Everything is AWESOME!

…when you’re living in a dream!

Yes, according to the fun kids movie Lego Land everything is awesome as long as you conform, keep life light, don’t focus on the hard stuff, and work as a team. Woo-hoo!

But seriously, life is awesome. It is full of beauty and magnificence. It is pleasurable and wonderful. I look around my wonderful city of Chicago everyday and I am reminded of these pleasures. Therefore, I enjoy taking a moment in my crazy world to acknowledge just how awesome life is.

Regardless of the trials we face and the pains we all feel – because they are real – we should always be reminded of how awesome life is. YOU are awesome! I AM awesome! WE are awesome together!

Now go tackle that day with all of your awesomeness!

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.

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.

Me and My Mojo Jangles

The following phrase should be sung in the voice of my favorite Blues artist Muddy Waters:

“My mojo done come and gone and come back again; I’m ‘bout to round that bend bringing’ my mojo from deep within! Oh, lord, yawl better watch out!”

At least this is what I’ve been told. Funny thing, I wasn’t even aware I lost my mojo, let alone that I had any mojo to begin with. And this got me to thinking, what the heck is my mojo and am I doing good or evil with it? Don’t we all have a bit of mojo? Shall we explore this idea of mojo together? Let us.

I hear the young-ins talk about SWAG these days and I quietly wonder how this word has grown and taken the place of similar words over time. Swagger, mojo, cool, and debonair are just a few words throughout history that describe the wannabe James Bond in all of us – in particular us men. However, many women desire a similar Je Ne Sais Quoi when ascribing to certain enticing characteristics that evoke appeal. Sex appeal is a powerful trait.

I never thought of myself having any sort of mojo growing up. I was just…me. Yet, throughout the years I would look at others who clearly exhibited some type of cool factor and I often thought these individuals set the bar. Sean Connery, Denzel Washington, and Johnny Depp have that “IT” factor; there are certainly others on your list but these exemplify having mojo on my list.

But, honestly, all of us really do have some type of mojo working for us. Regardless of your stature, your position, your nerdiness, we all have it. It usually is recognized by someone other than us. Someone may mention an endearing quality that we hadn’t thought of that gives us pause and might even make us blush. We take their words at heart and smile warmly as we are given the compliment. Everyone loves a good and sincere compliment.

So what happens when we lose our mojo? This occurs because of life and the turmoil we experience. Life happens, or as my brother says, “shit happens.” And when that poop hits the fan we stop living the life we once lived. We might find ourselves in a funk and begin to get lost in this insidious pool of disgrace and disgust, not knowing how to get out. Losing my mojo wasn’t on purpose – it just happened. And it was brought to my attention during my difficult days because my outer shell began to reflect my inner spirit. I felt there was nothing I could do about it. I accepted the pain and the pity secretly hoping it would just go away or that I would wake up and the nightmare would be over.

And as the story goes – none of that occurred. I still had to overcome and face the demons surrounding me.

The wonderful thing about overcoming is the peace you feel when you do overcome. Or the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with finishing a race. Also, there is euphoria and jubilation that fills our emotions as we look back at the road we traveled. It’s like grabbing a cold beer, sitting on a stump, and admiring God’s handiwork and your part in maintaining the masterpiece. This is where I find myself; through the storms I am recognize the positives of life.

My mojo is just heating up. It is that Godly feeling within that allows my Spirit to shine brightly. And for a moment after numerous challenges I finally believe I can overcome the storm. It is this newfound confidence that I wear so well. And I hope everyone can have this same suit of confidence as well. We all deserve a little mojo in our lives from time to time. So go find yours.

Daddy Dan

But the Words Just Slipped Out

I know I just met you and we’ve only just begun to hang out. And yes, I think you are the most beautiful creature this Earth has created. I couldn’t find another like you if I searched all four corners of the globe! I know you will bring the best out of me and me of you. Seriously, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Is this real or is it just fantasy? I…I…I feel a little confused because of this feeling. Yet, I want to tell you. I want to tell you, “I love you.”

Screech! “Hold on there little pony!” my inner being states.

Back da hell up! Did it really just come out of nowhere? Did I really say what I think I said? Was it an out of body experience? Or was I transported into another man’s body as he was just popping out the most loaded phrase ever – I love you.

Three little words that carry so much meaning and can transform a relationship. These words are not to be used lightly nor taken lightly. It is the phrase that can defuse most any situation and bring back peace after a calamity. We all have found ourselves in this situation at some time in our lives; whether we were 16 or 45. And there is that moment of unsteadiness, insecurities, and nervousness before we let it rip from our lips. But when it does come forth we exhale as if we were holding our breath for a million years.

What next then? It’s like I just climbed Mt. Everest. It’s like I just defeated Godzilla. How do I top that?

You don’t.

You build on it. You live it. You nurture it. You believe it.

So goes relationships. If you both believe in these spoken words you do what you can to make it happen. You will find yourself trying to do what you can to ensure that the words you spoke are real and the meaning behind them never fades. But as our day-to-day realities set in (bills to pay, kids to nurture, a job to perform, sanity to maintain) we have a tendency to move on with our lives and the phrase begins to carry less weight as it once did. Oh, we will say it constantly, and we might even show that we mean it but the first time we spoke it becomes a distant memory. And all we have left is that diminished memory of when that time first occurred. I imagine a fuzzy picture from the past that reveals something nice without the details to show.

Some of us will continue to believe in the “love” portion of the phrase for eternity. However, I am more skeptical that can be the case – there may be too much time passed to really truly solidify the statement in our hearts and any pain received during the relationship may bury the phrase as if it were the Evil Villain from a James Bond movie. We have separated the “I” and “you” to only reveal an empty “love.” And so ends that moment we hoped would last forever.

At some point after a breakup the phrase has to be discovered and uncovered like an archeological dig. It will be carefully excavated from our damaged hearts and delicately washed to reveal its wonderful form. The time it takes to bring the phrase back to the surface depends on so many factors and is going to be different for each individual; we just know that it is possible.

As for me, I’ll keep my thoughts and words to myself for now. I will closely guard them as the treasure I believe they are. I will use them with extreme caution and hope that when the moment comes for me to release these incredible words of hope I will do so with the commitment and fervor I once did. And there will be no second-guessing or confusion, just love with a purpose – longevity of the moment.

Daddy Dan