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The Whimsical World of T.L. Gray -The Story – My Story – My Imagination

The Story, My Story, My Imagination

The Story – My Story – My Imagination

As far as memory serves, I have loved stories.  I love to hear them, to read them, and most of all to create them in my mind and imagination.  I don’t know where I first heard them, but I remember listening to narrations from an old 45” record player, and the distinct voice of an old British woman telling stories. I was mesmerized.  It’s the same way with music and songs, and how they have the magic to often teleport my imagination to another place, another time, and another life.

Telling stories have helped me over the years with many various things, most of all with entertaining my brothers.  Being the daughter of an international drug dealer left us children often in a strange place, having to abruptly leave in the middle of the night, move away from every one we have known, and leave behind all the things we once had, including toys.  For me, what broke my heart had to be leaving behind my books.  My parents didn’t care that I didn’t have them, or how much I loved them, or how much they helped me escape. My welfare and wants were never their priority.  I learned to treasure the stories of my mind, because those stories could never be left behind.

I believe creating stories and learning to narrate started for me at a very young age because of my father’s blindness. As the story goes, having been a part of a drug deal gone wrong, my mother and father were shot when my mother was six months pregnant with me.  Spray from the shotgun hit my mother all over her neck and chest, barely missing me inside the wound, and my father took direct hits in the face, destroying one eye completely and severely damaging the other.  So, before I was even born my father had lost his vision. I don’t know what it was like for him the first few years, I was just baby and have very few flashback memories.

I don’t have any pictures of me during that time, except one, a studio picture of me and my brother together.  I was a few months old, he was a year older.  Other than that, while I’m sure there are some family photos stored away in some box somewhere, I don’t remember seeing them, and I don’t have them.  There are no photos, other than that one baby picture of me, before I was sixteen, and only one or two after that until I started taking pictures of my babies.  Even still, most of those pictures don’t have me in them, because I’m the one that took the pictures.  I’m sure my ex-mother-in-law has some pictures of me, but I’m sure she’s put them away so as to not upset the new daughter-in-law.  It’s only been the last few years I started taking pictures of myself because I felt invisible to the world. I wanted the world to know I existed, that I mattered, because no one except my children had ever made me feel that way.  My children are all grown now and it seems they also have forgotten me because they never call me, text me, message me, or come see me.   I often send them ‘good morning’ messages, to never get answered, or never returned.  Then when they change their number, or it’s no longer in service, I never get the new one.  But I still send the good morning messages to the number I had, even though I receive the error message letting me know my messages were not delivered.  Being left behind, being forgotten isn’t new to me – and I feel like many of my old books.

I often wonder about all the books that got left behind. Did the new tenants throw them out, or keep them and wonder who had possessed them before? Did they appreciate the story as I had, or never cracked open their spines? I adapted to not having books to read.  As I mentioned above, my father was blind, but he had not been born that way, so he still had a lot of memory of what things were, how they looked, and so he would listen to television.  But, as we all know, television shows and movies don’t give a play by play of what’s going on screen.  The deaf have closed caption, but the blind only have the sound effects and the dialogue.  My father had me.  Somehow it had become my job to narrate what was happening on screen.  Perhaps it was because I was good at it, could determine what needed to be and what didn’t that I got the job.  I just know it created good and bad habits in me.  Good, in the sense I am able to see the beautiful detail that I feel most miss.  Bad, in the sense visual people don’t like watching movies and television with me because I still often narrate.  You don’t know how many times I’m told in an irritating strained voice that they can see what’s happening and don’t need my input.  I’ve tried to restrain myself, but it comes naturally.  It’s how I was raised since I could speak.

While I wish I had experienced a different life, I’ve learned to appreciate the things this one has taught me, the tools that had been sharpened through all my adversity and the opportunities and skills it has created.  I believe it’s made me a better writer, that it’s forged inside me that creativity, and exercised my imagination that now fuels my own writing. I sometimes wish I couldn’t see the details, because while the details are good for the good things, they’re just as bad for the bad things.  Along with sight, comes feeling.  That’s another story, for another page, but there was a long period of time I felt nothing for no one or anything.  Because I had felt everything deeply, I couldn’t feel anything or else it would destroy me.  That has played an ugly role in my life, often hurting the people I love most. In trying to save myself from getting overwhelmed, it seems I’ve created another cycle, another generation of issues.  In my efforts to protect myself from being overwhelmed, I put up a wall to protect me, to protect them.  But, it appears I protected no one. My children don’t understand how much and how deeply I loved them, they only knew the wall, and they now have their own walls – to keep me out.

Every day I struggle with hiding once again behind that wall.  It’s never protected me.  It didn’t protect me from my family hurting me.  It didn’t protect me when my James died.  It didn’t protect me when my daughter ran away, or when my husband wouldn’t love me, or when I fought cancer, or when a family who promised to always love me doesn’t even acknowledge I exist, or when a soul mate tells me they can’t love me because they’re too damaged.  I want to hide every single day because the pain is too great.  But, I get up, I put a smile on my face, I take a picture of that smile and I send it out into the world, and then fight through the rest of the day to keep positive, to love myself, to set goals and dreams for myself, to stay healthy, to stay fit, to love everyone I can, to shove those walls back down that keep slamming up, and to fight my triggers.  I choose to see EVERYTHING, all the details, all the beautiful, scary, ugly, loving, hateful, details of life.

I’m getting older, I don’t know how much more story I have, but I choose to live it as best as I can. I choose to love myself.  I choose to encourage myself. I choose to forgive myself. I choose to push myself.  I choose to dream.  This is the story. This is my story.  This is my imagination. This is my life.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

 

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dream, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, music, Musing., relationship, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Excuses We Tell Ourselves

The Excuses We Tell Ourselves

For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. We forget this often in life because our memories are short and selective. We have lied to ourselves for so long about our responsibilities, and have accepted the lies in order to feel good about our decisions, reactions, actions, and choices we have made. It’s a natural defense system. But, we have to fight that nature if we care to see the truth. That’s the heart of the issue. We can’t often handle the truth, that’s why we accept the excuses we tell ourselves.

We are human. We are emotional, spiritual, and physical people. Our nature is to survive, reproduce, and learn. It’s also naturally equipped to lie, to deceive, and to manipulate. We are not born to be good, we are born to survive. Goodness is a choice and hard battle to fight. It’s natural to be selfish, self-centered, and greedy. It’s not natural to be loving, selfless, considerate, and kind. It’s hard as hell. If someone hurts us, our natural instinct is to protect ourselves and hurt them back. If we see something we want, it’s in our nature to take it. It’s not natural to desire to earn it, work for it, and fights for it. Those are characteristic traits we learn, we choose, and we develop.

We didn’t wake up the way we are, how we think, or even how we feel. These are the results of millions of choices we’ve made to this point. It’s the reactions to our actions. We’ve chosen to either learn from our mistakes or to continue making them again and again and again. We can’t control what happens to us, but we have complete control on how we respond. How we respond is what develops and identifies our true characters.

I didn’t wake up one morning and decide who I am. I have awoken many, many, many mornings choosing to become who I am. Some mornings have been easier than others. But, I decided a long time ago to stop making excuses for my behavior. It wasn’t my physical ailments that defined who I am. It wasn’t society who dictated the person I was to become. I take full responsibility for my actions. I don’t allow doctors, psychologists, friends, teachers, bosses, co-workers, or family to tell me who I am, how I should be, what I should accept, or how I should respond. I’m a rebel that way. I choose who I am. I choose how to respond. I choose what to accept.

Yes, this makes me an odd duck, and 100% percent of the time puts me on the outside of the comfort zone that most people are familiar. It’s hard for people to be around me for too long, because it will show them their own mirrors. It’s painful and lonely to be who I am. I’m most often abandoned, left behind, rejected, or misunderstood. How did I become this way? Having died twice and battled death on several other occasions may have played a part. Having a very tragic and violent childhood may have played another. Having lost my first love to war has played another. Having been rejected so many times by those who are supposed to love me most has played another. Having my own children run away from me or forget me altogether has played another. My faith has played another. All of these combined, with a determination to seek the truth, to accept my responsibility, and not accept the excuses have played another. I am responsible for me.

So, choose to use me, abuse me, neglect me, or reject me – I am going to continue being who I am. Someday someone is going to choose to love me and I want to be able to give that person the best woman possible. I don’t want to give them a broken, damaged, angry, hateful vampire that will only cause more difficulty in their life. I want to be someone’s bright spot in a dark world, to be beacon of hope in this hopeless world, to be an example of love in this hateful world, to be precious to them. I want to be their crown, their pride, their joy. I want to be their peace. But not everyone will be able to handle a woman like that. It would have to be a strong man, the strongest of heart and character. The brightness from me will cause a reflective pool, and only a man who can truly look upon his own reflection… in truth, without excuses, without shame, and with great inner strength and strong faith, will be able to be with me. In truth, I may never find them, and I have to be okay with that too.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Muses, Musing, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray | Tags: | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Heart, Mind and Soul

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… Our Resources

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… Our Goals

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

Who am I?   –  Who do I want to be?

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

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

Where am I?  – Where do I want to be?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

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

Dream: Finish a 50,000 word novel.

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… Our Time

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

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

Body, Mind and Soul… Let’s Go

Body, Mind and Soul

Well, it’s a new day and I’ve got a lot of things bubbling up inside and I’m ready to start working on them. Last night I went on a date, and I think that will be my last first date for a while. It really confirmed to me what I want in this life and that I no longer have the patience or tolerance for anything that will distract me from that goal. I had a pleasant time, but I couldn’t wait for the date to be over. I don’t want to play anymore. I don’t want to keep getting disappointed when others don’t or can’t meet my expectations. I didn’t quite realize what those expectations were until this weekend. They’re quite high. I’m tired of being hurt or let down. I’m tired of putting my heart out there, when others are unwilling to put their own. I’m a risk taker. I’m an adventurer. I’m not lazy in anything, and that includes love.

So, what’s on the agenda? Well, that included a LOT of things: I’m working on body, mind and spirit. I’m going to really sharpen my focus on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Let’s start with the physical: I’m healthy and active. I’m not skinny, but I’m not obese. I work out so that I will be able to participate in the activities I enjoy. Being single I am WELL AWARE of how important the physical body is when it comes to attractiveness. I don’t have an issue with it. I personally would never date someone extremely obese because it’s unattractive, unhealthy, and detrimental to my own healthy lifestyle; however I think a few extra pounds on a man looks good, healthy, and not so vainly arrogant. I do have a stereotypical reaction to men who are what I call ‘gym rats’ and I know it’s not fair. I’ll stop thinking they’re overcompensating for either a lack of intelligence or penis size if they will actually try to see a woman beyond the first two layers of make-up and skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love being sexy, I love men being attracted to me, and inside a relationship I love to have lots and lots of sex (I mean, really a lot of sex). But, I don’t fall in love with someone based on their sexual appeal. I fall in love with souls, not faces. I have loved some really plain faces that had such beautiful souls. Anyway, my physical health is very important to me and it’s time I amp up my workouts and start focusing on setting and meeting some physical goals for myself.

  1. Body Boarding – I got to experience it for the first time on Easter, and I love it. I want to do more and do it often. During the experience I realized I need to focus on my upper and lower body strength because trying to get passed the breakers required a lot of energy. It’s the hardest part of the whole process. So, now that it’s getting warmer, I’m planning on spending more time at the beach working on my upper and lower body strength, simply swimming passed those breakers. I also want to start working at the gym/home with strength conditioning – using weights, yoga, and workout routines centered on strength training.
  2. Bike Riding – I plan on doing a lot more bike riding around my town. Not only is it great exercise, but you get to see and experience the world around you with an open view. I see so much more when I’m riding my bike. I feel so much freer. I’d love to have a riding partner, but I’m determined to go alone because riding my bike also gives me time to think. With my job and all the other things I’m doing, I really don’t have a lot of time to think anymore. Everything is rush, rush, rush, rush. I’ve sometimes considered getting a physical labor job, because when my hands are busy my mind is free, but then I think about the heat or the toilets and change my mind. Maybe with a little more bike riding I’ll be able to figure out the perfect job for me.
  3. Swimming – Because I do live near the ocean and have daily access to a pool, I want to become a really strong swimmer again. I used to be one, even competed for a time, but these last few experiences have shown me that I’m not that strong of a swimmer any more. Also, swimming is great physical exercise. So, I plan on doing a lot more swimming. Also, being in the water is really helping this white girl get a beautiful golden tan. I just hope I don’t get that dark leathery skin that makes you look old. I look so much younger than I am because of my porcelain skin.

So my new workout routine will involve:

  • Monday – Friday: Early Morning Yoga, Afternoons – 500 Stairs, 30-min swimming, 3 miles on the treadmill, and strength training on the machines – targeting legs and arms. (12,000 min on FitBit)
  • Saturdays: Bike Ride & Beach
  • Sundays: Lazy Day – Off (Video Games/Writing/Binge-watching)

My new diet will include:

  • M-F Mornings: Grapefruit/Cheese/Coffee/Water
  • M-F Mid-Morning Snack: String Cheese/Trail Mix
  • M-F Lunch: Smart Ones – 3 Cheese Ziti & Water
  • M-F Late-Afternoon Snack: Cottage Doubles/Pineapple
  • M-F Dinner: Lean Meat/Green Vegetable/Starch/Tea (Less than 1000 cal)
  • NO EVENING SNACKS
  • Weekend Morning: Bagel w/cream cheese, bacon
  • Weekend Lunch: FREE – whatever I want
  • Weekend Dinner: FREE – whatever I want

I’ll blog tomorrow about my mind and my soul.

Until next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Dream, Faith, family, friends, Health & Fitness, Hope, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, Musing, 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

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