Starting Over, But First….

Starting over… I think I am overdue for starting over.  My thirties have not been my best years, falling somewhere between EPIC fail and near tragedy.  The only thing that has improved in this decade has been the closeness of our family.  My wife and our kids have always been close and going through tough times either rips you apart or makes you closer and we have become incredibly close and more resilient than ever.  Aside from that, my personal life and goals have either treaded water, going nowhere or in most cases they have gone backwards.  I am further from where I want to be with my goals than I was nine years ago.  I would like to turn the page on all of this and start over.  First though, to get it all out of my system I am going to list my biggest regrets over the past nine years and then forget about them and move forward.

Two months before my thirtieth birthday we were blessed with the birth of our daughter, our youngest.  We were living in Pennsylvania, about fifty miles north of Philly.  For some god damn reason we thought it would be in our families best interest to move back to the Western New York area so our children would be brought up surrounded by both our extended families.  So my wife and I quit our jobs.  Jobs that paid us very well and near the end of August we moved back to the city of my childhood.  That right there is my biggest regret and our biggest mistake.  We had great jobs, a beautiful Cape Cod home, an acre of land and not a neighbor within a quarter mile, it was perfect, but at the time we both missing our families.  This one regret snowballed into all the others.

As I said, we were making a decent amount of money in Pennsylvania, while in the Western New York area I was only able to find a job for seven dollars an hour and the same for my wife.  Eventually she found an office job and together we made enough to move out of my parents house, where we had living since moving back; about six months.  We found a house to rent; unfortunately it was right across from my in-laws (a slight regret- never move directly across from your in-laws.)  I lost my job and collected unemployment while trying to find another job.  I was not having any luck; I could not even get an interview.  This leads to the next set of regrets.

I became depressed, very depressed.  I looked like shit and my self-confidence was taking a beating.  I was angry most the time and I was not pleasant to be around.  My wife gave me an ultimatum, either see a psychiatrist or she and the children were leaving.  So I went to see a mindfucker and I was diagnosed as bipolar.  This first doctor, sucked big time, he just gave me some pills and told me nothing about bipolar disorder.  About a year later I saw another doctor.  This started me on the medication merry-go-round and for the next five years I was a hot fucking mess.  At one point I was taking two dozen pills a day.  All of these pills I was taking had some dramatic effects on me; like now my moods were constantly changing sometime several times a day, I gained over sixty pounds, my mind was complete and utter mush.  During this time I was put on permanent disability, not because of bipolar, but because of the effects from the pills. Eventually all the pills lead to some very serious side effect; vertigo and colitis among them.  The worst thing the pills did to me was they made me unable to feel, I was a flat line emotionally and I could not live like that.  One day, after spending a night in the hospital, I came home and flushed all my pills.   My regrets during this five year period- letting myself be a human guinea pig, not being an advocate for myself (I just kind of let this all happen), costing my wife a job she enjoyed, and how my medicine induced behavior affected my children.

The next regret happened during the five years of medicine.  The house we were living in across from my in-laws was small and we were a bedroom short.  When my daughter was a baby we shared our room with her and it was fine.  The day was coming that she would need her own room, so we started looking for a bigger place.  Through a parent at our son’s early education program we found a place.  One of the parents was moving out of a place and she was looking for someone to move in.  It was a big three bedroom house, with a fenced yard; it seemed perfect for our family.  It was even “rent to own” which we thought was the greatest thing in the world.  What “rent to own” really meant was, that anything that went wrong was our responsibility, no utilities were paid, and everything was on us.  This placed turned into a nightmare that has only gotten worse with time.  The next door neighbor is a certified nutjob and all around asshole.  We have been living here for almost seven years and his behavior has only gotten worse towards us.  This year alone, he called CPS on us (for no reason), had the city make us take our pool down, and tried to gets us in trouble with the dog warden.  We used to have friends in the neighborhood, but this year we just have not been as friendly.  In our hearts we know we are leaving this area and we just do not feel like faking it.  The regret here is that we moved into this house, into this neighborhood and it has at times been unbearable.

Next regret on the list- this one I somewhat have an excuse reason for, but a regret is a regret is a regret.  Two months after flushing all those pills and going from taking a lot pills to giving them up cold turkey I started going to college.  It was going great, at the midpoint of the semester my lowest grade was a ninety-two.  With about four weeks left I got one of those bad, pain in the ass head colds that makes your mind feel like sludge.  About two weeks later I got over the cold, but I fell behind and never caught up.  The funny thing is that it was the college composition that really threw me off.  I love writing; I had a ninety-eight in this class, but the research paper was killing me.  So with two weeks left I just stopped going.  Somehow I still passed my accounting class.  Because of those bad grades I am having trouble returning for my third semester, but hopefully I will get that straightened out this week.

A few regrets that are lifelong and ongoing- inability to finish things I start, taking on more than I can handle, setting unrealistic goals, being unorganized, letting circumstances control me instead of taking control of them… and I am sure many more.  Like every person I am a work in progress and still believe I have something good to offer.  My confidence has definitely been shaken, but not destroyed.  I will overcome myself, because at this point I can honestly say I have been the biggest obstacle to achieving my goals.

So the immediate goal is getting back into school and completing my degree.  The second goal is moving back to Pennsylvania, and getting a job.  Starting over will be easy, I am basically back at square one; I am letting go of my regrets and moving forward.  Going forward I am choosing happy and remaining positive.

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The Twelve Days of Chirstmas (Our Story)

Originally Published 12/2010

Last Christmas things were looking pretty decent for my family. My wife and I were both going to school, so we had some extra money for presents this year. Since I have been on disability, Christmas has been a struggle, but every year we have somehow (with help) managed to pull it off and give our kids a great Christmas. This year we were looking forward to being able to provide a great Christmas without the help, we even had enough to be able to buy for our parents and nieces and nephews. It was truly going to be an awesome Christmas. Sometimes though the reality exceeds the expectations and this was to be one of those times.

It was a Sunday night (the 12th of December), my wife was working until midnight and I had to pick her up. When we arrived back at the house, there was a wrapped basket with a card stuck in it, my wife and I both looked around, trying to figure out where it came from. We took the stuff inside to further inspect it. The envelope on the card read something to the effect of; Forget the partridge in the pear tree the cats chased it away. We were both looking at each other, like what the hell? Inside the card was written: Cats believe do you? A very merry Christmas. We take off the wrapping paper on the basket and see that it is filled with several cat toys and bags of kitty treats. So we are scratching our heads trying to figure out where this odd kitty gift basket came from. We end up concluding that it came from the crazy cat lady that lives around the corner from us; we have one of her cat’s kittens so it at least made sense.

The next day, it was in the evening, I happened to walk past the front door and noticed there was something on the porch. Opening the door I see another basket. I bring it in, the attached card says: On the second day of Christmas… Santa remembered… Two turtle doves. And he didn’t forget two special doggies. Merry Christmas! Opening the basket, it was filled and I mean filled with dog toys and treats. Now my wife and I and our children were really at a loss, but since it was sticking with an animal theme we still thought it was the cat lady.

Day three- sometime during the afternoon a card had been dropped off, it was in the mailbox, but had no postage so it had been hand delivered. Inside the card was written: On the third day of Christmas, Santa thought about ‘Three French Hens’! Santa decided that he prefers French Fries. Hope you do too! ~Enjoy~ Inside the card were three ten dollar Burger King cards and a fifty dollar Tim Horton’s (great coffee and doughnuts) card. Also, there was a handwritten letter, saying something along the lines of; bring this letter with you (to a local Pizza Hut) to receive two large pizzas with the toppings of your choice. We invite my parents over for dinner and go to Pizza Hut and get our pizzas.

Ok, so now what or should I say who is behind this, my wife and I have no idea. We both start posting about it on Facebook, trying to find out if anyone knew anything. None of our friends had any insight, but all pretty much came to the same conclusion we had reached; we were part of some twelve days of Christmas. We were starting to get excited as the gifts had gotten progressively better.

For me, personally, there was no day during the twelve that was better than day four. Late in the afternoon, around five, my dogs started barking, so without hesitation I ran to the front door and sure enough there were two large bags and another card. Going on to the porch I see a guy and his young daughter walking down the street, I yell thank you, he just turns and smiles and continues walking. I bring in the bags and set the card on the table. We take the bags into our room to check out what is inside. We discover it is filled with toys and we figure this is the day that the presents for the kids were being dropped off. Many of the toys seemed to be for an age group quite a bit younger then our children, but we just figured this is great, anything extra just makes for a better Christmas. After we had looked through both bags, my wife asked, “What did the card say?”

I shrugged and answered, “I don’t know, I set it on the table when I brought the bags to the room,” and we walk to the table and get the card, inside the card is written: Santa is aware of your family’s giving spirit. So in the spirit of the Christmas season, behold gifts for you to share with others in need of some Christmas cheer… Santa. At first we are both struck by the idea of trying to figure out whom to give these gifts to. Within moments we reach the conclusion that facebook would be the best way to find the person who could benefit most.

By now, several “friends” and family members had taken an interest and we both had stuff written on our walls asking what we had gotten for day four. We put up identical status’ saying what was written in the card and if anyone needed help or knew someone who did to send a message to the inbox and we could set something up. Within an hour my wife was talking on the phone to one of her friends, a single mother with shut-off notices, hours being cut at work, two weeks behind on her daycare payment and no plan for Christmas whatsoever. It was the perfect match and during the whole of the twelve days I was never more thankful then when we dropped of the presents at this girl’s apartment. It is something we would not have been able to do on our own and nothing can replace that feeling of good, knowing you had really, really helped save someone’s Christmas.

Day five- nothing came during the day and by now the whole family was anxiously waiting to see what would be next. Right about supper time there was a knock on the door. It was a delivery person with two large pizzas and chicken wings. We may not have invented pizza, but in Buffalo I think we have perfected it. He handed over the pizzas and said not to worry about it, it was taken care of, and he also gave me card. Inside the card was written: Santa knows that everyone loves a treat at Christmas. Since you’ve been extra good this year, here’s a treat for you. Santa.

Day six- from this day forward we pretty much knew who had set this up for us, but it is my belief that they wished to remain anonymous and so they shall. Anyway, on day six the Fire Department stopped at our house. They had a card that read: One the Sixth Day of Christmas… Santa’s magical geese laid a lot more than eggs. Luckily, we have friends in the Fire Department to help with the delivery. They brought about a month’s worth of meat and about two-three weeks worth of groceries. Our cupboards were stuffed. Day six also brought some ill tidings.

At a Christmas function earlier in the day, I had run into a former friend, I would say at one time a best friend. I had heard rumors, but given how my Christmas was going I tried to ignore those rumors and take him at face value. I invited him, his wife and their children over. While we sat around drinking coffee and catching up I told them all about the Twelve Days of Christmas. My wife never really seemed comfortable with them, me I just tried to ignore my most basic instinct which was screaming this person is bad. I am not going to go into great detail on this, let’s just say he duped me, I wanted to be nice and be trusting (neither of which are my strong suit.)

Day seven- nothing had come during the day and I had to pick up my wife at midnight. When we got home there was an old bowling ball bag with a bowling ball and a letter inside. The letter entitled us to a free afternoon of bowling and pizza at a local bowling alley.

Day eight- this was another one of my favorite days. We were visited by the police. A police woman dropped off one large basket and one medium sized basket and a card. The card read: You have the right to a Merry Christmas. Anything you say can and will be relayed directly to Santa Claus. You have the right to speak to an Elf. If you do not know an elf, just check out this gift… because the elves know you. Both the baskets were filled with lotions and bath stuff and things like lip gloss. Also, there were two certificates for a day at the spa for my wife and daughter. One other funny thing about this day, the police woman who had dropped off the stuff, had slightly pointy ears and my daughter was convinced she was an elf.

Day nine- this was the oddest day. Sometime after dinner there was a commotion outside and going to door there were several young ladies in dance outfits. They had a large sign that read something like, for the boys on ninth day of Christmas nine ladies dancing. They sang and brought clothes for the boys and me. I was most impressed by the fact these girls were wearing their dance outfits, it’s Buffalo in December, it was freezing out, they did a great job.

Day ten- since I turn into a cookie monster at this time of year, this was another good day for me. We got a humungous tray of cookies and other treats, along with a printed out poem that read:

On the Tenth day of Christmas,

 

Ten Lords were a’ leapin’ for some sweet treats

 

From Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen.

 

Here are ten kinds of cookies and candies

 

Made especially for you by Mrs. Claus.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Being the ultimate insider,

 

Mrs. Claus has this advice for you:

 

 

 

 

Be ready on Thursday,

 

At the hour of eight,

 

Have a camera ready

 

As you watch and you wait.

 

 

 

 

A special treat is coming

 

This 24th of December

 

Mrs. Claus knows that it will be

 

A night to remember.

 

 

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Day eleven- Christmas Eve. By this day we were kind of freaking out. Dreaming big, but trying to remain grounded in reality. What should we expect to be arriving at eight? We invited my parents over to exchange presents and so they could also be there to see what went down. At around eight there is a knock on the door, opening it there stood before me Santa Claus. There are people who put on a Santa suit and act like Santa Claus, but this WAS Santa Claus standing at my door, he had a female elf with him. Then at the end of the driveway a guy started playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Personally, I am not much of a fan of bagpipes (sounds like a dying animal) but this dude is standing at the end of driveway, wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes and it so damn cold out that I am surprised his pipes haven’t frozen, I was impressed.

After the bagpipe performance Santa comes in and he asks to see a special little girl. My daughters eyes light up and she goes over and sits right on Santa’s lap. He tells her how he heard that she has been an extra good girl this year and that he wanted to hand deliver a special gift to her. He gives it to her and tells her she can open it. Opening it she screams with delight, it is the one gift she wanted more than anything else. Before Santa left he gave me a large box and said it was for me to open and I could open it tonight. The box was one of those boxes inside boxes; on each box was a little note. It went through all our animals and children and my wife (sounding like it could be gift for each person) ultimately ending with me. In the final box there was a letter stating that our gas bill had been paid for the next several month and in Buffalo having your gas bill paid for during the winter months is a great gift.

About an hour after my parents left my wife gets a text (from the person we know set this up) asking if we had gotten the gifts that were on the side of the house. So we go outside. Alongside the house there are several big black garbage bags. As we bring them in we are both repeatedly saying, “Wow” “Oh my god!” and “There’s more?” All told there were twelve bags filled with gifts. As I start taking them out to place them around the tree, separating them by name, I notice that some have my wife’s name and my name and I say to my wife, “We have gifts to open,” and I do a little happy dance. Long ago we stopped buying for each other; our gift was our children’s happiness as they opened their presents.

Day twelve- Christmas morning. After adding the presents that we had bought, well let’s just say it was beyond impressive. The children wake up early and ALL of us open our presents. Every one of us feels so incredibly grateful for everything that had been done for us. It strengthened my belief in humanity. Most people have beliefs, in religions and Gods, but it comes down to people choosing to do something good and all the people involved in our twelve days of Christmas chose to do something good. We will never forget that Christmas and it will be our goal to someday help out a family in the same way.

Most memorable moments- In their own words.

My eight year old daughter- “I loved the end so, so much when I got Little Big Planet from Santa and I got to see him. Also, there were so many presents under the tree. My mom and I got a trip to the spa. It was the best Christmas of my life.”

My eleven year old son- “My favorite part of the twelve days of Christmas was the anticipation. You never knew what was next. Once it was pizza, then a bunch of presents (yaa.) As you can see I loved the twelve days of Christmas.”

My fifteen year old son- “The bagpiper was pretty cool, also Santa coming and talking to my sister was neat.”

My wife- “Day four was my favorite, being able to help my friend was the best. Also Christmas eve, finding out our gas bill was paid was awesome. Of course all the clothes I got were great as well. Staring at our Christmas tree, with all the wrapped gifts surrounding our living room, was like something I have never seen before. Just sitting there in awe, feeling extremely impatient for the kids to get up and see this for themselves!! The whole entire experience was amazing for everyone in our family!! I can’t wait until I am able to afford to do this for a family, so they may have this wonderful experience!!”

UPDATE- 7/01/11

This year we will be helping out, we will be elves this year, helping in any way they need.  We are really looking forward to being able to give back and help the whatever family is chosen.

Me- it was definitely day four. The experience as a whole renewed my faith in humanity.

That is our story of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Merry Christmas and have a happy new year!

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Dreams

Dreams, everyone has dreams, right?  I do not dream all that often, maybe two or three dreams that I can remember each year.  They are always colorful and there seems to constantly be a point that I just cannot grasp and when I am just about to figure it out I wake up.  Maybe I just sleep too soundly to remember more of my dreams, I mean I do like dreams, but my memories of them are so far and so few.  These aren’t the type of dreams that I am thinking of today, though; instead I am thinking about dreams as in things you desire.

I have forgot how to dream, for too long, what I have (which isn’t a lot) has been enough and the dreams I allowed myself were more like unrealistic fantasies.  Truthfully, they were just things I wanted that I never believed would be attainable, when I thought of them there was always a mocking laugh accompanying them.  That’s the difference between people that do and those that merely think, those that think and do make their dream a goal, while those that just think most often never believe in the idea and just go onto the next thought.  That has been me, thinking thoughts never believing in them or setting goals to accomplish them.  That is no longer good enough; I must be able to rise above any and all circumstances.

The thing I dream most of for myself, the thing, aside from my family, I am most passionate about is writing, I want to be a writer.  With that in mind I am right now setting a goal of having at least the first draft of Destination Dayton done before the end of the summer.  I am more than half through it and the second half is the quicker, more fun part of the story.  I already know that I am going to change it A LOT in the second and third and fourth and so on drafts.  I will write as it happened, third person and when it comes time to re-write I might change it to first person and play with the timeline, using flashbacks to set up the current situation a little better.  So there is my first goal and it is easily attainable.

It is the next step in the process that gets me every time; sustaining the belief in the idea/goal when things don’t go right.  In this case it will be a matter of just writing and not talking myself out of writing (easy to do.)  I lived the story I know every stop along the way, it’s as simple as writing it down.  To accomplish this I realistically only need to average a thousand words a day and I know some writers write a thousand words in less than an hour.  I am not yet a writer and would be thrilled to average any number of words per day.  I must also remember that accomplishing this goal does not achieve the dream; it is just one step on the path towards the larger goal, the dream of being a writer.

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Flip You

My muse does not amuse me, it taunts and deceives me, and it lies hidden when I need it the most.  I know I am not even supposed to believe in a muse, they are mythical beast made up to torment the mind of writers the world over.  Yet I know my muse, I can tell when I am under its hypnotic spell, the words flow freely from my fingers, tap tap tap on the keyboard.  My muse has many names, it can be a person or a project I am working on or it could just be some grand idea.  Whatever it is, it inspires me.  It can be so fleeting though, or maybe I just can’t control it the way real writers are able to.  Its likely appearance is as fickle as a coin flip, heads or tails, fifty-fifty!

That is the thing; the muse is meant to tease and delight, but at the same time it can never be possessed.  It loses its creative energy when it is overcome by the one it inspires or at least it has in my experience.  No two people will have the same exact experience, they may be similar, but there will always be differences.  Ultimately, the muse must be something I will always want, but never have.  It is the chase towards the unknown that inspires, that is the strength of the muse.  Sometimes it gets too far ahead of me and changes its appearance; eventually I recognize it for what it is and continue the chase.  It is those times when the muse is absent that I must look and try my hardest.

When the muse is away I must be able to trust my instincts, whether with writing or life in general.  My instincts do not always serve my best interest, and while I would like to think that that I can trust my instincts at least fifty percent of the time, experience may not bear that out. There is always flipping a coin.  Let heads be yes and tails be no and let decisions be made with a likely better outcome then if I were to put a thoughtful guess into it.  Really aren’t most decisions just thoughtful guesses?  I think I know this, that and everything else only to realize later that I didn’t know this or that about anything.  I am not suggesting that this happens all the time, but I would be willing to bet it occurs with more frequency then most will admit to.

The muse is too fickle to be counted on, and experience shows my instincts are not always to be trusted; maybe flipping a coin is the best option.  When I look over the results of some of my choices/decision I honestly believe the overall number of positive outcomes would have been better with the flip of a coin.  It literally takes all the guess work out, it’s either heads or tails- do I talk to this person (heads)or that person (tails)­heads it is, okay I am talking to this person.  Do you see how easy that is? You never look back, once the flip decision has been made there is no second guessing.  Maybe, going forward I will let all my decisions be made by coin flip, starting with this one.

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Natural Born Quitter

So I have found that quitting smoking was quite easy for me.  It has been over four months and I have smoked a total of two cigarettes, one out of spite and the other out of pity, but more about that later.  I am very successful quitter and that is not always a good thing.  When my mind is made up about something, that is it, whatever the decision is- it will be followed through on, no if’s and’s or but’s.  Whether it’s people, jobs or bad habits when I decide I am through with it; I walk away never looking back and burn all bridges connected with whatever it was.  Sometimes though, this is bad as I can talk myself into giving up on something before I have really given it my all.

When I finally quit drinking it was a question that a policeman had asked me the night before that kept going through my head the following day that lead to me deciding to quit drinking altogether.  “Why are you being a teenager about this?” I was twenty-six and sure I had put my hand through the window, but there was no way my drunken self would ever admit that.  I kept telling him I fell in the street and cut my hand, that’s why there was blood pouring out of five deep gashes in my hand.  Some part of me thought that admitting it would make me guilty, so I stuck with that story.  He gave me a choice, go in the ambulance to the hospital, or with him to the police station.  I opted for the hospital and then almost proceeded in talking the paramedics into taking me home, because I had no insurance at the time.

I was a happy drunk at the hospital, right up until they were about to give me a shot to numb my right thumb, that was going to require stitches.  I stopped him before he started, “How much is this shot going to cost me?” he said an amount that seemed like an obnoxious sum, so I declined and refused treatment.  They signed me out and sent me on my way.  I made up lies to my mother and the girl I was seeing at the time and slept for a couple hours.  When I woke, I was haunted by the fact that I was going to get in trouble, possibly arrested for punching in a window at a local garage.  I decided to go the garage and talk to the people and offer to pay for the window.  I got there and the window was boarded up and nobody was there.  No police ever came looking for me and it was like it never happened.  One thing though, I just could not shake what that officer had repeatedly asked me, “Why are you acting like a teenager about this?”  I just could not get past that, I was almost twenty-six years old I did not want to be acting like a teenager, so right then and there I decided to never drink again.  It was a pretty big decision at the time, because I was pretty bad blackout drunk and deciding once and for all to stop was scary.  I did though and I have never looked back.  It has been almost twelve years and once I made the decision it was easy.  I can go to bars, I am not tempted, I can be around people drinking, and it does not bother me.  Drinking is something I just know I cannot do, so I don’t do it.

With quitting smoking I had, for so long, convinced myself that it would be impossible to quit, that reaching the decision to quit took a long time.  Not being able to breathe without coughing for the first hour I was awake, getting out of breathe from walking up a flight of stairs, coughing when I laughed too hard, all these things made the decision to quit smoking a necessity.  I decided I HAD to quit smoking, I chose the nicotine lozenges to help me and I have not been tempted to smoke at all since I decided to stop.    Yes, I know I said I smoked two cigarettes, but I did not want to smoke them, I felt I had to.  The first one was out of spite.  I was mad at my wife and I smoked one in front of her. I know the last thing she would want is to feel responsible for me starting smoking again.  My knees got wobbly and I nearly passed out, but I managed to smoke the whole thing, which leads to a huge fight which ended with us having some passionate making up.  The second one was out of pity.  My wife had been feeling a little depressed and carrying some guilt. She wanted to bum a smoke from the neighbor, because she was craving one really bad, so I went as well and smoked one with her, that way she would not feel guilty and she didn’t feel guilty about having a smoke.  Afterward I told why I smoked it and she was totally cool with it.

For whatever reason, I am a natural born quitter, it is not always a good thing, but when it comes to kicking bad habits it is the answer.  I am trying to be as supportive as possible with my wife; I understand that it isn’t just that easy for some people.  She does want to quit, I just don’t think she has reached that point where it has become necessary to believe that she can quit.  She is hardly smoking, maybe one or two every couple of days.  I don’t usually get mad, but sometimes when I am already in a bad mood I let that be the reason for my mood.  That is something I need to change.

UPDATE:

     Since I originally wrote this about ten days ago things have changed some.  My wife has taken control and with some difficulty overcome the urges.  The urges can best be described as just wanting to have the pleasure of the smoking experience, anyone who smokes or has ever been a smoker will understand that.  We both are using the lozenges with pretty good success, I say pretty good because it hasn’t been perfect.  One day, during a particularly stressful period, we ran out of lozenges and did not have enough money to buy any until the next day.  We did, however, have enough cash for a pack of smokes, which we bought and smoked.  The next day we bought the lozenges and we have been fine since then.  Now I have to get myself off the lozenges and all will be well.

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Nice and Not So Easy

Recently I experimented with the idea of trying to become a nice person, at least in the eyes of others.  Whether I had to fake a nice personality or truly make the change and become an over the top nice person, was the decision that I struggled with.  I really liked the way people responded to my fake personality and it seemed easy enough, honestly just another form of manipulation.  I feared though that if I faked it, karma would bite me in the ass.  With that in mind I decided to throw my whole self into this new endeavor.  And so I did, well I honestly tried, but seriously it’s just not in make up to be that nice of a person.

It started out very good, I was quite happy being nice and my mood was quite conducive of this, so it was easy and it felt good.   The days had been sunny, I was being active, and everything was in harmony, being extra nice just seemed natural.  The fact that people were eating it up and responding positively also fueled my desire to continue acting in this manner.  Out at the store I would go out of my way to help people, whether by holding open a door or letting a person go in front of me in line, I just could not stop being nice.  And smiling, I seem to recall that I smiled almost all the time and people; friends and strangers alike felt disarmed and smiled back.  Its easy being nice when you feel happy, but you know what?  I am not always a happy person.

The weather changed, it became cloudy and rained for several days, and I wasn’t being as active and life stuff happened, while happiness fades and being a nice person is all but impossible.  This actually made me feel worse, I had decided to make an effort to change and be this way too nice person and now I could not even be nice.  So on top of being in a bad mood, I was getting pissed off at myself because I could not even be nice, let alone extra nice.  I was in such a bad mood I could not even fake it, too often I wear my heart on my sleeve, when I am in a bad mood you can tell I am in a bad mood.  Added to that was a sense that I failed at improving myself, yes another failure.  Maybe though, I had not failed at improving myself, so much as I was unsuccessful in becoming something I am not.  I realized that today.

I am a person that at most times is lead by my moods, how a person sees me will be based on whatever mood I presented to them.  Some people fear me, some think I am an asshole, others think I am sweetheart; so much of their view depends on how I felt when last we met.  I think that is why people have trouble getting to know me, there can be confusion and getting to know the real me takes time and patience.  I am working on improving that, but when the darkness falls upon me I am unable to do much more than exist.  I have learned to find my way out the dark maze of despair, but sometimes when all the wrong things work together; I can feel helpless and merely have to hang on and let it run its course.  I know in the end I will come out of it and be fine.

So I am not going to be an overly nice person, I cannot be what I am not able to be.  I will likely still be a person who is lead by his moods; the few people that do truly know me know that at heart I am good person.  To me that is all that I care about, the people that matter to me know the real me.  I will keep working on and improving my ability to control my moods and not let them control me.  Sometimes, though, when the darkness of depression hits, there is nothing I can do but wait for it to pass.  For however long it has been, I feel like it is finally lifting, a fog is being removed and my mind is functioning properly again.  Now I think I am ready to write again… be prepared!

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Beliefs

Beliefs- Those things you hold as true that requires no proof for you to believe in. a.k.a Faith. 

     I thought it might be a good idea to know what my beliefs are, what I have faith in, before I tried getting my life in order.  I believe there is a guiding force in life, a force that is in all things and flows throughout the universe.  I do not need to prove it, whenever I ask someone to prove their God to me they say “Faith”, well then I have faith in there being a guiding force in life.  I believe and have faith in Karma.  All through life instances of people getting what they deserve happens, is it always fair?  No, for as much as Karma plays a role in life so does luck, good bad or otherwise, luck exists.  I trust in the power of thought and the law of attraction (like attracts like.)  Three things I believe in and place an emphasis on in my life are: family, love and learning.  These would be the core of my beliefs, let’s see how I can use these core beliefs to help improve my life.

     The guiding force in life should not be confused with intelligent design; they are not even closely related.   The guiding force in life is that wee little bit of control that keeps chaos within certain boundaries.  What can be gained from this knowledge is that when things seem to be spiraling out of control, to slow down and remember that in the end things will be fine.  We all sometimes get caught up in our circumstances and feel we are being swept away and hope is gone and all control of our life seems lost.  We frantically paddle against the current and get pulled deeper down and further away from where we would desire to be.  Let go of the struggle, go with the flow and remember this too shall pass.  Occasionally you just have let the guiding force guide and you will be lead from troubled water. 

     Karma goes right along with as you sow so shall you reap.  I like to believe that in most cases karma extracts it revenge and pays its rewards in an individual’s lifetime.  This does not always appear to be the case.  I hope, in instances like these, that this is the point where karma and the guiding force work together and supply the needed remedy in whatever the hell happens after this life.  Luck also interacts with and effects karma and you cannot control it.  In my own experiences with karma I was often unaware I was being rewarded or punished for some previous action; I would just blindly go from one course of action to the next.  In learning about karma, I became aware of how ones actions effectively affect future options.  The knowledge did not change me though; instead it just gave me a name for the good or bad.  I am at the point where I am sick and tired of being at the mercy of karma, I want to be in control of it, and I want to make karma my bitch. Taking control of karma begins with controlling ones thoughts.

     Thoughts can be wonderful, creative and beautiful or they can be dark, destructive and ugly.  Finding flaws in others is simple; instead spend time finding good qualities in others.  I admit it is much more difficult than finding faults, which makes it that much more rewarding.  This is something I have yet to master, for me this is the beginning step in controlling my thoughts.  Finding others wrongs is focusing on the negative, looking for good qualities is positive.  Think of a really bad day that you might have recently had… days like that usually snowball, from one little thing and get progressively worse during the course of the day, why?  When things have a negative impact on us as individuals, it stirs up negative thoughts and emotions and these are what we display to others and what is their response? Negative- like attracts like.  Imagine that first sunny, warm spring morning, driving to work with the window down, sun beating on you, you can tell this is going to be a great day, why? Because the day starts off positive and you reflect that and positive is reflected back to you.  The power of thought should not be discounted and in most cases possessing positive thoughts will lead to positive results.

     Family, love and learning… these should not even need an explanation and yet sadly, these three things have been pushed back in matter of importance to too many.  We want the most; the newest, the most expensive, the shiniest, the prettiest and we want it NOW!  Family, love and learning all require time, a lot of time.  Time devoted to them daily and who has any extra time to spend?  Family requires the most time, which is why more than half of all marriages end in divorce, people just don’t want to put in the time and effort required to make a relationship work.  Believe me, my wife and I could have given up before we ever got started, but we didn’t.  We stuck it out, put in the time and we are both in the best relationships of our lives and it has only gotten better.  The more time we put in the more rewarding the relationship is.  Family extends beyond the immediate, my parents, my sister, my grandparents, an aunt and some cousins all have been actors on the stage of my life.  It is their love that has carried me when I was unable to care for myself and I believe I have been able to help them when they needed assistance.  Being able to be loving towards another should always help that individual, they may not want that love at the time, but that is often when they need it the most. 

     Learning gets a separate paragraph, because to me it is the most important.  When you’re young love and family are the ways of life.  As you enter into the teenage years life becomes about love of self, the ego is indeed I.  As we grow into maturity most people never lose their obsession with their selves, basically becoming selfish adults.  I know through my mid-twenties into my early thirties I was a very selfish person and this is why learning is so important to me.  It’s not that I didn’t value love or that my family become unimportant to me, just I came first.  Now I am trying to put myself behind those that I love and value.  I understand having personal goals is important, but you should not sacrifice the love and relationships of those that support you.  I have learned from books, television and computer/internet, but I find the best learning comes from experiencing life and by being aware of its lessons.  Learning has shown me that which is most important in my life; family and love.  All other things fall into place behind those and my life is better for it.

The guiding force in life leads us to better opportunities, if we don’t resist it.  You should not be at the mercy of karma, by doing good and attempting to control your thoughts, you improve the chances of encountering good karma.  Luck just is; some are lucky some unlucky, never rely on luck- good or bad.  By being positive and looking for good qualities in people and situations, we reflect a positive outlook and draw back to us positive views; like attracts like.  Family, love and learning are the three most important things in my life, what are the most important things in your life?

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Finding a Theme

I have not written lately.  To be 100% honest, I have been thinking about writing and thinking and thinking, but not writing.  In a review of the blogs I have posted, something quickly became apparent, there is absolutely no focus.  The whole thing is just a mishmash of ideas and while some of them might sound good, none of them are connected.  This format would be fine if I really didn’t care about readers, I do though.  I want people to come and visit my blog and have a good idea what to expect.  I’m not saying I want every post to sound the same, just that there be a general subject for my blog and let each post be about something specific within that subject.  I know that seems like basic knowledge, I guess I had been missing that point.

      So that is what I have thinking about; a theme for my blog.  I had a lot different ideas pop into my head.  How about politics?  No good, I am an absolute centrist.  How about writing?  Maybe, but I should figure how to do that before I take on that subject.  How about a raunchy blog from the male perspective?  Not really my cup of tea.  Sports?  I thought possibly, but when it comes to sports I just want to be a fan, I don’t even want to try to be objective, so sports is out.  There were a plethora of other ideas, but most just didn’t have enough of a sticking point to keep my interest over the long haul.  That was what I was looking for; something that could hold my attention and be of interest to write about and maybe even benefit myself and readers.  Then I started thinking about helping myself.

     As I am sure I have mentioned before or maybe I haven’t, I am somewhat of a fuck up.  I am pretty smart, I have been told highly intelligent (by others and myself) but I digress.  I have fucked up a lot of shit, for as smart as I can be I can be equally stupid.  Some of my failures are a result of laziness or not being properly motivated, I don’t know maybe I smoked too much weed in my time.  One thing that has been constant for as long as I can remember is my complete disorganization.  I am the ultimate “wing it” person, the closer I get to total chaos the more in control I feel, but it is a huge deception, eventually the wave crests and I find myself submersed and all the bad decisions that I have made to that point all collapse in on me.  These situations always come back to haunt me, one way or the other.  Karma is a bitch!

     It all comes down to excuses, for no reasons are real, usually when the universe lines up against you it does so for a reason, that’s just basic Karma- good for good, bad for bad.  I have made my share of horrible choices and have suffered bad Karma as a result, sometimes instantly most times unexpectedly.  It usually hits right when I feel like I am on top of the world and all of sudden the trap door releases and I find myself freefalling to a seemingly bottomless pit of self remorse.  Karma stands above smiling at me, Karma always smiles, for you always get what you deserve, good or bad.  Which leads me back to the point, you can create your own good Karma, or at least that’s my goal. Going forward, that shall be the point of my blog, creating good Karma for myself, by Helping Myself- and that will be the name of the blog Helping Myself.

     I have no idea where this will lead, but I have a pretty broad subject area to work with.  I will aim to improve my life and share my experiences along the way.  On this journey I think I should begin with Organization.  I think being more organized will lead to overall better decision making and improved control over my life.  For me this is really going to be taking baby steps, but if I can quit smoking (which I have for over two months) I can do anything.  Over the next couple of weeks look for posts about how I am trying to organize my life, it may take some time, but I will get there.

     There will be one more random post before I start the themed blog.  It was something that happened the first day of mine and my wife’s vacation; it really sucked and nearly killed our vacation.  To give you an idea of what to look forward to- imagine that a person calls your phone, leaves a message, think that they hang up, but they didn’t….

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Hockey-The best Sport Ever

For me hockey is the best sport by far, bar none.  I like other sports, well honestly the only other sport I even really like is football and that has faded over the past couple of years.  My love for hockey has only continued to grow and I see no signs of that changing.  I have been a fan since I was a mere six months old, I would sit up on my father’s knee and watch the games.  I have seen the game evolve a lot in that time, not all the changes have been for the better.  I love that in the NHL you get a five minute penalty for fighting and I hate that the league has tried to take fighting out of the sport.  Fights are not the only reason I love the sport, though and I would like share some of the other reasons why I LOVE HOCKEY!!!

            Nothing gets me out of my seat quicker than a nice, clean open ice hit.  In no other sport will you hear “you have to keep your head up,” this is what happens when you don’t keep your head up   That was and still is a legal hit.  That was in a playoff game and that one hit set the stage for entire series.  After that hit, the Flyers spent way too much time chasing around Brian Campbell, they took seventeen penalties the following game trying to get revenge.  Not every NHL game has hits like that, but most feature some bone-crushing checks and amazingly, most of the time both players skate away from these hits just fine.  Hitting is just one part of the game and scoring is the most important.

            Hits might get me out of my seat, but goals are what make a fan say, “OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST SEE THAT?”  Personally, my favorite goals are the tic-tac-toe passing goal (pretty goals), it is a thing of perfection and no other sport can quite duplicate it.  Nice saves are great as well. There is one type of goal that is better than the pretty goals.  That would the playoff overtime game-winning goal, it doesn’t matter how it’s scored.  No goal can give a fan the elation or deflation of an overtime game winner I have been on both ends of those goals (as a fan) and no feeling I get from sports is better or worse than the playoff overtime game winning goal.

            I also love hockey fights.  Fighting in hockey is not what it was in decades past.  At least this season I have noticed a lower number of “staged” fights, where two guys that are only on their teams to fight, duke it out for no real reason.  This season I have seen more real fights, where two guys are pissed off at each other and they drop their gloves and start throwing haymakers, that’s my kind of hockey.  Years ago, there use to be bench clearing brawls, where as the name implies, both team’s benches empty and everyone grabs a partner and insanity ensues.    Fight are great, but still not my favorite thing about hockey.

            I watch a lot of hockey, I am a Buffalo Sabres fan specifically but overall I am a fan of hockey, I love the sport.  I order the NHL CenterIce package, just so I can watch almost as much hockey as I want; I love the game that much.  That love of the game goes back to being that six-month old sitting on my father’s knee, watching hockey on a fuzzy television screen.  By the time I was three years old I could name every player on the Sabres.  My dad would say a number and I would tell him the player, he would say a player’s name and I would tell him the number on their jersey.  My father and I went through some very bad periods while I was growing up, but those early memories of him letting me stay up late to watch the end of the period and once in a great while letting me sneak a sip of his beer, those are the real reasons I love the sport. 

            Hockey is the best sport; it has bone-crushing hits, sweet goals and fights.  It also has some of my fondest memories, something that can never be changed or altered.  I will always love hockey, no other sport is as exciting and exhilarating.  No sport will forever remind me of my earliest loving memories of dad and I sharing a good ole hockey game.

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Getting Out Of My Rut

So what the hell happened?  I have been asking myself that a lot over the past couple weeks.  Things were going great I was writing regularly, I quit smoking, after twenty-six years, I finally quit.  To be completely honest, it was easier than I thought it would be.  These are all good things, so what happened?  I just hit a wall- at full fucking speed!  I lost my focus and came up with numerous excuses to not write.  So I have not written, at least not anything meaningful in almost a month.  It was not just the writing that was suffering, it was my life in general, I was angry and frustrated, but at nothing in particular.

            I used the excuse that I smoked a lot when I wrote as a reason to not write, but that was not the real reason.  I have known since before I hit the 30000 word mark that my story Destination Dayton would be much better if it was written first-person, but I remained stubborn, I didn’t want to throw away all I had accomplished.  I kept plugging away, but to me even what sounded well written, did not sound right.  Finally someone gave me an honest review and it put me out of my misery.  My story was not good, it was not horrible, but it could be so much more and the only way to do that was to start over.  That was the wall I ran into and instead of just removing the wall and beginning anew, I made the wall into an obstacle that was beyond my ability to get by.  I scratched and clawed at it, I threw tantrums and that damn wall just got larger and more daunting.

            I am not going to beat myself up over this; quitting smoking definitely has had an effect, I mean it is something I have done for more than three-quarters of my life.  Ask anyone that has quit, smoking becomes a big part of every aspect of your life and when you remove that, it takes awhile to get everything back in order.  Remaining a non-smoker is the most important thing.  I didn’t want to be stressed or put myself in a position that I might light up again and as stated above I lit up way too often when I wrote.  The more I tried protecting myself from stress the more of a target I became for it.  It really peaked in the middle of last week, everything, and I mean every-possible-thing did not go as planned on Wednesday.  From work, to the grocery store to the fast food place, everything seemed to be working against both my wife and I and it sucked.  That was the day I realized you cannot dig yourself out of rut.

            When I am in a rut, I always seem to try to dig my way out; the rut gets deeper and wider and seems more inescapable.  Negativity seems to flow down both sides of my self-made rut and I just keep spreading it around.  Sending out a negative vibe brings about a negative response and deeper and deeper the rut goes, where it stops, the fuck if I know.  At a fast food place, my wife and hesitantly decided to go to, figuring the way the day was going we would likely end up with food poisoning, we ordered and waited in our truck.  We waited and waited, I could feel this rage boiling over in me, I just wanted to scream at someone or hit something.  After about ten minutes I see the girl coming out with our food, I jump out of the truck.  My wife asks me, “Are you going to cause trouble,” I don’t answer.  While I had been waiting, I reached the conclusion that there was only one way to turn things around and I was going to start now.  So as the girl came out, I opened the door for her and the stress on her face was quite visible, I say, “Are you the only one in there?” in as sympathetic a voice as I can muster.  She says, “Ya, I am the only one working behind the counter,” and she hands me our food.  I say, “I’m sorry I hope your night gets better.”  She says, “thanks,” and she seemed relieved that I didn’t start freaking out about how long it had taken.

            With that one simple gesture things did start to turn around, not instantly, but I realized that I had to let go of the negative and instead be positive and try to be selfless and not selfish.  I also now have an idea about how to proceed with Destination Dayton, which had really been troubling me.  I have also started rereading Dynamic Thought, by Henry Thomas Hamblin, the book helps remind me to think positive and helps me focus my mind on my writing. Life is long and I am sure to encounter more ruts, I just hope I can remember sooner that digging in and spreading the negative will never help and realize that the best way out of a rut is to fill it with positivity.

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