Dreams

Hug Me, Love Me, Never Let Me Go

I crave to he held, extremely tight. I want to completely relax, lay down my armor, and let go of my sword under the strength of a pair of strong arms. I want to feel the excitement and ecstasy of a pair of rough hands caressing me, protecting me, touching me, exploring my body, and claiming it with every move.

hold me 1

I want to be held so tight that all my broken pieces are put back together.

broken pieces

When I go to pull away in fear, doubt, and uncertainty, I want those strong arms and hands to hold me securely and not let me go, reassuring me that I’m not alone, that a warrior stands at my side, guards my back, and stares down any approaching danger.

king and queen 2

I’ve rarely ever felt safe in this world. But those few times have ALWAYS involved a hug.

king and queen 1

I don’t let strangers hug me, but I desperately crave hugs from and for those I love.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Life, love, memes, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Unexpected

Good Morning, World. It’s been a while since I’ve greeted you. It’s not because of a bad thing, but a good one. I’ve been a little busy with life. There’s been some big changes going on, and while they’re quite stressful, I couldn’t be happier.

I’m going to be a grandma! My baby girl is having a baby. I can’t believe it. I look at her face and she’s still my baby, and then I look down at her growing belly and realize she’s gonna be a mommie. My baby is having a baby. I’m happy and scared all at the same time. But I have much faith in her. She’s strong and she’s a survivor. She’s kind and caring. She’s made mistakes like the rest of us, and will continue to make more like we also continue to do, but I know her heart. She gives everything to what she loves, and I know without doubt she’s going to be a good mother because she’s going to give to her baby all that love and devotion. I love her even more today than the day I first held her in my arms almost twenty-three years ago.

I can remember a few months ago feeling very lonely and missing having a family. I was lost. I was trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted, and where I wanted to go and do in life. The world was my oyster and I had so many choices in front of me, yet I couldn’t move and often couldn’t breathe. I was trying to date and felt overwhelmed every time I sat across the table from one strange face to the next, all describing their boxes and what they wanted in life to fill those boxes. I started to lose hope because none of those boxes were what I wanted. The problem was, I already had what I wanted I just didn’t recognize it, because it hadn’t manifested yet and didn’t look like an expected box. My impatience always gets the better of me. Like everything else in my life, nothing comes in a ‘normal’ box. Normal doesn’t really exist. I have had a family for a while, one that I’ve prayed for, one that I’ve dreamed about, one that I love very much right in front of me the whole time, it just didn’t come to me in a normal way. I have a man that I love and respect who is my best friend and soulmate, two teenage boys that I adore and cherish to the moon and back, a best friend that is closer than any sister I’ve never had, and three dogs that I love and love me unconditionally. Now my baby girl has returned, and I’m about to be grandma. Wow, so much can change in just a few short weeks. God is good. He sees the true desires of your heart, even if you don’t know what they are, and those are the things He manifests. None of these relationships are without problems and issues, but in spite of all those issues there is LOVE, real, deep, devoted love.

I have a new job! With my new and rapidly growing family, I need better financial support. While my current job, Percepta/Ford, has provided for me this past year, it can’t sustain the future. I’m sad to be leaving my co-workers because I truly adore most of them and consider many of them good friends. I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere where I’ve been so close. I am going to miss them terribly, and this week is going to be bitter-sweet. I often cry thinking about leaving them. They’ve been there for me during my mother’s death, my brother’s recent brush with death, me meeting and falling in love and then the heart-break that followed, the moving, and the dating, the drama, the drama, and the drama that seems to surround my life. They made it a joy to come to work every day. Again, they are part of that family that had been right in front of my face that I didn’t recognize. Tomorrow is my last day with them, and then Monday I start my new job as a buyer at Italian Terrazzo.

So, good morning, World. As my blog titled says, this is the whimsical world of T.L. Gray – you better hang on because it’s going to be bumpy ride. So, throw your hands up in the air and ride it like a real daredevil. LOL!

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

The Whimsical World of T.L.Gray – The Story, My Story, Cheerleading

The Story, My Story, Cheerleading

Casey’s Ridge in New Caney, Texas didn’t offer much in the way of success and progress, especially in education, recreation, and culture. It was a river town filled with bikers, junkies, squatters, and drug dealers. There were a few old people left from a time when the community was a thriving hub of trade along the San Jacinto River, but that had long since dried up from the Houston suburban sprawl knocking at its back doors with its golfing communities and state-of-the-art shopping malls. There were no local gymnastics classes, public pools, greenbelt trails, recreation fields for football or baseball, no track, no tennis courts, and no gyms for basket or volleyball like its neighbors in Kingwood. No, Casey’s Ridge had none of that on the north side of the river, lingering on the edge of the county line. The only recreation found was a civic center where the old people would play a mean game of Bingo on Friday nights and a little biker bar right off Hwy 1485.

I was no fool. At the age of ten, I was old enough that the golden sunny haze of imagination and fantasy began to give way to the dull, dark gray skies of truth. I hated what I witnessed. This was about the time I began to hate and mistrust men, well humanity in general. When I was eight, my third-grade teacher Mrs. Akers told me that I could be anything I wanted; I just had to first see the truth of things and then make a plan of escape. Those words still stick with me today. I made to vow to myself, and the invisible god that damned everything that I wasn’t going to become like my surroundings. I wasn’t going to be hooker, a drug addict, or dealer, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to abuse and neglect my children. No, I was going to get out of that life and fly away from the nightmare. I fell in love for the first time, with a man in a red cape. I wanted him to swoop down out of the sky and save me from the beatings, the gun violence, the drugs, and the late night visits.  Superman was my best hope at this time, but since he wasn’t a real character, I focused instead on school, martial arts, and cheerleading.

It’s not to say that I didn’t give God a chance during this time in my life. The Christians at school always seemed to be happy, have good, loving parents, got to dress up in pretty dresses and go to church on Sundays. There was a little blue school bus that drove through our neighborhood every Sunday picking up the Ridge Rabble, as we were called. So, I decided that maybe if I caught that little blue bus to the Porter Baptist Church, things would change, because then God would see what was happening and save me, like I kept hearing. So, I studied the times and routes of the blue bus for a couple of weeks before I finally dared to make my bold move for salvation. I got myself, and my four brothers, dressed in the best clothes we had. I was a tomboy and didn’t wear dresses, but I borrowed a sundress from my neighbor across the street, Stacy Stowe. She was a tomboy too, but her grandma made her wear a sundress on Sundays. Dressed in my Sunday best, I stood outside on the street, holding tightly to my brother’s hands and we caught the little blue church bus that morning.

Now, I had no idea where that bus was going to take me, or when or if it was ever going to bring me back. From my reconnaissance mission the weeks before, it always seemed to bring back the kids it picked up earlier, so I was confident we’d at least make it back home.  We travelled a good distance to the nearby town of Porter to a little Baptist church. It had a main building for the sanctuary and then a gym for the Sunday School. After listening to some loud gospel music where people often clapped and shouted, we were then separated from the adults and led out to the gym. At first I was really worried because they wanted to separate me from my brothers and put us in different classes by our ages. I didn’t like not being able to see them or keep an eye on them. They were often a rowdy bunch, and needed someone there to keep them in line. I couldn’t image the damage they’d do to that fine church out of sight, but I relented and went into my own classroom.

So far, I liked this church. They gave me a brand new bible and a paper bag full of goodies, such as candy, pencils, and a little hand held toy game. All I had to do was memorize a Bible passage and it was mine. John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” In no time at all I was holding my brand new King James Bible and a brown sack of goodies. But, things didn’t stay fun for too long. Because then the weird psycho stories started. I remember shutting down and putting my psychological walls up when the teacher started talking about how we ‘owed’ Jesus our love and trust because he was beat and died for us. I remember my thoughts looking at that teacher and wondering if she’d ever been beat in her life, and how silly it was that she thought I was going to simply love and trust someone I never met who didn’t do any more for me than I did for my brothers on a regular basis. To protect them, I remember getting beat so bad by my dad one time with a hickory stick, ‘til it broke and he started using his fist, that I was out for almost four days. Hell, Jesus was only dead for three before he came back. But, I did appreciate the idea of him placing himself in danger for someone he was supposed to protect. I got that. I related to that. That is where the teacher should have stopped because she completely lost me when she started talking about having to be washed in the blood to be cleansed of my sin. I was ready to find my brothers and get the hell out of there, ‘cause nobody was going to be putting their blood anywhere on me or my brothers, no matter if we were dirty or not.

Of course, later in life I now understand what this teacher had been referring, but to a ten-year old abused waif of a child, I thought Christians were a secret alien race, much like the t.v. show “V”, where they had human faces, but were reptiles beneath, with all their talk of washing with and drinking blood, and eating flesh. I didn’t care too much for religion in my life. On one hand there were ignorant people who called me names, a thief, and a crook for one faith, while another one wanted to save, but not really save because I still had to live and go through all the shit I was going through, and then do some bathing in blood. Nope, I didn’t want anything to do with gods or religion. I just wanted to get out of Casey’s Ridge and get away from my family and become everything they were not. So, I turned to martial arts, gymnastics and cheerleading.

Texas football is serious business, and so is their competition cheerleading. There were trophies to win and scholarships to earn, and a social status to maintain with it. So, for the next few years while I survived hurricanes, tornadoes, gun fights, dog fights, and being an Anderson, the daughter of a drug dealer, I focused on cheerleading. I learned so much for being a part of a team, having pride in something, being good at something. All those things cheerleading taught me were never a part of what home taught me. To some it was simply a social status. For me, it was my salvation. It gave me the tools and courage I needed to rise above, the fight for something, to set and achieve goals. I will always cherish the little time I got to train in martial arts and gymnastics, and I will always treasure the time I spent as a cheerleader. It’s who I was, inside and out, and who I still am. I am still a cheerleader to myself and to those in my life. Casey’s Ridge is still in the same place, filled with a lot of the same people, but I’m not there anymore. I cheered myself out of that place, and developed a strength inside that gives me the power to cheer myself out of any situation.  I may not currently live in Casey’s Ridge, but still often face different forms of chaos. It’s fine. “Ready, Set, Okay!” is strong within me.

This is the story. This is my story. This is my life.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

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

The Whimsical World of T.L. Gray – The Story – My Story – Chick-O-Sticks, Sunkist and Gas Lines

The Story, My Story, Chick-O-Sticks

In life, what you really want will never come easy.  It is full of chaos and a series of moments.  Some days it seems nothing happens. Other days it seems to be filled with more than I can bear.  Some days I feel I can conquer the world and nothing is impossible. But on those “other” days, I fight just to breathe from the weight of the pressure. Somewhere in the middle is the truth. Within those days is where memories are made, nightmares are hidden, hopes are born, love blooms, and dreams are dreamt.

One of those moments that stand out in my mind is an everyday moment. It’s nothing big or tragic, only a simple amber moment in the middle of black period. It’s a sense-memory moment, one where you smell something, taste something, or see something that makes you think of something else, or takes back to a time and place in your amber-colored past. Have you ever wondered why memories are sometimes colored in amber?  I wonder sometimes if that’s a product of our cinematic age, or vice versa.  Anyway, one of those sense-memories has captured a simple day in my chaos-ridden past. It seems to be a good day, a simple day in the life of the early 80’s. This memory is often triggered by Chick-O-Sticks, Sunkist and gas lines.  Come along for the ride.

Silver squiggly lines snaked across the pavement on Highway 1485, just past the bridge that crossed over the San Jacinto River, in New Caney, Texas. It was hot outside and extremely humid.  I wore a flowered sundress, which wasn’t normal for me being as I was the biggest tomboy around. I usually sported shorts, tank tops, flip-flops (if I wore shoes at all) and had my long, brown hair in a ponytail.  But this day I had on a sundress and sat in the back of a Chevy Malibu in a long line at the neighborhood gas station.  The windows were rolled down and I sat with the door opened, staring at the mirage on the pavement. It seemed sitting in a long gas lines was one of the weekend neighborhood get-togethers.  Everybody was there, friends, neighbors and strangers.  New Caney was about a half-hour north of Houston and Trinity Bay at Galveston Beach just along Interstate 59.  It wasn’t a strange site to see cars loaded down with surfboards waiting in the gas lines with everybody else.

On this particular day, sometime in the summer of 1980, I was nine years old, the Beach Boys’ Good Vibration played on the radio, and I was eating Chick-O-Sticks and drinking an orange Sunkist soda.  It was a full time job saving up and scrounging for change for my weekly indulgence as we waited in the long gas line.  I dug in couches, checked ashtrays and floorboards in cars, phone booths, and under the washing machines at the laundry mat just to have the $0.75 cents I needed. My drink cost $.50 and the Chick-O-Sticks were $.05 each and I always had to have five of them.

This was a time right before my mom starting getting sick and losing her ability to walk to Multiple Sclerosis.  She was so young and vibrant and very sociable.  I can still see her standing in front of the Malibu, talking to some people standing outside their Volkswagen, smoking a joint.  She wore cut-off blue jeans, had a bikini tank top, and wore a big sun hat.  I wonder if that’s why I like big hats. I never thought about that.  I remember her smile, she had s distinct smile. I see that smile sometimes in the mirror or in my selfies, complete with the gap between my two front teeth.  My mother had that same gap, the same high apple-round cheeks, and the same thin lips. I look a lot like my mother, at least how she looked then in my memory.  Our differences are her long, thick, dark hair.  I always envied her hair, full of body, wavy, and beautiful. I have baby-fine, straight, limp hair.  This day she wore it in braids that hung down the side of her face beneath her straw beach hat.  She was dancing.  She was laughing.  She was so full of life and energy.  My mother was beautiful when she smiled.

My mother didn’t smile often in my memories and maybe that’s why this one is so special to me. Life was hard at this time, the economy was bad, and my dad wasn’t around for a while. I think this was a time he was away in jail. It didn’t matter we were poor. It didn’t matter what struggles we faced.  It was the weekend and I was happy to be sitting in that gas line, listening to the Beach Boys on the radio, eating my Chick-O-Sticks, and drinking my cold, orange, Sunkist, in my summer dress.  Every time I hear that song, see Chick-O-Sticks in a store, or Sunkist I am instantly teleported to that time and place in history.  Life is hard, and while some days are battle days, other days are Sunkist days.  No matter how nasty, mean, and sick my mother became, that’s not how I want to remember her. I’m hoping wherever she is now in whatever afterlife exists, she’s dancing around in cut-off shorts, a bikini tank top, with braids and a sunhat, and has a big, beautiful, gap-toothed smile on her face.

This is the story. This is my story.  This is my life.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dream, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Whimsical World of T.L. Gray – The Story – My Story – My Play Time

The Story, My Story, My Play Time

While my childhood is riddled with lots of darkness, it’s also filled with lots of adventure and play time.  My imagination may be the cause of my greatest pains, but it’s also the source of my greatest joys.  Despite the realities of my situation, when left alone, I was a happy kid.  My happiest memories are playing in the woods across the street from my house in New Caney, Texas.

I lived at the end of Idlewild Road on a half-acre lot in what started as a two room shack with no running water or indoor plumbing.  A man named Greg from Wisconsin lived next door and the Janosek’s lived on the other side, the Stowe’s lived across the street.  Greg was a novelty, having come from a place that made me think of stinky cheese and maple syrup.  Listening to him talk about how his family harvested the sap from maple trees shed a positive light to a name I had been given and would come to hate.  The Janosek’s were everything I wanted and hated because they had what I didn’t have – two parents that worked ‘real’ jobs and a little girl that played with Barbie dolls, wore pretty little dresses, and had birthday parties, a beautiful yard of green manicured grass, and a vegetable garden.  The Stowes had about dozen dirty little children with elderly parents that often ran wild and free. We had a dozen pit bulls and a yard full of broken-down cars, and a long list of Mexicans and Rednecks coming in and out on a regular basis as my dad started working his way up the ranks with the cartel.

Though I could see the reality of my situation, I also dreamed of escape.  That house of danger became my playground.  The top of the outhouse became my castle’s keep, the fence my city walls, the driveway my drawbridge. The ditch, filled with tadpoles and crawfish when it rained, became my moat teaming with monsters.  The roads were to the paths to other kingdoms, and the woods, oh, the woods became my refuge, a place I got lost for hours, where I could run among the animals, swing from the, and build  places of safety and solitude where I could escape, where I could hide.  In my woods I wasn’t Sap, the drug-dealer’s daughter. I was a warrior, a king.  I never played a princess, because I didn’t believe in being rescued.  I was Robin Hood, I was Lancelot, I was Elliot, I was Luke Skywalker, I was Wonder Woman, I was Evel Knievel, I was MacGyver, I was Magnum P.I., I was Remington Steele, I was  Three-Eyed Willie, and the Three Musketeer’s, and then I was all the characters I began to create.  I ventured to the Island of the Magic Apple Tree, Magic Island.  This is where Lemuria and Montes Lunae and my Necromancers – Gabriel, Azrael, and Sybil Claire were born.  These were the beginnings of my stories, and the expressions my imagination.

My play time was my freedom; freedom from chores, freedom from responsibilities, freedom from pain, from abuse, from smoke-filled back rooms and mid-night visits.  I fell in love with Superman, wanting more than anything for him to come out of the sky and fly me away.  No one could hurt him. No one could force him to do what he wanted. He had no parents. He had no siblings. He had amazing powers and strength.  I loved him and Jesus, because I needed to be saved.  Neither saved me; I learned how to save myself.

This is the story. This is my story.  This is my play time. This is my life.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dreams, Fairy Tale, Faith, family, friends, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, Muses, Philosophy, T.L. Gray, Writing | 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

Beautiful Soul… Shallow World

Beautiful Soul Shallow World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

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

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