LifeRevelation

Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Archive for the category “pain”

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!

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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!

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!

Time Is On My Side

http://www.bowdoindailysun.com

Time is on my side, yes it is.

Time is on my side, yes it is.

(Time Is On My Side by Jimmy Norman and made famous by The Rolling Stones)

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units. It traditionally has taken two different forms. The first being the calendar and the second form being represented by the clock. For the purpose of this post we will be focusing on the clock.

The clock has never been my favorite unit of measurement for time. Probably due to the fact that in the past I was late for everything. Years ago I learned a trick for defeating this deficit in my character make-up. I began to set my watch ten minutes ahead. Although in my mind I understood what I had done, the reality was if I looked at my watch and discovered it was time for me to be somewhere I would immediately begin to move heaven and earth to get there. Of course, I still had ten minutes, but my mind would overlook reality and simply begin issuing commands as if I were late. Later, I turned all the clocks in my home ten minutes fast and have eliminated my lateness. Susie is not particularly fond of this method of brainwashing, but after twenty years she has adapted. Only rarely now does she ask, “What time is it in the real world?” In the interest of full disclosure, one night while she was sleeping I got up, tipped toed around to her side of the bed, and set her watch ten minutes fast as well.

Back in 1977 two social psychologists, Dan Barton and John Darley from Princeton University, set about conducting an interesting experiment involving the interpretation of time. They approached Princeton seminary students who were preparing a speech on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Each student was told either: A) He is late, that he was actually expected in the lecture hall a few minutes ago, and that his instructors are waiting for him. or B) He has plenty of time, but might as well start to go over now.

As each student headed to the lecture hall he passes a person slumped over and coughing profusely, obviously in need of assistance. Of course, the person is an accomplice of the researchers. With no one else nearby the seminary students are confronted with a decision. While going to give a speech about the Good Samaritan, who stopped to deliver aid to a hurting individual when no one else would, do they stop to help or do they go on to their lecture. The only difference in the two groups is the time pressure. One group believes they are late, the other thinks they have plenty of time.

The majority of those who believed they had plenty of time stopped to render assistance. Of those who believed they were running late 90% failed to stop.  All students involved admitted they saw the individual slumped over and understood he needed help.

Allow yourself to slow down and look around. Are there people in your family, your work place, and/or your group of friends who might be “slumped over” and in need of help? Are we missing anything? Could someone we know be telegraphing pain, hurt, stress, worry, and/or fear and we are missing it? Reduce our speed, quiet our thoughts, and remove the blinders from our eyes and take a closer inspection of those we interact with on a daily basis.

Let me know what you find.

Be encouraged!

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units.

How I Ran Across the US

From http://thebettermanprojects.wordpress.com

People always have the same question when they discover I have run across the United States, “How did you do that?”

My answer has varied throughout the years. Not because I am being shifty. I want to answer as honestly as possible, but as I grow as an individual, I have discovered something quite remarkable about my past experiences. Although the events of the past are set in stone, the life lessons learned are not.  Those life lessons are active, moving, and working. Each passing year reveals more fruit.

Lately I have been giving considerable thought to how I learned my life lessons. There has been an extremely wide variety of methods. The one  constant however,  is I tend to learn by experience. This has not always been the best method. It has often been the source of intense hurt and suffering for those who love me.

Several years ago I began to think I was my own worse enemy. This thought took hold during an extremely difficult period that I had inflicted on myself. I labored to dig myself out of the hole I had so expertly dug, then dove into. This was no quick and easy fix. Lives were damaged, families hurt, feelings were rubbed raw and bloody, and this was the best side of it, and I was responsible for all of it.

After years of struggle I was able to see fruit from my effort. My life began to be about something else other than the tragedy. About the same time another idea began to germinate. I certainly wasn’t willing to embrace it. I didn’t believe I deserved it, but I certainly was willing to consider it. With the passage of time, I entertained the idea more often. I grew to like it. I kept it guarded at first. I didn’t tell any one. I wanted to make sure it was Truth before I shared it.

Finally, the time arrived that I was willing not only to share it, but more importantly, to believe it. I decided to defeat the little voice in my head that had always proudly proclaimed I was good for nothing. I realized after all those years of believing I was my own worse enemy, what I was doing was looking at the wrong end of the stick.

Instead of thinking of myself as the antagonist, I could be my best friend.

What a concept! I could set myself up to be successful instead of fail. Of course, failure is considerably easier to engineer, but success is far more exciting. I’ve never been shy of doing whatever is necessary to get the job done. Once committed to a goal, I could/would lower my head and move heaven and earth to get whatever was needed done. This was my game and I loved it. I could make my world better.

I haven’t completely defeated the little voice, but I have severely contained his ability to control how I view life. He no longer reigns supreme without any opposition.

So how did I run across the United States? By defeating the little voice inside of me that told me to quit.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #8–Caring

http://www.uexpressit.com/character_education.htm

This afternoon before leaving to come to the office I kissed my wife good-bye. I always make sure I kiss her good-bye. It is something I started early in our relationship. You never know what a day is going to hold, so I make sure I kiss her and tell her I love her before departing our home.

As I turned to leave I heard her voice soft and low asking, “Are we on the same page?”

Susie and I don’t have any big issues, but occasionally little, niggling, side line ripples will develop that need attention. Fortunately that was not the case this morning. In my mind I was already sitting in front of my computer, writing my heart out, and trying to take the twisted, convoluted spaghetti mess that passes for congruent thought in my mind, and turn it into brilliant prose that not only dazzles your receptors dear reader, but also sparks you to change the world as we know it, into the world that we want.

In other words I was distracted.

Susie did not ask because she was afraid our relationship would fall apart if she didn’t. She wanted to make sure she hadn’t missed anything, because she cares. As I drove down the drive it made me feel closer to her, loved, and as I turned onto the road that would bring to the office I had tears in my eyes.

And that got me to thinking.

John Wooden, the well-known UCLA basket ball coach who led his team to an unbelievable 10 national titles once said, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you”.

Lao Tzu, philosopher of ancient China, best known for writing Tao Te Ching, and often called the Father of Taoism is quoted as saying, “From caring comes courage.”

 The Spanish cellist and conductor, Pablo Casals, who lived from 1876 to 1973 said, “I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.”

Our American statesman Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Want of care has done us more damage than want of knowledge.”

Caring is an essential part of us. No doubt it is important to those on the receiving end…because often it comes out of nowhere. I know I loved having Susie inquire if we were okay, but I suspect it moved something inside of her to an even greater degree.  I am the person who has been joined to her. Together we make one, in a way I can’t explain. I know it, I feel it, I live it, and I share it, but I can’t put it into words. This afternoon as I watched her turn away to go back into our home I could see the edge of her lips lift up in a smile. Her head turned upward, just a bit. Her shoulders pulled back only a smidgen. Her height grew by a hair, but her heart, I knew, exploded in a sun lit explosion of warmth.

I suspect it is more important to the giver. Maybe it makes us different inside. I believe it changes us just a little bit for the better with each act of caring. Caring creates more caring and that can only be a good thing.

Take a moment after you read this and spread a little care. It might not make the evening news but I bet it registers in your heart. Don’t be afraid, worried, or anxious. Don’t try to make it special. Anything will do.

Be encouraged!

Virtue #7–Bravery

http://inkandstardust.deviantart.com/art/Bravery-288324911

Bravery is an odd thing. It has several different qualities. There is the bravery that results in one of these:

 

http://www.history.army.mil/moh.html

This is the Congressional Medal of Honor and you don’t get these by taking the easy way out. The medal comes at a cost. A cost many of us would find to high to personally pay, but not all do. Those who have been awarded this medal all have one thing in common; none of them set out to get it, it was never a goal.  To be a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor you need to be a member of the United States Armed Forces. Right there I am ruled out, but it gets much tougher from there.

An individual must partake in “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty, while engaged in an action against the enemy of the United States.” That pretty much eliminates the rest of us.

Since its inception by Congress on July 12, 1862, 3,462 individuals have been recipients. Since we are zeroing in on nearly 50 million having served our nation since 1776 that means that less than .0007% of those who have been in the military have received this award.

Of course, there are many other types of bravery. I found this poem at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100403132515AAPqb7J

It Takes Courage

by Anonymous

It takes Courage

To refrain from gossip

When others delight in it,

To stand up for the absent person

Who is being abused.

It takes Courage

To live honestly

Within your means,

And not dishonestly

On the means of others

It takes Courage

To be a REAL man or a TRUE woman,

To hold fast to your ideals

When it causes you

To be looked upon

As strange and peculiar

It takes Courage

To be talked about

And remain silent,

When a word would justify you

In the eyes of others,

But which you dare not speak

Because it would injure another.

It takes Courage

To refuse to do something

That is wrong,

Although everyone else

May be doing it,

With attitudes as carefree

As a summer song.

It takes Courage

To live according

To your own convictions,

To deny yourself

What you cannot afford

To love your neighbor

As yourself.

I am not going to write anything about this poem, because I believe it stands alone. I wish the individual who wrote it would have attached their name…but after reading it, it doesn’t surprise me they chose not to.

One last thing I want to say about bravery. There are men and women, who through no fault of their own, are raising their children in single parent homes. If you are one of these individuals I commend you. Personally I don’t how you do it, but I am extraordinarily proud of you. To me you are as brave as the ones facing enemy fire. Not because of the element of danger involved, but due to the inward strength it requires each and every day to get up and do all the those things that need to be done. You your children ready for school, their hands and faces are washed, their hair brushed, you get something resembling breakfast into them, somehow during the midst of all of this you have gotten yourself ready for work. Then either off to the bus stop or you drive them to school. Next is getting yourself through  morning rush hour traffic to work on time, where you are expected to perform at a high or higher level than others. No bringing home issues to work, this is business. You already have arranged for day-care after work. So you pick up your little one(s) and then home to cook dinner, do homework, play with toys, get bathes, read a book, put to bed (whole books could/have been written about that one), get their clothes ready for tomorrow, and now it is finally your time, except it is late, you are bone tired, and tomorrow you get to do it all over again. Somehow you do all of this and still try to instill virtues into your children. You teach them right from wrong. You want them to be creative. You want a better life for life for them.

You are the brave ones. I see you in the parking lot at the grocery store. I see you at little league games. I see you at school functions. You are everywhere. I want you to know I am proud of you.

Be encouraged!

Motivation?

Motivation?

The relationship between visits to seek.com.au and Web conferences

http://www.themaninblue.com/writing/perspective/2006/10/11/

Does this look familiar? I think we can all see ourselves in this graph. We are running low on motivation, then we go to a conference/seminar/retreat  and suddenly we are on inspiration steroids, without the nasty side effects, unless you count being slightly over-the-top annoying to your co-workers. Then the reality of the job/family/personal relationships start to encroach on our stimulating high and we begin a downward trend. At first, we tell ourselves it is alright. There is a reason nothing grows a mountain tops, it is unreasonable to believe we could be highly motivated all the time.

We slip a little more, but we are busy and it is difficult to keep track of this all the time.  We’ve got commitments, there are reports, job issues, kid’s soccer and dance, significant others who aren’t quite as supporting as we would like, and before long our motivation has sunk back to where it was before our big event.

This is one remedy:

Trying to maintain innovation motivation using constant Web conferences

http://www.themaninblue.com/writing/perspective/2006/10/11/

The trouble with this concept is you end up going to every type of motivational seminar you hear about, you read the top motivational books, you subscribe to the motivational emails, and you end up driving yourself batty trying to stay on top of your game.

We need to stop the merry-go-round and get off. I believe there is a way to avoid the roller-coaster and still keep our drive and passion running high. I know there is a way to enjoy the benefits of inspiration and enthusiasm without it becoming another burden in life to deal with. The reason I am convinced of this is because I have utilized it in my own life. I have been able to eliminate the erratic up and down flow of emotions. I have discovered a method of smoothing out the rough patches and maintaining the energy and excitement.

I was asked one time by a slightly skeptical individual if I was a motivational speaker. When I replied I was he had a look on his face like I had fallen directly into his trap. With as much disdain as he could muster he said, “So motivate me?” I looked directly into his stare and said, “I can’t.” He looked like the cat when the mouse gets a way. He stammered back, “Whaddya mean?”

I ran through much the same scenario as I have outlined above and then said, “Only you can motivate you.” At that point he was intrigued enough to forsake the testosterone fueled attitude and we began to talk.

I told him how all the words and encouragement in the world don’t mean anything until the individual begins to act. There must be a decision. There must be action. There must be follow through. Only when we make a choice to change our ways can our circumstances change. Thinking all the right thoughts will help and reading the books by the most influential motivational speakers will assist, but nothing will happen until you make a decision.

I have gone from deceiver to achiever, dope to hope, and mess to success. I did not do it by reading or hearing or thinking, I did it by getting up off my sofa and acting on what I knew to be true. I added fuel to the fire and turned up the flame. Turning the criminal life I was leading into a life of benefit to others was no overnight sensation. It was hard, continual work. There was a lot of sweat and tears, and then more sweat and even more tears. When the going got tough (and it always will, at some point) I lowered my head and kept going. I was not about to give up no matter what. I knew what was behind me. I had no desire for my past to dictate my future. It was full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes. There was no exit ramp. There was no time out area. There was no alternative, except to move forward. The options list had been added to the fire. Now maybe you don’t have the drama I had or maybe you have more, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except getting up and doing something. There are no excuses. There are no reasons. The only thing left to do, is do.

Is changing your thought pattern beneficial? Absolutely! Is reading inspiring books good? You bet it is, I’m reading inspirational material all the time. Is associating with others who share my desire alright? Yes it is, I have surrounded myself with people of integrity, who share my vision for changing the world. Isn’t all of that enough? No it isn’t. You’ve got to take action. All of those ideas will help, but until you take matters into your own hands and implement everything into your actions, your emotional state will remain flat, or worse, continue in a downward descent.

Will you have fears? Yes you will. Will you get scared? Yes you will. It will be so bad at times that your insides liquefy. You will get headaches. You will sweat profusely at times. You will think you can’t go on. You will want to quit. You will want to give up. You will cry. You will yell. You will curse. You will hate it at times with every ounce of your being. You will imagine death to be easier (it is not). It will be both mental and physical. But keep moving forward.

Does this sound like the old coach revving up the players for the big game. Yes it does! Why? Because it works, pure and simple. Actions change our lives. It isn’t rocket science, thank God or I would never have gotten it. What it is, is plain old fashion hard work. I know that isn’t popular, there is a reason why there is a glut of “labor saving devices” in the market. But it can’t be avoided. An alcoholic must go through withdrawals. The same is true for any type of drug addiction.  The withdrawals are painful, uncomfortable, and sometimes feel like hell itself, but they work…and they are unavoidable.

Forging the life we want isn’t always sweet chimes, white fluffy clouds, and incense. More often it resembles a hard day of baling hay. The sweat stings your eyes. Your nostrils are clogged with the thick dust of hay. Your arms feel like they will fall off. Your mind goes into tunnel thought. Your back is made aware of a whole new level of searing pain, but at the end of the day, when you look up in the loft and see it full of stacked bales, the pride you feel is overwhelming. A sense of job well done. Nothing automatic about it. You worked for it and have the proof of your labors.

Forge a new life. Set yourself free. Work for it. Feel the sting, the ache, the desire. Know in your mind it is more important than your next breath. Feel it in everything within you. Unleash yourself. Cut the chain and run. Run until your lungs burn like hot fiery pokers have been shoved down your throat. Feel the exhaustion. Feel the power. Feel the freedom.

Live the life you want. Whatever that is. Is it being in the center of the road? Is it the road less traveled? Is it the road traveled by your friends, family, and loved ones? Is it not even a road? Is it a path? Is it just two points strung out on a distant map in your mind? Is it uncharted territory? Is it a deep and rolling sea? Is it a small babbling brook? Is it hunkered down in a home you love as much as anything else on earth? It doesn’t matter what it is…live the life you want.

Whatever it is, live it to the raw fullest. Be inflamed with your life. Let it consume your being and ooze from your pores. Don’t hold back and never give up. Have it stamped on your forehead. Burn it into your consciousness. Put it out front. Wear it on your sleeve. Brandish it like a double edge sword. Hold your banner high. Keep it up. Don’t give up. Keep adding fuel to the fire.

Action is the key…now get up and go for it!

BE ALIVE!
BE ALIVE!

BE ALIVE!

BE ALIVE!

BE ALIVE!

BE ALIVE!

Be encouraged! 

Be encouraged!

They Smile In Your Face

http://www.cfoinnovation.com/content/how-make-office-politics-work-you

They Smile In Your Face

In the corporate world there is a word used to describe a most unpleasant event. According to a survey of 250 advertising and marketing executives, conducted by The Creative Group, an advertising and marketing staffing company, over 50% had the dubious honor of experiencing this nefarious act. I suspect that among the rank and file the actual percentage would be even higher. During my own tenure in the corporate world I faced it often. The R & B group, The O’Jays had their first million dollar hit with a song about it:

What they do

They smile in your face

All the time they want to take your place

the backstabbers

We are talking backstabbing. The practice of criticizing someone without their knowledge while feigning friendship and fidelity to their face. Some take great pleasure in their ability to deceive. They feel empowered and talk about how they were able to “take out” the competition. Others are quieter, they operate on the fringe and in the shadows. They appear as friends, but it is just a ruse to cover their true intentions.

And it’s not only in the workplace, but also in our homes, our marriages (who would have thought?), our children, our families, our schools, our friends, our civic organizations, our politics (boggles the mind doesn’t it?), and our churches. The truth is backstabbing has become a part of our culture. It is a factor of our lives. We literally can not find an area that has not suffered from backstabbing.

What makes this so painful for the victim is the violation of trust and confidence. This betrayal of trust can be so acute that Jennifer Freyd first coined the phrase “betrayal trauma” back in 1994 to describe the effect on the victim. Since she first used this phrase an entire theory has been developed and put forth that defines the inner workings of the brain when an individual has been backstabbed and the attending psychological backflips the person initiates to shelter themselves from the mental pain.

Like most, I’ve been victimized more times than I care to think about. But, I am not the type of person who wants to throw up a number of defensive actions to protect myself from future backstabbing. I’m cautious, I don’t want to be stabbed again, but I’m not focused on making sure all my bases are covered either. Plus I don’t want hold people at length. This world already has enough of that. I want to be open. If I’m going to error, I want it to be on the side of grace.

Without picking at old wounds, tell me how you deal with it. Are you still trusting? What are you doing to insure you are not victimized again? Is it hard to trust? As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Be encouraged!

A Personal Story

http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Depressed-Man-Sitting-in-Dark-Room-Posters_i8654375_.htm

A Personal Story 

Let me tell you a personal story.

Several years ago a friend of mine was driving me someplace. I don’t remember where, and it doesn’t matter. We were laughing and talking about who knows what. Probably the kind of things men talk about when it is only men, which means sex. It was a perfect summer day. The sky was crystal blue without a cloud from horizon to horizon and the sun was warm, but not hot.

As he was driving he began to steer the car toward the curb and decrease his speed. Since I was always on the alert, due to the kind of life I was living, I immediately began to evaluate the situation. I know he sensed the rising tension within me, because his next words were, “Relax Steve, I only want to ask you one question.”  I still wasn’t entirely convinced, but this was my best friend. He knew all about what I did to earn my seven-figure a year income, because he was my right-hand man in the organization I had built. While I always kept at least a few things to myself as insurance, he knew enough, and was as deeply involved as I was, which was a kind of insurance in and of itself. Of course there was always the threat he might want to take the quick route to the top of the food chain, but I didn’t believe he had it in him to pull the trigger, at least not at close range in the front seat of his car. Nonetheless, it was always good to be cautious, so my right hand inched slowly to the inside of my jacket.

When the car had come to a stop, he reached over and shut off the engine. The stereo died and all I could hear was the rush of traffic along the freeway and my heart beat, pounding a mile a minute. He shifted his weight in the seat and turned to face me. The look on his face is still crystal clear in my mind over three decades later, as I heard him ask,

“Steve, don’t you think it would have been better for all of us, if you had never been born?”

I felt like all the oxygen had suddenly been sucked out of the car. There was a ringing in my ears, more than likely from the sudden surge of adrenaline. I was engulfed in the most complete silence I have ever experienced. I no longer heard the cars as they whizzed by. Nor did I hear the birds chirping in the nearby trees. It was just the ringing and the vast silence.

I don’t recall what I stammered out, but his question hit the mark. I carried that question with me. During quiet moments I would take it out and think about it. What was my worth? Why am I alive? What is this thing we flippantly refer to as life? What am I doing here? Why am I here?

It would be many more years before I would have my “life revelation” and find the answer to those questions.  Those were dark years. Not that I didn’t learn from them, I did. But I learned the hard way.

Now I am far removed from the events of those years. I have created an entirely different person from the one who lived in those times. One of my readers once wrote and said I was “plagued” by my past. I’ve given considerable thought to that sentiment. I believe the reader is/was wrong. I am not “plagued” by the choices I once made. I am well aware of them and the impact they had on me and others at the time.  But the operative word in the last sentence is “had.” No longer am I governed by those actions. I have a deep passion to help others find their True Path in life. I have discovered we only get a set number of years and wasting them by floundering around seeking our direction is counter productive to what we want to accomplish.

But plagued? No way! I have triumphed over that life! I have come out on the other side victorious! I did so with the patience and love of the one I am now married to. She saw the possibilities. She had/has the faith.

This post is difficult to end. I don’t have a nice and tidy wrap-up. I am not inclined to rally the troops and lead you in any type of charge. I just want you to know if your love is filled with drama, more or less it doesn’t matter, there is hope. You can change. I can show you how.

Or if you have that person in your life who no matter what you do, they never change. You have poured time, money, effort, prayers, and everything else you could think of into their lives and they never change. I can tell you not to give up hope. There is and always will be the possibility, even up to and including the moment they draw their last breath, that they can change.

I know…I use to be one of them.

I am always available to talk…stephenedwards922@gmail.com or 812-314-1358.

Be encouraged!

 

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