Category Archives: Family

On The Road: Distance Doesn’t Matter

Being on the road makes me realize things I cannot at home. The words of great ones; my wife, my best friends, my mother and father: their advice and ethereal whispers gently whisk through my thoughts. We are connected regardless of the ground that divides us. When I’m alone, there is time to seriously contemplate the meaning of the seeds they have planted in me. The true purpose behind the pressures they’ve placed become obvious with the clarity of distance. I have time to digest, to appreciate, and to love. I see the truths they’ve spoken, and I give those certainties the courtesy they deserve. The road may be lonely, but when considering the definite fact that we’re all connected, it feels like they’ve been by my side all along.

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As I Walk Through Fear

Growing up I was nervous kid, full of anxieties and self-esteem issues. It was difficult growing up. I had a great family and I didn’t want for anything. Still, something inside me was definitely wrong. I was angry, sad, scared and lonely. I can remember a particular day at the babysitter’s after school. It was twenty minutes after the scheduled time my parents were to arrive and I had a panic attack. My blood ran through the roof. My sick and twisted mind at that time told me that my parents had died in a car crash. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I know I cried uncontrollably until my parents finally came. I remember that day because of the very real feeling of fear that had totally dominated my body and mind. It grew steadily and steadily until I was incapacitated. What caused that fear? Was I just an anxious kid? Overly nervous? Crazy? I just couldn’t figure it out and neither could my parents. On my first day of kindergarten I threw up all over the front steps. As I progressed through middle school the fear was kept at bay but only just. I had some really good friends that I could play and hide with. I could forget for awhile. The time did come however when I would be alone and vulnerable and the fear would enter me fully. I would stay up late hiding beneath my covers. Every kid has “afraid of the dark” fear. Mine was absolutely terrifying. I didn’t even dare look out my window lest a demon with red eyes and dark fangs would spring up from under the still and kill me with his stare (true story). I am overweight and have danced with this problem for years. During school, especially middle school, I had to undress in front of other boys in the locker room before practices and what not. I would not do it. I would duck into shadows and blanket my self-consciousness with the firm plastic of the bathroom stalls. I was picked on for it, but the alternative I thought was worse. I played hockey which helped with the weight problem but I wasn’t very good. I skated with guys always wanting to be special. I had a huge ego for such a self-conscious person, kind of ironic.

High school came around and things became easier. I walked onto the varsity ice-hockey team which gained me instant “cool” status. Even though I didn’t play a lot, I still felt like I had finally arrived. I was getting attention, had a gorgeous girlfriend and even picked on a few kids. There were times however when my emotions and fears were on high. My girlfriend cheated on me and I freaked. The old horrors came back. I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t a man if I couldn’t keep a girlfriend, I was fat, blah blah blah. Eventually things smoothed out and I graduated from high school and enrolled at a local private college. In January 2003, my best friend in the world was killed by a drunk driver. He had been walking with another student who died as well. When I found out, my world shattered. If I had been anxious and fearful then, I was downright terrified now. I drank heavily. Too much for such a young body. Booze helped hide the fear. I was never really good at drinking, but I did it all the same. I drank everyday, all day. If I wasn’t an alcoholic then I don’t know what I was. When I stopped the terror was so real that I would not sleep for days, I couldn’t go to work, I could do nothing except drink more. I never drank for pleasure. I drank to escape. I feared death more than anything. I feared letting go. I could easily have killed myself if I had the courage to, but I didn’t. I was broken. I was booze soaked and doomed. I dropped out of school, got a job, lost the job, got another and lost that as well. I was a walking shell of a man.

Sooner or later, I snapped out of it. It had to stop. I ventured into Alcoholics Anonymous via rehab. They spoke of a higher power there. This fascinated me. I not only saw people living without fear or worry, I saw people seemingly happy. At that point I could give a shit if I was happy or not. The fear portion however intrigued me. I’m an agnostic and have no idea of who or what “God” is. The bible speaks of “God” as a man. If that be the truth then I could not claim Him. Already I began to rebuke. If God was a man, then men rule over woman which would be completely against equality and supreme happiness right? Still even more powerful, I was given a choice in my conception of God. Higher Power is used often in the realm of AA. I wish it was used more often elsewhere. As I worked the program of AA, I realized that I would soon confront all of these fears head on. It was terrifying!

Throughout history men and women speak of “walking through fear”. Classic good versus evil stories have that like idea. The famous FDR quote makes it plain and simple: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” When looked at from an outside perspective I realized that fear was irrelevant. I heard a man speak on alcoholism and about fear (he will remain nameless). “I was full of fear. What I had to realize is that that fear wasn’t real. It’s a manifestation of other feelings that create fear. It’s a jump off point to instant catastrophic results. Fear is a reaction. Like cause and effect. Fear is the bi-product of sin.” I soon realized that at that moment, I had ceased to live in fear. I would just try like hell too be good. I am not perfect and I continue to sin, but I now know that the fears I have, is because of my actions. Fear is generated only because of my doings, these are my fears and mine alone.”

I certainly woke up right there. It made complete and utter sense to me. I was the master of my own fears. Fears do not originate. They are created by human action, by my actions. I approached this man who had just broken open my mind and let me into the light. I asked him how to live without fear. He said it was easy. I didn’t believe him.

– Find the people you’ve wronged
– Make it right
– Become spiritually centered
– Place your needs and wants second
– Help your neighbor
– Ask for help

The world today is filled with fear and bitter resentment. Waring ideologies, poverty, politics, jihads, bigotry, oppression etc. I took me a long time to understand fear. Sometimes, I do welcome a healthy dose of fear to let me know that I’m still human and can make mistakes. The things that the man instructed me on are simple and true facts on altruism. The definition of altruism is as states;

– Loving others as oneself.
– Behavior that promotes the survival chances of others at the cost of ones own.
– Self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.

These definitions may seem extreme but definition number three is the most important. Self-sacrificial practices in a “practical use”. Helping the neighbor with their groceries, taking your nephew to school, instead of buying something for yourself that you most likely don’t need, buy something for the needy guy you passed on your way to the dept. store, drop a twenty dollar bill in your needy co-workers coat pocket. These are just some types of self-sacrifice that altruism calls for.

The Beatles said, “All you need is love.” I believe that is true. Love is the opposite of fear and the cure. True, unhampered, unselfish care for others will cure the everyday fear that crushes millions.

“There is a power in love that our world has not discovered yet. Jesus discovered it centuries ago. Mahatma Gandhi of India discovered it a few years ago, but most men and most women never discover it. For they believe in hitting for hitting; they believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; they believe in hating for hating; but Jesus comes to us and says, “This isn’t the way.” And this morning, I think of the fact that our world is in transition now. Our whole world is facing a revolution.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are a lot of great things to take from that quote. We live in a world of take. There is no give. If we reprogram ourselves to give, this world would be less fearful. It’s a no-brainer.

Give yourself a break, fear sucks. Help somebody else out today and I guarantee your stress levels go down. Concentrate harder on helping your family. That’s where real fearlessness lies. It lies in love for another.

by Anonymous

Wake Up: Living With Renewed Purpose

“Sometimes everything needs to be inscribed across the heavens, so you can find the one line already written inside you.” – David Whyte

Wake up. This prison you’re in isn’t real.

The pain that surrounds you has caused you to see in only one dimension, and the time to restart has come. Sometimes, we need to reach the brink of chaos and destruction to realize just how deep we’ve dived down the rabbit hole. Sometimes, we need to experience the cumulative pain our decisions have caused before we can truly believe our time for change has come.

Progress is hard, and at the end of the day, it’s a personal choice.

Look inside your heart, and see – no, feel the man you wish to be. Compare the discrepancies between your ideal and actual self. What is your most limiting characteristic? What are the steps you need to take in order to improve? What are the road blocks that are preventing you from guaranteed success?

Fear will prevent us from striving towards what we want most. Whether it’s too hard, it’s too scary, or it’s too much; fear will always prevent great ideas from becoming great realities. Tackle the traits, one by one (in order of importance), that are condemning you to a mediocre existence.

Don’t expect too much too soon. Time is finite, and so is our energy. So focus. But don’t get burned out. Keep it fresh, and keep it fun. Sustained determination is the only fix for the obstacles you will undoubtedly face on the way to fulfilling your destiny.

Without action, thoughts lay dormant and useless. Write, talk, and craft content. We must create momentum. Remember that actions lead to results. Results lead to belief. And belief – belief has created all there is in this world worth seeing or feeling.

Don’t feel selfish for wanting something more. You were born to be something more.

Color Out of The Lines

A wise man once taught me, color out of the lines.

It is just more fun. Always leave the last cookie. You will never know who will need it more. Your smile is the best accessory. It the most functional, goes with everything, and looks good on everyone. Give it YOUR all…YOUR best. When you think you can not give any more, push yourself to top it off. Whether you’re behind a desk pushing papers, on the field bending blades or lost in a nightmare of a dream, if you are at your best, the world is your oyster. So just shuck it. Live in every moment. Run in the rain. Play in the dirt. Say yes. No one for sure knows what lies around the corner. Choose your own adventure and dive right in. Your past is your past but your future is a blank canvas. Paint it.

by Brenna Fox

8 Tips To Living A Happier Existence

1. Stop believing your bullshit.

All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s bullshit, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14 year olds at heart. We’re all scared. We all have dreams inside of us that we’ve tucked away because somewhere along the line we tacked on those ideas about who we are that buried that essential brilliant, childlike sense of wonder. The more we stick to these scripts about who we are, the longer we live a fraction of the life we could be living. Let it go. Be who you are beneath the bullshit.

2. Be happy now.

Not because The Secret says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture — but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.

3. Look at the stars.

It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily — it helps.

4. Let people in.

Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed — or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half way. Go all in — it’s worth it.

5. Stop with the crazy making.

I got to a friend’s doorstep the other day, slightly breathless and nearly in tears after getting a little lost, physically and existentially. She asked what was wrong and I started to explain and then stopped myself and admitted, “I’m being stupid and have decided to invent lots of problems in my head.” Life is full of obstacles; we don’t need to create extra ones. A great corollary to this one is from The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: Don’t take things personally. Most of the time, other people’s choices and attitudes have absolutely nothing to do with you. Unless you’ve been behaving like a jerk, in which case…

6. Learn to apologize.

Not the ridiculous, self-deprecating apologizing for who you are and for existing that some people seem to do (what’s up with that, anyway?). The ability to sincerely apologize — without ever interjecting the word “but” — is an essential skill for living around other human beings. If you are going to be around other people, eventually you will need to apologize. It’s an important practice.

7. Practice gratitude.

Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. Gratitude is not a first world only virtue. I saw a photo recently, of a girl in abject poverty, surrounded by filth and destruction. Her face was completely lit up with joy and gratitude as she played with a hula hoop she’d been given. Gratitude is what makes what we have enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe; as I mentioned with looking up at the stars, it’s that sense of wonder and humility, contrasted with celebrating our connection to all of life.

8. Be kind.

Kurt Vonnegut said it best (though admittedly, and somewhat ashamedly — I am not a Vonnegut fan): “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'”

Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. I can’t fix the environment or the health care system, and from the looks of it, I may end up burning my dinner.

But I can be kind.

If the biggest thing we do in life is to extend love and kindness to even one other human being, we have changed the world for the better.

That’s a hell of a lot more important than flat abs in my book.

And remember, just keep your head up. All this shit is all in our heads.
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADP65wbBUpc%5D

All credit for this material goes to Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-bartolotta/happiness-tips_b_3956114.html

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things – God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” he said.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you…” he told them.

“So… pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

golfball