Feeling broken

 

Where did you go?

Who have you become?

I feel as though I don’t know you anymore. As though a stranger has newly entered my life, yet nothing could be further from the truth. I find myself filled with remorse, anger, compassion and hatred all at the same time.  Realizing I shall no longer defend your outrage. I can no longer bear the brunt of destruction you leave behind. Cleaning up your emotional toil in both cumbersome and tiring. You are like a pebble tossed into a pond.  The original hit was you, then slowly you sink to the bottom for safety, while leaving others to ride the waves, praying they don’t drown, hoping to survive.

What made you this way? The person I remember has always been a little angry, somewhat gruff, yet once alone you were charming, and funny.  Somewhere, somehow you made a conscious decision to change for the worse.  You can continue to place blame, to point crooked fingers, but in the end it rides squarely upon your shoulders.

You claim all is not fair, life is not fair, you bellow that nothing is ever done correctly, and you regale how much better life would be without you.  Then flipping as a switch you are back to normal.  On/off, on/off, the effects fleeting at best, but back to normal none the less.  Your emotions can be felt as the constant ticking of a time bomb.  There is no one left to defuse you.

To this I say; There will be no more sleepless nights worrying about your state of mind. I shall portray that of mediator no more. You shall never yell at someone I love again with out serious repercussion.  I will no longer defend absurdity under the guise of being elder. You have chipped the very last fragment of love from my heart. If you wish to be gone from this world than so be it.  You are gone in my eyes, your soul has left my heart, I am empty when it comes to you.

Feeling broken…….

Maybe you were right after all,  Life is not fair.

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Faces from our past….

They leave behind families who know nothing of how, or why. Often misunderstood they rise to the challenge everyday and wish nothing more than the ability to return home to the country they love. Proud, brave and sometimes terrified, they perform under stress as no other. Some becoming what legends are made of, others lives are changed forever. 

It takes a special person to perform their particular duties and as Americans we should show nothing but respect not only for those who return, but for the fallen as well.  It has often been said that our WWII veterans were the greatest generation.  They sacrificed all for our country.  If those men and women set the standard then I believe all fallen soldiers should be held with the same regard.  None of them wished to perish, none of them woke up one particular morning thinking today is my last day. None of them asked to be subjected to the horrors of war, to losing fellow soldiers and thier friends.   They all knew the job that laid before them.  They all knew the risks associated, and yet each and every one of them stepped forward with honor and integrity, putting aside personal feelings of dread to complete a task for you, for us, for themselves and for our country.

Can you say you would do the same thing?

Wont you join me today as I hang my head and humbly say a prayer to all soldiers lost in many theatres across the world over multiple generations? 

It is after all Memorial day-not national BBQ day.

To all soldiers in every branch of service I say;  Thank you for your service to our country and may God bless you, and your family.

Remember the fallen, respect those who remain. 

I can’t

I hate the phrase “I can’t”! Really, it should be stricken from use in all societies! Think about it, I CAN’T! It really, truly means “I won’t”. It means you made up your mind there is no possible way to participate, take part in, or just do what you have been asked.

Children use this phrase the most. After careful examination of the issue or task at hand most usually find out they “can”. In our house nothing drives me crazy more than a child that says “I can’t”. Nothing drives me even crazier than a parent that says; its ok honey I understand. Which empowers the child to fail on a consistent basis because it is now a learned habit!

What if our entire civilization centered on that phrase? What if all we knew was failure? What if every time something needed to be done, we all stood up at once and said “I can’t”?

Every society is filled with individuals that continue to rise to the challenge. People who know nothing but success. We worship them, we sit back in our Lazy-Boys, turn to our spouses and usually spout some useless dribble like; I could have done that or if I had been born with a silver spoon in my mouth I would have succeeded also. But what is the real issue here? The real issue is that you have resigned yourself to living the life of “I can’t”.

Now I suppose there is the argument between “I can’t” and ” I won’t”. There are many of you out there that admittedly “wont” act when called upon. “Wont” try something new. “Wont” go that extra mile out of fear. But I argue this, “Wont” is not the same as “Cant”. People who claim they “wont” attempt something usually know their limitations. Most individuals I have run into through my 17 years of working side by side with type “A” personalities will use the “wont” not as an excuse, but because at some point in there lives “I can” allowed them the opportunity to try. They wont, because they know just how far they can push themselves; this comes from experience, having tried different measures of success numerous times in the past.

I know there are a thousand excuses for “I can’t”. A thousand hypotheticals; If someone asked you to jump off a cliff wouldn’t you say “I can’t”? My answer would be; no I would say “I wont” jump off the cliff because I know it would be detrimental to my health. Having learned the meaning off pain from falling out of a tree house as a child.

So don’t bore me with that crap.

I speak from experience. I used to be the guy who sat back and said; I could do that, without any follow through. Then one day, a long time ago I decided to become a firefighter. Everyone I knew told me it would never happen. I was uneducated, to old (they only hire 18-22 year olds you know), fat and out of shape. I heard all the excuses. Just about the time I was ready to spout an “I can’t”, I woke up and told myself “I can”. I can do anything I put my mind too. I can succeed at what ever is put before me. There is no failure when you have tried and given it 100% effort. Win lose or draw you could, you did, you learned, you survived and by not caving into “I can’t” ideology. You succeeded.

So my question is this, what kind of world would we live in if there was no such phrase as “I can’t”? If we all lived by the rule of “I can try” at least once.

Once……..

On vacation?

 

Vacation.  The feel of sand between your toes, waves crashing upon some forgotten shore, the serenity of being one with your surroundings. Also one with an ice-cold beer..

or

Sweat pouring from your brow as you traverse a narrow trail on a ridgeline at 8000 feet.  The air is crisp and so are your thoughts because at this height you feel closer to heaven.  To your left unparalleled views, to your right a crevasse that would surely scare even the most steadfast of climbers. But up you go, you are living life to the fullest, you have one week of vacation per year that’s all yours and you are living it up! Beaches are for the weak.

or

Really? One more monument to go, man my dogs are barking!  Cant everyone else just go on without me? I know this is the trip of a lifetime, but do we have to use my entire lifetime up right now? Ok I am coming, just one more monument; right?  Then we can go back to the hotel bar and start self medicating this foot pain away!  Never knew I was going to take a week off to walk a thousand miles while sightseeing  our nations tributes to history! What a moron, I wish I was at a beach some where.

Is this what vacation means to you? Does any of this sound familiar or ring true? Well these were actual examples of vacations I have been on in the past.  Times that were special in their own ways.  Moments I will cherish and remember always.

So where did Betty go this past week?  What kind of vacation did I embark upon?  Was it mind-blowing fun, thought-provoking, or calm and relaxing? Nope! It was none of those things at all!  It was hard work, “Survivor” like, mentally taxing and filled with all the challenges a parent could possibly handle!

I went to the fair!  Yep that’s right boys and girls Betty packed up her things, loaded up the kids and all their animals and headed to the fair!  Why you ask?  Well let me enlighten you; here in good old Redneckville USA we take great pride in our animals! Some would even say we love our animals first, family second!  Now hold on a minute it’s not like that you crazy fool! Kids around these parts are all part of a national organization (no not the Nazi youth movement you filthy animal) called 4-H.  In 4-H kids learn about raising animals for commercial markets along with developing breeding programs, ultimately enabling or teaching them the ability to carry on farming.  As kids get older and enter high school many of them join FFA or Future Farmers of America.  With hard work and acquired skills there are endless scholarship possibilities for these young go getter’s.

So we packed up our little 4-Hers, loaded up their animals and headed to the local fair for a week of washing. trimming, showing, and eventually selling their animals at auction.  The kids receive a check for all the hard work which is placed back into the bank to start next years project.  With a little luck and a lot of hard work a kid could have enough money saved by college to pay for a years worth of school.  Throw in a few scholarships and you can plainly see the advantage to this program.

I am the leader of the pig group (insert snort, chuckle here) and we arrived with 6 clean and happy pigs!  They laid around and let thousands of people gaze upon their little snouts.  Our kids from the group did a great job of enticing young ones to step up and pet the pig ( a phrase that means something entirely different in other circles) they also explained how pigs are raised, what they eat, where they sleeps and why they like to cover themselves in mud. The fair always reminds I take for granted my country upbringing as I answer questions from parents and children who have spent their entire lives inside the city limits.  It really is a bubble we place ourselves inside.

Back to the fair…

So the fair.  What can I possibly say about spending my week’s vacation at the fair.  I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again: (old guy moment) In my day the fair didn’t cost you an arm and a leg!  In my day you didn’t need to give blood just to purchase a corn dog!  When I was a kid I could go to the fair with 40 bucks on Monday and be using the last of it on Friday. That is a whole week of rides and corn dogs, cinnamon rolls and soda for $40.00!  Today $40.00 will get you 4 corn dogs and two beers then you better pony up at the ATM so maybe just maybe you might have enough extra cash to buy your way off the grounds.  Got the kids with you, just leave your wallet at the main gate cause your cashing in your IRA’s to pay for this excursion!  $29.00 dollars for a carnival ride wristband! Times that by four and you can see how this trip can rapidly force you to file chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Speaking of carnival rides, one thing that hasn’t changed over the 37 years I have been going to the local fair is the carnival ride operators or “carnies”.  These toothless gems of salesmanship and lack of hygiene still rule the roost.  Long hair, beards, toothless grins, scrawny beat up demeanor, most looking as though they just popped out of a heroine coma long enough to pull their shift on the Zipper.  What would a carnival area be without them,  and yet we trust our children with their safety.  If you saw any one of these gents strolling down the street you would cross to the other side and not make eye contact.  You would lean over to your kid and whisper “remember when I told you about strange people to stay away from? Theres your example”.  STRANGER DANGER-STRANGER DANGER-STRANGER DANGER!!!!

I am sure Carnies are really nice people deep down inside, heck catch one right between coming down off the coke and mellowing out on some refer and you got yourself a free prized stuffed animal to take home!  Whoop Whoop!! It’s nice to see some things never change…..

Besides the animals, food, and carnival rides our fair still has the charming buildings filled with award-winning arts and crafts.  I have always found other people’s creativity or lack there of, interesting.  There are hog calling contests, horse shows, sheep shows, goat and cattle shows.  Rabbitts, chickens, turkey, and quail.  It really was a great week of people watching, and developing better interpersonal skills.

Definition: I drank beer and bullshitted with other parents for an ungodly amount of time.

The best part of all?

Watching the kids smile, make new friends,  have fun and create memories that will last a lifetime!

 

Betty’s Words of Wisdom

A vacation doesn’t need to be on a desert island far, far away; or some destination you have always wished to visit.  A vacation can be as simple as pulling back from current responsibilities, relieving some mental pressure, regrouping your thoughts and allowing you brain to rest. 

Betty is back, more to follow..    🙂

Betty’s Words of Wisdom…

Never underestimate the power you hold within you to persevere, adapt and overcome.  Saying you can’t means you have already lost the battle.  Carry on that is all…

Stay at home dads

CNN Headline April 30, 2012

Stay-at-home dads: More men choosing kids over career!

Really? More men choosing their children over a career? What is this world coming too!!

Among fathers with a wife in the workforce, 32% took care of their kids at least one day a week in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which looked at families with children under 15 years old. That’s up from 26% in 2002.

Holy cow stop the presses!!! Did I read that right! 32 freaking percent took care of their children ONE WHOLE DAY A WEEK in 2010!!! ONE * WHOLE * DAY * A * WEEK!!!! I am flabbergasted! Shocked! Speechless!

Well HURRAY for all men across the country! That is right guys, put down your beer cans, drop your poker cards, shut off Monday night football, switch of NASCAR because 32% of you are putting in the effort at least one day a week! 32% of you are carrying the overburdened workload so the other 68% may continue roaming freely! Traveling through life without a parental care in the world! Continue down life’s road as nothing more than smoking hot sex machine sperm donors! Why? Because you fellas (32%) are caring for your children ONE WHOLE DAY A WEEK!

And up from 26% the year before, well…

Good for you!

Now for the what should have been the main headline.

Of those with kids under the age of 5, 20% of dads in 2010 were the primary caretaker

Still a pathetic number. Listen I get it! We live in a biased society that thrives on male success while underscoring the vast achievements of women across this great nation. Salaries are still skewed in favor of male gender. Women still don’t hold a major market share in leadership roles. (Although I just finished an interesting article in Forbes covering the rise of women in powerhouse positions.)

It is assumed; no it is expected that when a couple starts a family the woman will automatically stay home to raise the children and take care of the house. She birthed them, so she’s raising them; and if a man does stay home he is automatically labeled a deadbeat. Of course the number one excuse always thrown out there is; My wife makes more money than me so it was a logical choice. Although I don’t fault that explanation, don’t use it as an excuse! Would you hire a babysitter with a short temper, no patience and sleep apnea to watch your children? Of course not! Your decision as a couple, as a family is always based on wants and needs. Yes you need the extra money the leading breadwinner (male or female)in the household can bring, but do you want to raise your children? A resounding yes is usually the answer! If you didn’t want to raise your children; let me rephrase. If you felt uncomfortable and ill-equipped to handle raising your children, it wouldn’t matter how much money you or your spouse earned, you wouldn’t take on the challenge.

Now lets address the other portion of this article that chaps my hide.

Choosing kids over career!

I am not so dense as to misunderstand the sentiment. You are definitely choosing one for the other. But for some reason it still chafes me when I read articles of this fashion. Raising children is a career choice. You are the CEO, CFO and human resources officer all rolled into one! There truly is no greater calling! Oh I have seen those ridiculous stories about cost of living, salary vs overtime, and benefits all leading to a “mom” (never a parent or dad) earning $240,000 a year if someone was to pay her.

Why are we as a society so shallow that we need to put a cost on raising our children? As if raising our children were taking this dream salary straight from our pockets! As if having children has barred us from financial prosperity and we should all be upset with our little bundles of joy! Poppycock!

So to all you lazy, deadbeat, sperm donor dads that make no effort at all! You should be the ones making up the 32%. One damn day a week is not asking too much! Get off your ass and go see you kid. Good bad or otherwise, man up, take some responsibility and rejoin humanity. Just because you know how to have sex, apparently don’t know or understand the premise of a condom, or chose to have kids without choosing the responsibility associated, doesn’t mean you’re granted permission to skip out on your kids.

To all you dads that make an effort with your children while working 40/50/60 hours a week. Let me just drop this little bug into your ear. You get one chance! Your children grow up so fast! They look up to you, and look forward to seeing you when you get home. Put away the bad mood, financial blues, and teeth grinding. Put a smile on your face and spend some quality time with your children. Mold them, love them and show them the way to a better life. Better than you could ever have achieved for yourself. Its your primary responsibility, make the right choice, its your duty as a dad. You accepted it the minute you agreed to have children. You embraced it the minute your child was born. Dont let time and the trappings of life weaken your resolve.

To all you dads who are the current 20%, primary care givers! My dream is to see a day where that number is on par with women. A world where the position is split 50/50 and men do it with absolute dedication and pride. A world where commercials about household products, baby food, children’s clothing and all things associated with caring for a family are shown with dad in the lead role as well as mom. Our children love us, our children need us and yes our children want us in their lives every bit as much as mommy! There is no such thing as perfection in child rearing. If their was both parents would stay home raising their children to the highest standards of education, humanity, ethics, and compassion. Since that’s not possible its our job as parents to fill those voids, doing the very best we can with the tools we are given. But understand this; as a dad you are valued, as a dad you are worthy, and as a dad you are more of a man than most.

Dont poke a stick at the…..

He travels down the stairs like an ogre, heavy and disheveled. Rubbing his bare feet on the floor there is no doubt where he’s been or where he is headed. Shoulders dropped low, slack-jawed and mopey; don’t make eye contact for he shall unleash vengeance upon all who gaze. The ogre heads to the basement hoping to find some suitable clothing for the day. He begins pawing at the clothes basket like a bear would a tree trunk looking for grubs. Left paw, right paw he swats what is not his out-of-the-way. An annoyance really, these clothes he cares little for, or where they may land. Finding a shirt and pair of shorts he then takes to climbing out of the basement with a gasp and a grumble. Those who stand in the kitchen run for fear of falling victim to his foul mood.

I ask him where he is headed? I do this for I am not scared, nor do I cower at his presence. I am like an old lady with a rolled up newspaper ready to swat the creature on the nose for snorting my direction. He mumbles something about being upstairs, followed by a mild tantrum in regards to his little brother not picking anything up in their bedroom. All of which had nothing to do with the original question, but I let it slide for now. He vanishes back up the stairs and I sit, listening to his heavy footsteps across the floor. I can almost tell you play by-play what he is doing by the foot shuffle that carries through the ceiling overhead.

The others have gathered again hoping to eat before oaf re-enters the kitchen. But this is not be. Slowly he comes back down, dressed and ready for school. The deep furrowed brow he held before seems to have lightened a bit, showing some of the finer features of his face. He pours a bowl of cereal, covers it with milk and sits at the bar staring intently. I ask what he is staring at and all I receive is a shrug. Let the ogre eat I say quietly to myself; let the ogre eat..

He finishes his bowl and walks towards the sink to deposit the fine china and utensils. As he passes a smile arises! It’s not much but the corners of his mouth did raise to an acceptable level. So much so that yes, it’s officially deemed a smile! We have turned the corner! Houston we DO NOT have a problem! It is going to be a good day! I calmly smile back, keeping calm as to not jump the gun on this one! Go easy Betty, go easy!

He finishes his morning chores, including feeding all the horses and comes into the house with a full-blown smile! Its like the sun shining right in our kitchen! The flowers all lean his way! The dogs drop to their bellies and bask in the warm glow! He shines! He shines brightly and his mother hugs him with equal warmth and affection.

The children gather at the rear door, lunches in hand, books at the ready. All are prepared for school and most are excited to go. Mom readies herself, one last sip of coffee and off they head into the world! All run towards the car as if it were a game of tag! They are excited for the oldest is driving them to school today. Something about a kid driving other kids that makes them giggle. Three are gone but one remains at the back door. He is still smiling, staring at me with rosy cheeks, hands in pockets, back pack slung across his shoulders. The warmth still radiating from his face, I can feel his love. I walk closer and he wraps his arms around me, squeezing with all his might. He tells me to have a good day, I do the same and with a wink he is off.

He is no longer the same ogre from earlier lumbering about dragging his club and grumbling. He no longer swats at things like an angry bear. What moment brought about the change? I believe it is an uninterrupted bowl of cereal that does the trick for this lad. As I turn and close the door I soon realize that I am the very same ogre prior to my morning cup of coffee. Hmmmmm???

The legacy continues..