Thursday, November 16, 2017

Homesickness at home?

First, I'd like to thank everyone who has added to my discussion on Facebook regarding feeling homesick while one is already "at home." While I didn't get responses from as many people as I was hoping and expecting, the quality of the responses I got was astounding. And I'll take quality over quantity.

This is something I've been thinking a lot about for the past few weeks since I first read someone asking if it is possible to feel homesick when one is at home. This question has really stuck with me, especially because it kind of put to words what I have been feeling for quite a while. We bought our current house in November 2009. So, one would think that after having been here for almost 8 years to the day, I'd feel at home. I don't. I wouldn't say I've never felt at home at all here, and I'm not sure if this feeling has just come up as of late since life as I knew it (and marriage and family life as I knew it) is now gone. Perhaps I have felt this way for a while but am just barely really getting into what the feeling truly is.

As I've been discussing this with friends, it seems that the feeling of being homesick isn't so much a feeling of missing home, per se, but the idea of home. We may love where we live and consider it home, but still feel homesick. Like for me, I miss a of things about home - I miss the friends and relationships I had. I miss the feeling of community. I miss dragging main street in my Jeep. I miss hanging out with my brother. I miss knowing who everyone was. I miss the school dances. I miss the football games. I miss the doing absolutely nothing but having so much fun doing it. I miss taking the four-wheelers out to the sand dunes. Sometimes I miss my life as it was - simple. Growing up in a small town was great! Unfortunately, I didn't appreciate it as much at the time as I do now, looking back. Hindsight truly is 20-20.

I remember walking through the halls of my high school, which, sadly, is no longer standing (where my high school was is now a parking lot, and where the parking lot was is now the new high school; but, I digress), and having big plans for what I was going to do, where I was going to go and what my life was going to be like. I couldn't wait to graduate and make a name for myself. I loved high school, but I knew there was so much more to life outside of high school, outside of Delta, outside of Utah.

Isn't this how we always live out lives? Aren't we always waiting for "the next big thing?" We spend everyday waiting for what is coming next - "I can't wait to graduate high school and move out of this god-forsaken town." "I can't wait to graduate college, and go onto law school so I can make big bucks." "I can't wait to get married." "I can't wait to go watch my son play football." "I can't wait to watch my daughter play basketball." "I cant wait to become the boss so I can do what I want." Or even the more simple things in life - "I can't wait to eat that entire cheesecake." "I can't wait until they release the new Star Wars movie!" "I can't wait until I can leave work so I can go home and take a nap." "I can't wait for this chili to be done so I can have heartburn and ungodly gas for the rest of the day." "I can't wait for UPS to deliver my new toys from Amazon!"

Why do we live our lives in such a way? Or am I the only one who finds myself always waiting for what's next? If we live in the now and enjoy the now more, would we later still get homesick for the good ole days? I love the quote from The Office that says something along the lines of "Why don't we know we are in the good ole days while we are still in them?" Please forgive my horrible attempt at paraphrasing. But the answer that question, I think it is because we don't live in the now. We are always looking back and wondering what might have been or we are looking to the future when things will somehow be better than they are now. Maybe I am the only one guilty of this...

My homesickness seems to be aligned with my depression. However, I believe they are mutually exclusive of one another. I think the latter just helps make the former even worse. My life as I know it now isn't as it was years ago, or even months ago. As I've mentioned on my other posts, with Ariana's ongoing illness, my life isn't quite what it could or should be. This is perhaps why I feel so homesick and lonely even when I am at home with the girl of my dreams, the woman I love, and our beautiful daughter who means everything to me. I long for a life that used to be. Sometimes homesickness is longing for a life that doesn't exist and never has. We want something more based on our idea of what happiness is or has been. Sometimes nostalgia can trigger this. And sometimes nostalgia, while it can be a good thing, can also be detrimental to our happiness. We look back at the happy times we had, the love we've shared with certain people, the great times we had. Then we look at our life now and realize it isn't as good as life used to be. We long to go back to those times when life made sense, when things were easy, and when we didn't have the struggles we have today.

In what you might call my "Quest for Enlightenment," I have spent time trying to reach out to old friends with whom I've lost contact for one reason or another. Some of them I haven't been able to reach. In some cases our friendship or relationship just ended for no reason (or seemingly no reason) and my attempt to reach out is simply for closure. I regret things I've said or didn't say and want to set the record straight. I feel like people from the past deserve to hear what I should've said all those years ago but didn't so they can have the closure we both need. But then I think, maybe I've just selfish. They are happily living their lives with me no longer in it. Is the closure really for them, for us, or just for myself? I feel personally responsible to ask the question, "why are we no longer friends? Did I offend you? Did I do or say something wrong? How come we lost touch?" Really, shouldn't my only question for anyone be "are you happy?"

Why do I feel the need to still be a part of someone's life when they are clearly happy without me in it? I will likely never be able to get back in touch with some of these friends from my past life (high school, college, mission, etc). How do I ever get closure for a friendship or relationship that ended many years ago? Why do I even need closure? Clearly we have all moved on with our lives.

In my post titled "For What it's Worth," I mention my desire to find people and say sorry. I guess I've been saying sorry for a long time. - Sorry for what I said. Sorry for what I didn't say. Sorry for how I made you feel. Sorry for taking our friendship for granted. Sorry for playing with your emotions. Sorry for breaking your heart. Sorry for not being as good a friend to you as you were to me. Sorry I didn't come to your wedding. Sorry I didn't invite you to my wedding. Sorry I never knew the right thing to say. Sorry we lost touch. Sorry I'm not the husband I should. Sorry I gave up on us. Sorry I gave up on everything. Sorry I didn't work harder. Sorry I didn't appreciate the things you did for me. Sorry I was late to your graduation. Sorry I ruined dinner. Sorry I made a scene.

Even as I am finishing up this post, I realize there is no closure herein. I've asked more questions here than I have provided answers. These are questions I ask myself. I think it is perfectly fine to ask ourselves questions, maybe even to answer those questions. But how do we keep all these questions from consuming us? How do we go about our lives with the on-going question of what-if? What if I had scored better on the ACT? What if I had scored better on the GRE, LSAT, etc? What if I hadn't asked her to marry me? What if I hadn't gone on that first date? What if I had so no to that blind date?  What if I hadn't kissed her? What if I had kissed her on the first date? What if I hadn't gone to the college I went to? What if I didn't spend all my money on the new Jeep I just had to have? What if I didn't buckle my seatbelt? What if I hadn't broken the speed limit on I-15 between just SW of Vegas and got a huge ticket? What if I decided to try those drugs? What if I hadn't lost my temper? What if I had lost my temper?

Always asking "what if" isn't healthy. But I think that is a question we all ask a lot. I don't know what the solution is to stop asking what if. But I'm sure that part of it is living in the now. And accepting that everything happens for a reason. Of course, sometimes that reason is you're and idiot and make bad choices. But in the end, I think everything does happen for a reason. We want to know what the reason is though, and we may never know. But I still think it is worth resolving conflicts, reuniting with friends, and finding that closure you seek.

Until next time... thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Chronic illness and the loneliness it creates

This post is one that I have felt needed to be written for a long time. But I have avoided writing it for a number of reasons. I won't go into the why nots, but I will go into the reasons I feel like it needed to be written. To start the "whys," I will explain why I write a blog. There are 2 main reasons I blog, the first is rather selfish - it is therapeutic to me. I can't explain how or why, but it is. The second reason is really 2 fold - 1) it may help others by reading it 2) it may help others to help me. This will likely be a longer post that usual. You've been warned.

It may seem to odd to people that someone who is has been happily married for almost 10 years and has a child could ever feel lonely. Perhaps someone reading this is currently or has gone through a similar situation where they have a chronically, seriously ill spouse. If you are or have been in that situation and never felt lonely, I commend you and ask for your secret. If you are someone who is and has been in that situation and yourself has felt or is feeling lonely, thank you for understanding me! To me, it is a lot like experiencing depression from the inside v. the outside. I never really understood depression myself until I started to experience it.

Trying to explain either of these things to describe what it feels like to be depressed would be like trying to explain the taste of salt to someone. "Is it bitter? Well, not exactly. Is it sweet? Well, no, but it brings out the sweetness in things. Is it sour? Not exactly...." Trying to explain the loneliness, helplessness and overall sadness that accompanies us caregivers for chronically ill spouses and be a bit like that to explain. But I will make me best attempt here.

How does one get off writing about their own struggles with a sick spouse when the spouse is the one who is struggling? How dare I play the pity card when I'm still healthy and strong!?

Those are fair questions. And, to be honest, those are part of the reason I have been hesitant to write this. But to answer them both as best I can:

  1. I feel terrible for even feeling bad for myself when everyday Ariana just feels worse than the last. She'll be better for a day or 2 and then right back to where she began. But, while my struggles aren't the sames as hers, it is still a struggle for me. Try to watch someone you love be sick everyday for 5 years and not let it get to you too.
  2. Not all illness is visible. And sure, generally speaking, I'm pretty healthy. But I wouldn't say I'm strong, at least anymore. I used to think I was a pretty strong person, both physically and emotionally. But I think I've been trying to be strong for too long. Sure, you cross me too many times and I'll still break your legs; but the internal pain and weakness is deep and it's strong.
I have never once claimed to be an easy person to live with; I guarantee I'm not, as any of my college roommates or mission companions can attest to. And I don't doubt that has exacerbated Ariana's condition. I try every day to be better than I was the day before and 9 times out of 10, I fail miserbaly. But I look back and photos of us dating, or our engagement or wedding photos and I remember how happy we were. We aren't that happy anymore. Any young couple understands that marriage is hard, having kids makes it even harder, well then add a chronic illness to the mix. We don't go on dates. We can't make big plans to go anywhere because we never know if she will be feeling up to it (and, long car rides are horrible for her). We can't be very affectionate like old times because she just feel terrible, all the time; she is never comfortable and trying to cuddle or kiss can be excruciating because it hurts to move, it hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, it hurts to lie down.

Ariana has been dealing with my depression for the last few years and I may be starting to understand a little bit of what that feels like for her. I can try to do everything I can to help her, make her comfortable, help he relax. But I can only do so much, and in the end, she still feels like crap. What makes it worse is that it absolutely breaks my heart to see someone who deserves nothing more than to be healthy, strong and happy feel so miserable. This couldn't happen to a sweeter, kinder, better person. I think of myself and wonder why I'm not being punished for all my faults, and my shortcomings, and my failures. Why is she being punished when she is about as faultless a person as I have ever met?

I will never forget coming home a few months ago and having to listen to her crying out in pain that just wouldn't subside. Lexi was hiding out in her room crying and Ariana was lying down in the front room screaming and crying. I called an ambulance because I didn't know what else to do. She just needed to not be in so much pain. This happened again a few days later, luckily, this time I was home. Lexi just kept telling me "I want Grandma!" We are blessed to have one grandma close enough that she was able to come get Lexi while we once again rushed Ariana to the Emergency Room. I've never thought I'd have to hear the person I love more than anything in the world say that she is just done. She didn't care what happened from this point, she just needed to be done- done with the pain, done with the constant nausea, done with having her daughter standing outside the bathroom door just bawling because momma is throwing up again. She was done with it all. There was nothing I could to help her. I had to stay strong for her, and for Lexi. But the 2 worse sounds in the world are: hearing your child crying from getting hurt, and hearing your wife crying from pain that won't stop. And Ariana is a way stronger person than I am. And she has a way higher pain tolerance (what woman doesn't?). 

I know a lot of ridiculously strong people (those who remember my brother know that there wasn't a weak muscle in that guy). But everyone has a breaking point. I don't care who you or whether your strength is physically, mental, emotion, spiritual or whatever - we all at some point crack. Sometimes we crack from trying to be strong for too long. I try to in control of my emotions and pretty level-headed, but turn on a Nicholas Sparks movie and that all goes out the window (which is why, ever since "The Notebook," movies based on Nicholas Sparks' books are no longer allowed in our house).

I am not one to ever give up. I know I can do hard things. I'm not very talented, so there a many things I attempt to do (namely sports) that I should've given up on, but I don't give up. It's just not something I do. I blame this on my dad. And I try my damndest to do everything. But I can't do it all, try as I might. I commend single parents or really anyone who can manage all the demands on their time. I try to work, go to school, serve on non-profit boards, stay involved in the political community, take care of Lexi, keep the house up (laundry, cleaning, etc), be involved in church. How do I do it all? I don't. This just adds to the depression I already feel about everything else. I am trying to balance all these different priorities but really failing at everything single one of them. To quote Michael Scott from The Office, "Somehow, I manage." But I really don't, I'm just squeaking by. And "squeaking by" is not something I am ok with. This is completely unacceptable to me. My grandpa taught me when I was really little that anything worth doing was worth doing well. Well, I feel like everything I am trying to do is worth doing, but I am not doing it well. I can't think of one worthwhile area in my life that I am doing well.

All in all, I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm drained. Quite frankly, I'm tired of trying to be strong. I want someone to tell me "It's ok. Everything will be alright. We'll get through this together. It's okay to feel drained. It's okay to be sad. It's ok to cry." And, above all, I'm lonely. I'm trying to be that person who says all that to Ariana, but I can't keep being that person. I need someone to tell me that. To quote the t.A.T.u song (and one of my favorites), Gomenasai:
When I wanted to cry
I couldn't cause I
Wasn't allowed
I never needed a friend
Like I do now

As I type this, I realize my initial hope was that this would help someone who is in a similar situation, but its now quite clear that probably won't be the case. There is no advice in here about how to deal with this. I don't know what the answer is. But just maybe reading this will help someone realize they aren't alone. Feeling alone is one of the worse things you can feel, in my opinion. Unless, of course you are in the dark woods, then feeling alone feels way better than feeling like someone else is there, somewhere....

My advice to everyone is, call up a long lost friend (or, these days, just send them a text) to say hi and ask how they are doing. I think everyone feels alone sometimes. And with as many people as there are in the world, no one should ever feel alone. And I will tell you, as my friend, call me anytime. And I mean this is all sincerity, I don't care what time it is (I'm usually awake anyway), if you just need someone to listen, I'm here. If you just need a shoulder to cry on, I'm here. If you need a hug, I'm here. If I need to get in my car and come bring you a Dr. Pepper and give you a warm hug, I'll get in my car right now. If you don't have my number, send me a private message and I'll give you my number.

Unfortunately, I am a terrible friend when it comes to just knowing if someone needs something and what they need. But I hope somewhere at there, either reading this or just somewhere out in space, there is someone who needs me. What hurts more than knowing a friendship is over is knowing that your friend never valued the friendship as much as you did.

More on this topic to follow, but I think I'm done for now. Until next time, thanks for reading! I apologize for the language in the meme below. So if that offends you, stop reading here. But this pretty much says it all.

Friday, October 13, 2017

For What It's Worth...

Sometimes I hear a song that just totally gets me. Today it is "For What it's Worth" by one Liam Gallagher. It's not a cover of the Buffalo Springfield song and isn't about Vietnam. It is an apology to his fans, which all you fellow 90s Alternative fans will understand considering the volatile nature of the band Oasis, mostly due to conflict between the Gallagher brothers, Noel and Liam. I'll post the video below, but some words that really hit home with me are:

"In my defense, all my intentions were good. And Heaven owns a place somewhere for the misunderstood. You know I'd give you blood if it'd be enough"
"For what it's worth I'm sorry for the hurt. I'll be the first to say I made my own mistakes."
"Sometimes we lose our way."

I feel like I've lost my way. I'm not the person I was back in Middle School, or High School, or the mission, or college....  Heck, I'm not the person I was a couple years ago. Some of that is for the better, some is for the worse. I've made mistakes. I've hurt people I love. I've pushed people away. I've talked during the best songs. I've offended people. I've weirded people out. While it seems like an unfair assessment to say I had good intentions with everything I've done, it is an even more unfair assessment to say I did things with malice. I was, like everyone else, trying to find my place in this world, I still am. But I can say that overall, deep down inside, my intentions were good. This doesn't make up for my ill doings because I think it's true what they say "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions." But it almost feels like I am trying to fulfill my good intentions of years gone by. 

I'm still not today the man I should be. I continue to make mistakes. I'm not where I'd hoped to be at this stage in my life. But has anyone's life gone the way they planned? I was supposed to be a great dad, I was supposed to be living in a big house with a huge yard and 4 kids running around.. And I was supposed to be a TV Producer. And I was supposed to still be in touch with everyone I used to call my friends. So far, the only thing that has gone the way I planned is having a beautiful wife, and I'm a quarter of the way to the kids number. Other than those, this is not the life I planned. Does that mean I am unhappy with my life? Not necessarily. Things have changed that caused me to rethink my life plans and goals. And, other changes were just thrust upon me. Do I just accept them and say to myself "well, I guess this is what we are doing now?" Or do I embrace the changes? Obviously I should embrace the changes. But I think that is easier said than done. I have a great life and I am thankful for the life I have. That being said, I struggle to be proud of how far I've come, assuming that I haven't truly achieved my potential. After all, my senior year in high school I was voted most likely to be president. Everyone knows those are accurate predictions...

On the point of not being in touch with all of my friends from the past - this makes me sad. The whole reason I got Facebook back in 2006 (yes, I broke the rules by joining Facebook while I was on the mission), to keep in touch with all the great people I met and knew on the mission, realizing it would be a long time before I saw most of them again, if ever. And, in addition, I wanted to get back in touch with old friends and some acquaintances so we could become friends. I am trying ti find them, but I realize I will never find all of them. Some aren't on Facebook, some aren't around anymore, and some have perhaps blocked me. And that makes me sad. I want to find everyone and show them that I have turned out alright. I think I'm a pretty funny guy and am fun to be around. I guess I've been apologizing for a long time. My intentions are good. I don't want to get back in touch with everyone for any reason other than to rekindle the friendship we had and catch up. As I said in my previous post, sometimes you just need a friend. If someone doesn't want to be that friend who is there for me, I hope they'd at least let me be that friend for them. This world can be a lonely place, As adults, it is sometimes hard to be the friends you once were with people, especially if they are of the opposite sex (of which most my friends in high school were),  but as adults, why not be friends? Most of us are all married and have kids of our own, so lets get together and have our kids play while we catch up. Think of how much we have to catch up on if it's been 15 years since we've seen each other!

I saw a great friend of mine today. As I was walking down the hall at my work to go say hi to her, I did the math and realized it had been 12 years since we'd seen each other. So much has happened for both of us in 12 years! But as we talked, it felt like it hadn't been that long, we just had tons to say and had to be reminded about some things that happened. But it was great! We talked for an hour and just talked about everything and nothing. I still felt like we were the great friends we were before I left on the mission and we lost touch.

Now, to the video I promised you. I am not generally a fan of these lyrics videos, but the lyrics to this song are powerful, especially to help explain how I've been feeling. And, this is the only video I could find. Let me know what you think!

Until next time...

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Friends high and low, near and far

This is my first blog entry since February 2016. And what a lot has happened since then! I can't believe it has been that long. I kept meaning to make a new entry but life got the best of me. I had a lot to say and still do. Sometimes I just have a hard time putting it down. And I fear that as I start to type, I will change the subject over and over just like I do when speaking to people. Anyone who grew up with me, especially those of us in Deseret remember me being told by one of my church leaders that I have the attention span of a hummingbird. It's kindof an interesting phenomenon because when I talk, I can sometimes jump from topic to topic, with or without any sort of connection; but yet I did relatively well in school. They actually at one time thought that I may have some form of attention deficit, but when they realized I graduated Valedictorian (in college - I was far from that in high school), they said it isn't very likely I have a hard time paying attention. In further research, they determined that my mind actually bounces around while still processing what I should be paying attention (classroom lectures, etc). So, while it seems I am not paying attention, I actually am (I guess). All that being said, my point is, this post will likely be about everything and nothing. I apologize in advance.

This post didn't start out even close to what I had in mind. I really had more of an intention to make this almost an apology of sorts to everyone I've hurt, offended, or upset along my path to becoming the person I am destined to be. I wish, however, that I knew exactly what I am destined to be. I guess I have been apologizing for a long time- to others, and to myself for not being who I should be. I've been doing a lot of retrospection, not just lately, but for a long time. I look back at who I used to be and while I am not proud of some of the things I used to do and the way I treated some people, I am also not exactly proud of who I am now. It is a hard thing to explain. I feel like I have accomplished some good things, but as I am prone to do, I compare myself to others and beat myself up for not being a better husband, provider or father; not being a more patient boss; not being as good looking or as fit as I used to be; not being a better neighbor; not being a good board member...

I look back at middle school and realize I was a rather strange fellow (everyone has their awkward stage - I hope), I look back at high school and realize I didn't treat people right and didn't put the emphasis on religion as I should have; I look back on college and wish I had lived it up more and got to know more people, I regret not having the typical college experience, even though that was really hard to do while going to school full-time and working full-time; and I look back on the mission and wish I had been a better, hard working missionary and fully embraced the experience and actually learned the language (Russian was hard, but I could've worked harder at it). But through all this, one of the things I regret the most is my relationships with people (or lack thereof). I miss my friends. I miss having friends who I'd spend every spare second with. Some of us were quite inseparable in high school. And while I had best friends, and still consider them my best friends, I wasn't the best friend to a lot of people. It sounds trite, but I truly consider my "Facebook friends" as actual friends. I tend to be quite conservative with whom I add or accept there. LinkedIn is where I add anyone who asks to be added, because the point of that is to build my network. Facebook is to stay in touch with my friends, near and far. Sometimes it almost seems like I put on this persona wherein I hate people. In reality I actually do like people and I consider myself a people person. However, people who really know my know that I don't associate with just anyone, but I feel like once I start to get to know someone, I like to consider us friends. And my love for my friends is strong. I will be always be in their corner. We may not speak all the time or live in the same town, but I consider us friends. Sometimes this may turn people off because I "came on too strong" or we aren't really friends, just pen pals, acquaintances, etc. But I like to consider people my friends.

To those who have loved, and cared about me even if or when I didn't treat them with the same love, respect, and friendship - thank you, and, I'm sorry. You know who you are better than I probably do. Lately, I've really tried to connect with long lost friends whether we were close or merely wrote, exchanged emails or saw each other once a year or so. Perhaps one of my such friends is reading this write now. Maybe you needed to hear (well, read) me say I'm sorry or thank you. Thank you for being there for me even when I wasn't there for you. Sorry if I thought we were friends and we really weren't. Sorry if you thought we were friends but I didn't. I've been saying sorry for a long time but never really saying it. Its easy to consider friends who we'd have bonfires with or cruise main, or go to school dances with as friends. But what about those I had in other towns? I had quite a few of those. Remember the days of the penpal? Then it evolved to email-pal and now Facebook pals. What constitutes a friend? That is different things to different people. But if I run into someone I haven't seen in years, and we now seem to be just "people that we used to know," I hope we can still catch up and become new friends, again.

Some of us may have just lost touch. Some of you may have found we strange, obnoxious, weird or whatever and thus purposely lost touch with me. But I hope someday we can reconnect. I want to continue to be here for you. It's funny how things change when you become an adult, with your own family and responsibilities. Some people are still able to hang out, go golfing, catch a football game, etc. with their friends. I don't know how they do it and I wish they could. But regardless of how little we see each other or talk, I will continue to be here for my friends and have their backs. And I hope no one reading this, regardless of whether they consider themselves my friend, have someone they can turn to as a friend. We may have on our wives, husbands, kids, and family, but we all still need a friend. My wife, Ariana is my best friend and always will be, and I hope she feels the same; but if one of my friends need me, I will always be here. This may sound cliché these days, but if you need someone to talk to, and we are friends on Facebook, you can reach out to me anytime. Sometimes all of us just need to know someone is there and someone cares. Send me an email or a message on Facebook. I'll give you my phone number- you call me day or night. I can't guarantee the best advice, as a matter of fact, my advice may downright suck, but I can guarantee a listening ear. And if you run into me somewhere, give me a hug!

Like I said, this post wasn't really about much of anything. But you can't say I didn't warn you. Well, you can say that, but it would be a lie. Much love to you all. Thanks for reading my blog, but mostly, thanks for being a friend.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Everyone loves a party! Oh, you left out 'political'

Well, despite my best efforts to be active in updating my blog, I just discovered that is has been almost a year since my last post. Is it because I've been too busy? Sure, I could say that. Life does keep me pretty busy. But as I'm back to not sleeping real well, I'm up late enough and thus, theoretically have plenty of time.

So, what is the real reason I haven't "blogged" as of late? Simply, I've been too lazy. To make it just a tad more complex than that, it's actually I haven't been sure what to write or how to start. I have lots of ideas that pop into my head all the time and I actually think it would be a good thing to blog about. But, here we are...

I feel like my mind is always racing and I am trying to figure things out. Maybe I'm a tad analytical. Maybe I just can't focus. Who knows. But the fact remains that I have a lot to say. And to be honest, for years people have thought I just say whatever is on my mind. To an extent this is true and always has been. In my blog however, I try to express things with a certain level of finesse. Why it seems to be more important for a blog that no one reads than it is in my daily interactions with people is beyond me. That being said, I really don't say everything that is on my mind. This may come as a surprise to those who know me; but can you imagine the things I am thinking and don't say? But I digress.

I would consider myself a fairly active person. Politically, not physically. If you see me running, you best start running too because I'm likely being chased by a bear, or cheetah, or perhaps even a sloth (God forbid). I have worked and/or volunteered for a number of political campaigns and have even been a precinct chair for the political party with which I affiliate.

Why do I mention this? Because while I am far from a "political expert," I like to think I have a pretty rough idea of what is going on and who wants to be the next in line to cheat us, namely, the middle class. Face it, the middle class really isn't on anyone's radar, regardless of the party, or even what they say. The upper class is of course important, without them who would donate to political campaigns, parties or action committees? The lower class gets their attention because it's sexy to care about the poor. Those of us in the middle, meh.... We're not rich but we're definitely not poor. We likely won't be contributing thousands of dollars to a campaign. And we can generally afford our bills, we have a house, we own cars, and we pay our "fair share" of taxes.

Here is where I am going... I've been asked why I get so annoyed when others post political stuff when I claim to be politically active myself. And, I've been known to make a political post on Twitter or Facebook from time to time. But, the reason I get annoyed is particularly because of certain types of political posts I see. Namely, posts that (one or any of the following) are:

  • Not fact checked.
  • Stereotyping or questioning the intelligence of those who disagree, such as anyone who is voting for so and so is an idiot and should be ashamed. Or other things of that nature.
  • Inaccurate, out of context, or blatant lies. No examples as I am avoiding the specific political debate.
  • Misquoted or claimed to be said by someone who didn't actually say it
These are just a few of the examples I see that drive me nuts. I appreciate people wanting to be involved in politics. But it seems there are a number of voters who seem to get really involved in just bashing one particular candidate despite the fact that said basher has never really been all that involved or interested in politics before. It is just their sole mission to make sure the person they don't like, for whatever reason (true or not) doesn't win. I enjoy a good political debate as much as the next guy. But such a debate should be a debate based on facts from both sides. An opinion obviously belongs in a debate, but it should be remembered that an opinion is just that, not a fact!

I tend to have a hard time not calling out posts that are incorrect, inaccurate, or, to be frank, just dumb. But, I understand it is generally tacky to negate someone's post because after all, it is their Facebook, Twitter, whatever. I disagree but that doesn't mean I have to comment. Usually if I am offended, I ignore, but sometimes I can't keep myself from commenting. I have no self control, I'll admit it. And my amazing physique is proof.

This is part of the reason I don't post more political stuff than I do. I know a lot of people will disagree, but, or course, a lot will agree as well. I don't think I'm an anomaly. But who do you think are the most likely to comment? Those who disagree and/or are looking for an argument. Every post I make isn't intended to do for the sake of argument; although if I am being honest, there are some of those.

I guess what I am saying is 3 fold:
  • Play nicely
  • Check your facts
  • Recognize that not everyone is going to agree. That doesn't mean they don't trust you are respect you as a person
I am now humbly stepping off of my soap box. Okay, not humbly, but stepping off none the less. I'll be selling said soapbox on eBay. Watch for it. Time for an upgrade!

As always, thanks for reading. Stay classy. Don't forget who you are. Don't forget what you should stand for. Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Who made me an authority?

Someone complained about some of my blog posts asking me what makes me an authority on the topics. While I don't actually owe this person an answer to such a rude, condescending question, I will answer, as best I can. And my answer is twofold.

First, I never claimed to be any sort of authority on the topics. This is my personal blog. I write what comes to mind and try to express what I feel. If what I write helps you in any way, great, if it doesn't, oh well, the price was right.

Further, I had a conversation similar to this with the executive director of a local non-profit on which I serve as an associate vice president. I was explaining to her that I don't feel like I am necessarily qualified to serve on the board as I don't have a direct connection with the issues. But, I will gladly share my skills, talents and own experience to help the organization as best I can. All I can offer is my own background and experience along with a passion to help. If I am able to help anyone, my efforts haven't been in vain.

If I've come across as the man with all the answers, sorry I'm not sorry. My intention has never been to show how great I am or how I know more than anyone else. My intention has been to express my feelings in words and maybe help someone in the process.

I honestly don't want to be "that guy," but seriously, if you are going to visit my blog, either appreciate it or don't. There is really no need to comment on how unqualified the author is. Go find a comment board on a news site somewhere, there are plenty of people there who will appreciate your cute little quips. Maybe you can even get together for a round of beers and talk about how much the world owes you.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The year is now offically 2015

It is now officially 2015. I will try to avoid the cliché New Year's post. Namely, I will try to not make this all about "resolutions." But honestly, with the new year beginning, we are getting older, and the world is at least one year closer to the Apocalypse. There are plenty of people who, like myself (realists mind you, not necessarily pessimists), can find plenty of negative in the beginning of a new year. So, celebrating the new year with resolutions can be very positive and uplifting, however cliché that might be.

Every year it seems I struggle to set new goals or resolutions. Mostly because I know how likely I am to not actually achieve said goal. Which leads to one of my goals for 2015, but I'll discuss that later. Another reason I have a hard time with this is because any self-proclaimed life coach or resolution aficionado (if there is such thing) will tell you that your goal must be specific. While I like to consider myself one with impeccable attention to detail, I am about as specific as a gun is subtle.

I've been trying to decide what word would best describe 2014 and I can't think of one. I can't say it was a hard year, because it seems every year has some hard parts, just like every year has good parts too.

The year did start our quite rough. Some of you who follow my blog may know, others may not, as I've not made this particular time in my life public, but, I spent the last part of 2013/first part of 2014 in the hospital with severe depression. It all started with my having what seemed to be seizures, but all tests revealed they weren't actually seizures, but rather stress-induced blackouts. In short, a lot of stress in my life, combined with anxiety and depression led me to a nervous breakdown of sorts, and, eventually, hospitalization. At first, I was extremely mad at Ariana for taking me to the hospital because after getting admitted, I felt like I was being punished for something that was no fault of my own. After a few days, while I was still not happy to be there, I realized that she took me there out of genuine love and concern and I was grateful to have someone who cared that much.

Creating a blog has been a great thing for me, personally. Getting my thoughts "down on paper" so to speak, has really helped me to come to terms with my own feelings. Whether or not anyone actually reads my blog or gets anything at all from it is irrelevant. However, I hope that each post will help someone in some way or another. As I have written down my thoughts and feelings, I have discovered more about myself and who I am, as well as who I want to be. In everyday situations, I think of things that I can put down in my blog and share what I have learned from it.

From 2005 to 2007 I served a mission for the LDS church in Ukraine. In speaking with my mission president one time, I received some guidance from him about how hard I am on myself. He said that we are all told not to judge others and to be patient with one another. But, what some of us (myself included) tend to forget is that we also need to be patient with ourselves. I set high expectations for myself and when I don't achieve them, I think of myself as a failure. When we set expectations of ourselves so high and judge ourselves according to said expectations, we often use that same scale with others. Sometimes the more we judge ourselves, the more we judge others.

My resolutions seem simple enough, seeing as they aren't specific. But they are goals within myself that I can measure. In 2015 I will blog more often. I will be more understanding of others. I will always remind myself that this "battle of life" isn't my own to fight; I truly believe that there isn't a single one of us who is completely alone on this journey. I will start trusting others again. I will be kinder and more patient with those closest to me; it is always easier to lash out at those closest to us when times get rough. I will be a better example to those around me. I will work harder in my professional life. I will seek and strive for new opportunities for growth and development.

My wish for everyone is that 2015 will be a year of great opportunity, love and success. May we all reach for and obtain that which we desire most. And, may we all be a better person today than we were yesterday, and even better tomorrow than we were today.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“I Am Overcome”

Anyone who knows me very well, knows that I like to consider myself a bit of a music buff. I even prefer the term aficionado. While I am not very talented with music, I do take great pride in my knowledge of music. Sometimes, certain songs just touch me or strike a chord with me that I couldn’t ever even try to explain. Because of how important music is to my life, I come across songs like that quite often.

While I have always been a fan of the band “Live,” I especially think the words Ed Kowalcyk sings in this song, and the accompanying music, have such meaning and a deep, important message for all of us. I don’t remember a time hearing this song after 9/11 when it wouldn’t bring tears to my eyes. But, not just tears, also a love and appreciation for those fighting for the freedoms we take advantage of, often without any thought at all.

I’ll never forget where I was or how I felt on September 11th, 2001. I don’t at all want to make an unfair comparison, but lately everyone has been talking about where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Obviously, that being long before my time, I can’t fully relate. But in watching all the news clips from then, and hearing/reading all the discussions, for me, at least in that sense, that was 9/11.

I don’t personally know anyone who died from the terrorist attacks of that day. But, I do personally know people who did lose friends, family and other loved ones in those meaningless attacks which shook the entire nation.

I have really thought of this a lot today when looking at all the images and videos of the protests surrounding the grand jury decision in Ferguson today. Again, I don’t want to downplay either of the events. But as I watch the news and read all the reports, I think, we have enough enemies around the world trying to take away our freedoms and way of life. Why do we have to fight amongst ourselves too? Will we always be a divided nation? Remember the words of President Abraham Lincoln. While the discussion is no longer about slavery, I think his words still ring true today, just as they did back in 1858.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand… I do not expect the
Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Now, here’s the video. As always, let me know what you think.

Thanks, Ed Kowalcyk and Live for this.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hug your kids tonight

I received some disheartening news today. A young couple, both of whom I grew up with, just lost their baby boy. For 10 years these 2 have been trying to have a baby. Finally, they found out she was pregnant with their little miracle. For 38 weeks, everything was normal and looked good. Then, at their regular check-up, their doctor was unable to hear a heart beat. Their little miracle suddenly became the nightmare no parent should ever have to endure. This young couple and their family had to say hello and goodbye to this little guy at the same time.

I can't even imagine what they are going through. I don't even want to imagine, nor would I ever want anyone to know what that's like.

After being told we'd likely not have kids of our own, we were so ecstatic when we found out Ariana was with child. Being the way I am, every doctor appointment I was so worried that we'd get that terrible news. I'll never forget seeing Alexandra for the first time and knowing this is what we hoped and prayed for. And I truly wanted everyone to know that joy, especially my friends and family who have struggled to have kids.

Hearing this news today really made me think about how lucky and blessed we are to have little Lexi in our family. Every birth is a miracle! I get frustrated when Lexi doesn't listen or does something she knows she isn't supposed to do. But today, I got thinking about how much some people would give to have that. I wouldn't trade those few frustrating moments for the world. Because aside from those, nothing warms my heart and makes me feel like the luckiest man in the world more than hearing our 2 year-old stinker say "love you daddy" or, "kisses."

I can have the longest, crappiest day ever, but not be able to frown or even be upset when I walk in the door and hear "hi!" and see her running to the door to give me hugs. It may sound trite, but I am going to hold her just a little tighter tonight. For every parent who is getting mad at their child or even yelling at them, there are countless others who want nothing more than kids of their own. I pray for this family I mentioned herein that they will be comforted. I likewise pray for all my friends and family struggling to have kids, or who have similarly lost a child.

Monday, October 6, 2014

We all have our own battles

Everyone has their own battle, everyone has their own cross to bear, everyone has their own struggles. No matter how you say it, or which cliché you use, the fact is, everyone, without exception is going through something that others don't know about. Whether it is physical or emotional, literal or figurative, no one gets through life without some sort of challenge, struggle or lesson.

Further, none of us knows everything someone else is going through. We may thing Mr. Jones down the street has everything. He has the biggest house, most beautiful yard with a swimming pool, tennis court and even it's own meandering stream. We make think it's unfair that he has everything and we're struggling just to keep the lights on. There are 2 important facets to consider: 1) Do we have any idea how hard he worked for what he has? Have we ever considered how much time, hard work and struggles it took to get there?  And 2) Do we have any idea what struggles he goes through on a day-to-day basis that we don't see? All we see is the smiling face and fancy convertible as he drives by.

Whether or not we know those details, the bottom line is that it's really none of our business. What's more, it would be utterly impossible to know everything about a person's life, background and current situation. There is always more to the story. Not one of us knows the whole story of someone else's life.

If you think about it, sometimes we don't even understand the whole story of our own life! I don't know why I'm the way I am. I don't know why I seek the "atta boy" from my peers. I have a pretty good idea of the things that make me tick, and, on the contrary, the things that irritate the hell out of me. But I don't know the reasons for all of those. I know my own background more than anyone else though.

Since we never know the whole story, who are we to judge others based on the more obvious things we know about them? I'm as guilty as the next guy of judging people on what I know. But why do we as humans find a need to judge others at all? Is it because we place ourselves on a pedestal, high above everyone else? Or is it the opposite- we feel so inadequate or inferior ourselves, that we have to put others down to make up the difference? As mentioned,  I know and recognize that I am guilty of this myself and want to do better. I think of how much different society, and the world as a whole would be if we all put aside our prejudices, and judgements, and instead, treated everyone the way they want and deserve to be treated. Let's practice the Platinum rule, rather than the Golden, by treating others better than we want to be treated.