LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “change”

Later One Night…A Long Time Ago

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/2-shot-in-early-morning-Tukwila-bar-fight-136262138.html

I looked at my watch, it was nearly 2:00 am. The bar would remain open for another hour and a half. The place was packed as was always the case for a Friday night. The bar was located near a large university in a city well known for it’s long association with the country music industry. This created quite a mix of different lifestyles for the patrons, ranging from college co-eds to music legends to the stragglers just prayin’ for a break. The kind of break the scraggly hair, unshaven for about a week, fat man sitting at the end of the bar had experienced. The fat man had written a song three minutes and thirty two seconds long, it had shot to number one, held that position for several weeks, and eventually had a movie produced from it. His financial life was changed forever. That fact alone explained the two big busted, leggy blondes, each wearing a dress that would barely cover a six year old, perched on each side of him. The kind that are attracted to the money, either for as long as it holds out or until new money comes along.

My friend Mikey and I weren’t interested in the rest of bar goers who were packed into the room like sardines, and smelling nearly as bad by this time of night. Our eyes were riveted on the flashing blue and red lights across the street. Mikey’s plan was unfolding perfectly, so far. The way he had it worked out his pager (before cell phones dominated the earth) should go off any moment now. Then he would get up and exit the bar area by the door going into the kitchen. He would step over, around, and in between couples in various stages of sexual acts until he reached the sound proof office of the owner of the bar, where he would be let in by one of the numerous bigger than life, bodyguards who toted large caliber firearms and did an excellent job of keeping the peace when a female co-ed found herself more enamored by the rock n’ roll skinny, lead guitar player in a touring band than the physics major that had brought her to the bar with the idea of having her consume just the right amount of alcohol in hopes of  whisking her back to his dorm room for some personal excitement before she or he passed out.

Mikey would use the office phone to return the call. Probably speaking to someone at  dispatch who would deliver the crushing news that his store had just been robbed of all the gold jewelry. He would then wait about 20 minutes before slipping out the back door to his waiting car. He would then drive around a couple of blocks, checking for anyone tailing him, before pulling up behind the squad car we were now watching. Mikey would then go into the throes of a business owner who could not believe his misfortune. Who could do such a thing? Especially after all his hard work. What kind of people are they? What is this world coming to? If Mikey was anything he was a great actor worthy of a Grammy award and all its accolades.

For a moment the scene faded back and my thoughts went ahead. What kind of life was this? Why aren’t there any old drug dealers? Would the women filling this room with perfume and sexual heat eventually becoming moms driving Toyota mini-vans around, filled with children, from school to soccer practice? Would they tell their husbands about the nights they went slumming with drummer of a punk rock band? Would the boys/men eventually sit on the boards of industry and make decisions about the direction of our economy? Would they be willing to marry women from this room or would they decide on someone who wasn’t so tainted, someone with not so much baggage? What would they tell their children about drugs, indiscriminate sexual coupling, and waking up in the the bushes by the business next door? Who would pull out of this morass and who wouldn’t? Who would die from an overdose, or alcohol poisoning? Who in this room would be forever damaged goods because of a relationship that went dreadfully wrong?

The pager went off…and Mikey went into  Act II of the evening.

More than 30 year later:

I never knew what happened to the woman I was with that night. The truth is, while I can recall the color of her hair and her long legs, I don’t remember anything else. Her name, the shape of her face, the sound of her voice all have been lost to the passage of many years.

Mikey on the other hand is a different story. He continued in the drug trade for several years and was eventually arrested after selling several ounces of cocaine to undercover DEA agents on multiple occasions. He posted bond, was released from jail and hired a defense attorney well versed in the ins and outs of plea bargaining drug charges. However, the mood of the country was beginning to change. The wild and loose era was becoming the straight and conservative era. Citizens were demanding steeper penalties for those who dealt death to their children. Mikey was looking at a couple of decades in a federal penitentiary. One morning he disappeared. They found his car along the interstate with the keys still in it. He has never been seen or heard from since. Seven years later his wife had him legally declared dead and collected one million dollars from his life insurance company. After twenty plus years she has never remarried and continues to live in the same home.

It took several years, but the questions I had that night sitting in the bar watching life pass me by, began to bear fruit. I stumbled from a shower one morning in a hotel room in downtown Columbia, Missouri with an entirely different approach to life. What exactly happened from the time I opened the shower door and stepped in until I sprawled on the bed bawling my eyes out some time later remains a mystery to me. I call it God’s grace.

All I know is those few minutes have altered my life forever.

It is not easy to write about the past. Like all of you, my past contains moments of intense pain. But I don’t write to relive the pain, or the excitement, or the so-called glory. I write to cast a light into the darkness. The light of hope. The light that says anyone can change. No one is beyond hope. It can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. I know…I’m living proof.

Be encouraged!

Late One Night…A Long Time Ago

http://drugsinfonewslineireland.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/dublin-the-day-that-cocaine-traces-was-discovered-in-leinster-house/

The small mirror I hold in my left hand reflects the dull light straining to penetrate the dirt that coats the lens of the overhead street lamp. If I turn it slightly it catches the bright orange light which flows from the dashboard of my turbocharged black sports car. The sports car turns heads when I drive through the city, which of course is the whole idea. The exhaust is tuned to make it purr like jaguar moving through the jungle. The car says, “I’m cool and I rule my world.”

At the moment I’m not concentrating on the car or the woman draped over the taupe buttery soft leather seat beside me. Come to think of it she is like jaguar too, just in a much different way. She says, “I’m cool and I’m going to sleep with you tonight after we party and you spend lots of money on me.”

My focus is on the mirror. To be more exact my attention is what’s on the mirror, which is about a hundred dollars’ worth of Peruvian marching dust, otherwise known as blow, candy, and sometimes referred to as cocaine, but usually only by those talking heads on the evening news and very uncool people.

I watch as my right hand, holding a single edge razor blade, makes short quick chopping motions. The technique used in this process speaks volumes. It says, “I know what I’m doing. I can do this in my sleep. I’m a pro.” The woman is impressed. She makes the appropriate sounds, a soft ooh and ahh through perfectly glossed shiny lips that are parted only slightly to display her movie star white teeth.

I’m parked in a lot behind a mini retail mall with eight store fronts ranging from a convenience store to an upscale men’s clothing store owned by my good friend and drug dealing buddy, Mike. All of the stores are laundering significant sums of drug money.

The night is perfect. My plans for the evening are rolling along just the way I had planned them. Earlier I had taken the young lady to a French restaurant with modern décor that screams, “Buddy, your ass is not getting out of here for under five hundred dollars.” Then on to a dance club where we had walked by all the poor souls waiting in line, palmed a hundred dollar bill into the hand of a man five times my size, and been ushered to a private balcony. There we sipped a variety of alcoholic beverages and decided when we would descend to the dance floor so we could gyrate in pseudo sex acts that pass for dancing. By daybreak the young lady and I will be seriously entwined with one another beneath the sheets, and I will have completed one more day as drug dealer without getting busted.

Life doesn’t get much better than this.

It was then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move. Probably just a stray alley cat or a large rat, but with  a hundred dollars’ worth of cocaine on display and another six thousand dollars’ worth lying in the console between the seats one couldn’t be too careful.

Damn, there it was again! Definitely something behind the trash dumpster. Without taking my eyes off the dumpster I laid the mirror and razor blade down between the seats. Now that my right hand was free I reached beside my seat and pulled out my Glock 9 mm. The vibe in the car had changed, and while the little missy setting beside me would never be mistaken for a psychiatrist, she detected the change and to her credit, even noticed the gun.

I carefully placed the pistol in my waistband and pulled on the door handle. “Be cool.” I said as I pulled myself up and out of the car, “I’ll be right back.” I walked slowly toward the dumpster with two prayers on my lips. The first was for whatever was behind the dumpster that I could now hear, “Oh God please let this be a rat.” The second was, “And God whatever happens; please don’t let this damn gun go off while it is only inches away from the only penis I’ll ever have.”

It is then that I hear a familiar voice.

“Ditch the bitch.”

My first prayer was answered, it was a rat, only with two legs.

“What?” I mumble.

Slower and more distinct, like I’m a kindergartner being told to pick up my crayons, “Ditch the bitch.”

Mikey that you?

“Yeah, who the hell did you think it would be?

“Gee Mike, I don’t know. I guess I just kind of forgot that you always hang out behind the dumpster at 1:00 on a Friday night.”

“Get rid of the bitch and give me hand will ya?”

“Not on your life butthead. For your information I’ve got over a thousand dollars tied up in that babe tonight and I’m getting laid for my money. Besides what the hell are you doing back there.”

“I’m stealing my stuff.”

“What!?”

“Did you suddenly go deaf? I said I’m stealing my stuff and I need your help. So get rid of the woman of your dreams and give me a hand.”

“I don’t think I’m the one going deaf…or stupid. Why the hell are you stealing from yourself?”

I’ve got a shipment of blow coming in at the end of the month and I’m a little short on cash. So I’ll heist my stuff, turn it into the insurance, get the money, pay for the blow, put the stuff back, and life will go on. That is unless you stand out here in the parking lot and keep flapping your jaws until somebody finally calls the cops cause two queers can’t make up their minds what they are going to do.”

“Danny, this isn’t exactly on my schedule for this evening.”

“Look Steve, send the girl over to the bar across the street with some cash. Tell her you’ve got to help a friend for a few minutes and you’ll be right there. We aren’t moving a damn warehouse, man just the shit in my store. I’ve got a van setting right over there. It won’t take thirty minutes. Then I’ll bust out the lock on the back door which will trigger the alarm and I’ll scoot across the street and you can buy me a drink for being such a genius. It shouldn’t be too long before the police arrive. The alarm is tied directly to them. By the way is that a gun your carrying.”

“Yeah it is.”

“Jesus, I hope you don’t shoot your dick off.”

Obviously friendship can do strange things to the brain.

I trudge back to the car and open the car door. I explain a kind of, sort of emergency thingie has come up and I need her to go across the street to the bar and I’ll be along shortly. I can’t help but notice the blow is gone from the mirror and there is a small smidge of white powder resting just underneath both her nostrils. Nothing surprises me anymore. It has always amazed me how compliant a woman can be when you are spending a thousand dollars a night on her. She shimmies out of the front seat and teeters across the street on come hump me pumps while I go back to my friend.

Less than thirty minutes later we are sitting in the bar nursing our drinks as we begin to hear the sirens.

It’s just another wasted night in a life that has no reason to exist.

Be encouraged!

Perspective

http://likeadayoff.blogspot.com/2011/02/fork-in-road.html

In the distant past, Susie and I were having an argument. It was one of those adult relationship type of arguments, where you furiously disagree about something, and it reaches the point where you stop communicating.

We were on our way to see a play. Whatever we were squabbling about, each of us at the moment thought it was dreadfully important because we were in misery. For those of you who live alone in a cave (obviously with an internet connection), this occurs when you thoroughly despise the idea of hearing another utterance from the one you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

I had parked the car and we were walking toward the theater. Of course, we did not walk close to one another. In fact, we showed no indication at all we were madly in love with one another and would willingly, without hesitation, lie down on our lives for each other, if it ever came to that. At the time, each of us was completely assured of our own rightness, which in the universal adult relationship code means that we could not touch, nor look at one another as we walked, to do so would have signaled weakness, and that was not going to happen. We pondered how the other could so stupid and still figure out how to combine breathing  and the act of putting one foot in front of the other, at the same time. I’m sure as we made our way in the midst of streaming foot traffic, the air around us chilled a few degrees due to our icy indifference of one another. As couples walked by us, I am certain they secretly thought, “Please God, don’t let our relationship end up like those two.”

We continued to walk along in perfect venomous lockstep, when suddenly Susie stopped. This only focused my anger even more. In a nanosecond I was running through my mind various sarcastic questions I could shoot at her for this unexplainable moronic behavior. As I was lost in this train of thinking, I heard her say, “Look, we are at a fork in the road!” I tore my thoughts away from the flawless verbal comeback I had already decided upon and followed her gaze to this silver-colored fork lying in front of us on the sidewalk. We stood there for a moment like we had suddenly been touched in a game of freeze tag…then we looked at each other and burst into silly giggling, snorting, and overall cackling.  We laughed like two little kids…and then suddenly…everything that had gone on only seconds before was gone.

We collapsed into a full body embrace. In the middle of a busy sidewalk, in downtown Indianapolis, I held the love of my life as tight as I could. We kissed long and hard, grateful for the touch of one another’s lips. We walked the remaining blocks to the show arm in arm, with her head gently resting on my shoulder.

To this day, neither one of us remember what we were arguing about.

Take a moment and think about your angers, your worries, the elements of life that drive you to fear and/or frustration. We all have them. They are quite real. They cause us pain and stress. They rob us of the life we want. Many times they literally steal away years from us. They imprison us and hold us captive, just as real as any hand cuffs or leg shackles.

I don’t know why a simple fork in the middle of the sidewalk, in a busy city, would work such a miracle. Nor do I have the exact wisdom or knowledge to step you free of everything that holds you captive. But I did learn something that early evening so many years ago…whatever it was I was worried about then…and everything I’ve been worried about since…needs to be put in perspective.

Be encouraged!

Reaching Out For Love

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel_ceiling

In my home I have started a ritual. Susie has other words for it, but I’ve settled on ritual. It is rather an odd ritual, but before I give you the exact details I want to introduce you to the other participant.

The other partaker of this habitual sacrament is the newest member of the Gang of 5. The Gang of 5 is the nomenclature Susie and I have begun to use to identify our two dogs and three cats, all of whom are rescues. I think of them as our own personal crime fighting super heroes and Susie considers them to be five little, four-legged members of our family. We both totally love on them.

The most recent fellow is Andy. His entrance into our lives began when he was abandoned at a golf course, where I was to give a talk. He appeared early in the day and immediately identified me as a soft hearted sucker with the means to extract him from his current homeless, hungry situation and usher him into a warm home with plenty to eat. He said he was only seven weeks old and had no idea what events had transpired to leave him in such a strange place with uncaring people. A quick inspection around the grounds turned up no siblings or parents, so he came home with me.

My wife, Susie instantly prepared food, water, and a litter box apart from the others so he could make the transition from wandering around a golf course to being a member of the Gang as seamless as possible. Once he was fed, watered and nature had taken its course he began to explore every square inch of his new abode. He was also anxious to make the acquaintance of his new siblings, so anxious that to them he seemed a little forward. Since his only exposure to others was his birthed brothers and sisters he straightway approached the Gang by hopping on them, gnawing their ears, batting at their tales, jumping on their backs, and lunging at them with teeth bared. This type of activity, without the usual warm-up period of sniffing, staring, and lots more sniffing, did not quickly establish bonds of love. Slowly he learned to turn down his enthusiasm (at least a little) and they learned not to be so put off by his willingness to shower them with his type of affection. Hence his nickname, But I Meant It Nicely.

Now back to the ritual.

I awaken usually around 4:30 in the morning and head to the bathroom for my morning constitutional. I will spare you the exact intimate details of what this consists of, but suffice it so say I feel greatly relieved upon finishing. But this has become a sign to Andy that for at least few moments I am anchored in one spot, with time on my hands, and nothing better to do than pet him furiously. He loves this. His little purring mechanism increases by several decibels.

So each morning begins with my alarm making this horrendous loud obnoxious noise, which completely convinces me that it is far better to rise and face the day than have to endure that sound for another go round. Then I grope my way into the bathroom, thankful for the nightlights Susie installed several years ago, and ahem…make myself comfortable. I then hear the pitter-patter of not so tiny feet bounding up the stairs, running down the hall, scratching for traction as he rounds the corner before flying into the bathroom and coming to a skidding stop at my feet. With my first touch he erupts into ecstatic purring so loud that the first few times I heard Susie mumble, “Uh…what’s that…uh…noise?”

The other day I mentioned to Susie how neat I thought it was that every morning, no matter what; as soon as Andy hears my feet hit the tile floor of the bathroom he comes charging through the house like a runaway freight train, careening into the bathroom for morning snuggles with Dad. She smiled and said, “Isn’t that how we all feel about love? Once we discover it, won’t we run to its source as fast as we can every time?”

With a smile I reached out and hugged her before replying, “Yes, Honey it is.”

Be encouraged!

Introducing the Gang of 5:

  • Jake the Wonder Dog – A Jack Russell who looks like a gym rat steroid freak. Seriously, he has muscles everywhere and they ripple as he moves. He was abandoned by a family who got him when he was eight weeks old and the next day decided they weren’t “dog people.” So he came home to us, but he is 100% Mommy’s dog, they are completely inseparable. He refers to me as “what’s his name.”
  • Callie the Sleek Dog – A 13 year old Huskie who came to us tipping the scales at close to 200 pounds. Through diet and exercise she is now down to a svelte 125 and lookin’ good. She has been through several homes, but she is beginning to move very slowly and emits small groans as she gets up. We make her as comfortable as possible. Our home will be her last.
  • OC the World’s Smallest Cat – She is an all-black, incredibly tiny cat whom we discovered one morning under our front porch in the middle of winter. At seven weeks old she was cold, hungry, and scared of the world. She is now a little ball of love muffin.
  • Zip (aka Snowball) the Catch Me If You Can Cat – She was abandoned in our daughter’s suburb, and knowing of our great love for furry little creatures, she immediately brought her to our home. She sprints throughout the house and for a brief instant we considered calling her Flash. As I type this she is laying, curled up, on top of my feet.

Susie and I love on them exactly as we would any member of our family. We talk to them, hug them, love on them, pet them, and shower them with all kinds of affection. They do the same in return. It works well for all of us.

Counting and Then Some

http://www.justaguything.com/5-things-that-actually-used-to-be-legal

In response to yesterday’s post  Counting, Diane at http://ranthegauntlet.wordpress.com/ wrote me a short comment expressing how much she enjoyed the content. Although her response was only two sentences long, it hit me like a well swung sledge-hammer right between the eyes…or more accurately straight to my heart. Her second sentence contained this thought…

 I want to be one who takes off the cuffs.

I haven’t though of much else throughout today. What a wonderful sentiment. Doesn’t that sum up what we want to do in life? Doesn’t it accurately portray the type of person we are striving to be?

Yes I want to be the person who takes off the cuffs, the shackles, the things that bind, the things that keep us from being free. I want to be the type of person who helps others unleash their full potential, find themselves, be free, live gloriously, set their hearts aflame, live in Truth, be peaceful, live in harmony, be fruitful, be excited, live long, flow with compassion, race with the wind, breathe slowly and deeply, touch the outer limits, live within, know yourself. taste life. fall in love…do you get the idea yet?

Isn’t that the type of person we all want to be?

So I’ve got this idea…and please keep the eye rolling to a minimum if at all possible…but I got this idea…what if sometime tomorrow…everyone who reads this post…does one compassionate act…it doesn’t have to be huge (unless you want it to be)…smile and wave at a child or an oldster, the person waiting in line with you, riding the bus with you, sitting in the car next to you at a red light…listen an extra minute when someone bitches about work…call your parents and say, “Hey nothing special, I just called to say I love you.”…call your kids and say the same thing. I really don’t care what it is, just do something nice, listen, speak softly and warmly, smile, encourage, inspire, let dead dogs lie.

Tomorrow take off somebody’s cuffs.

WARNING~WARNING~WARNING

Here is what we will be tempted to do…nothing. We will read this and think how wonderful it is and how we should do that…then the crap that fills our lives will rise up and tomorrow we’ll be busy…and other stuff will fill our mind and time…and we will do nothing.

Please don’t let that happen…we all know there are aching hurting people out there…it’s not lack of knowledge that keeps us from changing the world…it is willpower.

So tomorrow do it. 

Be encouraged!

This post is dedicated to Diane for her wonderful words which sent my mind whirling…thanks Diane…you will never know how deeply that short sentence has affected me. I will carry the sentiment the rest of my life.

This post is also dedicated to Lisa at http://agrippinglife.wordpress.com/. She not only has been a source of remarkable strength, intelligence, and…she will probably snort her coffee through her nose on this next one…wisdom, but she is also filled with grace and compassion which flows like cool mountain air over pine boughs…it is always there and it makes you feel better. Thanks Lisa.

Sort of Like Responsibility…Part V

http://www.steliasorthodoxchurch.org/

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!

Sort of Like Responsibility…PartIV

http://www.flickriver.com/photos/drmarciana/3216269473/

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.

Be encouraged!

All the Same

While you, dear reader, may not be able to tell, I usually spend considerable time thinking, researching, and sharing my ideas with Susie, before I sit down to write. I’ve found, for the most part, this keeps me from running off on some half-wit tangent. Susie says this also makes it easier for her to converse with her friends, because she doesn’t have to spend hours defending my posts.

I think she means it as a compliment.

This post is somewhat different, because while I have given it a lot of thought, I haven’t done much research and I’ve kept my comments to Susie to a minimum. So I hope this post doesn’t cause much distress the next time her friends and her get together. This one comes more from the gut.

Let me start with a story.

Several years ago I was asked by a friend’s wife if I would be interested in mentoring at risk and behaviorally challenged children in the public school system. Although they were wanting to reach children of all ages, I would be working specifically with elementary students. After she answered several questions for me I thought the idea had merit and agreed to become a mentor to twins of a single mother. The twins had a slew of issues and while I am no trained child psychologist my biggest contribution would be as an in-room monitor who would work with each of them to keep them focused during the school day.

I enjoyed the work and kept meticulous notes as to what worked and what didn’t during various situations. I shared these notes with others who were involved in the program. The program became a company and the company started to grow. New mentors where hired. Programming directors, financial analysts, therapists, and others were added to the payroll. Strict rules were put into place. The roll with what is happening and go with the flow was eliminated. Structure and order became the only way. Owners and management began to dream about earning substantial money. They began to curry political and corporate favor. The ideas others and I had become part of a program that was touted as having an incredible success rate. Metrics were put in place. We were all coached on how to write our reports so Medicare would pay. Students graduated from the program reportedly cured of their issues.

Except there was only one problem.

The kids weren’t healed. They were better. They were making progress. They could function for longer periods of time without having a physical outburst, but they were a long way from being what anyone would call healed. It wasn’t that they were bad kids. Or even that they were mentally deficient. They simply had been born into horrible situations. Their only guidance in life had been through the TV they were set in front of from birth, because the changing patterns on the screen kept them from crying or they imitated what they saw when they left the living room for the streets. They yelled, screamed, cussed, and fought just like they saw the gangs do, except they were in the third grade.

But it didn’t matter. In order to keep the money flowing in they were diagnosed with a DSM Code by a staff child psychologist, then pronounced healed when they got near the end of time that federal funding would pay for their care.  One size fit all, except we weren’t talking about clothing, we were talking about children with feelings, emotions, and in need of real, true, honest love.

I bent and broke all the rules. I went home with the kids I worked with and talked to their parents, when I could find them, and whoever else I could find when the parents weren’t anywhere around. I prayed with my kids. I took them places like museums, libraries, art galleries, backstage at theaters, and anywhere else I could think of, to expose them to a bigger world. I paid for everything out of my own pocket.

Then I got caught. I was warned. I didn’t change I kept on doing everything. I got caught again. I was told to change. I said no. They said my services were no longer warranted. They sent two large men to escort me out of the school. They told the principal I was under investigation for wrong doing.

When we find something that works, people want to turn it into a program. They want to monetize it. They want to streamline it. They want one size to fit all. They want to make it all the same.

Well I don’t want to. My experiences with the children is only one example. In my life, and in yours, there are hundreds of examples. This is one of the reasons why I love the blog world. Each blog is different. The content is our own. We aren’t constrained in what we say and how we say it. I’m not given to using lots of provocative or foul language, but I’ll always defend your right to, even if I am hoping you won’t.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, it isn’t well researched, nor have the words been carefully chosen, they just rolled out of my heart, and hopefully into yours.

Be encouraged!

My Political Thought

Banksy.jpg

http://dystopia-11engadv.wikispaces.com/

I read a post by Lisa at http://agrippinglife.wordpress.com/ entitled Dear President Obama. She didn’t write it, but felt it was a good summation of how she and possibly many more are feeling. The original post was written by Maggie at http://somethingfathappened.wordpress.com. I don’t know Maggie, but since I started this blog Lisa and I have become good enough friends that we have actually entertained our families getting together for a meal sometime when we all can find the time.

Lisa is not someone who goes off on political tangents. She isn’t the kind of person that would pigeon-hole you in a corner for over an hour while she rants on about big government and how the apocalypse is upon us. However, if I were you I would steer clear of talking about a certain cashier at the local diner where she has breakfast every morning, but other than that Lisa strikes me as being fairly level-headed, compassionate, intelligent, extremely witty, and someone who truly cares about the quality of life for others.

So she worried about posting something political. She didn’t want to have to wade through reading a bunch of hate mail that questioned her mental stability, gender identity, social status, and/or whether she was an enemy mole feverishly working the inner ropes of the blogging community. She just wanted to post something that reflected how she felt…end of story.

She inspired me.

Like Lisa I am posting something that someone else created (although I wish I had the talent and the spray paint). So with my tongue planted firmly within my cheek the above is my political statement. I should acknowledge this is my statement and my statement alone, it does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of Susie my wife, Jake the Wonder Dog, Callie the Sleek Dog, OC the World’s Tiniest Cat, Zip the Pet Me or Die Cat, or Annie Now Called Andy Because My Stupid Parents Can’t Recognize Sex Parts on a Kitten.

I am Stephen Edwards and I support the contents of this blog.

Be encouraged!

A Few Words About Risk

https://www.twu.edu/rm/

Recently I had been thinking about risk. It isn’t a subject we hear much about anymore, unless your money is in hedge funds or your future is inexplicably tied to Greek futures. If either is the case, then you are living with risk every nanosecond of the day, but for the rest of us it is a subject that rarely comes up.

In fact, we have reduced risk in our lives to the point where it is nearly negligible. Our vehicles have lights, buzzers, safety belts, GPS units, and in the new Cadillacs an option that allows the driver’s seat to vibrate if you get too near an object. Smoke alarms, radon gas detectors, and alarm systems that can alert our cell phones if any unauthorized person tries to enter further reduce our risk to exposure. OSHA and others have been diligent in assuring the American worker they can perform their assignments without the fear of bodily injury.

Socially we’ve done what we can to reduce risk in a myriad of ways. There are books, DVDs, and seminars to help us eliminate the risk of bad relationships. Dating services have intricate questionnaires to assure the success (and thus reducing risk) of those seeking a life companion.

In sports rules have been tightened, scrutinized, and re-evaluated to reduce risk to the participants, and in some sports even to the spectators.

Up and down the continuum we have striven to eliminate every aspect of risk. Which for the most part is not a bad thing. As the driver of a 3,000 pound piece of steel down the highway, with my Grandson in his safety seat with a seat belt across him, I’m all for reducing his risk. Same way with my home, which is made out of logs, so I’m all for smoke alarms. As a cyclist I love that I can reduce my risk of a serious head injury by wearing a helmet that is specifically designed to withstand blunt force trauma and thus help me keep what few functioning brain cells I still have.

Now all of these efforts are good and I’m not suggesting for a moment that we take away any of the safety devices and laws that we have in place to protect us. But I wonder if there is not some unintended fallout. Something that in our focused concentration we did not think about. Could it be that we have curtailed a part of us that needs risk? Something within us that needs to push the envelope of what is possible.  The part of us that wants needs to live on the edge. I know when I ran across the United states I felt something deep within me. If I were a better writer I would be able to describe it. It was an excitement, like a live wire with a enough electricity running through it to juice you silly. I awoke with it in the morning and fell asleep with it in the evening.

Now that I am constructing a new company I feel it again. The act of taking an idea that was birthed while we sat on the hoods of our cars in a parking lot and talked about what would be the perfect company and then creating and developing the concept into reality brings out the feeling again. The feeling of risk. Of working without a net. If it works, it works big. If it fails, it fails big.

Perhaps it is time we let a little risk creep back into our lives. I’m not advocating a wild run amok, pitfalls be damned type of behavior. We don’t need any more hurt and pain, of any type, in the world. But maybe we do need a little risk, a little abandonment, a little willingness to loosen the reins, a little less scripted life.

Just be careful.

Be encouraged!

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