Archive for April, 2009

Learning From My Mistakes

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

I’ll start this off by telling all of my friends and family that, yes, I am ok. The reason I wrote what I did last night is to show people that there are hills and valleys in everyone’s lives. I was literally on top of the world on Friday. Then, by the time Saturday came to a close and Sunday and Monday rolled through I was at the bottom of the barrel. I try to write when I can to show that everyone suffers from what can sometimes be extreme highs and lows.

I’ll be the first person to tell you that I’ve made many mistakes on my journey through life. I’ve done some very stupid stuff and I’ve paid the price for it on more than one occasion. However, I’ve always tried to recognize my shortcomings and correct my actions in case I ever find myself in a similar situation. Saturday and Sunday were no different for me.

I don’t make excuses for doing anything, but sometimes a long, hard day can bring me into an ugly place. My day had been anything but good on Saturday. Then, before I went out I had to pick my truck up. When I got there the whole episode turned into a mess. I’ll just leave it at that, but my patience was being tested. I had made plans a few weeks earlier to join some friends for their birthdays. As the time neared I knew I wasn’t going to be ready because I couldn’t get motivated. I felt like a bump on a log. I sat on the couch and watched the end of the Yankees/Sox game. Eventually I climbed into the shower.

When I was getting ready to head out the door my plans changed again. For some reason I became a little agitated, but I acted as if everything was fine. I harbored the feelings I had inside because I don’t like any type of confrontation. However I knew it was eating away at me. Then, I let the unheard of happen. I let it affect my entire evening and I did some things that I would really like to take back. The sad part is that now I can’t do anything about it except learn from my actions and make sure to be open and forward if I ever encounter a situation like that again.

As with many things, I learned that two wrongs do not make a right. I acted childish and let it get the best of me. I ignored the feelings of everyone around me because I was in a miserable place within my own head. I took out my frustrations on all the wrong people and acted like an insensitive, uncaring jerk. In many ways I had no idea how to act. I was clueless to my own environment.

I’ve always been a person who needs communication, yet I failed miserably to communicate to those closest to me. I realized that it’s something that I can’t do again. There are a few people who are pissed off at me right now and they have every right in the world to feel that way. All I can do is bow my head, tuck it between my legs and trudge away.  I definitely learned my lesson. In some ways I feel like a lesser person, but I know what I have to do to avoid any situation like that from happening in the future.

Someone close to me came to see me today. We sat and chatted for about 10 minutes. When she sat down I gave her my normal smile that I give to everyone. The first words out of her mouth were, “You might fool everyone else with that shit eatin grin, but you’re not fooling me.” I continued trying to hide behind it until it wasn’t necessary. I spilled my guts and explained my smile away as me, “faking it until I make it.” That’s all I could do. While it hasn’t been the best couple of days the experience will certainly serve me well in the future.

As for the way I acted to those closest to me, I apologize. I know that I seemed like a horrible person who had no feeling or consideration in the world. I let the best of a bad situation take control of me and I have no excuses. I’ve always been a very forgiving person and I hope I’ve surrounded myself with the same type of people.  I’m far from perfect and I have a really good heart, but sometimes I get lost in areas that I have no idea how to escape from. I obviously made a few wrong choices over the weekend, but I will definitely learn from it.

As I was writing this I received the Forward to my book from my editor. I’m really pleased with the way it looks. I will share it with a few of my close friends and family to see what they think. I’ve been in the dumps the last few days but something that he wrote in my Forward put it all in perspective for me. I almost can’t believe the timing. I’ll share it with you just so you can see first hand what I’m talking about. As I told you, I always try to learn from my mistakes and half the battle is owning up to the mistake. I’m glad to see that the people that I’m close with can also see this quality in me. This is a quote from my editor:

 In the coming months, we convinced Todd to try writing a column in Outdoors Magazine. In a very short time it became evident Todd’s skills extended far beyond archery and whitetails. The eye for detail he possesses and the underlying desire to make himself better, study a situation, and learn from his mistakes quickly became evident.

  That quote could not have come at a better time for me. It’s something I needed from a neutral voice. It’s something that gave me confidence that I will not make the same mistakes twice. My parents always taught me to own up to my mistakes, take the blame when it is due and make sure not to do the same thing again. Since I have the utmost respect for my parents I will not let them down because that is one of the most important lessons that they have taught me.

  So for anyone out there who was worried about me, you can rest easy. I’m just on a hiking trail with peaks and valleys just like everyone else. I’m on my way to the top for good, but sometimes I have to accept that I will fall and get injured. However, I’ve learned that I have to get back on my feet, take care of myself and make sure that I don’t make the same mistakes twice and hurt the people who give me so much of themselves. Onward and upward. I’m headed to the top to see the world from a different perspective. I might be bruised, beaten and exhausted when I arrive, but I’ll only be a heartbeat from heaven once I figure it all out.

Will I Ever Find My Way?

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Today was the beginning of a long week. My mind is running rampant and I have no solution to the problem. I guess you could say that I’m an emotional mess right now. I’m not even sure why, but it probably stems from a combination of things. Whenever I convince myself that I’m finally turning the corner something smashes me in the face and I get tossed around like a rag-doll once again. I’m so tired of the emotional ups and downs that I would just like to go far away someplace to figure it all out. Sometimes I feel like I have given so much in my life and in return nothing ever seems to work out. I even feel like throwing the towel in occasionally, but I know that won’t do any good. Instead I put one foot in front of the other and march forward. I know that sooner or later I’ll have to come across something that will take me out of this horrible place I’ve been for so long. I won’t go as far as complaining, but I really think I deserve a break. I try my hardest to help other people. I try to bring out the best in them and show them that their optimism can bring them places that they’ve never imagined.

I have to take a step back to the weekend where I encountered a situation that made it feel like the wheels fell of the bus.  I never go to bars and there are specific reasons why. However, I decided that since I had some friends that were celebrating their birthdays I would be kind enough to join. I knew from the beginning that it probably wasn’t in my best interest, but I wanted to be there for them. I would make an appearance and leave.

The night didn’t start out as I had planned and it went downhill quickly from there. I went alone and planned on staying for an hour or two at the most. As I began talking I lost track of time and before I realized it, it was after midnight. I knew I had to get up early the following day and I wanted to be well rested for the drive.

Most of my evening was spent listening to one of my friends. I could feel her pain as she told me about some things going on in her life. I’ve been friends with her for well over 20 years and I tried to be as supportive as possible, but it was a very uncomfortable situation for me in a place that I didn’t want to be. Before I knew it I could feel some awful memories taking over inside of me. Things that I had buried in my past and tried so hard to forget. Then, a few things happened where I couldn’t hide from them any longer. I knew I was in trouble and there was absolutely no place to hide. I wanted so badly to be alone, but I also would have done anything in the world to be held just so I knew that everything would be ok. All of the horrible things that had happened in my past in and amongst bars slapped me so hard in the face almost instantly that I didn’t even know where to begin. Then, my phone rang. I looked at the caller id and realized that I had to answer it. I took the call and went outside. It was my dear friend who had just left the bar. She was in tears and wanted me to come sit with her to talk about her problems in a different atmosphere. I politely declined and felt like crap about doing so.

As a few people began leaving and I thought a few other people had left I said my goodbyes to everyone and headed on my way. As I walked out the door and slowly made my way to the car I was lost. I was a soul searching for what no person could ever give me. I just wanted a small glimpse of a normal life again where I can give, receive and find my own way again. I can’t believe how hard life seems sometimes. Every decision that I make lately seems like the wrong one. I would like one decision to be rewarding and I just can’t find it. It makes me hesitant to do anything. My mom always tells me that I deserve something good to happen. She even did so today, but then I’m thinking that maybe I deserve everything that has played out in front of me so far.

When I finally got home that night I laid down and my phone rang about an hour later. It was about 1:30am. I expected that it was one of my friends that needed a ride. However, it was my friend once again who was suffering through the horrible pain of divorce. It was late and I was tired, but I couldn’t blow her off. As we began talking one minute rolled into the next and before I knew it, it was approaching 4am. I knew that I had to go to Plattsburgh at 7:30 and I was becoming worried about having to stay awake for the ride there and back. When I hung the phone up I laid in bed and sobbed. I could feel my friend’s pain and I felt absolutely helpless. There was nothing I could do for her and furthermore there was nothing I could do for myself. I suddenly realized that my problems were insignificant, but they were still there.

The morning came quickly and I had to make a decision. Although I was supposed to leave at 7:30 I waited until almost 8 just to make sure that I didn’t leave without waiting and getting my feet under me first. As I headed out I was lost. My mind raced from one period of my life to the next. I had tears streaming down my face and I just let them go. I was so alone that nobody could hear me or feel what I was feeling. I felt like I just couldn’t win no matter what I did. Then I found myself going back to Friday night when I was on top of the world. My life seemed so good and then on Saturday it was as if I finally tumbled to the ground like a fallen gladiator. I would just lie there and let the lions eat me alive if I had a choice. I don’t have much fight left in me right now and I would just as soon have the players throw dirt in my face and spit on my lifeless body. I’m almost sick of trying to be a good person because it hasn’t gotten me very far as of yet.  I guess the only reason I do it is because that’s who I am and I don’t know anything any different.

Tonight I paddled my boat around Glen Lake to find some solitude. Although I was in search of peace, the negativity followed me around like a black cloud. I wish it would just swallow me up and spit me out for the rodents to feed on. I know that I shouldn’t be alone right now. I’m a chronic over-thinker and being alone isn’t good for that type of mind. However, I feel like I can’t go to anyone because I just don’t want to discuss the things on my mind. There are a few people I would discuss them with, but it seems that isn’t possible right now.

I’ve heard many people say that life is what you make of it. Right now I totally disagree. My life is not what I’ve made of it. My life has become what it is because of much of the bad luck that I have encountered along the way. I may have brought some of it upon myself, but I know that I’ve always tried my hardest to be honest and up front with everyone that I have encountered. I tell people like it is even if they don’t want to hear what I say. I think I might sometimes offer too much of myself while at other times I don’t offer anything. There’s a fine line between  the two and I have to determine what to do as spring rolls into summer.

If anyone is listening out there I just want my cluttered mind to be clear. I want to be happy and content again. I want to come home to my own house with my pets and whomever I might be sharing my life with and just settle into something normal. Although I’m scared, I think that I’m beyond ready. I don’t have a clue what will happen tomorrow, the next day, next week or next year, but I do know that I need something postitive to illuminate the dark sky that has engulfed me. I want to see one twinkling star in the distance and walk until I get there. I don’t care if it’s a mile hike or a year long journey. I need something to show me the way and carry me to where I belong. Although I might seem negative right now I pray that I will find my way and I know that eventually all of the drama in my life will have to subside. I’m ready for the down times to find a permanent hiding place……………….I’m so ready.

Good People

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

This week has been strange for me. I feel like someone told me to go sit in the corner of a circular room. The week started with great weather on Sunday. I was able to enjoy a nice walk and take in some great scenery. It gave me hope that beautiful spring and summer days aren’t far away.

Tuesday night I went to my Aunt Kate’s 25 anniversary party for work. Although she has been there longer than 25 years they celebrated 25 because they couldn’t count the year or so that she left early on. Heck we all have to take chances and she took one. Funny how the people that come back to work now get credit for their previous time served. I could never figure that out, but that’s the way it works so why question it?

When I got to the Montcalm for dinner I quickly sought out my brother. It had been a while since I was able to talk to him in any length. We made quick work of catching up  on things and shared a few laughs along the way. Although he acts all tough I can see that he’s not in a good place right now. He’s in a place that I was in a few years ago. It’s a horrible pain to deal with and sometimes we have to put on the best happy face that we can until we find something to help us out the other other side. We have to fake it until we make it. I was fortunate when my world came crashing down because my friends crawled out of the woodwork to help me.

I never realized how many lives I touched along the way until that happened. Everyone that offered their assistance to me told me they did so because of all of the times I helped them. When I look back on it I never felt like I was helping anyone. All I ever did was show them the real me. I offered my shoulder to cry on and my hand to hold when they were down and out. I tried offering my condolences while also giving them positive insight in order to help them get beyond their difficulties. I guess it gave most of them a different view of me when they saw me as the vulnerable one. I was always the one that couldn’t be broken or the “strong” one. Funny, but I never felt so weak in my life as I did then. I’m going out with many of those friends this weekend. It will feel good to see them now that I’ve fully recovered and found my way into a new world filled with happiness and satisfaction. However, with that many of us together, there’s sure to be at least one person that will not be in a good place mentally. I’ve realized that it’s all a part of life. One hand washes the other and when I see all of my friends I will surely offer my ear if anyone needs it.

As I sat at the table Tuesday night and listened to people speak about my Aunt Kate I was glad to see that all of the people that spoke also saw what I had been so fortunate to see my entire life. Every single one of them mentioned that she is one of the most caring, compassionate and kind souls that has ever walked the face of this planet. Not that I wasn’t sure, but I was glad to see that I wasn’t the only one who knew that. Some people are just good people and she is surely one of them. Many people say that I’m a good person, but I don’t think I could hold a candle to her. Well, then again, maybe I got some of who I am from her. She gave me a lot when I was growing up and I’m sure some of it must have stuck if people think I’m a good person too. Although I gained most of what I have from my parents there have been a few other significant players and she is definitely one of them. When I listened to everyone speak I was proud to call her my Aunt.

Today at lunch we had a volunteer group in the cafeteria that was promoting their business. When I glanced at the table I saw a face that I recognized, but it took a second to sink in. When I looked a little closer I realized that it was one of my former co-workers. I hadn’t seen her in a few years and she looked exactly the same. I always respected her when we worked together. She was always a good employee as well as being a tremendous person. Although she was always fairly quiet around me she was a caring, good all around person. We spoke briefly and caught up on some old business.

In the course of the conversation she said a few things to me that made me feel good. I told her of the unfortunate incidents that had taken place in my life over the last few years and I could tell that she felt for me. However, I could also tell that she knew I would be ok. She gave me the confidence that I deserved something good and that something good would surely come my way. In all honesty I could sit here and try to explain it, but it wouldn’t do anything for anyone because I’m the only one that truly knows what it did for me. We spoke of her 5 year old child. We also laughed about the fast approaching 40th birthday. When she spoke of her child I could see her eyes dance and come alive. I could almost feel the emotion. I told her how it never happened for me and she left me with a thought that made me feel good. She said, “It’s never too late and I know you would be a good dad.” I’m not sure why, but it just made me feel good inside. Sometimes the smallest things that people say can make a large difference in the way we look at things.

This week was a good week. I got to live in the present, look back on the past and glance into the future. The weekend is supposed to be really nice and I’m sure the weather will bring out some happy faces. I’m headed to Plattsburgh on Sunday morning to meet with some old friends and meet some new ones. I think it will be a wonderful experience and something I can’t wait to do. The road I’m traveling on is becoming clear with each passing mile. Some of the fog has lifted and I can begin to see the sunlight on the other side. I’ll keep driving until the fog burns off and I settle into normalcy again. I think it’s coming quicker than I had anticipated.

A Drop of Water

Monday, April 20th, 2009

The last week was filled with all sorts of things that made me retrace my footsteps. Yesterday probably topped it off. I didn’t have any ambition so I stayed in bed later than I should have. When my phone beeped I looked at the text and realized that I should probably roll out of bed and get started.

I made plans to go for a walk later in the day so I decided to get all of the small things done before I ventured out for the afternoon. I was able to work on some of my archery stuff and set up a bow to give a lesson with. It has been a long time since I’ve taught a beginner how to shoot a bow. It’s amazing how we sometimes take things for granted when we become accustomed to doing it on a regular basis. When I start with the basics I lose focus because it has been so long since I was at that stage. However I still enjoy it because I can see the excitement in the eyes of the person I’m teaching. It brings a feeling to me that is all but unexplainable

Anyhow, the rest of the morning passed quickly and before I knew it I was on my way up the long and winding dirt road that would eventually lead me to my destination. Originally I wanted to climb Shelving Rock Mountain, but since my time was limited I decided to walk down to the waterfall instead.

Although I had been there within the last few years, this trip was different. My mind was in a much more peaceful place than the last time I found myself there. My life has turned around for the better. The last time I was there I felt like I was staring into the bowels of hell as I glanced into the pool of water at the bottom of the falls. This time I saw the water as something totally different. I realized that every drop of water that splashed off the rocks below was on a journey, a journey just like the one I have been on. Each drop of water takes its own route as it travels toward it’s final destination.  No two drops of water share the same journey from start to finish. This is very much like humans.

A while back I got tossed into the roughest, raging river that anyone could imagine. I took a lashing as I was thrown against boulders, pulled into eddies and thrown high into the air as I fell into deep chasms along the way. However, I just went with the flow because I knew that I would end up wherever the current brought me. I knew that it was all part of the plan. As I stood on top of the falls and gazed into the water below I almost instantly realized that I had indeed survived some of the roughest waters that I would probably ever travel. I was happy to see that I ended up in a far superior place and I was once again close to being calm at the center.

There were times where I thought I lost that peace and quiet of the inner mind, but in reality that is probably what brought me to where I am now. Somehow I found the strength to put one foot in front of the other and push forward. As with everyone, I had no idea where my life would end up, but as the first few weeks of spring have brought new life,  I have also seen a change in my mental state.

After checking out the falls I continued down to the bridge at the bottom of the hill and sat down to dangle my feet above the water and take it all in. A bat flew around above the water as if to show me that the evil that had been such a big part of my world was gone. It was flying away in the daylight right in front of me. Then, as quickly as he appeared he was gone. The dirty little creature, although cute, left me there to gaze across the lake and listen to everything my friend had to offer.

As the minutes passed by I realized how lucky I am to be alive and to be relatively healthy. I never realized how fortunate I really am, until I hear of some of the battles that those closest to me face. Although some of the illnesses are extremely serious I always look at them as beatable. I try to show my positive nature and I hope that it radiates into my friends when I tell them that everything will be ok. I’m a fighter by nature and I would fight until I had no fight left in me. That’s what I had to do just to get to the point that I’m at now. I’m ready to move forward, create new dreams and enjoy new experiences that I never before thought were possible.

The conversation lasted for a good half hour or more and the air began to chill. We decided to trek back to the truck and head home. In many ways I felt very much at peace. I’m not sure if it was the waterfall, the calm lake, the ducks and goose that we saw or if it was just the walk in the forest that did it. I will never be sure, but I knew it was something I needed just to assure me that I was on the right path.

I’m looking forward to summer and many more adventures where I can be outside and witness the beauty of nature. I would like to see a beautiful sunrise over a lake someplace this summer just so I can have an understanding that he  has spoken and it’s time to start again. The sun is just like life. There are times where it comes up and times where it goes down. However, it’s all the times in between that define who we are and where we’re going. If we can find something to make us happy when things are gloomy and gray we will always have sunshine in our life. It will illuminate us and people will feel it and draw from it.

As I drove home on the winding road I occasionally glanced out the window and addressed a few of my passing thoughts. For some reason one thing kept going through my head. It was a saying that I heard a long time ago, but not until recently did I ever truly understand it. I’ve heard many people say “Well I just don’t love him (or her) anymore.” As I looked at all of the beauty around me the quote finally stuck. “Love is not something that we feel. It’s something that we choose to do.”

I suddenly realized that love is easy to give to anyone. I’ve heard many people criticize others for saying that they love someone too quickly. I finally realized that there’s no time frame to that with anyone. If you choose to give someone the best of what you have inside then you have chosen to give them your love. It’s easy because it’s not a feeling. Sometimes people get overwhelmed with their feelings, rather than analayzing the entire situation. Any of us can love multiple people, but no matter who we are we all have to make that choice.

I’m glad I went for my excursion the other day because I have a much better idea of where I’m going and what I’m doing. I try not to get overly involved with feelings. Rather, I try to give the best of what is inside of me and in return I hope that others recognize that and do the same for me. There’s nothing more in life that anyone can ask. My parents have always chosen to love me. It’s not a feeling they have, but it’s a choice. I wish I had my own children to do the same with, but for now I’ll practice with the people that come into my life as I move forward.

Remember we’re all like a raindrop and we will ultimately all end up in the same place. It’s our choice where the river will lead us. Go with the flow, take the rough patches and rest easily when you hit the beach.

It’s Time to Live Again

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

I’ve been waiting for a nice day for a long time and I was glad to see one finally arrive today. It has been a long and grueling winter. At times I’ve been on top of the world, but I’ve had bouts where I crawled around the circular path of the bottom of the barrel. Whenever things seem to pick up and come to life it seems as if someone hides in the dark and pulls the carpet out from under my feet.  It’s beginning to get old, but I realize that’s all part of  living and growing.

While many people would wish and pray for a break I kind of welcome the uncertainties that I face. As of right now I have no clue where I will end up a year from now or even a month from now. My mind has been encompassed with such a variety of thoughts that I can’t possibly harness them. Instead, I acknowledge that they exist and I try not giving any more thought to them than is necessary. As with anything though, there are nights where I lie on my back and stare at the ceiling. It seems I’ve had more of those nights in the last month than I have encountered in a very long time.

The only reason I can give for these things happening is that I’ve suddenly been jolted to life and realize that I have many things to do in order to settle into a normal life again.  I’m not sure, but I think I’m ready to do what has to be done. I’ve caused more confusion for myself and those closest to me over the last few years than anyone can imagine. Sometimes I didn’t know what end was up, but I tried to stay positive and focus on the things that brought me happiness.

I have one individual who has helped me in greater ways than anyone will ever comprehend. Sometimes I can’t even begin to understand how this person has stayed behind me and helped me along the way. I know that no matter what happens in my life this person will hold a place in my heart that is irreplaceable. My life would be insignificant right now without the support, comfort and care that I was shown. When I was down and out I always knew that I would be welcomed without any questions asked. I tried my hardest not to wear out my welcome and I found myself in a place I had never been before. As one day led into the next I became lost. However, I never wanted to find the road that would help me find my way because I had everything I needed in front of me. I didn’t know how to address it and as days led into weeks and weeks ran into months I found happiness and satisfaction. Although I would like to think that the answer is right in front of me I still can’t convince myself that it truly is which nags at me on a daily basis. I’m not sure if it’s from some of the traumatic events that have occurred in my life or if it’s from something else. Sometimes when people want answers they don’t believe what you tell them. In all honesty I don’t have an answer for the one that probably deserves it the most. The person that let me crawl onto their back and hang on for dear life as my life was unraveling all around me. As I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling I try to think of something to say that would be meaningful or significant and I come up with nothing. I’m not sure why, but it bothers the hell out of me. I can almost always find the answers I’m looking for, but for some unknown reason this one still eludes me.

However, just recently I have been feeling more positive about things. I’m not exactly sure why, but I can feel it circulating in the air. When I recently thought of building a house again I came to life. I do realize how hard it will be if I ever dive into it, but I guess you never know until you try. If not anything else I’ve realized that I have to get out of the state that I’m in. I’ve been sitting around waiting for something to happen. I’ve been waiting for some miracle to come down from above and take me away. I’ve realized now that I have to let people inside and let everything fall into place as it should. It’s a little scary to think about, but I also welcome the challenge and the opportunities that it might present.

Now that I’ve finally figured out what I need I will have to divise a plan and a time frame to get there. I guess that will be a project for me in the coming months. For many years my life seemed fairly easy without many worries.  I can see worries coming my way, but I can also see that I need to settle into a normal, laid back and committed life again. I will not search for it because I think it exists within my line of sight. I’ll do my best to visualize my future. If I begin to see clear pictures I will chase the image and see where I land. I’m nothing short of stunned right now at where I am in my life, but I accept it for what it is. There are definitely better days ahead and I think I’m going to find them in the coming months. I can only hope because I have put many people, including myself through trying times the last few years. I would just like to offer my thanks to everyone who has helped me. I hope that if I’m ever able to attain my new goals in the next few years that you will all share the good times with me.  Thanks again to all of my friends and family for understanding that sometimes I’m quiet and reserved just because I don’t know what to say or where I’m going. Don’t worry though, because I think I’m on the edge of finding my way into a good life again with peace, happiness, hope and love. I will keep the faith, as that’s all I have to rely on right now. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes the greatest gifts come from taking a big chance.”  I’ve never been a risk taker, but I believe that is changing.

An Hour With Connor

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

This week has flown by. It seems like yesterday was Monday. I’ve found my mind wandering from thought to thought with reckless abandon the last few days. I’ve experienced a variety of things that have brought out mixed emotions on many different levels.

Yesterday was one of the best days I can remember in a long time. Nothing special or fabulous happened, but the day was still good. I could try to put it into perspective for everyone to understand but I think I will just keep it to myself and let it rest easily in the back of my mind as a treasured memory.

When I left work yesterday I went to meet someone who is very close to me at the coffee shop. She asked if it would be ok if she brought her nephew along. I actually welcomed it because I thoroughly enjoy kids, especially in the 3-5 year old range and he is 3. Although we were only there for a little over an hour, it was surely an experience that I will carry with me for a while. I brought the little guy a gift. It was only a ball, but he enjoyed it, as any child would. We tossed the ball back and forth as we sat at the table. Every once in a while it fell to the floor, but it allowed me to center my attention on his aunt, while he crawled under the table to retrieve it.

The kid was absolutely adorable. He gave me life and it radiated throughout my body the rest of the evening. As I watched my friend interact with him it became blatantly obvious to me that she would be a good mother. Everything she did was motherly and if I didn’t know the difference I would have assumed that he was her own child. It’s funny because I’ve sometimes watched parents interact with their children in the same atmosphere and I’ve sat there and wondered why the people even had kids. However, as I watched her, there was no doubt in my mind that she would be a great mother. She kept him under control and made sure that he didn’t interrupt anyone around us. Then, as we left the coffee shop, she made sure to gather him up into her arms and hold him like any mother would hold her child. After she buckled him in the car seat I gave her a hug goodbye and we both left.

My ride home was a little emotional and it continued into the night when I laid my head on my pillow to sleep. When I saw the little guy in my head I had all sorts of memories race through my mind. I saw my own childhood and the many times I went shopping with my mom. I still remember one time when I lost my favorite winter hat at the Zayer’s Department store. It was devastating, but my mom found a way to take my mind off from it and calm me down. She bought us a hamburger and we shared it. I believe I was 4 years old, but for some reason I remember it. My mother’s influence on me started way back then. I’m sure that Connor will remember his aunt’s influence when he gets older. When I watched them interact I could tell that they shared a special bond.

As I laid in silence and stared at the ceiling I felt that agonizing pain that resurfaces every now and then. The pain that follows me along because I never had children. I enjoyed myself with the two of them in the afternoon, but it left me a little empty afterward. I’m not sure, but I think I could have been a good parent. Heck, I have the best role models in the world. Even if I was half of the parent that my parents were to me I would still be a wonderful father and role model.  There was probably a time where I wouldn’t have given all of what I had to watch the development of a child, but now as I grow older, I think it would have been pretty easy. I sometimes start the should have or could have game, but in the end I did what I thought was right and I have to live with that decision. Rather than thinking about myself and what I really truly wanted I made the decision for what could have been my own child. I didn’t want to bring a child into the world that I thought had a chance of being brought up in an unstable environment. I wasn’t comfortable with where I was in life and what I was experiencing. Now, looking back on it, I think I made the right choice. Although I believe this, it doesn’t take the pain away from the lost dream. I love being around children and I enjoy making them smile and laugh. It might be because I feel like I’m one of them. It might even be because I feel like I make a small difference in their lives. I’m sure Connor probably won’t remember me as he grows older, but I’m glad I was given an opportunity to hang out with him for an afternoon. He smiled, he laughed and he had fun. He was full of life and so was I. The way my friend acted with him made me realize that she just has what it takes, where so many others don’t. Motherhood and parenting are very tough skills and at this day in age there are very few women who have the ability to succeed in raising their children to be happy, confident and content in life.

To this day I don’t know why my life has taken shape the way it has, but I don’t complain. If I had kids when I was younger I may never have cemented the tight relationship I have with my own father. I’m sure we would still be close, but I’m not sure we would be as close as we are. I don’t search too hard for the answers anymore. However, I’ve realized that whenever I think I have things figured out something jumps out of the bushes at me and takes me by surprise.

I’ve recently found myself in a spot exactly like that. I no longer try to make sense out of anything. I’ve learned to sit back, take things as they come and enjoy the ride. You have to do things with people that make you happy and you have to welcome others into your life. Sometimes people put too many conditions on things. I’m glad I didn’t do that. I had an opportunity that knocked on my front door with no holds barred and I hesitantly cracked the door open. I stayed just far enough inside the door to see the figure on the other side. After a little bit I cautiously opened the door. As the door came open I could feel a breath of fresh air and a light breeze on my face. I was hesitant, but I made the choice to welcome the soul that was knocking to come inside my world. Life is good right now. I’m a little anxious as I have so many things in front of me, but I welcome it with open arms. Since I’ve never been a risk taker I have always lived a kind of quiet and reserved life. I’ve probably passed chances up on great things because I was too afraid to  take a chance. Recently, I learned that some of the greatest things in life come from taking a simple chance. When things appear in our lives we often don’t give enough thought as to why. I’ve recently started thinking about it and now I live by this quote, “Welcome anything that comes to you, but do not look for anything else.” I think great things sometimes come out of nowhere simply because we stop looking so hard.

As for Connor…………he brought some hope back to my life. As I gazed into his aunt’s eyes I knew that she wouldn’t even begin to fathom what the hour with her and her nephew had done for me. Although it brought me a tiny bit of sadness it also showed me a fond memory as well as a glimmer of hope. It made me realize that although I went through hell in the hallway to get to where I am, that maybe life is just now starting all over again with new dreams, old memories and an inner peace that so many people never find.

As she carried him to the car I could see myself as a child in his tired eyes. I could also see exactly why I made the choice I did a few years back. Most of all, I could see clearly that I’m now in a peaceful place where I’m excited for what the future holds in store for me. Sometimes taking a chance can be a very rewarding experience. Thanks for asking me to take a chance and giving me faith that I was doing the right thing.

A Rough Patch

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Every now and then I hit what I would term as a rough patch. I seem to have found my way there over the last few days. I’ve had more alone time than I have in as long as I can remember. Although I usually cherish the time alone it wasn’t conducive to my quiet mind.

I have always been an over-thinker and that will probably never change. I try to understand everything even if there’s nothing to be understood. I’ve had a few things happen along the way that make me somewhat hesitant to open up and let the most important people in. I’m sure that will fade as time goes by, but right now it’s draining me. It becomes a battle when you question your choices on a daily basis.

The one thing that keeps me moving forward is the goal that I set for myself. I still hold a few goals close to my heart and I’ll do everything I can to attain those goals. I would like to build my own home one day and I would also like to eventually be married again. The picture is a little cloudy when I gaze at it right now. I know that certain things have to line up perfectly in order to achieve the goals that I have set for myself. After going through hell for a few years at least I have finally established exactly what I need to be happy, satisfied and content in a relationship.

There’s not a person out there who is perfect and it would be senseless to look for one. Rather, a person who is supportive, understanding and willing to grow with me on a daily basis is what I need. I believe that far too many people settle for a person far less than what they deserve or need. Over the years I feel that I have become a much better judge of people. It’s easier for me to indentify red flags. It’s also easier for me to pick out characteristics that go well with my lifestyle. In the end it makes it much easier to choose someone to have as a partner. The search is the hardest part, especially at this age. Although you’re supposed to learn from your mistakes I don’t ever want to make another mistake in choosing a partner that I will share my life with. It’s demoralizing when you’re left with nothing, but a small bit of your pride. In the end that’s what you have to use to get you through to better days.

I’m glad I was able to stand strong and come through the other side. I think there are still great things waiting to happen in my life. I’m not sure that I will ever live out my number one dream, but I like to keep a tiny bit of hope that the dream hasn’t been lost forever. That’s where life is so mysterious. We wake up every day and never know what will happen.

Every morning when I wake up I’m just thankful to be alive. My life has been nothing short of amazing so far and I like to hope that it’s far from being over. However, that’s the mystery of life. Any one of us could be killed today in a freak accident. That’s why it’s so precious to tell the people that you love how you feel about them. There’s not one person on this earth that doesn’t like to know that they make a difference in the life of another. I’m as guilty as the next person. I probably don’t tell the people that I should, but I do try.

As I’ve grown older I’ve become more aware of the people around me. I used to keep everything inside. I’m not sure why, but it seemed to suit me the best that way. Now, I choose this forum to relay my thoughts to a general audience. It’s easier this way because I can sit anonymously behind a keyboard. The only emotion I deal with while sitting here is my own. I have shed tears while writing in the past and I’m sure I will in the future. I’ve welcomed many warm smiles to my lips as my mind danced in the memories from different periods of my life.

I’m not really sure where I’m going right now. This is probably the most confusing time I’ve dealt with in a long time. I don’t get too far ahead of myself. I’m living in the moment and addressing the fear and excitement as it comes along. Although I’ve said it before,  I still feel like I’m on the edge of something bigger than life. I can’t quite put a hand on it, but I can feel it lurking. It follows me around and I can feel it inside my soul.

I look forward to the coming months that will let spring roll into summer. I believe this summer as I turn 40, I will be welcomed with a new life with a different outlook. I’m more than ready to go places I’ve never been and experience things I’ve never imagined. I never give up hope because a person without hope has nothing. Everybody wants to be loved as well, but through hope and faith come love. I will never stop hoping. This summer is going to bring me new life. It’s going to be a new beginning in a land that I’ve never been before. I’m pretty sure of it.

As for now, one foot goes in front of the other as I breathe in and breathe out. As with anyone I’m still searching, but I have meaning behind my search. I know exactly what I’m looking for, unlike so many others. I will find it no matter how long it takes. As my dad told me when I was a child, “If you have enough patience and persistence you will be successful.” Well, I’ve been more than patient and I’ve always been persistent because I simply don’t know how to give up.

Disease, Desires & Decisions

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

I really don’t know where to begin this tonight. Last night I had an in-depth conversation with a friend. It went from one end of life to the other. We discussed everything from childhood, to mistakes made, to counseling and briefly touched on how to tell what love actually is since so many people really don’t know if they’ve ever truly experienced it. The conversation passed almost too quickly because some of the topics could have been discussed in much greater length. However, when everything was said and done I had a few thoughts that raced through my mind from one particular part of the discussion. I’m not sure why, other than I’ve had many friends who have suffered on a daily basis from diseases that they acquired along the way.

As we talked about this and that the person brought up a sibling who had a very unfortunate incident happen to him which was beyond his control. Through the course of his marriage things started getting off track and his spouse searched for the answer in all of the wrong places. In the end she acquired and passed something on to him that would kill most normal people. However, I’ve heard in my friend’s voice how much she respects her brother so I know that he must be strong inside to fight the battle within that so many other people would lose focus with. Many people would become angry and take it out on the world.

We don’t have a lot of control over who we fall in love with. Love is a choice and not a feeling. We choose to love a person even with all of their faults. The reason we choose to love is because they help us become a better person. Too many people get lost along the way and claim that they have “lost” the feeling. That’s where it becomes so sad. Love is not a feeling. Yes, in the beginning it is overwhelming and might bring butterflies to our stomachs, but as years pass by we wake up every day with the ability to make the choice of giving our love. Too many people forget that and they search elsewhere for the answers.

Well, in the end her brother came down with what I would label as a catastrophic illness because his immune system didn’t have the ability to fight anything off. This came about from another illness that he contracted along the way. His wife eventually left him. I’m not sure, but if I was in his shoes I might have packed it in at that point. I would have figured that I would never find love again and that nobody would ever want to be around me. When I was much younger I had a different opinion on the whole thing, but as I’ve matured I’ve realized that you come across very few people in a lifetime that bring out the best in you and you bring out the best in them. I know many people who insult others and hide in fear because of the diseases that so many different people face.

One of my best friends in college suffered from Tourette Syndrome. I still remember the first day I ever met him. I labled him, just as everyone else did. I didn’t know him and I didn’t know his inner soul or who he was as a person. He had many quirky actions and I was pretty sure that he suffered from a severe cocaine habit. After I researched a little bit I learned that he suffered from Tourette’s. Before that time I never knew anything about the disease other than what I heard when people made fun of of the ones who suffered from it. At that point in my life I knew that I would never be one to cast stones or pass judgment on anyone, no matter what battle they faced within. My friend Steve was not responsible for contracting the disease. I saw girls shy away from him because it was like he was a two headed monster. However, I saw the real Steve. He was one of the most compassionate, understanding and helpful people I’ve ever met in my life. As the years passed I felt honored to be his friend. I also knew how many people missed out on a wonderful person because they had an image of a disease which overshadowed everything that he was about. When I got married 10 years after graduating from college Steve was my only college friend who attended the wedding. Once again I fielded all sorts of questions about what was wrong with him. People thought he was shit-faced and made fun of him. A few even made fun of Tourette’s after that night.  It saddened me greatly as it still does today. Steve eventually met a wonderful woman who accepted his disease and helped him become the best version of himself. They went on to have 2 wonderful children. He is now an attorney on Long Island………………….yes an attorney where he helps underprivileged people.  His wife could have missed out on the miracle of her life if she too had labeled him by his disease and the complications that go along with it. I’m thankful that she didn’t pass him by because he is still one of the most truly inspiring people that I have ever spoken to in my life.

Well, in the conversation my friend explained to me that her brother seemed to be in a peaceful place in his life again and that he even had a girlfriend. I have to commend the woman because she too has to be one of the greatest people out there to accept someone with their faults, look beyond them and explore the person inside. I can’t begin to imagine what he goes through on a day to day basis, but I can imagine how depressing it must get, especially when you have so much to give and someone passes you up because they can’t get beyond something that was no fault of your own. He now suffers from a poor choice made, but not on his part. It goes back to one of my favorite quotes. “Loving someone is giving them the power to break your heart.” Sometimes when we do this we don’t have any control where our lives will end up.

I acquired diabetes when I was little. Once again it’s a disease that I have no control over. As with all diseases, in reality we don’t have any control over any part of it, other than educating ourselves and those around us as we battle it every day. Too many people don’t know all the facts and base judgment due to what they’ve heard or the negative connotations that come along with the diseases. I know how hard it is to live with a Type 1 diabetic and I commend anyone who helps someone with the disease. You have to deal with mood swings, chronic worry and an awareness of all the acute senses that you might not have noticed before.

When we were in the beginning of the discussion my friend said a few things that in some ways irritated me. I think it’s because we stand so differently and I’ve seen people battle a variety of diseases that they acquired through absolutely no fault of their own. It made me instantly realize that some people might simply have compassion enough to overlook what might seem like a giant mountain in order to see what the future might hold for them, or they might turn their back and walk away into the sunset without ever seeing the person for who they were inside which in the end is the most important quality of any.

As the discusssion went on I asked her what she would do if her significant other became paralyzed or was suddenly strickened with a terminal illness. Would she leave or would she stay and support the person because of who and what they were inside? Her answer surprised me due to her comments in the beginning of the conversation. She didn’t even hesitate when she said that her significant other would have her undying support no matter what happened. Once again it made me question what she would do if she ever encountered a situation like that of her brother. He’s family and she loves him to death. I can hear it in her voice and see it in her face when she speaks of him. I thought about what I would do. To be honest I really don’t have an idea what I would have done when I was younger, but now that I’m older I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I’ve had enough experiences along the way to realize that there are very few diamonds in the rough. I don’t think very many people ever get an opportunity to meet someone that is really good for them in all aspects of life.  If I met someone now who faced an internal battle every single day I’m almost positive that I could overlook almost anything in order to give me the internal happiness that so many people search for and never find. I may be wrong, but I think that’s what I would do. I would educate myself, be supportive, understanding and I would go forward with my life. I would make the best of an opportunity that was presented to me because so many other people passed it up due to their negative beliefs associated with the condition. This is where life is so amazing.

My friend Steve’s character is simply unbelievable. I still think of all of the women who passed on him because of the negative connotations associated with his disease. In my mind they are all fools. It goes back to something I was told a long time ago. If someone can’t accept you for who you are and what comes along with you, then they are not of good enough character to be involved in your life anyway. I’m not sure I really believe that, but I guess in the end it’s probably true. I feel for all of the people that have to live in fear every day of being rejected, especially when they find someone that they really fall for, who could be the one, yet they walk away because of something that the person had absolutely no control over. It has to be devastating and I can’t imagine the agonizing moments that some people must encounter when they’re in a position like that.

I read a few quotes today from Andy Rooney that kind of rings true to everything I’ve written about tonight and I firmly believe both of them. The first one is, “I’ve learned that love, not time heals all wounds.” Nothing is said better than that. I think of her brother once again here and hope that he will find a new love that will accept him for who he is and that he will be able to be loved and more easily forget the unfortunate battle that he fights.

The other one is, “I’ve learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.” That sums up all of my thoughts for this evening. Although I don’t know her brother I will pray for him and all others such as my friend Steve that battle every day. When these people find that special hand to hold and especially a heart that understands they will be so much further ahead than they ever could have imagined. However, the journey is long and there are so few people that can look beyond things of this manner that it has to be one of the most terrifying things ever faced by anyone.

I could go on and on and on with this topic tonight, but I guess you get my point. Since the day that I met Steve I have always remembered to accept others for who they are, no matter what battle they are fighting. My significance in his life could have been one of the necessary tools just for him to get to the next day back then. Then, once he found his wife all his prayers were answered. There are so few people like her.  I commend all of the people that have the ability to look beyond the surface and into the soul. They look into the soul and see that what they can gain inside is so much greater than any disease that their partner might have. It’s all about being educated, understanding and making a choice to love. Remember that love is not a feeling it’s a choice.

If you meet someone on your journey that is fighting a battle within try to do what your heart tells you to do. I’ve learned along the way that your heart will never lie to you. Even if things don’t work out as you planned, your heart will lead you in the right direction. When your mind and conscious thought get involved is when the problems start to arise. I challenge all of you to treat every single person you know and meet the same exact way. Inside they might be fighting a battle that you never imagined and if you have the ability to love them and it feels right then go with it……………………………..there hasn’t been a day yet that Steve’s wife has regretted her decision. Then again, where are some of those women who passed up a relationship with him because of the negative connotations associated with the disease? He was definitely a diamond lying amongst pebbles and thanks to one person allowing herself to get to know him they are now a perfectly happy husband, wife and two children. I hope my friend’s brother is able to find his way on his journey as well. Everyone deserves to be happy who treats others well. If you can be happy with the one you want to be with it makes it that much better. Time has a way of taking care of all of these things. We must always remember that God will never deliver us into anything that he thinks we can’t handle. That is why bad things sometimes happen to really good people. He knows that they will find a way to survive and be better for it in the end.