Thursday, December 29, 2011

I hate resolutions.

I hate resolutions. I really do. I do not like that there is a time so shortly after my overindulgence in practically every one of my vices that I have to cease and desist simply because the calendar has reached its’ last page. I know–after testing the stretch-ability of the middle of my favorite sweaters it may be time to put down the cheesecake for a while, but to simply profess I will stop doing something for ever...for ever-ever is simply ludicrous. Nothing I ever “resolved” to do stuck. At least not because I tried on New Year’s Eve. It takes something more for me. It also has nothing to do with my calendar.

I remember many things that I humbly and most feebly tried to end with the beginning of a new year. Most of these ended shamefully by me resuming whatever habit, yet now accompanied by a heavy dose of guilt and shame. Neither are strong motivators for me personally. Most of the important things that needed to go sloughed off on their own time and through what I only feel is divine happenstance. It took a larger nudge than a ball dropping and Dick Clark for some of the other back-monkeys.

I tried to quit smoking in the past. A lot. Many times. To no avail. I took the loss of my grandfather to lung cancer. I never saw him with a cigarette. Ever. (Haven’t touched one since ’86.)

I tried to quit drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. I took a loving (but firm) intervention, a trip to “Camp Cleanupyouract” and the potential loss of all I held dear to set down that bagage. (Haven’t gone back to that either.)

I resolved to get financially stable. Lost it all.

I tried to diet. I got fatter.

I tried to get stronger. I got weaker.

I tried to succeed. I avoided the challenges necessary to get me there.

You win some, you lose some. I try to keep my batting average high.

I no longer “resolve” on New Year’s Eve, nor do I give a rat’s patoot about the obligatory professions of strength that are required to help me overcome what I should be tending to all year long. It is hard enough to mourn the loss of peanut brittle for another year without resisting everything else that brings me joy, harmful or not.

Nowadays, I simply try to find a blanketing “concept” or category (health, finances, spirituality, relationships, etc.) that will serve me to improve. I also give myself a year (ish) to complete it. I also forgive my shortcomings. I will look back at the end of the year and fish out the accomplishments to be met with a well-deserved “atta-boy”, and put the missed goals back on the laundry list.

I also realize that if a problem or issue crops up on July 17th, I do not have to wait until January to throw it on the docket for improvement.

Again, I win some, and I lose some. I just want to keep it in the black.

I guess for the upcoming year, I have a few things I would like to see change. Some renovations in my life. Hopefully, some good stuff coming down the pipe. I don’t know if I will start on them next week, or come spring. Maybe they will slip through my grasp. But still, I guess these things are about as close to a resolution I may get: (Don't hold me to them, okay - hold me to them.)

• After trying extensively to no avail, I resign myself to the fact that I am going to have to get a job that will require me to say, “Would you like fries with that?” (At least until I graduate.)

• I am also going to have to do what it takes to lower my cholesterol, stop making old man noises when I bend over, and not need a nap just because I took out the trash. Time to lose some weight and get in shape. Dimmer switches can also only do so much.

• I got a 4.0 on my first quarter of school. I am going to do it again. And again.

• I am going to try to become a husband that my wife is not only proud of, but will want to brag about. This may take the full year. (I know she's gonna want me to toss my "dad jeans.")

• I am calm, cool, and collected in the event of an emergency and the big stuff. I can be an asshole when there is a Lego missing from the project. I need to get a wrangle on that.

• I want to make more magic for people I encounter. I don’t know what that is. I just know that would be cool.

* I want to continue to help those who need someone to talk to. I want to clone and expand that as well.

• I am not sure what it is. I know I will find it. But I want this year to be the year that I can say, “Yep, that was the year my life took off.” (And whatever it is, has enough room for everyone.)

• I’ve got some home improvements I need to get done. Dollar willing.

• I want to cook more, and grow more of my own food. I love cooking for people.

• I also want to continue to grow as a father. I grow as they grow.

These may come quickly or slowly. I have been working on some for a while. It doesn’t take a new year to remind me that many of these needs tended to, nor are they forgotten down the road as my efforts wane or challenges increase somewhere around March. I hope if you yearn for health, money, love, happiness, or abundance you receive it. Maybe your desires fall on a more spiritual plane, and with that, I support you as well. I just found it best to keep on, keepin’ on year ‘round, and for me–my resolution is to make no resolutions.

If you don't mind sharing, do you have any resolutions for 2012?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hope and Faith

You would think I may come back after a break with something less cliché than this. I mean really. The reason for my hiatus from writing–the passion for it was sucked out of me by learning “how to write.”

I had decided to go back to school and get a degree. It is in mental health and addiction studies. I find both fascinating to be honest. The downside is that with any degree there are certain areas of study that accompany the subjects that pertain to your chosen endeavor. Aside from Psychology (love it), I had to take Algebra (surprisingly, enjoyed it immensely), and English Composition (my current nemesis.)

I love to write. What I have found is I love to write for me. Then I love to quietly share a bit of my thoughts with people and the only grade I may get is a “like” or a brief comment on Facebook. I find I could give a rat’s patoot what the Modern Language Association feels I “should” have done. It’s like being corrected when you sing in the shower.

But I digress... (This line would be considered unacceptable in MLA, but screw ‘em, it’s my blog.)

I guess with my recent schooling endeavor, I have also had other things going on in my life, both personal, business, and through other random things I have a tendency to get myself into. Through all these I have had high hopes of what I deeply wish would transpire. Hope...I have had and lost a substantial amount of it in my life.

I often find myself trying to write the ending to a script for a movie in which I am only an actor. I hope things will turn out the way I planned. I hope the money comes through. I hope the grades are there. I hope everyone stays healthy. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Hope is locking focus on a desired outcome and securing it in your core that it will manifest. Hope is often tossed about like throwing corn to chickens when faced with adversity. Hope is a desire to see beyond the current trials and settling on recognition that this too shall pass.

However hope alone falls short. Hope in solo is shouldering a burden alone. Hope is often diminished by a sense of overwhelm when the obstacles step over the threshold of what we can grasp or handle.

To me hope is like prayer in some ways. It must start with internal reflection, but most importantly it must be released. This is where faith comes in.

Faith is belief without seeing. Faith is a comfort in feeling deeply that there is something beyond ourselves at work. Faith is a peace that comes from a belief that things are the way they are now because that is how they should be. Faith is accepting and faith is allowing.

Faith is also the creation of a relationship with the intangible. Faith allows us to connect with the things we feel as well as the things we see. Faith is a humble request to dance with the divine...

Faith is also a lesson in patience. The things we hope for must be faithfully placed in the proper hands of the capable, and then we must try to be patient as our answers are delivered. Sometimes the answer is no. Sometimes we are thrilled. We must still have faith and patience to realize somewhere down the line it will all make sense. It is what it is, and that’s okay.

Hope and faith in swirling unison. (Another MLA taboo sentence.)

I guess my return was prompted by seeing a relatively high amount of struggles recently in the lives of those I encounter. All of these in varying degree. Myself included in some ways. I guess my advice to myself and the others is to have a little hope, and have a little faith. (And not the stupid TV sitcom.)

As I have been reminded recently, I am a student of writing as well as a student of life. Both present challenges but the latter doesn’t offer a grade. I do believe we are held accountable for what we learn in “class” and how we apply it.

I do hope I get a good “grade”. I have faith I will be okay. MLA be damned.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

There's never nothing going on

Ever been on a break? Whether selected or imposed, I have been on a few. From events over the past year to ones recently I have found that perceptively things have been quiet–real quiet. In my life I find when I am inspired, I will take a moment to digest and reflect and then put pen to paper (or finger to plastic) and counsel myself with what I have gained. Not so much lately. It seemed like life took an intermission.

I would frequently log onto my blog page, wait for some inspiration, shake my head and say “nah”, and move on to other meaningless online diversions. It lies somewhere between boredom and having nothing worthwhile to say. Worse yet, that no one listens or no one cares.

It also became interesting–frightening at times that it seemed the messages stopped. I would find I would squint with furrowed brow trying to connect–it was like I had an old radio and was listening to the static waiting for a broken hello. Nothing.

Inspiration seemed to go “off the air”. Okay, maybe that is harsh–but at least like television in summer when all you had to watch were re-runs.

Don’t get me wrong. Just because the universe, nature, and God above don’t appear before me in a dog and pony show, I do not become ungrateful. Things just slowed down–like a long drive on cruise control.

Therein lies the lesson.

There is never nothing going on.

I find for me at times I must release the pedal and set my speed on cruise to get a reminder of the things that surround me continually. It is by slowing down that I get another chance to find the glory in the mundane.

By taking some of the same routes at different speeds–without the pressure of waiting for the “golden ah-ha’s”, I find that some of these lie within my own backyard. It is also these little awakenings that connect the big ones. The big ones simply remind us to remember the small ones.

I just returned from a bike ride at dusk with my son. We took a different route and ended up at the coffee shop where I secured a fresh pound of fresh ground. Nothing like the aroma of your favorite blend. I inhaled deeply and smiled.

The cool breeze from nature and gentle humming from my son accompanied me as we took the long way home. The long way via the counter of our favorite frozen custard shop. We passed my daughter’s friends on their bikes. Well-mannered hellos were exchanged. Dusk, crickets, and the breeze in the trees. Your neighborhood changes dramatically at various times of the day. Each more glorious than the next.

“Did you have fun buddy?” I asked as we pulled into the garage to park our bikes.

An enthusiastic, “Yeah!!” was the reply.

There’s never nothing going on. Maybe I just need to set my speed on cruise control–or maybe hop on my bike. Perhaps it’s all God’s way of saying slow down and smell the coffee.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Hindsight

I realize the effort to defend my ego is a lot bigger than the effort to simply keep quiet. I also find that in either case, I can be equally incorrect.

I have found that when in my younger years, if someone said, “Here, try this”–and it was not a yummy treat, it probably was not in my best interest.

Every challenge always pays off– Always. You just have to realize that in hindsight.

The things I thought made me feel cool then, often make me feel silly now.

I would have never gotten that perm if I could have seen my senior picture beforehand. (See previous.)

Some of your best friendships do not end–they go into hibernation.

Whatever people feel they need to take drugs for can be achieved without them.

The best title I have ever held is “Daddy.” (And that it took my wife to achieve this title–and still does.)

Upon reflection, when we say we were “born this way”– that should only pertain to the good stuff. The rest we learned.

Being a loser is someone else’s opinion that I do not have to agree with.

I can understand and be compassionate to something without agreeing with it.

Kids and golf can be the most fun you will ever have being pissed off.

God would never forsake me, I would forsake God. (God waited for my return.)

It is okay to love someone and they not love you back–just don’t do it on their property after dark.

I should have listened more to what I didn’t want to listen to.

I also should have kept my mouth shut a lot more.

Most of the worst stuff I feared I created. (Often it would never arrive.)

I see that most of the stuff that I spent most of my time trying to get; I no longer have, and no longer need.

I also see that most of what I ever needed was always there, I was too busy looking in the wrong places.

Wounds heal.

Love returns. (Not that it ever really goes away.)

You can’t be totally present always looking back in hindsight.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In the blink of an eye

She was only having fun–or so she thought. That is what young people are supposed to do. The fun turned to an obsession beckoning her to feed the hunger that grew within her. Once social and now insatiable she found herself succumbing to its continual call. With promiscuity and sacrifice of morals and self-esteem she found that she now looked at the self she once knew–diminishing in size as she peered upon herself in the rear-view. She can’t be pregnant, she thought. The little plastic stick told her otherwise. She opted not to be a mother. The guilt and the grief changed her–transformed her. She would have been alone anyhow. She is now alone–and hates herself as she grieves the death of the promise she once held as well as her unborn child. It happened in the blink of an eye.


He loved her. She loved him. They started a family. Then their family grew. He dedicated himself to the vision. Her vision shifted into a wandering eye. He was told over breakfast. Feeling like the old car left behind on the lot watching the once proud owner in a new model, he sat in shock. It was not just the idea of going from an “us” to a “me”, it was that it seemed easy for her. He wondered what he must have become to make her who she had become. He became angry. He felt guilty. He felt lonely. No one is supposed to change the script while you sit and watch the movie. It just isn’t fair. From playing in the yard with the kids to sitting in the yard waiting for their arrival for your turn for a paltry couple of hours, it all seemed like a cruel joke, and he was the punch line. It happened in the blink of an eye.


She held his hand through it all–the illness both acquired and self-imposed. She was the rock. Once we get through this, everything will be the way it was supposed to be. We will try again for another child. Maybe the first time was God’s way of saying, “not now.” He had trouble finding himself, but ironically his erratic behavior was a constant reminder he was always right there–a challenge to himself, and more so a challenge of her love. But she did love him. The vow I took said “for better or worse, and sickness and in health.” This was the worse, and this was the sickness. She went to the appointments. She held his hand. She nurtures him on the mend. Then one day he left her. He took his pain, and left enough behind for her. He just didn’t leave an answer to the question, “why?” It happened in the blink of an eye.

He had it all. Good pay, promise of a future, all the perks of one who entered into the family business. That is how he met his wife. Yet another perk. He saw the world. He appeared before the masses to small levels of acclaim. He desired more. He mistook the demon of narcissism as its friendly counterpart competition. The demon invited entitlement. The demon invited apathy. The demon invited fear. And they invited addiction. Gone was the career. Gone were the perks. Gone was the business. Gone was the sense of self-worth. Some of the family also went by the way of the perks and the business. It seems a long way from the top to the bottom. However you can indeed find the trip from summit to the valley below can happen in the blink of an eye.
In the blink of an eye.

It is these “blinks”, both the good and the bad that are like the flickering frames in a movie. These individual moments that string together to provide us with the script that becomes our life. I have found that these types of episodes are the catalysts for transformation. As the eye closes to bring an end to one image, so must it open to start a new one. The process will repeat.

The injustice appears in the form of someone or something changing or stopping the story we were so enjoying. After loss or in grieving we reflect on the way things should have been, could have been, or would have been. How dare someone or something change the channel in the middle of our favorite movie? But this is also where our recovery will begin.

As the negative story can shift in the blink of an eye, so can our healing. The previous is tangible proof that all things can change rapidly. Our insurmountable odds become manageable as fast as they eroded beneath our feet. It is through our ability to “allow” these things to occur where the transformation shifts from our loss to the blessings of what we had when we had them. We also now have space in our empty hearts and empty hands for what is yet to come. Patience is all one needs.

As when we find ourselves in the middle of a movie, and our favorite character is killed, or turns evil, or the plot twists away from our comfort levels, often we do not find that we simply curse, stand, and leave the theatre. We may curse perhaps, but we remain. We stay fixed on what is unfolding, and allow it to continue. This is not to say we endorse it or subscribe to it–but we allow it none-the less. This is because we have faith that the reasons will be revealed. We will find out in time, the lesson behind the chaos. The payoff eventually comes.

Life is a lot like this. Plot twists abound. Our favorite components are removed, replaced, or transmuted into something we do not understand. By not shouldering the burden of retribution and justice seeking, I am able to realize that often there are forces more qualified than myself at work, and justice is indeed served, and the payoff presented to the worthy. I have found also that everything, and I do mean everything, does eventually provide for me the payoff of justice, wisdom, patience, or the ability to spare others a similar pain.

As personal challenges can truly occur in the blink of an eye, so can healing. Sometimes through this interruption of our movie–allowance and patience is simply God’s way of saying, “sit down, shut up, and eat your popcorn.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

(These scenarios are to prove a point and do not reflect anyone's personal story. Well maybe one.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It is during the "right now's"...

It is during the “right now’s” that I find my greatest gifts. Upon this realization, I lament at the many, many “right now’s” I have let slip through my fingertips. These “right now’s” are moments of gratitude–moments where I realize I am blessed beyond my current deserving–fleeting moments to be cherished.

I find the benevolent, vivid, and enduring gifts available to me when I release yesterday and stop reaching for tomorrow. It is in this state of presence my breath is taken away from me. I am also grateful to realize that it is simply my receptiveness and continual desire for awareness of these “right now’s” that will change my life from having them solely punctuate my life, to harmoniously string them together like notes in one continual glorious song.

It was during a “right now” that I was able to glance to my right. My convertible top was down and the sun was shining. I watched my beautiful daughter fumble to place the Shasta daisy I picked for her behind her ear as the wind tousled her hair with a lively dance. It was “right now” I realized she was no longer my baby. It was “right now” I realized she will always be my baby. Her silhouette is still as angelic as when I held her as an infant.

It was during a “right now” I released my urgency to be anywhere in particular. I decided to stroll into one of those shops–you know the ones you always pass by and wonder what the heck they sell and how they stay in business. It was in this store that had thousands of my life’s artifacts. Not mine personally, but antique and old objects from a time I have long since left in my rear-view mirror. I saw the cup I drank out of when I was a child. The cup that held jelly in our fridge before it was housed in our cupboard. I saw the tacky clock from above our couch. I stood in my childhood kitchen again. For a moment I stood in my childhood again.

It was during a “right now” I remembered what it was like to feel grass under a blanket. It was during a “right now” I realized a picnic with a loved one takes only minutes to plan, and even less time to get somewhere suitable. Something about sitting next to your food on a blanket and trying to keep ants out of it rivals the finest dining. A mosaic of dancing sunbeams that struggle to find you through the branches is the only ambience one needs. You are never too old to wipe watermelon juice off your chin.

It was during a “right now” that I realized that there is something divine about a group of close friends breaking bread together. I find for myself that there is something simply wonderful about sharing a meal. I also enjoy noticing that my wife still laughs at my jokes. I appreciate it is often the dynamic of the group setting that lifts the veil of the mundane and adds spark and levity to the conversation. I also enjoy confirming how much we are all really alike in many ways. We still love each other despite our differences.

It was during a “right now” that I was joined by a friend on my backyard swing. It was my friend who called my attention to the cicada’s song which seems an essential part of summer. She also shared her love of the sound of lawn sprinklers. I listened. I agree. There is nothing like a swing and a friend to unfurl the sail of a “right now” moment.

It was during a “right now” that I shared the moon with my daughter. She shared a star with me. Then she shared another. I found that I am still awestruck by the glory of the canopy of the heaven that is above me. I am still awestruck by the “right now’s” available to me.

The “right now’s” I shared are simply my yesterday–a regular, yet extraordinary day. Placed in the context of an unappreciative eye and hollow heart, these moments could have slipped by unnoticed. It is my strong conviction that the quality of our life is weighted heavily by the emphasis on the attention we give to our “right now’s.”

Right now I leave you and I to go explore our own “right now’s.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I've come to realize...

In recent times I have endured some very trying issues. Life has taught me much. I have found out a lot about myself, others, and the world I live in. These circumstances have provided me with random insights. My eyes have been opened. These are things I have come to realize. Maybe you will agree, maybe not. I realize that is okay.

• There is exhilaration in following your passion. There is also loneliness.

• I am often given opinions by people who could stand to follow their own advice.

• We must give up hope of a better yesterday.

• People yell a lot at things that do not hear them.

• Everyone is a dimmer switch away from being a “10”.

• I always seem to get exactly what I need, even if what I need is not of my own construct.

• No matter how hard I try to the contrary, someone will think I am an asshole.

• Money does not buy happiness, but it does put gas in the tank.

• I realize I am much more powerful in ways I never knew.

• I realize I am much weaker in ways I never knew.

• I don’t like when the answer to my prayers is “no”.

• Writing allows me to travel the world and live forever.

• The people who often push my buttons are the only ones who know me well enough to do so.

• I am frustrated that they can make smoke free cigarettes, but there is no cholesterol free bacon.

• I always get caught when I dance like no one is watching.

• Some people should be ashamed of the things they do in the name of God.

• Everybody is addicted to something.

• Many people live in fear that others will make them feel “different.”

• The truth is we are all so much alike.

• Beauty is only skin deep. Fat is just deep skin.

• I spend a lot of time talking myself back into liking myself again.

• When you have kids, your backseat will smell funny.

• People in the small dilapidated houses are just as happy as the people in the fancy homes.

• God doesn’t care where you sit when you talk to Him.

• Sometimes we have to love people from a distance.

• Being alone and being lonely are two different things.

• Your past circumstances have nothing to do with your present identity.

• Our net-worth has nothing to do with our self-worth.

• Captain Crunch does cut the roof of your mouth so quit saying it doesn’t.

• Naked people shouldn’t crouch.

• You can’t make a “gratitude list.” You should hope you are on gratitude’s list–it finds you.

• Wanna feel like royalty? Make your kids homemade ice cream.

• People do not do enough of the stuff that made them happy as children.

• If our enemies had puppy breath we’d all get along better.

• I hope retirement doesn’t feel like unemployment.

• True friends will allow someone to call them after not speaking for years and ask a favor.

• It is okay to cry in your car–just dry up before the red lights.

• I wish I were rich enough to be a philanthropist, so I could give it all away.

• I wish I knew a philanthropist right now.

• The greatest things I learned were not in a school.

• The closest I have felt to God was not in a church.

• The richest I have ever felt was when I had no money.

• I am thankful. I am grateful. I am blessed.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, June 17, 2011

If it bleeds it leads

From my days in television (on the absolute periphery of the line up) I would hear this phrase come up from time-to-time. It refers to the hierarchy of a news program line-up. This means that no matter the content scheduled for air, if even at the last minute, a story that has “blood” (or harm, or an accident, or murder) it is bumped to kick off the program as the “attention grabber.” It captures the interest of the viewing public.

The reason I have time to write is I decided to excuse myself from the morning news show to come to my “fortress of solitude.” After watching a handful of minutes that highlighted adultery of a public official, a mother who murdered her child, environmental disaster, financial disaster, overthrown governments, airstrikes from NATO, as I waited for the piece on helping out a charity that needed it, I became deflated and depleted.

Now I do not sit back and look at the world through dream catchers in a room filled with incense and wind chimes. I get the world I live in. I respect and am aware of the current situation of our planet. I do see that it can be likened to someone grabbing the loose string of yarn on a sweater and then running away as fast as they can to see it unravel exposing your naked self. We need to get out the knitting needles.

I just found myself asking: “What is so compelling?” I guess I want to know how many updates we need on the same stories. How much attention do we donate to the same drudgery and debauchery? Why do we find ways to tell the same story from a hundred viewpoints? Why do we need to interview the next door neighbor’s cat to find their viewpoint on the neighborhood crime?

I just wonder where we transitioned into baby birds with mouths agape waiting for the next regurgitated serving of drivel. I am totally fine with being informed. I am also okay with an update on a situation. I just find it hard that recently my cell phone flashed an update of how a father crushed his newborn with a cinder block. I wish we had ways to alter the flow of what gets in.

*Exhale* (Puts away soap box.)

I guess it is just another case of “feed the dog what the dog wants to eat.” We are all to blame collectively, as well as we are all praise-worthy of the efforts we make to do our part in the clean-up. I guess at times it would just be nice to wake up and hear the news anchors say, “It’s all good, everything’s cool, go back to bed for an hour!”

Side Note! - This song made famous back-in-the-proverbial-day by Anne Murray kind of says it all. It is called "A Little Good News" by Anne Murray here sung in tandem with the Indigo Girls. I encourage you to give it a listen paying attention to the lyrics. Enjoy!

Monday, May 30, 2011


We have all heard the haunting song "Taps". It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually creates tears in our eyes. But do you know the story behind the song?

If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about its humble beginnings. Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when the Union Army Captain Robert Elicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.

During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay in the middle of the battlefield. Without knowing if he was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.

The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his son. The boy had been studying music in the south when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was tunred down since the soldier was Confederate. But out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. The wish was granted. The haunting melody we now know as "Taps", used at military funerals, was born.

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lakes
From the hills
From the sky.
All is well,
Safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky,
Gleaming bright
From afar,
Drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
Neath the sky.
As we go,
This we know.
God is nigh.

I too have felt the chills while listening to "Taps" but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn't even know there was more than one verse. I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't know if you had either, so I thought I'd pass it along.

* This was in our church bulletin this past Sunday. (Prepared by Pastor Dr. Art Haimerl) I hope you enjoyed it as much as I.


Sunday, May 22, 2011


A bit of fortune had found me as I arrived at my destination early. I was testing the boundaries of quantum physics at attempting to be at many places at one time. I sir or madam, am a sports parent.

After performing a perfect drop at a baseball game, then dashing to get my other to a soccer game to then meet up someplace else a few moments later, I unfolded my weathered nylon chair and assumed my position at the sidelines of the soccer field.

My daughter trotted off to meet her teammates off to the side as the other team was still engaged in their own game currently on the field. I was not aware that the typical protocol of conduct was to stand back and wait your turn to unfold your foldable chair along the sideline until the prior team has departed or at least until the game was concluded. I mean I was ealry for crying out loud. That should allow for something. I sat oblivious in the sunshine.

I did not know who was playing. I knew no one nor the team names, rankings, or favorites. I simply watched. Both teams were impressive for the young men were of approximate middle school age and played like champs. Since I was not attached to either team, I enjoyed every moment. I also noticed that my heart rate was stable as I simply enjoyed what I was in the presence of. I couldn’t label any play as “good or bad” as I was rooting for no one in particular. To me it was “X” versus “Y”.

I then pondered how I may be able to learn from this. I like my lessons obscure. I wondered how life may be a bit more tolerable if we were not so attached to a “side”, or an opinion, or an identity. I wondered, “Could I live without the 'versus' in my life?” I also wondered how I may be able to spend more time simply observing–living without attachment to the “score” that I may gain greater serenity and perhaps lowered stress and blood pressure–a tall order indeed.

I recalled then a glorious day from my past. I asked my then eighty three year-old grandmother to go play golf. My grandfather had passed away and she lived alone alongside a small town golf course. He was a one-time club champion that had a love-affair with the sport–she, a petite woman of small stature a competent golfer as well.

I remembered as his cancer was taking the final shreds of his memory; he was peering out his living room picture window that overlooked the town golf course. He stated longingly, “I wish I could get back out and play a round of...” He forgot what it was called. Cancer turned out the lights on the last of his favorite memories. The game was called “golf” dear sir.

My grandmother and I met on a sunny morning in the cart that belonged to my grandfather. My octogenarian grandmother, I called her Grandmama, slowly asserted her way to the tee. She methodically went through the motions like a champ preparing her shot. With smooth yet feeble grace she raised the club until it rested back on her shoulder. She yanked it down using her shoulder as a lever until the club connected with the ball propelling it a straight and smooth hundred yards or so. I tried to impress her and shanked it about two hundred yards into the woods off to the right. I took a drop by hers.

I offered that we tear up the score card and just chat. I learned she was an artist. I heard of her young life. We shared precious company. I listened as she spoke of Granddaddy. I miss him. I heard things that I may not have heard as well if I were so worried about the score–about how I would turn out at the end of the game. I miss her also. She passed as the nasty of nasties got her too. She left me with the gift of a memory I won’t soon forget.

As my stroll down memory lane was disturbed by the screams, taunts, and bellers from the parents flanking me yelling at or for one of the players in front of me, I became thankful for another moment I could live without the score card. I was reminded of the importance of the practice of being the observer.

By allowing and observing I find I am lesser of a victim of random circumstances as I once thought I was. People do not pull out in front of me in traffic to beat me to where I am going. I am not living without some things that I desire because others “beat” me to it. They were more adept, and it was simply not my turn yet. I am not always in the Super Bowl with me versus them. It is okay to watch without labels and opinions.

I love the thrill of a good competition as much as the next guy. I truly do. But I realize that I must try to remain aware of when there is no match, game, or competition. I must remain aware when it is okay to simply tear up the score card and try to enjoy the sport. I must try to seek out times to relax in a place where I can root for all the players playing. I will try to treat more people like my son’s baseball coach and look for the ways I can express “great job”, “nice play”, “good catch”, even when the out puts someone on the bench.

So if you see a guy sitting on the sidelines smiling, nodding in approval, or cheering on your efforts, and you have no clue at all who that could be, maybe it will be me. I could care less about your score. Just know that in the heart of competition though, it may not occur in the fall at the sideline of a Michigan and Ohio State Game. When it comes to that, it is Buckeyes all the way!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Perfectly Imperfect

Trying to be perfect is exhausting. Searching for perfection is exhausting. It is like swimming against an infinite current with no shore in sight. What leads people to feel the need to become “perfect”? Is it to feel better than? Is it to feel separate from? Is it to feel righteously enlightened to have or know that which others do not? I’m done swimming.
I have found through my defects and challenges that I find places for expansion. For growth. Perfect would be boring. I have a feeling it would be lonely. In my own reflection I assume that the desire for improvement would wane and then I would ripen on the vine eventually falling to the ground to rot and be forgotten.
In searching for perfection I must look beyond where I am. In casting my gaze outward, looking for that which is not here I miss the beauty that lies within the “almost-but-not-quiteness” that connects me to the present. It is the realization of a need to become aware of my shortcomings that keeps me mindful of my bond to others and that I share their space instead of a belief that I hover above them.
I have found that spirituality is not an evolutionary process of becoming more “divine” in my nature. To me it is a realization of what I am and that there is more to be unveiled. This perpetual revealing is where I find my desire for cultivation lies. It is a profound respect for my flaws and defects that become the catalyst for growth through an unending quest for understanding–an understanding that there is beauty in the flawed. There is character in the splintered. There is grace in the disheveled.
The Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi poetically represents this. It acknowledges that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. It is through this somewhat melancholy realization that a spiritual journey begins. As the perfect is elusive, the goal of improvement is engaged. The spiritual is finding the beauty in the unfinished points of interest along the way. The lessons lie in the souvenirs we obtain through life experiences–the skinned knees often relinquishing more value than the slam-dunks.
If beauty, love or spiritual connection were perfect, there would be one uniform standard. Some would have it, others would not. But as we see in beauty, love, and spirit, we can connect on a variety of levels that can only be denoted of significant value by those experiencing it. Those on the sidelines of these experiences must gain a wisdom that imperfection can at times be simply relevant to our own narrow scope of perspective, and that we may need to expand that perspective to draw closer to our own divine center.
I no longer want to be perfect. It would make me lazy. Then would I still be perfect? It makes my head hurt. I do know that I do seek a spiritual improvement on being led to a greater appreciation for the imperfection that makes life abundant with possibility, expansion, and connection. I also enjoy finding that I am not alone. We all have our nicks, dings, and dents. It is this weathering and antiquing of my soul that I feel gives me character. My trips and stumbles, falls and recoveries are simply stamps in my life’s passport. I have stories to tell.

I am Wabi-sabi. I am perfectly imperfect.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love is a Verb

Verb – A word that describes an action, occurence, or state-of-being.

I am a listener. Always have been. In my professional life I spent many, many years perched alongside many who would pour out their souls in the confident embrace that only a hairdresser could provide. I have heard everything from bang trims, to back pain–from menstrual cramps to murder.

I also found that my services were sometimes a by-product of the time spent with me. People crave connection. People want to be heard, they want an audience, and they want to feel valued if even only for a brief moment. I found that people sought and desired compassion. They want love.

Many people would sit in front of me seeking advice or thumbing through books looking for new “bait” to put upon the proverbial hook. They sought a magnetism that would attract the attention and affection of others. They would also seek to elevate how they perceived themselves.

This lonely quest for love is perpetuated by feelings of powerlessness. We are fooled to believe that this emotion, ethereal and elusive is beyond our grasp. I found that I was saddened by noticing the proliferation of those feeling separate–a state of bottomless wanting hoping that the void would become occupied with tangible evidence that one is “worthy” to have this “butterfly” land upon the shoulders of the deserving.

I too spent many hours feeling defeated, deprived, and depleted in my search for this state, this “rainbow” that was colorful and brilliant, yet no matter how fast I closed in on it, the faster it seemed to move away. This love not only in an affectionate sense from a mate, but from friends, family, and others–myself.
I felt that if others did not want me, I may be fractured. Maybe unable to contain the nourishing nectar love was able to provide to only the secure. How long would I have to wait? What must I do? Is there a manual? Is there criteria? Does love do a background check?

I would “numb” myself and saw others do the same, wallowing in a pool of shame watching my self-worth drop like stocks in a recession. I no longer took stock in myself. I grasped at love like a child trying to catch bubbles blown in a gust of wind. In my attempt to clutch them, they burst. It burst. I burst.

I turned to contempt. To loathing. To judgment. It was your fault as much as it was mine. I used to be good enough, or so I thought. If I suck, then you suck too!

I wanted the feeling of the warm and fuzzy, the connected and cozy, and it required an ingredient I could not get which another had to provide. I thought if I had that ingredient I could feel a certain way. Then and only then would all be well. I felt I had the lock but someone else had the key.

Then it dawned on me–Love is not an emotion as much as it is a verb. A shift in my perception, created a shift in my reality!

The seeds of love are steeped in action that I can activate upon my very choosing. When thinking of loving someone, I thought, “HOW do I love someone?”

Click to see video
 I show compassion to them. I find humor, and brilliance in who they are. I am accepting of them for their uniqueness. I offer them forgiveness, a lot of forgiveness. I desire to have them at my side. I try to connect with them on an intellectual level to better understand their world so I can seamlessly merge it with my own. I want to grow from them. I am myself with them. I do not try to control them unless I am attempting to try to elevate them. These are all actions.

I found that by engaging in the activities of love, I was planting that which I could harvest later. The more nurturing and pure the intention behind the gestures, the greater the harvest!

I also found to receive love; we must be “lovable.” Creating love through my loving actions created a source of love others gravitated towards. I no longer felt that I had to change the bait on the hook trying to "snare" someone or something with a continually changing facade. Love became gravitational and sought me out. I found myself abundantly surrounded by that which I always try to demand from others.

In practicing these loving gestures, I also found that I never had to manipulate my strategies. Since all people, even including the ones in a given relationship send, receive, and interpret love as an emotion differently, I found the actions were similar which created the desired emotional states personally tailored to the experience.

In showing acceptance, appreciation, tolerance, absence of judgment, support, nurturing, affection, and accommodation, I find most experience their desired interpretation of love. This was so much simpler than trying to go through a huge set of keys trying to see which one opened the vault.

The beauty of all this came to me when I realized I could start with myself. I could express these actions to myself! I could become my own catalyst of love and start to develop it in myself and my space. I found that it was almost like being able to print money but the value of the minted material I found was much more valuable and brilliant.

I now find an absence of the destructive thoughts and behaviors that once burdened me. These thoughts based upon a low self-worth due to the absence of something I felt I was not worthy of, or was tired of having pass me by. I no longer feel separate, ashamed, hollow, or lesser-than.

I encourage people to consider HOW they love, and HOW they like to be loved, and then do those things. I guarantee you; the emotions that once shifted in our lives like the weather seem to provide much more sunshine, and the storms become that much more bearable.

Take action! Something will occur! And we will receive the state-of being!