Speed Bump Irony

How in the heck can a speed bump ever be ironic?  I’m just baffled and laughing at myself.

Yesterday morning, the cool and slightly interesting thing that I noticed while heading back home on my run was this one particular moment that I was able to witness.  Two cars both going in opposite directions.  Yet somehow they both manage to hit this speed bump at the exact same time.  What was fascinating was that the one car on their way out of the community did not even pause a beat when they hit the speed bump.  Literally just flew right over it.  The other car was incredibly slow and cautious and rightfully so!  It’s a pretty decent bump!  They were driving a sedan and the other speedy person was in some type of sport utility vehicle.

After I witnessed that moment, the gears were turning in my mind.  One of those metaphor moments where some people do not let anything impede their progress while others take things maybe a little too hesitantly.  I had this whole conversation with myself about it for the next 10 minutes or so.  After I got home though, I thought, naw, who needs to hear about the speed bumps that life throws at you.  At least that is until this morning.

I have a marathon coming up in January (a week after I turn 50, yeehaw!) and so I’ve been expanding my run route in my community to roads that I do not normally run on.  Saturday is the long run day, so I was going to do what I did last weekend but add a little more.  No biggie.  So, I am running this morning, haven’t even hit one mile yet and heading down this “new” road which I just expanded on last weekend.  Very dark, streetlamps are out.  Suddenly…BAM!  Foot hits something and I start to stumble forward and I am like, You have got to be kidding me!!!  I just tripped over this exact speed bump one week ago and told myself, in that moment, not gonna happen next week!  But I did!  I couldn’t help myself but to laugh.  ESPECIALLY after my whole speed bump viewing scenario the morning before on a different street!  How ironic.

I know I’m going to let this simmer in the back of my mind for the rest of the day as far as the message to myself.  What is the universe trying to tell me? 

Sometimes you must be cautious, sometimes you need to plow right through no matter the obstacle, and sometimes you just get tripped up no matter what. OR maybe that is a road that I never should go down ever again.

Hmmm.  You hit a bump in the road of life that comes at you unexpectedly and almost miserably fall.  The next time you willingly go down that same road again and the exact thing happens to you.  Maybe you are looking to fall…Don’t. 

I dunno.  They are just speed bumps.  Probably thinking too deeply again haha. On another slightly humorous note…there are no Speed Bump Ahead signs in my community.

Be safe, be well, take care!  

Giving Thanks

I am a huge fan of Life.  I love living it.  Almost seven years ago I made the decision to begin living with purpose as opposed to just “living”/existing.  I remember early on in 2013 when I discovered Dr. Wayne Dyer something that he did daily that really struck a chord with me.  The very first thing he did was to say Thank You three times as soon as his feet touched the floor as he was getting out of bed.  Starting the day off with gratitude.  That was something I decided to add to the beginning of my laundry list of morning affirmations and prayers.

Thanksgiving comes once a year and is an amazing time to connect with family and loved ones but Giving Thanks daily is something that should not be overlooked.  For me, it is incredibly important to express my gratitude, my thanks for this amazing abundant life I am living in.  Sometimes while walking around the house I pause and then it hits me.  This wave of gratitude.  It hitches my breath.  It’s like an incredible dream that I am fully immersed in.  Yesterday morning, after my run, I was walking around outside the house in cooldown and got to the backyard.  Looked towards the sunrise and I lost my breath once again.  I am not a very good photographer, but I could not help but capture that moment of pure joy.

I am so grateful for this community of WordPress in which we can connect.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by and thank you so much for the messages in which you spread as well.  I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  May you and yours be filled with joy and harmony during this special time.  Let’s continue to positively raise the frequency of our world and Shine our Light.

Thank you

Thank You

Thank YOU

50% Flying – 100% Thriving

Hi!  You know I do not usually stop to take pictures on my morning runs (mainly it’s usually too dark anyway haha), but today was an exquisite exception.  Since my Shift in consciousness six years ago, I have taken a lot more interest in birds.  I mean…they fly!  How cool is that?  I also noticed them more in the mornings and the evenings…sunrise and sunset.  It’s like a ritual.  They just all sit out there welcoming the sun and then saying goodnight.  Like loving friends.  I could not help but to stop and take this picture this morning because it looked to me to be a family.  Mom and dad and their two kids.  Just watching the sunrise and basking in its warmth on this chilly Texas morning.

They reminded me of something that really kind of gave me goosebumps a few years ago when I went to this running store called Red Coyote Running in OKC.  I finally was able to get a good analysis of my running technique, stride, foot strike et al.  They video you running on a treadmill and then run it in slow motion.  I thought it was amazing but the thing that struck me the most was that every time the next footfall comes…both feet are suspended in the air for the briefest moment.  But…that’s like half the time I am running that I am airborne?  That is so awesome.  50% of my runs (and everyone actually) I am flying just a little bit above the earth.  That is an incredible feeling when you put it into perspective.  I mean I know I can never actually take flight into the air but…I am…sort of. 

On the flip side, with roller skating, I really open my wings and soar.  I Thrive.  With my jam shuffle skate my feet are generally always on the floor but the feeling…I am up in the air.

I’m laughing at myself now because I am thinking of INFJs and how self-contradictory we can be.  How can I be part cat and yet be like a bird?  I love it.

Take care everyone.  Let’s pray for healing this world in these uncertain times!

Competitive rE-LAXation

You know it’s just one of those things.  A series of events you couldn’t plan or predict to produce a long forgotten memory.  Reflecting about the Marine Corps birthday coming up this weekend, my morning dry-fire practice (with a laserlyte pistol, haven’t owned an actual firearm for almost 20yrs), and a topic that appeared on a TV show this morning.

A long time ago, in another life of mine, I was a marksmanship instructor and competitive shooter in the Marine Corps.  I was extremely fortunate to find something I was so good at and also helped foster my Zen state of mind to this day.  It didn’t start off that way though.  I worked in a warehouse, supply clerk (MOS 3051), but after my first time going to the rifle range to qualify, I shot the range high that day out of 300 other Marines qualifying.  My battalion Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU) was attempting to put together an intramural shooting team and I made the top of the list.  After intramurals came the Eastern Division matches (both of which at Stone Bay Rifle Range).  The best of the best in the Marine Corps would be shooting at this event and many teams practiced all year round for it.  We, in 2d Supply Battalion, 2d FSSG, did not haha. 

So, we had our four Marine team, which comprised of an officer, our “team captain”, and three enlisted.  Our team captain was actually a butter bar 2d lieutenant (LT).  We got along really great as a team.  Shooting was a different matter.  In way over our heads but making the most of it and……practical jokes.  I really wasn’t one to joke around too much.  I was pretty stoic back then, but still had somewhat of a playful side.  Spectating the shenanigans and trying to stay out of the line of fire, so to speak, was the name of my game.  I remember the main gag our LT would pull was to spray Sight Black on the buttstock of our rifles.  We used Sight Black to spray on our front and rear sights to reduce glare and provide a more dull finish.  Virtually unnoticeable on the buttstock unless you test it out.  So, our LT got the other two members of the team with some whoops and hollers afterward.  Imagine coming off the firing line and your cheek is all black.  He never got me as I never gave him a chance.  My rifle never left my side.  Our first week at the matches was all practice and on that last training day as we were heading to the parking lot, the LT got word he had a Team Captain’s meeting to attend.  We parted ways and arrived at the parking lot.  My other two compatriots had something brewing though that I didn’t know they were planning on doing until they went ahead and did it.  They sprayed Sight Black over every single window of the LT’s car.  I was shocked and was like, “Guys, I want nothing to do with this…”.  It seemed a bit too much!  I mean the LT was cool but this almost seemed like vandalism!

The weekend passed and Monday morning, our first day of actual competition arrived.  The LT was waiting for us in the parking lot and we all walked to the armory to draw weapons.  Not one single word said about this past Friday.  We were to split up between morning shooters and afternoon.  Two of us would shoot first while the others were down in the pits (where the targets are).  Before myself and one of my other teammates headed down to the pits, the LT offered us some brownies that his mom had sent to him in a care package that weekend.  I was STARVED and ate four of them.  I remember it was a bit chalky but I really didn’t mind.  One of the other guys just had a small bite of one but that was it (I believe I ate the rest of his as well haha).  Down in the pits later that morning my stomach started grumbling, churning.  We are supposed to be watching our target and pull it down when we see/hear an impact and put a little white or black circle where they hit and then roll it back up so they can take score but………….!!!  I had to make a run to the little bathroom they had in the pits during live fire!  It was crazy!  And when I got in there…NO TOILET PAPER!!!  Newspaper!  I spent the rest of that morning running back and forth, the butt of the LT’s “Payback” practical joke for spraying the black paint all over his windows.  And I didn’t have anything to do with it!!!  Oh man.  He felt so bad when he found out that I had nothing to do with it and purchased our team sweatshirt for me.

It was funny though.  Ex-Lax in brownies.  Brilliant.  He got me really really good.  It was too bad he didn’t get the actual culprits though.  I guess you never really should assume anything until you have actual facts that you can act on.  Fortunately, the Sight Black sprayed on his car came off very easily.  Just a pain in the butt for him to get off.  Which is exactly what he was looking to do to us.  Pain in the butt.

Take a look back in the past at a time that perhaps you were the target of a joke maybe gone too far, but now you can look back and just Smile.  I mean, what the heck.  Why not?   

But for me, in the long run, I was pulled out of the warehouse to work at the battalion in our MTU as a rifle and pistol coach.  A little further on the journey and I ended up at Marine Corps Security Forces Training Company in Chesapeake, VA as a combat marksmanship instructor with the pistol and shotgun.  I never wanted to leave, BUT, eh, Life, what can you do, right?

Take Care Friends!

Cats and Dogs and a Little Theory of Mind

Hi friends!  Cats or dogs?  Maybe both?  I’ll have to say I am partial to cats although I do not have one.  There are four dogs, a turtle, and a fish in our house though.  I’m taking care of my sister’s dogs while she is away for the next few days, so they are on my mind…along with cats.  You know almost every morning I run in the neighborhood and I am either being barked at or chased AND barked at.  I’m used to it.  I found it incredibly hilarious to me the other day when things took a bit of a turn.  I’m just making my way and I catch motion out of the corner of my eye.  Noiseless.  I’m not too concerned.  I look over and the dangest thing.  A cat was running with me.  Small.  Maybe a large kitten.  Not chasing me, running with me!  Made my day.  It didn’t last long, and he just stopped and stared.  I kept going and looking back every now and then watching him/her continuing to stare at me.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dogs are great but I haven’t had the most luck with them in my early childhood years.  That tends to carry over on a subconscious level to some extent, right?  It started with Penny, my grandmother’s dachshund (named after The Beatles, Penny Lane).  Apparently, as the story goes, my grandma found Penny one day sitting on my face, as a sleeping baby, on her couch.  An attempt to smother me?  That was the “joke”, but grandma told me that Penny wasn’t happy when I came into the picture.  Eventually we did become friends and played together.  On the flipside, there was Shadow, my great aunt and uncle’s dog.  An enormous all black German shephard.  When I was seven, I made the mistake of standing in between him and another dog that he was barking at, Lady, a small beagle.  I stood there, unafraid (because I “thought” I knew him well enough), and chastised him with my finger, “No, Shadow!  No!”.  I don’t remember the attack when he mauled me and almost took off my cheek.  I DO remember being pinned down by a bunch of nurses while they tried to put in the 50+ stitches on my cheek.  Yeah that was a bad day.  Learned a lesson though!

Then there was George.  She was my second cat.  I do not remember the first as she passed away as a small kitten due to a gas leak I mentioned in a previous blog post of mine, Dreaming Reality. I got George when I was four and did not realize she was a girl until later, but in the moment, George I named her.  She became my best friend and at a time when I was still learning how to deal with the world around me.  A time when I was developing my sense of “self” so to speak.  I remember the summer of 1998, shortly after I left the Marines, I took a child psychology class and learned about The Theory of Mind.  I’d have to do some googling to really explain it, but when I reflected on my early child development years between 3-5, I was modeling the behavior of a cat.  Something that has carried over with me to this day.  I love the quiet.  Just staring out a window and watching.  Very soothing.  Downrange (Afghanistan, Iraq), when an “incident” would occur, I found myself becoming calmer.  Eerily calm in a way.  I remember looking back on events in reflection and wonder, “Why was I so calm?”  I really do not know, but I like to think that I had some help from my feline buddy from long ago to keep me grounded.  Unexcited.

I am curious for you though, my friend.  Look back in your own life when you were 3-5yrs old.  What was going on then?  Did you have something or someone in your life that had a dramatic effect on your personality that has brought you to this point in time?  Just something to reflect on, I guess!

Be well and be safe!

Handy Hardware

Hi!  Been a while! Few weeks maybe? Not like I had any excuse not to write but well I suppose life pushed me another way.  I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a fan of breaking bones.  The feature photo is pretty much a testament to that.  No, no, no that was nine years ago.  However, recently I did take an unfortunate “intentional” spill while roller skating.  Intentional as in I had to “or else” type of a deal.  A little girl came literally out of nowhere!  I couldn’t even think, just drop, and as it had been about 30yrs since I last fell, I was not used to it and landed exactly how I shouldn’t have.  Brace my fall when I hit the ground and…ouch.  Small fracture on my right wrist with a cast for a few weeks to boot.  I remember in the moment thinking how bad it hurt but at the same time a sigh of relief that I didn’t ruin that little girl’s day.  I tried to act cool, shook it off, continued on, and on, and on until it really started throbbing.  Yes, I need to leave.  As I was unlacing, I knew right away that I had to go to the hospital.  Couldn’t move my hand.  I was like, Oh crap. So, a cast and a few weeks excusing myself from typing things.  I’ll be honest though; I was not happy about the cast.  I wanted to gnaw it off.  It even slightly depressed me. Me. ME?  I thought it was impossible, but it happened and after a week or so, I knew there was a lesson here for me. Take a step back, Ben, and then a few more steps back. Slow down.  I really did not have to be going as fast as I was when the little girl came out.  Not necessary.  I’m more about precision and finesse. I am ready to go back.

Nine years ago, I had to learn a lot of lessons.  The main thing I was learning was how to feel sorry for myself.  Lessons in pain management without prescription medication (not a fan). On the right-hand side of the photo above of my left, not so funny, humerus, is the first surgery.  A rod, two pins at the shoulder and elbow areas. I spent six months pretty much suffering in silence.  No clue that the double fracture was not even healing.  No union.  It wasn’t until my brigade surgeon asked me when my last x-ray was…I was like, oh man, ummm right after the surgery.  No follow-ups and I am generally too stubborn to go to the doctor as, “I got this”.  I didn’t.  A second surgery to install a plate with a bunch of screws, bone from my hip, and a heck of a scar.  I remember at the time that the doctor’s orders were to have the plate removed after 18 months.  By that time, I was stateside again, and when I went into orthopedics at Fort Sill, they were adamant that it was not coming out.  Period. I absolutely refused to believe that. No way.  It’s coming out.  I was having these infrequent but frequent enough for concern issues where my arm would feel like an electric shock for a split second and I my arm would just go numb.  I’m like, I need a second opinion, this is BS.  There is a screw or screws that’s rubbing against the wrong thing in my arm to make it go kablooey.  I managed to convince the doc for a second opinion where I traveled down south to Fort Sam Houston and saw a traumatologist. He was probably the most intelligent sounding doctor to this day that I have ever come across. He told me he could take it out, but he also very clearly articulated what was going on in my arm. Scar tissue. The scar tissue was rubbing the radial nerve at times. He said that with another surgery the scar tissue would more than likely be exacerbated annnnnnnnnnnd…I could potentially lose the use of my arm permanently.

As Stan Lee was fond of saying, “’nuff said”. I spent the rest of the day in kind of a numb daze. The rest of my life. Within six months after that second opinion, my Shift occurred. I began living intentionally. I had used my arm as a crutch, an excuse for so many things, and deep down inside I knew it was BS. This hardware was a part of me now.  I decided that if was a part of me then I am a part of it. It is Me. No more wallowing in self-pity. I’m a runner, a roller skater. My arms aid me in my momentum. My arms are my wings. In over six and a half years I have never had any more arm numbing experiences.

There is a profound sense of well-being when you Surrender. I am not giving up.  I Let Go and Let God.

Have a great week everyone!

My Mom

Recently, I had the honor and blessing to be a guest blogger for The Godly Chic Diaries ( https://gcdiaries.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/to-jean-love-your-son/ ).  I am so grateful to June for giving me that tremendous opportunity!

My mom had been on my mind and that is who I needed to write about.  I still do.  I wrote about her last moments here on earth and my time that I was fortunately able to spend with her before she moved on.  I wouldn’t be here to write anything at all if she had made different choices in life.  I am so happy she chose to have me, and I believe in my heart that I know she made the right choice as well.

Jean wanted to be a schoolteacher and Ashland College (now Ashland University) is where that dream would come true.  Along with college came meeting boys and for her it was Patrick.  They eventually became intimate and with intimacy came the news that she was pregnant. As far as I knew for years afterward was the story that Pat just cut his ties with her and that was that.  She wanted to have me even though she wasn’t married and back in 1969 that was pretty taboo.  Especially for a family like mine that gets embarrassed over small family dramas.  There were some quick solutions though.  One was to drop out of college.  Another was to move into a small cottage out in the country when she began to show.  The cottage was on a farm down the road from my great aunt and uncle who were good friends of the farmer and his wife.  Next, and shaking my head now writing this at the absurdity, was where I was born.  Luckily for the family, we lived very close to the Pennsylvania border.  They got Jean set up with Sharon General hospital and that is where I was born.  Want to know why?  The local paper would not show my birth record…it would be in another state.  Weird but that was the mentality back then.  It’s like all the sudden Jean disappears and then several months later reappears with a bundle of joy.  You know what?  So what.  She would have gone through all of that again if she had to.

She went back to college after a couple years and took me with her.  There were a couple very cheap babysitters that she could rely on for support while in class.  She finished college and achieved her goal as a single mom.  She was now a schoolteacher and secured a Home Economics teaching position at an inner-city school in Youngstown, OH.  Primarily she was teaching sewing for her first several years which was a humorous detriment to myself.  Detriment at the time and humorous now.  She made a LOT of my clothes.  Don’t get me wrong though, that woman could sew with the best of them.  I believe I drew a line in the sand back in the 80s when I wanted a pair of Jordache jeans like all the other kids and she made me her own version.  It didn’t not go over well with the other kids.  I was called Generic Jordache.  I was mortified BUT as she saw how distressed I was…got me a really cool pair of Jordache jeans. 

I believe I was 10 or 11 years old when I made a discovery in the basement.  An old box with knickknacks and things and some old letters?  From Patrick.  Wow.  No emails back in the late 60s and Pat had a way with words.  Every letter had a different greeting, Dear Sweetie Pie,  Dear My Darling Doll etc, you get the idea.  They were all pretty rated G and full of lovey dovey talk.  I was very intrigued though and could read very well with, thanks to my mom, and extraordinary vocabulary for my age.  There were a lot of letters to read through.  This is the closest I have come to knowing my biological father and my mom’s relationship with him.  I got to the last letter in the stack.  It was a different tone right off the bat because it started off, Dear Jean…that’s strange.  I felt hollow at the end of it.  Numb even.  Even to this day probably the most soul ripping words I had or ever will read.  I will just give the wavetops.  He wanted her to get an abortion.  He had his whole future ahead of him etc.  I took that letter to the backyard and burned it.  My life was never the same since.  My relationship with my mother took on a whole other meaning.  She chose me.  Me.  She had the courage to live in her own truth and integrity.

For several years I was also a bit insecure though as well.  I thought of myself as a mistake.  An error that God made.  Oops.  I always felt so different than everyone else and WAS so different than everyone else that I always attributed it to my being that mistake.  The funny thing is…God doesn’t make mistakes.  I was born for a reason and I am here for a reason.  I will continue to shine my light until my last breath.  My mom brought me into this world.  She took care of me, she nurtured me, and I honor her here and now and Always.  I love you, Mom.