Category: Inspirational

Life Is Not Complicated, bad behavior does not get a pass….

This is a little out of the ordinary for me. I do my best to avoid ever writing about topics that are too subjective or personal. There is nothing worse than a blogger who exploits the keyboard just to sound off on some judgmental rant. This does not do anyone any good. As a writer I respect the power of words.

DSC_1525However, over the past few weeks, people very close to me have asked how I am able to remain so resilient in the face of the adversity I face each day (and have faced throughout my life). And I am not just talking about passing acquaintances. These are men and women who are very dear to me… who trusted me enough with their concerns and their pain and who really wanted to know, how I cope. Look, I am not a superhero by any stretch. I am no better than the next person and I will never pretend to be. Things bother me, I get offended, I get disappointed and I find myself praying for strength. But no matter what is going on in my life; no matter what hurts me, causes me to be irritated, angry, disappointed… no matter what takes me to that negative head-space, I always make a conscious decision NOT to live there. I refuse to stay where I am unhappy. I refuse to engage people whose sole purpose is to aggravate me. I refuse to dwell on what is going wrong, what didn’t get done, who is saying or thinking what about me. I’m just not going to do it. And neither should you. Because while you are sitting there, stomach in knots, head pounding, stressed out, not eating, worrying about what “they” are doing, “they” are pretty much just doing themselves. Not thinking about you. At all. So basically, the only one hurting is you. Is it really worth it? You have so much life to live. You have children, relationships, aging parents, bills, dreams. Why compromise your time and energy on people or circumstances you either (A) can’t do anything about or (B) don’t have your best interest at heart? I mean think about it… Once you get past the emotional aspects of your discontent, and focus on the reality, chances are you will realize you are wasting precious time.

I am not saying it’s easy, I am saying it’s necessary! Granted, I was raised this way. My parents and grandparents did not tolerate Carlos In the Archway Let Goidle thoughts or behavior. If the action did not have a purpose or lead you in a positive direction, their feeling was “why bother?” This is how I was built. This is why I refuse to fail. This is what I want for my friends and my family. While I do not always understand the source of their pain, I hate to see them in pain. One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t let a bad day make you feel that you are having a bad life”. Yes, you will get angry, frustrated and sad. Just don’t stay there. People will disappoint, hurt, irritate, test and upset you. Don’t stay there. Plans will fall through, projects take longer than you anticipated; that outfit looked better on the mannequin than it does on you but it is too late because the event is an hour ago and you have no time to buy a new outfit (yes, this was a crisis, and I had to help talk someone off the ledge behind this one!) Take a deep breath, exhale, wear that outfit like it was tailored for YOU, and don’t stay there. Accept that you will not always deal with situations with polished sophistication (Ahem) but trust that you have the power and exercise the will to improve how you cope.

I am not preaching, judging or berating. I am sharing a life lesson that has gotten me through some of the toughest challenges. Take your life back from people, thoughts, issues, actions that should not lay claim to your happiness. You have the power to do so, you just have to believe it and claim it. Life Is Not Complicated…. We are.

Life Is Not Complicated

Life Is Not Complicated, I saw God. And it only cost me $7…

 

I just settled in at home (and finally my own bed) after a long business trip in Las Vegas. While I enjoy my role as a union delegate for SMART – Transportation Division (formerly United Transportation Union) and I get a great deal of satisfaction being an active part of the collective bargaining process, it can be exhausting. I know a lot of you can relate. The hectic daily lives we lead take a toll on our minds and body. And if you are like me, there is always SOMETHING to do. Phone calls, productions, management, promotions, relationship, fatherhood, mentoring…it never ends because the journey toward a fulfilling, successful life never ends (at least it shouldn’t in my opinion).

Vegas 1I stayed at Caesar’s Palace Casino Hotel in the heart of the Vegas strip. Walking back and forth through the casinos, dodging thousands (literally thousands) of people on the street to find a meal that would not cost me a month’s mortgage, breathing in second hand smoke and hearing the deafening bells, whistles, alarms of the slot machines all while surrounded by the tense faces of gamblers praying for the jackpot, that one big win that will change their lives…if it ever comes, I thought I would go crazy. I needed an escape!

I drove 22 miles. I left the above scenario in the rear view and made my way to the Red Rock Canyon National Vegas 2Conservative Area. As I approached the landmark site I felt the difference almost immediately! I paid the $7 to enter and began a 13 mile scenic drive that transformed my focus. For the price of a bagel on the strip, I was surrounded by God’s work! For the cost of a small Starbucks coffee I felt his presence in the most spectacular scenery! The rock formations, the amazing colors of the mountains, the massive landscape reminding me how big and how awesome God is! It was a much needed reality check and a reminder, the important things in life, the moments that have the most meaning and power do not cost much (If anything at all). Some folks are so busy trying to fill voids and insecurities with material Vegas 3possessions and trying to keep up with the Jones’ by wearing uncomfortable “Red Bottoms” and buying mansions and luxury cars they can barely afford, that they don’t even realize the feeling they get from these trophies” is temporary. Meantime, in one simple, inexpensive drive, I gained perspective, understanding, deepened my faith and most importantly gave my mind and body a much needed rest.

Vegas 4I’ll take all that over a momentary, materialistic fix any day. When you can wrap your brain around what truly matters in life, that is when you really begin to live a life that matters.

 

Life Is Not Complicated, depression is more than having a “bad day”

Robin WilliamsI realize, with this post I probably won’t say anything more or different from everyone else who is remembering Robin Williams (who sadly took his own life). What I believe is so difficult to comprehend is how a man who brought us so much laughter and happiness, was himself in so much hopeless pain.

I am surrounded by comics. I love my artists. We are sincerely like family. And I have had some deep, personal conversations with a few of them who have shared that what we see on stage, on t.v., in the public eye, is only an escape. One artist told me “Ironically, comics are probably some of the most tortured souls you will ever meet”. Another explained, “It’s like I am in this constant fight with my flawed brain, and some days I’m afraid my brain will win”. I share this to say, I am not speaking as some distant, uninformed outside observer. I know what it is like to love people with this illness. There is no greater pain.

The chapter on depression was one of the most difficult for me to write in Life Is Not Complicated. I thought about this excerpt when news of Robin Williams’ death crossed, and I realized, depression knows no bounds. Athletes, politicians, actors, teachers; no one is immune to this oppressive illness. So many lose the fight.  Depression Collage

Depression hit very close to home for me:

If we fail to look beyond what is right under our nose we may miss an opportunity to understand and help someone whose pain lies beneath the surface.

Case in point: a stunning revelation from one of my best friends unleashed a reality check so powerful, it sent shock waves through my emotions, and I am not an emotional person. The epiphany redefined our friendship.

It occurred about a time that I noticed he was just not himself. Typically gregarious and affable, there was something a little off about his behavior. He seemed disconnected and uncharacteristically sad. I had not seen him in some time and just assumed he just had a lot on his mind. He was just promoted to a management position, recently bought a new house and was just promoted to a management position, recently bought a new house and had been blessed with a new child. That’s enough to make anyone a little stressed out. One evening, I received a disturbing phone call. The bartender at a local spot my buddy and I frequented, especially during football season, urged me to come immediately because my friend was dangerously intoxicated and insisted on driving home. I promptly beat a path to our hangout, confused and concerned that someone I would trust with my life, had obviously lost all regard for his own. Back in college, if anyone had exhibited this kind of behavior, this guy would have read them the riot act. Recklessness was never part of his repertoire. When I arrived, I pressed him for an explanation. I was hoping it was something as simple as stress from work or a misunderstanding at home. I could not have been more mistaken. He sobered up a bit, and we talked. I found out why his behavior had become so erratic. The revelation hit me like a freight train. He admitted that for much of his adult life, he suffered from clinical depression, and the illness had become unmanageable. The blank stare on my face clearly said it all. I had my very first, personal introduction to this crippling illness.

It was important for me to write about this experience, because I now know depression is a very common form of mental illness. You never know who may be suffering with the condition. Because of the stigma attached, you may never realize that mood swings, constant unhappiness and feelings of despair belie a very serious chemical imbalance. By not telling me right away, he did not give me the information I needed to understand or help him. I could not have his back because I did not know what he was facing. As it turns out, we helped each other. I took a step back and admitted I needed to be a more understanding person; I needed to be less “black and white” in my approach to life and people”. ~Life Is Not Complicated, You Are: Deliverance

All I ask is that if you feel you are falling into the darkness please find someone, anyone who wants nothing more than to show you light! Rest in peace Robin Williams, I pray you have found the peace that eluded you so mercilessly in life.
In the company of greatness