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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Friday, May 31, 2013

Stop Procrastinating! -Or- I Get Crafty

What’s your project? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of something that needs to be done that you’ve been putting off?

Is it a conversation? A quilt? A painting? A paper? A fantasy baseball trade? Cutting the grass? A call to Grandma?

There is something that you’ve been putting off. We all do it. I do it all the time. I’ll wait for someone else to bring up a subject in conversation for days or weeks just because while I may really want to talk about it; I may just not feel like talking about it. It’s a conversation that needs to be had, you know it, you just want to leave it unsaid. That’s not going to work. Never has worked. Why do we still think it will? Leave a fish on the counter and it’s going to start to stink. Just leaving it there won’t do anything.

What I’m getting at here dear reader is that it’s time to pull out a bag, some paper towels and some cleaner and get that fish off your counter. My fish was a gnome. Somehow a ceramic gnome came into my possession from my grandmother about 5 years ago. He was all white and had only his hat and his pants painted and he was pretty sad looking. I told her I’d paint it for her and she was really happy to hear this. Of course at the time I just rolled my eyes and thought, ‘yeah right.’ This poor gnome moved into my mom’s attic at one house, into my apartment at one point, then into Mom’s garage at another house. I moved away overseas and then back again and then the gnome ended up back at my apartment leaned up against a bookcase. Same sad little hat and pants, paint even more faded and all plain white. Poor little guy.

Well this past weekend, Christina and I were in a crafty mood and she had two different projects that she was excited about doing: making a shirt and painting some gourds with a few of her friends. I was also in the mood to craft but couldn’t find a project. “What about painting your gnome?” asked Christina. “Naaaah! I don’t want to do that,” I whined in response. “Why not?”

That’s just it. Why not? Why not go ahead and complete whatever project you’ve been putting off? If it’s something as simple as a conversation or something that needs to be said, then just say it. Regardless of the consequences, the relief of getting it off your chest will be awesome! ‘Hey! Guy at work! I don’t like the way you address our coworkers. Think about that and let’s change it.’ ‘Hey you. Yeah you. I love you!’

I’ve got several more fish or gnomes or whatever metaphor you’re more comfortable with here dear reader. I need to start a check list. Some items on that list are conversations that need to be had, some are projects, and one is simply doing nothing for a day just to see how it feels.

The point is: Don’t let something slip up on you and then act like you didn’t see it coming. Don’t let someone walk away from you with things left unsaid just because you don’t feel like talking about it. Go find your project squirreled away in a closet somewhere and complete it. Take it and do it. Now! Stop reading this and get to it.

Here’s what my gnome looks like after about 2 hours of painting. I can’t say I’m proud of the way he looks but I can say I’m proud that I did it.

"If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he next comes to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." -Thomas De Quincey, Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts - 1827

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Catch and Release

I used to enjoy fishing. I was never really good at it and I haven’t been fishing in years but I really enjoyed it as a kid. I liked the idea that something was hiding below the surface and it was my job to coax it out of there and make it mine. Our family was never big on the whole concept of ‘catch and release.’ We’d grill them, fry them, whatever; but we’d eat and eat off of all of our catching. The sporting part was fun for sure, but we were in it for more than the fun of competition.

What I came to realize is that it’s high time that I adopted the idea of ‘catch and release.’  What I’m doing these days though is fishing for triggers that set me off, things that make me angry, things that make me sad, or things that make me hold on to grievances that only block my path to salvation. Now instead of fish, I’m looking for emotions lurking below the surface that need to be coaxed out. The bait is everywhere and it might as well be a stocked pond because everywhere my eye lands a fish is there to be hooked. (For those of you not familiar with the term, a “stock pond” is a small body of water kept so full of fish that your hook barely has time to hit the water before you catch a fish).

I can use this same concept with triggers. Catch the fish, look at it, and throw it back. Only with the triggers I’m examining issues and throwing them away. I may catch them again one day, but hopefully not. For example: the other day I saw the term ‘Retail Therapy’ and heard a woman just a few days later actually use the term. “I’m just going for some retail therapy.” Just something about the phrase made me want to puke and using the catch and release method I realized why. I took the whole idea and spun it around and looked at it as more than just a superficial phrase. Sure, maybe this woman wanted to release some stress by doing an activity that she loves; shopping. Maybe that annoys me because she was about to go “blow” more than my month’s rent on shoes and dresses and a latte. Maybe the whole idea of just going out and shopping as an activity rather than a necessity was what annoyed me so much. This of course led me to the whole idea of excess and the fact that anything bought during ‘retail therapy’ wasn’t ever needed; just wanted.

So now, (in keeping with the fishing metaphor here) I then opened up a new can of worms. Is the “excess” in her life expressed through retail therapy just triggering a sense of lack in mine? That was one large ugly fish I plucked out of the pond. As of today, I’m still looking at it. I’ll throw it back once I’ve forgiven myself for creating that fish in the first place.

Damn ugly fish! I release you! I forgive myself and hold no grievance against the lack in my life, the idea of waste, or even the term ‘retail therapy.’ Wheeeew! (It was a longer process than just that of course).

Like they always say though, there are tons of other fish in the sea. For example, the phrase ‘grand-dogs’, people who let kids stand on furniture that isn’t their own, guys who think it’s alright to adjust their privates while holding a conversation with you, and many more that I’ve seen just today. I release you all and hold no grievance against you. I am only here today to ask, what I should do, where should I go and what I should say to whom. I am only here to wait and listen for a response, not to judge or hold any grievance against. I release all of the fish back into the sea. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

I’m just looking for 51%

Sometimes I feel like life is a constant uphill battle. I hate these geographic metaphors. It’s not like I’m going uphill both ways in ten feet of snow or anything. I’m just pushing. And, I’m going to keep at it. I can be persistent. I will succeed.

Succeed at what; you may ask? Well dear reader: Life. Simply, life. I’m just going to choose to drop all these hill, valley, mountain, molehill references and start looking at it like a scale. There is always room for grey area but my scale just needs to be tipped and I’m going to start loading down one side of that scale until I reach the all-important 51% and then… well; “it’s all downhill from there.” Damn it!

For me this is going to involve the creation of a whole big pile of Truth. I’ve probably run from it for more than a thousand years and I’ve used the opposite approach for most of that time. Lie here, lie there and then I have what I like to call a Self. Now obviously I’m not talking about the, ‘no, I didn’t drink the last of the milk’ type lies here. I’m referring to the type that I’ve used to tell myself who it is that I am and what makes up ‘me.’

Have you ever sat down and thought about all the lies that make up you? There are a ton of truths in there too, but don’t kid yourself, if we were made up of all truths, then we’d all be masters and none of this would be necessary. Sit in front of a mirror sometime and really look. That self-conscious feeling you get is not just from your greying hair and expanding forehead; it’s what’s inside. You know that a lot of that ‘self’ in there is made up of bullshit.

There is only one way to get rid of this. Truth and Forgiveness. I’m starting with truth since I’ve recently learned that forgiveness is a lot tougher. I was going to take my house of lies, light a match, set it ablaze and walk away with Metallica blaring in the background as it all came crashing down. I was going to be so free and well on my way to a life of truth while the ashes of lies blew in the wind. But alas dear reader, this could never be a reality. We must take our lies, like bricks of this house and carry them to the sea and then toss them in. The house must be torn down and rebuilt. I hate manual labor.

For every brick I toss into the sea I have forgiven myself one lie. For every truth I instill in myself I can place one brick on the scale. I just need to get to 51%. Once there I can tip the scale and start to easily heap on more and more truths as I toss off more and more lies with forgiveness. Pick up a brick, forgive myself for creating it and toss it into the sea. Tell myself the truth, rejoice in the pure love of God that is Truth, instill it in myself and place it on the scale.

This might sound repetitive to you, but that’s how it’s got to happen if this is going to work. Practice Love and Forgiveness, replace Lies with Truth.

If I lost you in all that brick, scale, sea, house stuff; sorry. This was just a free flow writing. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

No Sleep Till Brooklyn -OR- I Start to Believe Again

When I was a kid I always wanted to grow up and not be a kid anymore. The only thing I really loved about childhood was baseball, Christmas and sleeping in. To be honest only one or two birthdays even stand out to me as memorable. Not too many trips or toys or really anything about my childhood made me want to “never grow up, be a Toys-R-Us kid.”

One thing I do remember is how much I stopped believing in things. Santa? Nope. Mom and one of her friends Lynn Brown (I will forever love both of them and don’t blame them for this) ruined Santa for me one Christmas Eve when after a few too many drinks, decided playing with my toys was too much fun to pass up and made just a bit too much noise. I never will forget waking up and thinking, ‘Santa is here!’ I, like a ninja, snuck down some stairs to spy the man who was such a fixture in my childhood. But no. There was no fat man only two women and a bottle of wine hunched in front of the tree laughing it up with the entire cast of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. The next morning, the rouse was over. Innocence lost.

I, like you dear reader, have similar stories for the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Pro Wrestling. Ok, yes, as a kid I thought it was real! I admit it. Fairies, wizards, talking animals, trolls, goblins, The Boogie Man, ghosts, witches, they were all so real and everywhere. But one by one they all fell to the wayside just like childhood.

Think about it. I’m sure at least one person reading this has broken a bone because as a kid they thought they were invincible. You look back and say, no it’s because I was stupid. No, you thought it would work because you believed that it would work. We all did. Whether it was a story we told because we believed it to be true or something we did because we believed a certain Fat Man at the North Pole had a list on us, we did it because we believed it.

I’ve been around enough kids to know that they all go through the Why stage. Why? Why? Why? It’s annoying as hell. But it helps a child fill in all the “gaps” in the world around them. What I’ve recently learned is; there are no gaps. They already know. We all do. We know, we just get a 1,001 answers to our 1,001 Whys that keep us from believing what we know. It’s called indoctrination.

For me a lot of the answers to questions I had came from Church. Ghosts, fairies, witches… Devil’s work; not real. Why? God. I knew Santa wasn’t to be messed with so I surely knew God wasn’t even to be questioned. God killed the wizards and talking birds. At least that’s what I was told.
What I came to “believe” was that God watched over me and was to be feared and obeyed. That’s not what I knew when I was a kid. What I knew was that I was swimming in God. Excuse the visual there dear reader but that is basically the truth of the matter; we are all swimming in God. We cannot separate we are not different from and we cannot leave ‘the source’ of us. We were taught to forget that and the knowledge that we were born with was explained away from us. We started to believe a myth and were taught that truth was instead the myth.

Without going into a deep spiritual monologue here, I wanted to address something completely different: My apartment is haunted. (I know there was an absence of a transition there). So here… I have never been a big believer in ghosts. I've always felt a sense that there should be ghosts and that there are people on the other side that ‘live’ on a different plane than us. Long story short; we die, our bodies stay, we move on. And, there is one such individual living in my apartment. He (and I’m pretty sure it’s a he) is just kind of hanging out though and generally in my bathroom. He doesn't seem to bother anything and he doesn’t really bother me other than the fact that he’s making me face some truths that I’ve tied to ignore in the past, mainly, the existence of ghosts and the whole idea of the simultaneous existence of another plane.  

I’ve recently also done a few psychic exercises that have opened my eyes to other ideas and ways in which those ideas can get from the source and the collective conscience into our individual conscience. I, along with millions around the world (you too), have experienced things as adults that we have been taught to believe is just in our imagination. “You’re just using your imagination.” As a kid this was accepted. As an adult, well, not so much.

However dear reader, I am starting to believe again. I’m starting to believe that the man in my apartment is not separate from me and that he is from the same source and he may just be there to teach me something or just point me towards what I already know. I’m starting to believe that the birds just may have something to say and that a tree has seen more than I’ll ever comprehend and I need to listen to that.

I went to bed at midnight last night and woke up at 2 a.m. I tossed and turned till 4 a.m. and then decided, ‘Fuck it! I’m not sleeping tonight.’ My mind wouldn't stop moving and I could not get comfortable, so I just moved to the couch and decided to watch The Hobbit since I had not made time to do so since the movie came out. It reminded me of my childhood, when I read the book, and how it made me believe in all kinds of things. Why did I stop? How much of that is still real and how much of that have I just convinced myself isn't?

Now I’m not saying that I expect to see a wood elf or a hobbit anytime soon and I certainly don’t expect a fat man in a red coat to come give me presents on December 25th (But if you do still exist Santa, I’d really like some hats and a new laptop this year). What I am saying is that there are a lot of things out there that I have previously dismissed that I am now starting to see once again only this time, I’m surrounded by people who are willing to help me believe rather than tell me why I’m wrong.

I may not sleep as well sometimes, but I’m a whole lot more awake all the time. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Update That Will Shock The Internet -or- Things I Typed While at Work

Everyone loves a dive bar, especially when it’s YOUR dive bar. You know; the one where the bartender may not know you by name but he knows your face and you get served faster than most because you’re there all the time and you tip well. That’s sort of how I felt coming back to America ten months ago. The guy at the door looked tired, he gave me a suspicious look then just grunted ‘Welcome’ and waved me on through. The place smelled bad but it smelled familiar. The food was good but cheap and in the end you felt guilty for finishing it all. I couldn’t tell if everyone was hung over or just sleep walking but everything just seemed foggy. But then again, that could have just been me.

I had just been back the summer before but it all just seemed strange. It was like walking into your own house and knowing where everything was but having the feeling that someone had been there and touched all your stuff. America had moved over the past three years and I couldn’t quiet put my finger on how, why, or where.

I was back in time to get blown over by political ads for the Presidency. Obama v. Romney. Really? I tried to pay attention for a while but then I noticed that the news stations were no longer a source of news and that alone was a disturbing thought. It’s like I could almost see the advertisements coming out of the news anchors’ mouths. I thought their desks should have been painted up like a stock car so at least we’d know which company we were listening to. I just gave up. Here you are Mr. President: My Vote. That was pretty much the whole story. I just tuned it all out and stopped caring. They may have won.

Naturally those were only my first reactions. There were baseball games and sunny days at the beach and Thanks Be to God a woman that loved me. I luckily had free time to spend with Christina who can tolerate me and has since developed quite a relationship with me. (If I do say so myself). We’ve spent the last few months growing together and she’s the type that keeps making me ask questions and that’s awesome. When I say questions I mean questioning myself not others. In fact over the past few months I’ve spent less and less time focusing on other people and events and more and more time focusing on myself. It’s calming, exciting, and at times a little scary. Of course now that I’m surrounded by distractions I decided to look inward instead of all those long, lonely days spent in the middle of nowhere.

I’ve started seeing a spiritual teacher of sorts and have really started to challenge my outlook on the world and how it is that I fit in it. I’ve abandoned a lot of expectations of myself and others and I’ve developed an improved outlook on life. I gotta tell you I feel great about where I’m headed and I’m happy with where I am right now. I’m certainly not content and complacent, but happy with where I am.
Really other than mundane details that’s pretty much what’s gone on since I came home. There were a ton of great events: Camping, Beach, Time with friends and family Baseball, Theater, Movies, Dinners… (Almost all of them again involving Christina).

I’ve started eating a lot better and working out regularly which keeps my energy levels pretty high.
I’m back working at a hotel Downtown that does very well and pays my bills. I like it and it can be fun at times and I like talking to people from all over America and the world. I started off looking for a teaching job but SC has WAY too many hoops to jump through for either straight certification or alternate certification. It was a huge Catch-22 and I was not feeling motivated enough to jump through all the hoops of certification. (Their loss). I did start work at an ESL school here in Charleston but unfortunately it was a very small business and the owner wanted full time work for part time pay and I needed to pay bills. So… that was the work story. I’m working full time now and living in a small one bedroom in a bad neighborhood. It’s not all bad. Christina comes and stays with me a lot and it’s small and easy to clean with a hot shower and cool air conditioning. All a boy could ever need.

Let’s sum it up because I don’t want to let this run on forever: In Love, Employed, Happy, Working on Self Improvement and Spiritual Growth, Still Awesome.
See you soon dear reader for more observations and a few ramblings.

I’ll leave you with…

Ten observations from my first ten months back in America.

1.   Smart phones run American’s lives. Say what you want, but it’s sick. I chose not to get one and I’m so happy that I didn’t. People have whole conversations just about their phones and generally about how they hate them. So…?
2.       Politics are no longer something I can watch like a sport; they are a bloodletting game played by rich men from their boardrooms.
3.       I have plants. The rest of you have either a dog or kids (on a leash and they are leading you, not the other way around).
4.       General politeness has been replaced with a sense of entitlement. Nobody ever greats a service person at a local shop. They just walk in and demand things. Read this as: ‘everyone thinks that their life and what they’ve got going is far more important than anything anyone else has going.’
5.       Despite the “economic crisis” Americans still have a ton of money and are willing to shell it out on crap they don’t need and causes that are “trendy.”
6.       The News is not news. Its advertisements and social programming. Look over here. Do this. Read this. Pay no attention to your appointed leaders.
7.       If you want it, it can be yours with only a few clicks of a few buttons. You don’t need to interact with another human being. Ever.
8.       People take pictures of things rather than looking at them.
9.       We all punch a clock and give it 110%. But it’s more like 125% cause we have to get a leg up. Then, the government takes 20% out of the 100% our employers give us leaving us with only 80% pay for 125% effort.  Which means that almost half the time we’re working for free. I think that time would be better spent on ourselves. I heard someone say recently, “Your off time can make you just as rich if you spend it wisely.” Amen.
10.   It just seems like everyone is on auto-pilot and we only snap out of our day to day routines for a few moments every now and then to really enjoy our lives.