A Nation Divided

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I am truly afraid for our country, but not because Donald Trump was elected. I would have felt the same if Hillary Clinton had won, too. Our country is so divided and nobody seems willing to talk to one another. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of hateful remarks coming from both sides. It is heartbreaking to see friends say they are afraid for their lives because their candidate didn’t get elected.

Looking back in my life, I can’t remember any time, until recent history, where people were this unhappy and polarized in my lifetime. I don’t understand why some people are protesting the President-Elect the day after he was elected when we don’t even know what direction he’s going to go. It’s like people have forgotten that most of what politicians say to get elected is pure rhetoric. I think the same is true even for Donald Trump. He said a lot of things to fire up his base to get the votes, but I seriously doubt my life will get worse or the lives of any of my friends.

I don’t know what it’s going to take to unite our country. I don’t know if there will be enough people who are willing to listen to each other and find common ground. It’s as if compromise has become a vile concept when it was one of the premises our country was founded on. I know we’re not all going to agree on things, but we can’t go on doing what we’re doing.

We can’t take the attitude that the other side has to completely cave to our point of view and agree with us. We can’t refuse to listen to someone because they don’t see the world the same way we do. We can’t constantly take an adversarial position and attack everyone around us. Protesting in the streets because our candidate didn’t win solves nothing; it just further divides our nation.

I think we need to be willing to sit down and talk to one another. We need to invite those who don’t share our beliefs to the table so we can understand their side and they can understand ours. We never learn anything unless we are willing to listen to different perspectives. We not only learn more about them, but we learn about ourselves in the process.

I doubt my little blog post will do anything to change the world, but at least it let me deal with some of the things going through my head. I may not agree with people who are protesting, but I’m glad they have the right to do so. I feel bad that they feel so unsafe and I wish I knew what I could do to make it better for them.

Change, change, and more change

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So I’m about to officially leave Texas behind and make a new life in Arkansas. I’m a little scared at not having any friends up here and the prospect of finding a job, but I’ve been told it’s a new adventure so we’ll go with that. There are good things and bad things that go with any move, but the thing that scares me the most is the change itself. I like my rut and it’s never fun having to establish a new routine. 

These past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to find myself to an extent. I’ve discovered that I do enjoy exercise and I do enjoy taking care of my body. I enjoy the peace and quiet that comes from living in the country instead of the city. I miss the convenience of living in the city. I miss the good internet that comes from living in the city. On the other hand, a close friend of mine pointed out that I may be able to make more time to read because it will be quiet. 

Another up side is that there are more things up here to take pictures of. This may be an opportunity to get my camera back out and find beautiful things. My dad just bought a ham radio rig and good antenna so we can share that hobby. I have a new bed and I will have my belongings up here in another week. I have the internet to let me keep in touch with my friends. While I can’t video conference with them, at least we can chat and send pictures to one another.

I was just trying to go to sleep a few minutes ago and my mind is still racing about everything- even with having taken my Xanax. I took a couple of Benadryl in the hopes that it will knock me out sooner rather than later. In the mean time, I’m just rattling away on my poor and neglected blog. Maybe this is an opportunity to write more instead of sitting around watching endless hours of television. Maybe I’ll get the inspiration to write about more things and explore topics of interest. I guess this is time for me to focus on myself instead of focusing on surviving week to week.

Been a while

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I go through periods where I feel like not writing or that I really have nothing to say. Sometimes, I do have things to say, but I don’t necessarily want to share them with the world. I need to get better about that and just say what’s on my mind. Needless to say, a lot has happened since I last posted.

I lost my job unexpectedly. I spent a few days in the hospital with sepsis. I’ve been trying to pull myself out of the funk I landed in since getting fired. I’ve been trying to make a few new friends online. I’ve read articles that make me question some of my friendships. In short, my life has a lot going on right now.

On a positive note, I’m trying to pay attention to my health. I’m making some progress at the gym, but it is slow going. My doctor says to stick with it because I didn’t get this body over night and it will take a lot longer to get my heart in shape and develop some muscle. The bad thing is that the only other thing I do is apply for jobs online endlessly. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many I’ve applied for. I sometimes get a phone interview, but won’t hear back from them. I had an in person interview I thought went well, but never received even an email telling me I didn’t get the position. I made the mistake of activating my monster.com profile because now I’m getting spammed with emails and cold calls for shit jobs from questionable recruiters just trying to pad their quota.

My familiy keeps telling me that things happen for a reason and that it will get better in the Lord’s time. Last time, it took 6 months and I was getting unemployment. This time around, I was denied and then denied again on the appeal. The stress of this is hard to deal with so that’s why I spend so much time in the gym. The exercise gives me a chance to put my mind somewhere else rather than trying to escape feeling like a failure again.

I know things will get better, but I just don’t know how long it will take. I know people get fired every day and they are able to go out and get other jobs. I, on the other hand, feel like I’ve been blackballed or something. I don’t know what else I can do besides what I’ve been doing. I certainly apply for things outside of what I’ve been doing where I believe my experience would apply, but those applications seem to go down a black hole. It’s hard to stay positive and I guess this is just me venting about things because I can. 

Where to go from here

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I know I’m not very good at creating blog posts consistently. My brain has a lot going on nearly 24/7 and there are many times I don’t really feel like I have much to say to the world. Sometimes the things I think about are insignificant when you compare them to other world problems. My opinions are my own and I don’t really believe in getting up on a soapbox to voice my views on different things. I think the best thing I can do with my little blog is just use it as a tool to help me work through the tough times.

I already have a job interview set up with a company next week. I’m hesitant to make any commitment to them because of the days and hours requirements. They will be demanding split days off, never being able to take off on a holiday if you’re scheduled to work that day, and a very significant pay cut. I thought it was fun how the recruiter told me they offer 10 paid holidays each year, but I wouldn’t be able to take them in the position I was applying for. Just from this alone, I don’t think I’d be happy there. I need my two day weekends to relax and unwind from a stressful week. I don’t want to be a slave to the phone and sacrifice rare times with my family just so a company can be open on days when nobody will call.

I spent some time talking about the issue with my family, my close friends, and my psychiatrist. They all gave the same answer of take the interview, but pass on the job if it is truly something that I know will make me unhappy. The idea has been floated that my aunt thinks I should become an insurance premium auditor specializing in Worker’s Compensation policies. I’m going to call her tomorrow or sometime this week to talk about it and how I might go about getting trained for it. I think it might actually be a career change worth looking into so that I can get out of the customer service industry that has burned me so many times before.

You know, I find it interesting that even though I got fired from my job unexpectedly, I’m not raging at them and I don’t really hate them. I hate what happened and feeling like I was tossed out with the trash, but I don’t want to completely cut ties with the company because they didn’t wrong me like the one before that did. I feel like the parting of ways was amicable and I will continue to make purchases on the site as I need to. I just don’t see myself selling anything on the site for the foreseeable future.

The only other thing that’s going on right now is the anxiety. I think part of the problem is that I may have made myself sick or weak enough to let my allergies get the better of me. I’ve had super stopped up head and sinuses for nearly a week and today was the worst I’ve had in a long time. I’ve spent much of the evening lying on my bed watching TV and trying not to move. I think because my ears are stopped up, I get dizzy and nauseous when I move around too much. I think I need rest more than anything at the moment. I need to focus on my body and my mind taking care of myself. Yes, I lost my job, but that doesn’t mean I have to let it take my self-esteem and happiness away. I’ve been told I have a strength in seeing how things in the universe are connected and maybe this is all happening for a very good reason. Maybe my job at the company was done and it was time to move me on to another place.

I think I’m going to try to write a few more blog posts during my down time between jobs so I can just get thoughts and feelings worked out.

Change is here

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So I lost another job today. I find it ironic that 2 years to the day, I lose a job just as I’m going to leave on a vacation to visit my family. 2 years to the day that a company comes up with a completely bull reason to toss me out the door. I’m not going to say I didn’t make a mistake, but I don’t think I made a mistake that was so bad to cost me my job at a company that prides itself on openness, honesty, and being human. I find it really ironic that I was defending my company and my coworkers when this happened.

I’m done venting, I guess. I’m sad. I’m bewildered. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I feel betrayed. All I can do is try to move forward as I have done in the past. My brain is foggy and I’m tired. I’m emotionally exhausted. Now is the time for some rest and focusing on myself.

I’m going to visit my parents this weekend. I’m going to enjoy myself and the time with my family. I’m not going to worry about things I can’t go back and change and I’m going to work on letting go of the resentment and hurt that I’m feeling.

New Projects

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I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything. To be honest, I’ve been a bit busy as of late with my new projects. I call them projects, but they have turned into pretty good friends and it is nice to feel useful and needed.

Several months ago, I began to be more active on Reddit. If you don’t know what Reddit is, it’s very hard to explain. Imagine a place on the Internet that is full of interesting links submitted by people. These links are divided into different sub categories or “Sub Reddits” based on specific interests. Some are places where people just post things to get them off their chest. The one I am most active in is for Depression. I reply to posts giving encouragement and offering any moral support I can. During this process, I’ve made some new friends.

My new friends are all teenagers who struggle with depression and anxiety and we have a nice little group chat going on an internet based instant messaging app. Of course we cut up and tell jokes, make one another laugh, and generally just shoot the breeze. Things get special when one of us says they are having a problem; we all turn into a support network that comforts and encourages the one having problems. Most of the time, it’s my little brothers (that’s what I call them) and I can offer an adult perspective on things and help find solutions to things. Other times, they get to help out their big brother (that’s what they call me) calm down and deal with something stressful. The common thread we all have is loneliness, anxiety, depression, and the need for people to talk to. I’ve learned so much from these kids. I’ve found encouragement and care from people you would least expect it from in our society. In return, they get an adult who will listen to their problems, offer advice in a non-judgmental way, and who genuinely cares for them.

I suppose it’s a good thing that they occupy so much of my time because I really do feel like I’m contributing something to this world again. I’m sure some will fade away and others will join, but I think what we’ve started is a neat idea and I wish more people would do it. My psychiatrist thinks it’s a fantastic idea and says I’m quite good at what I do given the circumstances. It’s the next best thing to being in a classroom teaching. Each one of them is a little project just like I am with them. I am hoping that all this along with exercise will help boost my mood back to where it’s normally at. I am happy to report that I have a positive outlook on life for the first time in a long while.

What have I been up to?

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Gosh, I know it’s been forever since I’ve made a post. I know it was long before my 40th birthday and I had made a list of all the lessons I had learned over the years. Since then, there have been a few changes in my life. Nothing earth shattering, but changes none the less. My doctor told me I had no choice when it came to exercise. Apparently, I had gained 15 pounds over 6 months and my blood sugar wasn’t in as good a shape as it had been. It is still well under control, but not like it was. Since then, I’ve been making it to the gym a lot more often.

I’m currently up to 4 days a week doing cardio only. It wears my body out, but I know that it is going to make me stronger and give me more stamina to do more things in the near future. I’ve been going for nearly 6 weeks now and I’m settling into a routine. The first hurdle I had to overcome was running short on electrolytes. I was feeling very tired all the time in the beginning. I was moody, cranky, and very lethargic. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I was worried because my arms were so heavy even when I hadn’t been using them. Dr. Mom told me my metformin was probably to blame causing me to be dehydrated. I started drinking some sugar free sports drinks and I’ve perked right up. I’m happy going to the gym Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. When I’ve built up my stamina, I plan on doing weight training a couple of days a week replacing 2 of the cardio days.

I’ve been back to measuring food like I should be instead of just eyeballing it. I’m eating a little better, well not much, but every little bit counts. I’ve noticed my blood sugar is back to what I feel comfortable with in the morning and before meals. I’ve also noticed I’ve been in a pretty good mood unless I’ve over exerted myself and become fatigued. They say getting older isn’t for sissies and boy are they right. I feel like I’m having to fight my body to do some of the most basic things I used to not give a second thought to. I have to always be vigilant to not dehydrate and to make sure I’m eating enough calories. Who would have thought that trying to lose a few pounds I’d be struggling to eat enough calories in a day.

Work is going well and I have no complaints about that at the moment. I’ve been actively chatting with friends online every day. The socialization, even if it is all on the computer or phone, is nice and it keeps me in a pretty good mood. I talk to people who are having trouble with depression. I encourage them and try to relate to them that they are not alone in their struggles. I get to tell stories from my life of hard times that I’ve made it through. I talk about the amazing love and support I have from friends and family. I compare my life to a hurricane of drama where I feel like I’m the calm in the middle of the storm at times. It puts things into perspective and helps me see that I’m not the only one with issues, either.

I’ve been learning some Spanish using an app on my phone and tablet as well as it’s website called Duolingo. I’m on a 55 day streak of doing at least 2 lessons or reviews per day. I’m not ready to speak it, but I’m laying foundation where I’m no longer trying to translate words and ideas, but actually beginning to think in Spanish. It’s neat to see how our languages are different and similar. It was very surprising to see how imprecise Spanish can be at times because word meanings change drastically depending on context. In the end, the precision isn’t that important because the ideas are communicated. It reminds me of reading a book where the reader has a good idea of what the author means, but only the author knows for sure. In any case, the app says I’m 49% proficient in the language. I’m also making it a point to watch a little Spanish language television each day just so I can hear the language being spoken naturally. I may not understand 100% of all that is said, but I am recognizing more and more words as my vocabulary grows. Learning a language is a long road, but it’s a fun thing to do for a hobby.

I haven’t been as pensive and reflective on life lately. Sure there are times when I just like to think about life and other things, but that activity usually leads to negative thoughts. I’m ready for this situation with Chuy to get moving. It’s been hard just waiting for things to happen. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I love my son no matter what happens next. It may be an easy road and it may be hard, but I know I’ll always have him in my life in some way or another. I suppose that is comforting to know, but I’d just like to have some sort of idea what is going to happen next. I’m hoping to hear something any day now. The wheels of justice turn very slowly and it’s not always fair; I just have to be prepared for anything. I trust God when He says my family is not going to be torn apart. That’s all I can do is trust.

My roommates put a bird feeder out on the patio. I will admit that I’ve really enjoyed watching all the different birds come visit as I’m watching TV in my recliner. We have a lot of sparrows and doves in this neighborhood. I’ve seen a pair of cardinals (a male and a female) come to the feeder a few times a day. Every once in a while one of the grackels comes for a snack, but they usually don’t stay long. I’m surprised that I’m only seeing these 4 species of birds in the neighborhood, but I suppose many of the other species don’t come into town that often. I keep thinking that I may get a humming bird feeder to go out there, but I don’t know where I’d put it since the little buggers may get spooked by the other birds coming around. Interestingly enough, I also see another pair of cardinals at work when I look out the windows while working sometimes.

I finally got to see the new Star Wars. I was at HEB the other day and decided to take a look at what the Redbox had. I was lucky enough to get to rent the Blu-Ray version of it. I felt like I was a kid in the theater waiting for Return of the Jedi for the first time. I remember going to see that with my friend Adam when we still lived in Monahans. I know that I was spending the night over at their house, but I don’t remember the occasion. It may have been a just because time, but that was a good memory to relive. I really liked the story and I felt it fit in really well with the original story line. I’m not sure what direction they’re going to take it and I wonder if they’ll do another one in the future. I’d like to think they will given how popular the franchise is. In any case, I’ll probably watch it again before too long.

My long time friend, Will, was sweet enough to take me to see Dead Pool for my birthday. You know, it is really nice to have friends you’ve known more than 20 years who want to make you feel special every so often. We’ve been really good and close friends for years even if we don’t talk every day or see each other more than every few months. I’m trying to be better and touching base with people, but I often don’t think I’ve got a lot to say as I pretty much stick to my ruts of routine activities. It was a special 40th birthday to be sure. Dinner and a movie with a close friend never fails to be a good time.

I suppose you could say I’ve been keeping busy from looking at all that I’ve written so far. I only seem to make posts when I feel like there’s something to say. I don’t usually have any deep thoughts or epiphanies, but it is fun to just write out what I’ve been up to even if it is just the mundane activities of life.

Politics, Family, and Friends

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I think it is an appropriate time to expand on this life lesson a little bit. Given that we are in full swing election cycle, my Facebook wall and mailbox are crammed full of political posts. I’m not going to lie, it drives me insane. With that in mind, it is really tempting to comment on things just to stir the pot. I choose not to because people become so passionate about their political viewpoints. I learned a long time ago that it is okay to talk about politics, but sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

When I was growing up, I could have been considered an ultra conservative. I liked everything conservatives stood for: if it was good enough for our founding fathers, it’s good enough for me. Common sense ought to be the rule of law and things that are immoral ought to be illegal. This is all fine and well if you only surround yourself with people who think the same as you do. The problem with this is that you’ll never grow as a person unless you can get along with other people. I was completely surrounded with like minded people until I went to college. My friend, Will, was the first really liberal person I had become close friends with. We’ve had some lively political discussions over the years, but we always come away knowing more about the other and appreciating the experience. By listening to one another and finding common ground, we find that we actually agree on a lot of things and our minds have been opened to other possibilities. Over the years, my political views have become more libertarian than anything and I think for myself on issues.

Over the years, I’ve lost one or two friends over politics. I made a snide remark that dismissed a point of view that my friend held dear and he hasn’t spoken to me since. I regret that experience because it was a missed opportunity to learn more about something I had closed my  mind to. If I had treated him like my friend, Will, we would probably still be talking. I miss this friend, Josh, very much, but I also understand if I don’t get to speak to him again. Relationships are just too precious to throw away over a political point of view.

I’ve heard of some families that become estranged from  one another over politics. This is very sad because families are supposed to be there for one another, always. I think we, as people, get so wrapped up in our own personal concerns that we forget that other people have concerns, too. With this in mind, I think that some of the controversial things are just fine. I may not agree with the concept of abortion, but who am I to stand in someone else’s way? I can’t force them to agree with me using laws, but I can choose to not get one. It’s called tolerance and we need more of it.

Bottom line- learn to tolerate other people’s opinions and listen to them. You don’t have to agree, but you can acknowledge them and let them know you heard them. You can agree on some points and disagree on others, but remember, they’re just opinions and not matters of life and death for the most part.

40 Lessons from my nearly 40 years

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I thought it might be neat to sit down and write out a list of things I’ve learned over the years. Yes, these can all be considered altruistic, but the more I think about them, the more wisdom I find. I may come back and expand on a few of these in future posts, but here they are in no particular order.

  1. Don’t let politics ruin relationships, friendships, or family ties.
  2. Family is more than blood- others are welcome, too.
  3. Don’t compare your life to anyone else’s.
  4. Faith is personal so don’t force it on others.
  5. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but contentment does.
  6. Don’t spend too much time in the past or the future. Be HERE, now.
  7. Don’t get sucked into the idea of creating perfect memories, it always backfires.
  8. Find something to laugh at each day because laughter really is the best medicine.
  9. Not everyone who tells you they love you means it.
  10. It’s okay to love and care for those who don’t feel the same way toward you.
  11. Sometimes it’s best for everyone to just let them go their own way.
  12. Just because you let someone go doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven them.
  13. There’s a difference between friends and acquaintances so don’t pretend there isn’t.
  14. Sometimes the best response is no response at all- let it be.
  15. Even your family and closest friends will fail you; we’re all human.
  16. Nothing in this world is actually perfect, but it’s close enough.
  17. Close enough is not a replacement for effort.
  18. It’s okay to ask for help, but be prepared to accept the help that is given.
  19. Fools don’t need your help to look foolish; they can do it by themselves.
  20. Go out of your way to be kind- ALWAYS!
  21. Being polite is not the same as being kind.
  22. If you don’t, who will?
  23. People are generally good, don’t assume otherwise.
  24. Don’t judge a book by its cover; contents reveal the truth.
    1. Actions speak louder than words and reveal more than appearances.
  25. Make time for nothing. You need downtime and doing nothing helps.
  26. Make time for everyone you truly care about even when it’s not convenient.
  27. If everything could be planned in advance, there would be no accidents, crises, wars, or unforeseen circumstances.
  28. A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine, but I will do my best.
  29. You can’t know happiness without knowing sadness. Don’t ignore your feelings or those of others.
  30. Hoping for the best while planning for the worst is not cynicism, it’s having experience.
  31. Sarcasm and quick wit are healthy, but know when not to use them.
  32. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. / Change happens so go with it.
  33. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  34. Not everything is a competition.
  35. There are no absolutes in this world- not everything is black and white.
  36. Evil exists, but not everywhere. Quit looking for it because you don’t need it.
  37. People have different opinions and beliefs than you, get over it.
  38. If someone annoys you, ask yourself if it’s worth getting upset over or if it will be important in 5 years.
  39. Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but we need some dirt so our immune systems don’t get lazy.
  40. It’s okay to fail.

Life is Change

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A thought occurred to me today as I was chatting with a friend online. Life is all about change. Sometimes change is a good thing and sometimes it is not. The changes come whether we like it or not and we must adapt to the change in order to keep moving forward in life. I don’t like change. Change is venturing into the unknown and unfamiliar. I’d really love it if I could go back to past times when things were much simpler and life seemed more stable. The truth is, though, that life was never that simple and it was never as stable as I wanted to believe it was.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve spent a lot of time learning to be content with what I have. Contentment is a good thing, but it can lead to stagnation if I don’t do anything to accept change when it comes. I think I should learn to be content with the fact that change happens and I should change my attitude from one of fear to one of promise because the unknown things may turn out to be good things. Even if change brings on negative things, there is usually a blessing hidden somewhere in the process.

I’ve seen a lot of change in my life. I’ve been bitter that my life hasn’t turned out the way I thought it should. I’ve been glad that my life took the twists and turns that it has. Learning how to let go and let God take care of things as change is happening is not easy, but it is something I’ve had to learn to do the hard way. I find that the times I seem to struggle the most with anxiety toward change is when I’m holding on to a vision of how I think things should be instead of letting God take control and trusting that things will turn out okay in the end, no matter what happens.