The Art of Being Agnostic (For a Change)

There are things we are famous for saying in times when we have to explain something unfortunate. For example, the common response after someone is asked “Why’d you do that” is usually “I don’t know.” Or, another one of my favorites is, “You have to promise not to get mad.” As if this promise works because by saying this, in fairness, most people are already prepared to be mad — and, whether we promised or not, usually, we get mad.

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My First High School Presentation

I was thinking about my first trip through a hallway in a high school. This is years after my time as a student. I was an adult. I was being led to a class to talk about my life’s experience with a roomful of students.
I remember walking through the hallways. I was looking at the school colors and the colors of the lockers in the hallways. I could see some of the students. I could see the banners that draped from the ceilings in the hallway. A teacher walked me from the entryway of the school and down through the hallways towards the classroom.

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Day Four of Five

There is a line from a movie that I remember very clearly. I remember this because at war, there is one tool for survival. At war, there is only one machine to keep you alive. In the movie, there is a boot camp scene where the soldiers lay in their bunks and recite, “This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine.” 

I have transitioned this same premise and say, this is my story. There are many like it but this one is mine. And it has taken me years to embrace this. Wait no, it has taken me decades to shape and polish this. It has taken me up to now to understand and see clearly that yes, of course; this is my life. There are many like it but this one is mine and before I go onward, I say this with all that I have: This is me.

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From in the Classroom: Time to Learn

At this point, we’ve all been to school. We’ve all gone to class or had a classroom experience. By now, we’ve all learned about reading, writing and arithmetic. And most of us have gone through some kind of secondary schooling, whether this is in college, on-the-job training programs, or a class in basket weaving or we’ve all had or share of both teaching and learning experiences.

We have been taught how to find a job and how to build a resume. Or, in my case, I have been trained as an operating engineer. I have undergone safety training and learned about electrical circuitry. I’ve attended training schools for building and maintenance systems. I’ve taken CPR classes and scaffolding safety courses. But more recently, I began learning about mental health and mental health safety. I’ve taken different courses that range from life coaching to hypnosis, from mental health first aid to peer advocacy and peer specialist work, which require study as well as clinical hours for training purposes.

However, of all the classes I’ve taken and as interesting as some of my learning experiences have been; I’ve never found a class that teaches people how to be happy. I have never seen a class or found a syllabus that teaches how to be happy at work or how to be happy with life when life is not happy with us.

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From in the Classroom: Here’s My Truth

And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I was that kid. I was that boy. I was the one in the classroom hoping I could disappear because “Please God, don’t let the teacher call on me.” Yet, there was a piece of me that only wished I felt comfortable enough to be part of the room.

I was the one who stuttered when I read out loud. I was the one who counted the heads before me when taking turns to read paragraphs in the classroom. I’d count the number of students before me. Then I would look at the chapter and count the paragraphs. First, I hoped that I was lucky and my paragraph would be brief. But it never was. And then I would try and practice. I would try and read it to myself; this way, I wouldn’t stutter or lose my place. This way, no one would look at me in the classroom or think I was an idiot. But this never worked.

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Just Thinking . . .

There was a large room filled with officials and town executives.  At the front of this room was a platform where speakers sat to describe who they are and what they do. The audience was all professionals in their field. All of the people in attendance were people with high titles and degrees on their walls. Some were people in law enforcement and they all sat in their seats, professionally, and at attention. I was here for this. In fact, at the end of the platform of speakers was me; at the time, I was a basic specialist and person in recovery. 

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Bullying: It’s Not Just in the Classroom

I have been enlightened to a new idea about bullying. I am sure this is nothing so new or extraordinary. Instead, this is more accurately an easier way to simplify the reasons behind bullying. Rather than allow the mental warfare and the internal dialogue; I came to an understanding about why people say what they say or do what they do.
I see this answer as simple.
In the course to show importance or express dominance, which is different from the bullying adventures that happened on the playground when we were kids.
Bullying is an attempt of ownership. This is more than a theft of services. Bullying is an attempt to own you, to claim you, to try and keep you and push you down so this way, you will always be beneath or subordinate.

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Ways to Change

After you lose weight, there’s always someone who comes up to ask, “How’d you do it?” and to be honest, there’s always someone out there with an opinion about this. There’s always someone out there with a better way, which for them, maybe theirs was the only way. And I don’t doubt that it was. I don’t doubt the different pathways to recovery.
However, I have noticed that in the midst of any transformational changes, there is always someone out there with an idea or an opinion. There is always someone with some kind of advice—and that’s fine, but wait . . .
why must there only be one way?

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A Note From The Breeding Grounds

I would like to preface this by explaining that my ideas are nothing more than a series of honest thoughts. I am not putting anyone down, including myself, nor am I coming from a place or resentment or hostility. Instead, I am simply pointing out an observation. This is something I see. And I’m open to the ideas of different perceptions. However, in my search to find personal understanding, I found that honest assessments and observations are helpful if for no other reason than to teach me how not to be. But nevertheless, here I go . . .

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