Friday, October 29, 2010

Positively Not a Pessimist.

"I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else."
~Winston Churchill

I have been spoken to a lot lately about people's reactions to my continuous positivity within the past 4-5 months. Some people are irritated that I flood my Facebook status lines with thoughts of constant thankfulness; believe it or not, that can be overbearing to people. I've been asked about the sudden life turnaround and what brought it fourth? To sum it up quickly, without examples, I've been inspired to realize that even a well has a bottom. I've found out that even the darkest of days has an end. I've discovered that no pain is forever.

"Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed."
~Michael Pritchard

I find myself even as of today battling on a consistent basis the trials that stand between me and success. I heard it said once that losers see barriers where winners see hurdles. It feels truer now than ever before. I often times have to hit my knees just to regain the strength to stand. Often times, counting all the beauty in life is the only way to drown out the misery. One of the most inspirational people in my life is a father-like-figure named Bill who has practically acted as a dad to me ever since mine passed away. He encourages me often with this, "When you've done all...Stand!"Add Image
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It is so often in life that our posture dictates how life either knocks us down or picks us up. We drown ourselves in doubts and questioning; never really trusting the work that's been done in us in the past. I've always respected how so many cultures build monuments, even our own, in memory of great accomplishments. Whether it's a statue of a famous philosopher or theologian the shrine(s) stand to mark a great break through or achievement of some sort.

I have grown an affinity towards building small monuments within my own life to remind me of all the great things that have happened in my life. Building my life on blocks of pessimism would be a tremendous misdeed given the abundance of blessings I've received; much outweighing the tragedy and pain and struggles. Granted, I think I can exchange blows with many who have had troublesome upbringings; however, I've certainly not seen the worst of what this world has to offer.

Being a realist is something that scares me. I used to claim that title; mainly because it sounded trendy and catchy. I read this quote once and it made me realize how wrong I was about being a so-called, 'realist'. "The realist is the man, who having weighed all the visible factors in a given situation and having found that the odds are against him, decides that fighting is useless..." Yuck. That was my initial thought. A thought I've most certainly revisited since moving to California a year ago. However, I don't think I really understand how anti-realist I was until I sold out to optimism.

Therefore, coincidentally and necessarily, I became a true-hater of pessimism. Here are a few quotes about pessimism that sum up my true feelings about the disease that plagues peoples minds and hearts in our culture, and many others:

"Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both..."

"A pessimist is one who feels bad when he feels good for fear he'll feel worse when he feels better..."

"Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power..."

I have a lot of pessimistic friends; none of which I take counsel from. I think I'd stand a better chance shaking an 8-ball and waiting for an answer than taking advice from someone whose lens of negativity fogs and blurs all understanding of good. I don't care what your worldview is. Whether your a Buddhist or Agnostic, if your mind is clouded with thoughts of depravity than you my friend have failed to realize along the road of life the water and air, and only appreciated the gravel and caves.

An attitude of thankfulness never leaves one wanting. An attitude of needing always leaves one wanting. So, why wait around for things to come when we have already been given what we need to succeed. This quote always seems to encourage me when I find myself acting out in a sense of unrighteous entitlement: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more...but...if you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

In closing, I just want to encourage anyone (if anyone) who reads this to realize that we can spend our lives stacking obstacles up, or, we can spend our lives climbing over them. The importance to persevere has never been more important than it is right now. We live in a country so heavily affected by this economic downfall that family after family is being broken apart. I see people on a regulatory basis that have lost everything and are trying to rebuild. So, let those of us who do appreciate what we have, even if it's not much to anyone else, be a light in a dark place. Shine fourth a glorious beam of hope into a dismal and dying land that sees the end of the road, not the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Character Causation

"it builds character..." Their isn't a person reading this that hasn't heard that at least once or a hundred times in their lives. It is somewhat inevitable; there it is, bad logic bursting fourth. Right? Wrong! I tend to lean towards being a 'believer' so to speak in the trial & error mindset that has driven generation after generation of peoples. I would say that is definitely one trait that is specific and stereotypical of American's; the inherent ability to always push through.

I had a pastor when I was younger that used to always talk and glorify the days of his youth football experiences. He would always talk about "ruffy" (his nickname in high-school) getting yelled at day after day on the turf by his grizzly couch; constantly telling him he needed to have the "wantto." Some degree of sticktoitevness is necessary in order to achieve a "wantto"mindset. Therefore, never giving up, always pressing through, playing harder, player smarter, always fighting, never quitting, etc. That is the mindset I've had since I was a a teenager when I realized I'd nearly lost everything I had; I realized I only had everything to gain.

I think I've got a lot of character. I know it's been a steady diet of failure and knuckle-sandwiches that has led me to the point I'm at; the point of no return (sorry, had to do a Van Damme reference somewhere...). I have been realizing a lot lately about myself and how often times I will so easily be caught up in the temporal. It's a tough thing, getting caught up in the temporal. By doing so we often forsake all we truly desire to get quick success, fast money, etc. I am realizing that in life it is a rarity that people will get rich doing something they hate and aren't at all passionate about. I truly believe that in my life I will only see success (whether financial or not) when I pursue the things that are meant for me to pursue; things that I am passionate about.

So, I'm not trying to run around and chase every passion I have but most certainly attempting vigorously to analyze the important ones. However, I feel like a large part of my life right now is based on feeling out the real areas in life where I tend to excel; and avoid those where I seem to fail. Not avoid as in not grow or get better in those lacking areas, but more over in the sense of not pursuing things that aren't going to 'characterize' me a bit ( aka-be a challenge...). I guess I could be deemed a glutton for punishment; I find myself living in anxious fear of the comfortable. Perhaps it justifies my consistent lack of consistency (Redundant?).

So, in these new and indeed valiant efforts to seek out what is truly a righteous and prosperous (mentally, physically,y and spiritually) career and life path I've discovered that although I desire success in ways many never imagined; I simultaneously and inconspicuously fear it. I've always harbored a deep hunger for the unknown. Since I was a kid I used to always want to find out new things about old stuff.

So, here I sit today, typing away on my obnoxiously bright Red Gateway lap top, shedding layers of my own inconsistency. Sitting, typing, slowly peeling back old skin from an old person, slowly becoming new. I am thankful that we can cast our burdens down and not be weighed down by such an overburdening life; their is freedom in the ability to grow, and the knowledge to see that it doesn't have to be a frightful endeavor.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Inspiration Lasts. Motivations Past.

I was speaking to a friend the other day and he pointed out something that I've never thought about before. We were talking about motivation and how it's often times not longstanding and how it seems to come and go, often times like bills. It plagues us because we often beckon it and it comes not; and when we least expect to find it we do. My friend explained it like this, "Motivation is temporary and comes from the outside in, whereas inspiration is from the permanent and comes from the inside out..." So, inspiration vs motivation it is.

I think I've always been able to muster up enough motivation to do the necessary; to the utmost supersede people's expectations of me, but never my own. Since realizing I was going to have a long journey, most of it alone, I knew that I wasn't going to get a bunch of outside help in life. I had a strong feeling that most of what I was going to accomplish was going to have to be done from the inside out; not the reverse. Granted, I've always had friends/family/and God in my life, but they don't pay the bills, pass classes, build my family, etc.

Inspiration is an interesting thought. Something that conquers from the internal being is something of great value and should be preserved in longevity and reserved for special occasions; right? I guess I've rarely dipped into true inspiration to find out what it is that I am truly passionate about in life. I've gone so many directions for so many years that I think I've continuously shed layers upon layers of who I am, to the point that now I'm just a concoction of change instead a statue of meaning.

I've thought a lot lately about what career path I truly want to pursue. I'd love to take some more risks. Maybe do some more missions work in the next year or so. Perhaps attempt to conjure up inside of me some desire for something I can really give myself over to. I remember when I was younger I REALLY wanted to be a teacher. I saw that passion fall away a few years back after watching friends pursue that career path and seeing where it led them; happy about their influence, but unhappy about just about everything else.

I am going to spend this next year rebuilding my life from the inside out....mentally...physically...spiritually...when the foundation is weak the result is a lack of stability and longevity. I know that their is passion in me; I just need to find it...
I have put my best foot forward in the sales field and have seen minimal success and mass work. I guess I never came to a point of feeling like the amount of hours/work ever equaled the amount of money that never came. It wasn't a lack of hustle. Nor was it a lack of mental aptitude of testicular fortitude; both of those were in my possession. I had no shame in my sales game. I would knock on doors and do whatever it took. However, in this economy it's more about who you know than what you do.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

laCkadaisical exTremist

Something I've been noticing lately is the amount of extremist has risen in my circle of influence within the past few months. I've realized that perhaps not the extremist you read about in USA Today or see on the O'Reilly Factor; but extremist's in general. For instance, I've got a friend who is an addict for change and turns to extreme measures to subdue those tendencies; regardless of weather it's coffee, call of duty, or attention. An extremist is described by Webster's Dictionary as such; of relating to/or characterized by immoderate or excessive actions, opinions.

I think their are many of us that tend to go militant on certain avenues of our lives to protect ourselves from the unknown. For many, especially American's, over the course of the past few years methods have been developed that allow us to have somewhat-utter control of a multi-faceted lifestyle; all from the palm of your hand. And no, I'm not referring to a gypsy palm reader, I was referencing technological advancements like the iPhone, Blackberry, and the Atari. (ok, not so much the Atari).

This excessive need to control things so thoroughly has led us to waver and terry from the very thought of 'letting-go' of any area of complete control in our lives. A dangerous thought. It seems pretentious to think that we, regardless of our organizational abilities truly have within ourselves the potential to control 'life'. I guess many people think that by investing in low-risk stocks, buying real estate, and pouring money into a 401k that it is somehow going to cushion the drastic blow of reality that will hit when the marriage fails, kids leave, and the job is gone.

What if life does leave you 'out' of control? What happens when things 'aren't' exactly how you planned them? What do you do when you can no longer update Facebook from your iPhone to tell the world of your sorrows? To beg for attention? To plead for a way out? Who are you when your not defined by your successes, but more so, by your failures? Are you being dealt an unfair hand and not willing to finish the game? If so, we stand in the threshold of sorrow and pain together, no one is without questions in those times in life. So, by all means, start asking! Don't ask other people, ask yourself, ask God, ask the question to people who can honestly and accurately answer.

Their aren't a lot of 25 year old's scooting around the food service industry talking about how they've, "arrived..." But, then again, their are a LOT of college grads serving tables in this economy. That is the nice thing about living in the Los Angeles area, everyone serving tables is just waiting for that break into the industry. I can just tell everyone I'm an aspiring actor; even though I'm more of a perspiring redactor. It is a humbling effort to push on day after day, on the grind, doing things your not passionate about. So, I look into my past for some clarity on my current circumstantial state-of-being.

So, my father was drafted into the United States Army at the age of twenty-two. It was the 1960's and life as he knew it was good. He spent his teen years moving all over the country and was an embedded child of the southern way; having moved from Lochapoka, Alabama to Billings, Montana. He was enjoying life as a teenager; doing what teenagers do. That was until he was 'drafted'. For those of you whom don't understand, this means he was 'taken' as property of the United States Military in order to subdue the political turmoil occurring in Vietnam. His younger brother Butch was drafted as well, the baby of the family (Butch being the youngest of 8: 4 boys, 4 girls) was being sent to a place that western society knew very little about.

I don't think my uncle, nor my father, had really planned on life turning out the way it did for them. I doubt they woke up that day in the 60's and were excited about what hand they'd been dealt; but I can tell you that they both willingly accepted the missions and jumped at the opportunity to proudly serve their country. Their was not an ounce of whining, cowardice, or regret in their hearts. They didn't drag their heals in doing good; they dug in their boots instead. They both served multiple tours as infantry men, as Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) drivers.

My dad came home from Vietnam after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, surviving an exploding APC, as well as the immense stress and trauma of watching your friends die beside you. My uncle never returned, he was the victim of a landmine. It was not his plan to leave this beautiful earth under such horrific circumstances; he didn't wake up one day in the late 1960's and think that would be the end to his time here and the beginning of his time elsewhere. However, it's what happened, and nothing changes that. My dad never got over the pain of losing his brother and was never able to holistically shake the effects of Post-Traumatic-Stress-Syndrome (PTSD).

What's the point of sharing that story with you? Well, it seems necessary that we come to the realization that life is not the place where we can predict with surgical precision every facet of what will unfold. No one wants to die; unless they truly don't understand the beautiful simplicity of life itself. The raw and unadulterated splendor of life is found in the lack of knowledge about the future; not the foreknowledge to assimilate a plan for every potential outcome. If one is going to be an extremist, a control freak, they will surely bypass all the meaningful experiences that occur in the plan as ya' go lifestyle that we all get thrown into occasionally; not habitually, but occasionally.

I guess as I sit here and write this I most assuredly am not telling you to live life casually and just enjoy it along the way. However, I am most certainly saying to enjoy it. My struggle has always to live life in a perpetual balance between planned and flexible; finding a way to fit all of life's curve-balls and splitters into one methodology. My honest hope is that by reading this you would understand we have been given such a great gift, "dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today..." (James Dean, quote). Appreciate with dire anticipation the splendor of life and participate with joy in all its occurrences; not just the ones you predicted.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Over the Hurdle & Into the Fire

This blog title is somewhat deceptive, as are all the rest of them. However, this one more so because all those who know me know their is no way in Heaven (or Hell) that I intend on jumping hurdles. So, since we've got that out in the open I guess I can continue with this blog.

I feel as if I'm in that uniquely uncomfortable formidable place in life where I'm beginning to, for the first time in years, cross the pinnacle of stress and unknown to more comfortability (fake word) and certainty. Being hired on serving tables at a steakhouse may be some people's low at the age of 25 (in possession of 1 1/2 college degrees), however, for me, it's a definite high. Finally, I have a job that guarantees a paycheck and promises some continuity; something I've been missing for a long, long, long time.

Now granted, I haven't quit working since I was 16 years-old. When my dad passed away "not" working was never an option; mainly because I liked to have a place to live and food to eat. Those two wants, some would consider needs, had to be met. However, I heard the quote one time, "work smart, not hard." and it really hit me. It is NOT saying that you shouldn't work 'hard', it's just saying that you should do it 'smart.'

I think I've always been a slave to quick money. A fool for the chance to make some money. I guess I'm a product of scratch tickets and childhood neighbors who spent their tax returns on lotto tickets; praying one day would be there lucky day. I used to steal a lot of sports cards from the Circle K when I was a kid; unbenownst to my father of course. I think I used to do this because even though I had the money, it was easier to take the cards and not pay.

As a kid I would commonly take the easy way out. I think I did that until I lost my dad. After that tragedy I realized that life wasn't a place where an easy way out was an option; even suicide, which I considered after losing my dad, was still the 'hard' way out. Perhaps a perpetual conceptual process that always searched for quick money, shortcuts, and riches was what had led me down so many crooked paths and unforgiving roads. I guess somewhere along the line I learned that quick money, isn't. Shortcuts take longer. And riches are only for the people on the E channel specials.

High School was like a free ice skating lesson. It didn't cost me anything and even though I fell a hundred times, I didn't get disqualified or removed. I just ended up with a lot of bruises. I learned a lot about work in high school though; I found out what it was like to stick to something. I learned how to not quit. I also learned that life is better lived through a lens of opportunity that one of oppression. I also realized that I was good with the guys, bad with the girls, yet surprisingly "not" gay; despite contrary belief. (insert laugh here).

College was a great 6 1/2 years. And no, I didn't finish grad school. You can figure out the math on your free time, but for now, just focus. I started out at Spokane Falls Community College which according to recent reports and first-hand-experience is pretty much like any other average minimum-security-corrections-facility. You've got your various races that stick together; nerds, jocks, rockers, thugs, etc. It's dangerous to stare anyone in the eye; especially the kids who still have hand-held cassette players with ACDC tapes in side; obviously, at this juncture, you begin to realize if they still have that, they don't have anything to lose.

I did however nearly earn an Associates Degree at Community College before I flunked out for plagiarism; yes, definitely not a highlight of my academic career. However, their is some justification for that occurrence but I'll avoid going into it; it was certainly more of a misunderstanding that a blatant cheat. Anywho, after serving two years at SFCC (you'd think the CC stood for Correction Center?) I transferred to Eugene Bible College in Beautiful, and liberal, Eugene, Oregon.

I learned a lot in Eugene about who I was as a person. As both a human, and as a believer, I discovered a lot about what I really believed; and even more about what I didn't believe. I found out that I had the ability (innability?) to remain inevitably and foreverly' (another fake word) single. I realized that although I enjoyed reading and writing, I didn't enjoy barking and yelling. Those are just the kinds of things you learn when you go to a Pentecostal college. However, most importantly I learned how much work it takes to get a college degree. I found out first-hand the reality of how much sacrifice it really takes to finish anything in life.

So, here I am, in California for officially one year as of last month. It has been the biggest sacrifice I've ever had to make. Forsaking every level of comfort and exchanging it for the excitement and danger of the utter-unknown. It has bent every single linear thought I've had about how life is suppose to work; leaving me to second-guess everything I thought I knew about myself. I couldn't be happier.

I've gone from a 93' Buick grandma mobile to an 02' silver mom wagon. I've transitioned from playing poker all day every day for 6 months to spending a year at the beck and call of "the man." Doing whatever, whenever, just to stay above the water; attempting vigorously to not drown amidst a sea of debts and obligations. Blockbuster and Starbucks consumed much of my life for the greater half of my first year in California. I've never worked harder and longer than when I was rocking the 4am til 11am and 4pm til midnight; same day, often back to back. It was the crunch that I needed. It was the test I'd been preparing for.

Various other business endeavors have led me to where I am today. Typing away at Starbucks about what I've learned. I've grown a lot mentally, and sadly, physically in this past year of triumphs and trials', failures and successes. I am thankful for life that I have breath in my body to be able to talk about what I've learned; but more so, thankful for the opportunity to keep learning. Keep choosing the difficult path to success.

I learned a lot as a kid that has been ever since revoked through a vast multiplicity of mishaps. I found out that sometimes the only way to gain is to lose. The only way to know how to win is to lose. And most importantly, to relish the failures and embellish the successes.

That blog was a mouthful of unorganized thoughts...thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's awkwardly beautiful. Like rain in socal.

It's what I've been asking for since July; since 113degrees and perpetual nosebleeds. The sudden calming of natures hellfire wrath upon us California residents and the breaking of the consistent sauna-like-temperatures. Its been an immense blessing to be able to cruise around the valley with my windows down (rain pouring in, naturally) and just appreciate the coolness for once. For some reason, the cold weather does to me what the hot weather does to so many a people; it calms.

It is something I miss about living in the beautiful and constant changing northwest; the relaxing sound of rain beating off every gutter within a mile in any direction. To wake up in the morning and go for a stroll with the fresh smell of every plant known to man corrupting magnificently every sense possible. I equally miss being able to drive fifteen-minutes and just get lost in absolute beauty, be freed within the captivity of natures astonishing glamor.

I've been thinking these past few weeks how I have taken so many things for granted in this past year. It is a trial that we just all face; thankfulness verses entitlement. Our innate desire to demand instead of receive. The internal change I've endured in this past year in California has led way to so many minute yet seemingly permanent revelations. I've discovered so much about what I can and cannot do; grown so independent in my ability to fail and codependent on my ability to succeed.

I am making it an absolute that I'm going to do a lot more traveling this year. I've waited too long to see those parts of the world that have for so long evaded me. I think this is the year where I'll finally take the opportunities laid before me and set my mind to doing a bit more than a typical year. I uncovered a dangerous tool in the arsenal of a truly avid traveler; priceline. I am making it a personal goal to see NY/PARIS/Washington DC/Boston this year....I guess only time will see if such can be done given my circumstances.

I am just ready for whatever life throws at me, learning to live on the bare minimum, and focusing more on my health and longevity than ever before. I feel great. I feel like I should have always felt; thankful.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Wats Good?

"Continuous effort--not strength or intelligence--is the key to unlocking potential."
-Winston Churchill

It has been a journey. That in and of itself probably best sums up my first year living in Los Angeles, CA. Its surely not my first time living away from home but it sure feels like it. Perhaps, Oregon became such a home for me that it feels more like home than Spokane ever will. I had the awesome opportunity to roll up to Oregon about a month ago and spend some good quality time with close friends and non-biological family; it was an much needed.

This past year in LA has done nothing but form and mold me into something a bit more time tested and leathered' than ever before. Just when I thought I'd experience how hard life could truly get I moved to a place where the current circumstantial state-of-being of our economy was immensely evident. Thankfully I was able to pick up a few solid jobs and despite insane levels of tiredness I was able to overcome poverty and rise to mediocrity; financially speaking.

Then I took a risk. Kind of threw my eggs in a basket of thumb tacs, said "ey...what the hell." It was like nothing I'd ever experienced. I jumped into a start-up company knees deep and ended up in shits creek without a paddle; but not without a life jacket. It was such an eye opener of what business is like in the real world; live by the gun and die by the gun. I'd been in sales before but never to such an exhaustive degree that It affected my day-to-day longevity.

After that gig went south I just kept on trucking. Thanks to tight friends and a church that cares more about the Mon-Sat than just the Sunday. It means something special to be a part of something bigger than yourself; a group of people committed to living and loving for one-another; not merely for themselves. I would lie if I said it's perfect, or that it matches my stylistic-preferences on every level. However, I would take loyalty over luxury, everyday, and twice on Sunday (no pun intended).

The blockbuster gig has been a continuous back up plan for all my day ventures. That job has provided minimal finances but was sufficient in my times of needs. It was fun being able to tell all the good looking women that I was working in the film industry, " know...I've got my hands on a lot of movies..."Although, the more attractive the less they got that joke. Hmmm....

After the start-up fallout I went to work doing some sales with a prominent local and worldwide company called AQMS Mayflower; an agent for Mayflower Transit. I got the job offer through a good friend who owns the Los Angeles Mayflower Agent and wasn't going to pass up an offer from such an entrepreneur. Through this job offer I've learned so much about how far I can push myself and learn about what's deep inside; beneath the epidermis. Sales for me has always been a lucrative profession. However, its cutthroat and often times can dismantle one from the inside out if your core, confidence, or ability is weak.

So, fall through spring is the dead season in the moving industry so I've temporarily put the day job gig on a partial hold; part-timing it throughout the drought. Thankfully, I've been able to land a sweet night job serving tables at Black Angus. I am incredibly stoked about getting back into the serving position; the money is good and the loyal customers make work a blessing in disguise. I guess the reality is that I just need to build back my finances to a position of relative strength so I can afford to take some more big risks in the near future.

I guess I say all this to say that everything I've endured in this past calender year has taught me three simple things... "dwell in the present...don't regret the past....and don't lose yourself in the future...."