midst of storms my life is full of abundance,

Thankful for family and friends – without others surrounding us through our turmoil we would never make it alone,

Thankful for the beauty of this world – when I look out the window and take it all in I feel Peace beyond all understanding.

What are you thankful for?