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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

Body, Mind and Soul… Day Two

Body, Mind and Soul - Day Two

Okay, this is now day 2, and I promised I’d get to the mind and soul part of this blog. I’m conflicted on which to write first.  During meditation this morning I was really focused on the soul part, but then had electronic issues that pissed me off, so now I’m on the mind. Let’s just see where my fingers take me.

I suppose this part is both mind and soul.  There’s a rule in life that I’ve learned over the years. It’s one that’s help me realize many goals and dreams.  I’ve accomplish most of what I’ve set my mind on accomplishing. The rule is this, which is actually from the Word: Don’t start what you don’t plan to finish, and count the true cost before you make the first move. Then commit to it. Then jump. When I make a decision, I then make a plan, visualize the steps I need to reach the end result (write my vision upon the walls), and then settle it in my heart and mind to do what is required and necessary to achieve those goals (they will test resolve and require sacrifice), and then act.

Listen, this is important: Having a good idea never got anyone anywhere.  Action and dedication are required. But, that’s not all.  Action only gets the plan moving.  Do you know how many great plans have failed because when the planner took the first few steps, things got tough and they gave up or changed course?  I bet if you looked back you can see a long trail of unfinished plans and dreams.  Those didn’t fail on accident. They failed by choice. It may have been an easy or hard choice, but it was still a choice. You chose to quit, you chose to give up, and you chose to let it go.  There may have been good excuses, great reasons, or magnanimous consequences, but it was still a choice.  The ONLY way to make a plan succeed is by making the choice to fulfill it.

One of our biggest problems when we make a plan is that we make plans where we don’t possess the tools, determination, understanding, or skills in order to fulfill them.  This is a little complicated.  On one hand, we should always strive to reach beyond ourselves, outside our capabilities, and above our limitations, but at the same time we have to be reasonable and practical.  Dream. Oh, God, dream big! But then break that dream down into obtainable, sensible, practical steps.  If you can’t see the path to the dream, you’ll get lost, detoured, distracted, and discouraged.  Don’t be afraid to take risks, but be practical and honest about the true cost of those risks. Don’t lie to yourself. Be willing to pay those costs, or get off the pot and go back to half-ass your way through life. NOTHING good has ever been without sacrifice. NOTHING.

I once made a vow, just like King David, that I would not give to my God, or myself, that which costs me nothing.  I would not be like Cain and give the least of what I had to fulfill a requirement, but to always give my best and with my whole heart – at work, at play, at love, and at life. That promise is not for anyone but me, for the sole purpose of being able to stand in front of the mirror and face that woman who has been through hell and back, and know that I’ve done my best. Whether I succeed or fail, fly or fall on my face. SHE deserves my best. I value my dreams and goals, and THEY deserve my best.

So for the sole purpose of reaching my life goals and dreams, I have to set my mind on what I want to achieve. I have to focus, fill my thoughts with the things that will help me succeed.  I need to protect my mind and soul from people or things that will steal, detour, or destroy the plans I make.  Not everyone in our lives is good for us, some will not only destroy the plans we make by messing with our minds, but they will also seek to destroy our souls.  That’s what I’d like to blog about tomorrow – our souls.

Until next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Back to the Busyness of Being Happy

 

Back to the Busyness of Being Happy

Life is complicated.  It’s filled with difficulties. No matter how ‘together’ we get ourselves, tragedy finds its way into our lives, upsetting our plans, providing roadblocks to the best of our intentions.  If we are ‘waiting’ to live in any capacity, or for our lives to be less complicated before we open our hearts to love or happiness, then we are lying to ourselves and robbing ourselves of any love or happiness we could experience today. We need to get busy, NOW. We need to start living in the moment, right in the middle of our chaos.  We need to get into the busyness of being happy.

Waiting never brought anything.  Life doesn’t present itself out of the blue, we must go out and grab it, live it, and choose to fight for the success we want to enjoy.  If we think things will be better LATER, when our priorities and problems are lighter, we are telling ourselves the biggest lie. It’s a lie that robs us of the love and happiness we could be enjoying now.  If we can’t choose happiness now, or accept happiness in our lives now, we never will.  There will always be reasons and excuses.  We must choose happiness in the middle of our chaos if we ever want to experience it at all.

Are we waiting to love after …our kids are grown, our bills are paid, we lose weight, we have a better job, we have a bigger house, we have a better car, we have gained success, or we are healthier?  Are we waiting to be happy to be happy?  That’s stupid. It doesn’t work that way. If we think so, we are lying to ourselves and robbing ourselves of the happiness and love we could be enjoying now.  Not only enjoying it, but allowing it to fuel, encourage, and inspire us – giving us the strength we need to obtain all those other things we want for ourselves and the ones we love.  Do we want our children to be happy?  How are we teaching them to be happy when our example is the opposite?  Do we want to be an example of hope, determination, and success?  Do we think we can teach something that we are not leading by example?

Love and happiness are our strength.  It is the force in this universe that gives us the forte to properly deal with all the chaos the world throws at us. We are weak without it.  God is love.  Love is where we find forgiveness.  It’s where we find hope.  It’s where life truly happens. It’s where we learn to truly love those in our lives.  Outside it, we only find pain and heartbreak, loneliness and fear.  I speak of love, not lust, not obsession, not passion, but true love. Love that puts others’ needs before our own; love that reaches for us in the fullness of our failure, at our weakest, at our most low and desperate moments. The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we should be alone. Choosing to be alone isn’t about trying to find ourselves, it’s about being afraid.  Our fears keep us alone.  Our fears make the self-destructive choices that only bring more chaos, more oppression, and bad decisions into our lives.  Fear is our weakness. The only way to confront fear is to get back to the busyness of being happy.

1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” ~Euripides

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”  ~Hubert Humphries

“We are born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” Orson Welles

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The Business of Being Happy

 

The Business of Being Happy

There’s only one person that can truly make us happy, and that’s our self. While others can influence us, inspire us, encourage us, or detour us, we are ultimately in control of how we allow others to affect us.

I have had some happy moments because of my interaction with others. My children have made me happy. My loves have made me happy. My soul mate has made me happy. My friends have made me happy. Well… they’ve created moments that have led to me accepting that happiness. At the same time, they have also led to moments of great pain. But my happiness and my pain have all been in my control, by what I’ve allowed to affect me. I’ve recently went through a period of great happiness, followed by a period of great pain and stress. I’m tired of being hurt. I’m tired of being stressed. I’ve decided to get back to the business of being happy.

I wish I could tell you it was a simple as that… to just decide and then *poof* it’s done. But, making the decision in only the first step. As I blogged yesterday, part of the path to happiness is changing my atmosphere. Change what music I listen, what foods I eat, what activities I participate, what is the state of my health and fitness, and what company I keep. All these things contribute to the business of being happy. I can’t reach that state of happiness working in or on just one of these areas.

Happiness is about balance, an equilibrium within my heart, mind, body, and soul.  When one is injured, damaged, abused, or neglected, it affects them all. Life is too short to allow my heartaches and disappointments to keep me from reaching or fulfilling my potential. I’ve got too many things to do, too many dreams to chase, too much life to live to allow these pains to steal all my joy. The Word says there is a time for everything under the sun… a time to mourn, a time to grieve, a time let the pain out… but there’s also time to pick myself back up and get back to the business of being happy. I was created for a purpose, I have a dream, a plan, a vision, and that is to live my life to its fullest, and its time I got back to it.

I really don’t understand laziness.  I understand taking time to just relax and let your body, mind and soul rest.  While most of the time I can’t sit still for more than an hour, I can at times spend all day in bed binge watching or reading. What I don’t understand is laziness in the form of a lack of drive, of not having a goal, a plan, a vision, or a dream.  I don’t understand the concept of procrastination and just drifting by and surviving the day, letting the world and circumstances dictate what happens in our lives.  Why on earth would we give that kind of control to chance? 

I also really don’t understand the concept of being reactive compared to being proactive.  I can’t grasp the mindset of spending all my time and effort chasing the chaos. I’ve been on this earth long enough, and intimately acquainted with Murphy, to know that SHIT HAPPENS.  If we drift through life always reacting, believe me – life will continuously keep throwing shit at us, spiraling our lives out of control, sending us into places, circumstances, and situations we never wanted to be a part.  But when we don’t take control and plan, and then do the hard things necessary to move those plans into action, then we cannot be proactive and are constantly moving from one disaster to another.

Getting back to the business of being happy, there’s no room for laziness or a reactive mind set.  Being happy has a lot to do with having purpose and then doing what is needed to fulfill that purpose.  Work isn’t work when you’re working with purpose or for a purpose.  It only brings us down when the effort we are expelling is only to meet a need.  If we work just to pay the bills, to survive from one paycheck to another, yet not LIVING in the moment, then we will despise what we do and hate every moment.  But, when we work because we have a goal, a vision, a dream, or a purpose, then what we do isn’t draining.  We don’t wake up in the morning groaning and despising having to get dressed and go. If that’s our mornings, we need to remind ourselves it’s not our jobs we hate or that makes us unhappy, it’s our state of mind, happiness, and purpose.  I don’t particularly love my job, but I like the opportunities it provides.  

I’m happy, because I’m happy with myself.  I can look at my image in the mirror and smile, because I love the woman I am and have become.  I am proud of myself. I’ve been through hell and back, been knocked down so many times, but I keep getting back up.  I’ve been rejected, unloved, and unwanted, yet I continue to hope, to love, and to dream.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, done shameful things, but I’ve worked hard making amends, facing my demons, and repenting for my sins. I’ve learned from my mistakes.  I’m my own hero. If no one else on this planet thinks I’m amazing or worthy of their love, their time, or their attention, well… that’s their loss, because I think I’m pretty damned amazing.  It’s time I got back to it, too.  Call me arrogant, but not too many people are going to be able to keep up with me in these coming days, because I’m back to the business of being happy, of chasing dreams, and of living life out loud.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Muses, music, Philosophy, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Romantic, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

It’s Time

 

It's Time

Life is filled with moments.  Good moments, bad moments, great moments, and moments of defeat.  We laugh, we cry, we love, we hate, we fall, and then we rise. 

This past year has been filled with a little bit of it all.  Hell, the last few years have been such a rollercoaster, riddled with ups, downs, sharp curves, steep inclines, and free falls.  I regret none of it because all it means is that I have LIVED.  I have felt and experienced the greatest of love, and I have also experienced the worst of pain. It’s time.  It’s time to move on to the next phase, to get on the next ride, and see where the universe takes me.

My spirit cries out with a howl so deep and filled with so much longing, even the wildest of wolves would bow in reverence. My soul has been ripped in two, a piece of it lost, possibly forever.  I’m a weary warrior who’s been fighting the ghosts of my past for so long that my blood-soaked sword is heavy, my arms are weak, and my resolve is exhausted.  But, it’s time.  It’s time to rise from the ashes, leave the battlefield behind, and be reborn to peace. 

It’s time to let the sunshine warm my face, caress my shoulders, pour its radiance into my skin, healing me from the inside out. As Jack Johnson says, it’s time to radiate. It’s time to face my ghosts.

I think it’s time to finally write my story.  My mother just recently passed away, and I think a part of me held back from telling my tale because I didn’t want to hurt her more than she has been hurt in this life. My story isn’t an easy one, and she’s suffered enough.  I’ve tried to write this story a few times already, the last being because I had a source of joy to battle the heaviness I knew that would come, I was in love. Love is always a strength of comfort when battling something very painful. But that source of joy left me, and I just wasn’t strong enough to face my ghosts while my soul was in so much pain. But, it’s time. 

It’s time to face my ghosts. It’s time to open my heart and let healing come in, to let my walls down, to let my gift once again flow freely.  It’s time to get back to being great.  I am great. I am talented. I’m not wasting my life chasing mindless things that mean shit.  I don’t need drugs to numb my feelings, or alcohol to drown the thoughts that torture me, or mindless sex to make me feel alive.  I have many gifts and it’s time to let them do what they’re meant to do. I will not apologize for being driven, for having vision, for living a life focused on rising above the circumstances of a shit world.  I love myself, and believe I deserve the best this world has to offer.  That doesn’t make me a snob, it makes me a warrior.  This world didn’t give me anything, nothing was handed to me, I was not of privilege, and I have fought for everything I’ve accomplished, everything I have done.  I’m so sick of being surrounded by people with nothing but excuses. There are NO excuses.    

We are responsible for the things we allow to come into our lives that distract us, that use us, that hurt us, that we let bring us down.  We have the responsibility to ourselves to remove those things, take a stand against the vampires and the distractions that seek to destroy us.  We can only blame ourselves when we allow people to lie to us and tell us this is who we are, when we should be looking up and forgetting those things that hinder us. I will look forward, look up, move ahead, casting off all those things that hinder. I’m the only one responsible for my situation and my circumstances.  If it was up to the world, I’d be a cheap whore dancing in the local strip club, drowning my sorrow in booze and sniffing my morals away up my nose, blaming everybody else for my circumstances, not caring who I hurt in my path of destrucktion.  But this world can go fuck itself. I am not a victim. I am a survivor, a warrior, and a lady.  I choose love over vices.  I choose hope over the mentality of defeat.  I choose vision instead of excuses.

God, I’m so sick of hearing excuses.  Everywhere I turn I’m bombarded with them.  Everybody has issues.  Everybody.  EVERY BODY!  Everybody is going through something. EVERY BODY has been hurt, tripped up, knocked down, had the rug pulled out from under them.  Who we are – is not what happens to us, but how we respond.  Being a liar, being a cheat, being a fucking vampire scumbag, being an addict or full of excuses and quick fixes, is OUR choice. The only person we have to blame is ourselves.  Keep whining like a little bitch, and that’s all we’ll ever be… a little bitch. So what – We got hurt.  So what – Our dreams were crushed.  So what –  We have to start all over again.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  It’s time.   

I’m tired of hearing excuses… from myself and everyone else.  It’s time. I’m cutting that negativity out of my life.  Some of you are NOT going to like me very much in the coming days.  Some of you are going to hate me because I’m not going to be your sounding board to whine about your problems or lie to yourself with your endless excuses.  I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck and do something about them.  Some of you are not going to want to hang around me because I’m going to be focused, driven, energized, and fighting.  If you’re lazy, you’re going to be intimidated, jealous or irritated by me and my energy.  I don’t give a damn.  Sayanara, bitches.  It’s time. Those I leave behind… I will miss you.  Those who are about to come into my life with all your energy and vision, I can’t wait to meet you.  I’m not apologizing for being hard to keep up with.  Shame on you for being too weak. I know we live in a world of weak people.  That’s their choice.  I love me just as I am.  I have fought hard to be the woman I have become.  It’s okay, I don’t need you or anyone else.  If you’re in my life, it’s because I choose you and I want you.  I can choose to leave at any moment.  It’s time.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

1 Corinthians 15;33 – “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

Life is good at times, and very hard at others.  There are always things, experiences, and people that come in into our lives that enrich us, bring us happiness and joy, and at the worst moments test us, push us to our limits, and some even break us.  Being broken hurts. But it’s often the bad decisions and mistakes we make that we learn from most.  But the consequences of those mistakes and bad decisions don’t ever leave.  Sometimes we deal with them for the rest of our lives.  Sometimes the pain or the love never fades.

I’ve lost a good friend lately, or at least I thought they were my friend.  I’ve also been reunited with some distant friends, and have met some new ones.  These encounters are highlighting the meaning of friendship to me as well as showing me how important the people we allow to surround us or come into our lives effect everything, color our vision, pour into our lives or suck the life out of us. We have to be careful, because our own souls are at stake.  Bad company corrupts good character. We are who we surround ourselves.

Be careful who you surround yourself.  Cut out toxic people, because you can’t help them. People must want to help themselves.  You want to really know a person, look at their friends, look how they spend their time, look at their priorities.  People lie to themselves.  They tell themselves they’re a good person, just trying to help, just trying to make good out of a bad situation, but what do they do?  Do they drown their feelings? Do they ignore their responsibilities, lock themselves away and shut themselves off from the positive people in their lives?  Look at person’s friends and you’ll see their ambition, their hopes, and their priorities.  Look at the trail they leave behind them.  Is it a road of destruction, drama, chaos, or love, ambition, etc?  Look at their direction they’re headed.  Do they have dreams, or are they just existing from one chaotic moment to the next in survival mode? What of their families? What of their character?  Do they put aside their own selfish wants to make sure they provide the right kind of influence and atmosphere for those they love?

Humanity needs a purpose, we need a vision, we need something to hope for, else we become lost, our souls wander aimlessly waiting for the next predator to swoop in at opportune moments. Low, selfish people want to tear down everyone around them, to feel something for themselves.  Real friends want to build up those they care for, open opportunity, and not be afraid to dig in, dig out, and pull up.

Realizing that someone you loved very much, slap you in the face and choose a path of destruction, cuts deep. Sometimes we need to feel that pain to remove the rose-colored glasses from our eyes and take a good assessment of what is truth.  When someone is on a path of self-destruction, nothing you can do will help them because they’re not listening and they don’t want help. The best thing you can do is let them fall, because they HAVE to WANT to help themselves or nothing will ever change.  You can help them a million times, and they’ll come back a million more with their hands out.  In truth, you’re not helping, you’re enabling. Trying to really help them – they will cut you out, because they don’t want to be helped, and they sure as hell don’t want to hear the truth. They will surround themselves with others on that same path and level of destruction. They can lie to themselves about who they are, their character, their motives and their what path they’re on, but look at who they surround themselves and you’ll see a person’s true path, no matter the lies they tell you or themselves.

On the flip side, those who want to change their stars will surround themselves with people that encourage, that inspire, and that love.  You want to be loving, surround yourself with loving people.  You want to be happy, surround yourself with happy people. You want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people.  You want to get healthy, surround yourself with people that have a healthy lifestyle or healthy habits.  You want to succeed, surround yourself with others that strive for success.  You want to fall in love, surround yourself with others who are in love or also want to fall in love.  Don’t ask a broke man for financial advice.  Don’t ask a whore for advice on love. Don’t ask an addict about self-control.  Don’t ask a liar about respect.

Protect your circle of family and friends.  We might not think that bringing a toxic person into our lives and around our families isn’t dangerous, but every action, reaction, response, comment, and non-comment that toxic person makes effects those around them. Those around us are either building or tearing us down. 

We are all human, and all have times of doubt, depression, and fights with our demons.  But those times are temporary in a good, kind, and loving person.  But toxicity from a vampire isn’t temporary, it’s a deep poison that comes out in every pore, and its fragrance is pungent and poisonous to everyone around them. Cutting them out and telling them no, and walking away doesn’t make you a bad person.  I have a huge heart and have tried to help anyone I see in need. I’ve sacrificed so much in my life for the people I love, for humanity in general.  I’ve brought strangers home to put a roof over their head, fed the hungry for more than 20 years, visited the elderly listening to their stories, visited the imprisoned and helped them envision a brighter future, write resumes, and give hope they have the power to change their stars. I’ve spent the majority of my life doing volunteer work because I have a bleeding heart and I hate, HATE, hate to see the pain and oppression in this dying world.  I have walked in picket lines, in demonstrations for equality for women and minorities, I have prayed with the dying, I have worked with animals that have been abused, and I have stood outside the back door of an abortion clinic to offer open arms instead of judgement and condemnation. I’ve went without food to make sure someone else ate. I’ve spent time with wounded soldiers, written letters, and held them tight.  I have helped build water wells and schools for children in third-world oppressed countries. I’ve supported programs that help rescue young women from human trafficking.  I am a survivor of every kind of abuse you can imagine and have seen the true ugliness of humanity, yet I still hope, I still believe, I still fight like hell to protect those I love, protect those who can’t protect themselves.  I love children so much, and am a natural mother to all kids.  You should see my gaming clan – it’s filled with kids from 6 to 12, 14, 15, 19, 21 year-olds. I mother them all. Yet, I’ve endured one of my own children run away, another battle with drugs, and another disappear into obscurity.  I’m divorced. I’ve lost someone I loved to war.  I was abandoned by my family and rejected by another. Yet, I still believe in love, in family, in friends.

That is the woman I choose to be.  Yes, I’ve been successful in many areas of my life. I’ve got an MBA, I’m a published author that’s been nominated for many awards, I’ve owned my own successful business, I’ve ministered in front of thousands, many of my friends include celebrities and people in the top of their field, I’ve cooked some spectacular gourmet meals. My resume is amazing.  I’ve done some AMAZING things, I’ve jumped out of an airplane, zipped down the tallest tree-top zip line in the world, rode the white rapids, climbed a mountain, and hiked some amazing trails.  Yet, for a while I’ve forgotten about this woman.  I allowed toxicity into my life. Not anymore. I’ve learned to say no.  It is not cruel to wear garlic and ward off the vampires.  It’s an act of compassion. I have fallen on my face more times that I can count, yet I get back up.  I’ve recently found myself once more with my soul crushed on the ground, but I’m getting back up. I’m surrounding myself with people who encourage me, support me, and are a positive influence in my life.

It’s not my job to save the world. Someone else already did that. It’s time for the world to save itself.  If we climb out of our holes of disparity, by our own determination, grabbing hold of the arms willing to reach out to help, we now have an arm to offer someone else what WANTS to climb out.  But how can we offer help to someone that’s in the same hole?  The only way out is to climb on their shoulders or else have them climb out on ours, and that might not even be enough. You want to get out of your own darkness, then call on true friends already above ground, surround yourself with others that want to see you succeed, that inspire you, that encourage you, that focus on the positive and quit the blaming the world and everyone else for their situation. I’m drawing people into my life that don’t push me away or shut me out, but let me be the cheerleader that I am, that lets me encourage them, help them, and inspire them, because doing these things for others helps me be me, helps me remember the woman I am, strengthens me by their love, their support and their encouragement.  They’re not sucking the life out of me, but pouring life into me.  These are my true friends. 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Proverbs 13:20 – “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”

Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9 -10 – “Two people are better than one because together they have a good reward for their hard work.  When one falls, the other can help his friend get up.  But how tragic it is for the one who is all alone when he falls.  There is no one to help him get up.”

Proverbs 18:24 – “One who has unreliable friends soon comes ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs 27:6 – “You can trust what your friend says, even when it hurts.  But your enemies want to hurt you, even when they act nice.”

Proverbs 16:29 – “A violent person entices their neighbors and leads them down a path that is not good.”

Proverbs 22:24-25 – “Do not be a friend of one who has a bad temper (or bad character), and never keep company with a hothead, or you will learn his ways and set a trap for yourself.”

John 15:13 – “No one has a greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friend.”

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Faith, family, friends, Instructional, Life, love, Musing, relationship, Relationships, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Self-Motivation vs. Luck

self-motivation

Self-Motivation. I can’t express how much this is essential to any source of success in my life. If I’m waiting on the world to motivate me to achieve or reach my goals, I’m going to be sorely disappointed. The world is essentially lazy and inherently selfish. It doesn’t give a shit about me or cares whether I reach my goals or not. I may be lucky and have a friend that will be there to cheer me on, but they’re not going to hold my hand or carry me to my finish line, and I shouldn’t be so damned co-dependent or lazy to expect them to do just that. But, alas, we live in a very, very, very lazy world, or else I’m just surrounded by a bunch of lazy enablers with an excuse and diagnosis for everything.

I understand depression. I have been suffering with it most of my life, yet as with anything and everything else, I don’t let it control me. I learned a long time ago that if I wanted anything in this world, I was just going to have to get it on my own. I suppose that’s the bright side to having parents that didn’t take care of or give a shit about me, it forced me to learn to take care of and give a shit about myself. To have no one to depend on, taught me to depend on myself. To have no one to trust, I’ve learned to trust myself. As for motivation, I’ve also learned to be my own cheerleader.

Someone made a comment to me this weekend, one that at first really, really pissed me off. I know they didn’t say what they said to hurt me, but I don’t they understood the gravity of what they said because they come from a different life, a different experience, and a different generation. What am I talking about, I’m still pissed.
I’ve enjoyed some great successes in my life, and I’m very proud of them. But, I want to make one thing very, very, very clear. NONE of it was handed to me, and NONE of it just fell in my lap by luck, birth, circumstances, etc. NONE of it.

The comment that set me off was, “You’ve had a very lucky life. What I wouldn’t do to have one-tenth of the opportunities you’ve had; you’ve received many of the things I only dream about. Some people have all the luck.” It was clear this person doesn’t know shit about me. YES, I’ve accomplished a lot of things, and some of those things are huge accomplishments, but not one of them just “fell in my lap”. I have fought like hell and sacrificed more than I can ever give account to receive each and every one of them.

My degree? My stomach pitches when I think of how many days I practically starved to death because the two jobs I worked paying for every book, every class, daycare for my kids, diapers, rent to the dumpy trailer I lived, gas and repairs to piece of shit car I had at the time, sleeping only 2-3 hours a day, splitting a box of macaroni with my babies because that’s all I could afford to eat often forgoing a bite for myself to make sure they had enough, juggling to pay either the rent, lights, water or gas for that month, crying myself to sleep feeling like the worst mother in the world because daycare or babysitters or terrible family members were raising my kids instead because I was so busy just trying to survive. But, yeah… that degree just fell in my lap because I’m a privileged white girl that just had the world handed to her. I didn’t have student loans or parents to fall back on. I had ME. Only ME.

My publications? No one saw the years of writing stories late in the night because it was an inconvenience for everyone else, it wasn’t practical, just years and years and years writing stories that no one ever read. No one saw the hours and hours and hours spent helping others with their work, editing, critiquing, encouraging, watching them one by one go off to gain success and then forget I ever existed. The years of ghost-writing for other people, never being able to take credit for the hard work I’ve done. The marketing, the networking, spending many, many, many late nights barely able to keep my eyes open going over my work, editing, editing, editing, writing, writing, writing, and busting my ass making sure that everyone I met, everywhere I went, everything I did would bring attention to my work. Submitting and submitting, receiving rejection after rejection. Getting one little writing job after the next, after the next, after the next. No one saw the shit ton of money I spent out of my own pocket on bookmarks, websites, entrance fees into festivals, marketing materials, ads, etc, etc. No, my success just fell in my lap because I’m lucky. I sure as fuck didn’t earn any of the nominations or awards.

My dedication? I once had these two authors I was trying to help become published and successful, because I believed in them and thought they were very talented. I believe both blame me today for their lack of success. For a very long time I spent so much of MY time, MY money, and MY effort trying to promote them, ignoring my own work, but I couldn’t get them to promote themselves. They had some fucking lame-brained idea that they were so talented that success was just going to fall in their lap without any effort on their part. They were too good to even make any personal appearances; they were gifted artists, after all, akin to the Cormac McCarthy’s and Charles Bukowski’s of the world. They obviously believed I didn’t work for my success either or else riding on my coat-tails would grant them the success the easy way. I fought for them until I found out I had cancer, and then I didn’t give a shit anymore. I don’t think either of them have done anything still to promote themselves, but I really don’t care. I can’t believe for them, and bottom line, they have to have their own self-motivation. I had this other writer that I spent more than a year helping her write her auto-biography, but when a better opportunity came along, none of the work I had done mattered.

Healthy Living? Beautiful Face? Oh, yeah… I’m lucky. The one-hundred and thirty pounds I’ve lost, and maintained for nearly 10 years, that was lucky too. It sure hell doesn’t require a regular workout routine, a regular diet of healthy living, having to say no to temptations, being disciplined, getting myself up at 5am every morning, pushing through the pain, or learning how to say no to the donuts. Nah, it’s my genetics. I just wake up this beautiful on my own because I’m lucky. My muscles don’t hurt, my back doesn’t ache, my joints don’t scream at me, and my eyes just automatically pop open on their own. Hell, my workout outfit dresses me every morning, not the other way around. There are lots of excuses I can use to stay in bed longer, to avoid the treadmill, and feed my pity, or pop a pill for every little ache and pain. For those mother-fuckers who think a surgery lost this weight and maintained the loss for me, you keep telling your fat-asses that. It shows your ignorance and your dependency on excuses. My surgery saved my life, but it had nothing to do with my weight loss or the maintenance of my health… which is all self-motivation and sheer determination. Surgery doesn’t make someone walk away from the doughnuts, no more than an insulin shot keeps someone from eating sugar. But, hey… we are an excuse generation. There’s a million and one reasons WHY we CAN’T do something.

So, here I am this morning. I still have 10-20 holiday pounds to shed, still got a blog to write, still got dreams to chase, still got a job to work, still got a life to live. Who’s going to open those doors for me? Nobody. But, that’s okay because you know what? I know how to open my own fucking doors. What a concept!!!!!!! You know what? I am lucky. I’m lucky that I have a mind of my own, a will of my own, and self-determination all of my own. I know so many depraved mother-fuckers out there that can’t even get their asses out of bed because they’re too busy feeling sorry for themselves, and they blame the world for their lack of success. God, I’m so lucky I’m not one of them.

Till next time,
~Lucky Mother-Fucker

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, blogging, Conversations with a Friend., family, Health & Fitness, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Counting Stars

Counting Stars

By One Republic

I’ll get into the lyrics of this song in a minute.  I haven’t heard it in a couple years, but listening to it on my way home from work today brought me right back to a place in time when I was fighting for my life.  I can almost remember the very moment this song came alive to me.  I had heard it several times on the radio, and while I thought it had a catchy tune, it didn’t really mean anything. Yet, one afternoon I found myself sitting by the lake at my apartment on Alvin Street, watching the sun glisten on the water’s surface, ducks flying overhead, a cool breeze in the air, when a soft thought popped into my mind, whispering to me that nobody cared, that all the sacrifices I’d made in my life were for nothing, that all the love I gave was never returned, that I didn’t matter.  I’d just been invited to be part of an anthology with some of the writers I admired, had no one with which to celebrate my achievement. I thought I could easily slip into that cold, frigid lake and no one would even notice this selfish, rebellious, unlovable woman was gone.  I felt the pressure and judgment of the world on my shoulders.  All the voices of the people who told me I was making a mistake by getting a divorce, that I was disobeying and disappointing my god, that I was being rebellious and selfish because I wanted to be in love, that what I wanted was stupid, a fairy tale. I had the world.  I had a good career. I had a good marriage. I had a good family. I had a good inheritance. I had a good reputation. I had a picture-picture resume life.  My writing career was taking off, and I was beloved and respected by my community; a pillar they called me, a monument of strength of character.  I had everything a good Christian woman desired in her life. Someone told me once that I was selfish for not being content with the life I had, that my desire to want more, was an insult to the god I claimed I loved.  How could God love me for being so selfish? To want more was to distrust God.

I didn’t want riches. I didn’t want fame. I had opportunity to have both and walked away. I just wanted to be loved, to be wanted, to be desired… to be heard, to matter, to make a difference in this cold world, for humanity to love each other, not hate each other proving who was right. I wanted fathers not to hurt their little girls, and mothers not to be ashamed and hide behind pills, and brothers that didn’t steal and lie to each other, or sisters who supported each other and not be in competition, and kids who didn’t take the strength of their parents as a sign of not caring, and parents who remembered their kids were not their property but individual human beings with their own thoughts, ideas, plans and dreams. I felt at odds with the universe.

I closed my eyes, felt the warm sun on my face, slipped my feet out of my shoes and edged by toes toward the cold water of the lake’s edge when this song suddenly came on my iPod and filled my ears, and the tears spilled down my face.  This was a song from me, to me, in that moment.  My inner-self called out to my spiritual-self, and the words never meant something more beautiful than what they did that cold, cold autumn afternoon.

 

Lately I been, I been losing sleep

Dreaming about the things that we could be

But baby I been, I been prayin’ hard

Said no more counting dollars

We’ll be counting stars

Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

 

Counting stars… wow! One of my favorite quotes in the world, something that gave me strength through the years was from A Knights Tale when a declaration was made to change a person’s stars, to change the destiny the world had given them, to be more than what society deemed as acceptable. Before that movie even came out, my best friend in the world – who became the love of my life, made a promise that we would rise above our stations in life and change our stars.   I fought my whole life to be more than what I was born into, more than what society dictated, and I worked hard my whole life to rise above my beginning, my inheritance, and my lot in life.  No one was going to tell me my limits.  I pushed them, and I soared well above them. When my drug-dealing father was arrested, I was deemed a miscreant, told by a bigshot D.A. at the age of sixteen I was going to grow up and be nothing more than one of my father’s whore drug runners, a high-school dropout, and in prison before twenty.   I changed my stars and proved them wrong, living a clean life, a vanilla life free of drugs, gangs, cartels, and miscreants.   When I lost a college scholarship because I became a teen mother, and chose to keep and raise my baby, I changed my stars by paying my own way through college, and working three jobs at the same time supporting myself. When the love of my life died in combat and left me alone in this world, I still remember the promises we made to change our stars. I never forgot. I will never forget.  I’m not counting one star… I’m counting on changing many, many, many, many, many more stars. I have, and I will change even more. I’m still counting them, baby.

 

I see this life

Like a swinging vine

Swing my heart across the line

In my faces flashing signs

Seek it out and ye shall find

 

Life isn’t about what comes at you or is presented to you.  You have to chase it down.  You have to go after what you want. You have to take a chance.  Yes, you can fall. Hell, you will probably fall a lot more than you’ll ever fly. Yes, you can grab hold of a weak vine and it causes you to crash to the ground, but that doesn’t mean you stop swinging.  It means you get back up and grab the next one and see where it takes you.

 

The old, but I’m not that old

Young, but I’m not that bold

And I don’t think the world is sold

I’m just doing what we’re told

 

Excuses.  The world if full of them, but we have to be willing to argue back with it, set our own limits, tell ourselves what we are going to do and how we’re going to do it.  We can’t be afraid.  We can’t think inside the box.  Don’t allow ourselves to be put in a box… too old, too young, too weak, too strong, too fat, too skinny, too uneducated, too educated, too smart, too dumb, too experienced, too inexperienced.  Tell the world to go fuck itself, and stop doing what it tells you.

 

I, feel something so right

Doing the wrong thing

I, feel something so wrong

But doing the right thing

I could lie, could lie, could lie

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

 

You can’t change or count your stars if you’re too busy living under everyone else’s judgements, ideas, and limits.  You determine what’s right and what’s wrong for YOU and tell everyone else to go fuck themselves.  Am I disappointing my god?  That’s between me and my god and nobody else’s business.  Live your own dream.  Find someone that supports that dream, and made damned sure that if you’re supporting someone else’s dream, that it’s their dream and not yours for them. You’ve got no right to dream for someone else.

 

I feel the love

And I feel it burn

Down this river every turn

Hope is a four letter word

Make that money

Watch it burn

 

Looking for the world’s definition of love or success, it’ll never work, it’ll never satisfy, and it’ll always burn.  It’s fire, it’s poison, it’s shallow, and it stings.  Too many people fall in love with the idea, the dream, the image of what they believe is love, instead of falling in love with the real person right in front of them. When they get disappointment because the person doesn’t live up to the perfect image that was created in their minds, they blame the person instead of themselves for building impossible standards anyone could ever hope to reach. It’s not fair.  We have to come to a maturity in our lives so that when we look at someone we are not naïve to their flaws, but embrace them, and love them just as they are in spite of them, not only loving the truth of who they are, but for the potential of who they’re capable of being because they too hold the power to change their own stars. The first step to changing stars is seeing the truth, exactly as it is in all its ugliness. But when we can’t even see the truth of the stars in front of us, how can we expect to change anything?  We change nothing and then we live our lives chasing THINGS… things that will burn or turn to rust, things we cannot control, cannot contain, things that slip right through our fingers and burn in front of us. We exchange our stars for temporary things, for temporary love, for temporary people… ideals instead of reality, fantasies instead of truths, we lose out on real love for infatuation and lust.

 

I could lie, could lie, could lie

Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

Take that money and watch it burn

Sink in the river the lessons I learned

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

Songwriters: RYAN TEDDER

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

Can’t you feel it?  This song reminded me of the promise I made as a hopeful fourteen-year old girl, sitting with her back against her locker next to this dorky, long-legged awkward boy named James, dreaming with our young, naïve hearts of how we were going to change our stars. I felt that promise that day by the cold lake through this song, and it stirred something deep within me, and it’s stirring something else within me today.  I heard that familiar whisper during my flu delirium, reminding me that my love hasn’t found me, that though I’m loved, I’m never chosen, I’m never fought for, and that if I want anything in this world I’m going to have to fight for it on my own or provide it for myself. I understand now, I need a star counter, because I’m a star counter.  I could never be content with someone that can’t even recognize their own stars, much less who isn’t constantly counting new ones.  I won’t ever be silent. I won’t ever be content. I am bigger than this life, much more than the boxes offer.  I am at odds with the universe, because I too am expanding, seeking, and counting stars… and it’s time I got back to it.

I too am a star.  My own sun, shining brightly, soaring in this universe, But I’m not one to be caught so easily. If you can’t even see me, the real me, then maybe I’m just a little too bright or a little too hot for you, or you just don’t belong in my universe.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Ask

ask

Ever read something, and the moment you read it, your universe moved? You’re not quite sure how, but there’s a definite paradigm shift deep in the center of your soul? I read a comment recently, that the moment my eyes processed the tiny font on my phone, my mind filled with a thousand strings of thoughts, flashed a thousand images, and like an electric current surging through my body, sparked a thousand feelings all at once. Goosebumps popped up on my arm. The hair on the back of my neck prickled.  Tears welled in my eyes. A knot didn’t just form, but augmented in my throat.

Someone messaged me, “I believe I’m an answer to something you’ve asked for.”

Seeing those words, something inside shifted.

Something I asked for?  I don’t remember asking for anything, not anything consciously. In fact, I’ve spent so much of my time, love, and energy on everyone and everything else around me, concerned about their needs and wants, I’ve had no time to think about what I want. Seeing those words, reminded me of my promise. They also reminded me of other words I’ve been given not too long ago, “I can’t give you what you want.”

Right before I asked for a divorce I made a vow, a promise to myself. I wrote it down on a magnetic memo and posted it to the refrigerator, to remind myself every day of that promise. I still have that memo posted in my bedroom right now.  It states, “I will never again waste my time, love, or energy into that which does not first invest those things into me.” I broke my promise.

So, I ask myself, what do I want? My soul whispers, Ask.

“I want to receive what I freely give.  I want someone to give a shit about me.  I want to be someone’s first thought in the morning. I want someone to care about the things that make ME happy.  I want someone to know about what I’m worried about, what I’m excited about, what I’m scared of, what I’m determined to do, how I feel, what I dream.  I want someone to think about me in the middle of the day. I want someone to want to talk to me, to want to share with me what’s going on their day, in their life. It makes me happy helping others, nurturing what other’s need, helping them realize and reach for their dreams, help pick them up and pull them out of their difficulties. I love and care about the people in my life, and I worry about them, and I do everything in my power to help, to encourage, to support.  I give so much of my heart loving and caring for them, and I just want someone to love and care about me. I want someone to give a damn about what had me curled in tight ball for nearly two days, or what had me so upset I couldn’t eat, or what excited me so much I couldn’t sleep.  I want someone who WANTS to talk to me, to spend time with me, to offer arms to hold me when I’m scared, to caress me when I’m feeling frisky, to ravish me when I’m excited, to encourage me when I’m doubting, to calm me when I’m frustrated.  To be there for me, not with their words and empty promises, but really be there for me. I want someone to love me.”

I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, so why am I so afraid to speak?  Maybe the universe hears my heart instead of my words.

Categories: Blog Post, blogging, Conversations with a Friend., Dreams, Faith, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, Musing, Philosophy, Quotes, relationship, Relationships, respect, Romantic, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

YOLO!

yolo

Yep.  I don’t know why it comes as a surprise for some people, but you really ONLY get ONE life.  Yeah, yeah, I know… some of you believe in reincarnation, life after death, transformation, transcendentalism, etc… all those other “possible” conclusions.  But, I’m not talking about those right now. I’m talking about the 50-100 meager years we get to walk on this planet.  Well, some of us crawl, some of us run, some of us spend it on our backs, while others spend it on our knees, but you know what I mean.  One life.

So, let me ask you… what are you doing with your life? Are you even living it, or are you just existing? Do you just go through the motions, or do take charge and move through the universe experiencing everything you can while you can?

People, we get one shot at it.  Just one. 

There have been some low times in my life where I wanted to end it, when the pain was too much to bear and I just wanted it all to stop. Abuse. Cancer. Death of a love. Divorce. Break up with a soul mate. Times I’ve felt so lonely, so lost, so unwanted, so unloved, so rejected, so unnecessary, that I just ached inside. Of course, my love for myself, for my family, for my friends, and for life itself always stayed my hand during those low points, but I’ve been there.

There have been some high times in my life where I never wanted to end, ones I wished to live over, and over, and over again.  A kiss that melted me from the inside out. A touch that still gives me butterflies today. A hug that felt like it held together all my broken pieces.  A moment of my hard work being recognized. The birth of my children, holding them for the first time. Laughing so hard I peed myself. Jumping from 2.5 miles in the air.  Racing down white rapids. Watching an ant meander through the grass and meeting God. Writing. Playing my guitar. Kicking alien ass on my Xbox.

Life. A series of moments.  Good moments. Bad moments. Loud moments. Quiet moments.  I’ve lived a lot of moments. I’m not guaranteed one more.  So, I want to make them count.  Love the people in my life.  Live my life being happy. Loving and being loved. Discovering and being adventurous.

I can’t imagine trying to numb my life with hate, drugs, alcohol, or behind a thick wall never letting anyone in, or with condescending judgment.  It’s not always going to be sunshine and roses, and there are still dark days and dark moments ahead, but there’s always good moments, and bright moments, and life and love. 

Be silly. Laugh. Take a chance. Jump. Kiss the girl (life).  Dance. Dream. Sing. Touch. Smell. Stop hiding. Stop running away. Throw your hands into the air and let it go.  It’s your choice. No one else to blame but yourself if you’re too coward to embrace life.  For fuck’s sake… SMILE!

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

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