Friday, March 9, 2018

Causing pain just by being alive

I was told one day by a student that just being alive causes others pain. I said that is an interesting statement, would you like to give me an essay about that? You know what? She did. and here it is:

Do We Cause Each Other Pain by Being Alive?
                Have you ever pondered upon the idea that we hurt ourselves and the people around us by being alive? I’m sure we all do at some point in our lives. No matter how much we try not to hurt each other, someone always ends up hurt! Our words hurt each other and half the time we never notice it until it’s too late, we’re all very judgmental whether we like it or not, and we all cause ourselves pain by being self-conscious.
               I’m sure we’re all happy there were different ways created to communicate with each other. Of course, though, it can also be a curse. With only a few words, we can ruin a person’s day. Half the time we never realize what we’re doing, and we may end up saying something someone doesn’t like. I’m sure we’ve all done this at least once in our lives. Blah blah blah It’s 10:06 PM and I should be sleeping.
                Even if you don’t want to tell that person what you think, you probably run off to your friends and tell them all about what you think of them. You could even be judgmental in your head. You probably experience both things almost every day… unless you have no friends… like some people (ehem. . . you). I was honestly motivated to do this an hour ago, but I sort of just don’t really feel as motivated anymore. I’m probably going to be up until like 3 AM again. I have sleeping issues. Help.
               Not only are we hurting each other, but we’re hurting ourselves. In our heads, we probably bully ourselves like every day. Worst thing is, we all know our weakest spots and we can upset ourselves so easily. I’m going to keep getting off topic but its like 10:22, so… you know. I was like really serious about this but I have more work to finish for you tonight so I need to hurry up and finish this and stufffff lol.
                In conclusion, we all make ourselves and others around us sad. I’m not gonna do any of this right but I really don’t care. We’re all honestly a horrible race but at the same time we’re amazing but like why do we have to hurt each other and stuff, you know??? lol

       I couldn't help but to have a response to this. I couldn't let her have the last word on this without putting out there a little advice. So this is what I said:

What is it about living life that involves so much pain? Just so you know, the word pain is an interesting word as it is used by people. I could be physical as if being hit somewhere on your body. Or, it could also be emotional and psychological like when someone says that they have a broken heart. It is funny though, as far as your brain is concerned, one type is no different than the other. If you think I am lying . . . you can look it up.

   I was recently told that just being alive causes pain. The pain we cause is not just to others but also ourselves. Wow, that is a heavy thing to contemplate. Pain can be unintentional by what we say either flippantly or without empathy. We throw out just a couple of words with no thought at all that will cause devastation to another’s day. We can distribute pain by being too judgmental without looking at it from our own personal view. It is them . . . not us. We walk around on our high horse speaking about another we don’t like except to that very person themselves. Of course when this gets around, it hurts and pains the one you are talking about.

   And then there is the pain we inflict upon ourselves. The self doubt of ourselves can be debilitating. In our minds, our faults are magnified to encompass the entirety of our brains and emotions. It can be suffocating, really, if you think about it too much. Our view of how others view us is one sided – our side – and without direct confirmation that our fears are unfounded, we are left glancing over our shoulders wondering . . .

   Wondering what are they thinking . . .

  Wondering what are they saying . . .

   There are even those who have so much inner pain, so much inner turmoil, that they will physically hurt themselves to see if it can be any worse than what they are feeling inside. And is it? I will never know.

   So is it true? Do we cause pain by just being alive? God, I hope not. I have to believe deep down that it is not true. Don’t let me misguide you. I have lived through much of the pain as described above. No one is safe from it. No one can hide. No one can be sheltered enough. But here I am, older now, and I look back and think – How did I rise above all that? What was it that made me plow through and come out to the other side where such things are now trivial? The short answer is, I have no flipping idea. The long answer is that I got to a point where I had to build a fork in the road of my life and then make a right turn.

  I had to make a conscience effort to change not only the way I treated other people and say different things but to also reinvent my mindset. I had to start looking for the good in people and life and myself. I had to train my brain to see silver linings and not to let little things keep me from enjoying life and enjoying the company of others. I had to look at each individual and really see them as an individual - To see them as a unique person. I had to accept that they are not like me and that is perfectly alright and possibly have the chance of making my life better.

   It was not easy. It took time and internal fortitude. It took an endeavor on the scale of ripping every individual fiber out of a tapestry and rearranging them into a new scene. A new outlook. A new picture of what life should look like and feel like. Was it hard? You bet. Did it take a long time? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Well, how can I answer so that you can understand?

 The question is – are you willing to try it yourself? Are you?



Thursday, March 8, 2018

Love story - part 6 - I said it first

I said it first.
And She did not say it back.

It was another night about three weeks into dating her. I had decided that I was going to only date her and I had let the other one know that I had made my choice. (ummmm. . . . I will have to tell that story another time I think.) Well, we had just gotten back from going out and to tell you the truth, I have no idea where we went or what we did. We had camped out on the couch with me laying with my back against the couch and her leaning up against me. We were watching a movie just enjoying each other's company.

We had up to this point not really been heavy serious and the whole thing had been moving along very slowly. As I was laying there though, I was not paying attention to the movie. I was thinking of how I was feeling. I was thinking of how much I liked to be with her. I liked to talk to her. I looked forward to seeing her everyday. Having her in my arms was like having on a well worn fitted jacket. I was getting in touch with my emotions and I just decided to say out loud how I was feeling.

I said softly from behind her, my lips right beside her ear . . . "I love you."

That moment will forever be etched in my mind. The whole day before that instant is a complete blur and fuzzy. The minute after that statement was said was as crystal clear as if it happened only a minute ago. The moment I proclaimed my love to her, I felt this stiffening in her body and she actually made a small gasping sound right before I felt her hold her breath. She was facing away from me so I couldn't even see her to read an expression. And there we were, my heart racing with fear and adrenaline for my epiphany and her in her tense state of . . . I don't know.

I don't know because she didn't say it back. She didn't say anything. She just froze for a moment. Then she relaxed melting into me a little. But, she said nothing. And she said nothing after that. Or the next morning. Or the next day and I was not going to nag her about it.

I know what you are thinking. It seems that if there is no reciprocating of such a proclamation that would be a bad sign. Honestly though, did I have to hear it back? Would that have cemented my resolve and affirm our destiny together? No. What was it going to do? Make me un-love her?

The truth is, I didn't need to hear it back. I especially did not want to hear it from her if she didn't mean it and feel it. And, by the way, when was it the end of the world when someone did not say it back to you? What kind of bunk is that kind of thinking? All I knew is that being with her was a whole new kind of thing for me. I was far from the whole jumping in head first and proposing but I was starting to emotionally attach myself to her. I was falling for her. It took a couple of weeks but there we were.

Looking back, I bet that was very scary for her. She had a guy that had told her that he loved her. She thought he was "The One." She thought that he would want to marry her. She had years of her life invested in this guy. But, he ended up not wanting her. He ended up cheating with another girl and getting her pregnant. So was it understandable for my now wife to be hesitant in falling in love? Sure it was and I was not going to guilt or shame her into saying or doing anything she didn't want to or truly feel. What kind of relationship can be built on that?

So I was the first to say it. She didn't say it back. And I was okay with that.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

I do not teach with my brain.

I teach with my heart.
I teach with my empathy
I teach with my intuition
I teach with my creativity
I teach with my passion
I teach with my skills
I teach with my art
I teach with my wisdom
I teach with my enthusiasm
I teach with my optimism
I teach with my flexibility
I teach with my humor
I teach with my compassion
I teach with my faults
I teach with my personality

I do not teach with my brain. I do not teach mere facts and knowledge.

I teach my kids.

I teach young souls.

I teach soul to soul, heart to heart.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

My love story - part 5

I knew that I had to have someone to love.

It was weird, I think, that as I fumbled through my teens and high school that I was not so sure that everyone needed the same thing. You know? I had this sense that everyone had a drive to want to be in some relationship. But I was not so sure that they had to have someone to love. Teens. What a confusion in a body. I was not sure that some of the people that I was around even knew what they wanted half the time.

Why was it that people were so eager to hook up when they were not ready? I think it is the stigma of our culture. Isn't it a subconscious drive of media and society that we all are miserable unless we have someone hanging off our arms? I know that in high school it seemed as if there was something wrong with you if you didn't have a girl on your side. How many girls are looked at as if there is something wrong if they are not married by 30 or talking about having kids? I mean, don't all girls want kids? What is wrong if they aren't? Why is it that guys are picked on if they are not talking of their conquests or how they are giving a good hunt? Why is it not the cool thing if we are looking for content instead of a dust jacket? Where does that come from? Why does it seem that a guy has to have a mindset of "one and done?" Well ,that may be a topic of higher discussion.

All that I knew at the time is that I needed someone to love. I had too much empathy and inner emotional fortitude to not share it with a true life companion. Honestly, there were days it seemed to cause me to ache when the yearning was most intense. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach where it radiated into my chest and thoughts. In the back of my mind though, I knew that I could not just pick anyone or just fall for the first girl who batted an eye. I had to be deliberate. I had to take the time and make progress with not only the guidance of my heart but of my mind too. I had to make sure that neither one had the run of the show. I had seen too many times of that failing and ending in shambles.

It was hard going. It was almost unbearable at times. I found her though. I know that sometimes when I told someone who I was seeing and how serious it was that they took it skeptically. Most had never known me to be in the game much and wondered if I truly had any idea if this was really the one. Him? They would think. That guy who never dated? He had never had a girlfriend and now he is engaged? Well that probably won't last long. . . I have seen it a lot. Many times it came from my own family. But why is that so bad? Why is it that a lack of dating and girlfriends is a sign of misgiving and foreshadowing of failure? I know, it is because a lot of people had to fail in order to know themselves. People have to take a hit or two before they really knew what they wanted. People go into a relationship jaded with what they think loving someone is like as they have seen on TV or movies. Then they find out that is not the type of love they want. They find out that those fairy tales are not their fairy tale.

Well, I was different. I watched and soul searched. I was thoughtful and was in touch with my feelings. I understood my wants and needs. I understood the type of person that would complement me and enjoy what I had to offer. I hate the whole "they are the other half of me" crap. My wife is not the other half to me. I was not a half of person. I was not broken or incomplete. I was a full person that needed another to share my life with. I needed a person to show what strength of faith was. I needed another person who understood what it was like to be their own person and to enjoy themselves with another who was just as much of their own person.

In short, I need someone to love and to share my life with. It was not going to be just anyone either. I understood that I would spend time looking. I understood that it could have been a long time. . . . maybe never. One thing was certain, I was not going to waste my time going through one girl after another just to fill a "void" that was not there. I was not looking for someone to start living life when I had a life going already. I am sure I would have had a good life without if that was in my cards. That was for other people that didn't understand. I knew that I had to be deliberate and patient. I had to stand my ground and not give in to stigma.

So, here I am about 20 yrs later. I have no regrets and not much to offer others with advice on how to navigate relationships. I have only had one true run. I have no experience to help others. I only really know how to love her. I only know how to be with her. I only looked for one and when I founder her, that was when I knew I could stopped looking and start my journey with her.

I just know that I needed someone to love and I am lucky beyond what I deserve to have found her.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The octopus story

            This is a life story that is a tried and true for my classes. Boy is it well liked. The kids have affectionately called it The Octopus Story. What the point I try to get to is that kids say the darndest things. I also want the kids to know that there should be no shame in calling anything by its proper name. This one is truly a favorite of my students.

            You know how kids when they just first start to talk are hard to understand? You know what I am talking about. You look at the mother because for some reason, the mom is always the universal translator for their own child. Yeah, the mom…. Not the dad. Anyway. This was not true with my son. He articulated words practically perfect since he first started to speak. In fact, I remember his first two syllable word - ‘a-pol.’

            It is funny because I remember giving my son a bath and saying to him what the parts are that we were washing. I would say we are washing the arms and ears and legs and penis…..then I heard my wife yell from the living room ----“Don’t tell him that!” Well, we had a bit of a disagreement as to what to call “it.” I have to say I won. We were calling “it” by its proper name.

            So, One day I was out shopping with my wife and son when he was about two and a half years old or so. My wife was looking at the clothes and you know I love my wife dearly, but man can she spend some time looking at clothes! No, really. That girl and wear you out in a store! I have a problem though - My wife is 5 foot, you see, and when she darts into the racks. . .well, I can’t see her. So, usually I just set up by a rack on the isle and use it as a leaning post. Then I just wait until she pops out down the line and I move to that spot and wait until she pops out for air again. Of course this gives me lots of time to contemplate life and such.

            This day I was standing in the aisle close to a sale rack. A woman cam up to the rack I was leaning against to look at what tidbits were on sale. I thought – if you think I am moving then you got another thing coming. I was watching my son in his stroller. He was really into looking at this stuffed Octopus we had handed him. You know the kind, it was one of those buy this for five bucks and we will donate ninety nine cents to some charity type of thing. They had a whole rack of them as we entered the store. They had a crab and shark and whale and two or three others. They had those cute embroidered inspirational words on them like ‘faith’ and ‘strength’ or something like that. Well when we walked through the door, my son pointed at the rack and practically screamed, “Oct-pus! Oct-Pus! Oct-pus! And…. Of course he got one.

            Well, he was running his hand over this thing and turning it over and over. He was really giving this thing a once over. He turned the octopus over so that the legs were facing up and he was looking at the bottom. He ran his finger over the embroidered word “happiness”.  The material on the bottom was two pieces sewn together with a seam right down the center with the legs spreading out. He ran his finger down the seam once and then paused and did it again. He did this several times. Then, he looked up at me and said,


            “Yes, Son?”

            “Where’s its penis?”

             Yep, that is right. He said penis. Now this was not really a huge surprise to me since that is what we have always called it. That is its name, so we always use the proper names. Why not? It is better than coming up with all the silly stuff like wee wee or digginy or Bob or some such nonsense.

            Anyway, my son was gifted with the ability to pronunciate any word he hears to the point where there is no doubt as to what he said. So, when he asked me this question, there was no doubt what he asked and it was clear as a bell.

            There was one other problem, the woman on the other side of the rack heard him too. And I had no doubt that she was sure of what he said. Out of the peripheral vision, I saw her head snap up and towards me. I did not even have to look to see the expression on her face. Thinking quickly as I could as I felt the heat rising in my face I said back to him,

            “Son, Octopuses don’t like peanuts, Elephants like peanuts.”

            He looked at the stuffed animal contemplating while I just hoped that he heard what I said.

            It seemed like a life time when he finally said, “Octopus don’t like peanuts, Elephants like peanuts.”

            Whew!!! “That’s right son, very good,” I said back as I moved away quickly.

            To this day, I have no doubt that the woman had no questions about what my boy had said. And when I think back, I should have just explained it to him and who cares what that woman would have thought about me as a father. I also think that I gave into being ashamed at being so socially trained to think that the work ‘Penis’ is offensive for some reason. Today, I would probably not bat an eye because I have decided that people can just put their big girl or boy pants on and accept that as parents, we do the best we can. Besides, the word ‘penis’ should not be any more offensive than the word arm or leg or nose……

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My family gives me perspective.

My wife asks me a lot about why I stay with her. I have always given her a boost of confidence and reassured her of how lucky I am to be with her. It is hard though. She struggles with mild depression and body pain that could be rheumatoid(. . . Maybe? ) and other mild but chronic ailments. She looks at what it takes for others to leave their wives and cant believe I am still with her. Is it only me? It seems people will give up on their marriage for the littlest or pettiest things I have to say though, after visiting with my family, she sees that I am not kidding about being lucky.

My family puts things in perspective. Now I am not going to hang my siblings out to dry and criticize them for their marriages, but it sure does show my wife how much different their lives and expectations are compared to us. She talks and sees a lot of things that they do in their relationships that we honestly have no idea why they put up with it.  But, that is theirs and ours is ours.

In the end, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know yourself deeply. In order to have a successful marriage or any type of relationship, you have to know yourself first. Be deliberate with who you are seeking. Let your mind in on choosing as well as your heart.

I see my brother and sisters with how they have landed in their marriages. It seems to work fine with them but it is not for me. I have picked my wife and I am soooooooo happy with her. She frets a lot about me and how I can "put up" with some of the setbacks and uncontrollable stuff we have been going through. All I have to do and visit or even bring up my brother and sisters and all that comes into perspective. Then she understands . . . at least for a little while. . . .why I am so happy with her.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

As for me - I will stand.

     These words should sound familiar:

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

                   -Declaration of Independence

 And while I am at it – how about these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And an unknown verse of a very well known song –

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

                 -The Star Spangled Banner

And again, even more familiar words – 

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
with liberty and justice for all.

How do I feel about the whole kneeling thing? Well, let me just start by looking back at the true intentions of our country. We were founded by men and woman that were escaping the entrapments of a King. They wanted to have more freedom to be the people they wanted to be by the simple rights of being a human being. Those truths were self evident that all men (people) are equal. All people have the right to pursue a life, liberty, and happiness.

     Do people have the right to kneel at the base of our flag. Sure. Do they have the right to forego singing our anthem and pledging allegiance to our flag? Absolutely. Do people have the right to burn the flag in protest? Yes.

     Will I do that? Absolutely not.

     We all know that our country is free and we will sing our patriotism from one shore to another. Of course, there are many that will also take freedom to a point where they challenge any and all to just, by God, try and take away their freedom. Is this just a test of what freedom really is or is it just people feeling their licensed defiant inner child? Looking at the news, it is hard to tell.

What I feel is true though, is kneeling before the flag and anthem in order to protest the hate crimes in our society is a sign that you do not agree with the symbolism of what they represent or what they signify. I mean, when I see the our flag, Old Glory, I see a symbol of what it represents. It is not just some stars and stripes that are randomly sewn together. It is a purposely thought out and deliberate symbol.

Here is all the symbolism of our flag:

Stars are a symbol of the heavens and the goals to which humankind aspires; stripes are symbolic of rays of light from the sun. Thirteen stripes represent the original thirteen colonies that declared independence from England; fifty stars symbolize the current 50 United States. White signifies purity and innocence, red signifies valor and bravery; and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

So. . . if you kneel before the flag, you are protesting the perseverance, valor, and justice of what America was founded on? Am I missing your meaning?

How about the Pledge of Allegiance? Is it the fact that our country is a republic that you are disagree with? Maybe the whole liberty and justice for all is the problem?

How about the anthem? You do not feel that it is important to honor those who “provide for the common defense” of the liberty of this nation?

I just don’t see how kneeling before the anthem and flag or refusing to pledge to the ideals of our country makes any sense. They want to declare the injustice of innocent minorities being killed. They want to bring to our attention the increase in violence. They want to get the quickest response and the most bang for their buck. They chose to turn their backs on the symbols of liberty and justice while wanting to receive that very liberty and justice.

It seems too easy to me. Why not start promoting something that will make a difference in our nation. You know because it is our right and it will actually make a difference. How about voting. How about flooding our representatives with letters and phone calls. Our country is a republic. That means we the people are running this gig. Let’s flex our muscle in our voices and how we treat and teach our people to make our country better. It was what this country was founded on. It is found all throughout our historic documents. You can see them, words like – liberty, freedom, for all, equal, union, and most important – we. Can you imagine what it would be like for all of those athletes and politicians proclaiming to participate in our government? Can you imagine what it would do for our nation to promote knowing the candidates and making educated votes? Can you imagine people raising their voices through votes to their congressmen instead of the reporter or camera?

I will believe and practice being free in a Republic State. It may not get attention on T.V. or newspapers but that is not my goal. I pledge Allegiance to our flag every morning. And, I mean what I say. As for me, I will stand. I will pledge. I will sing. I will vote. I will write letters. I will serve in court. I will teach my kids.