The Whimsical World of T.L. Gray – The Story – My Story – My Music

Introduction

The Story – My Story – My Music

Just as Forest Gump asked his mama about his destiny, I’ve often whispered into the wind asking what destiny has been laid out for me. It’s hard to imagine what’s ahead because there are too many possibilities, and most often we can’t even fathom our true purpose in hindsight.  But if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we might just be able to see some hint of an idea. I envy people who are confident about their purpose and tackle it with all they are, all they have, and with their strength. For me, the things I’ve mostly done in my life were things I had to do, things that were necessary to survive. This has made me strong.  I can look back and see a pattern, a foundation that has led me to the person I have become.  Many times on that path I could have ventured into a different direction and ended at a different destination, but I am here.  I want to be able to bring you here, to see what I see, hear what hear, understand the perspective from my point of view.  So, let’s go back, way back to a different time, a different world, a different era.

Some people can’t remember much about their childhood. I’m one of them.  My life is comprised of bits and pieces of splintered memories, glued together with facts and timelines.  I often wonder how much is memory, how much is imagination, and how much is real.  Regardless, the pain is real, the joy is real, the love is real, and the hate is real.  So, does it matter? This is MY truth, and it is this truth that has made me who I am. So, as I filter through amber dreams, riding the waves of what was, my first stop will be a time of discovery.

I’ve always had a love for music, all kinds of music.  There’s just something about it that moves me, touches my soul in a way that most people can’t.  It’s always been a part of my life. I can hear a familiar song and am instantly teleported to a different time in my amber vault.  I’m not always sure what was about that particular memory that attached to that particular song, but I just let it do what it’s supposed to do.  MOST of the memories connected to music are good ones, but there are also nightmares and pain that make some songs hard to hear.

One such memory is back-dropped by Rod Stewarts, “If You Think I’m Sexy”. It was released in 1978, which would have made me seven years old.  I can remember sitting in my parents’ dark red Malibu outside a laundry in New Caney, Texas.  The summer sun colored everything in golden amber, shimmering mirages snaked across Highway 1485, and it must have rained the night before because a mud pooled just outside the back door.  I sat in the front seat of the car, my small feet up hanging out the window, sweat trickling down my face as I pressed the 8-track into the player.  The swilling of the notes of the song’s beginning instantly put me in chill mood.  In one hand I had a sweating Sunkist soda, and in the other a half-eaten Chic-o-stick, as my feet moved to the beat.  “If you want my body, and you think I’m sexy, come on Sugar let me know.”  I had no idea what the song was about, but I knew I liked it. I liked his voice, I liked the beat, and I liked the way the song allowed me to escape the Texas humidity.  Even at a young age I had a knack for song lyrics, for being able to pick out each instrument and follow its progression within a song.  Rod Stewart’s raspy voice comforted me.  I’m not sure why I needed comfort in that moment, I just know that after the song played for a few moments I reached up and wiped the tears that had snaked down my cheeks, because now I was lost in the song.

The rest of the memory is just bits of broken pieces, the sound of children playing, two little blonde babies running around in saggy diapers, another chubby kid with copper-red chair using a stick to dig for worms near the mud hole outside the back door and another skinny little boy begging me, “Sap, come play jacks with me.”

Sap. That was my name, or at least that’s what everyone called me. I’ll get to that story soon, as well as the moment I heard my real name for the first time on my first day of Kindergarten.  There’s something about a name. There’s power to the names we are called, or by which we are known, just as there’s power in familiar songs.  To this day I am still teleported to that memory outside that laundry mat every time I hear that song or Rod Stewart’s familiar voice. It seems to be a safe memory for me. Knowing the facts of where I was, what was going on at that age, I believe it’s good I have this memory.

Other songs that teleport me are Queen’s “We Will Rock You, We Are the Champions, and Another One Bites the dust.”  These songs were recorded in 1977, so it’s still around the same time that I first heard them, although the memory of me hearing them didn’t take place in New Caney, but in a trailer park in Huffman, Texas, so this was before the memory above. There was this drainage ditch outside the trailer park that served as a border of where I was allowed to roam, but I never stuck to borders. Inside, the trailer had lime green carpet and orange countertops.  I can remember lying on a linoleum floor, listening to Queen from a record player.  It was one of those big stereos where the player was hidden inside a cabinet top.  The sound of the needle when it made contact with the vinyl is so pronounced, and then the songs… the songs instantly took me away.  The room grew black as my imagination opened and I entered into a fantasy realm filled with flying horses, talking bears, and a single apple tree on a little island.  Island of the Magic Apple Tree was one of the first stories I ever imagined and ever wrote.  For some reason Queen’s rock anthems took me to this place.  Yet, for this one memory there’s also a dark side.  As the song ended, the arm of the record player automatically lifted from the vinyl and returned to its dock.  I looked around the trailer and saw ashtrays full of cigarettes and roach buds attached with feathered clippers, bodies lying around everywhere, some in bikinis, and some in cut-off shorts, empty liquor and beer bottles, and crying babies in a crib. I pulled a chair up to the gas stove, pushed away the bent spoons and empty needles to put a pot of water on the burner.  While the water heated, I mixed powdered milk and placed the bottles into the water.  That memory flashes every time I hear those songs, but so also the story.

There are many other songs that have both good and bad memories attached to them.  Music is strong. Music is important.  It affects me deeply. I listen to it, I play it, it moves my soul.

Well, that’s enough for today.  But, I’m not done with the topic of music, and I’ve only just begun with telling the story of how I got my second name, Sap.  Stay tuned.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

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I Have Value, Too.

I posted a comment on my Facebook page the other day because I was so frustrated and hurt at the actions of my roommate that I wrote, “My time is valuable too. My space is valuable too. My wants and needs are also valuable. Respect should be mutual.”  I am tired of how I pay the consequences of the decisions of other people without respect and consideration for me.  Not only that morning, but this and last weekend were both filled with even more opportunities where that lack of consideration toward me was exampled. I have value, too.

These past moments are not the only times where my time, my space, my wants, my needs, and my plans have been neglected, or effected, by the decisions of other people.  It’s happened most my life. It hurts just as much now as it has all those times before.  It’s the main reason why I choose to be as I am, respectful and thoughtful of others time, space, wants and needs, because I know how much it aches to be neglected. I don’t want to upset anyone else, especially those I love, by doing the same in return. I just don’t understand why it’s so easy to neglect and disrespect me.  I have value, too.

I want to share three examples lately that have really hurt me. I may not post this blog when I’m done because I don’t want to hurt anyone else, but right now I’m hurt and this blog is my outlet.  The reason I have this outlet is to release the things that hurt me so I don’t hold onto them and they in turn eat me up from the inside out.  We’ll see if I post, later.  Right now, I want to get this out.

Last weekend, my youngest daughter, who is a twenty-two year old adult and she’s been living on her own for a while now, had called me and told me she wanted to come see me for Mother’s Day and to live with me.  I had bought her a bus ticket and sent her some money to eat while on the trip, and made arrangements at work to use what little vacation time I had left to make sure I would be there to pick her up at the bus station. Over the past several years I’ve constantly worried about her, prayed for her, and stood in the background as she’s made a lot of dangerous decisions in her quest for independence; she never called or texted unless she needed money. This is what most parents have to face when you’ve done all you can to raise them to be strong, productive, moral, and smart adults. We can’t live their lives for them.  We have to let them make their mistakes so they can learn how to stand on their own.  Yet, we can always stand on the sidelines cheering them on and be there with a helping hand to help when they fall. Everyone falls at times. I never had anyone there for me, so I vowed to always be there for my children – to let them go, to let them make their choices, and to stand back and watch them walk into the storms of their lives.   Friday came, I left work excited to find an empty bus stop, an unused ticket, and silence – no message, no explanation, nothing. I can’t get my money, my vacation time, or my hope back.  This isn’t the first time she’s done something like this, but it doesn’t hurt any less.  She didn’t value and respect me, my time, or consider my needs and wants in the decision she made. She hasn’t in a very long time.  I just don’t understand.  I see terrible mothers neglect their children, yet their children love them and give them respect no matter how badly they treat them – and grant them compassion and respect they’ve never earned.  Yet, my own children – all of them – never call me and have completely excluded me from their lives. Was I such a terrible mother?  Why is so easy to leave and neglect me? I may not question it if it was just one of my children, but all three?  Why am I so hard to love? Don’t they understand how much I love them and how much it hurts they’ve shut me out? I know their lives are filled with the things they value. I have value, too.

The second example, the one that prompted my post last week, was my roommate leaving her shit for me clean for the millionth time, upsetting my schedule, invading and wasting my time.  As roommates, her habits affect me, just as mine affect her.  She’s come a long way, and I do appreciate the effort she’s making, but it doesn’t make the times she disrespects me hurt any less. Bottom line she’s lazy.  When she’s focused on something, it’s great and there’s really nothing she can’t do. She’s amazing with technical things and electronics. That’s why it pisses me off when she doesn’t do what she’s more than capable of doing.  She’s highly intelligent and very skilled.  But when she’s not focused or simply doesn’t “feel” like doing something, she doesn’t –  and my plans, my space, and my time all be damned.  It would be a different story if it was something that occasionally happens. I have an occasional lazy day, and they’re wonderful. Her lazy days happen a LOT.  I don’t do what I do every day because they are MY habits. MANY of the choices I make are out of respect for HER, for our place, for our space, to respect BOTH our time.  I clean up after myself so SHE will have a clean and ready kitchen should she need to use it, a clean place to sit and watch tv and entertain friends and guests, an empty washer and dryer, an empty dishwasher, a clean floor, etc. Our mutual agreement was to keep these “community” spaces clean – kitchen, laundry room, living room, balcony, etc. Our private spaces – keep as clean or messy as we want. When she doesn’t clean up after herself in these community spaces  – MY time isn’t valued because it’s spent cleaning her shit instead of doing what I want or need.  HER decision last week took away the time I had schedule to write, to work on something very important to me.  I had a great story I wanted to write, but it’s gone now. Instead of writing I was cleaning. Before anyone jumps to conclusions and say, “Well, why didn’t you just leave it for her to clean up later and go write?” Yeah, I’ve done that… many, many, many, many, many times.  What happens – the mess is even bigger later and she will just joke about it AS I’m cleaning it. “Dishes? What are these dishes?” As if joking about it makes her actions acceptable.  I clean the dishes because I need to use them and the space they take up.  It would be nice if they were already cleaned and ready to use when I need them, the way I make sure they are for her.  Believe me… I get tired too.  I have the same fucking 24-hours a day that she does.  It’s not some miracle that the same space gets cleaned after I use it compared to when she does.  I’m not Mary Poppins and just snap my fingers and things clean themselves.  But, I do it because I value her, our space, and our time.  I have value, too.

The third example is about the value of my time and making plans. This past weekend I made plans to spend with one of the teenage son of my ex-boyfriend.  I love this kid. I love both boys as if they were my own.  I fell in love with them as much as I fell in love with their father.  While their father didn’t value me as a girlfriend and broke up with me, we still maintain a friendship and he allows me to continue to be a part of his sons’ lives because he knows how much I love them. But this family sometimes drives me crazy.  I love them very much and I value the time I get to spend with them. I just wish they would value my time as well.  Anyway, back to the story.  The oldest son wanted to come spend the weekend with me, so we planned a cooking weekend.  I’ve been teaching him how to cook and we always have a great time cooking together.  Well, I had many offers of adventures for the weekend. I had an opportunity to visit one of the lighthouses on my lighthouse journey, something no one ever has time or wants to go with me.  That’s okay. I have no problem going by myself. I’ve done most things by myself. I had an invitation to go flying with someone in a Cessna, and another invitation to go riding on an airboat through the swamps. A group of friends invited me to a card game night (which I went and had a blast), and another friend invited me to go paddle-boarding at the river.  Well, I’m not going to say I didn’t skip that invitation because I’m just not comfortable with the idea of falling in a river where I can’t see through the water.  Kayaking or snorkeling in the springs, hell yeah!  In the river where I can’t see through the water… uh, no thank you.  I’ve also been trying to learn how to body board on the weekends. These may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but they’re my plans, my adventures, the things I WANT to do.  Of course, spending time with this kid, cooking with him, or spending time with this family is very important to me too because I love them dearly. So, I turned down all those other offers and cleared my schedule for them. I went shopping on Friday and got all the ingredients to cook the dishes this kid wanted to cook.  I was so happy.  While most of Saturday was the two of us cooking, his cousin – who lived just a couple doors down wanted to come over and hang out with us. That was great, I didn’t mind at all. Except now my teenaged sous chef wanted to play video games with his cousin instead of cooking. Well, I cooked some things on my own, but I wasn’t going to cook it all by myself. I made him get off the video game and come help me in the kitchen.  He did, for the most part, and learned to cook a few new things.   However, after dinner was consumed and I was getting ready to head to my card game with a few of my friends, he decided he’d rather go hang out with his cousin instead of staying home and watching a movie, but promised to be back in the morning.  I knew I wouldn’t see him again for the rest of the weekend, but plans had been made, and I was going to keep my word, though I could see what was coming, and knew my time wouldn’t be valued.  I have value, too.

Plans had been made  to go the next weekend to Bob’s River Place as a celebration to kick off summer, it is a GREAT place to go with lots of water activities, rope swings, water slides, etc.  I was asked if I could change my plans and go this weekend instead next week because it was more convenient for their schedule. I changed the plans I had made for this Sunday. So, as it stood, I had three plans – I had a teenager who promised to come back and finish our cooking, a day at Bob’s River Place, and the one day a week I would have the place to myself because my roommate made me a promise that she would work in building on Sundays to give me that one day of “me” time– regardless of what my plans were, whether I was home or not.  Do you know how I spent my Sunday? My teenaged sous chef never showed up.  He didn’t call or text me to tell me he had changed his mind. He showed up after I had gone to bed to get the things he’d left the night before that he would need for school. He didn’t ask if I had cooked the rabbit, or had a piece of the pie I spent hours making.  It wasn’t important to him.  We didn’t go to Bob’s River Place either, nor did I get a text or a call to say we weren’t going. I just assumed that by 10am with no word from anyone, our plans had changed.  And instead of getting the place to myself as promised, my roommate took the day off from work and she and her dog were here to invade my space, my time, and my privacy.  So, after crying myself to sleep and taking a little nap while nursing a slight hangover, I got up and spent the rest of “my” day cleaning the “our” whole apartment (alone – though my roommate was there and could have helped), and then spent time hanging out at the pool and playing games together. She was bored, needy of attention, and I love her, and we don’t often get a lot of time to hang out together. I wasn’t going to get my alone time. Even though she tried to stay in her room to give me “my” space, that never lasted more than a half hour before she needed something, wanted something,  or had a question to ask, or had to take her dog out – you know, the typical things that needs to be done when you’re at home.  My time was interrupted, unlike the time she’ll get to enjoy for the next two days she’s off and at home alone.  I have value, too.

I’d love to say I’m not making plans anymore, but that’s not who I am.  I wish I could find a way to make it a bit more difficult for the people I love and care about to ignore, take advantage, and neglect me. Is that asking too much? Don’t I matter? It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like – It doesn’t matter what I want, I’m Tonya, I’ll understand.  “I can neglect her, but she’ll still be there. I can leave my shit sitting here, she’ll clean it up. I can break my word, invade her space, or change my plans, she’ll accommodate.  It doesn’t matter what “she’s” planned, “I” don’t feel like it.  I don’t have to call her sometimes or let her know what’s going on in my life; she should know I love her. I shouldn’t have to tell her. I’m an adult now, I don’t need a mother, or she’s not my mother. I want to be alone. I don’t want the hassle of a relationship, but I do enjoy the benefits without the commitment. It’s good she loves me, but I don’t have to love her back. She doesn’t need it, she’s Tonya.” I have value, too.

I had a woman tell me this weekend that she had been terrified of talking to me because I intimidated her and she thought I was too classy and too proper, that she didn’t think I would want to be friends with her. I know she meant that as a compliment, but it hurt my heart. She’s such a beautiful, friendly woman; I would have easily been friends with her. She’s not the first to tell me that. I don’t know what to do with that.  I don’t understand what I’m doing that makes me loved, but not loved enough, or intimidating, or that I deserve better (but not the best from them – from someone else because they can’t give me what I want or what I deserve), because the next person will tell me I deserve better (but not the best from them – from someone else because they can’t give me what I want or what I deserve), and the next person will tell me I deserve better (but not the best from them – from someone else because they can’t give me what I want or what I deserve). Or so I was told by my last three boyfriends when we broke up. I give my best because I love and value those in my life.  Will no one give me theirs?  I have value, too.

I don’t love and value my kids or my friends because they’re perfect. On the contrary, it is often their imperfections I love most.  I love my children, more than I could ever say. I gave them the best I had.  I wasn’t perfect, but I don’t think I deserve to just be forgotten or shut out completely. I was a good mother. They were my life, my loves.  It hurts me so much they don’t involve me in their lives or care what’s going on in mine.  I love my roommate/sister/bestie more than she’ll ever know. I’m closer to her and have a bond with her like I’ve never had with any of my brothers.  As for my brothers, I sacrificed a lot for them, yet they don’t care about me either. I had to separate myself from them because they hurt me, lied to me, stole from me, and endangered my children.  I love my best friend and his sons. They’re family – they own a part of my heart and soul.  Do I not matter to anyone?  My parents never wanted or valued me. My brothers never wanted or valued me.  My ex-husband never wanted or valued me. My kids don’t want or value me.  I have value, too.

Someday the people in my life are going to look up, but I’m not going to be there anymore – just like my parents, my brothers, and my ex-husband discovered, because “I” value me. I have value, too.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, friends, Philosophy, respect, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beautiful Soul… Shallow World

Beautiful Soul Shallow World

I’m not stupid. I know we live in a shallow, vain, subjective world.  We exist in a society that judges us based on our outer appearance, because most often that’s all we can see.  Image is everything.  We are presented an image by everyone we meet, and we present an image to everyone that crosses our path. I have a mask I wear depending on the situation and circumstances.  When I go to apply for a job, I want to present myself as qualified, acceptable, and capable of fulfilling the requirements of that position, so I dress the part and put on the appropriate mask.  When I am running a 5k, I don’t show up in heels and sporting a tiara, although that might be a hilarious run. While I maintain the true essence of my personality at work or play, I choose the image I want to portray.  I post pictures of what is important to me. I don’t post pictures of what I don’t think portrays the right image.  But we are so much more than the masks we wear or the images we choose to display. Yet, how often do we hurt each other because our small minds can’t move beyond the shallow, the vain, the image, or the mask?

Having two handicapped parents taught me at a very early age to see beyond the outward appearance, deeper than the disease, the defects, the imperfections to realize there’s a soul behind the eyes.  My father wasn’t just a blind man.  He was a human being; often times, a terrible, hateful, angry and evil human being, but human nonetheless.  My mother behind her MS was also a human being.  She was someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, not just a woman whose body didn’t work anymore.  I can remember as a child holding my father’s glass eye in my hand and resenting it, because that seemed to be all the world could see, how they defined him, how they felt sorry for him and placated to his dysfunction, and he preyed on it, used it to cover his sins, to hide the black soul he carried. I hated the world because they couldn’t see him; all they saw was a blind man. I saw a devil. I saw the anger, the hate, the pervert, the conman, the hustler. The world pitied him, made excuses for him, but I saw his soul.  Behind my mother I saw a broken spirit, a dull soul that was gray it allowed her to turn a blind eye, sewed her mouth shut, and too weak to protect her children.  I learned to see souls very early in life.

Now, as a single woman in a vain world, every day I see the masks, wear the masks, and recognize the masks for what they are.  I am inundated with comments on my appearance, and they’re nice to receive. Who doesn’t want to be told they’re pretty, or their eyes are pretty, or their smile is pretty? It’s better than being told you’re hideous or dull.  But, can’t they see ME?  Do they know how strong I am, what I’ve accomplished in my life? How my soul that had been so damaged and abused has survived, thrived, and overcome in spite of the circumstances, the tragedies, and the hate?  Can’t they see the abundance of love, compassion, and hope that radiates from this broken vessel?

I try so hard to see behind people’s masks when I meet them, get to know the human soul inside them, and decide if I want them in my life. There are MANY, many people I meet that I immediately close out and throw up a wall, defending myself, and keeping them out of my life, out of my company, out of my circle because I see glimpse the devil behind their masks. I don’t listen to what people say. I watch what people do, see how they treat others, take a glance at the trail behind them to see if their path is filled with destruction or love, and listen to my gut. The worst ones often have the sweetest words, prettiest faces, most beautiful bodies, and crocodile tears. They are often damsels in distress or victims of circumstances, but in reality they’re a black plague, the ones causing the strife and drama everywhere they go.  I don’t have time for all that.  But, I can also see sometimes an imperfect mask, a dysfunctional life, a broken appearance, but inside…. I have glimpse some souls so beautiful, so radiant, so amazing that I sometimes can’t hold back the emotion that wells inside me.  They’re often broken, a mess, judged by the world around them – but I see them, I see beyond who they even think they are and see them for who they have the potential to become, what they’re capable to achieve – not because of their looks, their education, their money, their status, their means… but because I know what kind of fight a survivor has, what kind of imagination stirs within a dreamer, what kind of drive resides inside an innovator, a strategist, a clever mind.  I know the power of compassion.  I know the strength of love.

Fuck their world and their vanity. Fuck the shallow people who can love someone because of their imperfections.  I LOVE perfect imperfections. I LOVE scars and the stories behind them.  I LOVE watching people pick themselves up from the mistakes they’ve made.  I LOVE seeing souls radiate – they’re beautiful.

I woke up this morning feeling beautiful and sexy.  I may not have my 20-year old body anymore (it’s now full of scars, marks, imperfections, jiggly thighs, and trace evidence of a life lived, mistakes made, and miracles), but the beautiful soul pulsating just beneath my skin is absolutely radiant. If anyone can’t see that when they look at me, they’re a blind idiot and don’t deserve to be in the same universe.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dreams, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, relationship, respect, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Whimsical World of T.L. Gray – The Story – My Story – Introduction

Introduction

Since I was born I have died twice, lived three lives, fell in love with four men, and am known by five different names. I’ve danced the halls of a Spanish hacienda, and shivered in the dark corner of a run-down shack, hung every holiday decoration in American suburbia, and been so hungry I couldn’t eat. I’ve protested for peace and marched for war, rescued sex slaves, and fed the poor. I’m famous to some and a nobody to others. I’m greatly loved and easily forgotten. I’ve been praised by thousands, but damned by even more. But who cares about all that? I was born alone in this world, and alone I’ll leave it. I’ve come to realize that I live or die in every moment. Let’s just say I’ve had a few moments. Hell, at times I’ve done both simultaneously, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

This particular story, my story, begins on a hot July afternoon in a southern hotbed filled with hippies handing out flowers of free love, or embittered in a battle of protests for everything from women’s liberation, to civil rights, to war and draft-dodging. Indian Reservation by the Raiders played constantly on the radio, and President Richard Nixon was neck-deep in the Vietnam conflict. In the maternity ward of the Dekalb Medical Center in Atlanta, a young couple was heard screaming at each other down the hallway, fighting over what to name the quiet sleeping baby girl being carried in the arms of an elderly white-haired lady to the nurses’ station.

“Damn it, I’ve already told you, woman, her name’s going to be Rebekah Lynn!’ shouted the red-hair, freckled-face blind man at the young woman lying in the hospital bed. In one hand, he held tightly to the reigns of German shepherd service dog, whose silvered tags glinted with the name Fritz, and in the other clung tightly to a little boy with bright copper-red hair.

The young mother, no more than sixteen, started crying. “But, I want to name her Laura Lynn after Laura Ingalls Wilder, my favorite character from that book I read to you.”

The two continued to argue over the name, their voices filling the hall where the little old woman finally made her way to the counter at the nurses’ station. She looked down at the young, black nurse busily scribbling on her clipboard. “You were in there when my granddaughter was born, weren’t you, child?”

The nurse looked up, glanced down the hall toward the yelling couple’s room, and then smiled at the white-haired lady. “Yes, ma’am, I believe I was.”

“What’s your name, honey?” The old woman rocked the baby girl in her arms.

The nurse pinched her brows together, but finally answered after a few seconds, “My name’s Tonya.”

The little old lady quickly slapped the paper on the counter and started scribbling on it with one hand while she held the sleeping baby girl in the other. After a few seconds she waved it to the nurse. “Now you just go right on ahead and submit that information now before those two get finished.”

The young nurse took the paper and looked down at it. It was the little girl’s birth certificate, and hand-written on the first line was the name Tonya Lynnette.

The nurse smiled up at the little old lady and then stamped the certificate with the notary seal, and that was how I got my first name, Tonya.

It’s ironic. My parents were fighting over the names of a Jewish matriarch and an author of a book, and my grandmother named me after a nurse, a care-taker, someone that helps and nurtures others. All three fit. They sort of define me in many ways. Sadly, my family never called me by my given name, and most of my relatives don’t even know my real name, nor did the grandmother who gave it to me. Tonya means “priceless, without praise.” That too is prophetic and quite ironic.

I wish I could tell you that day was a day for celebration and marked the beginning of a wonderful life, that it was a beautiful, loving, bright story, full of inspiration and love, but it only marked the first of many dark days. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting tale; a roller-coast ride filled with many hills and valleys, twists and turns. You might want to grab hold of the safety bar before we get started. There will be moments that will surprise you, cause your stomach to ache, and have you feeling scared, even perhaps terrified; disbelieving the world can be so cruel. But there are other moments that will take you to the top of the world and have your heart soaring as your hair flaps in the various winds of love, hope, and joy. That’s life, real life. It’s not always a happy story, and not everyone gets a happy ending. It’s messy, complicated, and filled with real moments of good and bad. You can’t really appreciate one without the other. So, let’s go. I’m inviting you into my story. You’re not going to like everything, but my greatest hope when you reach the end (that is… if I can make it to the end), is that you find a little bit of understanding, that your perception of the world and the people in it change just a little. There’s evil in the world, real evil. There is also pain, real pain. But, there’s also good out there, and love, real love. So, come on, let’s go.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Motherhood – A Story Born in Violence

Motherhood.  What does it mean to be a mother? In the coming days, I’m going to explore motherhood from the only view I can – my own.  It’s not going to be the same as everyone else, but it’s my view, my version, and I’m the only one that can tell it.

I had a beautiful Mother’s Day this weekend, surrounded by people I love, and by people who love me.  I love them so much.  It’s odd how and who comes into our lives. I still cried Sunday evening because I miss my own children who are grown and don’t need me anymore. I tried to be a good mother to them, show them I love them, to protect them the best I could from a world I knew as violent and dangerous.  It sometimes meant they were angry at me when I had to tell them no, hated me when I had to intervene when they were making decisions that would lead to danger or mistakes, and have them think I was the meanest person on the planet because I wouldn’t let them have or do what they wanted.  But, I never thought they’d just forget me altogether.

It hurts to know that I meant nothing, that I’m so forgettable and expendable.  But, I’m no stranger to being rejected and unloved by those meant to love me most.  Yet, I’m still blessed and thank God for His love and mercy.  I love my children, all of them, even the ones I didn’t give birth, even the first children I raised, my brothers.  I was born a mother.  I was forced to be a mother; a protector.  I just never could get the whole nurturing thing down.  For an artist, a writer, I had a hard time expressing my affection. I’m much better at it now, but that’s forty years of working on it.  For many, many years I could never even allow anyone to touch me, and I NEVER said the words, “I Love You.”  Those were the words I didn’t trust, and I suppose I still don’t.

My story starts with a violent beginning.  But, it’s my beginning.  In order to understand my point of view, you’re going to understand that there is an evil world out there.  A world filled with violence, real violence, not something only in movies or on tv.  I’ve seen it. I can still remember the sound of a hollow ring and the smell of sulfuric gunfire mixed with the coagulated pools and metallic smell of blood, the screams of violence, the whimpers of pain in the dark, and the growl of hate behind a set of gnashing teeth. I’ve felt the blows of anger, I carry the scars of degradation, and I remember staring into a pair of defeated eyes of a broken spirit and crushed will. I have seen the devil. He has seen me. Evil is real and I wanted more than anything to protect those I love from it, but I have failed. I have failed so many times.

This is where my story begins… this is my story of motherhood and it’s a story born in the middle of violence.  But, that is not where it will end. I’ve tried to tell this story many times, and I’m not going to promise I’ll be able to tell it now, but I’m going to try.  Stay tuned.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, family, friends, Musing, Spiritual | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Heart, Mind and Soul

Budgeting

We’ve talked about the importance of budgeting our time, our goals, and our resources.  Now, I need to get to the core of our being, because no matter what we decide to do on the outside, we have to have balance in our core.  I’m talking about budgeting our hearts, minds and souls.

What exactly is a budget?  A budget is as system itemizing something we have, want, or need, and breaking it down into increments of debits and credits, incoming and outgoing, supply and demand, etc.  It’s assessing what we have and developing a system to gain what we need.  If we don’t make an honest assessment, we can make erroneous decisions that will cause us to over-budget or under-budget and fail. To reach success, we have to clearly see the path to that success, and then be faithful and committed to the budget we set to reach that desired success.  We could get lucky, but luck always runs out. We’ve got to take control of our life, our choices, and our successes and failures.

Other resources we often overlook when we make a budget for our lives are those intangible resources, but happen to be the most essential in our success or failures of all other budgets.  Just as important as budgeting our money, we have to budget our heart, our mind and our souls.  We can over-extend ourselves, or under-utilize our potential by ignoring these resources.  These are essentially that define who we are – the core of being a human. These are the elements that directly lead to our successes and failures, our happiness or depression, or our love or indifference.

Heart – We have to budget our hearts.  We have to set a limit on the things, people, and focus we allow to affect our hearts.  We can set our affection on the wrong things or people that will hurt us, destroy us, and even break us.  We can also put too much focus on our heart, letting it lead us blindly, become obsessive over something or someone, and it will unbalance us.  Balance is key.  YES, love!!!! Oh, Mylanta, allow ourselves at times to get lost in our emotions. Enjoy the euphoria or pain of it, but we must keep it in balance.  We can’t get blind and stupid by love to the point we lose sight of everything else, especially what we want and need, and who we are. That’s unhealthy and it becomes detrimental to any dreams we’ve planned or hoped to succeed. We also can’t chase our dreams without love, without using our hearts. If we close our hearts because we’ve been hurt, or we have failed before, or we are too afraid, then we’ve already failed. It means nothing.  We can gain the world, but what good is it if we are indifferent?  Indifference means not caring at all or feeling nothing – which is worse than hate. Hate is at least passionate.  Indifference is void of passion.  Indifference is cowardice.   Without heart, we will give up, because it is our love for ourselves, for the dreams we have, for our family and the people we care about, that pushes us, inspires us, and gives everything we do meaning. Even God says that there are three essential things in this life – Faith, Hope and Love, and of those three, Love is the greatest. We can’t choose to love everyone and everything, nor can we choose to love nothing or no one. Protect our love.  Protect what and who we set our affections toward.

Mind – we have to budget our minds.  If we set our minds to too many things, and not balance it out, we will spend too much of one of our most valuable assets in the wrong area, on the wrong thing, or the wrong person, and not give the attention and focus we need to our goals, dreams, and aspirations.  We have to protect our minds, protect what we focus on, what we allow to distract us.  We can ‘check-out’ sometimes because life is hard.  Many times, instead of focusing on what I needed, I allowed myself to be distracted by the wrong things or person to avoid thinking about the hard things.  I’d “check-out”.  I’ve also allowed myself to focus too much, to the point of obsession, and neglected to focus on other areas of my life. Neither was healthy or productive.  There has to be a balance. We have to budget our minds and limit the things we focus on, allow distracting us, or taking up our time.  Write out a list of what we want and need, and then protect our minds and do what we need to keep and maintain a balance to our focus.

Soul – this one is the part of us that we often neglect most.  It’s that inner-being, and many of us can’t even recognize it. We try to numb it, ignore it, or control it.  We can’t.  This is core of who we are, and I believe this is the being that continues beyond our existence, beyond this physical plane, beyond this life. We have to budget for and with our souls. We have to make time for this part of us. What good is it to gain the world, but lose our souls?  To allow life, people, circumstances, guilt, pain, and all other bullshit to come in destroy our souls?  We can lie to the world. We can lie to ourselves, but our souls know who we are, what we really want, what we really need.  We have to protect our souls – cut the vampires out of our lives, allow love into our lives, let love fill us, and then through our souls, let that love back out into the world around us. There are soulless people in this world. There is darkness and evil. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it.  This world is so full of hateful, mean-spirited, selfish, awful people, but we don’t have to be one of them. It’s so important to protect and nourish our souls.

These are the keys to success – in EVERY area of life. We only get one. We only live ONCE.  We only have a tiny portion of this existence to make a difference, to be counted, to have purpose.  WE control what those are by how we budget our lives by the choices me make. Make good ones. Choose love.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, Philosophy, Relationships, respect, Spiritual | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Our Resources

Budgeting

We should always count the costs before we do anything. Once we’ve made a decision of what we want to do, what we want to accomplish, what goal we want to achieve, we need to count the costs, the true costs – the money, the time, the devotion, the requirements. This requires taking a good, hard, honest look, and then set realistic expectations of what it’s going to take to accomplish what we want to do. Can we afford it? We have to be able to budget our resources or we will find ourselves building a house with no nails, no hammers, and no blueprint. Good intentions never built anything, but have been the root and path to much destruction. Ever heard the phrase the road to hell is paved with good intentions?

In order to create a good budget, we have to take an assessment of what resources are assured, what resources are needed, and then what we are capable of covering. We can’t budget on possibilities. We have to budget on certainties. We can’t buy groceries with hope, promises, or luck. We can only purchase real food with real money.

Let’s get to the foundation. We can’t build the roof of our dreams, hopes, wants or desires, before we’ve set the foundation. This is the hard part. THIS is the part where the budget falls apart for most people. We have to ask ourselves, and then be honest about it, what do we really have to work with? Not what we expect – but the lowest, the base, the minimum of what resources we have. We can’t budget of what we hope we will have. If we work a job that we ‘sometimes’ work overtime, get bonuses, dividends, we CANNOT set our budget on that part of our income. Our budget must be set on our concrete “hard” income based on 40 hours a week NET pay. The MINIMUM of what we bring home every week, two-weeks, month, or year. If we budget on fluid “soft” income, we will find ourselves underwater. Life will make sure of it. If we make $15 and hour, based on 40-hours a week, our gross pay is $600, and our net pay after deductions is about $450.00, our budget isn’t based on $600, but $450.00 – set as the cap, the maximum. NOT the minimum. Live within our means, what we have, not what we expect or hope to have. Don’t spend money we don’t have. Don’t use credit cards. If we can’t pay for it, we don’t need it. Learn to say NO.

So many times I’ve tried to help people write and set budgets, only to see them determined to set a budget on money they expected, but couldn’t guarantee. And, I’ve watched them fail time and time again. I’ve done it. It doesn’t work. SOMETHING or someone will always come in to eat that seed right out of our hands. That’s life, that’s what happens. We have to be smart and cover the basics, and then allow room for flexibility, because life happens. Our car will break down, someone will get sick, lightning will strike the tree that falls on our house, a power surge will fry our computer, our kids decide to play the guitar instead of the triangle, we get a flat, we fall and twist our ankle, our kids come home from school with lice and we have to fumigate the whole house, life happens… shit happens. And we have to have some flexibility in our budget to be able to absorb life. When we don’t, we fall, because life is still going to happen whether we set a proper budget or not. How we budget determines how we face that life. If we live from paycheck to paycheck, we’re not living, we’re surviving and life controls and dictates to us what we can and can’t do because we are being reactive instead of proactive.

I have this saying I tell people sometimes: I plan my spontaneity. I schedule my freedom. What I mean is this. I love to be spontaneous, just have a whim to want to do something and then just go and do it, because I felt like it. However, I can’t LIVE like that. I have to buckle down during the week, make a schedule, make a plan, and stick to that plan – I work, workout, take my lunch every day to work, do my laundry, chores, my grocery shopping, schedule my time to get as much productivity done during the work week. It’s hard, it requires a LOT of discipline, devotion, and dedication, and the ability to say no, because life will send things my way in order to disrupt that schedule. I get tired, want to be lazy, and tempted to get off my schedule from family and friends. BUT, keeping to and being faithful to that budgeted schedule gets the things I need done so that when my weekend comes, I am FREE to do what I want, I have the opportunity to be spontaneous, not filled with a bunch of responsibilities I let go during the week. Because I budgeted my time, my money, and my goals to do what was required during the week, I have the resources to do what I want on my weekends. I planned my spontaneity. I scheduled my freedom. With my base pay I schedule to take care of my base needs, so that any bonus or overtime I get, I freely use to spend on my wants and desires.

Let’s take dieting as an example. Everybody’s body is different and requires a different amount of effort and energy to be successful. Some people have good DNA and don’t have to do much in order to stay in shape and filled with the energy they need to live a lifestyle they desire. The majority of us have to work hard in order to maintain a healthy body to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. That’s not fair. But, suck it up buttercup. Life has NEVER been fair. It doesn’t matter what the requirements are for someone else. Throw that shit of your head. Look at yourself, your life, your requirements, your need, and then make budget for YOU. Or don’t.

Listen. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life to MY standards. I’m trying to help you. This budgeting series is for me, to remind me of the goals, plans and dreams I’ve made for myself. It’s reminding me that nothing comes without a cost, that nothing good comes easy. If you listen to what I’m trying to stay, it can help you. But, WE are ultimately the only one that can help us gain the success we want to achieve. We’ve got to want it. We’ve got to be honest with our self about where we are, what we have, what we need, and what we need to do to get where we want to be. Our biggest obstacle is that person staring back us in the mirror. We’ve got to love ourselves enough to do the hard stuff, to say no, to dig in, to do what is necessary to protect and budget our time, our goals, and resources.
If necessary, we have to tell some of our friends to go away and leave us alone because they’re vampires that suck the lifeblood out of us – they waste our time, detour our goals, and consume our resources. They depress us with all their woes and problems. They take, but never give. Their lives are ALWAYS filled with drama and one disaster after another. Those are not real friends; they’re opportunists with sad stories and trails of chaos. Good friends know the plans and dreams we’ve made for ourselves. They recognize our needs without having to tell them. They become a support, a cheerleader, a coach, and a guard to help us see the truth of our circumstances, assist us in fulfilling our needs, and being an inspiration for us to achieve our dreams. THAT’s a friend. A friend tells us the truth, even if it hurts our pride, and loves us just as we are, but doesn’t put up with our excuses or bullshit. A real friend isn’t afraid of telling us the hard stuff. They don’t eat our groceries when they see our refrigerator is empty. They don’t use our electricity, or take advantage of our hospitality, while sitting by watching us go without a phone or internet.  They don’t invite us to stay out all night on one of their adventures knowing we have to work the next day, yet make no time to join us in our adventures on our time.

And true friendship requires us being able to be and do the same support for them. Do we encourage our friends and family, or make fun of them every time they try to do something? Do we give them hope, or talk down to them and try to talk them out of the dreams they have? Are we a pessimist and point out the negative to everything, only the negative come out of our mouths even in joking? Or are we an optimist and see the potential in ourselves and our friends and family? Do we think the world is just full of bad people, misery, hate, selfishness, judgment, etc.? Or do we see opportunity, potential, even when we recognize the bad, but also see a way to turn it around for good? Cut the negative bullshit excuses and people out of our lives. They’re toxic to us, to our budgets, to our dreams, to our hopes, and to our success. If we don’t cut this bullshit out of our lives, we can only blame ourselves for our failure.

Tomorrow is the last day of my budget series. I didn’t plan this series out, it’s just happens to be where I am in my own journey at this time. I hope I can tie all these different budgets together had have been able to create a clear path, a clear picture, and inspiration that will help any who read it.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Life, love, memes, Muses, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Our Goals

Budgeting

As with anything we do, we need to set some realistic and obtainable goals.  Not a comfortable goal. On the contrary, our goals and plans should always be a little more, a little harder, and a little higher than our present comfort level.  We should always strive to do ‘more’ than our current level or else we are just treading water and getting nowhere. That’s not a way to find success. That’s simply surviving.

One of the keys to success is to always be rising, gaining, and moving toward the end of our agenda. We have to set our eyes on the finish line, the pinnacle of what we want to achieve, and then be able to see, understand, and recognize the path to get to that line.  This is where we often mess up and stumble, leading to our failure in reaching the goals we set for ourselves.

In no way am I saying NOT to dream big. On the contrary… dream big; dream really big.  Write those dreams down, even the ones that everyone says are impossible.  Even the ones we think are impossible or not for us. We can’t run a race without knowing what kind of race we’re in, or where the finish line is, otherwise we’re just running wild with no direction. We have to know where we are going in order to know if we’re traveling in the right direction.

Once we’ve written our list of dreams, we now need to take a step back, remove the emotion from those dreams, and start setting realistic, obtainable goals.  We have to take the big dream and identify step A and step Z. Those are the two hardest steps to identify – A. What is it and where does it begin?  Z. What does it become and where does it end? We can’t set all the goals between A and Z without FIRST identifying those two components.  Those are the base to our equation for success. Equally, this same equation can be used for every area of our lives.

Who am I?   –  Who do I want to be?

What do I weigh?  – What do I want to weigh?

What can I do?  – What do I want to be able to do?

Where am I?  – Where do I want to be?

How much do I have? – How much do I want to have?

How do I feel? – How do I want to feel?

Where have I been? – Where do I want to go?

What position do I hold? – What position do I want to hold?

 

You see what I’m trying to convey?  We have to first identify the truth of our present state and then set the goal of the state we want to achieve. But, we can’t lie to ourselves or else the goals we set will unravel.  They won’t hold when the pressure comes, when temptation comes, when the truth reveals itself.  The number one failure to any goal we set for ourselves is self-deception and dishonesty. We lie to ourselves more than anyone else lies to us, or even the lies we tell to others.

One of the keys of success for making a change to any of our bad habits and behaviors, failures and weaknesses, including taking responsibility for who we are, is being able to recognize the truth about ourselves.  We have to accept that truth in order to make a decision to change it. In order to enter the race to achieve any particular goal in our life, we have to first understand where we are, who we are, and what state we are in – and then recognize the goal of where we want to go, what we want to do, and what we want to achieve.  It has to be done in honesty.

Goals are all about change; changing our present state, our present atmosphere, our present company, to a different state in order to achieve a different result. Change can’t happen without honesty. Change can’t happen without recognizing the truth. But once we face the truth, once we accept it, and we’ve recognized our A and Z components, NOW we are capable of setting our budget of goals.  As with any budget we can over budget or under budget.  If we over-budget, we set impossible and unrealistic goals, and are not going to be able to meet those goals and setting ourselves up to fail.  If we under-budget and set too easy of goals, then it won’t be a challenge and we’re not really changing anything; only running in a circle of what we already have. This is the cycle that many of us often fall into – and if you take an honest look at your past behaviors these are the type of goals that leads to those spherical habits – what’s often known as yo-yo diets or insanity – doing the same things over and over and over and yet expecting different results, so we keep making the same mistakes and we keep failing.  It’s why we can’t beat our addictions or overcome our weaknesses. It’s why we can’t change our lives or circumstances because we can’t change our environment, change who or what we hang out with, whom or what we allow in our lives, who or what we allow to influence us and speak into our lives.

I.e. – if we want to be successful and responsible, we have to stop hanging out with unsuccessful and irresponsible people, or making unsuccessful decisions. If we want to be healthy and fit, we can’t surround ourselves with lazy, unfit people or regularly visit the fast food restaurants, stock our fridges and pantry with junk food, or eat out all the time. If we want to be kind and generous, we can’t hang out with selfish and hateful people.  If we want to be happy and faithful, we have to stop hanging out with unhappy cheaters.  If we don’t want drama in our lives, we have to stop inviting it into our homes. We are what we do, what we eat, who we hang out with, and what we spend our time and money on.

Once we face our truth, and recognize our A and Z, we need to set our budget – break down all the steps between A and Z (B-Y) into progressive, obtainable mini-goals.  First break them in half (B-M), then break those sections in half (C-G), then those in half (D & E), doing the same for the other side, and so on and so forth until you have a clear path filled with plans and goals that will help you reach success. If we don’t like any part of who we are, where we are, or what state we are in, then change it. Recognize our A and Z, make our goals, and then set a realistic budget to meet all the internal steps until we find success.

Here’s an example:

Face the Truth: Always dreamed of writing a novel, but after starting a dozen stories, never seem to finish them. Life always gets in the way, and nothing ever gets completed.

Dream: Finish a 50,000 word novel.

A – Start Writing Novel – “Once Upon a Time”.  Z – Complete Writing Novel – “The End”

B-M – Break the novel down into increments and chapters so that M= 25,000 words (half our novel) (averaging 2000 words per chapter for 12 chapters) and then set our budget to achieve a chapter a day, or a chapter a week.  Outline those chapters of what we want to achieve by that part of the story, and set our goals for each chapter.  Then, do the same for the other half of the novel, so that we have a complete outline of mini-goals we want to achieve from A to Z.

Then COMMIT to those obtainable, reachable goals we have set, create an atmosphere to fulfill those goals, budget the equipment and material we need to achieve them, and make the time and room to get them done. Without commitment, we WILL fail. Kismet, Murphy, life, God, the supernatural, and everything and everyone will present obstacles and temptations to get us off our goals, detour us from our path, lead us astray, or get us to give up.  Nothing good comes easy or without effort. We MUST have commitment or we have already failed.  Budget our goals. They’re important. We are important. Our dreams are important.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Life, memes, Muses, Musing, Philosophy, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Our Time

Budgeting

Most often when we talk about budgeting we are referring to our money.  That is important and I will get to that later this week.  But, right now I want to focus on budgeting our time.  This will help us with our money and everything else. Time is the thing we lose more than anything. It keeps moving no matter what’s going on in our lives. It never stops.  Most of all, it never gives us back what time we’ve lost.  As the song states, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.”

Time is also something we are only given a certain amount.  Some of us are given a little more than others, but essentially we all are given less than 100 years, or 1200 months, or 36,500 days, or 876,000 hours, or 52,560,000 minutes. Regardless of the overall amount we each have, we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  None of us get more or less than anyone else.  Our choices are what differ.  24 hours a day, every day.  That’s it, folks.  There are no do-overs, there are no second chances, and there is no re-start button – at least not with THIS life.  Time is also not guaranteed.  Our time could be up today, tomorrow, or at any moment.  I have suddenly lost people in my life, and their absence leaves a deep hole inside my soul. I one day will be absent and leave this world.  BUT, while I’m here, I want to make the most of the time I have, and in order to make the most of it, I have to budget and protect my time, just like I do my money.

Not knowing exactly how much time we have makes budgeting complicated. However, that shouldn’t stop us from planning, using estimated and approximated time in order to utilize it the best we can.  Time is a thief, it steals moments and opportunities when we allow it control of our decisions.  When we just ‘wing it’, we miss a lot of opportunity.  Though it’s been said opportunity falls into our laps, that’s not been the experience I’ve known.  While opportunities present themselves throughout our lives, we have to choose to seize them or lose them, and our lives will become a string of regret.

This is very important. We have to protect our time.  We have to be picky about who and what we allow into our lives. There are people and substances (substance abuse, addictions and distractions (yes, this also includes video games) that will steal our attention, distract our focus, waste our time, and destroy our opportunities. Misery loves company.  Laziness loves excuses. Train wrecks love to cause other train wrecks. Users seek to use up our opportunities and resources, and then move onto their next victim, leaving us empty. Addicts need other addicts. Losers make other losers. You are as successful as the company you keep.  You are who you hang with. If you’re surrounded by a bunch of losers, addicts, lazy-ass mother fuckers, cheaters, liars, thieves, thugs, selfish, self-centered narcissists … get the picture?  Surround yourself with people who are successful, driven, focused, giving, optimistic, wise, intelligent, and kind.  Make a plan for YOURSELF, and then stand back and watch to see who or what comes in to derail or support those plans.  While we would love to blame THEM or THAT, they’re not the ones responsible for stealing our time or destroying the budget or plans we’ve made with that time. WE ARE. We are the guardians and managers of ourselves, our time, our budget, our resources, our company, our friends, our drive and determination, and everything else we have and want.

If we want to get ahead, enjoy success, fulfill our dreams, reach our goals, and live a life full of experience and adventures, then we must take a realistic look at how we spend our time, make the necessary and honest (often hard) adjustments, and then budget our time to meet those goals and dreams.  It can be done. I’ve done it several times now and I’m doing it again. I hope you come along with me. If not, then good luck to you, because I’m not going to stick around and allow you steal my time or derail my dreams. I love myself enough to cut you out of my time budget.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, gaming, Health & Fitness, Hope, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Musing, Philosophy, respect, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Budgeting

Budgeting

Unless you make a shit ton of money, have a wealthy uncle or heritage, most of us have to live within a budget.  We have to take note of what is coming in and what is going out or else we’ll find ourselves reactive, chasing one problem after another, instead of being proactive to prevent more problems.  Remember this: Reactive = chaos. Proactive=control.  I think this is one of the issues that plague our country, and even the world, more than anything else – irresponsibility of not realizing what our true means are and living within those means, or making a plan to increase or decrease those means.

I’ve experienced just about every aspect and level of lifestyle. I’ve been so low and have tasted being homeless living in my car and rest stops for a time, to a one room shack with no electricity or running water, onto trailer parks with holes in the floor fighting rats for my space, expanding to several different levels of apartments, moving into suburban America with a 4-bedroom home and two car garage,  rental properties,  enjoying a condo on the beach, and a hacienda complete with guards, servants and two toilets in a single restroom. I’ve experienced true hunger and have also gorged on extravagance; both just as depraved, and neither the key to true, lasting happiness.

As with any other goal in our life, we must take an honest look of where we are, what he contribute, what we owe, where we want to go, and where we need to be in order to make the appropriate plans to get there. Go ahead and keep believing your dreams and fantasies are going to take care of all your needs and solve all your problems. Let me know how that turns out.  However, if you truly want to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and live a good, balanced life, then you need to start being honest with yourself and circumstances, and then set your budget.

All of life is about a budget. We not only need to budget our money, but our time, our affection, and our dreams.  The most detrimental thing that happens to me is when I allow others, bad decisions, and unexpected circumstances to rob me of my peace and balance in life.  All the success I’ve enjoyed throughout my life has resulted from when I made an honest assessment, developed a plan, and then activated that plan – EVERY SINGLE SUCCESS.  If I look back, the majority of my failures have resulted from times when I’ve lied to myself, reacted spontaneously without counting the costs, or allowed others and their needs to come before myself.

So, this week I’m going to talk about budgeting. So stay tuned.  Hopefully something in these blog posts will open your mind, click within your soul, and set you on a path to success. That’s what I’m hoping for myself. This is all part of my latest journey.  If you want to come along, buckle up – it’s going to be an awesome, yet bumpy, ride.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Musing, Spiritual, Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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