How Do You Decide?

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Choices, choices and more choices surrounded by decisions, decisions, and more decisions amidst a complicated landscape of relationships. My mind is overwhelmed as my time is limited yet the thought of sharing and giving remains an innate part of my overall being. Thus, the desire to connect in some type of way (apparently I’m feeling some type of way) is continually vying for my attention and demanding I take action. All actions will result in reactions.

Therefore, how do I decide?

Relationships are a mutha; let alone our relationships with our kids, parents, siblings, friends, etc. Yet, our makeup as human beings relies heavily on our ability to create relationships and sustain them. When you think about it – it is a very selfish act. The intended result is to satisfy the bubbling need to connect which is within all of us. Of course, you are free to live a nomadic or reclusive life and rid yourself of any true human connection.

Most of us don’t want to be reclusive – or alone. Therefore, we find ways in which we connect through church, extracurricular activities, and other social functions. Upon connecting we develop and nurture a relationship with another individual hoping for great things to come. And ultimately we sustain a long lasting relationship in which we can look back over time and proudly reflect on the journey it took to achieve that pinnacle. I imagine a Gandhi like figure sitting atop the mountain overlooking a serene and beautiful valley while mind, body, and spirit are one with God.

But before I become so Gandhi-like, I still need to decide, make a choice; take action as it relates to engaging in a meaningful relationship.

So here’s where I become creative and design a process (I know, it’s so “business” talk).

  1. Be deliberate in my actions and desires. This method is very Neanderthal-like; I knock you on the head with my club, throw you over my shoulder, and wander off into the sunset heading for my cave. A bit outdated (and quite illegal) but the intended result is achieved.
  2. I sit back and wait for a line to form as women anticipate meeting me… (crickets, crickets) Yeah, this has a very low probability for success but nonetheless, it’s an option.
  3. I can always let the chips fall as they may. There is absolutely no control in this method and I leave it all to the “universe” to guide me. What happens if the universe says “No RELATIONSHIP for you!?” (In my Nazi Soup Kitchen voice.)
  4. I can devise a very scientific approach to understanding the landscape of choices and then act on those choices very methodically. Oh, wait, eHarmony and Match.com have the patent on this method.
  5. Pray my way into a relationship. Somehow, I see this as very similar to #3 above, but this “universe” is a true serving God. However, other complications can be debated with this method (religious beliefs, science, etc.)

Finally, as I sit back and think about these methods to become engaged in a relationship the fog clears from my head and I listen to the voice directing me – be still my child. I come to the realization that I can’t force the magic of a relationship but I should anticipate its ability to be present when I least expect it. During this time my focus becomes inward as I rid myself of the skeletons and complexities I’ve created to become a renewed man. This I can live with.

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.

A Future Conversation under Mended Hearts

Hello there.

Hey, how ya’ been?

Not sure, I have had a lot on my mind. I’ve been thinking lately about our years gone by and of the pain and misery we have suffered. It’s been confusing.

Yeah, I understand; me, too. It’s like the pain never subsided but merely took a back seat to life. Not so much that it was gone it just…or rather we just…became numb; perhaps?

That’s probably it. I just want you to know –

Wait, I already know. You don’t need to say anything. I know you. I know us. And I finally get it. Maybe I didn’t at first but I do now. Yes, it took a while and life continued to go on but I do. I only wonder what would have been had we, you know, stuck it out. I just wonder. I’m not regretting because I understand, but I sometimes envision what that life must have looked like in an alternate universe. It looked…promising and pleasant.

Well, sure, but it was a really hard time; a most difficult time to overcome. I had darkness surrounding me from all sides. I didn’t even know which way to turn. It was scary at times and I wanted to just disappear.

You said that before. Move away and get as far away as possible, to another country or island. Yeah, I remember that. At the time it sounded somewhat enticing but it wasn’t realistic or practical. But hey, we all have thoughts that take us out of our current situations. Even to this day we have thoughts.

What about you? How’s life been?

It’s been good. I feel good. I am in pretty good shape considering I still have poor drinking habits but I exercise regularly and it keeps me going. Health wise, I’m doing okay.

You look good I must say.

You ain’t too bad yourself.

(Laughter)

(Then a period of silence)

Life is an interesting thing. People come and go. Some people go forever and ascend or descend into the afterlife. Others…remain. I’m always curious how those that can remain in our lives over the years do so. It’s like they are just there. When you turn around and look up they are there. When you get angry with them and after a while they are just there. It’s a beautiful thing; dedicated friendship of sorts.

Yes, it goes beyond family. It is like the people put in our lives are angels guiding us to be better, do better, and want better.

Yes, I feel ya’. Except the people put in our lives can range from positive to negative depending on your level of spirituality. I suppose any interaction should be weighed accordingly.

What were you listening to when I walked up?

Alicia Keyes. Old school slow jams.

Look at you! A renaissance man, finally, huh?

I suppose.

(Laughter)

Listen, I have to run. My wife is expecting me to pick her up in about an hour.

Yes, I understand. She’s a lucky woman.

No, I’m a lucky man. Well, maybe we’re both lucky.

Love is an interesting thing.

That it is. It was nice to catch up with you. Give my love to the kids. And take care of yourself. It was nice to see you. Your smile is always a nice smile. Keep that look – it looks good on you.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Life’s Not so Black and White Moments

Over the course of the last number of months our society has seen its share of tense conversations. These conversations should not be taken lightly but many times we find ourselves on opposite ends as we discuss our thoughts and beliefs. Beliefs that may be contradictory to your own. And I don’t presume to judge what belief is right or wrong but merely point out our very diverse thinking. Our thinking is made up of our experiences, our upbringing, where we live, where we play, our character and other influences. At some point we all merely want to be understood. Not necessarily right, just understood. Because with understanding comes acceptance.

I sometimes try to recollect those events and polarizing stories that challenge us in ways beyond comprehension. Then I try to lay them out in a way determining the significance they have on society.

My thoughts in a list:

  1. OJ – The surreal Bronco chase and then trials. Unbelievable how this segregated race to a level never before seen in my lifetime.
  2. Rodney King – Was he illegally speeding? Yes. Did the cops need to beat the crap out of him? Debatable. Did it lead to major uprisings? Unfortunately yes.
  3. The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction – Really at some point we have to face a profound truth in our desire to do what is right. We have to be honest with ourselves to recognize our proper motives. However, not everyone has proper motives.
  4. Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri – An unarmed teenager killed by cop. Now, I could add black teenager but that should not be the focus – however, based on our own life experiences the color of his skin and treatment of individuals in the area becomes relevant to the story.
  5. Gun Control – I personally don’t have much more to say then to say “look out.” There are scary individuals that jump on a variety of bandwagons and this is one of them.
  6. Police Brutality – In general, America seems to be headed toward a very strict Police State. The police are losing the title of “To Serve and Protect” and replacing it with “Beatdown when Necessary.”
  7. Corporations as humans – Much power is given to corporations or a group of rich folk as they become more engaged with human rights. We may complain about the separation of government and religion but we allow corporations more rights, albeit under the cover, than we tend to give our own citizens.
  8. The Decline of the American Family – Divorce, people marrying later, unwed pregnancies, etc. There is a plethora of blame but not much action of fixing.

This is merely food for thought. No responses needed. No LIKEs desired. Just food for thought. Lost in all of this nonsense is our future generations. The well being of our children should be what drives us to do better.

I like to believe in humanity and that we all want what is best for the good of all of us, however, I am just a dreamer. And this dream that I dream may not come to fruition in my lifetime. But I do hold out hope.

Go well and with love good peeps.

 

Poetic License

I couldn’t wait to lay my eyes on her smooth caramel complexion, soft brown eyes, and voluptuous curves. She was everything. Her mind, body, and spirit captured a place in my imagination cementing the idea of us together. I imagined the air of her breathe as it touched my warm cheek as she would lean into my face whispering life into my ear. I could almost feel her body as I thought of the embrace we would have when I met her in the doorway of her newly acquired home. Once I held her in my arms I feared I would never let go thus exposing my true vulnerabilities with this goddess of mine.

My heart was thumping loudly through my crisp off-white Polo button-up as I parked my car. The thoughts that were running through my mind reminded me of the time when I first glimpsed a cute little redhead in the sixth grade. It was an innocent recollection of desire while I became acutely aware of my climb into boyhood. And here I was many years later with that familiar feeling. This feeling felt innocent enough although I thirst to meet my princess as I walked up the concrete steps. My previous thoughts of our first date ricocheted through my mind like tiny silver pellets. My plan unraveled as I took each step.

I rang the bell with a solid push from my thumb as my other hand held tightly to the bundle of brightly colored flowers I brought along for good company. I felt a tinge of sweat beginning to make its way down the side of my temple. In this moment of brevity I thought to leave, exit, get away and not allow her to witness me in such an awkward state. This wasn’t who I was. Was it? I was confident, witty, intelligent, and full of life. I make people laugh and smile at the stories I tell. I was the guy in the room where eyes gravitated. But who was I now?

My thoughts dissipated as the door gently swung open. And there she stood – in all of her beautiful glory. I was speechless.

I had prepared a poetic opening to address her as she answered the door but I was at a loss for words. Her beautiful brown hair glistened under the light from the porch as it effortlessly stretched to touch her shoulders. Her smile of acceptance should have eased my tense bones but instead its power melted me like butter and it left me as a useless puddle of emotion and sweat. My poetic license was lost for the moment as I made every attempt to regain my composure.

I prayed this was not a prelude for how the rest of my date would unfold. Well, my prayers fell upon deaf ears.

At least she invited me in.

…to be continued…

Anger Management 101

Hey YOU! And You! And You! Take a deep breath with me and slowly exhale and say “woo-saa!” Relax, do it again.

We have all been there with our emotions. We have experienced a moment or two when we are on either side of the anger chain – instigating or receiving. Every angry emotion we experience is valid, otherwise it wouldn’t exist within ourselves, however, many times we need to get a grip. This is where I want to help.

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It very well may be that someone knows how to push your buttons. Or you might have a tongue that can split concrete. Or you might like taking out your aggressions on the nearest garbage can (of course not the metal ones as I wouldn’t want you to hurt your precious fists). And you might even feel justified when that no-good-loser-two-timing-deadbeat-of-a-dad makes that stupid mistake and you pick up the nearest object and hurl it his way. No matter that it is your size eight shoe with a metal heel. And you might be justified. But in the end where does anger get us besides potential broken bones or scars (both emotional and physical)? Therefore, I want to share some ideas on how we can all overcome this emotion rollercoaster of anger by practicing a few simple tactics.

First, let’s look at it from the instigator standpoint:

  1. If you don’t have something good to say – STFU! Pretty straight forward but ultimately the tongue is what gets most of us started.
  2. Don’t text mean crap. A doctor once told me be wary of the sniper shots you take with your spouse and loved ones. You know what they are – a little jab here or there.
  3. Keep your hands to yourself. This applies to both men and WOMEN. Women are no more free to strike a man than a man a woman. Unless it’s in self-defense which then I would recommend using some other type of force…like a taser.
  4. Remember the love in your spirit. We all talk about how loving we are – well then show it even if you become frustrated with a given situation.
  5. Stop looking to blame. Annoying, annoying, annoying. Just stop it even if you believe it in your heart. Otherwise, repeat #1.

And for those of us receiving aggression that tips us off into the deep-end of anger:

  1. Ignore, ignore, ignore. If you have to count sheep – think of baseball games – or lilies in a field then do it. Don’t go off the ledge.
  2. Don’t drive or operate machinery. And if you are driving don’t speed. Kind of like the Xfinity commercials – you don’t want to end up in a ditch because of your cable provider.
  3. If you need to speak to anyone use your life line and call a friend. However, attempt to steer the conversation away from the object of your anger and instead focus on talking about lilies in the field. Or baseball. Or, whatever… (Repeat #1)
  4. Put the text machine down and don’t do it. Don’t record into infinity the nasty thoughts you conjure up. It’s no fun to have these things backfire on you.
  5. Go work out. Somewhere. Anywhere. Just don’t punch cheap plastic trash cans because they need protecting, too.

Remember good peeps, we are all in this together whether we like it or not. Stupid people make stupid decisions in which we have to pay the price. Sometimes we may be that stupid person and other times we are not. It’s life. But working on ourselves can get us through these difficult times.

Now excuse me while exercise the list for my own self-control.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Every Life Does Matter

The list…

Iraq

South and West Sides of Chicago

Ferguson, Missouri

Sandy Hook

Cairo, Egypt

Ukraine

Sanford, Florida

Syria

Gaza

and it goes on and on and on…

The life of a child matters – especially one caught up in the middle of conflicts, stereotypes, hatred and life’s pressures. Why then must we look any differently at the conflicts that surround us and arbitrarily assign blame to the victim based on our own prejudices? How do the innocent become the villains in this strange world in which we live?

When I think about all the turmoil around us I think about how do I engage God in a very divided world and I am left with no good answers. Religious conflicts, spiritual conflicts, ethnic conflicts, class conflicts, environmental conflicts.

stop

Where are we replacing madness with human decency and kindness? What happened to putting our children first? Where is your practice of your religion that says to love thy enemy? Or help thy neighbor?

Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Pope John Paul II….we need you.

Our souls cry for compassionate leadership. We long for days of peace and tranquility. We are all lost in this world of chaos and every now and again we are reminded of just how lost we are. Most of us only desire a world in which we can laugh, play, and enjoy the companionship of family and friends. It is a beautiful thing.

But WE CAN stop the madness. Just…Stop. Simple. Just stop it. One person at a time. Let’s remember the love Christ had for the people and believe that we can overcome – anything.

Michael Jackson sang it best “Man in the Mirror.”

Go well and with love good peeps.