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.

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.

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.

Do You Still Give Pause to 9-11?

A day that will remain embedded in our minds until we die. A day when you remember exactly what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt as life changed forever. Those of us old enough to remember what it meant to never have been attacked on American soil prior to 9-11 can distinctly remember how our minds changed after the attack. We remember how we understood that life would never be the same and that we should not take our safety for granted.

Thus, on this day I always give pause – 13 years later. And even when I don’t want to acknowledge the day because of the horrible act bestowed upon us I can’t help but recognize the frozen moment of time in my heart and mind.

Therefore I do give pause – and thanks – and I appreciate that our nation came together under the circumstances.

As for me, I was in Aruba on vacation and it was starting out to be a lovely day. I was there with my fiance and another couple. We had just walked into the room as we saw in real time the second plane. It was surreal. Sadness and anger fell upon us as we knew we would be at war.

What followed afterwards was how the Americans in Aruba came together to provide support for one another. We were from different parts of the country, some with family members directly impacted and some not. But we came together. And that feeling alone was worth a 1000 memories. To be one.

Take a moment and pause if you will for the lives lost since that day. Take a moment and reflect on what we gave up that day in pursuit of peace. Take a moment and give thanks for every day that we can remember and are able to still live our lives. Take a moment and recognize how we are one as a community – a community of humans.

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.

 

Rejuvenate

The serene lake glistened from the light of the morning sun. Barely a ripple was made from the fish as they lazily made their way to the surface in search of their morning meal. The smell of pine permeated the air as background sounds of the forest bounced around the tall trees which guarded the lakefront. The tiny splashes along the shores caught my ears as my eyes wandered across the lake looking for an area on the lake to settle. I exhaled, breathed in the fresh air, and appreciated the mist from the lake as I sipped my slightly sweetened coffee from an oversize mug. After a month of chaos and turmoil my mind, spirit, and body was in need of rejuvenation. And this was my moment.

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It isn’t often that we can pull ourselves away from life to enjoy the small pleasures presented before us. We find ourselves engrained in our daily experiences that will drain our energy and leave us with nothing to replenish the calming thirst our spirits require. Instead, we fill ourselves with various vices to help us get through our hectic days but not realizing the importance of slowing down. This was my moment to slow down and focus only on my breathing and the world of nature around me.

As I packed up my folding chair to head back into the cabin I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye. A deer peered at me through the brush trying to decipher whether I was friend or foe. Our eyes locked briefly although it felt like an eternity. I appreciated the young doe in her habitat and I did not want to disrupt it. I thought about the days behind me and how I might relinquish my pain, frustration, and anxieties as I took in this moment. I proceeded to pack up my belongings in quiet reserve while assuring the deer I was a friend. Nature has a way of helping us to revitalize ourselves. This was my moment. I thought to myself “rejuvenate yourself.”