Tis the Season

I don’t know how it is for most families but for ours there’s been a pattern of wacky behavior this time of year.  I imagine the stories are just about the same, the cast of characters a little different.  There will always be the large elephant(s) in the room that either go undiscussed or are discussed with the aid of the seasons finest adult beverages.  What is supposed to be a time of festive gathering turns into the dramatics of a room full of people whose sole purpose for the night is to make everyone as miserable as they are.  It’s tiring but it’s family.

This year is a bit different as there are actual issues worth discussion.  Generally, it’s just a whirlwind of craziness that always ends up being a battle of voices screaming about who has it worse.  Now, however, we are in the midst of a real and serious family drama of which no one has a clue which way will turn out.  We’re at the point now where we’re all hoping for the best but expecting the worst and where the obvious tragedy lies in the fact that there are children involved, children who have seen and experienced far to much in their limited years.  We ‘re stuck in a sit and wait moment which feeds into the incessant gossip and instinct to use this circumstance to better ones own standing within the family.  It’s doubly exhausting.

My immediate family is where the true impact lies.  We’re pivoting toward the very real possibility that we’re going to lose one of our members to her own weaknesses and self sacrifice.  She seems willing to sacrifice that structure that has gotten her through some of the more difficult moments most people would ever need to go through.  And she’s sacrificing it all for a cause that has everyone baffled.

My approach has been to make sure that, despite what happens, we maintain at least a little level of communication.  I can’t help her see things my way, but I can help her work through the problems of her situation that I know she can see.  Everything I know about her tells me that she’s sees what we all see, she’s just holding on to some fantastical hope that all will be right in the end.  The rest of the family knows that this is not going to happen, we have to sort of stand out ground on this one, but there’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do or say to sway her.  She’ll need to come to her own understanding of what is at stake here.  For both herself, her kids, her family and her future.

We’re off to our family Christmas Eve get together.  I guess we’ll find out how many elephants we’re let out of their cages.  I hope it’s not too interesting tonight!





Santa Baby

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Secret Santa.”

To give a gift.  For the most part, I’m not a huge fan of the tradition that has become holiday spending.  There’s a tendency, in our country, at least that gives off the impression that the level of love you have for someone should be shown by the amount of money you spend on them.  And to be perfectly honest, most presents these days are thoughtless and hurried.

No spending limit is interesting.  I generally don’t have the capacity to think about things that are insanely expensive.  So it’s a tough thought for me, as it should be for most people, expense not being an issue.

My first thought when reading the prompt was of the President.  He’s a guy that has been basically shit on for the last 8 years doing things that no one before him has been capable of doing.  You don’t have to agree with him policies to get the fact that he has been woefully mistreated by the people that vowed to represent us, the American people, in running out country.  I can’t think of any other instance where this type of behavior would be okay by most people’s standards.  But, I digress…this is a subject for a different post.

My next thought was to think of something that my mom would like.  She’s completely taken advantage of and it would be nice for her to be given something that would be just for her that she can enjoy.  That said, she’s not much of an adventurer by any stretch of the imagination, so nothing really comes to mind for her.

My dad has ideas and would no doubt be able to find the end of seemingly endless resources.  I feel at times, however, that my dad has a tendency to be a little hesitant to pull the trigger.  I’ve seen him decide that he’s going to do something but that something has to be predicated by hours and hours of planning, and I’ve seen that planning result in the scrapping of the project.

You wouldn’t think that this would be a hard thing to come up with but it has been pretty difficult for me to think of anything.  I’m sitting here racking my brain for charities that I’d support, or expensive things that people in my life could use and I’m full of ideas yet drawing a blank.  I have even thought of what I could anonymously give myself.  lol.  It’s become the problem of an semi-full parking lot.  When you have so many choices its difficult to choose which you want.  Life is much more simple if you only have one choice.

I’ve decided to go simple on this one.  I think I would give my cousin’s oldest son a full scholarship to whichever college/university to any place he wanted.  I would include grad school (even medical or law school) with that.  He’s a kid that has serious potential but has been trapped by his family into a life that is less than his capacity.  I think he’d probably be fine on his own but a gift like this would help him feel a sense of freedom and confidence that he’s been never been afforded him.

And with that…boring right?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Unsung Heroes.”

There are a few moments in my life where someone had no idea that they’ve changed my life for the better.  The one that stands out the most at the moment is the day that I learned how to make authentic Mexican salsa by watching one of my childhood friends mother make it.  I have known her for years and years and we’ve had a great relationship despite our very clear language barrier.

This one particular night, we were preparing a bunch of food for a family get together.  For those of you that have Mexican friends, you know how easy it is to find something to get together for.  A cultural attitude I wish would rub off on others.  I’ve always loved her salsa so I decided to learn how to make it.  As I mentioned before, we had a pretty substantial language barrier so I learned by watching and actually taking notes.

The result has been amazing.  I make the salsa every chance I get because people have fallen in love with it. I’ve heard people making flattering compliments about it at potlucks.  I’ve received special requests that I bring it to birthday parties and gatherings.  The beauty of it is that it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to make.

She has no idea how much social credibility she gave me with allowing me to stand over her and learn “her salsa” but it’s something I’ll carry with me forever and I’m totally grateful!

Ne’er do…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Kick the Bucket.”

Hmmm.  A tough one.  Things I never want to do, places I never want to go etc…

I’ve never really given this too much thought.  Most of our lives we tend to go on and on about the things we want.  I guess knowing what we don’t want or are not interested in is equally important in making the thousands decisions we make daily. I’m going to try to come up with FIVE ne’er dos.  Good luck to me!

1.  Heroine.  I’ve done my fair share of experimenting with illegal substances, nothing too crazy but heroine is something I have absolutely no interest in.  I have some people close to me that have tried it and say it’s amazing…thankfully I’m past those peer pressure years.

2.  North Korea.  I wouldn’t say that I’d never go there.  What I would say is that it’s at the bottom of my places to go list.  I feel like I would have a hard time going into any country that has absolutely no freedom of thought.  I’m wise enough to know when I’m getting fed a bunch of bullshit propaganda from one entity or another, I can only imagine how horrible it would be forced to live in a society where the only information you’re given is meant to control you.

3.  Double Century.  I was tempted to even put a century ride in this slot but I’m pretty sure that in a moment of weakness I can be persuaded to get on the bike for 100 miles.  The pain and agony these tortured souls must go through to ride a bike for 200 miles is something I’m definitely not interested in.  I’ve seen the looks on their faces as their working their way though…nothing about it looks fun.  I’m simply not one of those people that does something just to say I did it!

4.  A Hummer.  Unless for some reason I end up in a war zone I don’t really ever want to own or drive a hummer.  I see them on the streets and they look ridiculous.  They are such an eye sore and totally dysfunctional for any type of living, urban or rural.  I may have a slight bias against them.  I was driving one in 2006 when I got my DUI. Ugh.

5.  Justin Bieber.  Enough said.

Life Happens

November 4, 2014 was a life changing day for me.  It was election day 2014 and I had a bunch of things going on professionally.  One of which was trying to position myself to get a job with one of our candidates in his district office.  I debated whether or not to go to his district victory party.  In the end I thought it would earn me some brownie points, I went!  Being the efficient person that I am, I decided to arrange a few extra things while making the trip through Napa and Sonoma.

I had been communicating with a new guy from match.com for a while and thought it would be a good way to meet him for the first time.  I had a timeframe to work with so I knew I had an escape if things didn’t go well.  Things went well.  In 6 short weeks I went from planning my next career move and looking for new piece of property to planning a family and a move to a another country.  It’s crazy how quickly it has been happening but I have no hesitation!

Life is what happens when you sit around making plans. And it’s awesome!

A New Way

I can’t say I watch much life changing television. I peruse a fair mix of trash TV (hoarders), educational programs, and a decent array of the things that everyone else is watching (Dr. Phil, Orange is the New Black, etc…). Of the later category I always watch weight loss shows, namely The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss for a little added inspiration to stay in shape. I’m pretty knowledgeable, for the layman, when it comes to fitness and losing weight. I’ve studied it a bit and have been my own guinea pig. I found myself profoundly inspired by a comment that Chris Powell made during the last show that I watched. He told the contestant during an insane workout that “the average person only lives up to 50% of their potential.”

This struck me for a number of reasons. One, and this is my own hang-up, it’s a totally arbitrary statement. You can never know what your full potential is. Even if you have achieved great success in any particular way – whose to say that isn’t actually only 50% of what you’re capable of? Two, once I got over myself, I realized that this is the beauty of it. It means that the sky’s the limit, right? Barring actual physical and/or mental handicaps (and I imagine even some of those can be overcome) there is really no end to what you can achieve.

I quickly tried to come up with ways to maximize my potential; I choose to believe I have plenty of it. Setting out to conquer my world is a large task so I started thinking about how I can take the first step. The first thing I did was turn of the damn TV. It was a step, albeit a baby one. It may seem silly that I would turn off my source of inspiration. I’m certainly not going to claim that I’ll never have a lazy night on the couch again. But, in all honesty, I have been “relaxing” a bit too often these days – not sure who I think I am.

Then, I took a page from my professional life. I created a to-do list for the next couple of days. Everything from workout times, chores, personal development, household projects, etc…the visual has helped me actually keep on track. I even cross things off as I finish them. It’s amazing how many more hours in a day there seems to be. My current to do list has been written through Sunday, I’m curious to see how I feel after this 4 day experiment. So far so good!

Kick Your Ass Off

I hesitate to use the word deserve.  The word is used in ways, at times, that makes me think entitlement.  Because of that small bias of mine, I’m going to use the word earn, instead.

I’ve tried, over recent years, to focus my energy on becoming a person that I can be proud of.  The type of person that when met or engaged, others can’t do anything but respect and treat with integrity.  I’ve worked, I’ve dedicated, I’ve learned, I’ve explored and I’ve taken risks.  I will continue to do so.  I’m happy with me.  I’m happy with who I am currently and the person I know I’m developing into.  I think I’ve earned a few things that I haven’t yet received.  I suppose I’ve been waiting for someone to hand me the treasurers (whatever they may be) that I’ve declared that I’ve “earned.”  I’m an idiot.

The work to get the things you want should never stop.  I should have figured by now that things will not be handed to me. I’ve been enlightened and it’s time to act.  I’m ready to take on a bigger part of my world…

A friend of mine (retired at 30) told me the other day when asked “what are you up to these days” he answered, “just floating through life.”  The answer baffled me.  I told him “Never float – start kicking.” He laughed.  I thought about it for a while, and I discovered that I’ve been floating too.  I’m gliding through my life taking advantage of the opportunities that I’ve been given, never quite taking hold of my own destiny.  I’ve always waited for the next thing instead of creating it for my self.  I need to start practicing what I preach, so to speak. I need to start kicking my ass off.