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!

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.

A Crucial Key…For Me (Law of Attraction “Master Note”, not footnote)

Hi there!  I felt the need to highlight something that I glossed over / overlooked when I was writing my ReNewal (3) blog post.  I was on my run this morning and doing as I do, I either reflect on the past, look forward to the future, and also enjoy the moment I am in (particularly breathing, Love It).  So, I was reflecting on my 2013 “Awakening” / Shifting year and feeling the gratitude that encompasses it all.  But I remembered a Crucial Key that I just breezed right over in that aforementioned blog post.  There was something else in the background at that time and dawned on me this morning.  I wrote how I was comfortable with the idea of giving up the “dream job” being a general’s aide in order to assist my incoming boss who was panicking that I was leaving, and he would be left to fend alone.  There WAS something else.  My Soul Sister was deployed to Afghanistan beginning the summer of 2012.  It was strange being on the other end of sending letters and care packages as opposed to receiving them whilst downrange.  She was always in the forefront of my mind in wishing her well, praying for her safe return.  She was coming back at the end of July 2013 and was going to be on leave for quite a while.  She had this amazing week planned where we would meet up in Las Vegas and really paint the town.  There was one small problem with this plan though.  When I got the job as the general’s aide, I would NOT be going on the dream vacation / reunion with my sister.  I would be at a general’s beck and call.  I knew she would be incredibly disappointed and so would have I, even double so as I am on the more empathic side picking up her disappointment on top of my own.  Law of Attraction-wise…I know that deep deep down I would have wanted to see her again after being separated for more than a year rather than getting that dream job that I knew was mine.  In the blog, ReNewal (3), I got the word that I didn’t get the position, felt the relief wash over me and an eagerness to Get to Work for my new boss………and put in my leave papers to go to Las Vegas to be with my sister.  On the run this morning, I realized what my Heart truly wanted to do.  Be together again with my best friend and see her with my own eyes knowing that she was back home.  Safe and sound.  She truly was the Crucial Key to get me to my REAL dream job in San Antonio later that year.  Amazing!

Despair vs Resiliency (A short story)

Who wins in a battle?  A battle against yourself?  Well, hopefully yourSelf wins as opposed to yourself.  On my morning run this morning I was reflecting on the past which I do not normally do.  You know how thoughts are, sometimes coming out of no where like objects floating through outer space.  I was reflecting on the darker side of the Law of Attraction and my own personal battle.  I’ll keep to the wavetops and make as light as possible because there are moments during this dark year that I had which are extremely personal, extremely dark and have only shared it with my two closest friends / soul sisters.  However, to the wavetops…

I went to Afghanistan and came home to find my wife of 10yrs had left me for someone else.  I didn’t even know there was another person until four months after I got home.  I just know those four months were bleak.  All the while during this time my mother is back home in Ohio fighting stage IV colorectal cancer.  My wife finally told me she wanted a divorce.  Shocked.  I was in shock.  The type of personality I am and the way I opened myself up to two becoming One reallllllllllly devasted me.  I was feeling despair.  A few months later my mom passed away.  Single mom who did the best she could raising a little boy on her own (with grandma 😊) moved on to the next stage of life.  I was literally all alone.  The impending divorce created what felt like a rift in my soul.  A despair so deep that most of the time even breathing was a struggle.  My mom’s passing was absolutely terrible.  I became virtually nothing but a being who was dwelling in their own misery.

Not long after my mom passed away, I found out that our unit was going to deploy again in the fall but to Iraq, a new place.  It was early spring at the time and when I found out I knew I had to get out.  I wasn’t fit.  My three-year obligation after commissioning was coming up in June.  I started the paperwork and got out, but…I lingered.  My wife was still in the area as a schoolteacher.  I just couldn’t find a way to leave.  The despair had me swirling around a circle in Fayetteville, NC.

Here it was in action. The Law of Attraction in the worst way that whole year. Always expecting something worse to happen and the worst happens…over and over again. Attracting more darker energy…

I became a homeless person.  I had a car and a little bit of savings.  I lived out of my car.  Gas stations and baby wipes became a way of life for hygiene.  I had a decent plan on sleeping in a safe place every night.  The apartment complex I lived in before I got out was a gated community and we had a sticker in the windshield…a sticker that was never removed.  This particular apartment complex had two others in the area that used the exact stickers.  I rotated between the three locations each night for almost four months.

I couldn’t leave, I just couldn’t.  Mentally I was stuck in a loop.  Despair.  Hope.  Maybe she’ll come back to me.  Maybe maybe maybe.

For some reason it seemed to make sense to go to bookstores and the library to hangout.  Read.  Catch cat naps.  After a couple months it started to dawn on me some of the same people I was seeing at the same locations.  Homeless vets.  Backpacks.  It was so bizarre and yet made some kind of weird sense.  I was beginning to follow the migratory patterns of a homeless vet near Fort Bragg.  I knew that eventually I would have to lose the car, grab a pack and join them.

TAP TAP TAP.  I was woken up at 6am in one of the apartment complex parking lots.  A female police officer was waking me up with her flashlight on my window.  “Sir, someone has noticed that you have been sleeping in your car an awful lot around here…”  I made up some kind of excuse about how my wife and I were having problems…not too far from the truth.  “Well you can’t sleep in your car, sir…”

Finally.  A catalyst to snap me out of it.  A break in the vicious mental loop.  Just enough to hear the Voice, “Go Home”.  It was just enough time for that Voice to create an interruption and my resolve to end this came pouring out.  This was a true test of my resiliency and whether or not I would actually Listen to the guidance being given to me.  I really wanted to give in to the despair.  To abandon my car and just become…Nothing.  A shadow.  That resiliency in my Soul brought me back.  To Fight for my Life.  To Live.  To Shine.

I Am an INFJ

I had never heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test until I went to my “majors” school (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth in the summer of 2015.  Apparently, they like to get a little psychological snapshot assessment of the students before the school year starts.  It turned out that I was the only INFJ in my small group (15 of us per classroom).  Not the only introvert to be sure but it interested me to dive a little deeper into what this extra label I took on meant to me.

Famous INFJ’s include Oprah, Nelson Mandela and……Adam Sandler?  Interesting.  Allegedly this particular group I fell into is a very small percentage of the world, 1-2%.  Wow.  Made sense why I felt so utterly different than the majority, however, it was only two short years before this test that I found I was on more the empathic side.  Funny how INFJ’s have been called, The Mystic, The Counselor, and………Empath.  So, I was like, Ohhhhhh ok, my labels have all kind of merged together in the same group, INFJ.

There was something else about this INFJ/Empath that helped me get through all my school years, Marines, Army, virtually everything.  The Chameleon.  I suppose it’s kind of like a natural defense mechanism where I was always able to blend in so well.  Except for the past few years.  I dropped the defense and just allowed Me to come through.  When I had my Shift in consciousness, I was able to finally stand in my own strength of Who I Am without fear of repercussion of trying to “fit in” anymore.

It was humorous though when someone in our small group at CGSC found something about the Star Wars character equivalence to the 16 Myers-Briggs personality traits.  Good ole Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Counselor.  Wait, not just Obi-Wan! From Star Wars: A New Hope, we first meet him as Ben Kenobi.  Hey!  I’m Ben too!  Perfect.

Have a wonderful day, my friends, and if you are an INFJ reading this and are having problems in life then please feel free to drop me a line! Wait a minute, it doesn’t matter if you are an INFJ or not. ANYone having any problems dealing with anything and would like some outside, neutral guidance, then please feel free to drop a line 🙂