LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “fear”

I am more cautious now…

http://people.tribe.net/reiki_jewel/photos/e79831a6-93d0-45b4-ab1b-b916a5522ce7

This post won’t contain any catchy stories (as if any of mine ever are), nor will it be witty, charming, or dramatic  This will be just the plain, ordinary words of someone who has learned a few lessons in life the hard way and feels compelled to share what little wisdom those lessons have generated.

Susie and I have a wonderful old fashion fireplace in the living room. It is surrounded by a couple of comfy chairs and a sofa that has the ability to lull me to sleep every time I curl up on it. So let’s imagine we are sitting there with our warm teas and the dogs and cats are stretched out in front of the fire, so close you can not help but think about the possibility of spontaneous combustion. The lights cast a low warm yellow tinged light that recalls the old style kerosene lanterns with the glass chimneys. From the kitchen you can faintly hear the comforting notes of a Brahms’ lullaby. We are relaxed and the conversation has that low tone which comes late at night when the cares of this world have receded and the walls we cling to so furiously during the daytime are only a distant memory.

Our conversation begins…

There was a time when I threw caution to the wind. Caution, what was that? An antiquarian concept that had long out lived it’s usefulness . Caution, if it still existed at all, was something for the timid, the weak , and the needy. It was for those who knees shook when they looked into fear.

Caution had no place in my world. A world dedicated to my wishes and desires. I could act anyway I wanted. I was above it all. The rules didn’t apply, nor did the laws, or morality, or ethics. Those were silly childish concepts man had conjured up for those who couldn’t handle reality. They were crutches used to support those who couldn’t or wouldn’t stand on their own two feet. I was a self-made man. Without a high school diploma, I had built a business that supplied me with enough income to live, as a popular TV of the era proclaimed, “The lifestyle of the rich and famous.” even if I was having to constantly look over my shoulder for the long arm of the law.

Caution…I spit on the word.

It has been many years since I lived that life or felt that way. I’ve been brought down from my once lofty perch by the realization I was a fool. The reality I once thought others were too weak to handle was no reality at all, but just a world of smoke and mirrors, propped up by lies and deceit. I found that looking into the mirror and being able to look back brought rewards far greater than the riches I once coveted so wholeheartedly.

My world is much different now. I clearly see the errors of my youth. I find strength and contentment in the “little” things of life now. I am happiest when I get to sit by this fire and talk with good friends about what my heart feels.

I live a quiet, simple life now. I try to do good to others. I covet the silence that living in the midst of the woods brings. However, most of all, I enjoy the returned smile of a complete stranger, I cherish the laughter of a child, I am in awe of the grandeur of life, I never tire of hearing my wife profess her love for me, nor do I consider it a burden to return that love, I feel encouraged by the love I receive from you my readers, and I hold precious the time I spend with my Grandsons Matt and Hayden.

I see the wisdom in being more cautious now…and I’m grateful I do. My eyelids are starting to droop a little and I can feel warm sleep starting to creep into the edges of consciousness, but before I leave I want you to know just one thing…I have truly enjoyed sharing this post with you…and the prayer of my heart is that each one of you will find true peace, contentment, and love in your life…I’m going to bed now…and even if I never have the privilege of making your acquaintance in this life…know that I love you just the way you are…good night…please turn the lights out as you go…and be encouraged!

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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!

Counting

http://www.colourbox.com/image/two-ripe-red-apples-and-half-of-apple-image-3946870

My wife, Susie has a saying that I have always found interesting. I’m not exactly sure when she started using it, but I have liked it since the first time I heard it. This is it:

You can count the seeds in an apple, but can’t count the apples in a seed.

I’ve been thinking about this little quote since the first time I heard it and it reminds me of a story.

Most of you who read this blog are aware I have background that includes many unfavorable exposures to the law and those who are charged with enforcing it. It wasn’t that I thought police were pigs, as was the common verbiage back in my hippie days. I was simply breaking the law and I wasn’t interested in getting caught. This put the police and I on different sides of the same issue. Throughout the years I got to know a few of them, like the rest of society, some where honorable and had a good grasp of how to handle the bad guys, while others had no scruples and would have felt right at home in any German WWII concentration camp.  Not all of those who wear the blue are upright, moral, and fair, nor are they all uncaring, racist, and bigoted.

I have been arrested several times in various states, usually on outstanding warrants of one type or another. Those warrants, for the most part, originated in Illinois, so I tried to spend as little time there as possible. It had gotten to the point where local police knew me by first, middle and last name, the types of cars I drove, and the way I walked, so I tried to find other states to call home. When I was arrested in these other states they would run a criminal check on me and discover I was wanted, then offer me spartan accommodations in the nearest county jail, notify my home state that they were hosting me, and arrange for a  state police officer of Illinois to retrieve me. Since there is no posting bail while awaiting extradition, I would have a few days to cool my jets while waiting for a free ride back home.

I’m not sure how this happened but several times I was transported by the same officer. He was nearing retirement age and had been on the force over thirty years and was one of the good cops. The first time he picked me up we had a 3 hour ride back to the county where my warrant had been issued which gave us some time to talk. He spoke about his wife and kids and I described my life of drinking, drugging, and chasing woman without mentioning any names or particulars.

The next time he showed up to provide a ride I was surprised to see him, of course he knew who he was picking up, so all he did upon seeing me was smile, say how nice it was to see me again, and ask I turn around so the handcuffs and leg shackles could be put on.  We fell into talking much like we had the first time as he caught me up on what his two sons and daughter were doing and I updated him on the latest bars and women I had found. But this time the ride back was different.

As we neared the outer edge of the city where he had picked me up, he drove the cruiser to the side of the road. He got out walked to my side, opened the door, and asked me to step out and turn around. Without saying another word he removed the cuffs and shackles and told me to get back in. He returned to the driver’s seat and we proceeded on.

Now this was HUGE. Cops don’t do this. First of all, if anything goes wrong, say like I try to escape, it means at the very least he will face an inner-jurisdiction reprimand, suspension of a couple of weeks without pay, and it will go into his permanent record, at the worst, it means his thirty plus years on the force goes up in smoke, and maybe his retirement as well.

As he edged the patrol car back onto the highway he resumed his conversation as if nothing had happened. A few hours later he said he was going to need some gas and pulled into a station with a McDonald’s attached. He asked, Hey I bet your kind of tired of jail food, what would you like to eat?” I replied something about having some money in the manila envelope he was caring along with my watch and identification, but he just smiled and said, “Naw, I got this one.”

As we neared the county were I would be quickly bonding out, he again pulled to the side of the road, came to my side, opened the door, and said, “Sorry to have to do this to you, but they would skin me alive if I walked you in there without these.” Then he reattached the cuffs and the shackles, but before he eased me back into the car he asked, “Those aren’t too tight are they?”

The third and last time he retrieved me from an unpleasant living situation, he again stopped and removed my restraints, and as before, we stopped for gas and something to eat, but this time I asked if I could go use the restroom. He looked me in the eyes for a moment then said, “Sure, I’ll meet you back at the car.”

Why I am telling you this story?

Because these events happened over thirty years ago and that man was one of the finest human beings I ever met. He trusted some one who was not worthy of any trust. He believed in some one who was not worthy of any belief. But most of all he gave me hope in my self.

You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.

When you plant a seed you have no idea what will happen. How it will grow. What will be the effects. None of this is predictable.

There was nothing in me that inspired trust. I was wild. All I talked about was a life of debauchery. I wore it like a shield of honor.

But when I changed my life, the talks I had with that police officer rang in my head with a clarity that was undiminished by the years.

I write these words while sitting in my office with tears streaming down my face. I remember his face, the tone of his voice, the firm way he moved, his poise and pride. After thirty plus years his words still resonate. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He treated me with a dignity and respect I didn’t deserve…yet he did it.

Truth is we don’t know what good (apples) will come out of our actions (seeds). What smiles, kind words, and a helping hand will do. So when you look around your life at those who might seem a little less deserving than others…remember you just can’t tell…none of us can.

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!

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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