I Have Found (It!) – Entry Thirty

Now that we have found ourselves past the doorway and entering the ideas of change, it is time to ask ourselves a simple, yet very important question.
Do you love your life?
Of course, as simple as this question is, the answer itself is not always so simple. Better yet, what does this even mean?
Does this mean that we love everything that happens to us? Do we accept the good with the bad?
Or, does this mean that regardless of what happens and regardless of the challenges we face, or regardless of bad news or good news; no matter what happens, does this mean that we sincerely love and the life we’ve created?

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Nine

Here we are, trying to find our place in the world. Whether this is simple or easy is up for judgement. Perhaps this is all relative and in theory, everything is relative.
We’re all looking for something. But at the same time, we all have our searches. We have our own views and our own perception of what life is or what it should be like. We have our own parameters or margins of judgment which we try to fit between. Otherwise, we find ourselves uncomfortable or out of the scope.
Perhaps some people might say, “I just want to be normal.”

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Eight

By now, it is safe to say that we have all heard the common definition of insanity. If not then let me place this here. It is said that insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results. In fairness, there are times when I am not sure whether we are insane or just hopeful. Or, maybe this is a case where I can say, “A little bit of both.”
Einstein once said. “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” Then again, Einstein also said “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.” And I assume this is true. However, our ability to limit ourselves is incredible to me. I can see how we fall in the same traps or trip over the same hazards without fail.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Seven

Just as a quick note before we move forward, my effort is to break this down into the simplest terms. As it is, we spend much of our lives overthinking or over-complicating ourselves. The suggestion of course is “Keep it simple,” which even this can become complicated because we often clutter ourselves with the perceived ideas of complications. We project and we assume.
But –
The truth is we have a choice. Each morning, we have to choose when to get up and where to go. There are times when it may seem as if our choices are limited. Or better yet, we may not like our choices. We might not enjoy what’s in front of us. But still, each day comes with its own unique choices. 

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Six

They say that we have to leave our downfalls behind us if we want to move forward. And I guess there’s something to this, right?
They say that the past is gone. We don’t live there anymore, nor do we have to. Then again, we also live in this thing called the real world. No one here is impenetrable. No one can say that they’ve never dealt with poor decisions or lived with no regrets. No one can say that they’ve never wished for a “take back” or a “do-over.”
Remember them?
It would be inaccurate to say that our future has never been shaped by the outcomes of our past. It would also be inaccurate to say that who we are has nothing to do with our chronological background.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Five

The worst place to be in is a place that never changes, never challenges and never dares us to grow or walk on. We never evolve or try or move in a new direction.
We never find our passion and essentially, we remain stuck.
There’s no drive or substance. There’s only more of the same, which might be fine for some people. There’s no room for judgment here. However, when we look to make a change or if we want to improve our life, the inertia of change is intended to break the loop of repetitiveness. Otherwise, there is no change. Or, even if we have changed, without maintenance, we can find ourselves back in the loop. Or, as the saying goes: We’re back in the saddle again.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Four

The miracle of awareness has always been interesting to me. I say this because suddenly, we find ourselves as if a light turned on. As if somehow, the concept of life and the way we live becomes so clear and we can see now. We can feel this, wide-open and in plain sight. We find ourselves at a pivotal movement when we’re not so afraid anymore. Or maybe we come to the understanding that there’s nothing to be afraid of and, suddenly, the excuses seem to vanish. The worries disappear and all that’s in front of us is a future opportunity. We come to the realization that there’s nothing between us but air and ideas. One step closer, and there we are, right where we want to be.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Three

It is only fair that we distinguish that in fact, there is a difference between situational ideas and our life as we know it. It is clear that all things change and whether we like it or not, everything changes. The world keeps moving and whether we get along or not, life is taking place. 
Even if we want life to pause or even if we want to take a break or catch our breath, life is still moving. So, it is only fair that we understand the difference between happenstance or chronic. We have experiences and influences. We have motivations and inspirations which are around us at all times. 
Also, it is important to note that words like experience or influence, or motivation and inspiration are neither positive or negative. These are not mutual or exclusive; but more, these are primary drives that lead us towards the way we respond.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty Two

What’s first? Is it to be happy? Is it to look at your life and be satisfied? Or is any of this even realistic?
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says “that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twenty

I had been working at the same site for nearly fifteen years, which is a long time. However, I say this yet, there were people who had worked at this same location for 40 years which upon my arrival, was longer than I was alive. We will call this person Louie. He began his tour at my job site before I was even born. To put this clearly, my position is blue collar. I have held several jobs throughout my life but this one is my longest stint. I am a union worker with a skilled trade and collective bargaining agreement that supports my life. I have been a member of this outfit since 1998.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Nineteen

Before we go any further, it should be clear to us all that compulsion or obsession has nothing to do with logic or sanity. Or, in many cases, the compulsion or the obsession itself is known about.
This is not a secret. Whether this is about food or about sex or about a drug or drinking, shopping working, or so on, upon ignition, the action meets a need and albeit brief, the action satisfies the compulsion, which often leads to a crash or hangover. Or better yet, this leads to moments of degradation, which sanity would suggest, “Stop doing it!” But the compulsion to feel better or to find that moment of euphoria is stronger than logic.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Seventeen

There is no real mystery as to why we feel stress or why life can be hard. We all know that life is hard. Perhaps this is not so on all occasions, but for a majority of people, life is hard. This has nothing to do with wealth or with fame. This has nothing to do with looks or fashion, nor does this have anything to do with power, because if wealth or power could buy happiness, then there would be no such thing as miserable millionaires.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Sixteen

And it’s true. There are days that cannot end soon enough. It is also true that there are times that you want to break out of the continuous feeling of something’s gone wrong; yet, we still have a race to run. We still have life in front of us and somehow, somewhere, probably deep down, we have to find whatever it takes to get up and get moving. 

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Fifteen

I had been in search for the obvious for way too long. It was clear that something was missing in my life. However, it was unclear that everything I had ever been looking for was always right there; right in front of my face.
All the facts were there. Everything was obvious but not to me. No, I was caught up in the cognitive distortions of who I was and who I wanted to be.
Now, I say this because the odds are, no one ever picks on the captain of the football team. No one ever bullies the toughest kid in the school. No one messes with the crazy kids and no one picks on the socially desirable. 
Everyone loves the head cheerleader. We celebrate the wealthy and we exploit the beautiful to a cheaper value. But still, attention in the smallest degree is like gold, especially when we are starved for it.

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I have Found (It!) – Entry Fourteen

This entry will be a little different from the others. Or, more accurately, this entry will be a little more sentimental than the other entries. Either way, what I am about to report to you is what I have found, which helps me keep my love alive. This helps me keep my hope that wherever they are, they can see me in a good light and that of course; they’ll be proud.
Who do mean, you ask?
Well, I guess I should get to it and make myself clear. . .

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Thirteen

The fact of the matter is once you know; now you know. It’s not like we can plead ignorance anymore. It’s not like you can go along, acting the same or doing the same things.
This is why most people refuse to explore and understand themselves. This is why people shy away from the truth or avoid being exposed to the light because the fact is, it’s easier to hide in darkness.

Again, once you know, now you know. You’ve opened your eyes long enough to see the truth – and now there’s nowhere to turn. There’s no way to hide from yourself. You’re accountable now, which means you’re responsible for what happens next.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Twelve

If it is true that our mind and our thinking is a compilation of memories and events that are connected to opinions and emotions, then it would also be true that our thinking is derived from a series of our past which means we can also become a product of our past. If this is true, this would be where our biases come from. This is where our projections and our assumptions come from; moreover, this is where our judgments come from and where our subconscious programs begin. 

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Eleven

There was a long uphill trail that began with a simple incline before it turned upwards. There was me, of course, and there was a longtime friend of mine who had been hiking for several years. Me, well, I was quite heavy at the time. I was overweight and unaware of myself or who I had become. I was caught in the confines of a life that became average. I never thought much about my future. I never looked forward to my next project at work.
At the time, my life became a routine. I ate. I worked. I slept. And then I ate more. At best, I was north of the average body weight for my size. I was somewhat aimless and was mainly unaware that this had become me.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Ten

And it’s fear. That’s all. It’s a long conversation in the mind that tells about something wrong. And that’s what it is. This is us in the world, saying “who cares?” Meanwhile, we find ourselves caught in the wheels of acceptance. We find ourselves looking for a pattern or a path where we can fit and be fine.
I say this because I see no reason to deny that we often turn inward. We blame ourselves. We act first and think later. We want to understand and we want to have answers. And then finally, we come to a moment of awareness.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Nine

So, what does it mean to be your best self? The question is simple. Does this mean we get to sleep the right amount of hours? Does this mean that we always eat healthy? Or does this mean that we’re always on time? Nothing goes wrong. Nothing to see here, just keep it moving. Is that it?
Life is easy, right? Is that what it means to live at our best? Does this mean that we can find peace within ourselves, effortlessly, as if nothing could be wrong?

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Eight

There’s no law that says everything has to be so tragic. Not all roads lead to the harsh side of reality and there is no rule that says we have to be miserable. No, really. It’s the truth.
It’s okay to not be okay. However, it’s also okay to give yourself permission to enjoy life or have a good time.
It’s okay to put the world on hold and step away for a while. Find the right song. Or find a good meal. Find somewhere to go and be there. Be in the moment.
While I grant that reality never goes away, there comes a time when you have to find a moment for yourself. You have to find a way to break the tension.
So you can breathe.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Seven

The simple truth is none of us can afford to waste our time. No one can afford another moment where our lives are governed by sources that are beyond our control. And this is life.
This is us on a daily basis. This is the reason why some people achieve and some people don’t. This is why some people move and some people wait. And when we face the anxious mind or when we focus on the anxieties and the fears of anticipation, we lead ourselves into the confines of judgment. Or better yet, we keep ourselves stuck in the mindset that “This is it!”
Or, this is as good as it gets.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Six

I began these journals with the idea that someday I’d become a writer. The kind of writer I wanted to be was the kind that you could jump into any story. You could find me at any part and not think that you missed out on anything.
I suppose this came from my first real experience of reading a book, which is not to say this was my first book or anywhere close. But more, I connect this to a time when I was sitting in a hospital next to my Father, The Old Man, and reading a book that was written by Robert Fulghum.
There was no catch or plot or anything more than random stories from the heart. I thought about this for years after my Father passed. I thought about the need to find my voice. Or better yet, I thought about the outlet, which is what this has become.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Five

Of course, you know that you can’t quit. Everyone knows that you can’t just “give up,” but at the same time, there are moments when you have to walk away. There are times when we have to surrender to win or give up the fight against situations or people, places and things. We may not like this. We might not like what’s happening around us. However, there are times when the pain from banging our head against the wall is enough. We can stop this now. We can stop forcing or coercing. We stand up and walk away. We can live to fight another day. Or, we can simply go in peace and find a life that suits us best.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Four

It is easy.
It’s easy to lose our place. It’s easy to lose ourselves to the comparison of others. It’s easy to lose our focus.
It’s easy to notice our faults or to notice the things we lack. It’s easy to look around and see what other people have and, of course, then we look back at us and see what we don’t have. This could be a job. This could be looks. This could be money or attention or fame or personality.
It’s easy to find problems. Or, if we look around; it’s easy to see what’s wrong with life. However, as easy as this is, it only serves to make life harder. Yet, we still look.

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I Have Found (It!) – Entry Three

Here’s a question. What would make you happy?
The question is both simple and difficult. However, I ask this because I know there’s a simple answer and a complicated answer. There’s a long one and a short one. Then of course, there’s an honest answer, to which I submit that most times, people aren’t sure what happiness is.
What would make you happy?
This is a great question.

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I Have Found (It!) – Second Entry

They say that you have to stop looking backwards to move forwards. I get that. But still. We often look backwards in fear that the past will come back to creep up or haunt us again.
They say that you have to let go of the past in order to meet your future. Otherwise, all you’ll face is more of the same. However, most people agree that this is easier said than done.
The hooks of our past and the remnants of our memories are part of us and while we look to improve, we often find ourselves trying to relitigate our old misfortunes. We often review the past and find accountability for emotions or situations that are also unchangeable. I say this is unchangeable yet most times, here we are – trying to change the past again.

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I Have Found (It!) – First Entry

There is a fishing pier in Deerfield Beach, which is not too far from where my Mother used to live. Let me see, it has to be more than 20 years now. Or, wait no. It’s been more than 22 years since I’ve walked on the pier or fished the sides. It was raining the last time I was there. The sky was gray, like soft cotton, and the rainfall was steady and heavy at times. However, nothing was steady enough to stop me from this moment. I was young (of course) and I was in the midst of something unexpected.
Everything was empty. The boards on the pier were wet and slick. Beads of rain were dribbling down my face. There was something otherwise perfect about this. The rain, I mean. The emptiness of my surroundings, the absence of people, and me, just there, just for the moment.

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The Senses of Nostalgia

There are smells that we have from our past, which come up when we come across them. Like the smell of honeysuckles in spring, which reminds me of a backyard from my youth. Or, the smell of pizza while walking by an open door at a pizza shop and then quickly, I am reminded of a corner store. I’m reminded of a slice and a coke and the first time I heard The Grateful Dead on the jukebox. 

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Don’t Stop Now

I want to talk to you about freedom. I want to talk about freedom from the bondage of self. And I say self, as in the I, me, the individual and the personal nature of one’s own life.
I want to encourage movement because otherwise, there is only the stagnant nature of things. There is only the “more of the same” and though I say this, I want to encourage myself as well as someone else. I want to inspire the person who is reading this who might be at the edge or who might be thinking about resigning or giving in.

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Mental Jam Session

How long ago was it? Or even if it was long ago, still, the question becomes, “Did it really happen?”
I swear the past is a thousand years ago or equally as good.
There was a time when everything was different. For example, I saw a young girl using an outdated flip phone the other day and thought to myself. “Wow. I remember them.”
I remember the time when cell phones had yet to make the scene. I remember a time when beepers and pagers came out. I remember a time when people used pay phones.

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To Move Beyond It

The one thing I know and that I’ve known for a while is that we often grip the details of our past. Whether this is regret or pain or sins from an old self; or whether this is the inability to get away from old thinking or old responses, I know what this is like. I know exactly who the past is. I know them well. In fact, sometimes I call this me. Sometimes I call this a mixture of who I was and who I want to be. Other times, I shake my head and asking the ever-popular question, “What the hell was I thinking?”
Why did I trust this person? Or, what did I say anything at all.
I could have kept my mouth shut. You know?
I know what it means to say something out of anger. I also know what it means to make a poor choice or wish I could take back something I said. Then again, I am sure that everyone knows what this is like. I’m sure there are people who’ve lied or said a mean thing; and now; to add color, they find themselves on the fringe of regret.

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A Little Thing About Slander

The saying goes that when the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. And this fits us now, that rather than debate a fact or hear an opinion about a person, place or thing; people dive into ad hominem attacks in which we attack character or motives instead of debating the fact itself. I see this now. I see the character assassinations. I see this in politics. I have seen this happen with divorce. I have seen this with the cancel-cultures around us. I see the slanderous attacks on people which tend to linger and burrow far deeper than people imagine.

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From Choices: Don’t Go At It Alone

I get it. It’s the stressors in life. It’s the little crazy details that keep us thinking. Or better yet, this is what keeps us awake. Am I right?
One thought leads to two and then two to four, four to sixteen and then sixteen to oblivion.
Next thing we know; there we are, lying in bed with a mind filled with various thoughts, overthinking life and over-complicating the factors we face; as if we have to fix it; as if we are responsible for fixing the national debt, solving unemployment, curing cancer, stopping pain and suffering, and having conversations in our head when in fact, we should really be asleep.

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And So It Goes

And so it goes . . .
We’ve been here before. We’ve been through tough times. We’ve seen harder days and better ones too. But hey, this is life and there are no guarantees. The second show is never the same as the first but then again, you only get one shot. So, there is no second show.
What I am about to do is share a brutal piece of honesty with you. It’s not pretty. But pretty or not, truth is still truth.

We can’t recreate the past. We can’t take back what was said nor can we uncross the boundaries. In the end, when we face the anxiety of humiliation and exploitation, the question is no longer why or or how did this happen. Instead, the question becomes what am I going to do about it?
How am I going to improve?

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The Anxiety Trip

It all starts from a trickle, like a droplet from a faucet. It’s an idea that begins at the size of a grain of sand. And then it grows. It’s a thought based condition. The droplet becomes an open flood-gate. It’s an idea that grows and takes shape.
Thoughts take form in the mind and then suddenly, we create a scenario in the mind, which is complete with a fully imaginative video – almost like a movie, like a psychological tragedy which is complete with all the characters in our life and leads a plot that is unfortunate or tragic.
We create a concept in our mind that hits all the triggers and hits every alarm in our anxiety system. Next, we’ve thought ourselves into “Red-Alert” status. 

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Facing the Isms

What I am about to share with you comes from a personal perspective. And I agree; opinions are subjective. Perhaps life is subjective as well. However, our differences do not have to mean that we have to fight or argue.
Deep down, I do believe that we all want the good things. We all want success. We want ease. We want joy and, equally, we want to be valid and enjoyed. We want to be included and regarded.
In most cases, yes, there are exceptions to the norm; however, most people are good at heart. I would argue that there are times when goodness is hard to see. I will say there are times when peace seems more of an impossibility than just unlikely. Nevertheless, as good as people are; even good people are capable of bad things. We all make mistakes. We all say things that we wish we could take back. Ignorance is not prejudice – even if we are. Ignorance isn’t.
Again, I go back to the quote from Twain when he said, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”
There is something to this. Deep inside the shame-machine, I know there has to be a conscience. I know that there is training behind hatred yet we know the difference between right and wrong. Intellectually, we understand the difference between kind and hurtful.

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Fix Your Grin

In short, we have to allow for changes. We have to understand that not everything will go as planned and, in fact, not all plans will account for every obstacle.
There will be miscalculations. There will be setbacks. There will be the unexpectedness of natural events. Yet, there will also be days like this when the sun shines and the world awaits us.
So, fix your grin and be ready for it all.
There will be slips and falls and inaccurate assumptions too. As a matter of fact, there’s a word for all of this. It’s called life. Be ready to live it.

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From Inside the Classroom: Finding the Value of One

I wonder now.
Where was I on this day back in 1988? I wonder, for example, the math that went into deciding my turns or predicting my future. I say this because if at all, if we are anything; we are most certainly an outcome. And now as I approach you with this thought, although my time in math class with word problems is far distant from me now, the idea of finding the outcome in a mathematical equation means the possible result that depends on probability.

I pause here to warn you that I was never an exceptional student – especially in math or science or especially in understanding probabilities. I say this and admit that intellectually, I understood the basic math of me plus you. It was the emotional math that was often miscalculated 

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The Social Fit

Years ago, it seemed to be that there was a group of people who decided the standards of cool or pretty. I don’t know why this is. I don’t know who gets to decide what is fashionable and what isn’t.
Years ago, there was the popular side of the lunchroom. There was the social draw or the need to fit in and be part of a group.
Identity and identification is everything and so are the politics. Who are you? Who are your friends? It is ideas like this which dictated and determined your status of popularity.

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Sunday Morning Motivation: A Vision Statement

There are words like “if” or “when.” I hear them spoken in ways like “When” or
“If only”
If this is something that you can understand or if “when” has become the determining factor of what you do; or if the word “if” and “when” determine how you’ll succeed; or, if you believe that this is the best you can be (but you want more) or “if” there is something holding you back like a mindset or a belief – or “if” you’ve become limited by an opinion; or, if you think the world just doesn’t work out like it’s supposed to – and there you are, alone in your thoughts. Or, “if” you seem alone in your life and no one really gets it. Or, what about your moods?

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Side With What’s Right

I was never much for sports, which is not to say that I did not enjoy the idea of playing or have the urge to have fun. However, there is a saying that comes to mind. This saying was something that I heard at a young age and while I am no longer young, I still wonder why people say, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.”
That’s what counts, right?
I think of this and say to myself, “Sure. Now, go tell this to someone who is always picked last.”
See how they feel about this.

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The Farm . . .

I like to think about this.
There was a dirt road that led out from in front of the house, past the barn, and down to the main road, which was long as ever, mainly empty, and always quiet. I had never seen places like this before. I suppose a part of me never knew towns like this existed. At least, not in real life. All I knew was all I had only known, which was my usual routine life, alive and unwell, and living crazy near the city. I never knew anything about small towns or small town life. I certainly never knew what it was like to be greeted by a stranger who said “hello” just because this was the right thing to do. As far as I knew, most strangers who say hello are looking for something. No one was ever kind for no reason, or so I thought.

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A quick tip . . .

This is easier than you think . . .
People ask if there’s a secret to being helpful. The truth is there is no secret. There are natural ingredients that we have as people which, perhaps, not everyone is as in tune with this. But still, we all have the ability to listen. We all have the need to be heard. We have the need to be understood and the desire to be acknowledged. 

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Letters From a Son – 5/11/2022

I wonder what she would say. My Mom, I mean. I wonder what she would think if she were in the audience or if she were to hear the interaction at a webinar.
I wonder what Mom would think if she knew that I was about to offer my practice to a Women’s International Network. Then again, I wonder what anyone who knew me “then” would say if they saw me now. Would they bash me? Would they roll their eyes and say, “No way!”
I wonder if those who noted my past mistakes would allow me to surpass my previous limitations. Or, wait, no. I wonder this about myself because perhaps if it wasn’t for my past, I might have never decided to hold myself accountable to create my present – or improve. 

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Working for a Living – It’s a Crazy Thing

There is something to be said about the time we spend together. There is also something to be said about the way we break bread with each other. And there is something to be said about our experiences we share or the struggles we go through. There is something about the memories we have and then somehow, the world moves us in different directions. What I mean is that suddenly, somehow, we move on and can almost become strangers.

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A Little from the Abstract: Peace to the Childlike Soldier

I was a kid when I first heard a real poem. I was home alone at a time when I was supposed to be elsewhere. I was in the middle of my own crazy fit and losing to my own rebellions. I was wild and perhaps misunderstood but then again, I’m not too sure how understanding I was either.
I refer to this as my dawn or my start of day and the early part of my life, which of course, I have passed my noontime hours and before the sunset comes, I find myself in need of freedom or in a word, I want peace.

I was home, hiding away from the rest of the world, high, smoking cigarettes from a pack of Marlboro Reds. I was long haired and had bloodshot eyes in which, I might have thought that all of this made sense, which it did. There was me and my altered views and then there was another version of me. This was the person who was tired of being afraid and tired of the forced or coerced and the social constructs or opinions, which I had nothing to do with. But still, there was a pecking order in life and to me, who was I to challenge something that has been around long before my time?
I can remember practicing the things that I wanted to say to people. I used to rehearse in front of a mirror. I remember the ideas I practiced and planned only to find myself quiet when the moment was right. By that time, I was out of my head. Especially when or if I was drinking because nothing ever comes out right then.
I wanted to speak. I wanted to say the right things but instead, I’d speak and have the last words I’d say, repeat in my mind; as if to echo with an uncomfortable awkwardness – and anything I’d say after to redeem myself would only come out worse, which was like a hole that just kept digging itself deeper- until I quit or broke down.

I knew that I had so much to say. My only problem is I never knew how to say it. I never knew how to be brave enough to be me, without regret. But, I could write it. I might not have been able to share it or allow anyone to read what I wrote – but for the moment, pen in hand and paper beneath me, I was free.

I suppose I can narrow my first inspiration to a movie and the words, “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house.” To me, this was more than an opening scene to a movie. This was more than an S. E. Hinton book that became a movie. This was an apropos or fitting assessment of who I was and how I felt at the time.

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the basement of a house or from the bottom of some godforsaken place where it was fine for me to hide, I can remember the sun and the blinding aspects of exposure. I can remember my life and my small, crazy town.
I can remember the different distribution of popularity and the names, the so-called cool kids, the crazy kids and the difference between the crowds was a clear distinction of who you were, who you weren’t and where you were welcome.
I remember the badges and the scars and the masks as well as the personal images which we all hid behind. No one was themselves. At least, not then.

Everything was a pose. Everything we did was an attempt at personal posture. How you dressed said everything. How you looked said even more and though there were times when I was fit enough to get away, more often, I found myself wondering about this mix of life. I found myself in the middle of the good and the bad and connected the people we knew or the friends we had.

I was somewhere in the middle of this idea that somehow, my life was only a project and that somewhere, a person in a white lab coat with glasses on and a clipboard in hand took notes about me as if I were an experiment.

I saw myself as a person in training. But training for what? I didn’t know – at least, not really. I only knew that I had my fair share of personal psychosis. I used to hear the sound of breaking glass in my ears when my anxiety broke me and then violence struck the scene – whether me or you, someone would have to hurt or bleed, which to me seemed like an understandable aspect of things.
I wouldn’t use the term paranoia to describe me in all cases but instead, I saw myself in such a way that I assumed my tragedies were part of life. I assumed that this was “my” normal and that although you or someone else might have a different view, this was me.
I was caught in underbelly and locked in the low-end of life’s cycle. This was my place in the social caste system. But yet, there were times when I saw beauty or that I could be more beautiful. There were times when I noticed the sunlight or the sunset. There were times when I noticed the smile of a young girl who, of course, might not have noticed me; but still, it was enough sometimes to see a smile. It was enough to know that there are beautiful things in this world and that to see this or to notice meant that I knew what beauty is, which by default; meant that I was beautiful too.

I remember the first poem I ever heard, which of course; when I say this, I mean a real poem and not one that starts with some dirty-minded limerick that goes, “There once was a man from Nantucket.”
Instead, it was something that came from Robert Frost. 

“Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only so an hour
The leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down today . . .
. . .  Nothing gold can stay.”

As I grew older and came to the understanding that my early youth was only a training ground; that school and schoolyard lessons, on top of the government of popularity, socialization and the secret handshake assholes were all part of life.
I also came to the understanding that I was not so alone. Pressure is felt across the board and by everyone – the pressure to be or appear, or to have the right answers or know what to say, to act as if, or to be “on point” so-to-speak and all that goes with this; these are the exhausting details of who we are and how we interact. It’s tiresome at times. Draining.
Stressful.
I suppose the challenge I felt and the challenges that others might deal with is to find the secret of endurance and the keys to personal sustainability. 

Stress or anxiety are normal. There is a healthy aspect to this which teaches us that something dangerous could happen. This is what fear is. This warns us to be safe; however, this can also become irrational. Like an engine, we can only run at high speeds for so long. We can only run in the red for so long before the engine breaks down. And that was me.
This was my anxiety; always afraid of the impending doom; always waiting for the next thing to go wrong, waiting for the news, the rejection and this was me in fear of my own self. I was afraid of letting me down again, of misspeaking, of being misshapen, of being distorted, or demented, confused and uncomfortable. This is when the glass would break in my mind like the sound of a brick through a storefront window.

If I could go back and tell me anything, I suppose I would go back and teach me how to dismantle the attitudes of my assumptions. I would teach me about the energy of my thinking and that there are two halves of thought – one thought is the one I was used to and the other is the other side – that yes, things can be tough; but things can also improve if we choose to improve them.

As tough as I wanted to be, I knew the toughest thing that anyone could be was to be themselves, without decoration, without explanation and to stand on your own two feet, regardless of the crowd around you – this is tough. This is what it means to be a tough guy. 
But I wasn’t tough.
I was just me. (See the confusion?)

My first real poem went like this:

If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts
And if I look, I can see you in my dreams
Or behind the movie screens of my eyelids.
But someday,
I hope that I can hold you in my arms
Forever –

This meant more than to be in love. This meant more to me than romance and more than the feeling of my skin against the skin of another body.
No, this meant me stepping out from the darkness of the places where I would hide, brave enough to face the world and fearless enough to be me. This was me emerging from where I kept myself, regardless of the common thought and above all, comfortable in my skin and comfortable to say this is who I am, this is who I love and this is who I want to be.

Robert Frost said nothing gold can stay-

I used to agree with him.
But this thing in me, this drive and the youthfulness of my soul, regardless of age or the beatings or the downfalls – this is me, still writing, still learning, still admitting to my childishness, which is brilliant because if I were able to love as a child and be as grown as I am – then I will have done something amazing with my life – regardless of those who poke, I would still be me. The worn solders of my spirit could settle in by the fire.

 And to me, that’s better than gold –
That’s better than platinum.
But more . . .
That’s peace.

Mirror Rehearsal: Sweet Soliloquy [Take One]

There isn’t too much time for indecision. Or, then again, maybe there is. Maybe we don’t know what to do, so . . . we sit still. Or, maybe this is only you and I and we’re in the middle of a moment. And neither of us are willing to let it go because neither of us know how.
It could be.
Maybe this is one of those things or maybe this is a moment, like Deja-vu, and it feels like we’ve been here before. But of course, we haven’t.
“Now” only happens once. I know this. And so do you. However, I suppose this is a moment that comes with a special awareness – and we find ourselves at an impasse; or maybe this is an an instance of attention, intensified by emotion or otherwise in-tuned with the details we find. 

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