Blog Post

Being a Parent …

Being a parent

 

What is being a parent? Donating sperm or giving birth doesn’t make you a parent.  Not donating sperm or giving birth, also doesn’t make you NOT a parent. Love, kindness, discipline, sacrifice, giving into the well-being of another human being – that’s what makes you a parent.

God has given me many gifts.  Most of all, he has given me the opportunity on several occasions to be a parent. I haven’t always been a good parent. I haven’t always made all the right decisions. I have made some really bad choices and made some really bad mistakes.  There’s no ‘but’ in that, either.  I’ve learned some things along the way, mostly from my mistakes.  I suffer still some of the consequences of those choices and mistakes.

I’ve come a long way.  I’ve come a very long way from being that scared young girl facing the decision of becoming a teen mother.  I was terrified.  I lived in hell and felt I had no one in this world I could trust.  I had no one to take care of me. Yet, there was this life growing inside of me – a defenseless child that I would be responsible to care for, to protect, and to provide simple everyday things. I couldn’t even provide those things for myself.  I had dreams. I had an escape plan to run off to the military that was going to take me away from the abuse I lived under and secure me a future – but if I chose her – I couldn’t escape – not yet.  There were days I hated the choices I had. There were times I wanted to give up, to die, especially when I was ridiculed and called names at school (Yes, I was that popular high-school slut wobbling down the halls everyone felt sorry for, or made fun of, or called names, or glared at with their disapproving eyes.) Yet, every time I felt my daughter move within my stomach, my hands would cradle my big belly and hope would grow – hope for a great life, a good future, a little bit of love in my dark gray world.  I would pay the price to make it happen – no matter what it cost me. I was young (16), scared, and didn’t know ANYTHING about being a parent. Hell, I didn’t even know how to be an adult. So, I made some mistakes.  But, everything I did – I did in love – love for her – love for the hope that she was going to one day bring into this world.  I don’t care how she was made – I’m the one that made the decision to bring her into this world.  EVERYONE I knew wanted me to give her up or abort her.  The religious didn’t want me to have an abortion, but they didn’t want me to raise her either.  The rest told me on a regular basis I was wasting my life, sacrificing my future, giving up my freedom when I had another choice.  I didn’t know much, but I already loved her and I wanted her – so I chose her.  It kills me that as an adult she doesn’t choose me, but I still have hope, and not for a millisecond regret my choice. She’s a beautiful, loving, kind woman and I am so proud of her.

I have two other children, who are also now adults, who make me smile every time I hear their voice, or see their texts, or video chat, or am able to wrap my arms around and hug them.  I also have the most beautiful grand-daughter. I love them with a love that is indescribable.  Not because I gave birth to them or genetically related to them.  Not because they’re good human beings.  But, for love.  The love I feel from them and for them. That love isn’t granted just because of genetics.  I never had that love for or from my parents.  Not ONCE, not EVER did they ever hug me – and if they had, I would have not felt that love.  My parents gave birth to me, but they were not parents – they were manipulative abusers that took a long time for me to escape.

I now have another child, another chance to be a mother to someone who needs a mother.  I look at this kid and see the manipulation and emotional abuse he’s been through and I remember that lost, scared, angry little girl I used to be – and I try to be the mother I needed, the friend I could have used, and the love that was desperately missing in my life.  Maybe he won’t have to face the same hard choices I had to face – and he will make better decisions, and his life will reach even greater opportunities.  Most of all – he is loved. Every day.  I am hard on him, I don’t let him get away with anything, and every day is a constant learning lesson – because I want him to be a good man. I want to teach him the things of this world that is going to make him a descent, caring, productive, and good man.  I find it ironic – He now has the opportunity to escape his abusers and run off to the military and secure himself a future.

Being a parent is hard.  It’s sacrifice. It’s constant love, constant worry, constant energy, constant demand, constant giving of your time, your focus, your life, your space, your money, your peace, and your choices. It’s about providing what is NEEDED, not wanted. It’s providing a place of understanding, communication, and learning – constantly.  I can’t give up.  I want to give up at least once a day – but he’s worth it.  He is worth every little inconsequential sacrifice. Just like my daughter was worth it. Just like my other two children were worth it. Just like my grandbaby was worth it.  Love is worth it. Hope is worth it.

Being a parent is a privilege, not a right.  There are some really shitty parents out there. I’ve been one at times, but I wouldn’t change one single solitary moment, not even the bad moments – because it was from those moments I learned most.  I didn’t give birth to Anthony, but I am his parent, I am his mother – because I love him and he’s worth everything I do for him. I get the best part of this relationship – his love in return. That is being a parent.  Those who pour love into him …are his mothers and fathers, not genetics. This young man is lucky – because he is now being surrounded by people pouring love, life lessons, instruction, and encouragement into him (thank you Scott).  When he gets into the Navy he is going to be surrounded by new brothers and a new family …and once again I am filled with hope.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Whos Afraid

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Me.

I had a dream a few nights ago about Red knowing the wolf for he was, yet she still feigned ignorance.  He called her on it, yet she still denied the truth of his character, his intent, his danger up until the moment he attacked.  In my dream version, the Wolf devours Red. I understand the fairy tale has a happy ending with the Huntsman showing up and destroying the wolf and saving Red, but we all know that’s not how it plays out in reality.  There’s never a Huntsman to save us from our own ignorance.

I don’t blame, Red. I fear of being like her. I fear being just as naïve, just as stupid, just as blind, or be just as deceived. Wolves are cunning and they seem to be getting better and better at stalking their prey.

I hate wolves.  Not the four-legged beautiful amazing creatures that live in the wild, but the predators who live next door – I’m talking about the deceivers, agents of deception, liars, cheaters, users, and vampires.  I’m talking about the cold-hearted, callus, selfish predators who destroy the souls of other human beings with their games.  The world is full of male and she-wolves, but God I pray not to be a Red, yet fear there’s more of her in me than I want to admit.

I don’t have a problem seeing wolves. I see them. I smell them. I recognize when they’re tracking, hunting, and stalking me.  I get their deceptive messages, I smell their scent of betrayal, yet I still walk through the dangerous forest alone, I still tell strangers my destination, I still trollop through the tulips with my basket of bread, with not much regard for my safety.  Being safe is being guarded, being suspect, being armored, and being cold and hard as steel.  I’ve been there. I’ve done that – and it didn’t protect me. A wolf disguised himself as another warrior and got me to lay my armor down before he decided to chew me up and leave me for dead.  So, even protected I was not safe.  Being aware, being awake, seeing the truth, and learning how to walk away, to change direction, to evade and avoid …is all I can really hope to do.  My weapons is now truth – by living in the light, not lurking in the shadows.  Wolves don’t like the light and they can’t play hide and seek or stalk prey sufficiently in the open.  So, I don’t hide. If a wolf comes at me, he will have to come at me in the light – and he will be met with a survivor who knows how to fight back, not a victim.

I hate the wolves of this world – both men and women.  Liars, deceivers, con-artists, players, users and manipulators destroy the souls of men and women more than anything else in this world.

“Grandma, what big eyes you have – do you see me, because I see you.”

“Grandma, what big ears you have – can you hear me? You will hear me roar.”

“Grandma, what big teeth you have – mine are sharper. You will feel my bite!”

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? I am – not that it could or would hurt me – I only fear being naïve to not recognize him before it’s too late.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, friends, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self

 

Shakespeare may have penned the phrase, but it’s a truth that’s existed before he wrote Hamlet, and one that has taken me a long time to comprehend.  I haven’t yet mastered it, but I’m working on it.

I’m finding the only way finding and being true to myself is possible …is by being completely honest with myself.  I am more than capable of lying to myself. I was a master at it.  If I were to bet or guess, I would say that a majority of us lie to ourselves quite often, rarely identifying and accepting the truth, because truth hurts.  Truth is hard to take sometimes. Truth is hard to face.  But, as the Good Book says, Truth will set you free. It really will.  It won’t make your problems magically disappear, but it will set you free so that you can begin the journey of living an honest life.

How can we live a true and honest life if we won’t face the truths in our lives? We want and demand truth from others, but how hypocritical of us if we don’t FIRST find, accept, and acknowledge truth within ourselves?  We are living in such an enabled society, where we even lie to ourselves because the truth is harsh and a hard pill to swallow.  It’s not OUR fault we are fat, lazy, and unhealthy and out of shape.  It’s society’s fault for making it too hard to eat healthy, by making poor meal choices more affordable and convenient.  It’s the Fast Food and marketing industries’ fault for my lack of self-control and discipline.  It is my cultural and socio-economical circumstances’ fault that I can’t afford personal trainers, gym memberships, and beautiful parks and recreation centers to work out. It’s our genetics’ fault that I have to work twice as hard as my skinny counterpart.  It’s time’s fault I have poor time management because I put other things in a higher priority  – like watching tv, sitting in restaurants, playing video games, chatting online or scrolling through social media outlets.   I have kids and don’t have the time and energy and money and opportunity.

We all have excuses.  We all cling to them when we want to justify our behavior, and then we moan and complain when we have to face the consequences of those decisions.  That’s the truth of the matter.

We all have the same 24 hours a day.  We all have obstacles in the path of what we need or desire in our lives. It may seem unfair when we try to compare ourselves to others and their opportunities.  Most often we tell the biggest lie to ourselves – “if I had the same opportunity as them …then I would.”  LIAR.  You don’t do it now – you won’t do then – you won’t do it even if you had EVERY advantage because you are NOT true to yourself FIRST.

When we truly have a passion for something, we make it a priority.  When we make something a priority, we have to take a truthful evaluation of where we were, where we are, and where we want to be – and THEN make some REALISTIC, honest, truthful goals – and then do them.  DO THEM.  One day at a time. One step at a time. One victory at a time.  One choice after the next, after then next, after the next – and NEVER GIVE UP. Don’t focus on the big goal, put all your focus on just making it to the next goal.  Be faithful in the little things …and you will be the master of many things.  But be unfaithful in the little things, you will also be unfaithful in the big things, and master nothing.

Success isn’t that you’ve gained something.  True success is when something has cost you – something you had to sacrifice a piece of yourself to obtain – and being true to yourself along the journey.  THAT’s the true success of anything.

Life sucks sometimes.  I mean it really, painfully, soul-crushing, can’t breathe, pushes you to the edge sucks sometimes.  I’ve had my share – and I know there’s more to come later.  But the best things I’ve ever accomplished in this life is learning to love myself, learning to see myself for who I really am, and then learning to be proud of the woman I am.  It isn’t my MBA, or my writing awards, or my publications, or my public praise, or anything I’ve accomplished that makes me proud of myself.  No, that confidence and pride comes from knowing what it took to get there – knowing the truths I’ve had to face – and being true to ME.

You want to get in shape – face your truth and stop making excuses.

You want a better job – face your truth and stop making excuses.

You want a better relationship – face your truth and stop making excuses.

You want to be happy – face your truth and stop making excuses.

You want to succeed – face your truth and stop making excuses.

 

To thine own self be true!

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, Musing., Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keep Moving

Keep Moving

While my imagination loves fairy tales, magic, and the miraculous, my mind understands reality, and the reality is that if I want something or I want something to happen in my life I have to do it, to make it happen, make the choices needed, and then act on them.  Money doesn’t just magically appear in my bank account – never, not once did I find any extra currency in there – though I swear often that there’s an invisible troll taking a toll every time I use it.  Fat doesn’t magically dissolve in my body, though I sometimes think it magically appears. We know that isn’t the truth either.  Relationship’s don’t just begin or end without effort and/or neglect.  That reminds me of a meme I saw one time about cheating where a guy trips and falls on top of a woman exclaiming, “It was an accident!”  No, the accident happened with the momentum of texting, talking, smiling, and flirting.  That’s when the cheating first began.  By the time he ‘tripped’, he was already deep into the betrayal. There’s no accident about it.

What I’m trying to convey here is that I have to make a plan and set goals, make preparations for those plans and goals, make the choices that will help me achieve those plans and goals, and then have the strength and discipline to fulfill them regardless of how I feel or of convenience.  Nothing just magically happens.  Check marks don’t just appear.  Yes, sometimes the universe will bring me a surprise, but for the most part there are laws that govern this world much the way our natural laws govern our science and nature.  Facts are facts. Those laws are that we reap what we’ve sown.  The key is …we have to sow. We have to plant. We have to water. We have to make sure we get the right amount of sunlight.  We have to protect our gardens.  We have to pull up our own weeds.  We have to make sure we put the right kind of shit in the ground. We can’t plant one thing, yet expect it to grow something else, though we do. Man, I can’t tell you how many times I see this on a daily basis – this belief in reverse magic, in magical harvests, in expecting and wanting what we didn’t plant, earn or deserve.  It’s crazy.  Our society is so franchised, so drive-through, so … I want it my way, and I want it now, but don’t ask me to plant, grow, etc. I want YOU to prepare it for me.  I just want to lay back in my perfect body, consume what I want, when I want, not face a consequence, not lift a finger, not work for it, and yet have the strength and blessings of the gods.  How arrogant we are.  Yet, we will tell ourselves that’s NOT what we expect.

Come on, be real. Isn’t it what we expect?

This world is a beautiful and ugly place at the same time.  Over the past few weeks I have seen many, many, many examples of love, compassion, charity, respect, and bravery from people – and I’ve seen selfishness, hate, fear, depravity and gluttonous greed. Life is complex and complicated in its simplicity.  But somewhere in the balance there is peace.

I have to keep moving. I have to keep working, and hoping, and praying, and expecting, and sowing, and reaping.  I have to keep making choices every day that are going to help me or hinder me, bring me life or frustration, to help me thrive or knock me off course. If I fall, I have to choose to get back up.  If I run, I have to learn to rest.  If I fear, I have to be brave.  If I’m empty, I have to fill myself. If I have the opportunity to love, I choose love. I have to keep dreaming, I have to keep planning, and I have to keep seeking my balance, my peace, and my happiness.  As much as I wish I could say a magic word and it be done, I know that’s not the reality of it – and I have to keep moving.  In this selfish world, my joy comes from choosing to love, to find purpose, to give, and to serve.  I have to choose it. I have to do it.  I decide to make my bed first thing in the morning, to love instead of run in fear, and then take the next step, and then the step after that, and so on.  I have to keep moving – THAT’s when I’m most happy.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Life, love, memes, Muses, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Do We Do What We Do?

 

Why-we-do-what-we-do-invitation1

Sometimes there’s a part of us deep inside that reacts and does things that we never meant or intended to do. I’m an over-thinker and analyzer, and there are many times I’ve had to question my behavior.  I used to look at the behavior itself and then judge because of the behavior, but I’m learning now to not just “see” what is being done, but try to understand the why behind it.  I believe with all my heart that our actions are not the true representative of the good or evil within us – but the WHY behind them.

Why do we smoke? Why do we cheat? Why do we lie? Why do we feel the need to rescue? Why do we care? Why do we sacrifice? Why do we hurt others? Why do we protect? Why do we risk our lives? Why do hide in fear?

The things we do reveal our true selves more than anything we say, feel, or think.  I’ve discovered on many occasions I am not always as I think or believe I am. Sometimes I am stronger and better. Sometimes I’m weaker and worse.  But, I can only see that truth when I question the ‘why’ behind my actions.

I’ve been cheated on, and of course the first question I want to know the answer to is ‘why’ and then immediately feel or think it’s some sort of deficiency on my part.  How could he do that or hurt me that way? Didn’t he love me enough? Was I not what he wanted? How could he want someone else when I gave him everything? Was I not pretty enough, smart enough, independent enough, or dependent enough? Am I too smart, too short, too fat, too demanding, too …anything?  See how the cycle goes?  But those are not the questions we should be asking.  It’s more about the ‘why’ behind his actions – what was going on inside him that he felt the need or want to go outside the relationship?  What need wasn’t being filled or met within the relationship? Where was the communication breakdown that didn’t address the problem?

We are all responsible for our own actions.  The man that cheated on me (no, this hasn’t been recently, just in my past) was the person responsible for checking himself and his motives before acting on his impulses.  The only responsibility I had in the situation is to make sure open communication was present to help identify the problems.  In that, I failed.  I let assumptions, fears, doubts, and suspicions guide me.  They may have been true, but that’s no excuse for not communicating before things got too far.  I’m not responsible for him or his actions – only my own.  But what I do know is that relationships are HARD.  They take TWO people who are willing to fight.  Sometimes one needs to fight harder than the other for a period of time if they’re going through something, but eventually both need to come back in balance and be there for each other, and keep those lines of communications open.

I have lost relationships due to pride, shutting down when the pain came, and judging my partner because of their actions and not trying to understand their motives. Understanding a motive doesn’t excuse a behavior, but it may help us understand how frail, complex, and weak we are as human beings.  “Judge not, lest we be judged.”  Before we act, let’s put ourselves in their situation and see if we can understand the problem, we might just find a solution. Cheating isn’t the sin – the betrayal of intimacy and trust and not communicating is the real sin.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dreams, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Relationships, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Terminal List by Jack Carr – Part 2

Jack Carr The Terminal List

Okay, I’m a few days late, but here is the second part to my review of The Terminal List by Jack Carr.

I want to get into the conspiracy theories promoted in this story.  To tell you the truth, I started getting pissed.  First from the prologue, wanting to know who the hell sent this SEAL team to die, to murder them while they are doing what they’ve been trained to do, while they believed they were serving their country.  I can only imagine thoughts like that have to be in the back of the mind for those out there putting their lives on the line.  What a betrayal! These guys risk their life for the mission, for their country, because they believe in their country. They are trained to trust their teams, and the people in authority over them. These teams are made up mostly of fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers with a deep sense of duty and honor.  It’s a hard job and they can get lost at times, lose sight of the mission, lose themselves beneath stress and pressure, but at their heart they’re our heroes.  To have someone betray that trust, and then use that betrayal to cover their own selfish agenda is deplorable.

I’m not naïve. I know the world is full of greedy bastards that kill, manipulate and plunder for their own material gains.  There’s a lot more than I’d like to admit, but that’s the way of the world. In this story, this betrayal comes from the leaders that our protagonist, Lieutenant Commander James Reece, trusted and obeyed, not only who tried to kill him, but killed his brothers-in-arms. So, I was asking, ‘What the hell was this level of betrayal for?’ thinking money was the root. Yes, ultimately, money was the root to this evil, but author Jack Carr doesn’t just give us that simplistic single reason – no, we get slapped with another double whammy with an even bigger betrayal – the Team guys were murdered because they were evidence, they were guinea pigs for experimental drugs.  Before they were terminated by enemy bombs, they were first terminal victims of a biological weapon.

Man, oh man.  Fear is a bitch, and I can imagine that again these types of fears of betrayal are on our Team guys’ mind at times. I found myself getting angry the more I read this story. I know its fiction, but its plausible issues that our SEALs could face and it just makes me irate that it probably has happened in some fashion, or probably will happen at some point.  What a messy business.  Rescuing and killing. I can’t imagine how hard that can be on a soul.

The Terminal List by Jack Carr definitely stirs the mind and pushes my buttons. I do recommend it, it’s very well-written, it’s a great read, but it’s not for the faint-hearted or the weak-minded.  An ostrich can’t read it, a sheep couldn’t understand it, a wolf would be offended, and a shepherd would be ashamed.

I planned on a third part of this review to talk about all the guns and weapons described in this book, but I really don’t understand them. I love that a glossary was added, but while I can’t appreciate the beauty of the weapon (but I’m sure a weapons guy would love those parts best) I got the gist the story. They served their purpose, but I’ll leave those details to those who know what they’re talking about; I’ll stick to the writing, the pacing, and dialogue, the moral of the story, the emotion, and the writer’s voice.

Jack Carr is a natural story-teller, a silver-tongue, and I love listening to his interviews and podcasts.  He writes a really well story, with great pacing, and good structure.  I look forward to reading True Believer.

If you haven’t read Terminal List by Jack Carr – go read it now!  You won’t regret it.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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The Joy of Writing

The Joy of Writing

I’ve read many of stories or books that start the title “The Joy of Writing,” but never really consigned myself to the concept.  Writing was anything but a joy. It was exciting, thrilling, frustrating, stressful, mind-blowing, and confusing and every other emotion on the spectrum from one extreme to the other. But, joy?

Do we categorize breathing as a joy? Or how about urination or yawning, or sleeping?  Well, I can see where sleeping might sometimes be a joy.  But how can we categorize natural occurrences, something that so much a part of you and instinctual be considered a joy?    Writing is part of who I am. Constructing a story is a part of my every day, every moment existence. I see the world as one long epic tale, and each major event it’s chapters, and each segment a paragraph, a sentence, or a word. Those moments are what makes up life and as a writer I am a recorder, a scribe, and an observer of life.

I don’t just write for fun, or therapy, or clarity, or need. I write because it’s who I am.  It’s like being a mother. While there are all the books out there in the world that tell us how to be a mother, I found out that being a mother is a natural thing, a instinctual thing.  My choice comes into play by deciding what type of mother to be – nurturing or neglectful, etc.  I am a writer and the only choice I have within this vocation is what kind of writer to be – and if you’ve followed me for any length of time you will find that I am a multiple-faceted writer – a writing diamond. I’ve dabbled in journaling, blogging, novels, novellas, epics,  punditry, op-eds, technical, business professional, auto-biographical, legal, free verse, poetry, screenplays, reviews, editorials, memes, short stories, flash fiction,  and songwriting lyrics. If I think about it, I’m sure I could add a few more in there – but I think you get the picture. Writing is just something I do. It’s natural.

Yet, writing isn’t without its own rules, standards and styles.  So, I have to learn them. Grammar, spelling and punctuation are just basic skills needed to be a writer, because after that comes tense, perspective, pacing, style, structure, threads, inciting scenes, prologues, forwards, and on and on and on.  These are skills developed over time and experience.

So, how is writing a joy?  I suppose the joy of writing is the ability to do it, and love doing it in the first place. I do love writing. It’s a part of me that comes alive and thrives within me. I am a collector of stories, a re-teller of tales, a silver-tongue, a scribe, a keeper of legends. How can one not find joy in that? When we leave this world, all we leave behind is our story.  Who will read it or hear it unless it has been written? I don’t need a Sorcerer’s Stone to make me immortal – I just need to write. While my body will leave this place one day and turn to dust, my stories will remain until it is no longer retold or pages are lost.

That’s one thing that makes me sad – the forgotten of those that were here before.  I sometimes walk graveyards and whisper to the headstones, “Hey, I see your name. You existed. You once were here and you once lived.” I know it’s probably crazy, but I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t others to be forgotten. I don’t our history to be forgotten. I am an orphan and often feel forgotten in the world, so I write. Oh, the joy of writing.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

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Move On

Move On

 

Anytime something happens in my life, usually something tragic or a loss of someone I love, or the dissolution of a relationship, people always tell me to move on.  Move on?  What does that really mean, because that could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people?  I was thinking about that this morning – moving on.

I suppose all of my life I’ve been moving …on – because I keep moving. I am always moving – either forward or backward. I’m growing or shrinking. I’m learning or wallowing in ignorance.  Well, if you really think it about it, I am always headed toward death.  If I stop and give up – I am digressing and dying. If I stop eating, I will die of hunger.  As I move forward and keep aging, I am slowly moving toward death – so I am essentially dying there too.  BUT, the difference is HOW I move toward my death, which is GOING to come.  Next week, if I make it that long (Scott’s workout is torture) I will have moved forty-eight years closer to my death. Pretty sobering, huh?

I’m not being somber here, just real, facing the facts.  Fact is …I am going to die. In my fantasies I’d like to go out in a blaze of glory, being with someone I love, filled with a sense of peace knowing I really lived and loved, and got to experience the best this life had to offer. Our definition of best will probably splinter at this point – but the best in life for me has NOTHING to do with stuff or accomplishments.  It has to do with love and the journey taken to achieve those accomplishments. I just want to be loved, I just want to love the people in my life, and I want to pursue something that fuels my passions. THAT’s it. I can do that in a mansion or a trailer, with a million or a penny.  Don’t make a difference to me – as long as love and purpose are present.

Life is a diamond and shaped with billions of angles.  It’s filled with pain and pleasure. Some of it I’d like to forget, but I can’t. What I can do is not wallow, not dwell, not stay stuck in that chaos – but move on.  Learn from it. I can’t forget the tragic shit.  I don’t want to forget it, because it was the fire that forged the steel that runs through my soul.  Moving on to me is being able to see things in an honest view – all the ugly and beauty of a thing, of a moment, of an experience, of a person, or of a lesson.  EVERYTHING has light and dark, good and bad. I can’t just look at part of a thing and truly understand it. I have to have balance and see all the facets to truly appreciate it.  That to me is moving on – seeing it (no matter the chaos) in its truth, accepting it in its truth, and then learning something about myself from it.

My life has had some hard truth and it’s been hard to move on.  But, I had to accept it and see it, and learn from it, to honor it and what it means to me. James’ death, my childhood, my divorce, losing relationships are all hard truths. NO relationship in this world is ONLY beauty. EVERY relationship has its weaknesses, its flaws, its ugly – because we are human, we are mortal, we are complex beings filled with both dark and light.  To truly appreciate a relationship, I have to look at it in balance and truth. Fantasy, the idea of what we think a relationship should look like, is the biggest destroyer; false expectations. What we think a person should look like, how they should respond or be, how we should feel, etc.  We make our lists, we set our expectations and then our human counterparts don’t (can’t) live up the fantasy we created in our minds and we get disappointed.  If we looked at people and relationships in balance, see the good and bad, the light and dark, and accept people for who THEY truly are, not who we hope or want them to be, then we will have more successful relationships.

I’m not perfect (shhhh… don’t say that out loud). I don’t always do the right thing. I don’t look like a porn star or supermodel. I don’t have the world to offer on a silver platter.  I don’t have all the wisdom of knowing everything. But, if you strip away all those vain, stupid, unimportant, shallow issues, and look deep at my soul – I think I’m fucking amazing. I love with my whole heart. I give all of me to everything I do. I learn from my mistakes. I own my choices.  I am loyal. I am faithful to myself and the people I love. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I’ve learned to learn. I’ve learned to move on – to move in life – to keep going forward, not forgetting, but keep moving. My tomorrow is not guaranteed.  I may not be here in the next minute, so I believe with my whole heart that I just have to live the best life I can live, and never take a day for granted, or a person for granted, or a passion for granted. Love me or don’t. I’m going to keep moving on till I have no more breath.

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Destiny, Dream, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roadblocks, Detours & Reactions

Roadblocks

I’m a planner. It’s that simple. EVERYTHING great I’ve ever achieved in my life came from envisioning what I wanted, making up my mind that I was going to have it, counting the costs to get it, and then constructing a plan of execution.  EVERYTHING.

But, like all of life – things don’t always go as planned. We find ourselves headed toward our destination only to come across roadblocks and detours. They are always unwanted, but are they really unexpected?  They usually are, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. We should always have a plan B, or C, or D, before we ever take a step with plan A.

I don’t like roadblocks and detours. My destination is clear, and I want my path to be clear. It never is. Roadblocks and detours are one of my triggers. Not because I can’t handle the change in the plan. Quite the opposite, I thrive in change, in uncertainty, and in chaos. It’s how I’ve lived my whole life. I’m OCD and organizing chaos is one of my gifts. But, it doesn’t mean I don’t react negatively when chaos comes and disorganizes what I’ve already put in place. It’s like spending a lot of time setting up dominos to fall just right and have something come in before the setup is complete and knocks them all down. I don’t like it and it causes me to grieve the work I’ve already invested, the dream I already dared to dream, and disappointment at the expectations I’ve already developed. It triggers my anxiety.  Not because of fear, but from the residual pain of 48 years of disappointments.  In the same measure my anticipation for residual joy is just as great, my hope for a deep love is real, because I’ve had it and have experienced it before.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t control everything around me (believe me – I try), or always what happens to me, or what happens in the world around me. The world has Murphy, Free Will, and Intent (whether good or evil), Natural Law, Cause & Effect, Good and Bad, and Chaos. All those things have the power to cause good or bad things to come into my life, cross my path, or affect me whether directly or indirectly – completely out of my control. I can always speculate why something happens to one of us, and not another, etc. That only drives me to frustration trying to figure it out.  I accepted a long time ago that sometimes bad shit happens to good people, and good shit happens to bad people, and bad shit happens to bad people, and good shit happens to good people. Good and bad shit happens, period.

But, what I do have control is how I respond to the shit that happens to and around me, to the roadblocks and detours that come along my road to the goals I want to achieve. I don’t like them. I don’t want them. I try to avoid them. BUT, I don’t let them stop me.  I just find another way, take a less traveled path, a harder path, one that requires more skill or sacrifice, but I keep moving toward my goal, never taking my eyes off my destination.

I had a major roadblock pop yesterday and it triggered me, and there were a few moments where the anxiety overwhelmed me and I found myself in a panic.  Not because I couldn’t handle the situation – because the situation has been handled. I have taken care of myself my whole life. I have faced every adversity or problem on my own. I always have, it’s actually one of my greatest strengths, but it’s also one of my greatest weaknesses. While it has sharpened my survival skills (something I think a majority of our millennials sorely lack), it’s also built a wall of self-reliance that keeps people on the outside. My anxiety doesn’t come from having a problem to face. A problem is just an opportunity to discover a solution, to use my mind, skill and creativity to achieve something. No, the problem wasn’t the problem, the true problem was that I felt completely alone. That isn’t the truth, but it’s what I felt and it’s what triggered my anxiety.

I don’t fear failure. I don’t fear adversity. I don’t fear struggle. I don’t fear pain. I fear – shutting down emotionally, hiding behind my walls, being so fucking stubborn and independent to not let anyone in, to not trust that someone would be there for me. I fear it because I’ve been there behind that wall, in that numb state of shutting down my emotions so I don’t feel, for a very, very, very long time.  It protected me at different times in my life – and I’m grateful I was able to disconnect – to survive. But, I don’t want that anymore. I’m so scared to not feel, to not trust, to not love, because that’s not the life I want. I want to feel EVERYTHING. My Anxiety and Fear practically screamed at me that nobody cared and nobody would be there for me, making me realize I’m still that defensive little girl that won’t let anyone touch her.

I don’t NEED anyone. I handle my own shit – always have – always will. I WANT someone. I want to be able to turn around and somebody be right there beside me AS I face my roadblocks and detours, not for them to remove them for me – but be there beside me as I remove them.  But, in that moment – I felt completely alone and that familiar wall slammed hard against me. I cried sitting in my car for a good ten minutes.  My true roadblock wasn’t my car troubles, but my trust troubles. But, I face what I fear.  My hands literally trembled so hard it took me a few times to dial the number and call the people that are important to me, the people who I would stand with and support in their times of need, trouble, or pain, people who I love and would fight to the ends of the world to protect, to help, and sacrifice everything I have to make sure they get what they need. I just don’t expect it in return – ever – from anyone. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.

When I contacted those important people, I passed on some of those frustrations– but not on the truth – I masked them behind the car situation.  Will I ever trust anyone? I want to, I really do, more than anything in this world.  I want to know for sure that someone out there in this universe really loves and cares for me. Is there any hope? I keep saying I don’t need anyone to save me – and I don’t in a physical, financial, or intellectual way.  But, emotionally – I need a fucking hero.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Musing., Philosophy, Poetry, Quotes, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Assumptions and Snakes

Assumptions and Snakes

I made an automatic assumption yesterday about my boyfriend that turned out to be wrong.  I felt like a tool. I felt so bad I had to go and apologize to try to make it right with him, because that’s not the kind of person I want to be, and it’s not a behavior of which I’m proud.

I once heard a phrase that stated, “Don’t assume because it will make an ass out of u and me.  Ass-u-me.” It can and it does.  But, in no way does it mean I am to be stupid. Truth is truth, period. We are not to deny truth – but we can work on our assumptions because they are not always grounded in truth.

The Word says in Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep amongst wolves, therefore be wise as serpents and innocent/harmless as doves.” While I don’t consider myself a sheep, because I’ve learned the difference between sheep, wolves, shepherds and sheepdogs.  I’m a sheepdog. The second point I wanted to make was that I’m a wordsmith and dissect the meanings individually to understand the context in whole.  So my first question is how is a serpent wise?  Well, growing up on ranches, farms and woods, I’ve encountered many snakes and I can tell you they are careful, they are prudent, they are stealthy and are they are keen observers.  They don’t announce their arrival, but they might warn before an attack, but not always. They will attack when the time is right, when the opportunity presents itself, or when they are forced to defend themselves.  They’re patient. Man, I could go on and on about the wisdom of snakes.

The innocence/harmlessness of a dove, though. That’s more difficult. What makes a dove harmless or innocent? Doves are loyal. They mate for life and are very protective of their mates and offspring.  They are often considered compassionate creatures. They are not predator animals.  They’re the symbolism for the Holy Spirit and truth, and honesty, and good character.

I think altogether this just simply means we need to be discerning and hold our actions to a higher standard, to be careful with our judgement. Things, thoughts and ideas need to be kept in balance, things such as our emotions, our minds, our hearts, and our faith.  I have to make sure the decisions I make are not heavy in just one of these areas, but balanced between them all – being both wise and harmless.

My assumption was an emotional response, not to him, but to my previous experiences and preconceived ideas.  I unfairly judged him for the actions of others. I unfairly questioned his moral character without evidence or proof, or consideration.

Rev. Daniel Patrick once said, “Condemnation of new information, without consideration, is ignorance and arrogance of the highest order.” I had that posted on my office door for years, and that truth is sewn into the depths of my heart, soul and character. Yet, I condemned, judged, and propagated my opinion – falsely without consideration or thought. That’s NOT who I am.

One of the things I love about my current relationship is the honesty and the deep level of communication we have with each other. There’s NOTHING I couldn’t talk about with him. There’s probably nothing we haven’t already talked about (‘cause this woman *pointing to herself* is obviously a yapper).  I’m not going to always make the right decisions and say the right things and be wise or harmless. Sometimes I’m going to respond ‘out of balance’ with either my emotions, my thoughts, my fears, my faith, my understanding – or lack thereof, and neither will he. I can be stupid and vengeful.  WE are humans with free will.  But, I do believe with my whole heart that with good communication, with open honesty, and an integral fortitude to do the right thing, to make amends for our mistakes and learn from them – we can be imperfectly perfect with and for each other, and be quick to forgive.

I think that honest communication is the foundational key to any successful relationship – making us both wise and harmless. I don’t want to hurt him in ANY way. I don’t want to be hurt. I don’t expect him to be perfect – just open and honest. I love his flaws and I’m unafraid to bare my flaws. I know he will fail at times (don’t tell him that – he doesn’t believe in failure), but I know he’s a warrior and will get right back up and keep fighting. I don’t care about his failures, I care about his spirit and will and determination and drive to keep trying, to keep fighting. At times I am going to fail, at times I’m going to fail him – but I too am a warrior and I WILL get back up. I’m never out of the fight – I will always keep fighting. I just have to learn to fight right – not just know enough to get myself hurt.  I got to watch those assumptions and snakes.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Faith, family, Life, love, Musings, Philosophy, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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