Category: Life Is Not Complicated

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, it’s not abuse it’s DISCIPLINE…

I have been hesitant about addressing the Adrian Peterson “child abuse” charges. Note the quotes. This may be an indication of where I stand.

Adrian PetersonThis story has been unfolding so rapidly and some of the conversations surrounding the issue have been so downright confrontational, accusatory and judgmental that I needed to take a step back and make sure my thoughts on this situation were sensible and above all presented in an educated, useful, and hopefully informative way. This is another good opportunity to try to understand what makes people different and drive home the fact there are billions of people in the world and guess what: Some of those people were raised a whole lot differently than others. What works for some, probably would not appeal to others. What some consider harsh means of discipline others will hail as the ONLY way to make sure a young child does not become an adult menace. However, in no way should personal opinions earn any man or woman the labels coon, sell-out, monster, slave-mentality, stupid, barbaric, Uncle Tom (or any of the absolutely ignorant names that have been thrown into the debate simply because you don’t agree with a person’s opinion). That helps nothing and it adds very little to the conversation. I just wanted to get that out of the way.

Jacksonville,_TX,_welcome_sign_IMG_2985I was born and raised in East Texas. Many who read this either have met my Momma or have read about her in “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are”. That said, it will come as no surprise that this good O’l Boy from East Texas– where the BIBLE is our guide, GOD is the final word, liberal views on the way people live their lives are not accepted and the rod (the switch, the belt, the slipper, the extension cord, the mixing spoon and the hand) were NOT spared–got whooped by Alice Wallace on several occasions and I THANK GOD! Because I can assure you, without question or doubt I am the man I am today because my Momma not only disciplined me, she commanded my respect. And she demanded that Montage Alice Wallacethis respect carry over into every aspect of my family (grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles) and beyond. And if she heard that I did not live up to that expectation or God forbid, found out that I (or any of my siblings) embarrassed our family name in any way…you better believe we got whupped! “Abuse” is allowing your children to get away with misbehaving and have them grow up thinking it’s okay to question authority. Abuse is not raising a child with an iron hand only to have them wear steel handcuffs later in life. Abuse is not letting a child know that there will be deep, dire consequences if you act the dam fool and when they go out into polite society they are harshly labeled, shunned and classified as having “no home training. I am not here to tell you whether being on the receiving end of that “switch” is right or wrong. Not my place. What you do in your home is your business. However, I can not tolerate any judgment that ultimately questions the values and principles that I hold dear and credit for my success. I take particular offense when that criticism comes from someone like Cris Carter, whose family I know for a fact incorporated the very same values and modes of discipline that he now calls abuse. It was the same lifestyle my friends and I sit around and reflect on because of how it helped so many of us stay on the straight and narrow, with some exceptions.  In my opinion Cris is the exception, not the rule. He is an exception that obviously did not learn the lesson discipline was meant to instill, falling deep into drug addiction before turning his life around; an exception that did the unthinkable in his remarks about Adrian Peterson: he vilified his Momma in front of the world. A woman who in his own words “did the best she could” to raise 7 children. She was either “wrong” or did her best. One of them is a lie. We were taught to honor our mothers and fathers. Whuppings did not change that. My mother and father prepared us for life. I will never dishonor their memory by questioning their methods or audaciously vilify my parents for taking care of their children within the guidelines of their culture and upbringing. For the record, my Granddaddy (My Mom’s father) was a deacon and a Judge… and yes, he believed in whuppings.

I find it frustrating that an issue that should have been dealt with personally made it to the media. How is it a mother and father cannot have a discussion about the best way to raise a child? And what has happened to our society, especially with regard to family values, to make it so easy to air our issues so openly for the world to judge? I did not include pictures of the child in this blog for that very reason. Ironically, I have read reports the child’s mother is “outraged” these private photos were released to the public. But what did she expect? So now, when all this blows over and you expect and need this man to be a “Father to his children” (after you have completely destroyed his credibility as a leader and disciplinarian in his family by virtue of the fact that if he even raises his voice to loudly someone may call the cops out of fear he may become “abusive”) his hands are tied. And you know what happens in homes where children are allowed to make the rules? They become adults who are not capable of following the rules. What good is that to our society?

East TexasEast Texas, my Southern roots, my strict upbringing and yes, a whupping every now and then helped make me a productive, contributing member of society and allowed me to raise children who follow the same strict guidelines. When (if) you decide you no longer need to adhere to the foundation I set, you are more than free to begin building your own. However, I’m pretty confident, the tools I used to build mine are a whole lot sturdier, more reliable and will construct a foundation that will last a hell of a lot longer.

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

Life Is Not Complicated, social media shouldn’t be your personal diary…

Never apologize for the good in your life. People who try to make you feel badly because you have been blessed are consumed by self-loathing. Wear your accomplishments proudly, be it your career, your relationship, your children, your success. True friends will bask in the glow of your shine, not pray for darkness to fall. Life Is Not Complicated: Success

“The best way to stay in your relationship, is to keep people out of your relationship.” Ice Cube

Jay-Z-proposes-to-Beyonce-at-the-Met-GalaI am not going to give the entire Solange/Jay Z debacle any more attention than it is due. I only mention the incident because it speaks to much larger issues I have tried to address so many times however, for some reason, are not taken as seriously as they should. This may ruffle some feathers, but as with Life Is Not Complicated You Are, my intention is only to help anyone I can avoid (and deal with) pitfalls that can stand in the way of living a peaceful life. Sometimes, we create our own obstacles!

SHOWBIZ Insider 1Praying , hoping, wishing, expecting or making light of the demise of a successful couple is not sexy. In a society where divorce is far too prevalent, success among certain races is overtly scrutinized, instances of single parents have become way too common and the very fiber of the family is dangerously frayed, we should be rooting for couples to thrive. I will never find the trials and tribulations of other people’s lives entertaining. As someone who has been through his fair share of challenges (if you’ve read the book, you know I am not exaggerating), I would be none too pleased to know that my tragedies were laid bare for the delight of folks who more than likely do not have enough going on in their own lives, so they choose to live vicariously through mine. That kind of betrayal and hateful behavior is inexcusable and breaks down the principles of humanity that are so lacking in our society.

That being said, if you (the general populous) do not want people regaling others with tales of your discontent, keep your private life private. Everyone does not need to know how happy or unhappy you are in your relationships or at your job or with your children. Before social media, people seemed quite content with dating, working, building careers and businesses and living their lives without broadcasting each intimate detail of their existence to millions. And I am not talking about promoting your business or events or accomplishments in order to drive growth. There is a big difference between incorporating social media as a billboard for your business and using it as your private diary. One enhances your reputation and the other could potentially destroy it.

Ladies, stop thinking because your boyfriend or husband does not broadcast your “relationship status”, it is because he is 1350409147_barack-obama-michelle-obama-lgup to something. Gentlemen, stop wondering why your lady is not building you up as “King of the World” on a social networking site. The only people who should know what is happening behind closed doors are the people living within the four walls. Trust and respect who you are with and live your lives accordingly. No, I am not proclaiming that I am an authority on how to live life in the public eye. On the contrary, I do the best I can to keep my personal life where it needs to be, personal. Everything is not for everybody. I have seen way too many families, couples and friendships fall apart because the sanctity of those relationships were compromised because of gossip, folks being messy or individuals sharing pain with the wrong people. Friends, family and anyone reading this blog, I urge you: Before you sit down and type out a knee jerk diatribe of emotion and feelings that reveal way too much about your current situation remember: you never know who is reading, watching, taking notes and hoping that downfall you choose to broadcast leaves you flat on your back and whimpering in pain. Resolve today to never have your humiliation, integrity, reputation, and/or future sold to the highest bidder (who, oftentimes, is the Devil) for some undisclosed amount.