Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reality

Day 113.  Reality.

As another calendar year draws to its end, we often think about what we should have done differently, and promise to ourselves to make the next year better. It is within our control to do that, as with anything we do we are the masters of our fate, captains of our ships. We don't always remember to use that power, but its there. I think because it's easier to be a victim than a captain, we choose to ignore our ability to improve things.

Know that ever about you stands the reality of love, and each moment you have the power to transform your world by what you have learned. Richard Bach, One.

The knowledge from our mistakes is more useful than we like to admit. Repeating them is so simple: change nothing, get the same result. Change something, maybe we get a worse result. Change something else, maybe it gets worse yet. It's easy to see why we avoid making changes. Risky business, that. Especially when you are being ALL IN, and your heart, your soul, your very existence is on the line. 


You can always tell when you miss a chance to do something differently, there's this feeling you have. Some call it nerves, some call it doubt. The feeling is the same: you hesitate, you begin to make your choice, you hesitate again, something says "no, do THIS," and BOOM, you did it. You feel relieved at your decision, but.... there's that feeling. Right after you make your choice, it's there, eating away at your wisdom. You have to accept how it works out, there are no do-overs. All you can do is hope for the best, you've cast your line and have to eat the fish you catch.

The new year brings new chances, new dreams. We can only hope we have the courage to choose wisely. Bold dreams make for big things. Sailing around the world sounds like a daunting task, but we don't have to do it alone. We have our experience to rely on, our past tells us the things to do if we just listen. I know it's hard to do: we think we're all so smart. We can't do it alone, what we've learned along the way becomes our friend as we move across the sea.

Lesson One Hundred Thirteen: Looking at our past is pointless unless we use the knowledge to improve the future. Eyes on the horizons, my friends. Look both ways before crossing the street.

617 to go...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Teach

Day 112. Teach.

There are many lessons to learn from our past. If we could only go back and change something here, something there, things would be better, right? We could stop someone from being somewhere an accident happens, get a loved one to get that lump checked before it becomes inoperable cancer. Not that easy, since everything in the past happened for a reason, and changing it means changing the future. But what if we did things backwards, and try to learn from ourselves in the future instead of changing the past?

How much to learn if we could spend one hour, spend twenty minutes, with the us we will become! How much could we say to the us we were? Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever.

I would tell myself to be more patient. I am many things, one of which is impatient. There's never enough time to do everything I want to do, so I struggle with waiting. Hate lines, hate waiting to be seated at a restaurant, hate standing in line to buy tickets for a movie, hate it hate it hate it. So unproductive. But as I get older, I see the value in doing these things. You can make a new friend while waiting for a seat. You might find an old friend while in line at the grocery store. Someone in line at the theatre might have seen the movie you planned on, and after they said it was crappy you saved the $10 and saw something else.

I'd also tell my younger self that it's okay to be funny, even at what seem to be inappropriate times. Humor gets us through the bad times, and makes the good times even better. Holding back that funny memory serves no one: if it was funny to them when it happened, it's funny again when they're gone. Pain doesn't make things less funny, it just makes the world need fun more. Getting past loss, getting over anger, both can be easier if you lighten up.

My future self might also warn me that my judgement on fake people isn't always perfect. People will disappoint us. I used to think I could spot that better than I actually can. Sometimes, especially in the last dozen years or so, I've been sure I knew real friends from fakes. I've been fooled a few times, mostly in the past year. My responsibility, people are always true to themselves first so that's on me for being disappointed. In myself, more than the fakes. Future me gets better at this, I hope.

Lesson One Hundred Twelve: Don't take life so seriously, be open to what you might become.

618 to go...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Easy

Day 111. Easy.

We all have within us the power to make our lives better. We know what we want, we know how to get it, but most of the time we are afraid to even reach for it. Why? Because it's difficult. It's hard to take responsibility for our own lives, and if we are in charge of making our own decisions we have no one else to blame. No matter how much we want things to be better, to be happy, we still find actually doing something about our situation very difficult.

Happiness is a choice. It is not always an easy one. Richard Bach, Illusions.

If we all had the lives of babies... all they have to do is eat, sleep and poop. No responsibilities, no obligations. As we grow into adults, we are given tasks and duties. More and more, yet rarely do we say "no more." We take on financial risk, additional workloads, child rearing. We let things mound up around us, nibbling away at the duty. Instead of taking the time for ourselves, we watch the burden grow. It doesn't have to be a burden, but it often is. Things that should make us happy become tedious, events that should make us smile become just routine.

At some point, people begin to reject the mountain of obligation. Often in the wrong manner, like walking out on their family, or leaving a job over something trivial. "The straw that broke the camel's back" is indeed that minute: when you let your burden grow, the slightest weight makes it unbearable. And who's fault is that? Our own. WE have the power to choose happiness. WE are responsible for the situations we place ourselves in. Because the trappings of modern life draw us to them, we make the choice to sacrifice happiness for things that make us happy. Things that grow uninteresting, become boring. Then we're on to the next big thing. And the next.

Happiness is relative. What makes us happy one day, one week, may not the next. The things that occupies our free time today are rendered useless at some point, so we grow bored with them. By choosing things over people, over ourselves, we never stabilize our lives with anything constant. Then we mourn the loss of happiness like it left of its own accord. Nope, we just replaced it with another "thing." Which frustrates us, makes our life harder. Vicious circle. One we keep drawing over and over again.

Lesson One Hundred Eleven: Stop standing in your own way. You're blocking your own road to happiness.

619 to go...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Listen

Day 110. Listen.

Following up on yesterday's post about being self-destructive... we all wait on that "next bad thing" to happen. When life is going well, things are good, we should be smiling and happy, there's still that little voice in the back of our minds saying "wait for it." We can't even allow ourselves complete happiness, we have to ruin it by listening to the dark things. The dark things we control, or let control us.

Listen to what you know instead of what you fear. Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever.

The mistakes we make stay with us for a lifetime, without question. Yet we forget the successes almost as soon as they happen. We should bask in those memories, remembering the joy we feel for as long as possible. Instead of looking reminding our kids of their bad behaviour, we should acknowledge and reward them for their accomplishments. Rather than point out when chores aren't done, be proactive and congratulate the spouse on cooking a great meal, or putting away their own laundry. Accentuating the negative in others makes it a habit for our own lives, and until we begin noticing the good before the bad, we can't be completely happy.

I know I've spent way too much time looking back, wondering what I should have done different, what mistakes I shouldn't make again. Knowing full well I can't change a damn thing, I shake myself and curse under my breath to "get over it." The fear of making the same errors, doing the same things wrong AGAIN, sometimes that can talk me out of doing anything at all. But I try to remember what I've told you a dozen times at least: unless you are willing to risk EVERYTHING, you gain NOTHING.

As the new year approaches, we begin to think about new goals, new challenges, new resolutions. I rarely make any such promises to myself or anyone else, knowing full well that by February most of them are shot to hell. I do try and reflect on the things I know I could have done differently the past year, and remind myself to not take the same path again.

Lesson One Hundred Ten: Don't walk in your own footsteps: blaze a new trail.

620 to go...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Obstacles

Day 109. Obstacles.

After my almost 53 years here on earth, I've realized we are all self-destructive to an extent. We want perfection in others, yet they must accept us without conditions. We refuse to change, yet those who want to share our lives must be willing to adapt to moods we can't even predict ourselves. We place requirements on each other, but when ours aren't met we raise our fists to the air and scream "but he was so close to being Mr. Right." The very obstacles we build to protect ourselves only succeed in isolating us.

He's changing. Every day more remote, protected, distant. He builds fests now for the soulmate he hasn't found, bricking wall and maze and mountain fortress, dares her to find him at the hidden center of them all Here's an A in self-protection from the one in the world he might love and who might someday love him. Richard Bach, The Bridge Across Forever.

Having been hurt in the past, we still throw everything we have into the "next great thing" that comes along. Be it a new career, a new friends, or a new relationship, we leap headfirst just knowing this will be "the one." We plunge off the windowsill of the 75th floor, arms stretched wide to capture as much as we can on the way to earth. Yes, we know the ground is coming up soon, we're zooming towards it at a thousand miles a minute.

That's why we throw out the obstacles. They'll slow the fall. You didn't think they just popped up on their own, did you? Nah, you did that yourself. Change the rules mid-flight. Add some conditions. And just in case that's not enough for someone to overcome, we "accidentally" forget to tell them about the changes. Then when they fail us, it's not "our fault." "They should've known" becomes our reasoning for why things went wrong, why the dream was broken.

Repeating that mistake costs us. Sometimes small prices, sometimes great things. Until we clear the path, until all the rules are published, until we stop isolating ourselves, we will fail. We can't hope for anything to be different if we keep sabotaging the future by hanging the albatrosses of the past around its neck.

Lesson One Hundred Nine: Think about carrying a chainsaw instead of a hammer. Cut down the fences instead of building more. ALL IN doesn't mean "everyone inside the castle." It means being the princess that lowers the drawbridge for the knight that's come to save her from the enemy within.

621 to go...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fiction

Day 108. Fiction.

The day after Christmas. Most families spent the day together: exchanging gifts, enjoying massive amount of food. Laughter from the adults and lots of smiles from the kids as they unwrap the gifts Santa left overnight. Some families don't "do" Santa, for fear it will blur the religious story, what with the shiny ornaments and electronic toys not being able to compete with a baby and some sheep. The story of Saint Nicholas, if told properly, doesn't take away from the Saviour's birth, but highlights the goodness in mankind.

If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats. Richard Bach, Illusions.

Saint Nicholas was born in what at the time was ancient Greece, but has since become part of Turkey. He was born to a wealthy family, and his parents encouraged him to become a devout Christian. Although they died when he was young, he remembered their teachings and followed Jesus' words: "Sell what you own and give the money to the poor."

As a young Bishop, he used his whole inheritance to aid the poor, the sick, the needy. As the Bishop of Myra, he was known for his love of children, as well as sailing. Unfortunately, under the Roman Emperor  Diocletian, Christians were persecuted, and Nicholas was imprisoned. Nicholas was later exiled, and until his death in Myra on December 6, 343 AD.

Stories of his silent crusade to help children were told, as well as his giving of gifts to them in times of need. He helped a man secure a dowry for his daughter by making donations of bags of gold coins which were tossed into the man's window and landed in the children's shoes. Thus, the tradition of placing goodies in stockings was born. December 6th became known as Saint Nicholas Day, and he was also known afterwards as the patron Saint of sailors. The day gradually moved closer to the Christian birth date of Christ, but the early Advent exchange of gifts is still practiced in Europe.

So you see, Saint Nicholas, or Santa as he is more commonly known, isn't such a drain on the Christmas Day story of Jesus as most fear. Saint Nicholas was a protector of children and giver of gifts, not some guy dressed in a baggy suit at the mall. They may look like characters in a story, but they represent someone very real.

Lesson One Hundred Eight: Don't be caught up in the commercialism of the Christmas season. It might look like a fake Santa, but he was very real and he understood the lessons of Jesus.

622 to go....

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mission

Day 107. Mission.

He is born. He is Christ the Lord.


His mission in life sounds simple: teach the thing He knows best. Love. It should be easy for the Son of God. People should flock to Him to understand, to learn from someone who was put on this Earth as a symbol of God's love for us. 


In his short thirty-odd years, Jesus touched many thousands of lives in different ways. He performed dozens of miracles, changing the lives of many. He healed the blind, the lame. He fed thousands from a few loaves of bread and some fish, He turned water into wine. He resurrected the dead, He walked on water. Yet in none of the things He did was there any self-recognition. "Rise and go; your faith has saved you." "Everything is possible for those that believe." Humble messages, from a human man.

He had to know how His life would end. God sent Him to Earth to save mankind from our sins. He lived with the knowledge that He would have to give His life to prove it.

Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: If you´re alive, it isn't. Richard Bach: A Bridge Across Forever.

Lesson One Hundred Seven: Today we celebrate His birth. Don't dwell on what is to come. Live. Love.

623 to go...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Journey

Day 106. Journey.

    You don't tell the quality of a master by the size of his crowds.

The time is near. The journey from Galilee to Jerusalem is almost over. The crowds are large, everyone having travelled to their homeland for the census, decreed by Caesar Augustus. 


The only room for Joseph and Mary is a stable, surrounded by gentle animals. Alone but not afraid, she gives birth to a son, named Jesus. For now, He is only a baby. But they both know He is much more.

Angels sing of His birth. Shepherds leave their flocks to find Him in the night.

The wise men set off on their own journey, following the start that signalled His birth. Their gifts were true, but Herod's motives were not. The evil king had his eye on Jesus from the start. The Saviour was born.

                     Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will towards men. 

Lesson One Hundred Six: Have you started your own journey yet? One foot in front of the other. It begins with a single step. 


624 to go...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Worth

Day 105. Worth.

Things of the most value come with the highest prices. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Anything free is usually worth what you paid for it. ALL IN, right? At the end of the day, we probably never get back everything we give out. But that's not the objective: we are remembered by the love we gave. 

It's like, at the end, there's this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid? Richard Bach: The Bridge Across Forever.

We all give up things in our lives. We pass on career advancement so our kids can grow up near family. We sacrifice time doing things we want to shuttle them between soccer and cheerleading, football and Scouts. We give our money to local charities instead of finishing that extra bedroom in the basement. We spend time reading to senior citizens on a Saturday afternoon instead of going to the mall. Pretty small things when we look back at them, but at the time they were huge donations from the heart. 


Surely Jesus reflected on his short life, when the end was near. I imagine even He wondered if He did enough. He had the comforting hand of God on His shoulder, reminding Him that every moment of his life on Earth was for a reason. He was born to die for us. Everything He did was for us: the miracles, the stories, the crucifixion. All his words, shared with the multitudes. Every single event of His life was pre-ordained, He had no choices in how things turned out. But we do.

We have the chance to do something better with ourselves. We can love better, live better, pray better, work better, BE BETTER. It's right there for us, we just have to be brave enough to listen to the words of the Christmas miracle:

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 


625 to go...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Simple

Day 104. Simple.

Life is really a lot easier than we make it. We place problems in our way, just to get their gifts. If we avoided them, it would be much easier. We allow ourselves to be distracted by "things/" If we'd just keep moving forward, it would be easier. We let ourselves get caught up in other people's drama. If we'd just mind our own business..... well, you know. It would be so much easier.

The simplest things are often the truest. Richard Bach, Illusions.

It's hard to just accept things or people at face value. It's human nature to question everything. And the more we question, the deeper we dig, the more complicated things become. All we have to do is accept the simplest answer, and move on to the next issue. But no, as humans we think we need to dig, and discuss, and debate. There just HAS to be more to it, right? No, not really.

There's been a debate for years about the foundation of Christianity. I don't quite understand why, but all doubt should have been removed with the birth of Christ. If God having sent his own Son to live with us, teach us, and eventually die for us isn't proof enough, I got nothing for you. Doubt as you will, question as you wish, but that miraculous virgin birth showed us in the simplest of terms that God is real. He wanted nothing more then, and wants nothing more now, than for us to understand His love for us. In simple terms. \

How much simpler a message do we need? A baby, grown into a man who preaches only good. Who came from the humblest of beginnings, worked with His hands, walked the same dirt roads as those who would follow Him. Follow Him through the countryside as He spoke. They watched him feed thousands from a meager basket of bread and fish. They weren't shocked, there was a simple answer. It was a miracle. There was no other explanation.

He continued his teachings right to the end of His life. Even nailed to the Cross, in horrific pain, feeling betrayed by even his own Father. Even at his darkest and weakest moment, He was teaching us that same simple lesson. Believe. Believe in Him, and you can do anything.

Lesson One Hundred Four: It's right there in front of you, all you have to do is believe. It's simple. Believe.

626 to go...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gifts

Day 103. Gifts.

Always great to receive an unexpected gift, I just got a great candy gift basket from some dear friends. I think it's even better to be the giver. Nothing like the feeling of making someone smile. And some of the best gifts are those that don't come from a store, don't cost any money. Gifts of the heart.

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift in its hands. You seek out problems because you need their gifts. Richard Bach: Illusions.

Probably my very favourite Bach quote. It goes to the heart of life, of love. If we didn't gain anything from solving problems, we'd just give up. Nothing to gain, we risk nothing. Why bother to get ourselves out of trouble if we won't have anything to show for it? Sadly, too many people never learn the lesson Richard is trying to teach us.

The season of Christmas gives its own message of giving. Similar to what Richard tells us, God gave us a most precious gift those two thousand fourteen years ago. He gave us the gift of His Son, here on Earth. But there was also a problem. We have to make a choice: believe in Him, be washed in His Blood and forgiven of our sins, and receive the gift of salvation. Refuse him, continue our sinful lives, and miss out on the glory of His Kingdom. Problem, gift. See how it works?

Lesson One Hundred Three: It's never too late to give. Even when you think you have nothing.

627 to go...


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Trust

Day 102.Trust.




I know I've talked about trust before, but it's something that comes up almost daily so it's worth another post. Trust in friends, trust in loved ones, trust in strangers, trust in God. We all place a lot of trust on others, but the one we can always count on is ourselves.

You find what you love and you learn everything about it. You bet your life on what you know and run from safety, off your mountain into the air, trusting the principle of flight to bring you soaring up on lift you cannot see with your eyes. Richard Bach, Running from Safety.

 Life is hard. It's not meant to be easy, nothing truly worth it ever is/ Letting go of life's familiarities is hard, trying new things that might not work out is scary. I don't pretend to be the most adventerous person, but when I do try new things, I leap in head first. Only way to learn to swim is dive in and see what happens, right? I'm not afraid of failing, I'm afraid of not trying. For sure, if we never try, we never fail. But look at the rewards when we succeed. Even when the risk is great.

Trust was placed in all of us all those years ago when God sent forth his Son. He had trust in us, that we would open our hearts and believe in the miracle He had sent us. The message of salavation was worth the risk, worth sending His Son into the unknown. Troubled times existed then, and still exist today. The risk of those who believe in Him is great, as His enemies are undaunted. Yet He trusts in us to believe in Him, and spread His Word, even at great peril to ourselves. Missionaries around the planet preach the Gospel in war zones, yet they do now cower in fear. They know His protection is great.

A baby boy, born to peasants, surrounded by sheep but guarded by angels. He trusted, too. His life was never meant to be long, as He came into the world to be sacrificed for our sins. Yet the trust he placed in someone he thought was a friend led him to shackles. We can't question the motive, but I believe that it was less than the silver coins. It was a lack of trust. Judas couldn't trust what Jesus said to be true: that whosoever believeth in Him shall have eternal life. It was more than he could comprehend, and he willingly surrendered his friend, even knowing the price was death. Maybe Judas knew that Jesus was always meant to give His life for our sins, and that it was part of the plan. I know Jesus trusted him, was betrayed by him, yet still died for him.

Lesson One Hundred Two: Trust your heart, and what you believe in. We all have to believe in something, it might as well be each other. Until someone proves you wrong, give them a chance. Trust yourself.


628 to go...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Knowledge.

Day 101. Knowledge.

It's said that knowledge is power. If that's true, then we are doomed. Because we know that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When those who know how to obtain power to be able to rule over those who do not, we're on the road to hell on a pretty speedy train, with front row seats to doom.

What matters is how I use what I know, every minute of every day; how I use it to remember, in the midst of the game. Richard Bach, Running from Safety.

We have to keep our wits about us, all the time. There's twists and turns in life that don't allow us to sit and think about things for any length of time. We have to be reflexive and make choices on the fly. Life will indeed pass us by if we don't. It will also trample us like a mad crowd, not caring that we were out of breath or had a charleyhorse was why we weren't running with everyone else.

The Christmas season just enhances the madness. People running from store to store, stressing over buying the perfect gift. Company parties, church Christmas programs, all this combines into the perfect storm. A storm where many forget the reason we celebrate on December 25. It isn't about the gifts. It isn't about the parties. Strange enough, it's about knowledge. And power.




The Son of God wasn't born to just any woman. Mary had been prepared to give birth to the King of Kings, she was given advance knowledge by an angel. As was her husband Joseph: they both were aware that the Messiah, God's own Son, would come to the world during their pilgrimage. Armed with that knowledge, which was no light burden I am sure, they made their journey across the desert. On a late December night, they sought shelter, but found none. The crowds of people returning to their birthplaces too many, the young couple found safe haven in a lowly stable.

One would think an all-powerful God would pick a better place to have His Son come into the world, but the stable was perfect. God knew the lesson of humility would be remembered, as it is today. The most powerful, yet completely selfless, person ever born on Earth, opened his eyes to see himself surrounded by humble villagers and animals. Jesus was born unto the world with two people having the knowledge of who he was, yet over two thousand years later a majority of people alive today believe in his Salvation.

Wise men hurried to the scene, dispatched days before in search of a babe that would fulfill prophecy. Shepherds saw the brilliant star in the night, and journeyed to see the miracle they knew would be there. They knew their search wasn't over, it was just beginning.

Lesson One Hundred One: Don't get caught up in everything around you and forget what's important. People.

629 to go...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Selfishness

Day 100. Selfishness.

Not a character trait anyone wants to ascribe to, yet we are surrounded by those who think more of themselves than others. No time is more prevalent than the holidays, from Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. As much as we think we know people, this season of family, friends and giving is prime time for such people. I suppose some of them don't even realize it, but I don't buy that as a reason: more of an excuse.

I grew up with one parent who may have been the most selfish person on earth, at least for the years they had here. I remember Christmases with a shudder, thinking of how many were ruined by the caterwauling and tears when they didn't get the exact gift they wanted (even when what they got was often better!) I kid you not, there were more of those than not. I remember at least two post-gifting suicide attempts. What the hell, who DOES that? The rest of us kind of ignored it, we sat down in the dining room and finished eating while things raged in another room. No matter how old I get, I remember back to those days and think "man, how selfish was that? Sure made me realize how NOT to act.

Other people take the holidays as a sign to make a big list of everything they want, and are disappointed when it isn't filled. I take the opposite tack: I try and buy something highly personal, no matter how small or inexpensive. I think it shows how well you know someone, how much attention you pay to what they do, when you can find just the right something that they didn't even know they wanted and it makes them smile. For the record, if I want socks or underwear, I'll buy them myself. That's kinda personal.

Then you have the people that give the gift of themselves. Time, effort, some good deed. Maybe volunteering at a nursing home, or a church. Helping a friend in need. Taking a name off the Angel Tree at the mall. Not everyone is so altruistic as to be doing it out of the good of their heart, some people need the recognition it brings. SelfLESSness is a more endearing trait, the simple hug from someone that truly needed help should be enough. These are the people that often try to outdo everyone they buy gifts for, going over the top with quantity or expense. As if you can buy love, any easier than you can garner affection by reminding people of the good deeds you've done over the years.

We also have the people who have no reason but to be selfish, yet they drop into our lives and surprise us with small gifts or cards. Usually someone unexpected, like the customer that's grumpy most days, or the vendor you only talk to once a year. Maybe a friend that you forget even had your address, or a coworker that made brownies for you. Random acts of kindness. I like those best.




No one does anything uncharacteristic of who they are. Richard Bach: One. 

Lesson One Hundred: Be the one to make another person smile today. Even if all you do is smile first.

630 to go...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Character

Day 99. Character.

What does not kill us strengthens us, isn't that how it goes? God never gives us more than we can handle. We are stronger than we know. All good sayings about building character, all true. It's not always the character we have that's important, sometimes it's the character that is lacking.

Character comes from following our highest sense of right, from trusting ideas without being sure they’ll work. Richard Bach: One.




Life is hard. In fact, it sucks out loud sometimes. God intended it that way. Nothing gained easily is worth much, we must sacrifice many things to top the highest mountains. We have to decide for ourselves what we want, and how to get it. Without trampling on the rest of the world that's clamoring to the peaks as well. That's when character comes into play.

Some of us are happy to stay at the lower elevations. Not feeling the need to climb into the thinner air, we're happy to build our houses in the valleys. Or we've been to the peaks and didn't like the view, so we came back down and live on the edge of the grandeur. Our characters have shown us to be adequate when it comes to the easier things, but we're not always meant for tougher times.

Then there's those who reach for the sky. Every day. Even when it's cold and snowy and the wind is blowing against them, they keep climbing. Especially when things get rough, when it seems they're all alone, when backs are turned to them for reasons they can't always make sense of, they keep climbing. Trusting in God to see them to their goal, they continue the progress towards the top. Because their character demands it.

Lesson Ninety Nine: Don't be a quitter.

631 to go...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Compassion

Day 98. Compassion.

How easy it is to be compassionate when it's yourself you see in trouble. Richard Bach: Illusions.


As a result of the choices made in life, people find themselves with hands out and head lowered, humbled by the grace of others. Some would think it's much easier to be the giver of compassion than the recipient. I beg to differ. I think the burden is on the ones called to be compassionate, and they are sometimes not the angels we believe.

Are things done for the good of those we seek to help, or are they merely playing a role in which the Devil himself cast them? Hearts not completely pure, some seek acknowledgement of their actions, for their own ends. The means of which can shatter a life that has been placed into their hands with delicate care, by someone who placed trust where there might've been doubt. Where a heart was laid bare for the world to see, they trusted the door would remain closed until the wounds had healed.

Instead, they now sit on the sidelines of their interrupted life, their broken dream. Waiting for God alone to heal that wound, one they knowingly opened. Willingly, they chanced a future that seemed out of reach. Now crushed, they reach out hesitantly, yet again. Because no matter how many times dreams get shattered, how many times that wound gets ripped open, they know God's plan for them is not ended.

He never gives up on anyone.

Lesson Ninety Eight: Have you given up on someone that was counting on you, and later realized you made a mistake? Did you believe no one would notice but them? Think about when you need someone, if they'll really be there, if they can be trusted with your heart. Realize that everything you think you knew could be wrong.

632 to go...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Choices.

Day 97. Choices.

Some days, you wonder if you can do anything right. Did you make the right decision at work? Have you done all you can for your family? Are you surrounded by the right people? Is this the place to be?

Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you. Richard Bach: Illusions

As much as we try to avoid them, choices come at us all the time, from all angles. And from the choices we make come others. Although it's filled with twists and turns, it is an infinite maze where all answers lead to more choices. We can't escape them with delay or doubt. They'll be waiting for us the next day, sometimes on their knees begging for answers. unavoidable.




Where should I go? What should I do? Who should I trust? Only you can make the eventual choice, but you can listen to others that have "been there, done that/" Those who are on the same circular path of life, maybe just a little further ahead by having made some choices already. Or even those who are behind you on the path, having made choices that took them off the course but looped them right back to where they started.

I know I've put off decisions, hoping they'd just work themselves out. What few did, worked out for the worse. I'm sure I've been in the wrong places, too. But for the Grace of God, I've also been in the right places. Or at least I was able to get from the wrong to the right. Skinned knees and palms, sometimes crawling away from a fire, but still moving and making yet another choice.

I've also feel I've chosen wisely in family and in friends. Made my share of mistakes there as well, I tend to accept everyone at face value. Giving not just second chances, but often third or fourth or more. Then at some point, their true faces come out. Not the people I thought they were, maybe not the people they thought they were. Sometimes I was able to let them go, cutting ties with the sharpest knife I have. Never looking back. Others, I've put off the choice, hoping something would jump out of the bushes along the path to show me more.

Sometimes, we just have to wait. Choices jumping up and down, screaming at us, begging us to pick one or the other or the other.

Lesson Ninety Seven: You won't get the same challenge a second time. It will affect you forever. Choose wisely.

633 to go...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Truth

Day 96. Truth.




I have bits and pieces of writings all around. In my phone, on my tablet, in my PC. I wrote this about a month ago.... wasn't quite sure at the time why, so I never did anything else with it.

I read once that the human lifetime is too long to remain committed to only one other human. Wolves, eagles, they bond for lifetimes of maybe a decade. Human adults have the potential for five decades together, or more. Who's to say we can remain happy... no, not just happy... enchanted by one single other human for that length of time? Can we realistically expect someone to be enchanted with us as well? It sounds good on paper, but it's not always practical. When we start asking the hard questions, the truths come out.

Truth: been down one time. Been down two times. Never going back again. Never.


Truth: just when you think you know somebody, you find out you don't even know yourself.

Truth: what you need the most, you understand the least.

Truth: the people who are there for you will disappoint you, but you'll disappoint yourself far more.

Truth: I will not go down easily. Or quietly.

Lesson Ninety Six: Or everything I've ever written could be wrong.

694 to go...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bonfire Heart

Day 95. Bonfire Heart.

Today's about the music that keeps me going...

Your mouth is a revolver firing bullets in the sky.
Your love is like a soldier, loyal till you die.
And I’ve been looking at the stars for a long, long time.
I’ve been putting out fires all my life.
Everybody wants a flame, but they don’t want to get burnt.
And today is our turn.


Days like these lead to, nights like this leads to love like ours,
You light the spark in my bonfire heart.
People like us, we don’t need that much.
Just someone that starts, starts the spark in our bonfire hearts.

This world is getting colder. Strangers passing by.
No one offers you a shoulder. No one looks you in the eye.
But I’ve been looking at you for a long, long time.
Just trying to break through, trying to make you mine.
Everybody wants a flame, they don’t want to get burnt
Well today is our turn.

Days like these lead to nights like this leads to love like ours,
You light a spark in my bonfire heart.
People like us, we don’t need that much.
Just someone that starts, starts a spark in our bonfire hearts.


Lesson Ninety Five: Never take anything for granted. No matter how bad things get, never give up. Tell the people you love that you do. Every damn day.

645 to go...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Indestructible

Day 94. Indestructible.

I'm on a weirdo timeline this week. But I think I can write a whole blog post with nothing but quotes. And a picture.

From Jonathan Livingston Seagull:

Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.

We can start working with time, if you wish, till you can fly the past and the future. And then you will be ready to begin the most difficult, the most powerful, the most fun of all. You will be ready to BEGIN to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love.


From Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah:


A person gets used to being alone, but break it just for a day and you have to get used to it again, all over from the beginning.

There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to reach the places we've chosen to go.

From Illusions II: The Adventures of A Reluctant Student. 


This disaster is the chance you prayed for, your wish come true.

In every disaster, in every blessing, ask, "Why me?" There's a reason, of course, there's an answer.

Rebuilding us. Isn’t that what the spirit requires, when we climb over the wreckage of our lives, sometimes, we go on to make our lives our own affirmation? We are perfect expressions of perfect Love, here and now. There is no permanent injury.

If we want to end this lifetime higher than we began, we can expect an uphill road.

Lesson Ninety Four:  I’m fine. Indestructible.




646 to go...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nothing

Day 93. Nothing.

Today, I get to tell you a brand new story. About nothing.

Imagine a day where something you'd worked for, hoped for, prayed for is THISCLOSE to coming true. Can you feel it? It's right there. So close you can feel the heat coming off of it. You and your loved ones have lived for this moment, and it's right there. Dream of a lifetime. Blood, sweat and tears. So close.

Then it's gone. Plans fall through. Beyond your control, too close to the ground, no time to recover, spiralling toward the earth. Destined to become an oily spot on the street, with the promise of survival slim, and not enough insurance to make a difference. BOOM. Just like that. Game over.

Open your eyes. Look around. It's okay, don't be afraid. I promise, it'll be okay. Just tell me about it. Sometimes just talking about it helps. I'm a good listener. Yeah, I know I talk a lot, but I listen well.

Man, that does bite. But, really. I am so there. Yes, I'm serious. Just so happens I can help. Most days, I can't help myself out of bed without a huge effort, much less anyone else, but by some strange coincidence.... the exact thing you need, at a time when I have it and don't have any clue what to do with it.

Bad things are not the worst things that can happen to us. NOTHING is the worst thing that can happen to us. Richard Bach: One.

Lesson Ninety Three: There's no such thing as coincidence. God speaks to us. Better be paying attention, my friends. We need each other, and if we're not watching.....

Life is one hell of a ride. No wonder God sets the price so high. You have to really want it.

647 to go...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Responsibility

Day 92. Responsibility.

When things go right, there's a line of people ready to take credit. But let something go wrong, and you'll get trampled at the exodus. Nobody wants blame, nobody wants culpability. If we are to learn any lessons from the mistakes we make, we have to be willing to take responsibility.

If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim. Richard Bach: One.

I talked yesterday about being in charge of our own ships, our own destiny. To do that, we must stand ready and willing to take both credit and blame. Things will go wrong, they always do. Unless you're a hermit and has no human contact, you will at some point have conflict. I've had my share. Okay, my share and then some. I grew up and moved away from most of it. Narrowed the conflict to the man in my life and pretty much nobody else.

I mentioned awhile back that he missed Kathie a lot. I think losing her broke both of us, in different ways. A good friend told me once that losing a child is the hardest thing someone goes through, and losing a spouse is next. Fine time to bat a thousand, eh? Sheesh. I know I am different since she's been gone, these dozen years now. I lost.... I'm not sure what. Not faith. Not hope. I lost..... me? I forgot what I was. I was so busy grieving inside, I quit being me on the outside. Which affected our life together. My responsibility. Not alone in it, but I wasn't willing to accept it for a long time. So I remained its victim.

I was willing to let things happen as a result of that. I was willing to let myself become isolated from the real world. I wasn't unhappy to have mostly online friends, they couldn't see the pain. The scars. They didn't know me "before," so they had nothing to compare me to. They wouldn't know about the chunks of my heart that were missing. The pieces of my soul that were flying around, looking for somewhere to land. Again, my responsibility. My choices, bad ones, but mine. Again, their victim.

I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom. Richard Bach: Illusions.

Lesson Ninety Two:  How about we try accepting responsibility? Before it's too late.  Before there's no one left to apologize to. ALL IN.

648 to go...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Morning

Day 91. Morning.

It's a new day, with new challenges and new successes. Ever notice if we think that bad things that will happen, they usually do? That's why I try and wake up to new beginnings instead of new problems. Nothing can tear us down quicker than believing we are pre-determined to failure. It's much easier to get up each day knowing we have yet another chance to live our dreams than to worry how soon they'll be shattered. Smoother sailing when we start out on the yacht than the rowboat.

I prefer sunrises over sunsets. I think I prefer beginnings to endings. The crimson streaks from the east, the golden orb rising yet again, with all the promise of a fresh start. No buildup of bad events to account for, no looking back over the day and wondering what we could have changed. Words yet unspoken, our day begins anew with a fresh chance to express our love, our dreams. Without the twin clouds of failure and disappointment, we can look out at the sea and imagine perfection. With the exception of those who can't let go of yesterday. Oh, how hard I try not to be one of those people.

I've been going back and reading a little journal of thoughts I wrote down after Dave's accident. I seem to have taken about a month or so to get my thoughts in order, and stop sounding like it was the end of my world. I haven't shared any of this with anyone, just something I had in the computer and added to, randomly. Thoughts I still don't feel comfortable sharing, but I wanted you to know I didn't just sit back and not try and learn from what I was feeling. Which was apparently not one of the normal stages of grief, abandonment.

I think he took care to spare me of that part. The last year of his life, we fought like fire and water many times. About anything and everything. Nothing I did was right or good enough (like I hadn't heard THAT before.) I realized about a month after the accident that it was his plan. Make me stop loving him so much that I wouldn't be as hurt when it happened.

I've always believed that people know when their time is short. I think he did, and he tried to spare me. Thinking if I didn't love him quite as much, it wouldn't hurt so bad. That one day, I'd wake up and realize I had to get on with my life, which was by no means over. A new day, aboard a ship of which I was the captain and crew.

It was morning, and the new sun sparkled gold across the ripples of a gentle sea. Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull. 

Lesson Ninety One: Morning's coming. BE ALL IN.

649 to go...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Decisions

Day 90. Decisions.

Our human brains make thousands of decisions each day, most of them without any real thought required. Tiny ones, reflexes that we use to walk, speak, blink. The bigger ones, we pause upon: lunch, what to do next, do we need to stop anywhere on the way home? Then the life-altering ones: should we stay in this relationship, does this job really make me happy, where do I want to be in 10 years? And all along the way, at any moment, people see the results.

All we see of someone at any moment is a snapshot of their life, in riches or poverty, in joy or despair. Snapshots don't show the million decisions that led to that moment.  Richard Bach.

I'd like to think someone looking at my life would think I've not done too terribly. I've managed to hang onto most of my sanity this far, I don't have a lot of material things to account for my hard work but I am fairly debt-free, and making people laugh brings me great joy. It wasn't easy getting here, and I'm still not where I want to be, but... here I am.

If only..... what a powerful phrase is that? Full of hope, regret, remorse, indecision. I'd rather be sorry for something I've done than regret something I didn't, and I guess my life reflects that. I've missed time with loved ones, but found new treasure in discovering them again. I spent too much time working and too little having fun, but now that I see which is more important I can make time for the better things. Never one to slack on their obligations, I was the dependable one that brought home the bacon and cooked it. I don't regret that, but I should have delegated things so I didn't feel so taken for granted.

Happiness is, to a point, relative. Where you are at this moment might not be your finest hour, but it has probably been worse. Who you're with right now might be your soulmate, but you kissed some frogs to get to a prince. Your possessions might be few, but your obligations are smaller as well. There's something to say for a life well lived, and if you truly have lived, today is a reflection of it. Today, I can look at you and see someone who is free to be themselves, free to love, free to laugh. If that's not what I see, all we need to do is wait. You'll know what to change, and when the time is right it'll all look different.

James Taylor sang this at John Belushi's funeral, March 8, 1982. How different would life be if we listened to these words?

If I had stopped to listen once or twice
If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes
If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart
I'd not be on this road tonight


Lesson Ninety: Are your decisions written in stone, or do you change your mind often? Is that because you're unsure and just made a quick choice, or do you truly mean for a different result? Think about who you want to be, and who the world would see today. If they don't end up at the same place, one of us isn't working hard enough for the truth.

640 to go...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Love

Day 89. Love.

The most mangled word in most languages. Right up there with God. So many definitions, so many different meanings based on context. Yet in the end, the very thing we are judged on was our ability to love those with whom we surrounded ourselves.

The things we own, the places we live, the events of our lives: empty settings. How easy to chase after settings, and forget diamonds! The only thing that matters, at the end of a stay on earth, is how well did we love, what was the quality of our love? Richard Bach: One.

We work hard to have a home, cars, big screen televisions. And the only thing that matters in the end is love. I'd like to think I've done a good job at loving. I've had lots of practice, I've had and still have some amazing people in my life. It does take practice, because loving different people in different ways, is hard.

Love of family. Some of the hardest times I've ever experienced were trying to love family. Blood family. Made more difficult by one parent who hated the world more than themselves, I certainly had a messed up definition of how that was supposed to go. Determined not to make the same mistakes, I bottled up some of it for my later years, and brought it out when the coast was clear. Sometimes it wasn't obvious that I loved them, but I hope they never doubted I did. Just had to wait til things calmed down to open the lid again. Yes, I was scared of being hurt. Til I realized I was the one who could allow it.

Love of friends. A bit easier than family, but harder to stay in touch with. School friends, work friends. All adults that have their own lives. Thanks to the internet, I've found some special ones again. Just last week, I reconnected with one from almost 20 years ago. We met at work, became friends outside of work. We played Rook together most Friday nights for a few years, then they moved away. Now she's back in the area on her own, I'm here by myself, so we're planning to get together in person again to catch up. Lots of stories to tell, I'm sure the tears will flow. The love never stopped. Like with the rest of you miscreants. I don't tell you I love you lightly: I do mean it.

Love of partner. One I never thought I'd have to work for again at this age. Been there, done that, twice for extended periods. Also a difficult kind of love, as the pressures of day to day live weigh heavy on a relationship. You by now know my saying "ALL IN," so you know how I approached this one. Good or bad, I was there. Giving all I had. Hoping I got everything in return, but like most of us I was never sure. I knew it wasn't a 50/50 thing, but dang, I thought it was at least 70/30. All I ever wanted was to be the one that made him smile, and I think I did that. Both times. 


Lesson Eighty Nine: Have you loved well? Do you accept the love of others easily? Think about those you love, and remember to tell them and show them you do. You never know when you won't have another chance to do it.

641 to go...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Master

Day 88. Master.

Richard talks a lot about being in charge of our own lives. That goes against what we are taught, which is our fates are inescapable and predetermined. While the outcome will always end in our death, I do not believe that God intends for us to just surrender and let things happen. I think we are to make our own decisions and deal with the rewards and the punishments they bring. Captains of our own ships, right?

Never had I understood that I command, with absolute authority, the ship of my life! I decide its mission and rules and discipline, at my word waits every tool and sail, every cannon, the strength of every soul on board. I’m master of a team of passionate skills to sail me through hell’s own jaws the second I nod the direction to steer. Richard Bach: Running from Safety.

I spent a decent portion of my life forgetting that I alone am the master of my fate. I also spent those same years letting others make choices for me. Whatever they wanted, just to keep the peace. No more fighting, I had decided against that when I was in my teens. I would do whatever I could to just swallow whatever I wanted to say, or how I felt, just to stop an argument. Nobody ever wins one anyway, so why throw all your feelings onto the table just so everyone can walk away a loser?

I'd say the last dozen years are where I finally decided to protect myself, I had to speak up. Not that I've ever been wont to be silent, I'd surprisingly bitten my tongue many times. And every time I did that, I felt a little piece of myself die. Every missed chance to be "me" was another dream I was surrendering, another chance to laugh gone away. And it caused problems, of course. Nobody like change, and when someone you love begins acting in a way you're not used to, it upsets things. What most don't realize is that by showing others we are not slaves but masters, we are giving them a gift. A chance to see the real us, the full potential of what we can be.

When we realize that we can no longer control someone, we should also look at the other side of that coin and see that they no longer control us. Control is a tool of the weak, used to fool themselves into believing they are strong. When you take away that power, bring yourself on equal footing, you are no longer a slave. And they are no longer a master.

Lesson Eighty Eight: Do you surrender your life to the power of others? Are you in control of your own life, or does controlling someone else's make you feel like you are? Think about the times you've forced others to pull the oars, you were still the master of the ship. With great power comes great responsibility.

642 to go...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Spirit

Day 87. Spirit.

Ever have one of those days where something happens that you just can't explain? Something that smacks you in the heart, takes your breath away? Yeah, one of those days. You always hear that "God never gives us more than we can handle, this is just a test." Okay, my spirit gets tested more than I wish. But probably exactly as much as He plans.

Fear not, nor be dismayed at the appearance that is darkness, at the disguise that is evil, at the empty cloak that is death, for you have picked these for your challenges. They are stones on which you choose to whet the keen edge of your spirit. Richard Bach: One.

Much of what I write about is just connections. Connecting the events of my life to things Richard Bach says and hoping you find a connection to your life. I'd love nothing better than for my past (and my future) to interconnect with yours and save you some pain and heartache. Lord knows we get enough of that, any less is a blessing. My spirit should probably be way more broken than it is, but I don't have it in me to quit. I'm a fighter, and I didn't get this far to give up now. And I'm trying to be a teacher and help you understand how to fight.

Spirits are delicate things. You have to wrap them up sometimes, so they don't get damaged when people start kicking at you, and screaming at you, and throwing things at you. Don't kid yourself, your spirit runs and hides under the coffee table just like mine. It's not weakness to admit it, it's weak to deny it. Our humanity is tested every day, and we don't have a clue that we picked the battles. We all fight monsters, we all fear loneliness, we all are desperate for answers. If only we could tell ourselves to calm down.  We have the answers, we just aren't sure sometimes what the questions are.

I've always been a believer in connections being more than chance. I think we are led down many paths in our life, most of them our own choosing. Randomness doesn't give us the complete trust we feel in others, the magnetic pull we get from certain people that are there for us. And not just when it counts, there for us when we're just being silly. I'm blessed to have realized that we draw those people into our lives:: thankfully I read Illusions for the first time over 30 years ago, so I'm always on the lookout for like-minded spirits.

And behind it lies not blind chance but a principle that works to help us understand, a thousand "coincidences" and friends come to show us the way when the problem seems too hard to solve alone. Problems for overcoming. Freedom for proving. And, as long as we believe in our dream, nothing by chance. Richard Bach: Nothing By Chance.

Lesson Eighty Seven: Do you connect with people in ways that seem improbable if not impossible? Are there times when things happen that you know can't be coincidence, but someone touching you from the past? Think about how your life is connected with all the others before and after the one you're living now. Realize that the spirits of everyone you've ever loved and ever will love are with you each step of the way.

(And yes, Kathie. I was talking about you yesterday, thanks for noticing and hitting me with an Angel this morning.)

643 to go...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Understanding

Day 86. Understanding.

Sometimes we don't know how to fix problems because we aren't even sure what the problem is. You can work to fix something that isn't even broken, while around the corner all hell is breaking loose. You're busy changing the station on the radio, meanwhile the transmission is falling out the back....

It doesn’t take time to change once you understand the problem...Somebody hands you a rattlesnake, it doesn’t take long to drop it, does it? Richard Bach: One.

I used to think I knew what I needed to work on to "fix things." To make my life better. I thought I needed to learn to calm down, to act a little less wild, to be less impulsive. After all, who would want to be involved with someone that's "on the edge" like that, right? So I took it down a notch. Okay, a few notches. I didn't want to scare anybody. I only let the "real me" out on special occasions: at parties, after I'd been drinking, etc. Unfortunately, those turned out to be some of the worst times to be "me." Me, unchained, with the edge off equals trouble. okay, TROUBLE. All along, what I needed to do was find someone that was okay with "me,", not afraid of "me," and certainly not wanting to control "me."

We all do things like that. We give up something to get something else. The guy you're interested in doesn't like smokers? Okay, you can quit. At least for a while. The girl you've been talking to at work likes country music? Sure, you can learn to listen to Luke Bryan. Those are minor things you can "fix," but the really big stuff, you're better off not trying to hide. Not wanting kids, she won't get over that if you gloss it over and then drop it on her after the engagement. Knowing he's getting his master's so he can move to a new job in a new city better not be an issue after you've moved in with him.

Problems are just... problematic. You can only fix what you know about, and are willing to spend the time on. Your mom might be a pain in the butt that expects you there for dinner every Sunday afternoon, but he can find common ground with her since they're both Redskins fans. His kids might not live with you full time, it just seems like they're always underfoot, but if you get to know them a little you might find out they're just looking for someone to fill the gaps as a parent, since theirs don't get along for crap.

Lesson Eighty Six: Can you spot the difference in things you will and won't change about your life? Do you know which of them are "really" important? Think about the changes you ask others to make (yes, even the ones you don't know you ask for, but your actions let people know what you expect) and be sure you understand that you have to be willing to become the person you told them you would be as well. What? You just want to be yourself? Maybe they want you to be "you" as well. And "you" might not be who you think you are.

644 to go...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Afraid

Day 85. Afraid.

It's okay to admit it. We're all afraid of something. We've talked about this before. Some are physical fears, like snakes. Others are emotional, like being abandoned. Either way, we can get through them if we keep our wits about us, and remember we're in control of our own lives. The good, the bad, the ugly: we are responsible for drawing them all to us. Just like the people and events we draw into our lives.

The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we're afraid.We fear we will not find love,and when we find it we fear we'll lose it. We fear that if we don't have love we will be unhappy. Richard Bach: One.

Today's families are often a mashup of moms, dads, his kids, her kids, their kids. The bonds don't have to be of blood for them to thrive, but we do have to work at them. Being in a blended family brings new challenges, but where there's love and respect, it all works. Sometimes there has to be a wicked stepmother, almost always there's someone saying "you're not my real Dad." The communication may be crude, but keeping the lines open is key. Everyone grows up eventually, and realizes that the parents were just trying to do their best. You are doing your best, right?

I believe Dave missed Kathie more than me in some ways. They were "running buddies" of sorts. She was always game to run to the store with him, probably to sneak a cigarette she knew I wouldn't put up with. They were always scamming something on me. Some nights she really didn't have to work, he'd drop her off and let her hang out with friends. I only found out later when she would come home and not smell like french fries, from the kitchen she cooked in. Silly things, but they had a different bond than she and I did. Even different than Mike and I. If nobody told you, you never guessed they weren't blood-kin. They were heart-kin.

It wasn't always like that. They fought like wildcats sometimes, early on. I stayed out of it, knowing that you can't force anyone to get along. I did the bad cop routine, for them both. After enough time, they realized they had more in common than different. I can't say there weren't a lot of tears, a lot of harsh words: there were plenty of both. At some point he realized she wanted someone to make her listen, to push her to be better. And she figured out that he needed someone to be a kid with, someone that just wanted to have fun. The fights, the arguments, they were before both of them started doing their best for each other.

Don't ever believe that you can't make someone love you. Even when you think you don't deserve it, or don't even want it. The way to make someone love you? Let them in.

Lesson Eighty Five: Do you distance yourself in bad situations, so you don't get hurt? Are there times you just give up instead of fighting for what needs to happen? Think about people in your life, the love that is right there, just out of reach, and realize that when you stop being afraid, it will happen. Because you're worth it.

645 to go...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Masks

Day 84. Masks.

Repeat title but not a repeat performance. I still believe we all hide, we all deceive, we all lie. Hard truths are never easy, and accepting responsibility for the problems we have created is considered failure by most of us. We each have a closet full of masks: some we wear in public, some in private, others when we're alone. Why in the world would we need a mask if its just us? Well, sometimes we're just that embarrassed at our own truths.

We wait all these years to find someone who understands us. Someone who accepts us as we are, someone with a wizard's power to melt stone to sunlight, which can bring us happiness in spite of trials, which can face our dragons in the night, who can transform us into the soul we choose to be. Just yesterday I found that magical someone is the face we see in the mirror: It's us and our homemade masks. Richard Bach: The Bridge Across Forever.

We are all white knights. We are all princesses. We alone are responsible for our own happiness. Nobody can take it from us, and we can't grant it to someone else. No matter the situation, we have created it. We can no more hide from our own reality than we can alter someone else's. Masters of our own fates, captains of our own ships, we alone choose our course. We think we deserve the lives we have now, as good or as bad as they are. We punish ourselves for past wrongs, just knowing that we can't have happiness because of the pain we caused others. We cling to the scraps we find along the way, trying to make a life of the pieces. Surely screwups like us can't have the good things in life, not when we've done so little to deserve better. So we hide behind our masks, pretending to be happy. When inside, we're resigned to whatever we've chosen to accept as our fate.

Having had that beaten into me at an early age, I believed it. For most of my adult life. At some point, I'm still not quite sure when, I realized I was letting someone else decide my fate. And that would never do. If I ever wanted to be happy, to be loved, to be free, I had to start doing that for myself. I had to take control, speak my own truth, and take charge. So often, we think that by accepting what we've been given instead of working for what we want, we'll be happy. We think that we only deserve "this much" happiness, instead of the whole thing. Because we screwed up at some point in the past, we think we have no right to claim anything beautiful ever again. We couldn't be more wrong.

Admitting our mistakes is exactly why we deserve more. We earn happiness. Particularly after our failures. in spite of our failures. There's only ever been one perfect person on this earth, and He gave his soul that we all might have the chance to be born again. Yet we deny that chance. We can't forgive ourselves, how can God possibly forgive us? And without that, how can we ever expect anything truly wonderful to be real? It's just a temporary thing, real happiness can't last. Because we can't possibly deserve it, right?

Nope. We all deserve it. All the happiness. As my friend Scott says, "in this life, or the next." I choose this one. You should too. Keep reading. I'm trying my best. For both of us.

Lesson Eighty Four: Are the things you really want just out of reach, or do you stop yourself because you don't think you deserve them? Do you see your past as something you can never atone for, and accept things instead of creating the life you want? Look at yourself in the mirror, and understand that you choose to wear that mask. Or to take it off.

646 to go...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ransom

Day 83. Ransom

Defined by Webster's as "the sum or price paid or demanded." At some point, we all feel like we had to pay a price to get something we desperately wanted. And sometimes, you feel like you gave something more than you received, no matter how good the deal worked out for you. I know I have personally paid many ransoms, the greatest of which was probably my own happiness in exchange for what seemed a peaceful life.

Tell him I said that he will know when he's my age that books aren't written on whims or old promises. Books are written on years turned inside out by ideas that never let go until you get them in print, and even then writing's a last resort, a desperate ransom you pay to get your life back. Richard Back: Running From Safety

I can say without a doubt I've watched my life pass before my eyes, at a blurring speed over which I had no control. Or so I thought. I know now, looking back through the rear view mirror, that I was in charge all along. I let things happen. No, not as a child. That hot mess is on backs of those who thought their needs were more important than anything else. Not my job to dispense justice to them, that's been dealt with by their Maker. But as an adult, I was the one who let things happen. I chose to give up some things in exchange for others that I thought would be better. Funny how that never really  works out like we expect. 



I look back now and see the foolishness in my efforts, but I'm hoping with my renewed love of writing I am no longer on the losing end. Instead, a ransom I can draw from instead of paying into, where I find the peace I've searched for on my own terms. Rather than sacrifice part of myself to be happy, I can make a withdrawal from the wealth of knowledge I've gained through experience, and be no less for it.


Coming up on a year of being on my own again, yet not alone, I find this daily journal of thoughts and dreams and tears is keeping me sane. I always knew I had people I could count on, and my friends and family have risen to the occasion and proved me right yet again. I'm finding new things to think about, to blog about, every day. Something that I read, something that happens, I see a lesson in the smallest details of life. I feel compelled to write, to share my experience, to allow others to see me as I see myself.

The ransom this time doesn't come at a price. I've gained much more that I've given this past year. I've learned that the hearts of those around us aren't bound by distance. I've begun to believe in the power of the human spirit. I've discovered that by being ourselves, we learn so much about others. Sometimes more than they mean to share with us, but that's the magic of friendship, of love.

Lesson Eighty Three: Can you look back on your past and see where you made choices and decisions that you wish you could change? Do you see how the experiences of your life prepare you for each new step? Think about the things in life that matter most to you right now, and know that everything before this day was meant to get you here. The price seems high, but unless you risk everything you gain nothing.

647 to go...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Success

Day 82. Success.

There are many opportunities in our lives to make something of ourselves. Success is not just defined by career choices, but with relationships. Some of the most successful people in business have some of the worse personal lives. And some of the happiest relationships come to those who have mediocre professional lives. I believe there is a medium ground, where you have a decent amount of both. I think that's why people "settle" and stop trying to make their lives better.

It’s not when you start that makes your success in the world, but when you quit. Richard Bach: Nothing By Chance.

Work life can be sometimes seem to be from the seventh level of Hell. Coworkers that are incompetent, supervisors that can't do the work of those they manage. Upper management so disconnected they wouldn't recognize you achievements if you waved them as a banner. That's a major reason people change jobs, they don't feel "noticed" by anyone. They have become a permanent fixture, like a toilet. They eventually stop trying, then they get bored, then they move on. That's not always the right decision, but sometimes seems the only clear option. Scores of people never do anything about their situation. They are perfectly happy to tread water comfortably, not making waves, but never riding atop any of them either.

Finding a way to move forward in relationships is even more difficult. One person stagnates, the other is hard-pressed to move anything further ahead. In the book "One," Richard talks about people being either balloons or anvils.Two balloons, they fly away, sometimes separately. Two anvils, they stay stuck on earth, but sometimes in the same room. One balloon paired with one anvil can do anything. I guess that's true as long as the anvil isn't so heavy it's actually an anchor. That's what we have to figure out: are we the balloon or the anvil? If we're the balloon, can we carry the weight of the anvil we've chosen?

We likely go most of our lives not even thinking about who we are. Or who we've surrounded ourselves with. Hopefully we figure that out before we're out of time and options. Maybe the harder choice comes after that, in who we've chosen to spend our lives with: are they people with which we can spend eternity? Or do we have to continue to learn and find those who allow us both to fly? Only then can life be considered a success. No one makes us settle for anything else. We make that choice too.

Lesson Eighty Two:  Do you feel your life this far has been a success? Have you looked at your life and seen you need to make changes? Do you have the courage to make them, or are you willing to settle for what you have and let your dreams fade? Think about what happiness you have, what happiness you deserve, and realize that you alone have the power to keep pushing forward and make the future your deserve happen.

648 to go...

ps: I'm an anvil.

pss: And a balloon.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lifetimes

Day 81. Lifetimes.

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago about this, and I truly believe we all live multiple lifetimes. It explains how we can find someone we are very connected to, that it seems like we've know them forever. Since we knew each other in another lifetime, it's easy to find them again in this one. We sometimes bring the baggage of other lifetimes into this one, having not completed the lessons they were meant to teach us. Like a stone around our necks, weighing us down until we can find the cracks that will break it.

We are each given a block of marble when we begin a lifetime, and the tools to shape it into sculpture. We can drag it behind us untouched, we can pound it to gravel, we can shape it into glory. Examples from every other life are left for us to see, lifeworks finished and unfinished, guiding and warning. Near the end our sculpture is nearly finished, and we can smooth and polish what we started years before. We can make our progress then, but to do it we must see past the appearances of age. Richard Bach: One.

It not easy to learn from your mistakes, or from the mistakes of others. Even when they're right there in front of you. We like to think we're smarter than those who went before us, that even if we do the same things we will get a different result. As we grow older, we realize how stupid we are, that if only we'd really listened to our parents, our teachers, authors we've read. If only we could turn back the clock just a decade... maybe two.... so we could talk to our younger selves and tell us "Don't do it!" But to be young and foolish....

Our blocks of marble are indeed ours to sculpt. Some of us decide to just polish them until they shine like the sun, never putting chisel to stone. Why mess with a good thing? Just keep it shiny and new and it will last a lifetime. And then, looking back at the end of our days, do we find that all we have left is a boring but pretty life? I'll watch some of my friends carefully chiseling away, looking to create the perfect sculpture. Their main decision is whether to make their sculpture big or small: do they chip away for years, or wait until time is short and there's not enough time to make it pretty?

 I don't think I want either of those, for myself at least.  I'm going with the "pick a spot and start chipping away, see what's underneath" method. Who knows what's inside? There could be a treasure in there, a vein of gold or at least emeralds, right? Finding out is part of the journey, and I love a good road trip. Especially when there are good friends that I've known forever along for the ride.

Lesson Eighty One: Do you feel the weight of your lifetime around your neck? Are you the one that put the chain there, or is it from your past and you consented to wear it? Think about the burden you bear as the artist of your lifetime, and remember that the only objective is to be happy.

649 to go...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Better

Day 80. Better.

The holidays bring on new emotions for us. Not always good one, sometimes we stress over family issues that are practically unavoidable now. Old wounds never healed, we struggle through the gatherings, trying to keep the peace. Some of my childhood holidays sound like fiction when I think about them now, but they were part of making me who I am today. For better or worse.

No matter how qualified or deserving we are, we will never reach a better life until we can imagine it for ourselves and allow ourselves to have it. Richard Bach:: One.

We should have fond memories of family gatherings. Good food, laughter, the exchanging of gifts. But not all of us are so lucky to have those things, at least not consistently. I can remember more than one year actually coming to blows in the heat of an argument, and my psychotic parent screeching and crying at pretty much all the others. Talk about drama, we had it. Oddly enough, we'd go right back to eating our traditional meal, like nothing had happened. We were pretty good at moving past it, but we never really dealt with it.

I blocked a lot of it out of my consciousness as I got older. I realized other families didn't act that way, so I put all those bad things away, into a box inside my head. The box never got full, because I kept giving it more space.The capacity to live with things was never reached, I just filed them away. I thought I had a solution. When I was 19, my dying great-Grandmother told me the only she wanted was for me to be happy. I really didn't realize how far I had climbed until that day, and how far I still had to go. Here I thought I was halfway up the mountain, and she saw me as just breaking the surface of the ocean.

We all delude ourselves. We are convinced we are happy, successful, smart. We just know that our life is good, we're on the right path, WE GOT THIS. Then, at a time when we least expect it, BOOM. Something happens to plant our feet back on the ground. An illness, job loss, death of a loved one. One event, and we're shattered back to reality.  But because we have faith, we have what it takes to start again. A single step, on the climb of our lives. We just have to imagine it.

Lesson Eighty: Do you think your life can recover from setbacks? Have you started over, more than once maybe, and found happiness again? Think about how you see your dreams: right there, just out of arms reach, and realize that YOU have to power to overcome anything, and have that better life.

650 to go...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanks

Day 79. Thanks.

Today is the traditional day of thanks for Americans, our Canadian friends having already celebrated the blessings of the harvest earlier in October. As declared by President Abraham Lincoln in the late days of fall 1863, a day of rest, reflection and feasting to remind our Nation that in spite of a Civil War having drawn brother against brother, we still had much to be grateful for.

It's not lost on me that Lincoln saw fit to recognize the need for our Country to come together with family and friends, to reunite around a meal prepared with loving hands. He gave us many things to think about while he led our Country. His first inaugural address asked citizens not to pursue a war against one another, for surely it would break the Nation. He was only partially right, as his Gettysburg address only two years later would heal the cracks the Civil War had begun.

A mere two years later, a madman, enraged by Lincoln's speech that began the climb into reconstruction which would seek to erase the wounds of slavery, took his life in an attempt to snuff out Lincoln's reiteration that all men are created equal. We should be thankful on this Thanksgiving that Booth may have taken the President's life that day in 1865, but the ideas of freedom and equality are still burning bright.

I've been to the Peace Light Memorial in Gettysburg more times than I can count, more than any of the other monuments in the park. I always pause on the walk up Oak Hill, to look towards the battlefields. Oak Ridge was the scene of the heaviest fighting in the early afternoon of July 1, 1863. It was the high ground for the Confederate Army for that day's battles to the north of town. While the losses that day were minimal, the number of combatants were the highest of the campaign, with over 50,000 men engaged. Cemetery Hill, Blocher's Knoll: they had more fierce battles but Oak Hill provides a unique view over them both.


I haven't made the walk in almost ten years, but I can feel the adrenaline from that day. With that adrenaline, I can also feel the fear. The fear, to a man, that they might not live another day. But more prevalent, I can feel thanks. The men that fought that great battle did so for all of us that celebrate our Thanksgiving today. More than any other emotion, thanks. Thanks that so many, over 46,000 of our own citizens,gave their lives in that hot July weekend, so that we could sit around a table today with our loved ones. Thanks that President Lincoln would see fit to memorialize them with what would become one of the most iconic speeches in American history.

The most important part of the Gettysburg Address is why I give thanks today. That I live in an America where, in spite of the seemingly miserable conditions of things, this is still possible:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 


Lesson Seventy Nine: Never take anything for granted. Always be thankful.

651 to go...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blessings

Day 78. Blessings

As we wind down the days until Thanksgiving, we begin to think about the blessings we've been given. And earned. Nothing good comes without work, and sometimes even that isn't enough to guarantee a positive outcome.

There’s no disaster that can’t become a blessing, and no blessing that can’t become a disaster. Richard Bach: One.

Despite our best paid plans, our hard work, sometimes in the end we just simply do not get what we want. We wonder why, when we did all we could, do we end up wanting more. I try and look at disasters as just another step towards the end result I'm after, not the actual result itself. It's only one more mountain of wreckage to climb, right? Too many people focus on the obstacle in the way, and don't even bother to notice the other paths around it. And who wants to count their disasters?

I am blessed to have a family that, despite our differences, is always there when it matters. I am blessed to have many friends that, even though we may never meet, we are as close as family. I am blessed to have a decent job that I like, that pays the bills and then some. I am blessed to have just enough of what I need to make me happy, and being able to share with others.

That's really all that matters on Thanksgiving, isn't it? The blessings. Well, that and the stuffing.

Lesson Seventy Eight: Do you tend to focus on the negative things that happen, instead of rejoicing at the good? Does your life seem to attract more bad than good, and do you let that control you? Think about the blessings you have. No, really, you do have more of them than you realize. Then remember that the disasters are of your own creation, and work to turn them into blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving, my readers.

652 to go...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wreckage

Day 77. Wreckage.

There is never a time in our lives that we aren't on the lookout for things that damage us. Things that we let hurt us. People that betray us. People that leave us behind. Battles are fought daily to rise above the madness, to make sense of what has happened and how to move past it.

Richard Bach: Illusions II: Rebuilding us. Isn’t that what the spirit requires, when we climb over the wreckage of our lives, sometimes, we go on to make our lives our own affirmation? We are perfect expressions of perfect Love, here and now. There is no permanent injury. 

I've been kicked by life. More than once. So? That certainly doesn't make me special. Maybe the number of kicks, but not that it happened. It happens to all of us. If we're lucky, we get it out of the way early in life, rather than waiting and worrying for it to happen. Then we have the rest of our lifetime to recover from it, to rise above that wreckage and make something good happen from it. If not, we wait. Or we get kicked a second time. Maybe even a third. Just means we have learn to be really good at climbing.


I think I learned a secret to climbing out. Don't mistake the handholds you used last time as a way out the second time.The people that were there for you the first time? They might not even be part of your life the next time you need them. You can only truly rely on yourself to get yourself out of anything. Which make sense. You're the one who got you into this mess, you should be the one to get yourself out of it.

Lesson Seventy Seven: Do you have battles you fight to heal yourself of past wounds? Are they debilitating, or do you work your way through the pain? Think about the road ahead, the light at the end of it, and realize that what others see as wreckage, you see as redemption.

653 to go...

Monday, November 24, 2014

You

Day 76. You.

Yes, you. Over there. You. That pretty darn special person, sitting there across from me. That's reading this right now. You. The one that's been drawn to me, as I have been delivered to you. We're both part of each other's lives now, because we made that choice.

Like attracts like. Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright. Automatically, as we shine who we are, asking ourselves every minute is this what I really want to do, doing it only when we answer yes, automatically that turns away those who have nothing to learn from who we are,and attracts those who do, and from whom we have to learn, as well. Richard Bach: Illusions.

Our differences become small when we find each other. I can handle being friends with Jeff Gordon fans. As long as you can stand me mocking him. We can still sit beside each other at Martinsville. It doesn't matter that you don't like country music, and I can't stand the smell of coffee in the morning. We'll get by, I'll just sleep in a bit, and compromise by waking up to The Stones. Learning from each other, teaching each other. That's how we get through life.

We are drawn to those who are like us, yet different. If we were all exactly alike, if we all loved the exact same things, life would be really boring. We have to admit to ourselves what we really are, though. We can't pretend, else we end up with those who don't see where we're going, who don't walk to the same rhythm. We can end up trapping ourselves in a loneliness of our own making, without that bond of someone who hears the same drums.

I'm not sure how far I am down the path of truly learning who I am, but I think I'm attracting the right kind of people along the way. Patriots that want a better life here in America, with freedoms that were guaranteed generations ago but seem to be slipping away. Friends that enjoy sports, and music, and animals. Family that loves laughter and good food. Those that aren't on the same page as me, I think they have just gone quietly down their own path. I don't waste time on fools, so maybe they know that and just bypass my life completely.

Richard Bach, Illusions: Only a few people are interested in what you have to say, but that's all right. You don't tell the quality of a master by the size of his crowds, remember.

Whether you are surrounded by five people or fifty, you must still be true to yourself. You can't hold back, pull punches, or understate what you mean. You have to continue to speak your own truth, consequences and hearts be damned. No one will believe you if you don't believe yourself. You teach what you most need to learn, remember? There's something to learn from everyone around you. After all, you drew them to you. Maybe listen to what they have to say, while they learn to hear your voice.


Lesson Seventy Six: Do you see a piece of yourself in those around you? Can you find the things that drew you into each other's lives? Look around, and understand how much we need each other. Not because we're the same, but because you are me and I am you.

654 to go...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Futures

Day 75. Futures.

Life is much more when we're having fun. When we're gathered with friends and family, laughing, reminiscing about old times, making plans for the future. It's always better when we can let our hair down and just be ourselves. But we can't forget we're still on a mission, a trip through this thing called life, and we have to move forward.

You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them. Richard Bach: Illusions.

Being myself would have to include humor. I'm always more comfortable making others laugh, even at my own expense. Humor has always been my "go to". When I'm feeling uncomfortable or awkward, I can lighten the mood by picking on myself. That almost guarantees a laugh. The problem with that is more often than not, I'm not really kidding. Which makes it even more humorous. When I'm feeling really comfortable with someone, I'll dial back the humor a bit. I never lose it completely, but it'll be a little less obvious, more directed than random. That's how you can tell when I'm serious, when I stop making smartass remarks.

I learn from humor as well. I learn that people are way too serious about their own lives, and should have more fun. I learn that when people get bogged down in the day to day and don't look up, they trip over their own feet. You can't see the sunrise if you're looking at the floor, and I sure don't want to miss a thing.

Part of my inner self is giving to others. I always try and think of other people before myself, and make sure their needs are met before my own. I'm pretty low maintenance, it doesn't take much to make me happy. A good book or movie, some music, a glass of wine, a good meal, I'm good. Don't get me wrong, I like a night on the town, but its far from necessary. Making someone's favorite foods, watching an old movie and cuddling on the couch, that's my kind of heaven.

I can learn from that experience as well. I know that many people in this world are selfish, and as long as they get what they want, nothing else matters. Others be damned, as long as their needs are met, life is as it should be. I wouldn't be content to let that happen, since I'm pretty much the opposite: making others happy is what makes me happy. The blinders that selfish people wear keep them from seeing the same sunrise I rejoice at.

Have you ever felt so at one with the world, with the universe, with everything that is, that you were overcome with love? That is reality. That is the truth. What we make of it is up to us, as the painting of the sunrise is up to the artist. In our world humanity has strayed from that love. It lives hatred and power struggles and manipulations of the earth itself for its own narrow reasons. Continue and no one will see the sunrise. The sunrise will always exist, of course, but people on earth will know nothing of it and finally even stories of its beauty will fade from our knowing. Richard Bach: One.

Lesson Seventy Five: Do you sit by and let yourself be convinced that this is all there is to life? Are you willing to sacrifice your inner self to make sure things don't go wrong? Think about the choices you make, the masks you wear. Realize that you have be able to see the sunrise to truly live the new day.

655 to go...