Category Archives: Emotions

Birds Singing

For most of my life, I’ve lived in the midst of the woodlands. I was never far from the sound of traffic though. Rarely do I get to sit and watch people go by because we are all in a hurry to get somewhere.

Dogs bark and birds tweet, but I’m rarely able to get past the gossip hounds or the twitter rants. The coffee is never fresh brewed and the tea is always cold. I’m living in excess, but my needs are barely met.

I suppose my reflection has once again prompted my personal call-to-action. I WILL (for a moment) put down the phone. I will brew a fresh cup of java; even though it will surely make me sleepy. I will donate the things that I don’t need; and want a little less.

I won’t contemplate the lies I hear; I’ll be listening less. I won’t turn on the news because it’s usually the same old things expressed… differently.

I will ignore the news that the president’s spokesperson has retired her voice; even though I am entertained at the thought that the president will resume speaking for himself.

I will ignore that another black man was shot by police in the Deep South; even though it will be characterized as a righteous kill.

I will ignore that my clients make transactions right before my eyes. The battered doors and smashed windows weren’t warning enough for me.

I’ll ignore the bloated bank account because I remember that last week’s debits were overdrawn. The gas bill is low this week, but the electric bill is rising.

I’m just going to park the car, lock up the bike, and walk

Down the street

Watching

People go by.

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Assessment Comes After the Lesson

As much as we try to plan or predict what the future holds, it is our ability to reflect that is most effective in determining what we’ve learned. Outcomes can be measured. Our data fosters understanding. We are hopeful that our information will translate into preparedness.

Teaching does not always equate to learning. We’ve forgotten that our effectiveness should not be determined by what we know, but how we develop our ability to learn.

Flawed systems are only determined after the fact. Omniscience neurally exists. What I mean is that we feel, but our feelings are emotional. Wisdom comes not by determining what we know, but knowing what we do not know.

What we think we know may not be a true reflection of knowledge. It may simply be a manifestation of our beliefs. Misconceptions, however, are not evident without exploration, reflections, and reality.

Life is the test.

Survival is contingent on action.

Knowledge is dependent on experience.

Practice is superficial if it is never applied.

Missing the One That’s Gone (mistreating the one that’s here)

The title suggests that relationships are backwards. But consider a deeper concept. We mourn at funerals, but the emotional commitment to sadness doesn’t usually last long. We eventually level out…chemically emotional, spiritually. And although the memory stimulates disappointment for the loss of a loved one, it also allows us to recall the good times.

We reminisce!

We are learning more about our genetic code. Commercially branded exploration such as 23andMe, Ancestry and myHeritage.com connect us to lives that we never knew, experiences we would not endure, and family we’ll never meet. But doesn’t it seem awkward to pursue “extra-” life when our own is right before us? The option to abandon the present in exchange for knowledge of the past lineage.

It’s every history teachers’ fantasy to have so many students of the world want to know where they’ve come from. In one way or another, we are all connected to some legacy.

But what of the present?! Can we be motivated to enhance our lives to do better? What lessons have we’ve absorbed from our ancestors? The history books could only convey a story from the perspective of the story tellers. But are these new methods of history-sharing impartial and unbiased? Is someone really telling us our story. Or are we getting a digitized rendition of similar narratives all dressed up with political correctness? Has our DNA been exploited to sell stock?

Pharmaceuticals are the capital for the scientists and bioengineers. DNA testing could be the conduit to normalize scientific explanations of the past–all the while omitting the gemological data that resembles all that is wrong with the world. Who is dealing/selling/marketing this to us? And raise your hand if you’re buying it.

Perhaps we as a society are so eager to embrace the positive and exciting aspects of our history. We don’t want to be burdened with the condemnations of a society gone array.

Ellis Island was a new beginning for many, but for others it was a resting place for family, cultures, and tales that could no longer be passed down to the next generations. (You absolutely must go back a click on the link). But please don’t forget that there were many nations that were torn apart and destroyed only to be reconstructed poorly in the new world. The original coming to America is vastly under-told. No cotton swab can ignite a recollection like that (and we wouldn’t want it too). American can’t handle it. We’ve become obsessed with the obsessed and numb to the pain.

Tabloids and opioids…junk for the mind, junk for the body. THIS is where we are. Reactive, we ponder treatment options in lieu of reconciling the pain. Mass shootings become last week’s news because the anxiety of “now” is too great. The precautions and the prohibitions do nothing to make us safer; instead these menial drills grasp at our insecurities and ignorance of the present.

We will react to the loss(es) of (un)loved-ones. We will pick up the pieces. We will search for something to ease the pain. As our eyes roll back and our existence begins to fade, your choice of chemical (or tactile) will ultimately determine (or UNDERmine) your future.

The art is longer imitating life. Our lives have emulated art.

Eighty years of radio/television, forty years of video games, thirty years of internet, twenty-five years of music videos and reality TV, ten years of smart phones and tablets, five consecutive years of hate, violence, and mistrust of organization and institution…equal the destruction of safe spaces.

We miss what’s already gone. We are mistreating what is already here.

Let’s digress. After all, it is just the day after Friday!

1994 Wishlist

the things most important to me at the age of adulthood; those moments that i would fantasize or dream of things just barely within my grasp are not even things anymore. i could not know then what i would not need (or even want) in my “mature” years. the photos should speak for themselves, but i’ll defend as we peruse…the coveted swatch watch. my peers had several. i was able to save up enough money for ONE. that’s all i needed. Now i don’t even wear a watch.

my high school counselor warned me that our regional state college would more appropriately be my dream school. i applied, and gained admission.

and then a million dollar endowment and national recognition transformed it into a university that might have made my counselors prediction accurate…

go figure!

the sports car that i dreamed of was one that i thought was practical. whereas a Porsche 928 was what i really wanted, it was its cinematic association that made it an unlikely reality

this Shelby Charger would fit the bill instead. i was fortunate enough to own one for a few months. i sold it out of anger.

Too soon…

jessica…boyish fantasies remind us of how ridiculous we can be! Bugs never had it so good. Maybe it was the red hair…

Or not…i had so many cassettes, it only seemed fitting to have a way to play them consecutively. i hadn’t imagined that i’d be financially reckless enough to own countless compact discs and that the future-me would hoard all kinds of music media.

we simply didn’t know that mp3s would be a thingi figured that typing my thoughts would be more efficient than keeping a diary. I knew that i could type almost as fast as I could think the words…

i practiced my typing. i used my sears credit card to buy one of these (an open-box special). one day i’ll be a blogger. it’s 1994. What’s a blog?

by the way, i really liked the movie The Mask. i don’t know why. i didn’t care much for Jim Carey.

Red

i had TWO high school rings. i lost the first one that my parents bought me. i bought another identical ruby ring with my grocery clerk earnings before they could find out how irresponsible i’d been. then they found the one i’d lost.

for her 13th birthday, my daughter inherited the recovered ring along with the lesson of unnecessary discretions.

when i graduated university, i bought myself an imitation emerald ring. Authenticity wouldn’t matter when it was time for my grad school ring. That one will be pure onyx for sure (even though i have no dream of achieving another degree).

Hard Knox from here on…

and those things i thought i wanted aren’t important any more. they probably weren’t important then. i just didn’t know it.

Freedom of Mine

Don’t mind this freedom of mine. The policies that govern us were not founded on the premise of common sense. This is where Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams floundered. But let us not keep the foundations from embracing our roots. Roots crack foundations.

We don’t need any institution to dictate what is moral or fundamental. Any institution that governs (or enforces) represents a collective objective. It can not truly mandate our individual souls–although it may try. For that which is in your mind intrinsically belongs to you. As long as it is there, it can not be adulterated or perverted. It’s the escape that is subject to scrutiny.

We govern how we release our thoughts. We plan our path recognizing the external forces that we cannot control. Proceed with caution. Hater-ation is the kool-aid that the lemon throwers grow for our lemonade.

Own the rights to your own mind. Be free with your thoughts. Do your best and promote the same in others. Seize the day, but tomorrow is yours too. We don’t have to surrender our passion to anyone.

Let every fight be external. Let us own our thoughts, guard our expressions, and silence the restrictions. All that dream are thirsty for a reality beyond the world’s imagination.

The freedom we seek exists. Our hearts and minds are not always in agreement, but we have insurmountable power that has not yet been tapped.

Last thought…those who seek to oppress us, restrict others, and regulate the masses…they too are dreaming of a world that suits themselves. They’ve unleashed their unrestricted and unregulated passions. The assertion speaks to their morals.

Raising Queens and Kings

As a father of a nineteen year old daughter and a fourteen year old son, I often reflect on the direction on which I’ve sent each of them. The standards differ based on their ability and their expectations. Because I do not expect my son to behave like a woman, nor do expect my daughter to behave like a man, I must model for them what I’ve determined to be appropriate gender roles.

When my son is left to his own devices he exhibits childlike mannerisms: wanting without working, playing until exhaustion, but feigning any responsibility to his home or for his actions…

And so I address it. We discuss it. I model an alternative to what he does and emphasize positive outcomes. It’s not easy. But it’s not supposed to be.

My daughter has always been more mature, but not without childish mannerisms. The women in her life, of course, take every opportunity to bestow upon her how to be a successful woman.

As I watch, I cannot help but observe some of the practices they’ve taught her. I wish we could simply raise our children up to be ADULTS; model citizens, hard workers, self-sufficient. But it is not enough. My daughter must also be a strong woman (especially when her counterparts are weak). She must be caring even when no one else cares. She will undoubtedly become as much of her mother as she becomes a fruit of me.

I worry that I’ve not given her enough. I see around me women who struggle with the world around them. It is men who’ve stopped caring that force the women to compensate. But more often I notice the women in our lives, the matrons of our family, and our lady leaders who must compromise–women who are forced to make tough decisions because their men were unable or impotent.

I wish this world were kinder to our women. I wish my daughter were not being taught how to “handle” men to get what she wants. Although her “compromise game” is weak, her “compensate game” is strong. She needs no one. But she’s offered the support from women who had to resort to manipulation and trickery for their own survival.

She’s accompanied by a grandmother who chased her husbands away and a mother who couldn’t trick her husband into giving her what she wanted. They now press their prodigy to take their advice. She’s told to give to the young man who hasn’t found his way yet, but to spend no time with someone who challenges her ability. They’ve denied their own role in driving their lovers away. But they offer encouragement on how to find happiness without a “good man.”

The narrative changes depending on who tells the story. As a father who hoped he’s modeled what a strong man looks like, what a dedicated man does, and how a passionate man loves, no man can truly deserve my princess (in my opinion). I encourage her to hold on to what I’ve modeled.

But there’s another perspective–the female perspective. The mother perspective counters most of what this father models. This mother says, “forget him!” She says,”you don’t need him…”. She pronounces that, ” he’s nothing because he refused to GIVE me what I want…”

A mother’s distaste of the father equals poison in the development of a child. As a father I see it. And although I have no antidote, I can offer a vaccine.

“Daughters, we love you! Listen to what your mothers tell you, but recognize that there’s another side to that advice,” urges this father.

Don’t take the advice from a bitter person. Know that your father’s revenge is a successful life. We seek Queens to build our kingdom. This is why we’ve raised you to be princesses.

Guiltless

A few years ago I was dating someone who was living what she called an abstinent lifestyle. Her consecration dictated that she’d have no lover before marriage; and further her courtship was to be a spiritual walk during which she’d be able to determine how’d “equally yoked” they’d both be. A relationship like that brings with it all types of challenges.

I may have thought that I was confident and spiritually grounded, but I learned some very interesting things about my tolerance of others’ beliefs during my journey.

40 Nights

One Lenten season, I asked my girlfriend what (if anything) she’d given up for Lent. I’m not catholic but I believe in self-sacrifice in the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. I smile at the idea of giving up chocolate or soda in hopes that the sacrifice may evolve into a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been successful on a few occasions, but usually become glutinous on the other side of the “fast.” But my faith has not required me to give too much of myself. Moderation. Moderation… A mustard seed of faith is all that is required. No need for extra!

Well, she didn’t see it the same way. Her response sent us down a path of true faith-building that would last years. She said, “I’m giving up intimacy.”

Intimacy…

Our relationship had already been defined by abstinence that was occasionally diluted by kissing and heavy petting. I was in uncharted territory but defended (to myself) that I had already endured a sexless marriage. If distance can make the heart grow fonder, then abstinence can make for short engagements, RiGhT??

So to try something new would be as easy as offering a kid an amalgamation of fresh uncooked vegetables. Carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower…

Not so fast!

And that’s what she said…often! Shaking my head sadly, I accepted the rules of engagement. (Pun intended!)

So she’d given up intimacy. In search of just one more simile, it was like asking a diabetic to give up chocolate. I had to question the lunacy.

“Who told you to do THAT!?!” One of the stupidest questions I could ask, I realize now.

“God!” she affirmed.

“Well, did He tell you that you couldn’t stay here anymore?”

“You mean I can’t spend the night?”

“No!”

I suppose at the time I was more superstitious than religious. My faith wavered more towards punishment than grace. And I was already certain that if I pressed this 40 year old virgin to give in to her hormonal urges, I would be struck by lightening for sure.

I had figured that this would signal the end of the relationship. I was not offering a compromise, nor did I plan on playing games with our emotions. After all, a direction from the Lord did not require my consent.

For me it was a spiritual awakening–an opportunity to assert my own beliefs, develop a sense of responsibility, and most importantly model for my own daughter a balance between religion and self-love.

She asked, “what will you be giving up for lent?”

“Guilt! I’ll be giving up guilt.”

“What do you mean?”

“What I mean IS that I’m tired of feeling guilty.”

Lust, gluttony, sloth, greed, wrath, pride, envy…cardinal vices. Carnal too. Flesh. The world…

I’m being asked to live according to someone else’s standards. I’m expected to live a life of decency despite the temptations that my brothers (and sisters) in Christ lay before me (?) and, AND, and…

This was years ago. I recount the years that have passed since my life changed. The seasons have cycled many times, but one theme has become constant in my life. I now live guiltless.

That doesn’t mean that I live carefree; nor does it mean that I allow myself to discard the beliefs of others. What it means is that I refuse to allow someone else to project their values on to me.

I can not feel bad because someone else has regret. I must not be held accountable for someone else’s hang ups. I must be free from their sin.

“You mean I can’t stay here for 40 nights?”

“You can not stay here at ALL!”

The love I had for her changed that day. It grew less as my heart and brain began to work together for the first time in my life.

Reason

I began to reason with my own conscience. I began to question how my faith drives my actions. I developed the ability to stay “no”. And only after years of practice have I become proficient is saying this too:

“I don’t believe that I can offer you what you deserve…”

What do we deserve? We deserve to be happy.

Happiness requires our own actions–our own growth and development–hard work and dedication–and most importantly…faith.

No one can give us that.

And that is what she wanted. She wanted me to have faith in HER. She wanted me to adhere to her belief system and to honor her in the ways that she wanted (that were also subject to change whenever HER god saw fit). The god in her was not the God in me.

And the God in me said, “no more”.

The God in me said, “I release you from your own chains and the invisible chains that have shackled you to your ‘future queen'”.

“You can never stay here again.”

“But I’ve come all this way for you!” she exclaimed.

“Don’t come here. I have children who are watching me closely. I have a daughter to whom I should never have to explain that we sleep next to each other, but we don’t touch each other. I don’t want to lie… down to anyone. I don’t want to feel guilty!”

I stood up. Standing on promises. Standing up for my future generations. Building a new legacy. Starting now…no wait. Starting NOW. No wait! StArTiNg…NoW

Christ died for my sin. He spread his arms wide, and His believers cried…so that I may never have to cry again.

“I don’t have to die. I don’t have to cry. And I don’t have to lie (or lay) next to you again.”

She left. And although she came back, she didn’t stay.

She didn’t stay.

Forty days passed. And 40 more. Till there were no more.

“Don’t let the door…hit you on the way out.” What began as a challenge, became a life lesson and a new diet–a diet filled with moderation and understanding and a relationship with God that was far greater than a relationship with any person.

Someone else can bear that cross. Some other man will make her sacrifice. If it goes well, it won’t be a sacrifice at all.

But isn’t Love a sacrifice. Must it be? I may never know again. But that’s a beautiful thing too. Not knowing…there can be beauty it not knowing. But it can be painful as well. Devine agony.

What agony, to love no more?

And now her beliefs are beheld by another, till death do them part.

I recall a time when that destiny was mine. But with the will to change (my mind) and the desire to live for me, I am guilt free.

And no less…

I am guiltless.