Wednesday, December 23

Tis the Season…

Wow. Another year is almost over. I can hardly believe that we’ve made it through another 356 days at this point. So much has happened in this last year, good and bad, happy and sad. And through it all we’ve managed to remain sane (well, mostly) and keep up the glad spirits.

Before I go any further today, I want to take a moment and give a few shout outs to some very important people in my own life. I don’t know if you take the time to publicly and openly express the things that sit in your heart to those that matter in your life, but if you don’t, I’d encourage you to take some time and do just that. I have some many wonderful, loving and supportive people in my life that sometimes I can’t even begin to have the time to tell them all how much they mean to me. I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have them all in my life.

So I’m taking a bit and sharing my love with a few of them all here. SN, JC, MD, AW…you have all seen me at my lowest this year and before. You have helped me get back on my feet time and time again. Listened to me as I have vented, corrected me when I was wrong, and loved me through it all. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for being in my life and being the people that each of you are. You’re all amazing. :-)

Mom, Dad, and sister…you loved me and tolerated me (especially my sister) for my entire life. I know that I haven’t always been the easiest person to love, but I know that you have in your own ways. Know that I will always love you all as well.

My boys…all of them. You are the ones that keep me going every single day. You are my most important things in this life. Every day I want to be better, because of you. I love you more than anything and SO much more than I could ever begin to express. You Are Awesome!

And everyone that reads through my rantings, my unique perspectives on the World we live in, those that come back every time I post, and those that find me every now and then…Thank you for taking a few moments of your time to read. I said a long time ago that if no one commented or was reading my stuff, I’d just pack it in. So, to you all, you are the ones that keep me going here.

Now that all that mushy stuff is done, let’s talk about this season. :-)

No matter what you believe in, this is a special time of year. Originally this was a time that people celebrated the passing of the year and the birth of a new one. It was seen as a time of renewal, reflection, and celebration with all those you shared a life with. It was about friends, family, and everyone living in the village. See, that long ago, most people didn’t survive on their own. Life was a joint effort. Everyone helped everyone else. That was just how it was.

Today, this season is about frantic shopping and spending. The latest, expensive gadgets. Rushing and running to get it all done at the last minute. Crowds and complaints and an amazing level of frustration and emotions (usually anger).

Is this REALLY what it’s all about? Is this how we’ve come to celebrate?

Me…I don’t really like this season. Now…before you jump all over me, hear me out. :-)

For me and mine, this season is just going to be another day. Sure, it’s the end of the year and we’ll celebrate and exchange gifts and laugh and love some more. But that laughter and love and expressions of caring for one another…that’s an everyday kind of thing. Why should I wait until the malls tell me it’s time to tell someone I love them? Why should I let one single day go by without telling those most important how I feel? What makes this day any different from what every other day should be?

My bottom line? It shouldn’t be any different. This feeling that we all want to proclaim is something we should have and show 364 more days of every year. I’m never going to wait to get someone I love a gift to show them that. Why should I?

Every day is a blessing and every moment is a gift. I’ve learned in this last year that we are never given any guarantees. So often, I think, we take each day for granted. After all, most days run in the same pattern. It becomes commonplace and expected. When tragedy hits, we spend a good amount of time dealing with guilt and regret.

“I should have said this”

“I should have done that”

I have a hope for everyone that reads my stuff. I hope that you have a moment of epiphany. That your thoughts and spirits get a good shaking. That you pull the daily film off your eyes and start to see each day as the treasure that it is and the joy that it can be. I hope that every moment becomes precious to you. Regardless of where you are, what you are doing, or whom you are with. Learn to see the beauty and experience the magic of this wonderful gift that we call life.

So, no matter what you believe or how you celebrate…

Merry Christmas! I love you all.

And, see you next year! :-)

Thursday, November 19

365 Give or Take…

It’s been a year today. One year since my almost ex-wife took her life. There’s a part of me that is amazed that it’s already been a year. It certainly doesn’t seem like that long.

I’ve taken a look back over this last year, just for myself to see what all has happened. It’s been a rather big year in some ways, not so much in others. Basically, my year has been just like everyone else’s…for the most part. :-)

A very good friend took a moment to remind me exactly where I was a year ago. “Last year at this time, you were worried about the Ex fighting over your son, and getting yourself a good attorney.” And in one heartbreaking moment, all that was turned on its head and gone.

It’s weird to me sometimes. I spent nine years with her and shared so many things. But at the end of the day, I look back at everything that happened and I know that I became someone that I hated. I did things that I will always regret and feel sorrow over. I felt pain that I had never imagined even being possible.

But…I also was blessed to have two amazing boys. I grew to be strong in and over myself. I found confidence and self-worth in my heart and my own eyes. I found my own path of spirituality that works for me. And I met amazing people that have become some of my closest and most dear friends.

This last year has seen so many blessings and trials for us. As I’m certain it has for each of you.

But let’s get to the point today. It’s almost Thanksgiving here in the States. It’s funny to me that we all recognize certain times of the year to do things that we should really be doing each and every day. :-)

Thanksgiving is a time to stuff yourself like a dead turkey and watch all the special football games…right?

Sure…and Easter is because a rabbit poops eggs.

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we are supposed to reflect on the things that we are thankful for in our lives. Like I said…it’s something we SHOULD do each and every day. But if you don’t, at least do it on this one day.

It’s an interesting question really. What are YOU thankful for?

Sure, we’ve all got those stock answers. My family, my friends, job, blah, blah, blah, blah. How boring and rote are we? If you catch yourself using these answers this year, you have my permission to slap yourself.

Really?? That’s all you can come up with to be thankful for? How about we dig a little deeper and make you think some? Hhmm?

Me…I’m thankful for:

• Every trial that I’ve gone through. Each one has provided me with an amazing opportunity to grow. No, I haven’t enjoyed going through a single one, but I’ve found the blessing for each trial I have made it through.

• People that I have lost in my life. Some people have walked away, some I’ve just lost touch with, while another has taken that final step away. However, every one that has walked away has taught me something about relationships. They have taught me something about myself. Ultimately, they have all helped me to appreciate those that are still in my life.

• Being blessed with the ability to laugh and find funny, even in the hardest and darkest of times. I know many people that can’t do this and they languish and wallow in misery. There isn’t a release valve for them. God graced me with that release valve and I can’t imagine living without it.

• Constant background music and occasional theme music in my life. Whether it’s a song on the radio, my best friend playing on the guitar, or simply hearing the wind moving through the trees. The life is SO full of the amazing and miraculous every single day, and yet, very few of us ever take the time to notice it. It’s almost as if we’ve become inundated with everything to the point where our mind filters it all out.

Those are just a few of the not-so-normal things that I’m thankful for each and every day. Sure, my life isn’t exactly what you’d call easy and stress free, but it’s MY life. The only one that I’ve got. And, really, we all only get one choice from two options…you can live and be miserable and die, or you can live and be happy and then die. The beginning and the end are already set for everyone. We only get to choose how we spend the middle part.

Take off your filters and make this Thanksgiving the one that last you the entire year.

And now, from the bottom of my heart. That crusty, flabby, fatty part of the heart I will leave you with this…

Thank you for reading and joining me here. May all your days be blessed with more than you could ever imagine asking for.

Monday, November 16

Something for my sons…

I’m a single Father. I don’t get any breaks. I wade through every day, first at work, then at home with my beautiful 3 year old son. I can honestly say; I’m tired most of the time. Mentally, physically, emotionally tired. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving every minute of it, but it is just me raising this little knight and trying to teach him what it means to be a strong, upstanding young man.

I’ve been asked often about how I’m raising him. I’ve got two other boys and I try to be a good example for them as well. But they don’t live with me, so they don’t get to see it day in and day out. But I found myself thinking about that question.

“How do you raise a child in today’s World?”

I look around at the kids that live in our World and I’m amazed at what I see. Where are the values? The morals? Hell…where are the good old fashioned beatings that kept kids straight when I was young?

Now, please, don’t think that I’m simply going to beat my son straight. :-) Tempting…but no.

He WILL know what consequences are and he will have a firm foundation in the things that I believe in as well. What are those things? I’ve talked about them all here before.

• Honor
• Integrity
• Respect
• Faith
• Honesty

To name off a few.

I listen to kids today, little kids 8 or 10 years old, talking back to their parents. In some cases, cussing them out too. I have never been tempted to smack another person’s child, but I HAVE been tempted to smack the parents. What in the world could they be thinking?!

I will admit; I got into my fair share of trouble as a kid. But I had a healthy respect for my parents. Often, my Mom more than my Dad and I couldn’t even conceive of swearing at them. I think I’d still be picking my teeth up, even now.

What’s worse is that I hear some people and media, deriding them very values that I hold most dear. My core values aren’t espoused anymore. No one wants to teach a child these things. Many would rather leave it to TV and then blame a teacher for a child’s behavior. That offends me. So I do the only thing I really can. I will ensure that MY sons know what I believe and how to be their own knights.

I found this quote today. I think that it pertains here, even though it was made a long time ago to a very different audience. So please, enjoy the words of General Douglas MacArthur regarding a few core values and what they provide.

Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.”

General Douglas MacArthur

Friday, November 13

All We Want Is Love…

If you’ve never seen Christopher Titus, I would definitely suggest you go pick up his newest stand up, “Love is Evol”. See, he presents real life lessons in such a funny way; you might actually listen to them.

We seem SO stubborn when we hear anything resembling a life lesson. We just really don’t want to hear it. It’s almost as if, for us to hear it would make us less in some way. Like we can’t handle our lives or the situations we find ourselves in. I’m going to borrow heavily from Mr. Titus today. He’s like a hilarious Dr. Phil. :-)

Have you ever been in a bad relationship? HAHAHAHA…that’s like asking if you’re a living, breathing, human being. We’ve ALL been there. We’ve ALL been in that relationship with that person that we should NEVER have been in. We buried our heads in the sand and ignored ALL the things that should have been big red signs saying “GET THE HELL OUT NOW!”

So, why do we stay? Why do we let these people continue to tear us apart, moment by moment and day by day?

Because we’re all addicts. We want LOVE. And for that little drug called LOVE we will do damn near anything. We will stay with someone, trying to change them, trying to make the better, when every SANE person tells us to run. For that drug, LOVE, we suck it up. We hope it will be better. We hope that WE can be better. We take everything that is thrown at us and for a lot of us…we APOLOGIZE to that idiot for the things THEY did! You know what I’m talking about.

Why do we take it? What makes LOVE so powerful a force over us that we stay with those assholes?

It’s what we were made for. We are a species that is built for relationships. We want them. It’s a comfort to us and it hardwired into our brains to pursue it. We all want to feel special to someone. We want to know that someone cares and believes in us. That someone’s got our back in life.

“`Cause nobody wants to be the last one there.
'Cause everyone wants to feel like someone cares.
Someone to love with my life in their hands.
There`s gotta be somebody for me like that.”
Nickelback – Gotta Be Somebody

So we take it and we suck it up and we hope that next month will be different, that next year will be good. And we stay. And, in the words of Christopher Titus…”THAT’S YOUR LIFE!”


How do we react when McDonald’s screws up your order? When someone cuts you off in traffic? When the cable is out? Does this get you thinking yet?

Because, guess what? You don’t get a rebate at the end of your life for staying with an asshole. Death doesn’t hand out coupons because you spent three years with that bitch. Wake up my friends!

YOU are worth being happy.
YOU are worth being respected.
YOU are worth being loved.

And let me close with a word to the other side. If YOU are that asshole, if you won’t pass this on to your significant other because you think they might wake up. You get one last chance. You’ve got a LOT to make amends for. You need to go to them and BEG for a chance to make it right. You need to do whatever it takes to make them feel special again. You need to take everything you THINK you deserve and throw it right out the F-ing window. On bended knees, you should welcome them home and sex them like you’ve NEVER sexed anyone else before. You need to make dinner, breakfast, and shower them with real love.

Because we don’t get a rebate. We only get one shot. Make it your best one.

Tuesday, November 3


I’ve posted many times my thoughts and beliefs on many different topics and subjects and I’ve taken this last break from writing to attempt to figure a few things out about myself. I think everyone should take time for personal reflection. We don’t know everything about anything, and most of us know even less about our own selves. Now, I know that most people wouldn’t throw their personal revelations out onto the Internet for general consumption by anyone, but, if you’ve been with me for a while, you know I’m nothing but different from most people. “Special”, I think my friends like to say. :-)

So, I’m going to do a few posts about my own personal revelations. I hope that there might be people that they help, or that they are entertaining at the least. If anything, maybe I can encourage you to seek your own revelations. They are always worth it.


I am broken. I know it.

It’s funny to me (Not funny HA HA, but funny weird) that my memories of my childhood are VERY vague and I really don’t have all that many of them. I talk with people all the time that have great memories of their childhoods. They can give details and specific times and whatnot. Not me. I’m fuzzy for most all of my early life.

My recent life? The trying times and things that I’ve been through? Those are most all crystal clear. Even the memories that I wish I couldn’t remember. Hmmm… I wonder.

Does that mean that I had an extremely boring childhood? Could be. I wasn’t a real bad kid. Sure, I got into trouble, what kid doesn’t? But I never really pushed the limits. I was contented to simply exist within my parent’s rules. At least, I think I was. I can’t really recall.

Does that make me broken? Certainly not. Maybe I’m just too lazy to recall those memories. Maybe I just don’t have a need, reason, or desire to recall them.

No, what makes me broken is how my mind and my spirit has taken the events in my life and twisted them. And I do mean that they’ve been twisted. I know that my reactions aren’t always what others would be in the same situation. I know that there are SO many walls and filters that have become my source for responses that it’s almost downright silly. Want an example? That’s easy. I’ll use one that just happened a little while ago.

I won’t go into details, but the gist is this. I can very easily walk away from someone, and STILL manage to stay attached and friendly to them. I don’t know many people that can do that. Either you are with them or you aren’t. But I’m very capable of being with someone and sharing a part of my life, and yet walk away in an instant.

I know that my relationships have suffered because of this. And I’m certain that a few of my friends shake their heads and wonder what the hell I’m doing. I guess it just seems that I don’t care. That after a certain point, my heart shuts off and I’m done.

I’m sure that the few people that really know me have spent their fair share of energy in digging to find that little nugget of real me. Despite what I present, I’m not a real easy person to get to know. Sure, you’ll find out about all the surface things and the World things that have happened in my life. I’ve presented many of them here. But do you know me because of that? Absolutely not. In fact, there are very few people that could anticipate my response to things. And even they are surprised sometimes.

Like I said…

I am broken. I know it. And, I’m OK with that.

Thursday, August 20

Makin’ it work

“Our greatest joy-and our greatest pain comes in our relationships with others.”
- Stephen R. Covey

Today, I want to get everyone thinking about something that’s near and dear to everyone heart. So, let me just put it out there now…How do you make a relationship, any relationship, work?

It’s kind of funny to me, in that, here recently; I’ve had LOTS of people coming to me for help in figuring this very question out. My question to myself is usually…”Why me?” I mean come on…I’ve had two failed marriages, I have several kids, went through a period where I didn’t even speak to any of my family…who the hell am I to answer that question?

But it got me thinking. I know…bad sign right? :-)

And I started thinking about the why’s and how’s of all my relationships. And more importantly, I remembered all the bad, and sometimes downright AWFUL, advice that I got in answer to my question. Things like:

• Act like you’re in love until you are…
• Marriage is 50-50. You need to give as much, or more, than you take…
• You need to have common interests and do things together…

I’m sorry…but that’s all bullshit! It’s bad advice, it encourages guilt and accusations, and it makes a relationship a competition of who is doing more. I have yet to hear solid, relationship building, workable advice. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good nuggets out there, I just haven’t found THE advice to give. And, if I’m completely honest here, I don’t believe that it’ll ever be found.

Everyone is different. As is every relationship, whether it’s a friendship, family, marriage, sex, of any other kind of relationship. There is no one piece of advice, or book, or movie, or anything that will apply to everyone and every situation. Dr. Phil won’t cut it for everyone. :-)

“If you’ve never contemplated suicide…you’ve never been in love. If you’ve never thought about murder…you’ve never been divorced.”
– Christopher Titus

Let’s face it, human beings are social creatures. Relationships are important to us all. Unfortunately, I don’t ever recall taking a class, or being taught, how to make any of those relationships work. All I’ve ever been told is that a relationship takes work. Great! That sums it all up, right? Not hardly. Yes, relationships are work. But, so is washing my dog, and getting a degree, and keeping a job. Work is not the same and no one has ever explained what relationship work entails.

So, getting back on topic…How do you make a relationship work? I can’t tell you that. :-)

No, really. I can’t. Because it’ll be different for you than for me. I CAN tell you what I have learned about being in a relationship and how to make it work for me. So what HAVE I learned?

I’ve learned that most people don’t have a clue how to be successful in a relationship. We all seem to want to be the “right” one. We want everything to go our way and find it very hard to change directions. It’s easier to blame someone else than it is to admit you’re wrong. That no relationship is 50-50. Some days it’s 90-10, others its 10-90. Sometimes it’s just as important to listen and understand as it is to talk and be heard. My feelings are just as important and valid as yours, but not necessarily the way to go.

But, I think that the most important thing that I’ve learned is that the only way I can make a relationship work is if I take care of your needs and they are just as important to me as my own and you take care of mine and feel the same way.

See, I believe that, to make any relationship work, you have to get to know that other person inside and out. We all have needs and in a relationship, you become the only one able to meet those needs for that person. That does mean that you have to express those needs and make your own heart known. That is the “work” of a relationship.

Now…bring on Dr. Phil! I’m taking his show!

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

Tuesday, August 4

Thank You For Listening…

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Shel Silverstein

So, I was doing some Google-ing today relating to today’s topic. I was searching for human traits. Specifically, the traits that others thought were the most important and/or the best. I was kind of shocked to see that not a single person listed listening as a top human trait. Hmm…

That got me thinking…again. :-)

Why is listening not a top human trait? Why is it that all around the world, from personal, private relationships to world governments, miscommunications and misunderstandings abound? In our World of mass media and instantaneous information, why aren’t we listening?

"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them."
Ralph Nichols

According to A. Barbour, author of Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Communication, our communications breakdown like this:
7 percent verbal (words)
38 percent vocal (volume, pitch, rhythm, etc)
55 percent body movements (mostly facial expressions)

Humans are expressive. In more than simply a vocal way. In fact, we don’t really communicate much verbally. And yet, when you are listening to someone talk to you, are you giving them your full, undivided attention? Are you REALLY listening? I would bet that you aren’t.

"There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves."
Albert Guinon

I think that for most of us, our conversations with other people go something like this.

YOU: Blah, blah, blah…
THEM: I think…blah, (You don’t really hear the rest of what they say because you are too busy thinking up your next statement)

Sound like a familiar experience? I bet it does. But don’t worry; the other person is probably doing the same thing back to you. :-)

“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Listening is one of the most important skills available to a human being. It is what allows us to truly and honestly understand another person. Listening is what makes you feel special, cared about, and loved. It’s what makes us all able to share a world or a life with another person.

There is no classroom to learn listening. It’s a skill that is given to us by our parents. All too often today, parents are rushing to pack more into their day. One of the things that gets bumped is taking the time to sit and LISTEN to your children. Show them that they are special and that what they have to say is important to you. In that way, our children will learn what it means to listen. It is reinforced because of how it makes them feel.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to a child is the ability to sit quietly and listen completely.

Do ya hear me?? :-)

Thursday, July 23

A letter to a Brother I haven’t yet met…

Dear JBB,

We haven’t met, yet, and I do hope that someday we will be able to meet and shake hands and get to know one another. I feel like I know you to a certain extent. See, we share a bit in common. It’s more than just the fact that our lives seem to have shared similar experiences. I have been told of some of the things you’ve survived through and often I have survived the same things. More important than that, to me at least, is the fact that we share the same person. In this I’m talking about your Mom.

It’s funny to me to think that even though we are not related in any way, I feel as if your Mom is my Mom. We even have a joke that she’s my Internet Mom. :-)

I was listening the other day to the song “Mama, I’m Coming Home” by Ozzy Osbourne and it got me thinking. I wanted to share those thoughts with you. It seemed to my heart that you might appreciate them. See, I know what you’re going through right now and while I haven’t been in the exact same situation that you are, I have my own parallels.

“Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come, but I ain’t the same
Mama, I’m coming home
Times gone by seem to be
You could have been a better friend to me
Mama, I’m coming home”

Now, just reading this verse, it doesn’t seem to be a very friendly song for Mom, right? But think about it this way. He’s really talking to the World. See, we all have the opportunity to give the World a try and eventually we come to find that the World “could have been a better friend to me”. The World, as we find, only looks out for itself. But in the end…”Mama, I’m coming home”.

“You took me in and you drove me out
Yeah, you had me hypnotized, yeah
Lost and found and turned around
By the fire in your eyes

You made me cry, you told me lies
But I can't stand to say goodbye
Mama, I'm comin’ home
I could be right, I could be wrong
It hurts so bad it's been so long
Mama, I'm comin’ home

Selfish love yeah we're both alone
The ride before the fall, yeah
But I'm gonna take this heart of stone
I just got to have it all”

I know what it’s like to be sucked in to everything that the World says that it offers. Friends, money, love, fame, power, and lots and lots of things. It’s pretty easy to fall into that trap and once we’re in it, we SO want to just stay there. We often are completely willing to trade those people that honestly want the best for us, for those that want the best FROM us. We get worn down, beaten, broken, and still, the World wants more from us. And in the end...”Mama, I'm comin’ home

“I've seen your face a hundred times
Everyday we've been apart
I don't care about the sunshine, yeah
'Cause mama, mama, I'm comin’ home
I'm comin’ home
I'm comin’ home”

I heard this part with new ears, wanting, with all my heart to be present when you are finally able to say this. Wherever I am when this happens, know that I will rejoice with all my heart. I will take a moment, several actually, and know that you have survived again. I will know that you have come home, better than when you first left.

I hope that this finds you in good spirits, my brother that I have yet to meet. I pray that you always remember that you are never the sum of your mistakes, but rather, the product of how you chose to live your life. Love amplifies love, compassion begets forgiveness and healing, and you are an important part of many people’s lives. It seems to be a lesson that we all need to revisit from time to time.

As the saying goes…

God love you Brother, and so do I.

Wednesday, July 22

I’ll have a side of Hope with that…

So, I’m getting ready for work this morning, letting my mind wander, as is my wont. And I‘m listening to the comedy station on my phone, as I usually do, and one of my favorite comedians comes on, Christopher Titus. Now, I tried…really I did…to transcribe the bit that he was doing, but, let’s face it, I have zero future as a secretary or transcriptionist. :-)

So, here’s the link to the bit. Titus. Now, before you go any further, I insist that you go listen to this one. It’s only 5 minutes and 14 seconds. So go…I’ll wait…

Back? Great. Now, one of the things that I love about Titus is that he makes me think about things. Things in my own life and about the World in general. I believe that that is the best kind of comedy. The kind that makes you think. That takes the way things are right now in the world, good, bad, or unbelievably stupid, and they question, prod, poke, and make you think about it.

“Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
Don Quixote

So, what about Sergeant Pepper? Did that make you think about the World today? I know…I know…I can hear you asking now…This is it? This is his Profound Thought today? Sergeant Pepper?

Nope. I’m thinking about the very last bit of what Titus said. “The World’s not coming to an end right now. And I had some hope.” And I thought to myself…Do I have some hope right now? Do the people that I care about have hope? What about the World in general? Do you think there is an abundance of hope in this World?

Now, the cynic in me wants to loudly shout “No! Hope is at an all time low!” and I’m certain that there are lots of people that would agree with that. But is that the truth of it? For some reason, I’m inclined to say no. So, I thought and thought about hope in the World. Let me give some examples…

• Every time a boat full of people throw themselves out into the ocean, in an attempt to reach the US, there is an abundance of hope.
• Every time a group of oppressed people band together in an attempt to make the wrong things right, there is an abundance of hope.
• Every time an abused child, spouse, or person leaves an abuser, there is an abundance of hope.

Now, I’m certain that there will be people pointing to these few examples and saying, “It’s not hope! It’s desperation! They have no other options.” But, I don’t think so. Every desperate choice is fueled by a hope of something better. Hope is the basic underlying belief in any attempt of change, no matter how big or how small.

“Once you choose hope, anything's possible.”
Christopher Reeves

There was a point in my own life where my hope reserves started scraping bottom. I just didn’t have any hope in anything at all. And then, I met someone that helped me to find that small nugget of hope that was hiding inside me. Today, he’s one of my very best friends. He showed me that life without hope is, in truth, no life at all. That all of life is based on hope. Hope for tomorrow, hope for change, hope for love, peace, friendship.

When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time.”
Author Unknown

Every time that I look at my sons, I know that familiar surge of hope. I also feel that immense burden of hope. See, I now know that hope is a double-edged sword. Hope is what allows us to carry on in the face of unbelievable trials, to face fear and strife and smile as you make your way through. Hope is also the biggest responsibility we all have to the next generation.

WE are the example that children will live up to. WE are the ones that will teach them how to live. WE are the ones that will show them what it truly means to live with hope. And how can you do that if you don’t know how yourself?

See, hope is what lets us catch a glimpse of the future. Of what could be. Hope facilitates our own personal belief in tomorrow. That is a precious gift that we are compelled to give to our children.
Because what is a World…without hope?

Not someplace that I want my children living in. :-)

And a World with…well…all the hope in the World?

I think Titus sums it up well…

“It’s a park. And there’s a white guy, and a black guy, and an Asian guy, and a Latino guy, and, OK, THAT guy, he’s Canadian. Don’t worry about him; they never affect the World much at all. But, you see what they’re doing, honey? That is called praying. And they are doing it for each other. Your Daddy has never seen this in his lifetime. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this is the best time for you to be born, cuz that right there, that what it means to be an American. And they’re praying for peace and if we can’t have peace…well, that we destroy the people who screwed up the peace. So we can have peace!”

I’m proud to be living now…in THIS time…in THIS place…on THIS planet. With you. God bless.

Monday, July 13

What Happened To All My Heroes?

“Celebrity-worship and hero-worship should not be confused. Yet we confuse them every day, and by doing so we come dangerously close to depriving ourselves of all real models. We lose sight of the men and women who do not simply seem great because they are famous but are famous because they are great. We come closer and closer to degrading all fame into notoriety.”
Daniel J. Boorstin

OK…I’ll go ahead and confess this now. My hero is encompassed by no one single person. My heroes are personified values. Honor, Honesty, Integrity, Respect, Compassion, Love. Just to name a few. See, my Dad wanted me to grow up with all the old myths. I was exposed to Heracles, Jason, Zeus, Odin, Thor, King Arthur, and many, many others. With all those old myths, I learned about those values that would eventually come to be an integral part of my life. Sure, the heroes in those old myths were all fallible, and some in great big ways, but that only made the virtues they were embodying all the more important.

But, what about the accepted heroes of today? If you were to go to any high school in the country and ask them questions about the old myths, do you think they’d get them right? I don’t.

I don’t think that any of them would know what Jason and the Argonauts were questing for, or what Heracles did that was special. Hell…do YOU know the right answers to those questions?

Actually…a better question might be; who are your heroes? And keeping in mind Boorstin’s quote above, do YOU confuse hero-worship with celebrity-worship?

It seems to me, a bad trend today, that our children are not growing up with the myths and legends that teach and personify the values of a hero. And really…how can we expect our children to become heroes for their generations if we don’t teach them what it means to be a hero in the first place?

“The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.”
Felix Adler

I’ve talked before about what it means to be a hero, so I won’t rehash that here. Rather, I want to talk about why we’ve lost these classical heroes and replaced them with people that are SO far from being heroes?

Or maybe that’s an unanswerable question. Why, is a difficult one to answer on something like this. But I keep coming back to it. Why? And more importantly, what kind of people will be living on this planet when my children are grown? Will the Heroic Values even exist anymore? Will the World’s heroes in actuality be the World’s criminals? We’re almost there in some areas.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. “
Joseph Campbell

I think that this quote probably sums up a big problem for me with today’s famous heroes. They aren’t heroes, for the most part, because they are only interested in what they can get for themselves. And that’s NOT a hero. That is usually the villain. Heroes aren’t about grabbing as much as they can for themselves. That’s not the way Heroic Values are expressed. Heroes are those that would willingly give all they had for someone else. A hero is one that makes things better, simply by being there.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
Christopher Reeve

We have a responsibility to our children to teach them. Sorry…but yes, that is a PARENT’S responsibility. It’s not a school teacher’s job, it’s not a church’s job, it’s the parent’s job. Sadly, if you look around at our world today, it seems that most parents are failing in this job. This is leaving children to decide for themselves what values to have. Or worse, they get them from TV.

I’m a parent, so I can bitch. :-) I don’t want my sons to grow up in a world where the biggest heroes are gold toothed rap singers or athletes that think they are above the law or even simple rich people that never seem to have enough. I want them to know the stories of courage and honor. Where the heroes quest, fight (sometimes they lose), and yet they persevere in the end. They will know the myths, the legends, and the amazing people that changed the world before them. And when they are grown, they will KNOW that they have the ability to change the world too.

“In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.”
Ayn Rand

Most importantly, I want you to know those stories. That’s how our children are going to learn of them. More than that, I want you to know them so that you might believe that YOU can change the world right now. Because you can. Sure, things are hard, but so what? Sure, you’re just one person, but so what? Want some examples of amazing people that changed the world by themselves? Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks. Now, I know what you’re thinking…they were special people and you’re nothing like them. Guess what? You’re wrong. You have the exact same things inside of you. You just have to reach down and get in touch with it.

So come on…let’s make a better world together. For ourselves and for our kids.

“The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn't look like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, he's going to keep digging, he's going to keep trying to do right and make up for what's gone before, just because that's who he is.”
Joss Whedon

Monday, June 22

Birds don’t pack worms to migrate

“All they gave me was this ticket to heaven
But that ticket to heaven, said to lie in the bed that you make
Now I'm restless and I'm running from everything, I'm running from everything,
I'm afraid it's a little too late”
- 3 Doors Down

I’ve often talked about having faith here. Faith in yourself. Faith in your Higher Power, or God, or whatever you call it. Faith in doing the right thing, regardless of what happens.

So, I’m going to talk a bit about faith again today. :-)

See, to me, faith is SUCH an integral and important part of life that I can’t imagine going through a single day without it. Even on my worst days (and I’ve had PLENTY of those), I find that I still have that little nugget of faith in my heart that says “Hold on…we’ll get through this too.”

Everywhere I look I see amazing examples of faith in action. See, that’s the key. Faith in ACTION. Sure, it’s great to have tons of faith in your heart, but if you don’t ever act on that faith or use it, then really, what good is it to you? But every day we see people that take their faith in hand and do the most amazing things with it. We have seen people that climbed the highest mountains, gone from less than broke to worldwide fame and fortune, I see people all the time that have the faith to keep trying to make it in a band in spite of everything that happens.

These are the stories that motivate us all. You just can’t help but get that good feeling in your heart when you read about them. I was blessed enough to be given a copy of Chris Gardner’s new book recently. You remember him; they made a movie about a single year of his life. It’s called the Pursuit of Happyness. That was just a single year in this amazing man’s life. He’s very open about his experiences, including an abusive alcoholic stepfather, his year of “working homelessness” as he puts it, and many other challenges that he overcame. Throughout this awesome book (Start Where You Are) he constantly reminds us that it was faith in himself and sometimes simply faith that things WOULD get better that helped him make it through the hardest of times.

Faith is one of the most powerful motivators in our lives. Faith is what allows us to reach for our dreams. Faith in ourselves and in something better than what you have right now.

But I think the most important aspect of faith is that it allows us to see beyond our current circumstances. It allows us to believe that whatever we are going through right now is only temporary. Too often we get into the mindset that things are the way they are and they will always be that way. Well my friends, let me tell you this.


Nothing is ever forever! Change is what life is all about. Fear holds most of us back from simply trying something new, making something better, doing something different. Fear is what keeps us all stuck. Faith frees us from that fear. Believe and KNOW in your heart that everything can be different. You just need the faith to give it a shot.

The best example of faith, for me, came from one of my very best friends. See, he had just gotten married and was planning on moving to Orlando. He didn’t have a job, yet, or a place to live, yet. But he believed that Orlando was where he was supposed to be for right now. So he and his new bride made the plans to move.

He told me how his parents reacted and I laughed with him. They kept asking how he could possibly move without a place to live or a job for when they got there. How can you do this?

I simply LOVE his response…he said,

“Do birds pack worms before they migrate, or do they have faith that wherever they land, there will be worms there for them?”

Have faith my friends. You really CAN do anything as long as you believe. :-)

Thursday, June 11

Step 12 – Uncovering Your Light

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”

Step 12 is the step of fellowship. It’s the step where we take everything that we’ve experienced and everything that we’ve learned and we share it with other people. It is often said that we can only help others with things that we have experienced ourselves. This step is where we do just that.

If you look back at your own progress you will see the amazing journey that you’ve taken, in just this one area that you’ve decided to focus on, and the incredible progress that you’ve made. When we started this journey, more than likely, you were afraid, worried, and maybe even a little disbelieving. And yet, now, you can see what you’ve managed to accomplish. You can feel the new lifestyle that you’re working to create.

The best thing to do right now, the best encouragement you can give to yourself, is to share your journey with someone else. Notice, I’m NOT telling you to give them advice or tell them what to do, just simply share what you’ve gone through and the journey you took to change. That will be enough to help them, if they want it.

The biggest thing right now is to not let that wicked feeling of shame to enter into your thoughts. True, you may have been in a rough place when you finally started to work but that’s OK. It is NOTHING to be ashamed about. Remember, that everyone has had rough times, and keep focused on the fact that you had the faith and courage to DO something about it. That’s more than most people can lay claim to.

“The selfless service of this work is the very principle of Step Twelve. We received our recovery from the God of our understanding, so we now make ourselves available as His tool to share recovery with those who seek it. Most of us learn in time that we can only carry our message to someone who is asking for help. Sometimes the only message necessary to make the suffering addict reach out is the power of example. An addict may be suffering but unwilling to ask for help. We can make ourselves available to these people, so that when they ask, someone will be there.

Learning the art of helping others when it is appropriate is a benefit of the N.A. Program. Remarkably, the Twelve Steps guide us from humiliation and despair to a state wherein we may act as instruments of our Higher Power. We are given the ability to help a fellow addict when no one else can. We see it happening among us every day. This miraculous turnabout is evidence of spiritual awakening. We share from our own personal experience what it has been like for us. The temptation to give advice is great, but when we do so we lose the respect of newcomers. This clouds our message. A simple, honest message of recovery from addiction rings true.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text

I hope that one of the things that you learn from your journey through the 12 Steps is that you are NEVER alone. No one in this life is ever completely alone. All it takes is for you to lift your head and look around. Others may be going through the same thing right at this moment, or they may have survived what you are going through, and if you don’t see anyone nearby, there is ALWAYS your Higher Power that is looking out for you.

Keep this step at the forefront of your thoughts. It reminds us to practice the steps in EVERY aspect of our lives and to ALWAYS help when it is right to do so. I believe that this is a true blessing of the 12 Steps. The willingness, confidence, and ability to help another person, no matter what their situation might be.

Step 12 is that daily encouragement that we all sometimes need. We are reminded that BECAUSE of the spiritual awakening we have experienced in going through our own steps, we are able to take and share that same experience with others in desperate need of it. Indeed, BECAUSE of our spiritual awakening, we will be better each and every day and apply the lessons learned from our journeys.

Today I’m going to leave you with two of my absolute favorite quotes. :-) The first I’ve used before because it is simply awesome and gives me chills every time I read it. The second is from the movie Holy Man with Eddie Murphy. It is his goodbye blessing to a man who made his own spiritual journey and came to see the world with new eyes.

May your own eyes come to see the real world and your place in this beautiful story.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson

And always remember this one…my own blessing for you each and every day.

“Your good is better and your better is blest.”
- G – Holy Man

Monday, June 8

Step 11 – The Buddha Step

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out”

Ohh…prayer AND meditation. Everyone’s favorite things to do, right? :-)

So…this step is all about getting in touch with your inner monk. Shaving your head is optional, as is the vow of celibacy. Ha Ha. Really, it’s OK to keep reading this one. I’m not going to hold you to anything.

What is this step all about? It’s rather simple really. It’s about getting in closer contact with your own spirituality. That inner core of who you are that is just waiting to help you make the next right choice. No matter what you call your Higher Power, now is the time to start working on THAT relationship.

You’ve got the tools now to work on any part of your life and make it better. You’ve got the tools to make yourself better in so many different ways. You’ve opened up to the ability of self evaluation and true self improvement.

This step is about more than just yourself. It’s about opening yourself up to the possibility that your Higher Power has a plan for you. That it wants the absolute best for you and is determined and able to assist you in reaching that goal.

“When we first come to the Program, we usually express a lot of things which seem to be important wants and needs. As we grow spiritually and find out about a Power greater than ourselves, we begin to realize that as long as our spiritual needs are truly met, our living problems are reduced to a point of comfort. When we forget where our real strength lies, we quickly become subject to the same patterns of thinking and action that got us to the Program in the first place. We eventually redefine our beliefs and understanding to the point where we see that our greatest need is for knowledge of God's will for us and the strength to carry that out. We are able to set aside some of our personal preference, if necessary, to do this because we learn that God's will consists of the very things we care most about. God's will for us becomes our own true will for ourselves. This happens in an intuitive manner which cannot be adequately explained in words.

We become willing to let other people be what they are without having to pass judgment on them. The urgency to take care of things isn't there anymore. We couldn't comprehend acceptance in the beginning-now we can.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text,

But…I don’t know the right way to pray! Yes, I’ve actually heard that as an excuse to NOT talk to God. The funny thing is, I’m pretty certain that He doesn’t care about the “right way”; He just wants to talk to you.

Have you ever sat for hours with a close friend and talked about everything that’s going on in your life right now? The things you’re happy about, your fears, concerns, dreams, everything? See, I think that’s how you should talk to God. And why not? Think you’re too insignificant for that kind of conversation? Hopefully you’re beginning to think a little different now, after the work you’ve been doing.

“If we have had little or no experience with prayer, we should probably begin in a simple fashion. That means putting aside perfectionistic concerns about praying "the right way." We should pray simply and forthrightly to God as a loving Father, not worrying about what we should and should not say.

Over time, as we become comfortable with God, we will talk with Him as with a trusted friend. He will be the Person with whom we can conduct our daily inventories of grief and confession issues. And we will begin to sense His answers to our prayers...”
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery

The most important part of this step is that you realize that you are fundamentally “good”. You are. Regardless of anything that might have happened before. If you don’t take joy and pleasure in torturing cute little puppy dogs, then you’re fundamentally good. :-)

This step is about getting you in conscious contact with that part of you that KNOWS that and bringing that to the surface. The great thing is…it’s all already inside you. Probably buried under a mountain of shit, but that’s what the steps are for. The steps are your shovel to get at that buried treasure. Your awareness of your Higher Power is another tool, another set of hands to help you shovel. So take some time today and say “Hi!” you never know what you might find.

Friday, June 5

Step 10 – Keep on Keepin’ on

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it”

OK…I know that it’s been a while, but hopefully, you’ve been putting the first nine steps to work in your life and seen something of a difference. Maybe you simply feel better about where your life is going and how you’re living every day. Maybe you’ve been able to find a way to fix a broken relationship that you never thought could be fixed. Maybe you can see now how your old behaviors held you back and are making progress every day to move toward better behaviors.

Or…maybe not. :-)

Regardless of where you’re at right now, step 10 is something for everyone to keep in mind. It’s not just restricted to people working the 12 steps, but rather, it’s a lesson that all people everywhere can benefit from. Simply put, keep doing the right thing.

“This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.”
-A.A. Big Book

Life isn’t a single instance or moment or “Aha!” and then we’re done. It is a journey, a walk, and daily task in which we can learn to do better than the day before. In order to be and become the absolute best person that you can, you must pursue being better every day. That’s not to say that you are working hard at it every day, but rather, that you are aware of yourself and your own behaviors all the time. Most important to the self awareness mindset is that you watch for those “bad” behaviors and change them as them appear and also to make amends for mistakes and hurts immediately.

“The emphasis on inventory is heavy only because a great many of us have never really acquired the habit of accurate self-appraisal. Once this healthy practice has been groomed, it will be so interesting and profitable that the time it takes won't be missed. For these minutes and sometimes hours spent in self-examination are bound to make all the other hours of our day better and happier. And at length our inventories become a regular part of everyday living, rather than unusual or set apart.”
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

I like the fact that the 12 steps encourage us all to take time from each day to evaluate how well we did. It’s like getting a progress report every day on us. Often, every day brings struggles, challenges, good times, bad times, and times when I simply feel “blah”. By taking a bit of time at the end of my day, I’m able to put it all into perspective and “grade” my actions, thoughts, and feelings. I can resolve to do better, think nicer, and apologize when I’m wrong or reacted in a hurtful manner. I’ll be the first to admit that some days are better than others. :-)

“The Tenth Step can be a pressure relief valve. We work this step while the day's ups and downs are still fresh in our minds. We list what we have done and try not to rationalize our actions. This may be done in writing at the end of the day. The first thing we do is stop! Then we take the time to allow ourselves the privilege of thinking. We examine our actions, our reactions, and our motives. We often find that we've been "doing" better than we've been "feeling". This allows us to find out where we have gone wrong and admit fault before things get any worse. We need to avoid rationalizing. We promptly admit our faults, not explain them.

We work this step continuously. This is a prevention, and the more we do it, the less we will need the corrective part of this step. This is really a great tool. It gives us a way of avoiding grief before we bring it on ourselves. We monitor our feelings, our emotions, our fantasies, and our actions. By constantly looking at these things we may be able to avoid repeating the actions that make us feel bad.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text

This is my life and it’s the only one that I get. There are no retakes, no do-overs, and no restarts. I want to make the most of every moment that I’m granted and be a blessing, not a burden, to everyone brought into my life. I know that I’m not perfect, and really that’s a good thing. Step 10 helps me to keep daily perspective of myself, but it also helps me in dealing with everyone else. I can listen and understand, empathize and console, dance and sing with everyone that I meet.

So, keep on keepin’ on and know that whatever grade you get today, tomorrow is another day. :-)

Tuesday, May 19

Do You See What I See?

Take a look at this picture and think about what you see here.

I’m not going to ask you whether or not you like the painting. See, I don’t really care about that. :-) The point is that everyone will see something different. What we see when we look at something is highly determined by our own internal state and perceptions. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. Perceptions.

“We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are”
-Anais Nin

Everyone likes to talk about their “point of view” and they all want you to get theirs. That seems to me, like asking a dog to look at the world the way a cat does. I haven’t had your experiences and I certainly wouldn’t react to them the same way you have. My perception of reality will ALWAYS be different than yours. That’s just the way we are made. We are all unique and original in and of ourselves.

And I’ll even grant you that you see the world differently than I do. That’s one of the most beautiful things about people. We can both sit down and watch a sunset together and come away with completely different and relevant experiences. What might be moving to me, you may consider mundane. And really…that’s OK.

Lord knows that you all DON’T want a bunch of clones of me walking around. :-)

“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is...The only problem in your life is your mind's resistance to life as it unfolds.”
-Dan Millman

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
-Dalai Lama

What does this mean for us as people? And more specifically, what does it mean to us who are trying to become more than we currently are?

It means that we have the natural ability to CHOOSE how we see our world and lives. We have the ability to choose how we respond to anything that happens in our lives. I like the way that Stephen Covey puts it when he says that we are “response-able” creatures. He means that in every situation and with every stimulus, we have the ability to choose our response. Sometimes it’s a response that happens so quick that only our subconscious is aware of it, but it’s still a chosen response. The trick is making that time between stimulus and response as large as possible to give you enough time to choose the best response.

It means that when something bad happens in our lives, we can CHOOSE to respond differently. To think differently. To feel differently. To live differently.

“We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”

“What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are”
-C. S. Lewis

Look at this picture now and think about what you see.

This is a standard perception test picture. It is designed to show you a basic biasness in our own personal perceptions. See…there are two women in this picture. Can you see them? One is a very young woman and the other is a very old woman. Which did you see first?

It’s always a good idea to challenge your own perceptions from time to time. All too often we simply accept the way we see things as though it was perfect truth. Lives change, the world changes, people change, and the worst thing we can do is to hold onto our old perceptions of life. Everything in life grows, everything changes. We need to make certain that the way we see the world changes too. Oh, don’t worry; you won’t have your 3 year old perceptions your whole life. Although, I do know people that just might still have them. :-) But rather than letting your perceptions and life filters change in response to something external, YOU change them. That’s why we need to challenge our own perceptions, so that WE can be the ones to change them. So that we are the ones changing our own lives and not letting someone else have that control and power.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to how you view the world. No one else can judge your view point, except you. If you find something that isn’t working for you anymore, then by all means, change it, fix it, or throw it out.

And remember…if you ever get stuck on how you want to view the world…start with a smile and a laugh and go from there. :-)

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses”

P.S. – The first picture is my own painting. Hope you liked it. :-)

Wednesday, May 13

Step 9 – The act of amends

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”

So, here we are at step 9. This is really the action step for the amends process. Step 9 is where you go to the people you need to make amends to and engage them. This really does mean that you physically go to them.

Too often we are tempted to think thoughts like:

They won’t accept my apology anyway

It’s TOO big of a hurt for just an “I’m sorry”

It’s too soon or they are still too hurt to hear me

This is your old mindset and sometimes it’s SO hard to get yourself out of it. That’s OK. You’re not a failure if you think these things, or even if you act on these thoughts. It just means that you’re normal.

All people act, at times, from the motivation to avoid hurt and pain. Step 9 is about pushing though that in times when it matters.

The difference between step 8 and step 9 is the personal action component. In step 8 you are really talking to yourself. Now, in step 9, you are talking with another person. Someone that you’ve hurt. Someone that might not really like you right now. Someone that might be hard to even approach at this time.

I have found, for me, that simply making the initial effort to reach out with an apology, oftentimes, completely changes that other person. Keep in mind that a heartfelt apology can be life changing for anyone. How do you feel when someone that has hurt you makes the attempt? Sure, you may not WANT to hear it right now, but it will hit your heart as you come to realize how HARD that first step sometimes is.

As people, we like to hold on to our self righteousness. We LIKE to be right. An honest, sincere apology, in the face of hurt, shows humbleness and a willingness to admit that YOU WERE WRONG. That takes a lot of courage.

“Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding. Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have to be. We must not shrink at anything.”
-A.A. Big Book

Notice something about this step. This step doesn’t require that your apology be accepted by that other person. That’s not what this is about. Demanding that someone accept your apology, or feeling frustration or failure that they didn’t is simply wrong. You can only control yourself. You can only do the right thing for yourself. If your apology is not received, then you have to be content with the fact that you’ve done your part.

The 12 steps are all about making YOU a better person. It’s not about changing everyone in your life. Sometimes, it’s not the right time and you find out the hard way. That’s OK. You’ll get better and discovering the “right” time the more often you make the attempts. Sometimes, you might bring about a bit of hurt with your apology. Maybe the other person has buried the hurt and tried to just forget about it. When you get in front of them and apologize, they have to re-feel the hurt again. Know that this is OK too.

A sincere apology is a powerful thing. It can bring together people that have been split apart for a long time. Most importantly, it can heal hearts and families. Now THAT is powerful.

A word of advice though, I keep saying that you need to make it a sincere and heartfelt apology. Don’t try to half-ass this step! An apology is shite if it doesn’t come from the heart and it will make things FAR worse than had you simply not done anything.

So, keep it real and bring it from your heart and watch the beauty and power of humble, heartfelt, sincere amends.

Tuesday, May 5

The greatest gift…

Let me ask you a very simple question…

What do you think the greatest gift you could ever receive could be?

Let’s throw out some options, shall we? :-)

How about…
A boat?
A car?
A million dollars?
A house?
A child?

How about none of those things?

See, the greatest gift that anyone can ever give to you is simply their heart. A heart given in an open, honest, and loving way is a treasure that beats anything else. Hands down! But I can hear some of you now…Why? What makes a heart the greatest gift?

Giving your heart to someone is not like giving any other gift. First off, you can give it to many people all at the same time and still never run out of it. (I’d like a bank account that works that way, please) Your heart is actually a part of who you are. It’s not like anything else. It’s strong, loving, tender, compassionate, caring, fragile, and SO much more.

I think that one of the biggest reasons that it’s the greatest gift is because it puts a part of yourself into another person’s care. You make yourself vulnerable and open to that person. That’s sometimes a scary place to be. We ALL have had times when someone has squeezed, crushed, trampled on, and basically made a pulpy mess of your heart. For most of us, that makes it SO much more difficult to give our hearts out the next time. Because we become afraid of the hurt, wary of the pain, and scared to take the risk.

I know that I’ve got scars on my heart and I wouldn’t change them for all the world. Some are old and some are new. Sure, sometimes it hurts, but then…isn’t that love? No one is perfect and neither is any heart. But I like mine the way it is and if you come to me with an open, honest heart, I’ll share a bit of mine with you. Don’t let fear keep your heart inside and isolated from the world, take the risk and know that despite the risk and the potential for hurt, this is the greatest gift you can give to anyone. I think I have a story that sums this up perfectly.

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.

Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart. Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said,

"Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine." The crowd and the young man looked at the old man's heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn't fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared -- how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man's heart and saw its state and laughed. "You must be joking," he said. "Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears."

"Yes," said the old man, "yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love - I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren't exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn't returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges -- giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?"

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man's heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man's heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.

Give freely the gift that no one else can give…and know that your heart is beautiful.

Friday, May 1

Step 8 – I’m sorry and all…

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all”

OK…we’ve come SO far now and yet, when you think about it, there’s still so much left to do. I’m certain that we can all agree that our behaviors have hurt someone. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons you want to change them and get rid of them. No one likes to cause others pain, no one likes to hurt those they love. And yet, often, after we DO hurt them, we find it so difficult to make it right. Again, it’s those excuses and justifications that we hear. You know the ones I’m talking about…

She won’t believe I’m sorry anyways.

I’ll apologize to him later. He’s too hurt right now.

It wasn’t THAT big a deal.

I’m sure that you’ve probably got your own personal favorites. :-)

“We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory. We subjected ourselves to a drastic self- appraisal. Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory…”
-A.A. Big Book

This is where Step 8 comes into play. We’ve now done the personal and emotional ground work to move on to working outside of ourselves. Now we start to make a difference in the lives of those we care about. Notice something here though…This step isn’t about running right out and apologizing to everyone. This isn’t an apology step. This is a step about making amends.

Webster defines amends as: compensation for a loss or injury

So what kinds of compensation do you have to make? Well, see that’s where you have to rely on your heart and the new willingness that you’ve gained going through the prior 7 steps. In most cases, it probably won’t be enough to just say, I’m sorry. Sometimes, you may just have to listen to what the hurt has done to that person’s emotions. Sometimes, you may have to do more.

I want you to notice something else about this step. “If we haven't the will to do this, we ask until it comes”. This is not a step that’s forced. You KNOW that you need to make amends, but sometimes it might take a while to get to the point where you CAN make amends. And remember…never, EVER; put yourself in harm’s way in trying to make amends.

Sometimes, when you try to make amends, the other person simply won’t accept it. That’s OK. You are doing your part in this process. You can’t force them to accept your amends; you can’t demand that they forgive you. That is THEIR choice and all you need do is try and then accept what they choose for their life.

“The Eighth Step is not easy; it demands a new kind of honesty about our relations with other people. The Eighth Step starts the procedure of forgiving others and possibly being forgiven by them, forgiving ourselves, and learning how to live in the world. By the time we reach this step, we have become ready to understand rather than to be understood. We can live and let live easier when we know the areas in which we owe amends. It seems hard now, but once we have done it, we will wonder why we did not do it long ago.”
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text

We all owe someone an apology. That’s just the way life goes. Usually it takes a strong and courageous person to actually make that apology and mean it, with sincerity. You are ready now to do just that. Like NA says, understand, listen and feel what they are telling you. Then you’ll be ready to give all your heart into making things right.

Thursday, April 30

Getcher Groove On!

Ok…now, before going any further reading today, check out this amazing little video.

Now that you’ve seen that awesome little clip I want you to think about what you just saw. See, there are some people that believe that math is a universal language, or binary, or love, or whatever. I believe that there are many universal languages that we can all use to communicate with each other. However, I think that the best and most complete is the language of music.

It’s a language that can evoke strong emotions from everyone. Joy, happiness, laughter, pain, sadness, and tears. It doesn’t matter what language the song might be being sung in, you can feel the emotion and know what the song is about.

Think about the video again for me. Do you remember what you saw? Odds are, you probably don’t, but I bet you’re humming the song to yourself right now. :-)

“When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me”

It’s a beautiful song of universal fellowship and brotherhood. It applies to EVERYONE. There isn’t a person that can say, “I have NEVER felt that way before.” That’s what makes music so powerful. It speaks to us on a deeper level than any other language we could possibly ever use. The only thing that might be better would be telepathy (and if you’ve figured that one out, call me RIGHT NOW!) The simple fact is that music doesn’t exclude anyone, but rather, pulls everyone into one moment. It encourages us to live right in the moment. And EVERYONE responds to it. We all sway to the music, tap your foot, bob your head, or even sing along.

“If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah”

Eventually, we will be gone from this planet. Someday, we will move on. Regardless of the reason, regardless of the method, we will end. I hope and pray that before that happens, we are able to find a way to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and share the moment that music brings to us all. We’re not enemies, none of us. We are, all of us, human beings. Brothers and sisters living on this tiny little world.

I will encourage you all to take a day, one whole day, and reach out a hand to everyone that you meet. Smile at everyone that crosses your path. Talk to them all and be a bright spot in their day. Find the music that you care in your heart and soul and let it come out. Bring it to the surface and share the moment with everyone around you. And for one day, just that one day, do your part to make the world a perfect place for all of us.

“Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darlin', darlin', stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me”

Know that today, and every day, you are a light for someone else. You can be, and probably are, the music in someone else’s heart.

I love you all, and believe in you more. :-)

Wednesday, April 29

Step 7 – Time to be humble

“Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”

OK…so I’m betting that you’ve had enough of patience for the moment. :-)

Now it’s time for Step 7. Which, you just might find to be a bit more difficult than the whole patience thing. See, here we’ve got to reign in the horrible beast of pride. Pride and ego and anything else that is saying you are in control and got everything covered. It’s pride and ego that make you believe that the hurts that you’ve caused aren’t really that bad. They are the source of your excuses and justifications. In short, they are a BIG part of what’s holding you back and keeping you stuck.

“When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.”
-A.A. Big Book

Notice that the step starts with Humbly. This is the ONLY way to do step 7. You can’t keep on telling yourself the same old excuses. You can’t keep standing on your pride and expect any sort of change or success. If you find that you’ve still got that niggling little voice in your head, grab your personal inventory and give it a glance. That should shut that little voice up. :-)

This is again a step of surrender, just like step 3. We are again admitting to ourselves that WE can’t fix us. We look to a Higher Power and ask, not demand, not tell, not beg, but simply ask for help.

Remember that the 12 Steps are as much a spiritual process as a character changing and growth process. Step 7 is VERY much a spiritual step. Spiritual growth never happens without humility. It’s the attitude or a student, willing to place yourself in another’s hands and believing that the best will happen. We realize that the way we were working before isn’t working and we’ve reached the point where we should be able to say to ourselves, “Let’s try this another way.”

“The Seventh Step is where we make the change in our attitude which permits us, with humility as our guide, to move out from ourselves toward others and toward God. The whole emphasis of Step Seven is on humility. It is really saying to us that we ought to be willing to try humility in seeking the removal of our shortcomings just as we did when we admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, and came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. If that degree of humility could enable us to find the grace by which such a deadly obsession could be banished, then there must be hope of the same result respecting any other problem we could possibly have.”
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

This is also a removal step. You have you list of behaviors and what contributes to them all. Now is the time to start removing those things that support or start the behaviors. This might mean a change of friends, hang outs, activities, etc but it might also mean a change in thoughts, responses, and the internal monologue that we all have constantly going on inside our heads. This part is VERY important. You can’t make a change if the sources of the behavior are still staring you in the face. Let’s be real, you’ve made the list, you’ve laid the groundwork, and dammit, YOU’VE BEEN PATIENT…so let’s get to work now. Restructure your environment for success. It’s time to clean house.

“This may also mean action on my part in getting rid of sources that lead me to addictive behaviors. If it is my pride that makes me believe that I can still live with these sources of temptation, then the sources need to go along with my pride. I rid my life of those things, people or situations that are causing me to fall or stumble as far as I can do so in a responsible manner.”
- From

And remember…you’re not alone on this path. You have support and love, if you take a moment to look around you for it. So look up and look over and see me smiling and waving back at you.

Monday, April 20

Step 6 – The Halfway Point

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”

Step 6 moves us back solidly into the realm of Spirit. It’s here that we start to use the spiritual muscles that we’ve worked on in the previous steps. We have already accepted the problem and out lack of control of it. We’ve acknowledged that a Higher Power is needed to help you to fix this problem. We’ve itemized and analyzed and shared our progress. Now is the time for…

Patience. :-)

Oh, I know…that’s not what you wanted me to say, right? Patience? That sucks!

We all want to know that our hard work is working and we want our issues gone, like now! Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work that way. That’s one reason why Step 6 is SO important. It’s a step to teach us patience. Look at what the step says:

Were entirely ready…that means that WE are ready for someone else to help us finish the work. We are the ones waiting in this step. We’ve done the required pre-work and now we need to keep going until our partner arrives to help us out.

To have God remove…there you are. God becomes the focus of this step. We wait on our Higher Power to intercede for us. HE is the one that is going to do the real work in you. HE is the one that is going to take away those things that you can’t manage or control.

All these defects of character…not just a few. Not just some. Not every other one. Rather, it’s a removal of ALL the defects of character that are contributing to the things you can’t control. And realize that it’s the character flaws that are being worked on here. You’re not going to have great physical changes. You’re not going to get a new, high paying job. Although, you MIGHT, once the character flaws are removed, but that will be up to you.

“Step 6 is a step of preparation and reflection. I have been preparing for a significant change in my life and now I need to make sure that I am ready. I need to make sure in my own heart and mind that I am truly willing for God to remove these defects of character that have enabled my addictive behaviors. It might mean letting go of other things in my life in order to allow God to do the work that needs to be done. I need to determine if I am truly ready.”
- From

So…what do you have to DO on this step? I mean, it’s not like we’re just going to sit and twiddle our thumbs until God make an entrance, right?


You just keep on keepin' on, sugar. :-)

“So Step Six - "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character" - is A.A.'s way of stating the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job. This does not mean that we expect all our character defects to be lifted out of us as the drive to drink was. A few of them may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement. The words "entirely ready" underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best we know or can learn.”
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

This isn’t a quick fix process. Keep that in mind. This is a lifelong journey. And one that WILL require a lot of patience from us. By keeping to the spiritual focus of step 6, we are able to maintain that patience, even as we continue our journey.

Keep your head up and your eyes on the goal. One step at a time and we’ll get there together.