It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times…

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That classic line, from the opening of “A Tale Of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, certainly proves to be the perfect adage for my life at this time, and if we boil it down to the past six months, it’s amazing to not only see the change in my life and my health, but the absolute extremes that I have lived through in both directions.

The only difference would be that my life plays out in reverse order, as it had been the worst of times, and then three months ago it became the best.

As we scroll back to October 2017, I was about to hit rock bottom.  I was miserable.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was constantly sick, whether it was sinus infections or viruses or any kind of sickness that happened to be going around, my immune system was shot.  I had stomach ulcers which meant that even though I could eat, I was in constant pain and had to take medication on numerous occasions to try to fix that issue.

Then I started getting migraine headaches.  My eyeballs would “jump,” which I looked up online and found that this issue was most commonly caused by anxiety.  Huge surprise, there.  I was also around 80 pounds overweight.  By the time November was closing, I was so miserably unhappy thoughts of death were a normal part of every day.  Not that I was actively planning to commit suicide, but I was praying that perhaps one night I would go to bed and maybe, as per the Megadeth song, “wake up dead.”

My hair started to fall out.  I hated my job, but had to make the money.

People were spending money faster than I was making it, but luckily I had cash reserves, so it wasn’t like anyone was doing without.  And seeing that my son had everything that he wanted was the most important thing, I wanted him to grow up knowing that he had a great childhood, just like I did.  I had the greatest childhood anyone ever had.  I wouldn’t trade my childhood memories, or my life in general, for anything.

And things started to change for me.

The realization that I was finally, totally, completely and eternally out of a horrible situation that I was in was the first step in making my life better.  And once I started to fall into a normal schedule, circa 2010 before I got into that set of circumstances, I could feel a real change beginning to take hold.  And my body started to respond.

Now that I am past that and in a happier position, I can legitimately say this is the best of times.  I can go where I want, when I want and do as I please without having to tell anyone what I’m doing.  My hair has stopped falling out.  I’m losing weight.  I can sleep at night.  I quit my job and became self-employed, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I have had a total of one migraine headache in three months.  I have had no stomach problems and one sinus infection in that time.

Now that baseball season is here, and MLB The Show 18 is going to drop in about two weeks, I can look forward to a great summer.  I don’t have to be anywhere except where I want to be.  I plan on taking in at least a few, if not a lot, of West Virginia Black Bears baseball games this summer.  Long days in the pool.  Grilling.  Even simple things like mowing the lawn and tending to the garden.  Watching the sun set while I listen to a White Sox game on the radio with a flask of whiskey and a cigar.

I’ve bled for everyone else, I’ve done for everyone else.  Now its time to do for me.  This is the best of times.  The worst of times are behind me.  I will render them so insignificant that I hope I can eventually forget them, rather than continue to hate them.  Because life is too short to hate anything, let alone anything so truly unimportant.

In closing, the lesson that anyone who sees this should take from it is that life is much too short to be unhappy and suffering to the point of your body physically breaking down.  This is not the answer.  Suffering through the worst of times did nothing to make my life any better and at this moment in time I literally have nothing to show for it other than the hatred I have for those whom I had to deal with at that time.  But as dark as the past is, the future is just as bright, and I’m gonna live it for all its worth.

Peace, and God bless.

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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.

Yes, You CAN Make Yourself Happy No Matter How “Depressed” You Are

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There seems to be an epidemic spreading throughout social media today, and its just an overwhelming amount of whining and complaining and moaning.  Everyone is unhappy or heartbroken or depressed or forgotten.  Well, here’s the deal, kids.  Unless you have a chemical imbalance or legitimate psychotic depression, there is something you can do about it.  And yes, it is as simple as just BEING HAPPY.

First, take stock of why you are feeling the way you are.  Someone has done something to you, has hurt you in some way or another.  It could be a friendship ending over a difference of opinion or a relationship coming to an end or an argument with a family member.  Whatever the reason, understand that its trivial at best and no reason to spend the day on Facebook telling everyone how unhappy you are.

Second, remember the person you were before this situation happened.  Think about the things you enjoyed doing.  Are you doing them now, or are you sitting in a chair with a tear in your eye, sighing “woe is me” and feeling sorry for yourself?  And maybe, as I have witnessed in a few instances, becoming angry because no one else is feeling sorry for you?  Do you think any of that is helping your situation at all?

You were a person before you became a depressed bowl of mushy feelings.  You went places and did things and had hobbies and none of those things involved sitting around whining and trying to get attention on social media.  Are you hoping the person who has wronged you will see it and see the error of their ways?  Don’t count on it.  Especially if it was an angry friendship or relationship breakup, I promise you the other person not only doesn’t care what you are doing, but is actively avoiding you.

I know this from experience, because I actively avoid people that have been eliminated from my life, whether relationship or friendship.  I don’t care where they are or what they are doing.  I also don’t spend my life looking up somber Facebook posts.  I would rather spend my days watching baseball and posting fun posts for my friends to enjoy.  I would rather spread a little smile than another repetitive frown.

Maybe its the time of year, people tend to be more miserable in the winter, cabin fever and that kind of thing but at least in my area of the country, that shouldn’t be an issue, we haven’t had enough snow this year to bother calling it winter.

Understand that life is going to be different going forward.  Whatever has caused you to feel the way you do, accept that its gone, and you’ve taken the first step to feeling better about the situation.  If you have lost a friend or lost a significant other, the first thing to do is eliminate their presence.  For example, I “cleansed” my Facebook page of photos, check-ins, posts and anything else that I found that reminded me of people that I did not want to be associated with.  Deleted and eliminated.

Out of sight, out of mind.  And it works.  Then you can start focusing on you and pursue the facets of life that make you happy, without anything bogging you down.

Now, I’m not saying put it in the back of your mind and grind on it daily, that doesn’t help.  I am saying eliminate anything that reminds you of the situation you are trying to get away from.  Yes, you can do it.  Nothing is so important that you can’t let go of it.  Especially if it makes you unhappy.  Why hold onto something, and sit and think about something that makes you unhappy or angry?

I think the term “depression” is the most overused and undervalued term used today.  Anyone who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed or has an off-day where they just don’t feel as happy as they should, feel “depressed.”  No.  Sometimes people have a bad day, or they’re sad for one reason or another.  That is not depression.  That is the normal range of human emotion and the arrow is pointing down at that particular time.  It’s like confusing “sleep” with “death.”  Sad and depressed are not the same thing.

In closing, I want to say something that I know pisses a lot of people off, but turn that frown upside down.  Instead of sitting on Facebook posting those ridiculous depression pieces, put the phone down and go for a drive, or do something constructive.  And get rid of whatever it is that makes you act like your world ended, because it didn’t.  The sun will rise tomorrow and so will you.  And the further you get from what ails you, or bothers you, the better you will feel.  Time really does heal all wounds.

Be happy.  It IS just a matter of telling yourself you will be, and making a few minor adjustments in your life.  And its worth it.  I can testify to that.  Once you eliminate the misery and embrace the happiness that life has to offer, you win.

Go for it.  You have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Peace.

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.

Relationships: An Outsider’s Perspective

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By definition, a relationship is “a connection between persons by blood or marriage.”  This is the definition based on the concept of the male/female relationship in which love is involved.  There are other definitions of the word, of course, but this is the one I want to focus on.

The definition I listed above is a bit weak on details that make a relationship what it is.  Oddly enough, most definitions of the word that I have found on various sites (including dictionary.com and the Merriam-Webster website) are lacking in fundamentally spelling out what a “relationship” entails.

I am not pretending, in any way, to even begin to understand what makes a relationship between two people successful, because I have been in very few relationships and none of them have been successful or overly enjoyable for either party.  However, due to this lack of success and lack of happiness and enjoyment, I think that puts me in a unique position to talk about my ideas.

The most important part of a relationship would have to be love, as this is what the entire relationship is built on.  This is also a bit problematic for me as I have never been in love, and have never been afraid to admit it, so again, I’m behind the 8-ball a little when discussing this aspect.

If you love someone, I am assuming you would want to spend most of your time with them.  I see this as problematic given that most people don’t have enough in common to spend that much time with someone.  In my personal experience, a perfect February evening for me would be an episode or three or four of Forensic Files, a nice dinner and then listen to a Megadeth CD before going to bed.  There are exactly zero women on the face of the earth that would enjoy that.

Now, the other option is to sell yourself out and do whatever your significant other wants to do.  But what if you have no interests shared with that person?  Do you just sit back and say “what’s one wasted evening?”  But if you’re in a relationship, how many evenings are you willing to waste?  Isn’t your life and your time worth anything to you?  Why would you just give it away to someone?

Also, to have a relationship you have to have a mutual attraction.  This is pretty standard and straightforward, you can’t be in a relationship with someone you aren’t attracted to, unless you’re the type of woman who is only after a man for his money.  Luckily, I think most guys would catch on to that kind of thing.

But is attraction and love enough?  Maybe if you’re in high school.  But once you hit the real world, could a relationship last strictly on love and a mutual attraction?  Or does there have to be a lot more involved?

I was always smart enough to keep my relationships at arm’s length.  Part of this was due to the lack of love between both parties and the fact that I went into every relationship prepared for it to end.  I never looked at a relationship as a potentially full-life scenario, because that was ridiculous.  I have looked at each relationship as a war, a series of battles to be fought until the war was over.

I’m now 40, a little older and a little wiser than I was in my youth.  Cynical but not to the point of being ridiculous.  I have finally figured out, however, that relationships aren’t for me.  I’m not saying I’m against dating, or sex, I’m just saying I’m against the idea of chaining myself to one person for any length of time and suffering all the aggravations and misery that goes along with being in a relationship.

A perfect example of how I feel was vocalized in a 1974 episode of Columbo titled “Negative Reaction,” starring Dick Van Dyke as Paul Galesko.  In one scene, during an argument with his wife, Galesko says “I have nothing to face that day, but another 24 hours with a domineering, nagging, suffocating woman who took all the joy out of my life.”    That’s what I think when I imagine a relationship.

This is where the big difference between “dating” and being in a “relationship” really hits home for me.  When dating someone, you can go out and have a nice time, or spend an occasional evening together and enjoy each other’s company and then go your own way.  You aren’t chained to this person.  When you’re in a relationship, you are stuck with this person 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 52 weeks a year.

This is where I realize that I have never been in love or been in a successful relationship, because I have never met anyone I could spend more than a couple of days around without wanting to jump out a window or drink the nearest poisonous liquid I could find.  Yes, I’m a loner and proud of it, and that will never change.  I need quiet, alone time to reboot myself and do things I enjoy doing.

There are undoubtedly a lot of people out there enjoying their relationship or their marriage, and I’m not trying to ruin it for you; you may very well be happy and it may very well last for the rest of your life.  But that doesn’t mean it applies to everyone.  I am far happier being able to do what I want, when I want, where I want and how I want than having anyone tell me what to do.

This is especially true when the person I’m with, and that counts every one I have ever been with, didn’t love me in the first place and the feeling was mutual.  As I mentioned earlier, love is the most important part of a relationship.  If you don’t have love, what you have is a joke, and it’s fake.  You’re accomplishing nothing by being in a fake relationship that has no love in it.  It’s bad news.

Instead of wasting your life on that kind of nonsense, do what I have done and swear off relationships for good.  It doesn’t mean you have to stop dating or playing the field or any of those kinds of things, just don’t tie yourself down to one person and let them make you miserable for the rest of your life.

As Benny Hill sang, “why make one woman miserable when you can make so many so happy?”  It works the other way around, too.

I know some people will say “you just haven’t met the right person yet.”  Well, as I mentioned, I’m 40.  The dating pool is pretty shallow on this end.  That’s not a complaint, its just a fact.  And in the event I were to find someone that I had even 80% compatibility with, I might be willing to make some adjustments, but as I have not met anyone even close to 50% compatibility at this point, I’m not exactly hopeful that such a woman is suddenly going to materialize out of thin air.

In closing, I want to share three of my favorite anti-relationship quotes.

“I am not searching for my other half, because I am not a half.”

“Getting into a relationship may seem like a good idea, but so was getting on the Titanic and look what happened there.”

And finally, my all-time favorite:

“Marriage basically consists of three rings:  Engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering.”

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 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.