Friday, April 29, 2011

What's Next?

A very open question with an unlimited number of possibilities.

Another week has just about been ticked of the calendar of life. Time is always moving forward and it is how you make use of this time that makes one's life interesting or not. I knew this past week was going fly by as I had something scheduled for each day. Work, therapy, and a many things like paying bills that just kept me busy.

"Busy" is good for me. It means my brain is busy hyper-focusing on what I should be doing and not sitting idle and thinking about other stuff. It is during the times where I have a few minutes to myself that the brain starts to wander and think about past events that have saddened me. That is when I go into the "I Should Have" or "I Could Have" thoughts and those are just nonproductive for me.

With that said...

Easter service was great! I took almost 500 photos and I got about 25-40 good shots with a handful including some panoramic shots that came out great! I sat in the same area as I did last year with my camera bag in the seat next to mine. I reserved the entire row for Ron and his family and Nuno even showed up this year.

After hugging much of my church family (there were approximately 1,100 people there) Nuno and I headed to my dad's house. My daughter had spent the weekend at her mom's house again and got dropped off just as the food was coming out of the oven.

My dad had called a few weeks ago and asked what my daughter was doing for Easter. It always bothers me that he doesn't ask me what I'm doing. I need to let that go of that resentment once and for all.

My dad's main form of entertainment is sitting around his big screen TV and channel surfing. So that is what we all did for most of the afternoon and headed home in the early evening.

As the clock struck midnight this Easter thoughts of how I spent it last year surfaced. I hoped that (K) had had a good day. I also hoped that whatever she did this holiday she at least spent a moment remembering last year and how special it was.

So what is next?

I have done a great deal of thinking about this. A few weeks ago there was a college fair at my daughter's school. An impressive 88 colleges were represented, mostly from the East Coast. I struck up a conversation with the dean of admissions at one of the local state schools and we briefly talked about my daughter and her goals. Then he shocked me and asked: "So what's next?" I wasn't sure what he meant at first and started re-explaining how my daughter was a Junior and still unsure of where she was going. He stopped me and said, "No Glenn, I mean WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?"

It is very rare that I am speechless because the people that know me, know I can ramble on about anything for hours. But every now and then it happens. I couldn't even wrap my mind around the concept of the question. I don't think he was selling me on a future college solution per say but being really genuine and asking me from one human to another.

What's Next?

Indeed! What is next!

This has lead my mind in a million different directions recently. I have a lot going for me, really I do. I have my house, a job, a good group of friends, church... the list goes on. But am I really happy? What is next?

While in my teens I was purely in survival mode. I lived for the basics - food and shelter. I received my street smarts during those years.

While in my early to mid 20's I established myself with some roots and an apartment. I experimented with a lot of things - drugs, alcohol, and yes, even women. My friend Carl reflects on these years as the years we lived like we were above the law, didn't have responsibilities, and had no fear of consequences of our actions or even of death itself. He once stated, "We are fortunate enough to not only be alive today, but to not be in prison for a very long time."

It was during these experimental years I met my daughter's mom and she got pregnant. That changed my life drastically.

I became a "weekend dad" and for the next 13 years I made it a priority to be there for my daughter each and every weekend. It wasn't easy leaving her at her mom's on Sunday nights. During her early years she would cry as I pulled away from her mom's house. I always tried to be the strong parent , letting her know that "daddy" would be back next week to pick her up and that I would call her during the week. The feeling of separation weighed greatly on me. I would myself be crying the minute I had turned the corner wishing she were still with me.

As she got older and progressed through grade school I stayed active in her school system's PTO - parent teacher organization but by middle school all weekday ties had been broken. She had fallen into a routine of living with her mom for the majority of the week and with me on the weekends. Her attendance, grades and attitude were all sliding in a downward spiral and I knew I had to do something before it was too late.

It wasn't until my daughter started high school did she come to live with me on a full time basis and attend a local school here in town. Her grades improved dramatically and with them her attitude towards school. She plans on going to college and living a fulfilling life of her own. :-)

So here I am today with a beautiful and brilliant daughter, a junior poised to take her SATs, attend college, and go on to live a life of her own. Will she keep in touch? Oh I'm sure. Will she see me during the holidays or other special events? Sure. But she will be on her own, and that is the reality of it.

Which brings me to that nagging question that seems to live in my head these days.

What's next?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Eve of EASTER

It is the eve of Easter. Actually it is 9:44AM but if people can call the entire day before Christmas "Christmas Eve" well then I'm claiming my stake in this term.

So it is Easter eve and the morning's first sips of coffee are hitting my lips. A good columbian dark roast this morning. In about 20 minutes I will be headed out with my daughter to get our hair trimmed. This for me has become an annual event over the past 3 years. For those that know me, know I don't get my hair cut all that often. Last year I got it trimmed in the Spring when I reconnected with (K). The year before would have been for my grandfather's funeral in the early Spring of 2009. I can't remember the time before that. It's odd that I'm doing it this year as I have no real reason. I (guess) I want to do it for me. My daughter is getting hers trimmed because her Junior prom is a few weeks away.

After having her hair trimmed she is going to her mom's for the weekend, something she has been doing for the last few months. Her mom is going through a divorce and relocating in the city and my daughter has been helping her out. I miss having her on the weekends but also enjoy the freedom it has given me to be able to do what I want.

I need more coffee...

5:03PM @ Ron's house. (My first mobile post)

So my hair is about 3" shorter than it was when I woke up. (Bye bye dead ends.) My daughter's hair looks beautiful even though it was just a simple long-layered wash, trim, and blowdry. I have to also mention that haircuts have gotten expensive. It cost me a quick $50.00 including the $7.00 dollar tip. The last time I remember spending around $15.00 for my trim. Anyways it is done and my daughter is happy.

Her mom picked her up this afternoon and I hung out for a bit wondering what I was going to do with the rest of the day. Then Ron called and invited me over for dinner. I brought my camera gear as I needed to prep it and charge the batteries for tomorrow. He gave me the 8GB micro SD card from his old phone and I put it in my tablet. This allows me to put music and pictures on it without worying about running out of room now.

11:32PM @ Home

So it is minutes before Easter and I guess I'm sad. (Something I have been avoiding admitting this entire BLOG posting today.) It was one year ago this past Easter when (K) and I went to service together at the Z. It was trully a special day with her dedicating to me a study bible for Wednesday bible study classes. I think what made it more special was what we did after church. We went for a ride to the large state beach, a beach I had always wanted to take her to in our past tiem together.

So there we were laughing and enjoying just being in the moment. Collecting shells while enjoying the warmth of the sun. If that day could have just gone on forever...

Here I am a year later witnessing an away message appear on an account that she has not been on in over a month that states: "Moving on."

It is the eve of Easter and I know I will be at the Z tomorrow for service at 10AM as I was last year. I'll just be going by myself. :-(

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

SEASONS - A day in the life...

Wednesday. Some refer to it as "Hump Day" as it sits smack in the middle of the week. Meaning, if you can get through today the rest of the week is downhill. For some people it means a lot. For others like me... Not so much.

I'm self-employed which means I'm technically on the clock 24/7. I set my own rates, do my own advertising, find the customers, service their needs, bill them, collect and cash the check, and the cycle begins again. Needless to say there is a lot of "Down Time".

This down time can last for hours or even days at a stretch. During this down time I find a lot of things to do. I own a big old house built in the 20's that is a constant work in progress. I have owned it for just over five years and have made quite the progress on it thus far. Aside from the painting and restoration projects in constant progress, it is quite the chore to keep tidy and clean. I think I do a decent job most of the time.

When I'm not working on the house I can usually be found in front of a computer surfing random sites. I have a habit of archiving things such as movies, music, TV shows, etc. I always think, oh I'll watch them later, but rarely do. Well, sometimes I do. I recently am in the process of aquiring the entire House MD collection through season 7 (the current). I have seasons 1-3 currently. This is a show I saw a handful of episodes a few years ago, did not think much about it, but have grown fond of. In fact I thought Dr. House was a bit of a jerk. Now that I have seen the pilot I understand a bit more about who the character Dr. House is and what he represents.

But, mostly I stream stuff over the web on-demand.

During the Summer and even during the Fall I spend time outside with friends BBQing and hanging out. I enjoy gardening and going to the beach and relaxing with a good book.

However, Winter is a difficult time for me. It was not until I met (K) that I had heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder and how it affects more than half the population of this world in one way or another. I believe it affects me in ways I was not too sure about until recently.

By default, I am a people person. I can strike up a conversation with anyone about anything and it is all good. However, in the winter my exposure to people in general is limited by the weather and especially the cold. I just don't like to go out in the cold. I don't like the snow and I despise shoveling. My ears hurt when exposed to the cold and that gets me aggravated to no end.

That leaves Spring. Early Spring always has me hoping for the best. The best weather, the best jobs, and a fresh start for a lot of things after a long and cold winter. Unfortunately, Spring seems to linger about a bit too long every year, or so it seems. The Spring rains although great for the vegetation, dampens my spirit more than I want to admit most of the time.

Maybe it's because I seem to find myself single again in the Spring that I feel rather blah during this rainy season. But I digress...

It is Spring vacation week for the kids and my daughter is spending it with her mom. This leaves the big old house and I to spend some quality time together. I can sleep in a little later than usual although my eyes seem to have snapped open at 7AM each morning.

My coffee intake seems to have sorted itself out over the last two years. Since purchasing the Keurig K-Cup machine I have reduced my intake greatly and feel that it has helped immensely.

I work out of town this Tuesday and Thursday and have had a couple of local service calls this week. Today I find myself burning CDs for a local school and sitting in on some online recovery meetings. I find it comforting to know that even though I may be alone physically in this house there is an entire community of others out there ready to chat up a storm.

I'm not as stressed as I was about finances a few short months ago. I have found some promising employment with long term prospects. More recently, I have survived a two day audit without any repercussions. I have been attending all of the school related functions to do with my daughter going to college and learning about the financial responsibilities that go along with it. And then there is her Junior prom. She's just not that little girl that I could push on the swing.


The seasons change, and so do we all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Radical Acceptance"

It is Friday evening. I have the house to myself. My daughter is off to her mother's for Spring vacation. I have a large bottle of Bailey's to keep me company this evening. If anything it will keep me warm on this wet and cold evening.

I'm not expecting anyone I know to read this Blog, nor do I imagine someone wanting to meet me because of it. I Blog because I want to. I'd like to think that these bits and bytes of data I am putting out there on the "Inter-Webs" is making the overall collective smarter and better informed. After all, don't we learn from one another?

Last night I began on the first of two assignments my therapist had assigned me. To read up on "Radical Acceptance". I had no idea this term even existed until last night. In concept and theory it sounds quite simple.

It is required when presented with an issue that causes pain, grief, suffering, or any combination of the three. There is an infinite number of things that can cause these things. But there are only four responses to any and all of the aforementioned causes.

1. Solve the problem.
2. Change how you feel about it.
3. Accept it
4. Stay Miserable

I've found that the fourth response is what I've done in the past. Now seeing this homework in black and white in front of me and realizing I only have four choices to choose from I have to think... Why would I want to choose to stay miserable? Why!

So the first part of accepting is realizing reality is what it is. It's as simple as saying the ball is blue if it is blue.

The second part to accepting is accepting that every event and every situation has a cause. Accepting that every event has a cause is the opposite of saying 'why me'.

Now there's another opposite for thinking events have causes and that opposite is when you say: "Things should not be the way they are". Now 'should not be the way they are' is non-acceptance. We never say that about things we're accepting, we like, or we want. We say 'should not' about things that we think aren't caused - they should not be this way.

So the opposite of should not is should. And once you think that everything has a cause, then you think reality should be the way it is. Acceptance from this point of view is when you say 'everything should be as it is'.

Other things I have gotten from the reading of this assignment thus far. The following statement jumped out at me and is the final thing in acceptance.

You have to accept that life can be worth living, even if really painful events are currently in your life.

To go from an unendurable agony to an endurable pain, you're going to have to accept that you can build a life. Because if you don't accept it, what will happen? You're not going to build a life. And building a life worth living actually takes a fair amount of work. Believing that you can't do it makes it almost impossible. Believing that you can do it makes it a lot easier, so the chances are a lot higher that you'll actually do it - you'll build a life worth living.

"Unendurable Agony to Endurable Pain" Wow... That's a powerful statement. Is there such a thing as endurable pain? I have to admit, that, yes there is.

"Acceptance" It sounds easy. It is NOT.

Today is day two and I will work on what I can endure for the moment. I'm not worried about yesterday or tomorrow. I'm in the here and now. And for now, at the moment, I am in the solution.

Now THAT is Pretty radical.

The Constant - As Seen Through These Eyes...

I've been keeping a journal and blogging for most of my life. Over 20 years at least. And I think... No, I believe one of the main reasons I do it is that when I'm gone, i'm hoping someone will come across it and read it. Read about the life I lead. Read equally about the joys and about the pains, about the triumphs and about the tragedies in my life... And accept it for it is. My life.

Another reason I write is so I can look back and see where I was and how I've grown and progressed from the person I once was. I've written a book on recovery based on my life and the events that have happened thus far and started a second book continuing where the first one left off.

But the reason that is tugging at me these days as the now electronic words hit my screen is that it is a "Constant". A constant meaning I am always here. The "Journal" or "Blog" is always here. Patiently awaiting its next entry. Non-judgemental. My Blog does not have an opinion nor can it interupt or interject things after I have written them. It is what it is. Sometimes the entries are filled with daily events which mean nothing, but at other times they are raw and pure.

And for the first time completely public. I figured, if I can write a book on my life and publish it, I can put this out there to the universe.

Me. My Blog...

A "Constant".

Me. My life...

As Seen Through These Eyes.