Posted in advice

The Plan

We all love plans.  We love when things go according to plan.  We plan for vacations, weddings, and even for college.   We plan for our future.  From the time of being little children, we start planning what we hope things will be like when we are adults.  When things don’t go according to THE PLAN, everyone loses their minds.  Many of the problems we have are because we weren’t planning for plan A to fail.  The only thing you can count on is that things will and always change. We seek order in a universe where chaos can only increase, and yet we still find it hard to plan for the most definite thing.

So, what is definite?  Death is definite.  We are all going to die someday.  Some of us will have a long life and others, unfortunately, will die young.  It may be an accident or on purpose. It may be something we can control or something we have no control over at all.  Regardless of how, it is inevitable that we will die.  Yet, very rarely do we plan on death.  Why? Because we’re dead. At that point, we don’t have to care about anything let alone the plans we made. 

The problem is that the people left behind care.  They care about the plans or the lack of plans we made for them after we have left this plane.  Many of the plans that we make while we are alive circulate around the idea of staying here longer and enjoying our time while we are here, but rarely about what will happen when we aren’t.  So let’s talk about the level of planning we do in life, and then dig into the planning we should do when we are gone.

I love going to the gym and working out, so that I can eat whatever I want, and so that I can go places without wanting to take a nap every five minutes.  I can’t go to the gym everyday because of the weather or because so many people think they can hit their fitness goals in the first months of the year (I call them the resolutions).  They take up every piece of equipment at the gym, and have absolutely the worst form.  Then give up after they didn’t lose 50 pounds that first month, and wonder why they didn’t hit their target while downing a cheeseburger every day.  They made this plan and I made mine, they ruined my plans and now I have to make new plans.

Those new plans mean that sometimes I need to eat things  that I don’t 100%  enjoy because nutrition is a thing too.  I have to figure out how to match the effort that I put in at the gym at home, and not everything that is helpful for your body can be consumed through just everyday foods.  The amount of calories we would have to consume to get 5 grams of creatine is absurd.  If you want a good amount of protein, among other nutrients, you may not be able to burn all of those calories with your new at-home workout.

Today, there are so many options to workout at home.  It hasn’t changed much in 40 years.  Back then you bought a tape and put it into your VCR.  Today, there is an app.  The big difference is instead of having a room full of tapes or DVDs you have access to as much if not more than ever before on your phone, computer or smart TV.  From beginner to expert, from slow to fast, from light to heavy you can find a home workout that will work for you on one application and with nutrition plans.  I have a membership to my local gym, but I have backup in Beachbody now called BODi for when the gym is full, or I just don’t want to leave the house.  I use the supplements and the diets, so that I hopefully will be here long enough to see my grandkids graduate high school, maybe even college.

My dad went to the gym all of the time, and watched everything he ate.  My grandparents made it to their 80s.  My father howerver worried all the time, and that worry regardless of his fitness took him from us at 60 almost 61 years of age.  He had been to the hospital many times for stress attacks, and one day it turned into a heart attack.  My dad did have a plan, and my mom can live comfortably because of it.  They saved money, but my dad also had multiple life insurance policies and retirement plans that took care of all the things my mom needed and the things she will need.

Sitting at the funeral home taught me a valuable lesson in the cost of losing a loved one, and what plans have to be made for their final farewell.  The funeral for my father was well over $20,000, and that was just for the plot, vault(which was required), coffin, transportation and labor.  He got the second least expensive coffin, the least expensive was cardboard and still cost almost $10,000.  Death cost about as much as a car without all of the financing options, and not nearly as joyous as getting a new car.  The last thing anyone wants to think about when saying goodbye is the price tag.  So while death is definite and difficult, many of us never seem to plan for it.  That lack of planning makes it so much worse for the ones left to deal with it.

At least my dad was older and had his debts paid off, so my mom only had to worry about the funeral costs.  So many of my friends have died these last couple of years.  Some of them made a series of bad decisions, some died from health issues outside of their control, and others died tragically in accidents they could not foresee.  I know a lot of people my age have mortgages, car payments, student loans and so on.  Those debts don’t magically disappear with our death, and  our spouses and kids may have to take those over so they don’t lose the house, car or go bankrupt.

So, one plan we should all adopt is saving our money for when we die, and making sure that if our death happens sooner rather than later, there is something in place to provide those that remain a sense of stability.  So, they don’t have to worry about how to survive and much less how to bury their loved ones.  If you have debt or a young family, there is nothing wrong with having a life insurance policy, at least enough to cover a funeral.  You can increase those plans to whatever size you may need if you want to pay off debts or supplement the loss of your income for your spouse and children.  When you are old you may not need those anymore, because you will have saved up your money to basically insure yourself.

Make your plans.  Go on vacations, have date nights. and go to college.  Make your plans to stay here as long as you can, but make a plan B for your family just in case plan A doesn’t work out.  Whether you need a plan to stick around longer or a plan for when you aren’t, I can be of assistance.  From nutrition to exercise to financial planning to insurance, I would be glad to help out with any plans that may need to be laid out.  

Posted in advice

The Need for Forgiveness

Today is my dad’s birthday, so I went to the cemetery to put some flowers on his grave.  His death has not been easy, and the breakdown he and I had 4 years ago makes it even harder.  It is one of the reasons that I write so much about forgiveness and patience.  We had a falling out from what I believe was a misunderstanding that got out of hand.  I lost my temper and said things I wish I could take back, all because it didn’t seem like what I was saying or texting were being understood.  After I blew up, my parents were mad at me, and made it clear through my brother, kids, and my friends that never wanted to see or talk to me again.

Over the years that passed I felt like I was trying to reach out to apologize.  My kids would always go over to visit them, which I did stop for a little bit, because my kids were coming back with stories that were not true, and I had proof to support it.  I would send my mom a birthday gift every year, and the gift I would get was to keep up with a tradition we started before our fight.  I got my dad a gift for his birthday about 4 weeks after our fight, and because it was from me, he sent it back with my kids.  Two years later I got him another gift, and he kept that one.  He did not make it another year, and he passed away on my 40th birthday.

When I went to the hospital he had already passed, and that was the first time I had really seen him in 4 years.  When I saw my mom at the hospital, we agreed it was time to put everything behind us.  Just to be clear, I was responsible for that fight, and I should not have lost my cool.  I just wish my parents would have accepted my olive branches and forgiven me before my father passed.  I don’t know what I could have done differently because I felt like I was respecting their wishes by staying away. 

While I do not feel guilty, because I believe I did everything I could to patch things up.  It doesn’t change the fact that I wish I had a better last memory of my father alive.  All of the places I looked for what to do, really only addressed parent and grown children problems, from the child cutting off the parent and not the other way around.

I tell you this story, because if you are the parent of an adult child seeking your forgiveness, please do.  Because tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us.  You may pass before patching things up with your child, or worse, your child may pass before you.  Unfortunately, time machines do not exist, and the only time you really have is now.  Leaving this world with anger on your heart is no way to go, so just let it go, what do you have to lose in rebuilding a bridge instead of leaving the rubble.  My dad is finally at peace, it just would have been nice to say “Hello” on last time.

Posted in advice, perspective

The Positivity of Patience

As most of you may have noticed, I have tried to keep things pretty light recently.  With so much fear out there, I didn’t think focusing on the negative was going to be helpful in any way.  It is easy to be negative, and sometimes it is really funny.  It is funny to point out the stupidity of others, or the lack of common sense we see all of the time.

But this is where patience can really be helpful, because the first thing that we need to do is establish the perspective of the person we are frustrated or annoyed with.  If they are an arrogant prick, it feels really good to bring them down a peg or two.  But if they were someone doing something they thought was right, it is hard to be mad, and a lot easier to talk things out.  But, in both cases patience is warranted, because you need to take a step back and try to figure out what your endgame is with each person. 

You should want everyone to become better.  Either better people in general, or better at the task at hand.  Making some feel angry or on the other side, stupid, isn’t going to get you where you need to be. 

If you make someone angry with you, they are only going to try to make you look foolish or relish in the times you fail.  If you trying to accomplish some goal, having your teammate try to trip you up every step of the way isn’t getting the team their any faster.  It is this short sightedness, that many of us live in, because we thrive in the instant gratification we get by venting or making a prick feel stupid.  If we focus on the long game, we can see that this pettiness isn’t moving the ball down the field, instead it is stagnating in one spot, or worse moving backwards.

If you make someone feel stupid or insecure about what they are doing, they will slow you down too.  But in this case, it is out of fear, and they will constantly be second guessing themselves, and taking forever to do whatever task you have given them.  They will do this, and never come to ask you a question because they are afraid of making you angry or disappointed.  Instead of actually trying to work against you, they are the clumsy player, so worried about making a mistake, that all they can do is make mistakes.

That is thing, it is easy to be the angry teacher, coach, supervisor, etc. and that is usually what we do.  I was one of those people, and I am still fighting to not be one of those people.  It is always easier to deal with the nice timid and worried person, because with an asshole you just want them to fail.  But in both cases with patience and perspective you can get the whole team moving in the right direction.  As a leader, sometimes you may have to take a bullet just to get everyone to focus on the goal.

Posted in advice

SMILE, Darn ya Smile!!

Smile!!!  No matter how you feel, no matter what you have to fight through, smile.  The amazing thing about smiling, is that even when you don’t think you can, just by forcing it you can feel better.  The power of happiness, has a placebo effect, because while flexing some muscles in your face shouldn’t be able to do anything, somehow it does.  The placebo effect, has been documented to show that the mind can help you deal with symptoms of disease, but most importantly pain and stress. 

Your brain will release endorphins and dopamine to make you feel better.  It is a similar effect, that is suspected in why zero calorie sweeteners (natural or artificial) can make you gain weight.  When your brain senses sweetness, it tells the pancreas to produce insulin, but without any sugar in your blood, that insulin will make you gain weight.  So, to a certain degree, your happiness is in your control, and just that simple act of smiling, may actually make you feel happy.

This isn’t to say that you need to hide your feelings or not deal with them, but attack them with a smile on your face.  Don’t let anything steal your happiness, focus on what you do have, instead of what may have been lost or never attained.  There is always a silver lining, you just may have to look harder for it this time than the last time.  The most important thing is not giving up, and a smile may actually help you get through whatever it is.

The other thing to think about is those around you dealing with their issues, seeing you smile may help others get through their day.  Almost everyone, has a beautiful smile, and even those that are missing teeth, or maybe haven’t been to the dentist in while, SMILE.  Embrace what you have and share some happiness, so that we all can make it through the day, and maybe make tomorrow a little easier.

Posted in advice

For the Love of Money (and the Death of Peace)

What can be said about our motivations in life?  There are plenty of reasons why we do what we do, and I touched on it a bit when I went down the path of being motivated by love or money.  The problem with money, is that it does motivate us, and sometimes the love of money motivates us do to the wrong thing.  After we have made the money, we use it for things that we enjoy or that our family and friends may enjoy.  But when we spend that money, it can become a tit for tat, on who owes what to who. 

And while I do not want this book to turn into a theological discussion, there are some practical aspects from the Bible, that if we applied to ourselves, we could have more peace in our lives.  The expression that comes to minds is “But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back.”  The point is that when you lend your money, expecting to get repaid, it can harm the relationship you have with that person.  On the other side, that person, should want to repay you. 

I, myself, do not like being in debt to others, and I usually offer to pay, and don’t worry about how much everything cost.  If I go out with my friends, I expect to pick up the bill, because I don’t want to sit there and nit pick over who had what and what is fair.  The point of going out, isn’t about the cost, it is about having a good time, worrying about money at the end will ruin that.  If I can’t afford to pick up the bill, I offer for people to come to my house, or we can meet at a park, and have pot luck, or I just don’t go out.

This can also apply when parents get divorced, it is easy for the parent paying child support to get mad about having to pay that money.  Especially when, it may be that the receiving parent may not be spending it wisely.  Unfortunately, worrying about this isn’t going to change anything, just let it go, and focus on making sure your children are happy.  In this situation, the kids are the most important thing, and kids are smart, they will figure out who has their best interests at heart.  And when they grow up, they will remember who took care of them, and try to take care of that parent, and throw the other one in an abusive nursing home.

Another verse to remember is that, you will reap what you sow.  If you look past the things that don’t matter, and focus on the things that do, you will find a lot more peace, because you will be sowing peace.  Fighting about nonsense will only breed more fighting, and fighting about money is the most nonsensical thing out there.  Love your exes and your enemies, and don’t worry about the money you may give or lend them, it just isn’t worth it.

Posted in advice

Don’t Sweat it

I have written about worrying before in this blog, but I find in my conversations with people that they spend a lot of time doing it.  Not saying how we feel or what we may be thinking because it might hurt someone’s feelings.  Not doing what needs to be done because we worry about how it may be taken.  Worrying about what other people have, and trying to keep up with them.  Worrying about what other people do with their money and their time.

Worry is a symptom of a greater problem, and for every person the disease may be different.  The problem is that a lot of times we put ourselves in the very situations that we start to worry about.  To a certain degree life is a constant comparison between us and our peers.  When our friend gets a new car, we have a desire to have a new car.  If our niece or nephew excels in something, we want to push our kids to excel in something too.  When our kid gets into the advanced classes other people push their kids to get into the advanced classes.  And when it comes to colleges, rivalries and allegiances are built there, and we start putting these expectations onto our kids.

I think everyone needs a good dose of humility.  We can be happy with what we have, and try to plan for a better tomorrow.  We don’t need to the newest or best thing, what ever that may be, a house, a car, or a fancy diploma.  Because chasing those things will lead to worry about how your going to keep paying for them, when you lose your job, when the main income provider passes away, you get divorced, or any number of things that can happen to reduce or eliminate income.  If you don’t want to worry about money, worry about getting out of debt before getting nice things.  Learn the difference between want and need.  Then only buy the nice things you want with the cash you have.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  As a father of three, I can tell you it is tempting to try to push your kids too far.  When it came time for them to decide on their classes, they were all accepted into the advanced level classes.  But I told them not to waste their time on advanced level classes that they had no interest in doing when grew up.  So, they went into advanced level math and science, because they aren’t going to be English professors or historians.  Not that it doesn’t look good on a college application, but advanced classes take up a lot of time.  I would rather have A’s in all of the classes than teetering between a B and C, not to mention the needless stress of studying. 

Plenty people brag to me about how their kids are in advanced classes, but also tell me how stressed out their kids are.  If my kids don’t make to an IVY league school, I don’t care, because diplomas are about value, in my opinion, not status.  If you spend $200,000 on degree, that lands you a job that didn’t require a degree, or maybe it did, but the most you will ever make is $80,000 a year, is it worth it?  If someone has a degree from Harvard, does it matter if they are living under a bridge?  While the someone else is making $150,000 after going to trade school for a couple of months and can weld.  What has the most value, and who had to worry more?  Was it worth it?

As a parent, I think more of our time is worrying about our kids, while trying to keep an illusion up.  We don’t want to admit to our kids the mistakes we made, and acknowledge that they were mistakes.  We just want to tell them not do stuff, because we know the result.  Without telling them that we did it, they don’t think we understand.  And if we don’t acknowledge we made a mistake in our youth, they see us as hypocrites.  So many of us seem to forget that that is exactly the way we were as kids too.  If you are worried about your kids, we have to break this cycle.

This is one of my longer posts, but if there is one thing I hope you can take a way it is this, change the things that you can, let go of the things that you can’t, and seek the wisdom do know the difference, but don’t worry about something when you have done everything you can.

Posted in advice

May the Force be with You

May the force be with you on Star Wars Day, May the 4th, get it.  If you don’t it’s ok not everyone likes Star Wars.  But I don’t think we should limit this sentiment to one day out of the year because it sounds so close to a phrase we hear in a Sci-fi franchise.  And it reminds me of something we say at church every week “Peace be with you,” if you speak Spanish you say “La paz.”  The full expression is “The peace of the Lord be with you.”

The point is we really should have this mentality daily, not just weekly, monthly or yearly.  Wishing some walk with the power of the Force, the universe, behind them or the peace of God in them, should be something that we do all of the time.  I know it is not something easy to do, especially with people who have brought harm to you.  But regardless of your spiritual beliefs I think we can all agree that wishing anything but peace and fortune to anyone can weigh on you, if not spiritually, then mentally.  Another way to look at it is from another movie, and just “Let it go.”

When we stay angry at someone, we have let them take our peace.  We have given them the ability to control our happiness.  When we let it go, and forgive them, we can then accept peace into our heart and mind.  It isn’t easy, but not letting others control your feelings can be the best revenge, and forgiveness isn’t about them, it is about you.  Forgiveness can be selfish, because it is about you, and whether you decide to let someone else tie a stone to your neck.

So, if there is someone in your life that has hurt your, or pissed you off, on Star Wars day, and every day, let it go, have peace, and may the force be with you always.

Posted in advice

The Kids We Want

It has been a while since I have posted to this blog, but I have been busy, and coming up with good topics can be challenging.  This post is going to touch on parenting, mostly because I am a father of 5 children, both boys and girls, and step children as well as my own.  So, either I have been fairly fortunate or somethings were done right.  Because with the exception of one of my step kids, the other 4 are turning out to be ok.  Even the one step kid is bad, but we don’t really get along.

One thing I always tell other parents, is you get the kids you want.  Now that may sound ridiculous, but I am trying to say that your actions truly dictate your wants.  If you worry your child will be mad at you, and you don’t correct the behavior of the child in a way that they understand, then they will never behave the way you may say you want.  Don’t the blame the child for this, your actions in this case, tell the child that the behavior you may say is poor is actually ok.  Particularly with small children, they aren’t going to understand a well-made case of logic and reason, but isolation or a small gentle pop on the hand or backside will discourage reaching for things that may be dangerous.

Giving attention to a temper tantrum, will only tell a child that the tantrum is an acceptable way to get attention.  With my kids, a tantrum got them put in their crib or their room, and I would not talk to them until they were calm.  When they started school, if they did not behave, I would take all of their stuff away, and give them homework of my own.  When their teachers told me how good they were, I would reward with gifts or a special event, like dinner at a place of their choice.  Their mom, was always nice to them, and I was generally viewed as the mean parent.  But when I went out with my kids they behaved, when she went out with them, they were rowdy, and she would not want to go anywhere with them if I didn’t go along.  I have gone on several trips with the kids when it is just me and the kids, and no one else to help me. 

While I may be the mean parent, I feel like I have good relationship with my kids, we talk about things I never spoke with my parents about.  I never sugar coat reality with my kids, and I think it has made life easier for them in middle school and high school.  And to be honest, when I talk to other parents, it seems like they forgot what it was like when we were kids.  I had friends that got pregnant in middle school and high school, drugs were everywhere, but peer pressure was never like they showed on TV.  Most of the time it was an offer, not a social threat against your coolness.  I had friends who died in middle school and high school because of drugs and being stupid when they got behind the wheel of a car.  People who have died, since we graduated high school, or are in jail. 

Because of that, I have pulled out my yearbook and show my kids the pictures of the people who are no longer with us.  I take them up and down the different roads in my town and show them the memorials for the kids that died when I was in high school.  I make sure they know that they are not immortal, and that their decisions have consequences, and that reality doesn’t care what reasons or excuses they may have for what they did.

I wish I would not have had to be the one to destroy the illusions of the world for them, but I think if I didn’t show them the reality behind the curtain, I may have to deal with a nightmarish reality I can’t imagine.  Life is difficult as it is, but I don’t want to be the parent erecting and visiting a memorial for any of my children.  For any parent reading this that has lost a child, just know, that while I do not know how hard things are for you, you and your family are in my prayers.

Posted in advice, perspective

Life is a Lost Highway

Driving around the country and you will notice that each city seems to have a different way of laying out their highways.  Houston does it one way, and since that is where I live that is what I have gotten used to.  But every time I travel to another city in the US, it might as well be another country, because if you’re not paying attention to the road and looking at your GPS (or map for those older than 45), you will end up missing your turn.

That is when the real fun begins, because you will have to wait for the GPS to recalculate your route, as you miss the next 75 ways to get you back on track.  Never mind if you are in a place with limited cell service, because you will just be screwed, and hoping you don’t wander into “Deliverance” or the places of the country where cryptozoology is popular.  Just go anywhere northeast of Houston on the way to Shreveport Louisiana, if you exit to go to the bathroom, you may never actually get to your destination.  This is why having one of those old paper maps is helpful, you don’t need cell service for them work.

But while your trying to find your way back to your route, you’re not paying attention to the road, and if your lucky you won’t cause an accident.  I have this feeling that almost all accidents are because of people getting lost and waiting for their GPS to recalculate.  For this reason, I am suggesting that everyone do two things, go over your route before you even get in the car, and have a paper map (especially for long road trips).

Posted in advice

The Cost of Cruelty

“You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”  You have probably heard that expression before, which begs the questions….Why the hell are you trying to attract flies?  Most people try to repel them, this is almost as difficult to understand as that one about cake.  But everyone understands this is more about how you get what you may want out of people.  That being nasty or bitter will only repel others versus being nice and sweet will attract people.

But it is just so easy to be mean, it is fun to tell people off when they screw you over.  And if you never have a need for those people again, there are no consequences to telling them off.  But if you do need that person again, pissing them off is no way to get help from them later.  It is generally good to remember your leverage and theirs, along with thinking about who has more.

I generally think about the bill collector, you owe them money, they want your money, but you actually have to decide to give it to them, you have the leverage.  If your credit sucked to begin with, you have very little to lose if you don’t pay them back, and depending on the amount, they may spend more on lawyers in court than your debt may be worth.  So, if the bill collector is being a dick, you can have a lot of fun taking your daily frustrations out on them, they become an easy punching bag, especially if they are being jackasses.

If you’re a bill collector, maybe being nice will get you a lot further than being a dick.  Over and over again we see examples where rewards yield a better outcome than punishments.  That is not to say there isn’t a place for punishment, but having both a stick and a carrot, is better than just having one or the other. 

In the employee and employer relationship, being nice to your staff will get them to actually want to do a good job, instead of just enough to get by.  If they work out of fear, they will always be second guessing themselves, and more likely than not, make more mistakes than if they were just relaxed.  I don’t think most people wake up in the morning trying to ruin someone else’s day, and we all need a good dose of perspective. 

If we are all just a little patient with each other, listen to each other, and remember the end goal, maybe we can actually have a conversation and see the other side.  And then maybe we will get that bill paid or that deliverable completed perfectly.

Posted in advice

Conflict of Life

Seize the day, live like there is no tomorrow, life is too short, are all popular sayings that we say to each other.  They have merit in making us cherish every moment we have, especially with the family and friends that we do have.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow, with any of them, and it is easy to take for granted what we do have today. 

I lost contact with a lot of friends over time, and I when I started trying to reconnect, I found out several of them were no longer with us.  It really hits you hard when you realize people your age, have already left us, in almost all the cases, I have no idea what happened.  While the curiosity is there, it is just wrong to ask.  I wish I would have done things a little differently, but at the same time, if you live like there is no tomorrow, what happens if there is a tomorrow.

The reason I lost contact was because I focused all my time and attention doing things to take care of my family.  I focused on being there when my kids needed me for doctors’ appointments, games, choir, band, and being good at my job so I could give them a good life.  I started a business so my kids would have a place to work when they grow up, and also as my retirement plan, so I wouldn’t burden them if I lived too long.  Much like everything in life, being the extreme to either side can be problematic. 

If you seize the day and live like there is no tomorrow, you may become a burden to the people you are trying to spend that time with.  But if you plan for all the tomorrows, you will miss life as it passes you by.  But in the middle, you can plan for tomorrow and live life today, both require you to sacrifice a little of the other, but in the end you may be better off.

Posted in advice

Benefits of Temptation (Fighting the Good Fight)

The challenges we come across everyday can be annoying if not down right infuriating.  The true measure of our character is how we react to these challenges, whether they be challenges to our patience or challenges to moral and ethical code.  Moral and ethical challenges generally show up in the form of temptation.

We all have our vices, and every day we will have to confront them one way or another.  Some of us are tempted by alcohol, others drugs, and yet others are tempted by sex.  Perhaps the most difficult temptation of all is food.  While the others can be given up entirely without having to worry about dying, food on the other hand, has to be moderated.  And the mother of all addictive substances is sugar, something that is in everything we eat and is necessary for life, but it too must be moderated, and not completely abstained from.

Temptation does have its benefits, it does give us an opportunity to be stronger, and be an example for others fighting the same urges.  As I have heard, temptation works out the muscles of our soul just like weight lifting does for our actual muscles.  If we really think about it, we always like a challenge in everything we do.  It keeps things interesting.  Imagine if all of the sports and games were easy, could you grow or get better at them?  Would you even want to play them if they were easy?

With out temptation or the desire to be challenged we would not progress forward.  We would not have advanced sciences, mathematics, or technology.  So, no matter how much you may be tempted keep fighting the good fight, and know that when it is over, you will be stronger and better for having not given in or backing down.

Posted in advice

Death of or by Worrying

Life is a beautiful and complicated thing.  Everyday we are challenged with constant decisions that we have to make, for ourselves and those we care about.  Those decisions have impacts that go far beyond what we may have intended, and have a butterfly effect that may go on long after we are gone.  Our children, their friends, nieces, and nephews, can be very impressionable and one thing that was said or done may have an impact on what they do in the future and how they interact with the people in their lives. 

If you sit and think about the ripples you can have on others lives and how they may turn into waves, you may spend a lot of time worrying about whether you have had a positive or negative impact.  But what good does worrying do?  This is something that I think most, if not all of us, deal with, we spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the present that we don’t take time to think about the future.

When something goes wrong in life, we look for who to blame.  The person we blame tries to excuse his decisions or actions.  But is that really the point, consequences should not be about revenge or punishment, but about rehabilitation, and preventing something from happening again.  When we make excuses, it is because we are worried that taking responsibility will lead to a punishment we don’t want.  The problem here is that both the accuser and accused aren’t thinking about fixing a problem for the future, but just want the satisfaction of being right.  If the accuser is clear that they just don’t want the transgression to happen again, then the accused can take responsibility and change the way they act in the future.

But so much time is spent worrying about what could or might happen, that we don’t take the actions to change what is going to happen.  Don’t let the worry monster kill you, instead slay the worry monster. Worrying will not feed you, it will not heal you, and most definitely it will not fix anything, only your actions, in word or in deed, can do that.

Posted in advice

The Choice of Happiness

I know that things today can be a little more difficult than they were just a few decades ago (good grief the 90s don’t seem that long ago).  The internet has really changed things, both for the good and the bad (mostly good, I really like not having to leave my house to do my grocery shopping).  But once you put yourself out there, you open yourself up to the world and all that comes with it.  I’ve been doing this blog for about a week not, and my friends keep warning me about some of the bad reactions I may get for what I am saying.

So, if anyone wants to say mean or harsh things in the comments, I welcome it, we don’t have to agree on many things or even anything, but we are entitled to our opinions.  People are even entitled to an opinion many would find reprehensible, that is the benefit and plague of freedom.  This blog is a release for me, and it may irritate some people out there, but words to me are just that words.  Words may hurt your feelings, but it is the actions afterwards that really matter.

I am used to people despising me, for a whole host of reasons, and some of those people are the ones who were supposed to love me unconditionally.   It was because I said something that they didn’t like, that they cast me away.  But I don’t rely on those people to fulfill my obligations and responsibilities in life, so their feelings and words don’t really change anything.  The morning still comes, and you enjoy what you have, no matter how little it may be, or you can be upset that you don’t have more.  o everyone out there who feels down or lonely, remember your happiness is in your control, you can either give others power over your happiness or you can keep that power to yourself.

Posted in advice

The College Paradox

As many of you will find out as the blog moves forward, I am not a huge fan of college, namely from value and return on investment standpoint. I am not saying that there is no place for college, just that there are parts of it that I think need to change. Full disclosure, I have a B.S. in Civil Engineering, but still think half of my college was a waste of time (I’ll get into that in later posts).

Anyway, what is The College Paradox (as I am calling it)? It is the culmination of 2 ideas that independently seem awesome, but together have a hard time coexisting. Those ideas are all of us wanting our children to do better than us and go to college, and the fact that we, as Americans, want to buy American. But lets be honest, who is going to go to college to work on an assembly line, be a plumber, a welder, an electrician, or name any of those things that we need in civilized society. But do those jobs require going to school to get more English, Art, and History exposure?

Whether you go to the hardware store, Walmart, or Best Buy, those places and just about all of the others sell things are made in China, Mexico, Thailand. We have to ask ourselves do we want to by American so bad, that we would be willing to tell our children that they need to go work in a factory making pens, drills, or iphones. I mean there are some degrees that so worthless, your kids may be doing that anyway to go with his $100,000 hole he dug.

If you want to buy American, teach your kids the value of hard labor (not just hard work). We need to be a self sufficient country, and teaching our kids that they can make a good living without at least 4 more years in school (2 of which are basically an extension of high school, I will never understand why I needed a visual/performing art to be an engineer), would be a good start. There is honor in being a plumber, electrician, welder, etc. Maybe we should tell our kids they don’t have to right to college after high school, and let them work a real job and discern what they want to do in the future during that time.

The benefit of going this route, is your kid, or you, won’t have to dig a hole before they climb the hill.

Posted in advice

The Seating Dilemma

Whether you go to a movie, a stadium, church, or a concert there is always the dilemma of where to sit. I am of the opinion that you need to figure out the type of person you are and adjust your seating to the event you are going to along with the people you bring. Do you sit at the end or the middle of the row? My opinion on this trivial matter really has nothing to do with you, but the people you affect based your seating location.

If the event is a two or more hours long and you have a weak bladder or irritable bowels, please sit at the aisle, so you don’t bother everyone as you leave and re-enter the row. If you are bringing small children, sit at the aisle, then you can leave without climbing and tripping over everyone on the way out and back in.

(Side note, don’t bring small children to movies that are rated R, I don’t know why people do this, and I don’t know how these people have friends. This is why steaming and redbox exist, just stay home for your R rated movie watching. No one wants to hear screaming children in the Joker movie, and little kids probably don’t want to see psycho clowns.)

If you do sit at the aisle and are the first people at the event, don’t be mad when people who arrived on time end up climbing over you. Just understand that they don’t want to sit up front, and they aren’t arriving after the event started, and the middle is all that is left.

If the event is less than two hours, and you don’t have any health issues, sit in the middle of the row. This will allow you to not have anyone climbing over you and you don’t have to climb over anyone.

If you arrive late, just be prepared to stand, or go later. No one should be inconvenienced because you couldn’t plan ahead properly.