Archive for September, 2012

Positive Influences in Our Lives

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

I hope everyone took the time to watch the video posted above since that’s what I’ll be discussing tonight. If you haven’t opened it up please watch it so you’ll have a better idea about the things I refer to.

A friend forwarded this video to me a few weeks ago. As with anything I watch I didn’t know what to expect, so I sat back and let it unfold in front of me. Everything affects people in different ways so I like to give my undivided attention to these things so I can continue learning things about myself as well as others.

As I watched it was pretty obvious how nervous the man was about his audition, but at the same time he had to have quite a bit of self confidence in order to give it a shot in front of the judges and huge crowd.

There were many things I saw throughout the video that got me thinking about different people in my life over the years and some of the obstacles a few of them have been confronted with. Everyone faces their problems differently. Some of them ignore everything, some of them get angry, some of them build walls and hide behind them, some of them let their past control them and others let negativity creep in and find a place to live.

Christopher Maloney had been told he wasn’t good enough. At 34 he has probably been told so many times that he began to believe it. Just as we have friends and family members who offer their never-ending support, so did he.

No matter what the crisis we are faced with each and every one of us have at least a few people who believe in us. When it feels like the world is caving in around us and sucking us into a black hole it’s these people we have to turn to and allow them to carry us to a better place. Without these people our world would be a much darker place. I have a very dear friend who has called me many times when she was in the bottom of the barrel. Months may have passed between calls but she knows she can count on me when she has lost hope. I’m extremely thankful for this friendship because over the last 20 years it has helped me in ways that are unexplainable to others. We’ve always had a mutual give and take relationship where one hand has always washed the other.

Through our conversations I’ve learned that a lot of doubt has filled her head and some of the criticism she has dealt with over the years has all about destroyed her self-confidence. After her trust had been shattered she wallowed around in self pity for quite a few years.  I always tried boosting her confidence but often felt like I had failed miserably after I hung up the phone. We’ve shared a few tears on our journeys and we’ve also shared many laughs.

One night I asked her if she would ever trust anyone again or if she did trust anyone. Her response almost made me hit my knees. What she said caught me off guard and startled me so I didn’t have a response. We’ve always  been the best of friends even if we went extended periods of time without talking. We can pick up the phone and it’s like it was yesterday when we last spoke. Well when I asked the question she responded, “Yes, I trust my mom, my dad, and you.”

When I watched the video that comment came back to me as I saw the judges faces when he started to sing. The judges were truly amazed. They never expected the sound and energy that sprang from his lips. He took them by surprise and continued on without even knowing what he had done. It made me realize that sometimes people amaze others without even knowing it. I guess I never realized how she saw me in her life or where I fit in. Although she couldn’t see me or hear it in my voice a few tears rolled from the corner of my eyes and dripped into my mouth. I had made a difference in her life, which although insignificant to some people, it was very rewarding to me. I smile every time I think about the comment just as I smiled when I saw the look on the judges faces.

I also liked the fact that Christopher Maloney finally decided to take a chance. If he failed he failed, but the greatest failure is not taking the chance at all. Dreams remain dreams if we don’t take calculated risks and risks lead to rewards. Dreams come true when we allow ourselves to step outside the box and get away from our comfortable surroundings. Something or somebody could be waiting so incredibly close to you but if you are blinded to the good things about people because of past insults and hurt you’ll never find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This video was very uplifting to me as I hope it has been to you. Lately my dearest friend of the last 20 years has been making huge strides forward. I watched  her walk through hell in the hallway for the last 10 years, and at times,  even when I had all but lost hope, I tried to be a positive influence just as Christopher Maloney’s nan was to him. You just never know what you can do for another person if you remain strong and give them hope.

Amazing things can happen if you don’t listen to the criticism of others. Use it as motivation to get to a better place. Take it in your own hands to do the things that make you happy and give as you receive. Although there were many days when I felt like I was beating my head against the wall while giving friendly advice I couldn’t be happier to see where my friend is  now. What a pleasant surprise. It’s so refreshing and rewarding to have been a small part of the journey to a better place. As I always tell her…………….better, much better days ahead. Those horribly sad and lonely nights are quickly disappearing in the rear-view mirror.

Bruised Apples

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

As I climbed out of my truck and gathered a few items I would need for the next few hours my mind raced back to my childhood. I could remember a number of summer days very similar to this one when I stood in the same place with my parents. Back then it seemed like the journey down the dirt road was a million miles long. Now, 35 years later it’s just a nice scenic drive that lasts about 20 minutes.

My parents would make sure they had towels, drinks and food for any of us kids who accompanied them. As my feet started guiding me down the trail beside the brook I felt content to bring up the rear. I was with three of my friends and a couple of kids including the daughter of one of my friends.

When I watched the kids in front of me I realized a lot of life has passed since I innocently walked along that same trail as a child. I was always anxious to get to the lake so I could jump off the rocks into the water below. At that point I had never heard of the word “stress” and didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t even know anyone who had ever been divorced and all of my friends had both parents. I was clueless to the bad things that can happen in life.  The only thing that concerned me was jumping into the water as many times as I could before it was time to leave. My parents were always so patient and understanding.

I”m not sure what they thought, but as I sat there watching the kids jump off the same rocks I jumped from three decades ago, I think I got a quiet understanding of what they might have experienced.

Although they weren’t my kids it was very relaxing for me to sit there while they enjoyed every minute of the trip. They yelled, giggled, laughed, shouted and ran all over the place. It was just one of those feel good moments that lasted almost two hours.

Since I never had children and always wanted them I like to be around kids when I have the opportunity to do so. It also makes me appreciate the jobs some of my friends do while raising their children, especially the ones who have to do it as single parents. I know it’s not easy.

Sometimes I wonder if I would have been a good parent. I do know that I never could have lived up to the standard my parents set. If God was told to give me the best parents in the world I’m certain he would have given me the ones I have.

Along the way I’ve made some choices they might not have agreed with but they have always supported me. They never left my side when the walls came crashing down and both of them always pushed me forward in pursuit of happiness.

There were times a few years back when I wanted to let myself harden and become stagnant, but they made sure to point out the goodness in people. With apple picking season coming it reminds me of good and bad things that can happen to people.

Almost all trees have bruised apples lying on the ground below them once the picking season is in full bloom. Those apples are very similar to people in my generation. Most of us have been tossed aside at least one time and our insides are bruised. Some of us slowly heal from the bruises while others continue to poor salt in the wound and leave it wide open to experience more pain and hurt.

Hanging onto the hurt after you’ve fallen to the ground doesn’t do anyone any good. It stunts you from becoming happy once again and it allows your past to control your future.

When you go to the orchard in the coming weeks to do your annual apple picking remember to give a close look even to the apples on the ground. Each and ever apple can serve a purpose. Even those bruised ones on the ground can be taken home and made into a very tasty apple pie. We should look at people in the same way. Sometimes our friends need us to encourage them to get to a better place rather than let them sit under the tree and decay. Some of them might insist that they don’t want to be moved but we all know that everyone ultimately wants to be loved.

All it takes is a a gentle hand to reach into the grass, close its fingers around you and give you support as it puts you in a hoody pocket where you’ll sit back and enjoy your adventure in a new and better place where you’re appreciated. Don’t let the frost wilt your soul and realize that many others have been just as bruised as you. It’s all up to you to determine what you want to do once you’ve hit the ground. Hopefully you’ll realize the many great things in this world if you allow yourself to remain soft and open to the ones who matter most.

The Fair

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

It has been a long time since I’ve ventured into this arena. The last time I was here I was waiting to have shoulder surgery. I guess you could say the surgery went well. The first few months after surgery the pain was unbearable at times. Although the pain has stuck around like a damp shirt on my back, I’ve learned how to deal with it without letting it get the best of me. Therapy seems like it’s a full time job and many days it feels like I’m not making any progress at all. As with everything I’ve encountered in my life I try to keep a positive attitude and continue pushing forward. I can see how many people quit. Therapy’s not easy and sometimes the curves life throws at you aren’t easy to navigate around.

A few weeks ago I went to the Washington County Fair. Since there were a few kids with me it brought me back to a time that seems more like a past life than the one I’m currently living in.

When my parents brought me to the fair every year it always signified the end of  summer vacation. I remember my mom letting me wear my new sneakers for that one night. I always thought I could run faster with new sneaks………..oh to be a child again.

As I observed all of the kids I realized how much life can change from the innocent years into adulthood. When I was that age I didn’t think about the future. I never considered how cruel the world could be to some people. They claim you make your own luck but I’m not sure that statement holds true for everyone.

I spent many of those summer vacations letting my feet guide me to places around my home. I’d walk through the woods to go fishing. I’d wander through the fields behind the house to find a quiet place to sit on a log. I’d lie on my back in the side yard and stare at the stars in the sky at night. I’d chase lightning bugs through the field across the road. I’d play hide and seek with my friends. There wasn’t much I didn’t try. No matter what I did I always let my feet guide me. Sometimes I knew where I wanted them to take me and other times they kind of directed me to places in my subconscious mind. I was a happy kid.

Now, almost 40 years later people ask me why I’m so regimented with the things I do. I guess it all comes down to learning to be disciplined with the disease I learned to battle when I was a child. Battling Type 1 diabetes has taught me things about myself that I probably never would have found otherwise. While many people would complain, I am thankful. The doctors told me to never drink or smoke when I was diagnosed. I’ve never done either. It’s amazing to think about the small things that lead us in one direction or the other. It’s even more amazing to think about the things that we allow to control us.

I’ve definitely encountered some life altering obstacles along the journey through life. I saw a few of them coming while some others jumped out of the woodwork and all but flattened me. I’ve been beaten down, humiliated, taken advantage of, played for a fool, instigated, lied to, and hurt so badly that I felt like constructing impenetrable walls around me.

That’s when I decided to let my feet guide me like I did when I was a child. I didn’t want my friends or family to have to scale a monstrous wall I built around myself. Heck, that wouldn’t be fair to them or to me. Actually, after all of that stuff happened to me I think I became more open and willing to let people close to me. I’m sure I’ve let down a few people in the process but I still push forward.

There are still so many things out there that I’d like to experience and I think it’s essential to let my feet continue to guide me. In some ways I feel like I can run even faster with my new sneakers now than I could back in those old fair days. I’ve witnessed things that can happen if you’re careless. You have to make better choices and realize what makes you tick. I really think I’ve finally found that.

Well, back to the night I was at the fair. There I was standing among thousands of people. Just like 35 years ago, I saw a few people I knew wandering around. I gave my courteous smile and chatted with a couple people, too.

I guess for now I’ll keep plowing along the unsurfaced road and see where I end up. Lately it’s been filled with a few pleasant surprises as well as some of those obstacles we all face from time to time. I really don’t know where I’m headed but I’m sure it will be good once I arrive.