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.

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.

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.

466554_3368912376161_1615402437_o

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.

Always Savannah Liebster’d Me!

Savannah’s When Nothing Goes Write questions for me:

1. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Why?  I’m aware this is two questions.

The egg clearly came first. There was this big bang and…well never mind!

2. What is the favorite blog post you have written and why?

My Day of Positivity Starts…Now!”  Any time I write with the backdrop of my kid’s images it makes me feel great. They are my most important muses and they are what keep me strong during my times of weakness. It may sound cliché but it’s true. I love my little meeces to pieces!

3. What is your favorite blog post of mine and why?

The Struggle is Real – I enjoy almost all of Savannah’s posts and they seem to put a smile on my face. I often envision having conversations about our blogs in some coffee shop in some college town. The blogs remind me of how awesome life was when I was younger and how it still can be as I have matured. Besides, that’s one helluva title!

4. What celebrity would you most like to bang?

Uh, lot’s of ’em. Am I a pig for saying that? For sure Halle Berry and Salma Hayek top my list – although Halley would be a handful in a long-term deal. But we’re only talking banging, right?

5. What is your favorite sad song?

One of my favorite sad song’s is Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean. Yeah, I’m a black man who can appreciate a little C&W but his song really speaks to me about the struggles one goes through in life and how we continue to persevere. My life has been full of challenges thus the song speaks to me.

6. What is your job, career, or hobby?

My job is in IT – a geek of sorts, although I am a project manager. I manage projects. I make sure people do what they’re supposed to do. And then I report it. To someone. Anyone that cares.

7. If you could be anyone besides yourself, who would it be and why?

Colin Powell. Without the Republican affiliation. He is a very respectable man, seems to be very smart, and he’s even debonaire. If not Colin Powell I’d be James Bond. He gets all the chicks.

8. What is your biggest regret?

Not having kids when I was younger. I have enjoyed my offspring so much I am somewhat sad that I messed around and didn’t have them 15 years earlier. However, I am more than grateful for my kids.

9. If you could go back and change #8, how would you do it?

Nope, never, it was meant to be. If I can’t guarantee that God would provide me the two same Angels into my life at 28 I would wait till I received the same 2 Angels in my life.

10. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Mind control. I’m not really sure why it just seems like it’d be cool. I’d pull that Jedi-mind-trick often.

11 Random Facts About Myself:

I was born in a foreign country but I’m still an American.

I am a military brat.

I had an article published in the Chicago Sun Times back in the day.

I have a third nipple. It’s very small, like a wart, but confirmed by docs. Maybe I should get it pierced.

My kids and I almost appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live – we were 1 of 4 finalists.

I had very good English teachers that pushed me to write well and express myself.

Although I seem to be an extrovert I am an introvert at heart.

I believed I would be living the American Dream at this time in my life – however, dreams are not always meant to be realized.

One night back in college I saved someone’s life. The woman didn’t realize she was about to get hit by a train as she stood too close to the tracks. I grabbed her at the last-minute, pulled her off the end of the railroad tie, she turned to me and started crying, and then I calmly walked away as the train sped by. I hope this experience left meaningful impression on her life.

I purposely gave my daughter a name that began with the initial of one of my best friends. Therefore, her initials match mine and my best friend’s last names.

I own the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series on DVDs. I really dig Sarah Michelle Gellar. Is this weird?

Cultural Differences or Systematic Divides

I found myself stranded downtown Chicago a measly, yet, 1.5 miles away from my automobile. I was celebrating with friends having drinks and singing karaoke, and before I knew it time had flown past. Dagnabit I thought to myself, now I have to walk my ass to my car and I wasn’t looking forward to it; although it was a very pleasant August evening. I was too cheap to grab a cab and too annoyed to walk. And when I looked around at my surroundings deciding my course of action I noticed the blue and white sparkling Divvy® bike rack awaiting me. Light bulb moment, “hey, I’ll take a bike!”

IMG_1105

This blog is not an advertisement for Divvy® or its sponsoring company. This blog is not meant to increase ridership of the bikes or to claim how health conscious I am (which I am not). Nor is it an exploration of how these bikes became so popular in my fair city or in a neighborhood near you. Incidentally, are these bikes as popular in other parts of the country and world? Feel free to educate me.

What I noticed about these bikes is there are not as many blacks or Hispanics casually riding these bikes between convenient locations throughout the city during their hectic days. As a matter of fact, this was my first time riding the bike. And it dawned on me that I was the only African-American on a bike riding through downtown Chicago to my destination; granted it was later in the evening but there were plenty of others out on a beautiful summer night.

I was thankful for this mode of transportation when I needed it. It was easy to use and it saved me a few bucks from taking a cab. Now I can use these bikes throughout the city and make my stops and get in shape at the same time. However, there is one problem – certain neighborhoods do not have the bikes. So what gives?

Maybe the bikes wouldn’t stand a chance from theft in these not-so-desirable locations. Or maybe the citizens in these areas don’t have aspirations to ride the bikes. The bikes are cheaper than cabs but they do cost and I am talking about areas where many folks do not have much disposable income. Maybe the company isn’t marketing the bikes in these locations because of preconceived ideas (judging) about what the people in these markets want. It is a sad commentary on how our cultures differ on something as innocent as bike riding.

I do know some African-Americans and Hispanics that ride the bikes all the time. I’m sure some of my readers and friends will vehemently disagree with me, stating, “Hey I’m black and I ride the bikes!” However, most of these individual riders are in neighborhoods where bikes are located. It is very obvious when riding through the city where holes exist in providing bikes.

I hope to teach my kids that this is a nice transportation alternative. I expect others will continue to migrate towards this decent way of travel. I recognize there are some cultural differences in acceptance of the communal bikes. I hope certain communities can positively influence good ideas to other communities and allow folks to take advantage of these opportunities. It was an exhilarating feeling to ride my Divvy® bike through the city with the wind blowing in my face on a wonderful mid-summer night. Everyone should have the chance to experience this feeling.

Go well and with love good peeps.