Archive for August, 2011

Your Own Identity

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I’ve had a lot of quiet time for the last week. For some reason I’ve been drawn back to my personal archery range. It’s a place I’ve always gone to get away from distracting thoughts. While shooting I’ve been able to focus on the process and nothing more. The disturbing thoughts I’ve been battling creep into my mind when I’m aiming and releasing, but I don’t acknowledge them. When they say history repeats itself I’m living proof that it is true. For a long time I’ve avoided shooting very many arrows, but I can’t stay away from the range lately.  I use it as a distraction so the other nagging thoughts don’t consume me. Hunting season will be here before you know it, so I’m sure I’ll have something else to focus on.

The storms rolled in quickly tonight. Within seconds the sky went from bright and sunny to dark and menacing. Thunder boomed and lighting crashed through the sky. Yes, I saw it, and lighting crashes.

The main storm lasted about fifteen minutes. After it passed the thunder continued for a few more hours before giving way to a gentle breeze and soft rain. Watching the events unfold reminded me of life.

Sometimes things attack us with an unfathomable fury. We don’t know why it happens. It seems like the lightning crashes all around us for days on end. We seek refuge and can’t find a damn thing to hide under. We want something magic to fall out of the sky and show us the way, but we know it’s impossible. We must continue forward, blaze new trails, and hope our feet guide us to where we’re supposed to be.

Just as these summer storms are unpredictable, so are the events in our lives. One minute we might be on top of the world and the next minute we might have all we can do to keep  smiles on our faces. Some people learn to dance in the rain, while others run for cover and never return. They become afraid to live again. They let the negativity encompass their bodies and shut them down. Instead of a passing storm it turns into a funnel cloud that sweeps them into another world where they can’t even rescue themselves.

I’ve been a little down lately, but I know that I’m just in the midst of a line of storms. Some days I feel like I’ve been pummeled by the hail. Other days I feel like I’m being whipped around in the heavy wind, and sometimes I even feel like I’m one of the millions of raindrops that are pounding into the pavement.

As with all storms, the time will pass. After my vacation a few weeks ago I set some goals for the next year. I also examined the priorities in my life. I think the next month or two will be fairly tough. I’ll have a few days where I’ll question my sanity, but I’ll survive because I’ve always been a survivor.

When I get through the rough patch I’ll come out the other side with a new outlook. I know the road ahead will be tough and I welcome the challenge. If we don’t welcome challenges we become unmotivated. A person without motivation can drag others down and I refuse to be that person. A person without goals and aspirations in their life can be compared to a rowboat aimlessly sailing across the ocean. People who don’t want to better themselves don’t see a problem with their actions. They think it’s acceptable to be lazy, pretend they’re trying to better their lives or make up excuses why they can’t find something to do to improve their positions. These are the people we should all try to stay away from.

One thing I’ve learned the hard way is that we are only responsible for our own lives. We can’t make it our project to “fix” someone or help them live the kind of life that we think would be better for them. Sometimes we have to let people go even though we think they’re heading down the wrong path. Just as I have, I’m sure you have also followed many wrong paths that led you to where you are today. That’s how we become better people. However, if we don’t acknowledge our mistakes and keep walking on the wrong path it can swallow us alive. We get lost deep within the forest and before you know it there’s no escape. You don’t even realize that you have been consumed and you don’t have a link to the outside world.

Just remember that when you get to the path in the woods it doesn’t really matter which one you choose to follow. Try to remember that the only person you should be saving is yourself. You’re not responsible for giving up your life to help others. It’s ok to help others, but don’t lose your own identity in the process of doing it. An easy way to identify if you’ve fallen into this trap is to look at your life from the outside with a totally objective viewpoint.

Take a step outside your body and look into your soul. Did you change along the way because of other people? Did you give up some of the things you loved just because you thought you were doing the right thing? Do you do things you never imagined doing? Is your life headed in the direction you always wanted it to go? Can you see yourself reaching your goals if you stay on the road you’re on now?

A long time ago my mother told me she thought I had lost my own identity while I was in an uncomfortable situation. At first I resented her for saying it, but as time moved forward I realized how right she really was. I had lost my own identity. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it happening at the time. When it was all said and done I had to go back to what I knew best and establish who I was as a person.

I need to find my own identity again. Somehow, somewhere along the way I lost touch with it again. It’s surely one of my goals to get back on the right track. Our choices, whether they’re good or bad, lead us to the places we belong. If we continue to make bad choices we end up in environments that aren’t too stimulating. We become stagnant and blame ourselves for a lot of things that might not even be our fault. However, if we take a leap, stand proud and begin making good choices we find ourselves around positive, motivated and successful people. We find ourselves in environments that are  conducive to our well being and happiness.

Whenever I used to struggle in baseball, softball or archery I always told myself, “It only takes one to start a streak.” It might be one hit that gets you on a roll or one bulls-eye that leads to another one. If you make one good choice today it might start a streak that will take you to amazing places. If you turn your back and ignore your intuition you might just find yourself right back in the place you’ve been trying to escape from for so long.

It’s hard to change our ways. We worry if we’ll be okay. We worry if this person or that person will love us. We worry if our friends and family will judge us and look down on us. We worry if anyone will ever love us again. We worry that we’re not good enough for anyone. Instead of worrying so much take a chance and start down a new path. Life doesn’t wait for you to make the wrong choice, you do that on your own. Make the right choice and smile because you’ve finally started a streak. The streak will get interrupted from time to time, but that’s to be expected. Good people find good people. Don’t let someone suck the life out of you when you know you how much you have to give and how much can be given to you.

Becoming Vulnerable

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and it has been a rocky road at times. When I step back and look at things from the outside, I realize that time is beginning to get away from me again, as it did in my early to mid 30s. I sensed it back then, but I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. It’s much different this time as I can feel it breathing down my neck and glaring into my eyes.

I took my first summer vacation last week since the years when I used to enjoy the time between semesters in college. Although I worked between semesters I still viewed it as a vacation. I’m glad my parents made me work. It taught me a lot about myself and it gave me the necessary tools I would need to survive on my own. It’s unfortunate that many parents aren’t able to give their children the right tools to live responsible lives when they become adults. These people never learn proper work ethics or the value of money. They aren’t motivated, yet they believe the world should revolve around them. They don’t see the difference between right or wrong or they simply don’t acknowledge it. They’ve been coddled since they were children and their parents gave them everything. It’s a shame to see these people try to survive in relationships when they become adults. They simply don’t have the skills, yet they attract the weak and strong alike. It’s like someone once told me, “Would you get behind the wheel if you didn’t have the skills to drive a car? Well, the same holds true for relationships. Would you get involved with someone who doesn’t have very good relationship skills?” I never thought about it much until recently and it makes an awful lot of sense now that I look at it. People who don’t have the proper skills don’t have the necessary tools to live life without becoming a hindrance to others. These type of people can drag people right under the bus with them. They don’t know any better.

A friend of mine sent me an email this morning, which saddened me when I read it. Here’s a part of it:

“WTF….I can’t sleep .. I woke up at 3:15 and haven’t been able to go back to sleep.   I can’t stop thinking!!! Ugh …. I am lonely .. I miss sleeping with someone. I hear a noise and get all paranoid and my adrenaline kicks in n I wonder if I could protect my children from an intruder.  I can’t stop crying ….. It feels as though a huge hole has been ripped through me and I dont know if I’m strong enough to heal it.  I lay in bed and hear the rain falling and the cars pass by and the dog snoring and it all just makes me feel so alone …….why have I made such poor choices that have led me to feel this way??  I’m tired …. So tired ….I don’t know if I am strong enough…….

Unfortunately there are so many people that feel this way and a few of them fall into the hole that appears. We all make bad choices. It’s who we are as people. If someone tells you they have never made a bad choice they’re not being honest. Many people will live with their bad choices and try to make things better rather than finding the strength to step back, take a look into the future and address how badly some of these choices will affect them. There are people out there who think they can “fix” their partners. They stay with the partner because it becomes a project to fix them. Before you know it time gets away from you and you realize that you can’t fix something that you didn’t create. It’s an ugly cycle that repeats over and over. You’re the only one that can save yourself instead of focusing so hard on saving the ones you love. If you stay you become lost and eventually fall into the same trap. You lose your self worth and your bad choices follow you around.

Today I watched a little bit of the Ellen show when I got home from work. Her life partner was on there with a new book that she just wrote. In the end of the interview she was talking about the positive attributes that Ellen brought to her life. I found a few of the things she said to be amazing. A few things she said reminded me very much of a close friend of mine and things  she has said in the past.

She said before she met Ellen she used to think that being tough and pretending nothing bothered her was all she ever needed. She didn’t think she ever needed anyone and she always kept people at a distance even the ones she loved. After she met Ellen and they became a couple she said she finally saw things that were beyond amazing. Ellen taught her that the best thing you can do is to be vulnerable and show your soft side. When you become vulnerable it opens up another door. She realized that you attract what you give out.

I always bust my friend’s chops about this because she always tries to be a tough guy. She hides her feelings and doesn’t let anyone close. She feels like it’s a safety blanket and if nobody can get close then she can’t get hurt. As Ellen’s partner said, she learned how much she missed out on when she lived that way. Now, she’s surrounded by a lot of love, support and happiness.  Unlike my friend, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. It’s funny though because I only do it with certain people. I’ve left myself very vulnerable at times. Yes, I have been hurt but I’ve also experienced some things I never would have been able to if I had closed myself off.

I’ve been all over the map tonight so I don’t have a good way to end this. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here to write. My mind has been jammed lately and I’ve been lost deep in thought. All I can say is that you should always look out for yourself first and foremost. Don’t spend your life babysitting people that don’t have relationship skills. It will lead you to a very depressing, trying and unfulfilled life. If you come in contact with someone who wants to help you break free from hiding behind the tough guy image you should probably give it some serious thought. Ellen’s partner was extremely hesitant and unbelievably afraid, but in the end she said she found the most amazing person in the world just because she took a chance. The chance allowed her to trust someone else and show her soft side. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes which pertains to everything I’ve written about this evening. It reads, “Love is giving someone the power to break your heart, but trusting them not to.”

If you open yourself and become vulnerable you will most likely receive the same. That’s where the trust is formed and it only builds from there. Give it a chance. Get rid of the tough guy image…………..your heart will be much more brittle if it remains hard. As you love to lay your head on a soft pillow at night…..a soft heart can bring you into a totally different type of dream. A dream where birds sing first thing in the morning and the sun glitters on the leaves of the trees. Heck, unicorns might even jump over the rainbow once you get there or you might even be able to finally sit back and enjoy your new soft side that kept you from finding something has always seemed non-existent.