A Glance Back

My Family Years Ago

This morning I read a post by Bare Naked in Public. I hope she doesn’t mind my reference to her blog. She always seems to be speaking directly to me, although I know that is not her intention. I would like to suggest you check out her blog and judge for yourself. After reading her post I felt inclined to reflect on my past.

The picture above was taken back in the early 80’s. My mother, on the left, was a single woman raising 3 children with no help from their father. My beautiful sister, on the right, now has 2 gorgeous daughters of her own and recently she was blessed with twin granddaughters. My brother, on the right, has a daughter entering college and a son in high-school that loves sports. I, on the left, have a son that is currently working as a chef at a local restaurant.

Back when this picture was taken I was in high-school. I didn’t think I was poor. I didn’t think working was a burden. I attended school and then went to work at my uncle’s crab shop in the afternoon. It all just seemed normal to me.Many of my friends didn’t have jobs and therefore had more time for other activities. At the time I was slightly jealous, now, I’m glad that I had the life I had. I don’t take things for granted. I have what I have because of the effort I extend and because others that truly love me have been there to support me along the way.

I have made many mistakes on life’s highway. As a husband I failed twice. As a father I made many wrong choices. I can’t change the past. I can only try to make each day worth remembering for the right reasons. My family loves me even knowing my faults. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all accepted each other as is.

Once upon a time, my mother, brother, sister and I all shared one bed at my grandparent’s home. Now, we are all separated by time and space. I wouldn’t trade a single day of my past for a day enjoyed by royalty. I don’t live a life of luxury, but I have what money can’t buy, LOVE!

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A Gentle Reminder

KIMG0044Recently, during a very stressful day at work, I went outside to clear my head. Amid the acres of asphalt, parked cars and people shuffling around, I saw a small rabbit. It was nibbling on grass in one of the islands. Watching the rabbit moving from island to island as if it didn’t have a care in the world, made me think about all the beauty nature shows us every day. Even here in a parking lot GOD again gave me a reminder that there is much more to life than most of us participate in.

I used to find time for canoeing, hiking, visiting parks and science centers. Lately I have let my job consume so much of my time I forget to find time for me. Even this brief instance with the rabbit left me yearning to reconnect with nature. This Labor day weekend I’m committing to find time to enjoy the great outdoors.

I want so badly to resume my sustainable lifestyle. All of my batteries need to be replaced. That is an expense I currently can’t afford. Slowly I plan to replace them one at a time. My solar panels are doing their job, but without good batteries their generated energy is useless.

My garden has more weeds than edible plants. Fixing that issue is a great place to start. It isn’t expensive. I’ll get my hands dirty. I’ll get some much needed exercise. I’ll return my yard to a condition my neighbors can enjoy looking at.

Inspired by a brief encounter with a rabbit, I realized how many things I love that I’m not doing. I need to get back to who I was and not let my job get in my way. I will stop bringing my work home with me. GOD gave me talents and a love for nature. I will combine my gifts and moving forward live for me. Trying to be all things for others might make them happy, but I find little satisfaction in doing menial tasks just because I’m good at it. I like serving others, but all choices we make include an opportunity cost. Doing “A” means not doing “B”. I am learning to say no. Not because I don’t want to help others, rather that I deserve time for myself.

I am blessed. May GOD smile upon you and your life be filled with love. My gentle reminder from GOD got me to reexamine what I was doing, and more importantly why I was doing it. Putting yourself last is realistically unhealthy, both physically and emotionally. Take time for you, or you will never find true happiness. It took me 49 years to figure this out. It’s the little things in life that matter. Make the most of what you have. Hug your children, Chase your dreams. There is only one YOU. And only YOU can control your choices. I choose to live for me, mistakes and bad judgements are bound to occur. So be it. I refuse to be a pawn in others game of life.

This is my outlet to vent. If I’m the only one who ever reads it, I’m happy with that. If others read it and find even one thing they like  I will feel good knowing that even though I created this just for me, perhaps like minded people can work together to create a sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t destroy the beauty nature gives us everyday.

Good night and GOD BLESS.

Good to be King or Lonely at the Top

Today I was awakened by my work cell phone at 6:30 am, 5 hours before the start of my temporary shift. The call was to notify me that 2 of my normal 7 am to 3:30 pm workers would not be in today. After only 4 hours of sleep, my sleep pattern is still in sync with my normal 3:30 to Midnight shift, I had to react and react quickly. I contacted my 2 part time workers and offered them an opportunity to work some additional hours to provide shift coverage. Thankfully, they both accepted my offer and I was able to go back to bed until 9 am.

I arrived at work to find that there were multiple complaints earlier this morning. This meant that in my absence, after my temporary exit time of 8 pm, the night crew I normally supervise chose to take shortcuts and not provide the level of service I expect from them. Most of my crew did everything they are required to do. A small portion did not. Performing maintenance on a 220,000 square foot building needs to be conducted on a tight schedule and I found myself behind because a few workers took advantage of my trust. Of course, they made excuses for not completing their work, but I didn’t fall off the Turnip Truck yesterday. Without supervision these workers simply chose not to perform their assigned duties. End result being I was pressured to correct the discrepancies. This led to workers on the day shift being angry at the night shift workers. I had to act as a referee between the workers.

There were many other issues that made my day unpleasant. My physical therapy session went badly. Several new projects were dumped in my lap with expected completion dates, yet lacking any funding. Several pieces of equipment were reported as broken. Due to all the distractions I was not able to conduct interviews to hire additional staff.

In the past a day like this would have led to me drinking myself into a stupor. Self destruction as a means to escape. However, tonight when I got home my neighbor had a flat tire and asked if I could help. I quickly forgot about all the problems I was dealing with at work and proceeded to offer my tools and knowledge for his cause. In a relatively short period of time I had repaired his tire, forgotten my frustrations, and felt a sense of accomplishment. He offered to pay me and I refused any money. I believe neighbors should help neighbors. God will reward those who do his bidding.

So to summarize this particular piece, being a supervisor in a federal government organization can be as challenging as any position as I have faced in civilian life after leaving the military 25 years ago as a disabled veteran. Although I still consider myself an addict, I believe that my faith in GOD and willingness to help others will help me maintain a purposeful life.

If you have read this, I thank you. Although I hope that people will read my blog I use this as a way to put my feelings in print. By putting this out I am able to stress less about my daily life. By reading others blogs I feel a sense of connection of our human condition.

Rarely I feel good when as a supervisor I am told we as a team exceeded the expectations of the people we serve. At those times it feels good to be king. At other times when things go badly, which is 90%, it is lonely at the top. This is the hand I have been dealt. I can only control my own actions and influence only those willing to be led. My future is what I make of it. GOD is GREAT. My son and my dog love me even on bad days.

Knee-jerk Reactions

This may upset some people. But I won’t apologize for speaking the TRUTH.

Unless you live under a rock you have likely seen the mass rejection of the Confederate Flag. Almost every entity that wants to separate themselves from the symbol misstate the very reason for the Civil War. It was NOT a war about Slavery. It was a war over Taxes and Tariffs. And, it was a war that could have been avoided. The Southern States wanted to secede from the Union. Abraham Lincoln, in 1861, said “I can’t let them go. Who would pay for the government?”

A prominent abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, concluded that Lincoln “had not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins.”  Lincoln stated in August 1852 Lincoln said “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it.” He went on to say “what I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because it helps to save the Union.”

Congress passed an Act in 1864 (13 Stat. 11) to allow slave owners whose slaves enlisted or drafted into to Union military to file a claim for lost services of their slaves. In 1866 a similar Act (14 Stat. 321) was also passed by Congress. The Emancipation Proclomation of 1863 only freed slaves in the Southern, Confederate, States. Slavery in the Union States was still 100% legal.

More than 65,000 Black men, Slaves and Free, fought for the Confedrate military. The Confedrate President, Jefferson Davis, suggested there would be no future for Slavery once Black CSA veterns returned from war. He forsaw that Black Conferate Soldiers should receive land grants after the war.

Union Leaders, Generals Grant and Sherman, refused to accept negroes as equals. Confedrate Leader, General Robert E. Lee, stated “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery is an institution of a moral and political evil” in 1851. Grant never owned slaves.

Recent News coverage of unfortunate events where Black Americans, I refuse to call them African Americans unless they were born in or lived in Africa, were the targets of terrorist like attacks has led to a mass exedus of people and companies from selling the Confederate Flag. Many Government also have removed or are plotting to remove the Confedrate Flag and other items related to those who served in the Confederate military. In my area groups want to rename our county because our county is Named LEE for general LEE. As I previously stated, he did not own slaves. One, weak in my opinion, for renaming the couty is that Lee never visited this area; my reply is that nearly all cities in America has a street named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he did not visit every state in America, much less every city.

History, as taught in most schools, seems to slant towards the Civil War being fought strictky on the legality of Slavery. Our children deserve to know the truth. America fought againts Brittain for Freedom of Religion and the right to all taxes and tariffs to be done with proper representation. These same Freedoms are why the South wanted to leave the Union. I will fly the Confedrate flag below the US flag until it falls apart. Since most places have quit selling them I may not be able to replace the one I have.

Replace the Confederate flag with a flag of a pig on fire is not a proper solution. Mr. Stewart is wrong on this sobject, and I normally tend to agree with him.

Life, Loss and Learning (Part 2)

From Hydra 027

In my last post I talked about losing someone too soon due to an early death. Today I want to talk about another type of loss that has left myself and many others wondering how did LOVE just disappear. I’m referring to DIVORCE.

Apparently I’m not very good at Marriage. I have been married and divorced twice. I was single for ten years between the end of my first marriage and the beginning of my second. I dated off and on during this period, but I was not willing to give my all to anyone. The hurt of losing my first wife, and as a result, not being able to spend as much time with my infant son was always on my mind.

When I was reunited with my former High School Sweetheart, I thought this time I’ll get it right. I could not have been more wrong. Our eight year marriage was riddled with arguments over money, child care and lifestyles. She and her son were very sedentary, while I and my son were very active. They stayed indoors while I and my son loved the outdoors. Eventually, the relationship just deteriorated beyond reconciliation. That made things complicated. I had to leave my own home while our divorce was going through its very slow legal process. I still paid all of the bills associated with the home, but had to live elsewhere. When the divorce was final, nearly eighteen months later, I still had to wait three months for her and son to leave my house so I could move back in.

Looking back, I realize I was part of the problems that occurred and brought about both divorces. I feel the lack of companionship that divorce brings, I regret that I am no longer a part of the lives of people I still care about. Every morning I look in the mirror and see a man that looks much older than his years, a man carrying baggage that needs to be dropped. I have to accept the past, and more importantly, leave it in the past where it belongs.

I have a college education. I have a good job. I have a loving, supportive family, yet something is missing. At 49 I worry that I might never find the right person for me. Someone who can love me the way I am and I can do the same for them. If I have learned nothing else, I know that it is actually better to be alone than to force yourself to pretend to be happy when inside you feel like crying. As I said before, I was part of the problems. Admitting that is something I do willingly, neither of my ex-wives ever did.

GOD willing I will find the right one. If that is not his plan, he has blessed me with my family and my dog. My dog doesn’t judge me and she is always happy to see me. Even when she dug up my garden I was thankful to have her company. I have since fenced off my garden. I allow her into the garden with me, but not without. I am BLESSED.

If you took the time to read this, thank you. And may GOD BLESS YOU ALSO.

Life, Loss, and Learning (Part 1)

River 8 BGAll of us experience loss. How we respond to loss can be as individual as fingerprints. For some people the loss of a loved one can lead to deep-set, long-lasting depression. Others in similar situations, celebrate the memories made and continue on. Most of us, however are somewhere between these extremes.

One of my first memories of this type of loss was when my much younger cousin lost her fight with Leukemia. She had not even reached school-age. At the time I questioned why GOD would take such a life. As I matured, in both age and spirituality, I came to accept that it is His will and not mine. I knew that she had endured two years of Chemo and Radiation with little hope of being cured. She once said “No more Ouchies”, referring to the treatments. Her parents and Doctors agreed that her treatments were not producing any measurable gains, they were, however decreasing her quality of life. The decision was made to discontinue treatments. In the little time she remained with us she was treated like royalty. She had us all wrapped around her little finger. Thirty years later I still think of her and wonder what she may have become.

Because of her brief presence here on Earth, I’m blessed with the memories of someone who never learned to hate, truthfully accepted each day was a blessing, and an infectious smile. Because of her, I have an inclination to treat females named “Amber” a little more affectionately than others. It may seem odd or unfair, but it is my unique way of dealing with loss.

I’ve been through many different losses since Amber’s passing. GOD’s grace has helped me find peace even in the darkest times. I’ve cried, prayed, rebelled, drank too much, went half crazy, but in due time I return to NORMAL.

Where I find PEACE

Wildlife 002

FGCU Campus waterway

Most of my life I’ve been here in SW Florida. I’ve never been too far from water. I grew up in a family of commercial fishermen. I was taught to respect our environment. Now, as a not so young man, I find that Nature nurtures. When I’ve had a bad day, or hell a bad week, I find Peace just observing GOD’s creation.

Something as simple as feeding the squirrels in my back yard can somehow ease my stress. Putting the canoe into the water just after daybreak, smelling the fresh air, feeling the light breeze,  being alone with my thoughts can temporarily transport me out of the everyday hustle and bustle. Picking a fresh tomato, cuke, or pepper from my small garden provides a satisfaction that couldn’t be matched by purchasing a bushel of each at the market.

There have been times I’ve cussed the rain, complained its too hot, bitched about mosquitoes, but I always return to Happiness when I accept that I’m just one small part of a very grand design. Without the rain, crops don’t grow. Without the sunshine, nothing on earth would survive. As for mosquitoes, they’re food for bats and other creatures.

I can’t paint one perfect picture of nature with my mere words. Many talented writers have come before me giving us wonderful works describing their experiences. Photojournalist have given us pictures of nature in almost every possible situation. For me, one minute spent in Nature, is worth a hundred seeing it through an others eyes.

Next time you’re feeling blue try visiting a local park or conservatory. I’m thankful for the protection my home provides from the elements, but those elements are what make Earth the only viable location for human life.

HAVE A BLESSED DAY!