LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “hope”

The Invisible Visible & the Inside Outside

http://eatbigfish.com/type/article/making-the-invisible-visible

We turn the invisible into the visible when we allow what we hold in, what we believe, what we think, what we have faith in, what we trust in, what we hold sacred and true to take action. We communicate our being by the life we make. Our source is us. The outside is the inside. To see outside we must look inside. Our voice and our vision is not created by our seeing and talking, but by thinking and praying. Depth is infinite, but the outward is from the inward. Looking at the reflection in the mirror is the fuel of our behavior. It is what drives us.

Let us not be measured by our quantity, but by our quality.

Be encouraged!

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Saw Something Wonderful Today…

http://newvision2012.weebly.com/-10-countries-with-female-soldiers.html

I am traveling today. Which means I was up way before the sun, shaved, showered, downed some quick breakfast, loved on the Gang of 5, kissed Susie goodbye, checked seventy three times to insure I had my passport, drove an hour to the airport, finally convinced myself to pay the extra money to park in the garage, noticed after the nearly three mile trek to check-in that I had once again packed way too much crap, and after taking off various clothing while thinking how absolutely barbaric the whole security thing is, finally made it to my gate with exactly two hours and three minutes before my flight departs.

Now what to do?

One of my favorite pass-times is to watch people and the airport is one of the very best places to do it. This morning I got to gawk at everyone from a twenty something guy wearing a pair of well worn boots, slacker jeans, hoodie, and an International Harvester tractor hat to a woman wearing Chanel haute couture talking to someone on her cell phone about the latest Bulgari fragrance. As I looked around at my fellow travelers, my mind began to wonder what kind of people they were. Were they kind? How do they make a living? What were there thoughts? If we could talk, what would I learn from them?

The call came over the PA system for all first class passengers (which I am not one of) to prepare to board. To be honest my eyes and mind were still in the people oogling mode, but I suddenly became aware of a well tailored gentleman who oozed confidence, style, and power stepping out of the line and making his way toward where I was sitting. He stopped in front of a young black woman who was dressed head to toe in the desert camo uniform of the United States Army. He knelt in front of her extending  his boarding pass and with a silky smooth voice said, “Thank you for your willingness to serve our country. How about you take my first class seat?”

I shed nearly as many tears as she did.

Be encouraged!

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!

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!

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 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!

Sort of Like Responsibility…Part III

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Wife-Bumper-Sticker-Decal/dp/B001P1PCWY

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:

  • A five year old short-stop on our Grandson’s Little League team.
  • The Metropolitan Bishop of North America and Australia for the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
  • The mail lady.
  • A homeless man on the streets of Monterey, California.
  • The lead singer of a death-metal band from Norway.
  • A lady in the nursing home who just wanted her to keep on singing.

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:

  • Installing a new floor in our laundry room (a complete new floor, she had stripped it down to the stringers, or whatever those boards are called that the first layer of plywood gets nailed to).
  • Hanging new doors in our bedroom, guest bedroom, and one of the bathrooms.
  • Teaching our, then three year old, Grandson how to make guacamole.
  • Putting up new insulation in our book barn (large barn w/climate control that holds 70,000 volumes of books).
  • Creating a new garden.
  • Using a leaf blower to usher a 4 1/2 foot long black snake off the back porch.
  • Changing the oil on all our vehicles.
  • Splitting and stacking wood.
  • Bathing our 165 lbs. Husky.
  • Rearranging all the furniture in our living room (actually she has rearranged all the furniture in every room of our home several times).
  • And last, but certainly not least, I have come home to find a note on the dining room table (where we leave all our correspondence  for one other) that read, “Out for a 10 mile run…your dinner is in the frig…glad you’re home…I missed you…I love you…S.”

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.

Be encouraged!

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