“The List, Version 2.0”

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Back in 2010, I crafted what became known as “The List.” It was a simple collection of ten or so rules I put in place in case I would ever consider getting into a relationship. The rules seemed common-sense to me (“must have a car” and “must have a job”) but some met with quite a bit of negative feedback (“must not have kids”). At that time, I made no attempt to explain my rules, unless I was pressed into doing so.


Even though I have removed myself completely from the dating scene until at least August of 2019, I am going to create a new “List.” I’m sure it will be very similar to the previous version, which has been lost over time, but I feel like now is a good time to do it, since I am clear-headed and have 11 months to make it into “law.”

So, I present to you, The List, Version 2.0:


RULE 1 – MUST BE SINGLE

This may seem a little over-obvious until you understand what I have dealt with. I’ll give a perfect example. In 2006, I met a girl I took a liking to, she was cute, intelligent and had a great sense of humor. The first time we went out, she told me she was divorced and gave me a little insight into her life. A week later, she told me she needed to be “honest” with me and announced that she was separated, not divorced. A short time later, she told me she was not exactly separated, they were still living together to “share expenses.” I cut my losses at that point and found out a few weeks later they were expecting their second child. Fortunately, I had never laid a hand on this girl.


RULE 2 – MUST HAVE A JOB


Just suffice to say I have had enough experience dealing with good-for-nothing, worthless, jobless, hopeless, penniless pieces of garbage. Period. If you can’t support yourself, you need to find a way to start doing so, not expect some guy to do it. Especially if you’re toting around numerous children. That’s trashy. No decent man is going to walk into that kind of a situation. At least not knowingly.

RULE 3 – MUST HAVE A CAR

See rule 2. I see relationships as a 50/50 proposition. If you can’t come and see me as often as I come and see you, it’s suddenly a 75/25 proposition. And that doesn’t work for me. I also have no desire to run a taxi service. If I did, I’d be an Uber driver.

RULE 4 – NO CRAZY EX’S

If your ex is going to show up at the house with a gun, or follow me or threaten me, he’s just begging to get his ass kicked and I have no desire to be staring at assault charges. I am not taking hold until your ex has let go… and you have let go of your ex. In 2006 I met a beautiful woman who worked at a local hospital.  One day, her ex-husband showed up at the hospital and proceeded to bust the windows out of her car.  That’s not going to work for me.  My ex’s are left in the past, where they belong. I do my best to completely forget I ever dealt with any of them. If you’re still hung up on yours, then you need to get over it, or you guys need to work things out and get back together. Just keep me out of it.

RULE 5 – NO MULTIPLE BABY DADDY’S

If you’re in your 30’s and have more than two kids with more than two guys, you are not relationship material, you are community property. No man wants to introduce a woman like that to his friends. Especially if her reputation proceeds her. No man wants to get laughed at because his woman has been everybody’s woman. I am not making any open-ended judgments here, just keep that away from me.  I am not going to date a woman I am ashamed of being with.  That’s absolutely ludicrous.

RULE 6 – MUST BE LOCAL

I’m not doing long distance. Period. It’s not even up for debate. If you don’t live within a reasonable distance, don’t even flirt with me. If it takes an hour or more to get to your house, I see no reason to even give that a consideration. I’m too needy. If I am in a relationship, I expect to actually SEE my woman. Regularly. Not once a month or even once a week. You can’t get to know someone well enough barely seeing them to know if the relationship can go forward. Long distance does NOT work.

RULE 7 – MUST PASS MY BACKGROUND CHECK

If there is a chance we are going to start seeing each other, I’m going to do some investigating. No one wants to go into a situation completely blind, and I always like to see what someone’s reputation is like on the street. Admittedly, I have found out that people don’t always like to tell the truth until it’s too late, but I’m still going to see what your reputation is like. No one wants to date the Whore Of Babylon.

RULE 8 – MUST BE CLEAN

This covers a multitude of areas. No STD’s. No arrest record. No drug use. Must bathe. Must keep your house clean. I’ve had enough dealings with trash to last me a lifetime and I don’t want to deal with it any longer. And I never will again. So if you can’t keep yourself and your home clean, and you can’t stay out of jail or off drugs, piss off. I’m too many levels above you and it’s not going to work out. Find someone who is more on your level. The jails are full of meth-heads you should hit it off with.

RULE 9 – YOU MUST ACCEPT ME FOR WHO I AM

I’m 41 years old and I’m not changing for anyone. I love watching baseball and smoking cigars and time spent by myself. I like to sleep in my own bed, alone or otherwise. I don’t use drugs and I don’t waste my life in bars. I’m a bit of a “geek” and proud of it. I’m not going to alter my life for a woman. I’d rather be alone and do what I enjoy than be with someone who can’t accept me for who I am. Non-negotiable.

In closing, if you are able to jump through all nine of those hoops and we have a mutual attraction and compatibility and you’re single in August 2019, then we’ve got a good foundation for a potential relationship. If you come up short in any way, then I wish you good luck in your future endeavors and hope you find someone more compatible with you, because I’m not. And at my age, I see no reason to settle for less than I deserve. I’ve spent far too much of my life settling when it comes to relationships.


Thank you for reading. God bless, and have a great day.

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Single. Staying That Way. No, You Cannot Change My Mind. End Of Discussion.

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Recently, I announced my decision to take myself off the dating grid for at least a year. I was at the breaking point trying to explain to women that I am in no position mentally to be involved in a relationship at this time, or to date anyone exclusively, or even once, for that matter. The past has not been kind to me and I needed time to lick my wounds and let them heal before I even considered trying dating or a relationship again.

This decision has been met with ridicule and “threats” of “I’ll be the one that can make you change your mind.” Therefore, I felt a public service announcement was in order, because sometimes you just can’t get through to people by normal means.

First, let me explain what brought me to this point. I recently got out of a situation that was so rancid and repulsive that I sincerely thought it was going to be the death of me. The physical and emotional toll were heavy. I put on 80 pounds through stress eating, my hair was falling out, I was sick all the time due to my immune system not functioning properly due to stress, I had stomach ulcers, I had the shakes, I couldn’t sleep, my eyes were constantly twitching and I was suffering from severe migraine headaches that lasted for hours. All things considered, its a miracle I am alive.

So, to every woman in the world who isn’t married or engaged or spoken for, no, I have no interest in dating you right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re the lowest form of scum or the most beautiful woman in the world. The answer is no. Period.

Part of this stems from the area in which I live. I live in north central West Virginia, and its just as bad as the national media portrays it. A large percentage of the women here are literally disgusting. I’m talking toothless, cockeyed, covered in meth sores, living in run-down shacks, tripping over rats and carrying who-knows-what kind of STDs.

And most women in this area seem to “recycle” boyfriends, i.e. they make a habit of just trading boyfriends around and infecting each other. That kind of thing makes me sick to even think about and totally turns me off to ever putting my hands on another woman. Thought I would have definitely made an exception for the girl mentioned earlier.

I also refuse to do long-distance relationships because, quite honestly, they’re ridiculous. Why would I want to “date” someone I never see? I’m way too needy for that.

Yes, I have myself in kind of a catch-22 here. I don’t want to date any local trash but I also don’t want to date anyone who isn’t local. Do you see the pattern here?

I don’t want to date.

I want to spend the rest of my summer enjoying myself. Watching baseball. Working. Smoking the finest cigars. Going for drives. Upgrading my office and doing work on my PC and my gaming systems. Working on my baseball card collection. As well as things that are a little more simple, like I want to spend some time not being miserable.

During the month that I was talking to the flake who ghosted me, I legitimately thought I might be able to be happy again with a significant other. I’m not sure how that happened, or why I would have thought something so ridiculous at that point. But now that I know better, I know better than to let chance have the opportunity to do it to me again.

Everyone should make themselves happy before they even consider making anyone else happy. I know at this point that I have been so disconnected from myself for so many years that I just need some time to get used to being myself again. Doing the things I have always loved but couldn’t do. Just being me and not having to do for anyone else.

Now, I need to say, this is not about selfishness. I think that down the road I’ll be a better man than the man I am now and that will, in turn, be better for whomever I eventually end up with, whether that’s next year or a decade from now. At this point, I’m a broken man and I’m not going to be good for anything to anyone. Who would want that?

In closing, I want to reiterate that no, I will not be changing my mind about this decision and no one on this earth is going to tell me what to do when it comes to my dating and social life. It’s not up for debate. It’s my life and I’ll do with it what I want. No one is going to change my mind or make me alter my plans. Only death can do that at this point.

Thank you for reading and God bless.

Relationships: An Outsider’s Perspective

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As I was visiting with my mom a couple of days ago, she broached a subject I was hoping we would not have to discuss:  Relationships.  The reason I hate discussing this with her is that I don’t need to be reminded that my taste in women is atrocious and that every time I have been in what would loosely be termed “a relationship,” I passed up a lot of better options to settle for far less than I deserved every single time.  I know all of this, and have to live with it, but she feels the need to remind me.

But this discussion was different.  It wasn’t about my poor choices and stupid mistakes of the past, it was about the future.  And I had not given much thought to the future.  I have been living with a day-to-day perspective throughout 2018, and the idea of thinking a day or a week or a month ahead isn’t something I had been doing to any extent.

I have, however, discussed it a bit with my two closest confidants at times.

The last time I was single for an extensive period of time, I had a list of rules to help me weed out the losers from the potential winners.  It wasn’t the type of rules that most people think of (specific height, weight, hair color, etc.) but was more guidelines to separate the trash from the treasures, i.e. “must have a job,” “must have a car” and “no crazy ex’s.”  The kind of thing a nice, middle-class girl should have.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that I looked past the more obvious points I should have been considering, like “is this someone I can stand being around for more than a couple of hours?”  Or, “is this someone I could marry in the future?”

To make matters worse, I not only totally disregarded those obvious questions but threw my guidelines away as well and settled for everything I never wanted.

This time around, I’m smart enough to put everything into perspective.

To put it a little more simply, as I said to one of my confidants a couple of days ago, “I want a woman I can’t live without, not a woman I can’t live with.”  Which means I not only want a woman who fits the obvious prerequisites (mutual attraction, mutual interests, etc.) as well as my own personal requirements (the aforementioned job and car, etc.), but also now fits the questions I should have been asking all along.

Obviously, this is going to thin the herd down to pretty much nothing.  And I’m OK with that.  Because at this point, at 40 years old, I shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than I actually want, and I am perfectly and totally happy as things stand.

So, I sat down again with mom today and said “at this point, given everyone I have met and where everything stands, no, I’ll never be in a relationship again.  Granted, that could change tomorrow depending on who I meet, but right now, no.”

If I don’t see a future with someone, I’m not going to waste the present on them.  It isn’t fair to me and at my age, I’m ready to either settle down with someone, or settle down alone.  And since I am living pretty comfortably right now, I see no reason to change that for someone unless she is going to be a permanent part of my life.

I wish everyone would adopt my philosophy, as a lot fewer bad relationships would result and the dramatics that result from those bad relationships wouldn’t happen.  Of course, I realize some people thrive on bad relationships, as a way of getting attention online or from friends.  Realize that this isn’t healthy or good for anyone.

I am going forward, alone or not, the wheels will roll.  If there’s someone out there that is my “forever,” then eventually I’ll meet her.  If not, I’m going to be happy and enjoy my life anyway.  I don’t need anyone to completely me, I’m a complete person, as is.  But I am not closing the door to anything that may develop down the road.

There is White Sox baseball to watch, fine cigars to be smoked, excellent food and whiskey to be consumed and life to be lived.  And that’s what I’m doing.  I’m not settling for less than the best in any facet of my life going forward.  Ever again.

Peace.

Your Time On Earth Is Finite… Your Happiness Doesn’t Need To Be

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“Every man is put on earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown.” – Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone episode, “The Escape Clause”

It would seem that the concept of having limited time to do everything we want to do in life would make people want to pursue their dreams and wants and desires. But for some reason, from my own experience as well as from my observations of others, most of us are content to just sit around and let life pass us by. If we’re lucky enough to have good fortune, we don’t grab onto it and get all we can, we simply accept that we had a run of good luck and let it go. Then we go back to complaining and doing nothing to try to make our lives what we want it to be. We just go on “living.”

The fact that so many of us have spent time unhappy and did nothing to fix the situation or improve it or get out of it distresses me greatly, and I have been as guilty as anyone in this respect. When I add up the years I wasted, either being miserable or just not being completely happy, it starts to eat up a large chunk of my life.

This is completely unacceptable.

The fact is, as simple as it may sound, there is no need to be unhappy or miserable. I have been happier in the past three months than I was in the past decade. Once I got my head screwed on straight and realized how miserable I had been, I was able to look at my life a lot more objectively than I had before and size things up for myself.

Sometimes we legitimately don’t realize we are miserable.  My hair was falling out, I was 80 pounds overweight, I had developed ulcers and migraine headaches and I couldn’t sleep at night. I think I may have been suffering from a type of Stockholm Syndrome, feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor. So I tried to make myself feel like I was just an idiot if I felt unhappy at all.  I just kept going on, day by day, trying to act “normal.”

Well, I didn’t just feel unhappy, words could never accurately describe how miserable I truly was. And once I was honest with myself, I had to start asking the hard questions; why would anyone allow themselves to be miserable and unhappy? What does that accomplish for anybody? When you have dreams and wants and aspirations, what is to be accomplished by just sitting on them?  Who wants to live that way?

Here I stand today, free of all of the misery I was dealing with on a daily basis and I am able to pursue the opportunities I want, that I have wanted for years but was rarely able to verbalize until now.  I am finally able to be myself again.

I am free to pursue the enjoyments of life that are mine to enjoy. I can go where I want, when I want, without having to answer to anyone on this planet. That is a good feeling after years of what amounted to a combination of imprisonment, brainwashing and slavery. I have earned all that is before me.  And I will take advantage of it.

Your time on earth is finite, you don’t have 5,000 years to fix your problems and find your happiness. You don’t have 10,000 years or even 200 years. You have 80 years or less to make your life everything you want it to be. The first 20 of those years are spent growing up. So now you’re down to 60 years. Since I’m 40 that means I have blown over half of my available time, assuming I live to 80. And out of those 40, I was in some level of misery for roughly 1/4 years. Again, that is totally unacceptable.

So, if you’re reading this, please, for the love of God, if you are in some situation that you are unhappy with, do something to change it! There is no excuse on heaven or in earth to not be happy and do everything you can to reach all of your dreams and aspirations.

I know that sometimes it feels hopeless. I know that sometimes we just don’t have the willpower or the mental strength to extricate ourselves from a situation we find ourselves in. I’ve been there. But the feeling of getting away from the unhappiness, and the subsequent improvement in life, both physically and mentally (and even emotionally) is well worth any short-term unhappiness you may suffer from.

I hope this will help someone that needs it, that needs a kick in the pants to either start living, or get out of a bad situation to start attempting to live. Life is too short to waste. There is so much happiness to be had and its there for the taking. Just have the courage to go get it. Or give it your best shot. Sometimes even if you fall short, you at least gave it a try and sometimes the journey is as rewarding as the destination.

In closing, let me try to make you understand that while its never to late to start, the longer you wait, the shorter your happiness will be, and there’s no excuse for that. I would love to have the wasted years of my life back but it doesn’t work that way, so I have to be happy with the 20 or 30 I have ahead of me. And I am, I plan on making the most of them and doing everything I have always wanted to do. It’s just a matter of getting started, and the first step is not only the hardest, but the longest. But you can do it if you set your mind to it and disregard all that’s held you back.

Peace, and God bless.

Misery and Depression… And The Long Road Back To Happiness

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About six months ago, I sat in this very chair and was reading an article about the effects of depression on your body.  As I read, I began to realize exactly where I was in life; in the clutches of crippling depression.  Insomnia, heart problems, headaches, fatigue, weight gain, a weakened immune system…  It was like reading a list of the problems I was facing on a daily basis.  The worst part was, I didn’t realize I was miserable.

I had been programmed by those around me to think that I couldn’t be happier, because it would reflect poorly on them if society knew how unhappy I was.

The mind can be tricked, but the body, not so much.  You can be in a horrific car accident and break every bone, and while you can tell yourself that you’re not in pain or that everything is fine, that body cast will paint a much different picture.

There I was, for years on end, absolutely miserable.  Hating everyone I dealt with, just wanting to be alone, crying myself to sleep at night, my hair was falling out, I was 80 pounds overweight, I developed ulcers and, within the past year, even started to get migraine headaches.  But I kept telling myself I had to be happy.

But inside I knew I was miserable.  You can’t be around people on a daily basis that you hate with every fiber of your being and somehow be “happy.”  You can’t throw your life away and expect anything good to come back to you.  Ever.  It just doesn’t work that way.  If you want good in your life, you have to put it there yourself.

Luckily, circumstance decreed otherwise and those people have been eliminated from my life forever, and in less than three months my whole world is changing.  I have lost 17 pounds, I haven’t had a single migraine headache since early December, I can actually sleep at night and wake refreshed in the morning, my blood pressure is dropping, my ulcers are finally straightening up, my hair stopped falling out and I don’t feel the overwhelming, non-stop feelings of misery, doom and depression that I felt for seven years.  Just by the elimination of people I hated from my life.

From the time I was 15 I always said I would never live to see 40.  It was just a premonition, nothing concrete ever happened to give me that foresight.  But now I realize there was some truth to it.  At the age of 40 years and six months, I actually started to live.  The old me is dead.  The “me” that hated to get up in the morning because my bed was the only place I felt “happy,” that couldn’t function due to headaches so bad I became disoriented, that laid in bed awake every night for four or five hours before a small amount of sleep would overtake me and then I could have nightmares about the unhappiness in my life.  That “me” didn’t make it far past 40.

So, to anyone who reads this, I’m pleading with you, don’t lie to yourself.  Life is too short and precious to be spent being miserable.  Don’t throw your life away.  If there’s anything in your life that is making you miserable and unhappy, get rid of it.  It’s not worth it, no matter what it is.  There is so much happiness to be had in the world today, don’t let anything, and especially anyone, ruin it for you.  You’re worth more than that.  I lost seven years of my life to crippling depression and I’ll never get those seven years back.  But, if I live as long as my grandfather did, I could have 52 years ahead of me to enjoy life and actually be happy.  I plan on taking advantage of them.

Don’t let society, or anyone’s manipulations, make you unhappy.  Don’t allow yourself to be used and abused and taken advantage of just so someone else can be happy.  It isn’t worth it on any level.  Your life is your own.  To live as you want.

I want to say that I thank God for the life I was given, I thank my friends and family for seeing me through it and I thank providence for getting me out of the misery I was in for all those years.  Many a night I laid in bed and begged the Lord to end my life before the sun would rise again.  Now the sun has truly risen.  I wouldn’t trade my life right now for anything or anyone, and I am happier than I have been in probably 15 years.  And a whole lot healthier.  With a lot more support and love than I have ever had.  How many times lately I have said “today was a really good day.”  Those were so few and far between in the previous seven years I could have counted them on one hand and had fingers left over.  Life is what you make it.  And this is mine.

In closing, you are given one earthly life.  What you do with it is up to you.  If you want to get into a situation where every day feels like it would be better if it were your last, then you need to wake up and understand that there’s more to life than that.  There are wonderful people and places and things to enjoy.  Hobbies and food and drink and movies and shows…  Why allow anyone, or anything, to make you unhappy?  Let it go.  Take a deep breath, and walk out into the world.  And enjoy it.

Peace.

Me First: Why I Like Being Incompatible With Everyone Else

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Over the years I have been called selfish, obstinate, sometimes even hateful and weird.  Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what I don’t do; I don’t “fit in” with most people.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with this.  I am true to myself, and I am true to what I love.  Because at the end of the day, I have to live with myself, and I don’t have to live with anyone else.  So, the idea of altering anything about myself to try to “fit in” with someone else is not only phony, it’s disgraceful.  But a lot of people seem to do it.

Relationships have been dreadful for me,  for this very reason.  I have never had anything in common with anyone I’ve been in a relationship with.  The closest would probably be my girlfriend in high school, and what we had in common could be counted on one hand.  I mean, we liked to watch “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and we were both big Garfield marks, and we liked a few similar movies, but other than that, nothing.

My most recent “real” relationship, though.  Whew.  I was in a relationship for a few years with someone that, I can say with all honesty, had nothing in common with me other than the fact that we both ate food and breathed in oxygen.  You couldn’t have found two more mismatched people if you sat me down beside a cannibal from New Guinea.  This woman was many years older than me, which meant we were dealing with a generation gap, but it was in the wrong direction.  She wanted to be “hip,” so she told me once that “anything (movies, music, TV shows, etc.) older than two years old is garbage.”  I, meanwhile, hate most everything current and crave classic music, movies and shows.  So, the upshot of this is we spent every evening watching two different TV’s, or doing everything we did apart from each other.  Most times, not even in the same room at the same time.  It was beyond ridiculous, and stupid.  It was a complete waste of time for both of us.

In situations like those, you can choose to stay with this person who brings nothing positive into your life, and its basically like having a hanger-on because a lot of times they keep you from doing things you enjoy in life just because they don’t like it.  This has been a consistent problem for me.  And a lot of it is based on the fact that I am selfish and obstinate.  I am not changing for anyone.  Isn’t the fact that you would need to change who you are to fit someone else being completely dishonest to yourself?  Why do that?

Here are some examples of me being “obstinate” and “selfish:”

1.  I am a Chicago White Sox fan living in North Central West Virginia.  I am an island unto myself in that respect.  This area is Pittsburgh Pirates country, since I live around 90 miles from “The ‘Burgh.”  So, naturally, anyone I meet who is a sports fan will ask me “why are you a White Sox fan” and “why are you not a Pirates fan?”  Well, because that’s who I am.  I started following the White Sox in 1991.  I’ve invested nearly 27 years of my life into my team, not to mention thousands of dollars.  I’m not about to throw it all away just because there are no other White Sox fans in my area.  That’s not being true to me.

2.  I like classic movies and TV shows, and I haven’t watched anything really “current” since the mid-1990s.  Also, I never watched “Friends” or “ER” or “Seinfeld” or any of the shows that everyone else seems to have spent their lives watching.  I also don’t watch anything currently on TV, other than White Sox games on MLB.TV.  People look at me with disbelief and disdain when I mention “no, I don’t watch ‘Game Of Thrones’ or ‘I don’t watch ‘The Walking Dead.'”  This is amusing when I meet people who begin conversations with “oh, my God, did you see…” to which I can shut them down right there and say “no, I didn’t.”  Ask me who won the White Sox game.  That, I know.

3.  I’m my own man and don’t need anyone to “complete” me.  I can enjoy my own company, ad infinitum.  I’ve really never experienced this concept of being “lonely” because I have so many things that I enjoy doing, and that are things I do alone.  I don’t need anyone’s “help,” because nine times out of 10, it’s more of a hindrance than anything else.  I’m not saying I’m not appreciative of people wanting to help in certain situations, but most of the time I prefer to do things myself and do them in my way.

4.  I’m happiest when I am in solitude.  When I can think.  When people aren’t yelling at me or trying to make me do things I don’t want to do, or screwing up my schedule and ruining my day.  I rarely ever ask anyone for anything.  I wish that were the other way around sometimes.  And I’m not talking about friends asking friends for an occasional favor, I’m talking about a constant stream of noise and directives and demands.

Looking at it from an outside perspective, I think I would be hard to live with.  Of course, I have never been in love before so that could make a lot of difference in how I would feel about the situation.  If I loved someone, maybe I could make some adjustments.  But just from looking at me and where I stand now, I just like things the way they are, and I don’t need any interference.  And because I like things this way, I see no reason that I would need to change them, whatsoever.  As Sammy Davis, Jr. sang, “I gotta be me.”

Ultimately, I have no issue growing old alone and enjoying my own company.  In the event that I would ever meet someone who has more in common with me than those I have dealt with previously (and that wouldn’t take much), I might have an interest in looking in that direction.  I also have no trouble with social dating, a night out, dinner and a movie, with a girl who I may have absolutely nothing in common with because when the night is over, she can leave and my life continues, nothing has to change.

In closing, I just want to say that there are more important things in life than whether or not you are compatible with other people.  Be true to yourself first.  If you never have anything in common with anyone, that means that you are more unique than the people you are dealing with.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  There’s a world out there, just because you are an army of one doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.  I’ve had dinner alone, watched movies alone (in the theater and at home) and that’s just part of my every day life.  You should live it.  Enjoy it.  Because you will always have yourself to share it with.

Peace.

I Have So Much To Be Thankful For

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Being thankful is a powerful emotion.  And an underutilized one, as well.

Like most people, I tend to only take stock of my life and realize what I’m thankful for after something significant has happened.  And that is the wrong strategy to take in life.

In my own case, I seem to only realize that I have a lot to be thankful for when I feel like my life is being destroyed.  Maybe that’s the eternal optimist inside of me realizing that things aren’t always as bad as they seem.  Or maybe its the Lord bringing it out in me.

In late 2012 and into early 2013 I was able to start looking at all the aspects of my life that were positives.  I had the support of great friends and I felt like I had a great future ahead of me.  I was planning a move to Illinois and had already taken some steps to get that move into motion.  I had a phone interview for a very good job and had already bought my airline tickets to fly out a couple of weeks later for an in-person meeting.  I figured while I was out there, I could start looking for living quarters and start putting down roots.  I was so excited for a new beginning because I was in complete control.

Or so I thought.  Instead of taking that opportunity and running with it, I made a mistake of ultimate dimension.  That mistake cost me my move and cost me a lot of my friends.  It cost me my dignity and my self-respect.  And a lot of wasted time and money.

But fate was able to extricate me from that mistake, in the most unpleasant and painful way possible, but it was worth it in the end to be able to be able to escape such misery.

And now, I can stop, and take a look around me and realize that I am, in fact, the luckiest man on the face of the earth.  And now, I have the chance to make the most of my life.

First, I am thankful for my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I had an amazing experience with the Holy Spirit in 2013, and I wish I had held onto that a lot more than I did in the years that followed, but when you’re involved with people who are evil, it makes it difficult regardless of how strong your faith is.  I can say, now without question, my faith is unbreakable.  I will carry it with me for the rest of my earthly life.

Second, I am thankful for my family and my friends.  I don’t deserve the friends that I have.  They are the greatest anyone could ever hope for.  I have turned my back on them, denied them, ignored them and eliminated them from my life, though against my own will, I still allowed it to happen.  And while I was disconnected from them, I leaned on my family.  My mom and dad are both elderly but they are always there for me when I need them.  As for my friends, nearly all of them have returned to me and for that I will be forever grateful.  They will never again suffer the indignities they suffered before.

Third, I am thankful for my freedom.  It’s amazing how people can change you, and not in good ways.  For instance, if you are in a relationship or marriage, your significant other should want you to be the best person you can be and remain true to yourself.  I am thankful that I am free to be me.  I can do what I want, when I want, where I want and how I want without any interference from anyone.  I’m not in a situation where I am expected to make anyone else happy, and I am especially happy to be away from people who only wanted what they could get out of me.  Being single is a truly blessed feeling.

Fourth, I am thankful for all that I have.  My material possessions.  Money in the bank.  A nice home.  A dependable vehicle.  They may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but I am very happy to have them.  They are things that make me happy and that I enjoy.

Finally, I am happy just to be alive.  For 25 years I told everyone I would never see 40.  I don’t know why I felt that way, it was just an overwhelming feeling I had.  Kind of like a premonition.  In many ways, it may have held me back, because I never wanted to really commit to anything because I didn’t figure I would be around to see anything through.  I realize now that was the wrong attitude to take and hopefully I realize now that I have another 40 or 50 years to accomplish everything I have ever wanted to accomplish.

This March I’ll be taking in Spring Training baseball in Arizona for the first time, in person.  That’s a dream I have had for years that until now, had no chance of being realized.  And if my month-long experience is a good one, I am planning to make a full-time move to the desert southwest.  There I can make a real fresh start, from the ground up.  And that opportunity comes along very rarely in life, and I will take advantage of it.

I have so much to be thankful for.  And I am most thankful for the second chance I have been given to do things the right way.  I am not shackled by my mistakes any longer, I am not tied to empty words or stupid promises.  I am free and I have everything I could want in my life.  And to anyone who feels like they are at rock bottom and they have nothing to be thankful for, just think about this.  Instead of focusing on the things that are making you miserable, step back and think about all the blessings you have in your life.  I know that can be a significant challenge, but if you can do it, believe me, its worth doing it.

Life is not bad, life is good.  But you have to eliminate the negativity, whether it be people or possessions or addictions or whatever is causing you strife.  Sometimes those things are removed independently of any action, and I was lucky in that respect.  I was saved from my miseries without really having to fight them.  But if you do have to fight them, fight with all that you have.  Don’t back down.  Don’t go back into the same patterns and deal with the same people.  Life is worth living and it is worth protecting.  At all costs.

In closing, let me say that if you just ask God to help you, you can absolutely depend on the fact that He will.  It may not happen overnight.  But I can say, without hesitation, that God has delivered me from every bad situation I have ever found myself in, and if you just trust in His plan and realize that everything will work out in the end, the road you are traveling will be a lot less difficult.  Be thankful for what you have and give all that you can to make sure you utilize the power of being thankful every day, not just when you are at rock bottom.  Be thankful for your blessings every day of your life.

Peace.