8 Heads in a duffle bag..

Although my fingers have been fairly quiet as of late my brain has not. There is this strange struggle that goes on inside my head on a daily basis. It is as though two entities are fighting for the right to think and during that struggle neither seem to be able to act accordingly.

For the most part I have spent this entire process of dealing with the arduous task of caring for a Leukemia survivor, GvHD patient with positivity and faith. Struggling with the highs and lows, while finding strength and solace in my abilities as a caregiver with an upbeat attitude has helped immensely. Jacy and I have been so blessed to meet many of the people we have spoken with through the long reaching tentacles of the internet. Knowing that simply by sharing the human condition you have helped another is humbling to say the least.

But what do you do when you’ve reached what feels like the end?

Now I know deep inside, and I mean right now really deep inside, I fully understand it is not the end, that I not only want, but need to continue being open and honest. But I am struggling. Badly. It is why the argument inside my head continues on, it is why no matter how hard I try my fingers just can’t seem to find the keyboard, creating words that are meaningful to others while allowing me an avenue to vent, love and share with solicitude.

Constantly I stare into the screen and wonder what it is that is hindering my thought process, why do I feel as though I am constantly drowning and the only relief on the horizon is a shadowed man throwing paper life preservers?

To say it’s all too much that life is more than a person can handle has and always will be a cop out to me. I have been to other parts of the world, stepping from within the spoiled confines this country and my own personal bubble for which I reside affords us all. Witnessing true abuse of the human condition, desperate pleas from those who reside in squalor, with no more than two pennies a pair of shorts and no food to their name. Governed by those who care not about their people’s physical health and financial wealth but furthering personal gain. So I know, there is more inside me, more to give to my family, my community, my friends and my life. I know because I have seen true struggle and what I am facing inside is a mere droplet inside a rain storm.

Yet, struggling I am.

I used to go to work and hide my pain. It is a great place to hide ones inner demons as any day surrounded by good, like-minded people can bring about a recharge of the inner soul. One purpose, one goal, be there for the community and its citizens, save a life, save property from the destruction of fire, or help someone simply change their smoke detector batteries. The privilege of caring for one’s community on a daily basis is amazing. Spending 48 hours winding through the autonomous machine of daily chores while finding comfort in the twisted humor of your co-workers is electric! Starting a new guy down the right path while helping to refresh the volumes of knowledge 23 years has stored inside your head brings renewed life.

Instead as of late I’m feeling like a cornered parole, unable to do anything correctly while nervously twitching at the thought of going back inside. Working for a city (management) that no longer appreciates the enormous amount of effort we place with so very little in return. Refusing to acknowledge our continued attempts to assist not only them but the public to the best of our abilities while suppressing our very innate need to always help. It is demoralizing to say the least when you feel a department many have worked so hard to bring to the forefront is slowly slipping backwards and there is nothing you can do but shake your head and watch.

Coming home has always been the respite from the atrocities seen at work. A safe haven if you will where one can leave their heavy gruesome baggage at the door. But it seems I can no longer walk up, drop the bag and not worry about it for a few days.

It’s like 8 heads in a duffle bag (movie reference), you know at one point you held the bag but now it’s gone missing and no one needs to see what’s inside. So what do you do?

You panic.

Therefor in a constant state of panic I am! Oh I may look cool on the outside (or really angry and moody as has been brought to my attention) but inside a constant state of disarray exists! No longer am I able to complete a single task as my life spins out of control. Raising these kids mostly on my own, caring for my wife using the same skills acquired over many years at work, the line begins to blur between work and home. With that blur the demon heads are no longer at rest inside that bag on the porch. They come out at all times of the day or night. Some days they bark at my inner walls, clawing and screaming so loud I cannot turn them away and so, I bark back. For those who know me, who know me well, when I turn on something I do it in grand style. It is never pretty, it is mean spirited and hurtful. It is shameful to say the least. Then the bag disappears and more panic sets in as I must find it and keep it from anyone else. It can never be seen! EVER!

So here I am, still left wondering.

What is in store for our family? What is in store for their lives? How am I supposed to protect them from the boogeyman, that hidden danger or beast waiting just outside the door? What lays ahead for my life and how am I ever supposed to keep moving forward? I mean, I am moving forward aren’t I? I wake up every day and put my feet on the floor, pull up my big boy pants and move through the day just like everyone else. But where is the break? Where is the respite we have been told is coming? When does my wife get a break from her constant inner struggles which are also mine? When does she no longer feel pain? When does her body become strong again and she no longer needs to live on a regiment of medications that leave her weak and sick? When do we see the pot at the end of the rainbow? Hell I would even be happy to just see the fucking rainbow!! Why has my life been hit so hard, and why does it continue to get hit time and again? What the fuck did I do to deserve this and if it’s a Karma thing and it’s me, why is my family paying the price, over and over and fucking over again!! Can we please get a break? Can we please just have our lives back????

I am angry, angry as hell and I feel as though I can no longer hide it! People tell me I need to take time for me, hell I tell others to never lose who they are and work hard at taking time for themselves to keep that spirit alive! But lately taking time for me feels like being trapped in a buildings revolving door and I can’t get out! Spinning so fast I can only feel a moment of either freedom or pain, never able to fully step from within the confines of the door to one side or the other.

I worry so much about my children and all they have been through, I am in constant worry for my family and all they feel as we still make our way slowly down this forsaken path of a leukemia nightmare. I worry for our ranch and this life we built as I find struggles in maintaining its future for our family. I worry for my job as my passion has waned through this continued personal battle. I worry for myself as I push it all down deeper inside.

Please don’t tell me God doesn’t give me anything I cannot handle. That is a twisting of the actual verse Corinthians 10:13 referencing sin, and sinful choices. That although sin is irresistible, the lord will always give us an escape from such temptation.

So what is the end game? There has to be an end game right?

Is the end game hidden within 2 Corinthians 5:10

For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

If that’s the case then my wife is saint!!

But the question remains, why must our family continue to struggle? Haven’t we all had enough?

Why do I lay my head down at night and have mild panic attacks because my insides feel tormented. My mind never shuts down and I feel as though the other shoe has yet to fall. Why must I live in this constant fear? I don’t want the other shoe to fall, it cannot fall!

“Deep breath”

Thanks for taking a moment to read this and witness me losing my mind.

I have stored that up for a long time now. I just needed to get it all out. I know the answers will come when they come and there is nothing I can do about it. I know there are others who feel the very same way I do, and I hope if you are reading this you know its ok.

It’s ok to ask why, its ok to feel inadequate, its ok to feel as though you may be failing, It’s ok to struggle and its even ok to carry the extra load.

You know what’s not ok?

Keeping 8 heads in a duffle bag on your porch.

Yeah that’s never ok…..

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You can never forget you!

Today I went fishing.

There are three things in this world that I love participating in more than anything else.

  1. Riding/working horses
  2. Fishing
  3. Riding a motorcycle (any motorcycle)

Peaceful water cracking against the hull, birds of every variety flying overhead, some even landing near our boat. Seals breaking the surface to say hello and cattle off in the distance grazing quietly. Sitting silently with two lines in the water my eyes dart back and forth between the fish finder as I monitor the water temperature and the picturesque surroundings on what had to be one of the most perfect mild temperature, no wind kind of days. The only thing that would have made it even better? A bigger boat so I could duck inside and take a nap! Ha!!! Old guy perfection right there baby!!!

So why is this so important and why would you the reader care?

The other day while speaking to someone the topic arose as it usually does in regards to personal, family oriented, doctor/cancer related struggles that life had become unmanageable. We all have struggles in our lives, some more serious than others and even that severity can be tempered through one’s own personal perception.

We commiserated over many of the same issues in regards to holding things together when all seems lost or hopelessness abounds and as I switched from a willing partner in the gripe arena to sound listener I could not help but forward some very sage advice after asking if any advice offered would be received. (I mean I DO have a little experience in this arena) Thankfully the answer was yes.

I reminded this person that as life is crashing around and people are no longer meeting your expectations you may need a break. As the hill gets harder to climb and you find yourself crying more than laughing your brain is saying enough. When the only thing you care about is the immediate and everything else can just go to hell it is time for an intervention. So what must this person do to quench the fires as it were? You must remember exactly who you are, don’t ever forget WHO YOU ARE! It is time for you to do something for you!

Take time to find that one thing (or three) that reminds you that you are you! I guarantee that stress combined with an overachiever mentality and over time you will forget who you are! Overwhelmed by the many tasks that lay before you on a daily basis you eventually end up putting little old tired you in the closet while hiding behind this public persona superhero cape! It really beats you up no matter what, but if you’re the type that’s not a quitter in any way, shape or form the weight upon you is enormous! So do what you have to do, but find that thing that makes you, you!

You were somebody before you got married! You were hopefully somebody you even liked and enjoyed hanging out with before life came crashing down! I know in the beginning you are going to feel guilty, but tough shit!!! In time that guilt fades, you begin to balance back out and when the world is spinning out of control you have the fortitude to handle it!

For me it was an accidental stop at a local eatery in town for breakfast on one of those “spinning out of control” days. I felt guilty walking through the door, I felt guilty spending money on myself for breakfast, I felt guilty because I needed to leave for Stanford, and after I sat down, alone, I felt guilty that my wife wasn’t with me, and that I was eating out without her!

But you know what else happened?

I felt better after the first cup of coffee that I didn’t have to make. The waitress was kind and could see I needed to be alone. I turned off my phone and watched the news in the bar next to my booth. I ordered what I wanted (yeah cholesterol be damned) and ate it slowly, with a smile. It was 40 minutes out of what turned into a nightmarishly insane day and it was worth all 2,400 seconds. I walked out, sat in my car and realized I had forgotten who I was.

After that day I made a point to remember to ride a horse, go fishing with or without kids, and ride a motorcycle.

You see without knowing who I was, how on earth could I be anything to anyone else? I could try, but instead of success I was merely adding more to an overflowing plate. If I spend time at any one of those three things, from a few hours to a day or two, there is nothing I cannot handle when I come back. I know who I am, my feet are firmly on the ground and I have said; its ok to give myself a timeout now let’s tackle the world.

So today a fishing trip turned into a recollection which turned into a blog post which turned into me being able to put my head down tonight, get a good night’s sleep so that tomorrow I can wake up, smile, put my feet on the floor and tell the world it’s ok, you can throw what you want at me again.

I’m ready.

On a side note, you don’t have to be struggling mentally, physically or living through some personal hell to remember to take care of yourself. Life is hard, and for some reason we make it harder for ourselves by forgetting the only person who can help us navigate our very short time on this earth.

That person is you! Make the change, then when the hard times do come you are miles ahead of where I was in November of 2013 when our world came crashing down.

~Betty~

Is it just a party??

Rolling down this dirt path carved into a country landscape from many years of vehicular abuse, these almost gypsy like heathens moved like a battle hardened caravan having just crossed nature’s own brutal convection oven labeled the Sahara. One by one their vehicles of choice came to ease and were hastily placed into park. Dust, once billowing behind now came to settle as they spilled like sullied cargo from within these sheet metal four wheeled coffins. Wiping their eyes and straightening the linens draped upon their weary bones, eye contact was made with their hosts and those who had previously arrived. These weariest of travelers sighed a heavy sigh with shoulders slumped while large grins appeared upon their faces. Slowly stepping forward towards these friendly smiles warmly becoming one because they were with family; they were finally home.

AND THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE GOES TOO????? BETTY!!!!!!!

(Thunderous applause, cheering can be heard for miles)

This weekend we did something that hasn’t happened in a very long time here on our ranch.

WE HAD A FAMILY PARTY!!!!!

That’s right, my wife wanted so badly to get her side of the family together and to feel normal, even if just for a few hours.

Before Jacy got sick, it was not uncommon for us to throw multiple summer shin digs out here on the ranch. Beer, BBQ and good times! Life is short and spending time with family and great people is of the utmost priority because as we all know, it can be over in a minute.

So, one by one they came, by car, by motorhome, by four wheel drive. Some were family we see on a fairly regular basis, some came from the east coast, some came from the north, some we hadn’t seen in a very long time and some I had personally never met.

I used to LOVE throwing a party, I would spend days preparing the meat, Jacy would spend days preparing the house and making all the side dishes. We would dress up the place, throw down some lights, set up the music and wait, much like kids on Christmas morning for people to arrive.

But I cannot tell a lie, that feeling has been gone for quite some time. It just hasn’t been in me, I really don’t want to socialize most days, I don’t want any extra work load put on my plate, and I don’t want to plan anything for every time I open my calendar the schedule is completely full.

I dream of running away all the time. No place in particular, in my mind it’s just a quiet place of solitude with no responsibilities at all. It’s a weird feeling really, this place you go to in your mind when as the sole everything to your family you should remain steadfast and not let imaginary substance take hold. You feel guilty for mentally giving up at times. Yet it’s hard when you live with the constant fear of always forgetting something important, never doing any one thing good enough, and worrying every time you leave the house that something is going to happen to your wife. (That feeling really sucks when I go to work 48 hours at a time)

Well something did happen to my wife, and myself too.

She smiled.

Surrounded by a portion (all of our friends and family weren’t able to attend) of those she loves, for a full day while jokes flew, stories were told, and laughter reigned king my wife was able to forget four years of suffering and pain. My wife was able to believe her life was and could be normal. My wife who gives more of herself to anyone and I mean ANYONE who would ever ask or even look as though they needed her assistance. Felt as though her life was whole again.

Since Saturday came and went, she hasn’t quit smiling. Oh she was exhausted Sunday night after all had gone home and quiet settled upon our little ranch house. Today is Monday and for the most part for her is has been spent in bed.

Last night, I swear when I came to bed amongst the hum of her oxygen machine, through the glow of the security lights she has surrounding our bed, my wife, my little tiny, half blind, frail, sweet wife, was still smiling.

For me, it reminded me about the importance of family and great friends. It reminded me that even though things seem difficult at times, if I really wanted to hit the ole pity party streets within minutes I could find others who have it way harder than myself. It reminded me this is a journey and no matter the outcome I need to always embrace the journey for when my journey is over, well it’s over.

So why not fill that journey with incredible moments, experiences that will never be forgotten, surrounded by people you love, who love you right back?

Sure today we are right back into the grind of things, but I’m still smiling from a great couple of days that took a little work to make happen and the work was so worth it. My wife is still smiling from the opportunity to not only still be here on this planet but also being surrounded by the ones she loves. Our children are still laughing at all the fun they had with their cousins, nephews and friends. And I’m pretty sure each and every family member or friend who stepped foot on our ranch Saturday afternoon is in some small way still smiling too.

That itself says it all.

So smile a little smile, tell the ones you love, that you love them, put away the politics, the news, the electronic i-device of slavery and get everyone together for some good food, a few drinks, lots of laughter and memories that last a lifetime.

It is so worth it.

And now and ending worthy of literature greatness.

Blitz laid quietly amongst the empty tables and chairs, belly warmed by the earth beneath his fur. His head hung heavy upon his front feet as Jacy slowly stroking his ears mumbled aloud; it sure is quiet now isn’t it buddy?

He groaned, took a deep breath and sighed again. The breeze was warm upon her back as she gazed upon a now lonesome backyard that only a few hours ago was brimming with energy and love. Smiling as a tear rolled gently down her cheek the salty droplet landing adjacent to her lip. A day, a single day she swore would never come, a moment of time her brain told her she would never take part in again, the thought of all those days trapped within the bustling walls of Stanford hospital flooding every pore of her body. Shaking, feeling numb as memories of pain and despair, sleepless nights and the thought she would never, ever come home rears its ugly head. She looks down at Blitz and mumbles; I proved them all wrong didn’t I buddy? One by one she proved every one of them wrong and survived what had previously been deemed un-survivable.

Now, face turned towards the property, a thousand yard stare firmly affixed she sees nothing of the landscape before her and as the sounds of the last vehicle fade into the distance she smiles. Not because these traveling familia nomads are all gone. Not because quiet has befallen her world once again, and not because she can finally rest. No she smiles because in true Jacy style, she did it all her way and was able to once again surround herself with love.

Ok so maybe not literary genius. Readers Digest?

 

 

 

 

An Incredible Journey

I am on an incredible journey and I don’t know why.

Why was I chosen to walk this path filled with so many unexpected surprises? Why do I struggle with the same challenges day after day, feeling as if there is no reprieve? Why I am even allowed a new morning when others for who I look up to, revere or admire are facing their last days or have simply vanished, passing from their earthly constraints.

Every day I awaken, place my feet firmly upon the floor and stand up. I then make a conscious decision. Do I carry on, or give up? Do I meet the day’s challenges or pull the sheets over my head and cry foul? Do I continue to regress emotionally or do I say fuck this, square up my shoulders then throw a middle finger towards an overwhelming temptation to just quit?

Lately it has definitely been the latter. I’ve been putting on a good face while struggling to get out of bed then smiling the smile, telling the same old jokes, letting the actions or words of some bring me down and basically feeling as though I should be giving up. I am not happy, not happy in one little bit.

The darkness has crept in and I haven’t seen any light for quite some time. Between the duties of caregiver to my wife, caregiver to the public and struggling to remain a vigilant father while my children struggle with their own feelings for which they have no knowledge or control over in regards to our current situation. I have slowly faded away. Not all at once, but little bits at a time.

It feels like constant darkness in my head, every moment of every day and there has been nothing I can do about it.

So you begin to ask; if there is so much darkness why do you proclaim this an incredible journey?

Because like it or not, hate it or love it, detest its existence or clamor for more, it is an incredible journey!

As human beings it is our job to grow and share. It is not a right, you are not rightfully given another day on this earth. You have no right to prosperity and wealth, you have no right to a job, a house, a marriage, a life of any kind. You have to earn it!! Then grow and share through the process!

That’s right, I know this may come as a shocker to some, but your life is earned. What you have accomplished by the time your final day comes (and it comes for us all) is 100% purely up to you!

My grandmother came to me in a dream last night. (Don’t get all; holy shit he’s gone off the deep end) Although I know dreams are a conglomeration of memories, subconscious thoughts, neural transmissions and blah, blah, blah. It was exactly what I needed at just the right time.

My grandmother on my mother’s side was a very interesting woman. She graduated from Stanford during a time when women were considered less than men. She dated a few notable individuals of the time. She made her own way through life when in her forties her husband, my grandfather died of a heart attack. She had a very successful career in finance when women were considered nothing more than secretaries and used her skills to set an example. She traveled the world going where she wanted when she wanted with nothing holding her back!

As a child I vaguely remember her stories about life, travel and the many lessons she put before me. Whenever we visited she used buttons to teach us about money, plants in her greenhouse to teach us about life, books to teach us about literature and conversation to teach us about the human equation. I woke up this morning wishing I was 8 again so I could hug her and listen more intently.

She wrote a book about her life. I have it on a shelf. I have read twice and when I awoke this morning it dawned on me that I may need to read it again. I need that emotional connection, to relearn what it means to be me, throwing caution to the wind, standing up for and protecting my ethics, beliefs and way of life no matter what anyone else says because my life is mine. To help stay on track, for in my heart I still believe that we all learn from one another’s triumphs and mistakes. During this crazy time where our socializations seems to only focus on a small device that spews nothing more than negativity an hate tearing the very fabric of this country. Maybe one small voice, writing about his struggles in an obscure seldom read blog could remind us there is a positive, no matter the circumstances and that choice would mine to make. No one could take it away.

My current situation has a myriad of balls all up in the air, a juggler’s nightmare as gravity brings them towards me at a dizzying pace! It constantly comes up in conversation when people say; I don’t know how you do it, in regards to the struggle associated with raising four children, working as a firefighter while caring for my wife with stage four Graf vs Host disease. Watching as she withers away, gets strong then withers away again. Is frustrated with the fact she is going blind yet bravely and with great fortitude works her way through daily activities for which she refuses to give up on. She is strong, brave and amazing.

It (the how do you do it comment) is a simple enough statement, it is never meant with any disingenuous undertone, and my response is usually almost always; it is what it is. I say that as to not offend anyone or hurt their feelings. But my real thought is; how could I not! This is my life, my family, my wife, what the hell else am I supposed to do?

I realize we live in a decaying society where it is easier to point a finger, post it on Facebook, complain publicly, give up and run away than it is to stay behind and fight for the ones you love! Fight for the life and family you have created! To me that is a sad moniker of what our lives in this country have boiled down too. If the going gets tough-make a spectacle then QUIT!

There are those that wonder why I write so openly about my personal life and if it affects anyone close to me.

Yes it does affect those close to me, but I have always felt deep inside it was my obligation to share everything. Why? Because I have yet to see one writing that adequately covers or assists the multitude of struggles and emotions I am feeling. Everything ever written in regards to being the spouse of a Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant survivor is generic! Nothing even remotely touches the many facets of life this horrible disease along with recovery post-transplant throws in your face. It is all glossed over as to not scare you. Well guess fucking what? Life is a scary thing, now throw in all the new challenges associated with a wife whose body is trying to kill her and well you better sack up and learn from someone who has walked the path! Stay firmly away from those who wallow in a dream world where after treatment life just carries on as if nothing ever happened!!! Which is where I think I come in, for those who want the truth and seek it through my writings.

So then I wonder do people think my attitude comes naturally. My ability to cope? To understand and carry on?

Because it takes work, patience and the ability to listen, not pass judgement when you can and keep an open mind. It takes and incredible amount of faith and that faith is tested, over and over and over again! This journey I am on reinforces all those things on a daily basis!

So then my mind digs deeper into that simple question of “how do I do it” and I wonder some more. Do people believe that being a firefighter comes naturally? That we are all born with some obscure kryptonite type gene that predisposes us to the atrocities of the human condition? You see, firefighting, that is the easy part! It always has been and always will be. You still need to understand basic chemistry and have a few years’ experience using those skills to know exactly when and where placing the right amount of water at the right time will put out the fire while saving lives and property. This professions education is real, the long hours studying and keeping those skills are mind numbing. As a firefighter you need to become proficient at a little bit of everything. Building construction, demolition expert, code compliance, hazardous materials, chemist, investigator, auto mechanic, auto technician, computer genius, locksmith, heating and air technician, heavy equipment operator, financial advisor, ER doctor, supervisor, pastor, councilor and truck driver. If you added up the salaries of all those things each member would be worth over a million a year and we can go into the private section with our degrees and make three times what we struggle to earn in our jobs, but that’s not why we do it. It is an overwhelming need to help people. But as if that load of constant learning wasn’t enough, and as I said, fighting fires using all that education is in fact the easy part, you know what the real struggle is? The thing that keeps us up at night, the thing that not one mother fucker prepares you for that haunts your very soul when you lay your head down on that pillow?

It is the endless onslaught of death that we must deal with on a regular basis. Dancing in our heads like ghosts from Christmas past. Dealing with them any way we can, through counseling, good friends and time away from the big green fire engines. It is also coming back the station and reading in the local paper that our city council doesn’t support us in the least. Or we are attacked by the public because we go as an engine company to the store to purchase our supplies which we pay for from our own pockets or that our retirement is some magical golden egg that is draining the state’s coffers when we pay an ungodly amount of money per month out of our own pockets to fund it. Its understanding and coming to terms with the fact we are not funded in social security therefore we only receive from social security what we put in prior to joining the fire department. But hey none of that matters as we lay our heads down at night, trying to erase all those horrible images while also knowing we are unsupported you know why? Because most of us won’t live past 60! It is a statistical fact we will all contract some form of cancer from all the chemicals and carcinogens we have absorbed or inhaled throughout the years! But no worries we’ll just keep pushing it all down deep inside so it doesn’t show when we get home! That way our families and spouses won’t see or feel our pain, so they can have that great husband or father home for few days all happy and cheery like normal families!! Right? Right?

Why do we do it? Why do we keep coming back for more? Because we wish nothing more than to make that one save, that one moment in life where a positive impact on another human beings life has been made. So despite being treated like shit by our public officials, living with our deepest emotions, we can rest easy knowing another is alive, enjoying their family because of the sacrifices we willingly made. Fulfilling our own prophecy through hard work and dedication. Bringing life full circle.

This journey has allowed me to witness my wife fight for her life while I hold her hand, struggle as she struggles and rejoice as she rejoices. We don’t always agree on the topic of rejoicing but through this journey I have learned the importance of shutting my mouth while allowing my spouse to find the joy she needs over little accomplishments. I have learned to keep my mouth shut as she sheds tears, relinquishing my need to fix things. For there is nothing I can fix and only a shoulder to cry upon or an ear to yell into is needed at that moment in time. I have found understanding I never knew I had as unwarranted venom flows from her mouth one minute and angel’s wings sprout lifting her high over her pain another. I hug her when she needs to be hugged and leave her be when she wants nothing more than her headphones and a television show she has seen 100 times so she can listen to it as her eyes will no longer allow her to watch.

This journey has taken a toll on my life and although as of late I have been angry over its direction, angry at the life we now lead, angry at myself for being so very fucking angry inside!! ALL THE DAMN TIME!! It is still my journey, I am writing (quite literally) my own story. It is up to me how it ends.

At the end of the day, when my time has come, I want my children to look back and not remember the struggle. But remember their father handled it all, with strength, grace, positivity, faith and a plan. Ok let’s face it a few good old fashioned Irish/Italian hot headed fuck you fest temper tantrums as well. Then I want them to be able to go to a bookshelf, pull out a well written book, open the pages and read the story of my life, their lives, and the lives of those who loved them unconditionally. I want them to ride along in this journey page by page and remember the way I remember my grandmother.

Does labeling this shit storm we live in a fantastic journey mean I will become more positive? No, it means I know who I am and what I need to do.

Will my mood cease to be down and at times dark? No, I am human and with that naturally comes forms of negativity. It is life.

The blog has been dark as of late because I have been struggling with so many emotions tearing me up inside. I am sorry I haven’t been able to share for those who reach out to me on a regular basis. Time to light it up again, hit that keyboards and continue along with this fantastic journey.

God help me…

 

 

 

 

The top ten behaviors a man should practice after his wedding day to hopefully create a successful marriage/life.

Summer is upon us and with it a cavalcade of weddings adorning our handheld devices through many wonderful social mediums. A wedding is truly one of the most beautiful moments in a person’s life. The coming together of a young couple, their families, friends, associates all in the name of love. Both young and old find some nurturing aspect of these long held rituals. Whether it be a remnant of time gone by, the same warmth felt from that very day as you hold your partners hand many years later or simply the romance associated with watching others in love. It is all there for those who love, love, the idea of love, or being in love. Even the most cold hearted cannot help but smile as two become one in a union of souls and adoration. It is also a very special day for divorce attorneys as another crop of prospective clients march bravely into the streets!! Wow! Sorry got off track rather quickly on that one! In poor taste?? Oh well I apologize, now where were we? 

The thing is, what happens the day after your wedding? Is there an instant change in the relationship? Most say being married is just like dating, only now you share a name whether hyphenated or not, and a bank account. Life before marriage was perfect and arranging this union was the mere icing on top of a proverbial cake when it came to building a life together. There was and is that feeling of; nothing could ever tear the two of you apart and marriage was simply the concrete or glue needed to bind this relationship.

I know this all to be true because I felt exactly the same way, not once but twice.

My life has been filled with many ups and downs, hell some would say it has been quite the roller coaster ride! At 50 I am pretty sure I have experienced more than most, yet still less than others. There have been more tears and moments of doubt than I care to recall. I spend quite an amount of time wondering, contemplating how to make the lives better for those around me and am constantly trying my hardest to learn something, anything from any and all experiences I am exposed too.

When it comes to marriage as with most men, I am no genius. But I have and always will love the idea of being in love. There is someone for everyone, I truly believe in that premise. Sometimes it is not the person you are looking for and love will come up and slap you in the face! Your relationship blinders having been so thick and narrow you couldn’t see it coming! But there it is and all of a sudden you are awe struck/smitten. Sometimes it’s a feeling or a premonition or you even feel as though God or some form of higher power is steering you in that right direction. A perfect union that becomes love, eventually with a little luck becomes marriage and then when all is right, it becomes a life. Something to be proud of, a traveled road with a gigantic footprint left behind, hopefully a footprint of love pointing the way for others within your family to walk proudly in those very same steps.

No matter the journey traveled how do we get there? How do we have, or create a successful marriage? Television and the movies would have you believe marriage is either a gigantic disaster waiting to happen or sprinkled with chocolate upon the gilded wings of angels. Nice picture huh? MMM chocolate..

The fact of the matter is marriage is work, at times extremely hard, emotional work! You see the thing is as I asked previously; what happens the day after? And after looking at all the lovely wedding pictures on FB today for some reason I thought maybe, just maybe some advice whether warranted or not from a man who has gotten very lucky twice in his life when it comes to marriage might do the trick! Advice from a man who is still madly in love with his wife and the very spirit that drives her every day regardless of everything that has happened in our lives would or possibly should be in order. We learn from those who came before us and regardless of the age there are some basic strategies that I believe hold true no matter how old or young you have become. Strategies or an ideology that hopefully can be built upon and passed down to your children should you make that colossal child bearing mistake! I mean devoted loving moment that will fill your life with so much joy (misery), happiness (frustration), fulfillment (you’ll never be alone again) and love (feels so good when they say I hate you)!!

That was pure sarcasm so no one get their undies in a bunch!!! I absolutely couldn’t live without my children! (No seriously they are part of my retirement plan) Hee, Hee, hee!!!

Ok I’ll stop now.

So after much thought and deliberation, dwelling on the many times I have failed to follow my own advice, here are the top ten things in this man’s eyes, from obviously a man’s perspective that you must do to even attempt creating a long and happy marriage. I am sure some will disagree, but so far by following these simple rules my marriage has indeed been the highlight of my life.

  1. CONTINUE DATING

That’s right kiddo’s, just because you are now married does not mean dating stops! I know you youngsters are saying right now; duh! We date all the time! Well wine tasting weekends, sports venues, concerts, and even burning man will all fade away with time because children, finances and career choices seem to take its place so make it a priority. Year 1-5 will be easy! Its every year after that life seems to continually get in the way! Don’t let it! And if you make a set date night, keep it!!! Or at least do your very best to keep it! There are exceptions but don’t make them the rule, keep them the exception. Listen, date night doesn’t have to be at the Fairmont! A walk at the beach together, a night under the stars, a movie, heck even just shutting off all electronics and talking over dinner. (We will get into talking over dinner later) Just make it happen, you both need it!

  1. LIVE WITHIN YOUR MEANS

I think for men this may be the hardest! Let me break it down for you boys, just because you are now married does not mean YOUR income has doubled!! Oh I see you wringing those fists together thinking that new Malibu Wakesetter is on the way!! Or it might be time to upgrade from the old Ford Focus to the BMW M5! Here’s the sales pitch; I mean come on honey it will be a sweet luxury car you can drive too!!! Hey I know, now that we have combined our money we can put a swimming pool in the backyard and then all your hot friends can come swimming!! And about that pool thingy we need to buy a house so we can have a pool! Let’s get on that shall we!!

Yeah, ahhhhhhhh NO! STOP!!!!! It starts from day one, yes you now are a part of each other’s financials and that does make a difference in both your lives and the decisions that need to be made, but they are decisions made together, as equal partners in a hopefully thriving business (your relationship). Work together on all big purchases and decide together how, where and when any monies will be spent. Keep your expenditures to a minimum and never, ever live outside your means. Just because you have credit, and together your credit score is off the charts does not mean you need to use it!! The more money saved the better! Always have a minimum of 6 months’ salary for you both squirreled away somewhere and an emergency fund with a set minimum decided by you both that is for nothing but EMERGENCIES!! Just to help you out with that last one gentlemen, running out of beer on poker night with the boys is not considered and emergency! Are we clear on that? Your car breaking down (you know that four wheeled object that gets you back and for to work) when you’re short of cash between paychecks, that lads is an emergency!!!

So play it smart kids, save, save and save! Start a ROTH IRA early if you can, and save some more. Put a monthly set amount in an interest bearing account and trust me when I say; you’ll thank me for it later!

  1. ONE PERSON DOES THE BOOKS

Ok this one is up for debate, and I am sure many of you are saying right now; OH HELL NO!!! But I have found if the both of you in your love lorn, twitter pated state decide to combine finances (some couples don’t, keeping separate checking accounts and that’s perfectly understandable and ok too) then together determine who is better suited to manage those finances and assign that person to do so. There are those that believe every bill should be gone over together or splitting the bills like roommates is the perfect fit. You know if that works for you fine, but I am here to tell you, life between the two of you will be so much happier if only one person bears that monotonous monthly barrage of bill paying splendor! Then at the end of the month the two of you can discuss expenditures together if you chose to do so, ensuring your finances are still on track. Bills being paid on time will become a learned habit by one person and there will never be any miscommunication about how, where or when something should be paid. Now of course it also frees up that partner of yours to live their life very much like my wife does. She says she lives like a mafia wife. She don’t know where the money comes from and she don’t care, she knows the house is stocked and foods on the table, and that’s all that matters. So what if Jimmy Beans took one in the head for not delivering his monthly vig, he should of fucking paid up so mamma can get a new pair of shoes damn it!

  1. BE SUPPORTIVE

So here is one that’s going to be hard for some of the men to hear. Wait, no they will hear it, but not understand it, no wait! They will understand it but the definition of what it truly means to be supportive will be lost on them. Ok I am being tough on you guys with generalizations but it comes from a place of experience, understanding and acceptance of my failures as a man.

This was one that was hard for me because what I thought was supporting was in fact me devaluing her attempts at whatever it was she was attempting. Right now you are thinking; huh?? Let me explain.

Example; your wife comes home and states she would like to go back to school, adding onto her degree would help fulfill her desire for higher education.

Great! Right!

So you tell her you are behind her 100%! You tell the world how awesome she is for doing this and you expound all the benefits both didactic, mentally, professionally and emotionally she will receive by attempting this profound journey! Yep you are showing support.

Really you aren’t doing a damn thing but giving lip service.

Where are you when the laundry needs doing? When her dog needs walking, when she needs help juggling work and classes? Where are you when her study group goes late? Are you an understanding partner by having some dinner ready when she gets home, some alone time for her to decompress or do you play word games of guilt with her mind. Oh you think telling her how much you miss her since she has been hard at the books every night is supportive but the reality it is, you are whining and selfish. Afterwards she ends up feeling bad, then after a while she begins feeling so bad she starts slacking on school work needing to be done or she slowly starts resenting you for the pressure put upon her and your relationship. She knows going back to school has created an added strain to the relationship, but she doesn’t need you showing just how much on a regular basis. Now in a strong relationship she really misses you too and will definitely let you know without prompting. She will do her very best to keep date night in the forefront, alone time between the two of you is always in her thoughts, even just being together at night watching a movie should be considered a treat! But don’t throw guilt, even unintended guilt around like its everyday fodder. Don’t let your insecurities come across as support. Because it’s not.

A supportive spouse is there as a partner! Be supportive in any way possible. Remember guilt is bullshit and talk is just that, talk…

  1. WORK SHOULD NEVER COME FIRST

I know, I know, it’s a career thing! We should all retain that hardened resolve to succeed. In my chosen profession as a firefighter the building is filled with Type A personalities so it appears that working hard to obtain that next step, notch in the old career belt would be an absolute! One pitting themselves against the other, striving for success and always giving every ounce of what you have to become the very best you can be.

But there is something you should know now while you are young that may be really hard to understand. You cannot get back time you never held. From the time I left home as a young lad I have worked my ass off! Sometimes there were three jobs at a time, me scratching, clawing, working my way towards something anything! After marriage it was no different. My excuse was always centered on building a life for the two of us. Then I was trying to provide for the three of us, for a house we had purchased, and not long after I was providing for the four of us. I was never home, ever…

When I became a firefighter after years of working a fulltime job, a part time job and volunteering. I swore I would never put my family last again. I made a promise to my wife I would put her and the kids first no matter what! That first year and a half, I worked every overtime shift, every strike team assignment and went to every week long class I could attend. It never stopped, or should I say I never stopped. Promise after broken promise all under the guise of bettering our position through hard work and laborious conditions.

My first wife passed away that year.

She never reaped any of the benefits I promised. She never had any of the time I swore was coming, we never had any family vacations, time away just the four of us. There was never any special memories made, just memories of her life, my life and the two of us passing each other on the way in or out, me coming home from work then her heading to work. Me heading off to work then coming home one, two sometimes four or even seven days later. Her frustration and sadness was written all over her face. I could not get back that time I never held.

Her death taught me a lot about myself. What a selfish jerk I had been, that I was not who I thought I was but was exactly what everyone else made me out to be! It was painful to recognize, a horrendous image in the mirror looking back upon myself. Greedy and self-centered, a man caring only about his personal ambitions. I promised if I was ever allowed the privilege to do it all over again. Things would be different. A life that would be vastly different. I would no longer turn my back on those I loved for selfishness.

My family would/will always come first and to that end I have kept my word. I did remarry and my wife is a selfless, amazing human being. I don’t know where she came from or why she chose me. I don’t know where I would be without her and I have worked very hard at keeping my promises while always working on becoming a better man. I screw up time and again, after all I am a man! But make no mistake, she and our children have always been the first priority in our lives!

OT up on the books? Only taken after talking with my wife, my kids. Checking to make sure there are no family commitments that precede it.

Family vacation planned? Plan it! Take it, do it, enjoy it, and create those memories lasting a lifetime!

Kids are participating in school sports? I am there! No work or project will ever stop me if I can help it! From standing at the sidelines, cheering on my children or simply standing there quietly where they can see me and smile knowing dad never let them down.

Now don’t get me wrong, in my profession there are definitely times where it just cannot be helped and I am at work whether I like it or not. It is part of the emergency services life. But I chose, work for and have stayed with a department that is close to my family, their schools and sports activities. So even while I am at work, occasionally I am able to still participate depending on the activity. I am one very lucky man in that aspect. I am keeping my promise.

I will preach it a thousand times! Family, your family, your wife should always come first.

  1. TIME APART IS GOOD

Ok I know she is your best friend, the two of you do EVERYTHING together! She is the sunshine in your morning the heavenly silver lined cloud that adorns your evenings. When you look at her your brain turns to mush and your heart beats to no end. She is the non-existent unicorn you have captured and she is all yours, no one else’s. Skittles and ice cream for everyone!!!! Yay!!!!!

But who were you before her?

It is a valid question. Think about it.

Yes the two of you will grow as human beings together. There are parts of you both that will change over time as your lives expand and your beliefs change. But I ask the question, who were you? What were you? What were the things you loved to do or partake in that developed the person she fell in love with in the first place?

There is nothing wrong with a weekend away fishing or hunting. Poker night with the boys or wine tasting with friends now and again. There is nothing wrong with loading up the horses with a few buddies to disappear into the hills for a day or two! Still participating in the activities that made you well uh YOU!

For me it is fishing and riding motorcycles.

If I can get away fishing for a day or two I reboot my brain. Remember why I am who I am. Reflect on all that has happened over the last few weeks while finding where I have either failed or succeeded. It is that opportunity for me to remember who I am, while doing what I love with no expectations or assumptions.

The same goes with motorcycle riding. If I can disappear for a day or two, the open road helps me find myself. The solitude in combination with that motor humming beneath me, the openness out on the road, an ability to be one with my surroundings, smelling the air, feeling the temperature changes as I ride! I find myself very quickly. Motorcycle riding and motorcycles in general is something I am very passionate about, I have been riding motorcycles since I was 15. So you can see it is one of my activities that allows me to remember who I am, where I came from, cleansing my soul and regenerating my resolve.

So find that thing that is you! Keep it, hold onto it, and use it when needed. Your wife will understand, it is the reason she needs a girl’s weekend, rides that triathlon, participates in marathons or has bunko night and time with her best friends. We all need that something that defines who we are while allowing us the freedom to grow.

Now if your thing that defines you is bars and strip clubs! Buster you are on your own!

  1. CREATE YOUR OWN UTOPIA

This one to me is very important! So many of us live together as couples/partners but really we are living apart. We rent, we own, we live in a van down by the river! But we treat these places as stop over points, places to rest our heads at night, a place to keep us out of the weather and nothing more. All that is good and fine, but the reality is, as a married couple or partners your domicile should not only be a reflection of the two of you but a place you look forward to being!

Seriously, when you are at work you should not dread going home! Your home, no matter where it is should be your vacation spot before you even actually have a VACATION SPOT!!!!

Your mind is blown right now huh?

Think about it, don’t you want to live somewhere that you cannot wait to get back too? I know I do! Our house is exactly what we always dreamed it would be! Yes I totally need to remodel the kitchen and we need new carpets, ok the entire interior needs repainting, (shit feeling kinda bad about our place right now) but when you pull into our driveway and look around you see something we have worked very hard for, a place our children will remember the rest of their lives, a place where I can sit under a tree and watch the dogs run about. A place where my horses walk up to the back fence and say hello. It is not what everyone would want, it is more than some and less than others, but it is our place. I look forward to going home and being there and if I never was able to travel on vacation again it would be fine. You see I can simply move the trailer out back and build a campfire. We are there because it is our vacation spot before we had a vacation spot! It is our utopia.

Find what makes your place special and expand upon it! Dream it together, build it together, live in it together and before long it will be your utopia, your special place filled with love and personal growth! A place you long for every moment of the day.

  1. Children

I have talked about children a little in this list, as if it’s an assumptive equation. You know like;

Billy + Sally = Baby Dudley

But here is the thing and I cannot stress this enough if you decide children are for the two of you! Do not under any circumstances if at all humanly possible have children before you are ready! Ok that might have been a little strong, but here me out. I understand there are times accidents happen both pre and post relationship solidification. And you know what, if you are ready to meet that challenge head on then you do you and do it damn well!! Good on ya! But there is a family dynamic that has bugged me from before I even understood what it meant.

Family members that start pushing children the minute you get married.

Mom, dad, Auntie Bee, Uncle Rufus they all miraculously become that stock trader with the inside scoop on child rearing. Pulling you aside and whispering in your ear that little insider trading nugget that will undoubtedly enrich your lives.

Things like……

Hey buddy listen, you and the misses should really be getting to knocking boots seriously right now! The quicker you have kids the sooner you can retire without having to pay for the little shits anymore!

Or

Hey girl, you know if you have a couple little dumplings right away you will be young enough to rebound that body and still have time to rock a career after they get into school!!

Or

Hey guys my wife Gertrude is pregnant so why don’t you two get pregnant as well then we can raise our kids together!!! Doesn’t that sound like fun???

Or-and this is my personal favorite

Hey kiddo the faster the two of you procreate a couple of tax deductions the better off you’ll be financially. You know what I’m saying?

Why yes, yes I do because I speak English too… Ugggg!!!

Each one of those lines has been used on me over the years so the names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Here is the deal. Have children when you are ready. I know you are thinking; when will that be? Trust me you will know. Like dropping a hot iron your foot you will feel the pain and know the time is right. On the first round we waited five years. We decided we wanted to build OUR life together before bringing another life into the mix. It really bothered some of our family but we didn’t care. Also if it happens it happens and that’s ok too, just have the resolve to do it your way, the way the two of you want to make it happen. Everyone means well but sometimes you just need to remember that following your own path is alright, regardless of the popular consensus.

Also, and this very important as well.

Once you have children. Never, and I mean EVER let those cute, cherub like bundles of love divide you.

My wife comes before my children. Always! If there is no us then there is no them. Children are like sponges, absorbing everything they see and hear. By placing my wife first all the time it teaches them the importance of having respect for one another. They will do everything they can as they grow to wedge themselves between the two of you, to get what they want at all costs and most of the time they don’t even know they are doing it! But if much like the war, you are a united front then the enemy will never get through! Once they feel the repeated habit of unification they will understand its importance and actually relish in the reliability of two parents on the same page. It becomes a feeling of safety for them because they know both parents care enough to keep the emotional ship on an even keel.

  1. LEARN TO ACCEPT CHANGE

Life is about change, the sooner you figure that out the better off you’ll be. We grow older and our bodies change. The sun moves around the earth, time moves on and our jobs change. We wake up every day and our moods/tastes change. Our union or marriage will endure change time and again. I mean you aren’t still wearing that Cosby sweater from the early 90’s are you? No you changed and your taste in clothes has changed. Or at least I hope so because nothing is more sad than that 50’s something guy with a mullet still trying to rock the members only jacket and parachute pants from 30 years ago. No sir you can’t touch this! Nor does anyone want too!!!

Accepting change can be a daunting task at times, but accept it you must. To fight against the hands of time is ludicrous and I can say from experience that in the long run most times change is good. Yes some times change can be bad but after careful consideration I am sure you will have learned something along the way.

So remember it may be same as it ever was but in the end, change gonna come.

Embrace it.

Well Gentlemen! Here it is! After much thought and consideration, countless reflections and several self-inflicted go fuck yourself moments! If you are still reading this long ass diatribe written by someone with no real credentials and an incredible ability to sound important when in reality I am nothing more than a hack sitting alone in my basement!!! I bring to you the number one most important thing you as a newly married man can do to ensure a successful marriage with many years of unrelenting happiness falling upon your freshly adorned virgin feet of gold!!!

Are you ready? Can you feel it’s importance???

  1. LISTEN, PARTICPATE THEN RECIPROCATE

What? You already listen you say? You are the best listener in the world? You are a solid participant in your marriage and of course you love to reciprocate right? Of course you understand reciprocation is completely different from procreation? You got that? Yes?

A little confused right now? Let me help.

Us men are fixers, we love to fix everything! If we can’t fix it with our hands then of course we are going to fix it with sound advice, if we can’t fix it with sound advice then of course we will do our best to fix it emotionally. If we can’t fix it emotionally then we pretty much say fuck it and have a beer, it wasn’t worth fixing anyways!

Here is the problem fellas. If you want to have a blessed, wonderful marriage learn first to LISTEN.

Listen with your ears not your mouth. That’s right, one thing I have learned through many hard headed interactions is my wife 99% of the time does not want me to fix the problem, any problem. Nope she simply wants me to listen, quietly, without a response of any great magnitude. You see she already has the answer, she has already worked the problem out in her head, she has already taken the emotional steps to remedy her current situation, and she only needs me to support her by listening. Quietly, carefully, cautiously, while looking into her eyes with great interest. Don’t have a response ready, don’t talk Just listen.

She also needs you to PARTICIPATE.

You want to know why things have been a little, well shall we say, ICY between the two of you lately? Caught yourself holding in your stomach while gazing into a mirror wondering if she is no longer impressed with that ever changing bod of yours? Thinking maybe the fire is slowly dying because you cannot seem to get her in the mood? You have been married or partnered up for just over a year now, five years, ten years, twenty years! Can things really being going south?

PARTICPATE!!!!! You know what gets the old juices flowing with the supposed love of your life? Let her come home to find you vacuuming!!!! Want to see her strip those clothes off and jump you? (ok this is my fantasy but I think it fits good here) Let her walk in while you are folding the rest of the laundry no one could get to all week! Wanna see her smile and give you that adoring sly look she uses so well to weaken your fortress of steel? Have her come home from a long ass day surrounded by morons to a well cooked meal (Sorry Boston Market doesn’t count) and a glass of her favorite wine? You do know what her favorite wine is don’t you? If not you have some fucking homework to do!!!

That’s right fellas a marriage is a two way street. There are days it’s going to suck for you and there are days it’s going to suck for her! So be a team player my friend!!! After all the last time I checked the two of you were part of a union! A union by definition is the act of uniting two or more things! So start acting like it!!!

Kids need a ride to school? No problem, you got it! Participate!

Dry cleaning needs dropping off? Damn straight it’s on your way to work! Even if it isn’t!

Doctor’s appointment? Hell you will drive her! Of course unless she really doesn’t want you too then uh, hey how about we meet for lunch after??? Don’t know, I am winging it on that one! I said I was a hack working out of my basement so let it go, it’s still great advice!!

You see where I am going with this? Participate, become part of the solution not part of the problem. You no longer live at home with your mommy and if you decided marriage was for you so a woman or partner could cook, clean and do your laundry then you just married your mom! Uh GROSSS!!!!!

So get off the couch, clean up, do some laundry, make some dinner, and be a part of the great team you envisioned when you said; I do.

RECIPROCATE or to give and receive. For all that she gives you, brings to your life, shares with you unconditionally. Give it back and more. Living the selfish life is no way to live. Living it while married is a recipe for disaster. She fell in love with you just as much as you fell in love with her. You joined together, whether under the eyes of a God or the powers of the universe. For every little moment you share, a touch of a hand, sweet kiss or even just that special way you gaze at each other from across a room. Reciprocate, give it back, and then give it back some more. Never stop giving, never stop touching, never stop saying you love each other, never stop holding hands. Some days it will be hard, you may be mad at her, she may be mad at you, heck you both may equally want to throat punch each other! We are human, we are an imperfect animal. But where we can fix that is by always showing a love for each other. Remembering why we became a union in the first place. What it was that created this love and if we stop reciprocating on one side, the other or both, then the love dies. Boooooo!!!!!

No matter how mad I may get at my wife, or mad she may get at me. We have always done this one thing, this one simple thing and the minute we do it, we instantly begin to feel the love we have for each other, we start looking into each other’s eyes, and then we begin talking. Once you start talking the problem can be solved and even if it’s not solved you know what you just did? Right? That’s right gentlemen, you listened, you participated and then you reciprocated. BAM!!! IN YOUR FACE!!!!

That one thing we do? We hug.

At some point either she or I will say; do you want a hug? Sometimes it no, I am not ready. For me I am a hugger, it is who I am so I am always ready for a hug. I may not really want it yet, but I’m ready. It’s ok if neither person is ready. I wait patiently, and after a bit of time, we see that look in each other’s eyes and we know, we are going to hug it out! It’s only a matter of time before we are laughing and watching The Walking Dead or Americas Got Talent together!! Whoop, Whoop, case closed.

So there it is, just in time for the summer marriage season! I apologize if this was no help at all or you were looking for advice to help you with Farmers Only dot com.

I’m just a man, an imperfect being, trying my best to make the next day better than the last. If I can drag you along for the journey all the better. Learning is so much more fun in a group than all alone.

Good luck.

 

Remember if you like my page then PLEASE hit the like button! If you think my story is worthy, then please by all means share it with the world!

But if you hate it! Really hate it, well then, I have a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you like my article, well then, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not social media stalk you. But if you hate it, Really hate it! I will look for you, I will social media stalk you, I will find you and I will leave you with a very nasty emoji…

 

 

I have become an electronic zombie

It breaks my heart when I see people wasting or frittering away their lives. 

So wrapped up in our own self importance, worried about what we believe others will think about how we look, act or react to life around us that we fail to just recognize and appreciate our own self worth.

The internet and social media warping words, bending the truth and consistently bombarding us with so many personal, social and irrelevant issues we can no longer begin to comprehend, let alone handle our own problems without creating a public spectacle. 

Anger, hate and disgust for all creeps like an elephant, thundering, shaking as it pours from our fingers tips for all to see. 

Our lives driven constantly by an emotion not of our doing, but created for our undying attention or entertainment as we stare into the handheld zombie sucking dry what remains of an ability to think for ourselves. 

Our lives, locked in a box that lets us go nowhere, do nothing without a thread, status update, like or post. A neural overload of useless information with no basis in reality, only assumption and lust. 

When you die, and you will, does it really matter how many “likes” you obtained? Will you have lived life for you, or for what you believe others want to see? Can you lay your head down for the last time knowing you made a positive difference in the world? Were you a catalyst for change or as stated above did you fritter it all away, for nothing? 

Stop living your lives through the falsehoods of others, attached to half truths and lies perpetrated upon your unwavering electronic devotion. 

Go out and live! Experience, create a personal, exceptional, positive narrative that bathes your inner soul. For to feast solely on what you are being fed by others can only lead to starvation, to a lack of fulfillment. 

We as a society seem to have forgotten what a gift this thing called life really is and trust me when I say; it’s to late once it’s gone. 

I have become an electronic zombie

It breaks my heart when I see people wasting or frittering away their lives. 

So wrapped up in our own self importance, worried about what we believe others will think about how we look, act or react to life around us that we fail to just recognize and appreciate our own self worth.

The internet and social media warping words, bending the truth and consistently bombarding us with so many personal, social and irrelevant issues we can no longer begin to comprehend, let alone handle our own problems without creating a public spectacle. 

Anger, hate and disgust for all creeps like an elephant, thundering, shaking as it pours from our fingers tips for all to see. 

Our lives driven constantly by an emotion not of our doing, but created for our undying attention or entertainment as we stare into the handheld zombie sucking dry what remains of an ability to think for ourselves. 

Our lives, locked in a box that lets us go nowhere, do nothing without a thread, status update, like or post. A neural overload of useless information with no basis in reality, only assumption and lust. 

When you die, and you will, does it really matter how many “likes” you obtained? Will you have lived life for you, or for what you believe others want to see? Can you lay your head down for the last time knowing you made a positive difference in the world? Were you a catalyst for change or as stated above did you fritter it all away, for nothing? 

Stop living your lives through the falsehoods of others, attached to half truths and lies perpetrated upon your unwavering electronic devotion. 

Go out and live! Experience, create a personal, exceptional, positive narrative that bathes your inner soul. For to feast solely on what you are being fed by others can only lead to starvation, to a lack of fulfillment. 

We as a society seem to have forgotten what a gift this thing called life really is and trust me when I say; it’s to late once it’s gone. 

The secret to raising boys from this fathers perspective.

The secret to raising boys from my perspective is quite simple. 

Get married, have wife give birth to boy, tell boy he is wrong, repeat! 

Now before all of you, everyone deserves a trophy, what about their self esteem, let the child raise itself free from the oppressive parent to find their unbridled passion in life parents jump my shit! Let me explain.

It’s my experience that girls are smarter, and quicker to understand the learned message no matter the age. They are not trying to emulate you the male role model in any way. My daughter looks up to me, respects my opinion, and puts forth effort to make changes whenever conflict or mistakes occur. She is an ever evolving, growing, expanding being who has aspired to become her own person following the teachings of her combined parental figures from the monent her chubby little knees could carry her unassisted across our kitchen floor. Oh don’t get me wrong she can clam up, lock down and square that jaw with steely reserve when she wants to like no other! But she never stops learning. 

My boys on the other hand would light fireworks from their asses at the drop of a hat! 

Yep from the minute all three of them could walk it has been a constant parental repetition of; STOP! DONT DONT DO THAT! WHAT THE HOLY HELL HAVE YOU DONE!! Or my personal favorite; AND YOU THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA, WHY??? Now some are better than others, but the old adage; boys will be boys always plays true. 

Snakes and frogs either left to scare mom or shoved in her face as she opens the door! Fish guts on the floor, rotting carcasses left forgotten in the basement for taxidermy, dirty clothes scattered across the house that apparently belongs to no one. 

Tools spread across the shop that no one has used, broken ranch equipment that no one has touched, trucks that are not running right and have never, ever made that noise before as enough mud falls from their wheel wells to build a city of indigenous huts! 

Ah yes boys. 

They will tell you from the minute they learn something, anything that you have been doing it all wrong. They have it all figured out, don’t need your advice, cannot for the life of them understand why you don’t feel they are ready to head out on their own, or take over some of the major projects in need of completion. You sir are old, frail and in need of stepping aside for the young, naturally accomplished male. 

They have no real understanding of time, and commitment because everything comes so easy for them in their minds. They are the true masters of their domain. Yet they are doing it all wrong! Their thinking is all wrong, the mistakes being made are from being wrong and at times are disasterous! 

Thusly my job as a male parental figure is simple. 

Raise them, tell them they are wrong, repeat. 

Because if I told them they were right they would never be mad at me. If they were never mad at me they really wouldn’t listen to what I have to say. Nothing sticks in a youthful male craw when testosterone is involved more than hearing your dad say you are wrong! 

That is when your boy will do everything he can to prove YOU are wrong. Then and only then will you be proven right, and with a celebratory beer in your hand all the wrong doings of your childhood come full circle. You are then stuck with the sound of your dads voice  echoing in the back of your head with witty one liners like: you know son if you had half a brain it would be an improvement! Or How did two average morons like your mother and I produce such a fucking genius? 

Ahhhh good times, good memories. Yes that much cherished sound of the old man reverberating through my brain, calling me a dumbass! It truly is the circle of life!

So there it is, my secret to raising boys! Tell them they are wrong, watch them fail, slap your own forehead while rubbing a little more hair from you dome, embrace the grey hair that comes with raising boys and relish in one of two things. The joy of when they do it right (your way) and succeed, along with the joy of telling them on that rare occasion they did it their way and it worked that maybe, just this one time they weren’t such an idiot after all. 

Remember dads sharing knowledge is caring and as a father the stronger your repertoire the easier to produce disappointment along with the better the one liners will be your son uses when he has a son. 

Dumbass….

Thankful to be my kids dad

Fathers Day

A day centered upon, or celebrating being a father. I have always wondered how this national phenomenon came to fruition and after a little a research I found my answer. So before I ramble on with a long overdue edition of “Betty” let’s take a moment to enlighten our minds. If you already knew the answer please don’t ruin it for everyone else.

The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972–58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official–that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.

Mother’s Day: Inspiration for Father’s Day

The “Mother’s Day” we celebrate today has its origins in the peace-and-reconciliation campaigns of the post-Civil War era. During the 1860s, at the urging of activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, one divided West Virginia town celebrated “Mother’s Work Days” that brought together the mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers.

Did You Know?

There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States.

However, Mother’s Day did not become a commercial holiday until 1908, when–inspired by Jarvis’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honor her own mother by making Mother’s Day a national holiday–the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia sponsored a service dedicated to mothers in its auditorium.

Thanks in large part to this association with retailers, who saw great potential for profit in the holiday, Mother’s Day caught on right away. In 1909, 45 states observed the day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”

Origins of Father’s Day

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.”

On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

The next year, a Spokane, Washington, woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.

Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.

Today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June: Father’s Day 2017 occurs on June 18; the following year, Father’s Day 2018 falls on June 17.

In other countries–especially in Europe and Latin America–fathers are honored on St. Joseph’s Day, a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19.

Father’s Day: Controversy and Commercialism

Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”

During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.”

Paradoxically, however, the Great Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.

When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.

In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.

~The History Channel/A&E~

 

Ok 1 billion a year on father’s day gifts? Where is my cut of that pie!! Of course Father’s Day was derived from Mother’s Day because without mom’s we would all be lost! And lastly its just like men to deny any recognition for becoming a father! There are so many baby momma and deadbeat dad jokes there I’m going to let you create your own! I do think an all parents day would be kind of cool, you know a consolidation of the whole thing. But that’s neither here nor there at this moment.

I am proud to be the father of four awesome kids! I know everyone thinks their children are awesome which makes that last remark a bit of a cliché, but in my world it is true.

My children are wicked smart, each in their own way. They are personable as hell, compassionate, loving and kind. They are also stubborn, temperamental, cranky, selfish and can be a complete pain in my ass when they want too leaving me with ulcers and migraines! YAY PARENTHOOD!!

But you know what? I have said it before and I will say it again. I have always wanted to be a dad so I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know why I have always wanted to be a dad, it is something that has burned inside of me forever. The thought of raising, caring for and mentoring children through adulthood has always seemed to be the ultimate human responsibility. A challenge worth accepting.

Now as we know parenthood is hugely romanticized on television and in the movies. (Thank you Disney and Lifetime) Parenthood is also used to create lifestyle fantasies within the advertising industry to help ease you into parenting via the almighty dollar. But those of us who have walked that line know it is all crap! A child’s room does not need to be perfect, painted any specific color or arranged to create the greatest learning curve or challenge them mentally! They will love you no matter what! There is no way, no matter how you sell it to ever make changing a diaper, disposing of human feces, cleaning up pee or wiping spittle and vomit from your clothing ever look romantic or enticing! Although the endless humor that comes from these events can be priceless. You do not need to go on the perfect family vacations every year spending thousands of dollars to create a picturesque childhood of joy. The reality is the only thing you need is love, patience, creativity and a good glass of wine or beer at the end of a day.

What parenting is? Parenting is hands down the hardest job I have ever held and I have held quite a few temporary career choices that quite simply sucked ass! They can and will drive you crazy these loves of your life, apples of your eye, chips from the old block! There will be days you just want to run and hide but you don’t, even though every fiber in your body is screaming to do so! In the end you know deep down inside running away accomplished nothing because in reality what you would be running and hiding from is not your children, but yourself as (whether you like it or not) they are a mirrored reflection of you. Whoa! Mind blown huh?

Parenting is the most rewarding experience in your life if you put in the time. Don’t expect wonderful results with minimal effort. Parenting is learning how to turn disappointment into positivity. Parenting is learning how to say no when the child within you wants so desperately to say yes! Parenting is standing your ground until it is time to no longer stand that ground. Parenting is understanding why your parents raised you the way they did. Parenting is allowing them the privilege of failing or losing at something while letting them figure out the best way to recover with a little advice from you. Parenting is to give every bit of yourself to another little human being without (and this is very important) forgetting to put your significant other first. Keeping your relationship alive inspires trust and comfort within your children, and teaches them how to become good partners. Parenting is admitting when you are wrong, in front of your kids not just to your partner. Parenting is learning how and when to apologize. Parenting is teaching your children to laugh, at everything. Parenting is showing never ending love, even when you want to strangle them. Parenting is a testament to your foot print left here on earth for all to see.

I am proud to be the parent of our four children. They truly inspire me each and every day to try my hardest, be the best dad I can be, learn from my mistakes and do my best to evolve as a father and human being. I may not always have the answer for them but I will try to get it. I will always be there for them when they fall, helping to guide their way with advice whether warranted or not and I will no matter what love them unconditionally while doing my best to stand behind any life decision they choose.

Cody, Jake, Jessica and Parker thank you for being my children and allowing me to become a part of Fathers Day simply by becoming your dad.

And to my dad (who is no longer with us) and all the dads who ever took an interest in me, looking over me, correcting me when I was wrong and whooping my ass when I was completely out of line, thank you. Thank you for taking this very special job seriously, and knowing in your heart that to become a father to one, you inadvertently became a dad to all. It takes a village.

Happy Father’s Day everyone!

 

Parenting is hands down the hardest most thankless job, yet I have always wanted to be a dad.

I am constantly panicking.

Being a parent is hands down the hardest job any human will ever hold and yet I have always known that I wanted to be a dad. When I was younger I can remember always thinking; when I am a dad things will be different! As if parental wisdom had been bestowed upon me at birth. What a joke, right? But strangely I still knew.

What the hell was I thinking?

These creatures produced through the magic of birth (yes I know how they were created I took part in the process) can bring us so much joy, but just like the picture perfect families we portray upon our Facebook pages there is the dirty underside no one sees that also exists. They test us to our emotional limits from the second we hold their little, chubby, cherub frames. Oh they get away with a lot at first, I mean come on it’s a slobbering, pooping, peeing machine with no real concept of right or wrong. One smile, one drool, one gurgled word and it is all over for us! We turn into puddles of loving goo!   But as they grow older their sponge like minds absorb, evolve, become wiser and learn quickly how to turn the tables on us every chance they get!

Fast forward a few years and they are teenagers

The hardest part of parenting is not the monotonous daily routines. Yes getting a child to rise from bed every day is a pain in the ass! What is especially frustrating is when it’s a hunting or fishing day, then that same child miraculously doesn’t need an alarm clock to rise, dress, pack a lunch and be ready to go at 4 am. Also struggling with homework, cleaning their rooms, getting them to come home on time, and not only do their chores but do them well will always be difficult! No the hardest part of parenting is watching your child stroll down the same life path you chose, unless you are of course incredibly successful, then NONE of this will make sense to you!!!! Where was I? Oh now I remember! Even though you have done everything humanly possible to keep them from traveling that rocky road, you nudge them, guide them, you flat out at times push them with all the force you can muster. They do it anyways and it is very painful to say the least.

I have always tried my hardest to teach our children from my mistakes. If you read this blog on more than one occasion then you know I am very open about my past. Teenage years sneaking out of the house, staying out all night, never telling my parents where I was and not caring about the retribution that awaited upon my return. At 16 I thought I knew it all. I had a truck which meant freedom and I no longer needed anyone’s advice. My nights were filled partying with my friends, drinking way too much, and throwing the middle finger to the rules and requirements of a 16 year old boy. I was a child of the eighties and damn proud of it!

My parents on the other hand, not so pleased. I put them through hell. Not quite sure when my father officially gave up on me but he did. Many nights I am sure they worried about where I was or what I was doing, but these were the days of no cell phones, no abilities to track my location and since I refused to adhere or conform I am sure at some point they just became numb. Now on the flip side, my dad knew every cop/Sherriff/CHP officer in town because they all ate at his restaurant. So the only consolation I have for my horrible behavior is these guys were constantly keeping tabs on either my green 64 Chevy or my blue 81 Chevy. Still no excuse for my lack of respect or behavior.

Yes I was a problem, yes my parents let me know I was a problem as they well should have, but what’s killing me is the thought of history repeating itself. All that time screwing off cost me big! All that time chasing others dreams and never having any of my own ruined my youth, all that time thinking only of myself and not others took me years to acknowledge and reverse course. All of my raging against the machine, living life the way I wanted while taking no responsibility for myself or my actions robbed me of much deeper experiences in life. I quite literally fucked myself over and I regret every moment or decision to this day! Where others talk about how great the old days were, I think; yeah it was fun, I did have experiences, but at what cost? While others regale themselves in stories of grandeur, I look at them and think, well at least you were able to do it all and finish your education, follow your dreams, live life before life ran you over. I was not. As others recount the amazing friendships they made along the way, I wonder just how many I ruined by traveling constantly to the next best thing? I was always trying so hard to be something besides myself that I never even found out who I was! I followed friend after friend’s dreams instead of having any of my own. If I was dating you, I supported your aspirations or at least helped you if I could but never found who or what I wanted to become. When things got tough, I found it easier to drink, become someone else and hide behind the hatred I had for myself because I felt I was too stupid to accomplish anything on my own. Of course you would never know that because rest assured I would tell you in conversation just how smart I was or how something should be handled. Why? Because I was terrified you would see right through me. And as one would expect, on more than one occasion people I cared about did, driving them away. It made me sad.

These are things that happen to a young man when left to his own devices.

I see this in the young men that come through our fire academies. I spot the frauds a mile away because I was one. I can tell when you are at the end of your rope and feeling like a failure while hiding behind bravado, whether you know it or not you stand out like a sore thumb. When I see you, I am immediately drawn to you and depending on how our five minute conversation goes I know whether or not you are ready for assistance. I still try.

These are skills that I have acquired over the 32 years since I was considered a young man. I want to help you so bad! I want you to see the value in yourself, because if you don’t see it how will another? I want you to know you are not alone, an angry ship fighting against a raging sea of phony social expectations. You need to do you, but you need to find out so desperately who you are, what you want to become and then YOU need to grab ahold and make it happen! No one else is going to do it for you! You can never succeed off others aspirations, others actions or dreams and without knowing who you are it becomes even harder to find those dreams and make them a reality.

I say these things and yet it feels as though it never makes a difference. Maybe my words are heard, maybe some of this sets in and changes are made. Maybe.

But I know this, I am angry at the time lost. I am bitter about never finishing my education, I cannot stand the fact that I am ten years behind the curve in life due to choices I made, and I feel as though there is so much more for me out in this world than what I am experiencing. Aren’t those the important lessons that our youth should learn? Shouldn’t these lessons of failure help shape a positive future for them to adhere too? Shouldn’t they understand the pain and sorrow that comes from making the very same mistakes over and over and over again without a course adjustment? Shouldn’t my word be enough to turn that tide of brazen youth and re-hone it into a productive, active young person who freely understands the risks, the hard work and the just rewards for chasing YOUR dreams and not the dreams of others? Shouldn’t they look into my eyes, judge the wrinkles of sadness and lost opportunity and realize instinctively that I speak the truth? Because god damn it I am screaming it to the heavens hoping you hear it!!!

Oh parenting is so freaking hard! I know you think life’s not fair and you are right, at times it’s not. I also know you’re thinking when you too become a parent or mentor, things will be different! But know this.

I want nothing but the best for my children both paternal and those taken under my wing, I ask for nothing more than I think any of you can handle, I am there for you all if you need help. I will become frustrated, it doesn’t change my love, and I will never leave your side no matter what may happen. But most of all, no matter how much you or anyone else may hurt my feelings, no matter how angry you or anyone else may become, no matter how hard life feels to you at that very moment I just want you to remember. I have never lied, I will always listen to you for I have walked in these shoes, and if you will just listen to me, listen to what I have to say I have a plan and I promise when you are older whether I am alive or not, some day you will thank me.

Why?

Because I have always wanted to be a dad.

The panicking part just takes some getting used too.