There are few things in life that split people as quickly as talking about religion. Everyone has an idea, a thought, and/or a conviction. And rare is the individual who will listen to views, other than their own, without certain walls going up. So what I am going to ask may border on the impossible…or at least in the very difficult zone. Yes this post is going to be about what I think about God. But is only my thoughts. I am not writing to sway anyone’s opinion. I’m writing this post with the same intention I have written the prior four posts on responsibility (there is only one more), to share what has happened in my life and to prove to others who have issues, situations, or circumstances in their life that there is hope. Real honest to God, life changing hope.
So, as I usually do, let me start with a story…
The year is 1998 and I have already made significant changes to my life. Although those changes started only four years earlier, I am a completely different person. Not that there weren’t matters that needed attention (and still do). But I was no longer spending every night in a bar, chasing every skirt who happened by, or indulging my considerable desire to steal everything that wasn’t locked down and stowed away. The drug use was history and I had quit drinking. Both were considered minor miracles by those who knew me, because I had been doing a gram of cocaine a day (no worry about pesky nasal hair) and drinking a case of beer and a bottle of cognac (nice mix, huh?) a day.
No coincidence, Susie and I had been married for four years as well. Her presence in my life had opened the eyes that were blind, the ears that were shut, and the heart that was to hard to care. It was like being born again…literally. I was experiencing emotions I didn’t know existed. I would watch the McDonald’s commercial where the little ducklings followed their mother in the rain, and tears would roll down my cheeks. I could talk to people about Susie and choke up ( actually this one still happens). I suddenly found myself loving small children, something that had NEVER happened before.
Susie had introduced me to church, which I thought was about as strange as anything I had ever witnessed, and I had witnessed MANY strange things. I liked it, but it just felt weird. I had never attended church in my life and I was extremely uncomfortable. It was like a secret society. The people were nice enough, but they had there own way of talking. A language I was completely unsure of. It was English all right, but in the world I came from being “washed in the blood,” meant you were probably dead of a gun shot wound or had been bludgeoned to death. Even the individual words were used in a different context. “God” was no longer connected to damn it and “Jesus Christ” now referred to a person/deity as opposed to being an expression of surprise. I also noticed no one used the F word, this was extremely strange, and VERY difficult to get use to. Occasionally I would slip and I was aware this was not a good thing. Susie promised to help me.
In 1998 I met this man……I’m not quite sure why he is holding that sign, but just ignore it. His name is Fr. Stevan Bauman and he is without a doubt the greatest person I have ever met in my life, which is something he would definitely not acknowledge. Knowing him has changed my life from our very first encounter over lunch at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant. I came home and told Susie things were going to change. This was a fairly large statement considering the evidence I have just presented. Over the years Fr. Stevan and I have grown quite close. When I was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Church he became my godfather. His presence has been like having my own flesh and blood incarnation of God, another statement he wouldn’t be able to disown fast enough. He is kind and gentle, compassionate and loving, holy and pure, patient and humble. I don’t believe he knows what anger or frustration are.
So what is this post all about?…certainly not just a window into a side of me that I rarely talk about. Well yes and no…I do want you to know about this side of me, I think it will help you understand me and my writing better, but no I’m not trying to convert you or anything remotely like it. I’m not trying to convince you of the presence of God…or of the Truth of Creation.
So what is it?…it’s about being honest, being open, being vulnerable, being authentic, and being real. It is about telling the Truth. My journey through this life has been exciting and painful, thrilling and suicidal, adventurous and paranoid. At one time my living expenses were $33,000 a month and my income far exceeded my expenses. Other times I stood in front of a Coke machine and cried because I didn’t have enough money…and this was when they were only cost 35 cents. I have run across America and stood in front of thousands telling about it and I’ve slept in a dark alley next to a dumpster because I had nowhere else to go. I have known personal pain so severe I didn’t know if I could draw my next breath and happiness so complete I didn’t have words to express it.
I have been delivered…I have been set free…I am alive…and anyone and everyone can do it…no matter where you are at, or what you have done, or what has been done to you…so please…be encouraged!
An excellent post on a subject I still struggle to control…be encouraged!
It never ceases to amaze me
how we can twist a situation
to lay blame at the feet of
another. “It’s not my fault,”
is our banner cry as we convalute
what happened so that we pump
ourselves full of self-righteousness.
We are a participant in all our
situations. “What might I have
done differently?” and “What can
I learn from this?” can be
powerful questions to ask rather
than waving the flag of
“It’s not my fault!”
The double doors leading to the factory floor swung open to reveal a world I had no idea existed. I might as well have been transported with Scotty, Bones, Spock, Captain Kirk, and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise to another dimension. This was another world…and nothing in the world I knew, had prepared me for this.
Let’s start with the smell, it nearly knocked you down. Think of WD-40 and 3in1 oil mixed together and then injected into nose via a fire hose. The smell wrapped around you like saran wrap and tore into your lungs like Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Later I would learn how it permeates into your skin, so even after bathing with all kinds of girly soaps, and things of my wife that I can’t identify, you still smell exactly like the factory. I’m telling you my wife is a very special kind of woman to put up with that.
Then there was the noise, it was deafening. I’ve been next to tornadoes and this was louder. I have been in the front row of a Guns n’ Roses concert and this was louder. It was like having a blunt instrument pound away at the inside of your brain, right between the eyes.
As I stood there reeling from the total effect of this onslaught I realized the man leading me lips were moving. I yelled out as loud as I could, “WHAT?”
He smiled and leaned closer to me, “NEVER BEEN IN A FACTORY BEFORE, HUH?”
Well this man was obviously a genius. Surely I had completely camouflaged my shock. It must have been me staggering backwards when he opened the doors and him having to repeat himself four times before I answered him that blew my carefully formulated cover.
“YEAH SHERLOCK, FIRST TIME.”
He motioned for me to follow him. No problem there. I kept as close to him as a newborn kitten afraid of losing his mother. In fact, now that I think about it, that new born kitten analogy is an accurate portrayal of how I felt. Safe in his Mommy’s womb the newborn fur-ball is thrust into a world that is cold, hard, and completely different from anything the little guy has ever experienced. Nothing has prepared him for this; he has to find nourishment a whole different way, suddenly there is a lot more room, and he still can’t see anything…and that was EXACTLY how I felt. If I could have turned around and drove back home to Susie, crawled into bed beside her, and gone back to sleep my world would have been perfect. Except I couldn’t do any of that. We had lost our bookstore business and, although we weren’t destitute, we could certainly see it from where we were standing. Besides Susie and I hadn’t worked all our lives to lose everything, so I was willing to do whatever was necessary to keep us afloat.
But all of that didn’t keep me from being scared. I was shaking in my new steel toed boots.
It took me nearly six months to begin to grasp how things worked. Eventually I got use to the smell, the noise, and the dirty weld fumes that made you blow out black crud when you blew your nose. I got use to women cussing more than any sailor I ever talked with, but I never got accustomed to men showing me their iphone pictures of the women who, as they put it, were “pounding” vagina. However, after a while I did know who they were and I avoided them like the plague.
I quickly moved up the proverbial corporate ladder and off the factory floor, but I’ve never forgotten the men and woman who are still there. Still working in 110 degree heat in the summer and bone chilling cold in the winter. Still breathing in the fumes and still having the noise assault their senses daily. Still working, because they need the benefits and the pay is the best in this region.
Those men and women will be in my memory forever…I miss them…but not so much the guys with the iphones.
I like this post…maybe it is because of the varied font size, but I doubt it…I think I like it because the thoughts expressed are how I feel. I met with a gentleman this afternoon for whom I am doing some consulting work. He has a start-up and since I’ve helped several start-ups he sought me out to help him avoid some of the common pitfalls and help him decide what he needs to focus on. I shared with him my opinion why many entrepreneurs fail…which is they fail to take action. They talk about it, they write about, they discuss it over wine or coffee at really cool little bohemian type bars, but they don’t do it. Take action…and be encouraged!
The one thing I truly like about this post is how Diana DOES NOT mention overcoming your fears. Facing them yes, but she acknowledges the fear remains…even in the face of courage. Yet True Courage (yes there is a future post here) will enable you to not only function, but move forward.
“Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death. ” ~ Earl Wilson
Have you ever been really afraid of something you were facing?
Fear can be crippling.
Fear can be paralyzing – you feel like a deer in the headlights.
Fear can grip you so tightly that it doesn’t seem feasible for you to break free.
Your chest tightens.
Your heart races.
Sweat pools at your temples.
It makes you doubt you are able to overcome.
It makes you question even the things you previously knew you were equipped to do.
The temptation may be to just let go and get swallowed up.
But here’s the good thing about fear.
Yes, I said GOOD thing!
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There are two things happening in this post: 1) The incredibly funny photo…everyone in the office knew it was good, because I just erupted in laughter. 2) The poetry poses an interesting question for us to consider…I’ve read it several times…I think I’ll hit print and post it on my monitor…be encouraged!
I have a problem.
The reason I have
this problem is
because of my
it. Others might
see an opportunity
here. Think I will
ponder some more.
Most of you who read this blog know that I am deeply in love with my wife, Susie, and she was/is a major contributor to all that is good in my life. Her love, patience, sweetness, and guidance has been the one constant over the eighteen plus years we have been married. While not every moment of those years has been perfect, the sole reason for them not being was/is me.
During the days of my youth and far too long into what I was calling adulthood, I was always drawn to the darker side of life. If there was so scum to rub in, I was there. Nearly everyone who knew me figured I would end up in prison for life or dead. It just seemed like the way I was headed. She literally saved my life.
Susie is a woman of phenomenal intellect, yet able to talk to any one regardless of their age or station in life. I’ve seen her totally enthralled in conversations with:
She has the type of personality that is rarely flustered or confused and is never mean. Her basic being is happy, compassionate, and above all loving. Even back in the day, my friends would say, “Dude you better quit screwing (okay, actually they used another descriptive word for sexual coupling, but you get the idea) around and marry this one…especially before she realizes what a waste you are.”
She is also, a raging incredible cook, who can make a tasty meal out of nearly nothing. During our early leaner years, I would often look around the kitchen cabinets, pantry, refrigerator, under the bed, and in the glove box and find absolutely nothing…and I mean nothing…no crackers, no bags of chips with only those crunched up little tiny pieces stuck in the bottom corners that nobody ever throws away, no crusty peanut butter jar with the lid stuck tight, nothing, nada, not anything…the great food void. She would come home and I would ask what we were going to have for dinner, her reply was always the same…”Oh, I don’t know, let me look and see what I can find.” Thirty minutes later she would yell for me to wash up, dinner was served, and it would be this fabulous collection great tasting food, to this day I have no idea how she did it.
During the eleven months and three days it took me to run across the United States, Susie took care of everything. She made contact with our host homes, lined up speaking engagements, coordinated meetings, kept the mileage and rotated each pair of running shoes, doctored my left foot, did the laundry, had the oil changed in our support vehicle, got me breakfast, lunch, and dinner plus multiple snacks each day, dealt with police officers, wrote our newsletter for family, friends, and supporters, gave me a massage at the end of every day, kept track of the total miles I ran, and did all of this without ever once breaking stride. She smiled, giggled and was supportive of my every whim, which I am ashamed to say were numerous.
Susie is the rock that holds her three sisters and their families together. Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all celebrated at our home, with Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day all being rotated. The general family consensus seems to be that everyone simply enjoys hanging out at the home Susie created. Family and friends often remark about how peaceful it is…and it is… because of her presence.
She possesses an incredible singing voice which she has used with our local Philharmonic Orchestra for the past seven years. She also plays banjo, guitar, piano, and I long ago gave up trying to get her out of any music store under an hour, because she has to “try” every instrument in the place. She reads and writes music, like the rest of glance through the USA Today…in other words, with ease. She can identify any song ever recorded dating back to the late 40’s.
She writes poetry and music, pursues photography with a passion, paints (oils and acrylics), writes computer code, runs, cycles, swims, is accomplished in all types of crafts, and lately believes she wants to try her hand at composing a rap song about our new start-up company. I have come home from my travels to find her:
I married up.
I married WAY up.
Every good thought you have ever had, as a result of reading this blog, is directly related to her presence in my life.
This post is dedicated to her…thank you Honey…you are my everything. Amen.