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What is a Picture of Beauty?

What is a Picture of Beauty

I post a lot of pictures of me on my Facebook, most of them of me smiling or just enjoying life.  I’ve been told that I’m narcissistic, that I’m just obsessed with myself.  For those who think or comment in that manner shows me they know nothing about me. If you scroll through my blog or my Facebook, you’ll not find a picture more than five or six years old.  I personally only have less than a dozen.  Why? I never took pictures of myself because I didn’t feel I mattered.  Others didn’t take and post pictures of me either; they still don’t, because I don’t matter to them, not even my friends today. If I’m on their pages, it’s because I’ve tagged myself in a picture that I took, not one that they took of me.

I started taking ‘selfies’ when I read an meme that stated, “If you want to see what or who someone values or fears losing, look at who and what they take pictures of.” That hit me right in the heart and deep in my soul.  It was like God whispered in my ear to pay attention.  It had me scrolling through my pictures of beautiful outdoor scenery and activities, my pets, my family, my food, art, simple things I found beautiful, and it was clear to see all the things I loved, because they were right there in front of me in brilliant color, picture, after picture, after picture.  But it didn’t take long before I noticed what was missing in all those pictures – me.  Well, I made a quick excuse, “I’m taking the pictures, so it only makes sense I’m behind the camera, not in front of it.  So, I went to my family and friend’s pages, scrolled through their pictures, and again I could clearly see all the things they loved and valued, but not one picture of me. Not one.  It broke my heart. It still hurts. This was about five years ago.

Before I go any further, the biggest culprit was me.  My family just followed the example I set for them. Because I have problem letting people touch me, my children never hug me, and they tell me it feels awkward when they do.  Who the hell feels awkward hugging their mother and telling her that you love her?  I’ve hugged and kissed my children since the day they were born, and told them I loved them as often as I could. I still do every chance I get.  But, they forget I even exist.  So, how does that happen?

I stopped waiting for someone else to love and value me and started to love and value myself.  I see women posting pictures every day, mostly of themselves in sexually suggestive positions, and it makes me sad.  It’s literally about 95% of the pictures I see. That’s their idea of beauty.  They are complimented my men and women alike and told how beautiful they are, so why should they believe any different?  Why should they act any different? That’s narcissism, posing to get attention, even if the attention is low, perverted, and disgraceful.  These women don’t understand that they’re not displaying their beauty, but their ignorance, allowing themselves to be demeaned as a woman, and viewed only as an object of perversion.  The admiration they receive now will fade once they get a little older; their bodies no longer have the same sexual draw, and then what? What will they have to offer their admirers since their admirers are only interested in their flesh.  But, a woman who smiles, laughs, is pictured living life, appreciating life, loving herself and the world around her are truly visions of beauty.  A woman caught in a moment of compassion, in a nurturing embrace, being a helpmate and friend, those are images of beauty.  Beauty is not her cup size, not in the shape of her boobs, lips, legs or ass, or in suggestive positions so perverted assholes can fantasize fucking her.  She then becomes only an object of their perversion and no longer a woman of beauty. Believe me; while the men appreciate the pictures, they have no respect for her as a woman.

When I meet a man and start talking to him, if he asks me about my body, or asks me to send him pictures of myself in a bikini etc., then I instantly lose interest in them because it tells me they are not interested in my true beauty.  There are enough women with low self-esteem out there eager to please their narcissistic need for approval by ignorant assholes, but I’m not one of them.  Don’t get me wrong – when I’m in a relationship with ‘MY’ man, I love to be sexual, playful, flirty, etc., because I can share that part of myself with that man because he already recognized my true beauty.  But if I’m not in a relationship, don’t ask me for pictures of my body you fucking assholes! No, definitely ask me, so that way I know who you truly are and can write you off as anyone valuable in my life.

I post pictures of me smiling quite often because I love and value myself.  Those smiles are for me, to remind me that I matter.  This world can’t do that for me. Someone else can’t do that for me. I have to do it for myself.  I post pictures of the people and things that I love and value.  Someday someone else will post a picture of me, and it will truly be a picture of beauty.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

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

The Story, My Story, My Name

I think one of the biggest misconceptions in faith is that once we accept the concept and authority of God, we expect our lives will to of sudden come together and be perfect, that all our prayers are instantly answered, and when adversity comes God will intervene on our behalf, saving us from the consequences of our actions.  God never promised that we would have perfect lives or that we wouldn’t reap the things we sowed, only that we wouldn’t be alone as we travel through this life and face those consequences.  Nor did he promise that we would be perfect people.  Our hearts, minds and souls are not made perfect by faith, but through the fires and trials of life we have the opportunity to become perfected by that faith; but it’s a life- long transformation.  Just as we are not born to hate, we are also not born to love, forgive, be humble, or to care. These are developed traits made by the choices we make in life.

I live by two concepts.  Number one – I cannot always control what happens to me.  Sometimes bad shit happens that is beyond my control that I did not earn or deserve. Sometimes great things happen that I had nothing to do with.  I can’t control the universe and the decisions of others that affect or directly impact me. However, I have 100% control on how I respond the good or bad that happens to me. Number two – It is not my job to save the world.  God did not grant me the power to save another human being’s soul. It’s not my job to condemn them, either.  It is not my job to make sure they understand the error of their ways, to repent for their sins, or to live their lives in any particular fashion.  God gave me only two commands, and declares that ALL other laws and commands are wrapped in essence of these two commands: Love God, and to love my neighbor AS I love myself.  Many of us forget that last part… and I believe it is just as important as the first two.  Just as God is a tri-part being, so is his Word –   Love Him, Love each other, Love ourselves.  So, my job is to focus on myself. I truly believe with my whole heart that if I concentrate on loving God and allowing His love to fill me, I will love myself, and then with the love “of” God, and the love within myself, I am able to love others – my family, my friends, my neighbors – humanity – unconditionally. That is my heart.

But that hasn’t always been my heart. Throughout many times of my life I was lost, angry, filled with hate and rage.  I hated God, I hated the world, and I hated all the people within it, especially myself. But that hate wasn’t born in me; it was made, forged through the fires of adversity, at the hands of abuse, at the devastation of loss.  Yet, I have survived.  I am not perfect, by a very, very, very long shot.  But, I am working hard to keep that love of God inside me, so that I continue to love myself and love the world around me.  I don’t know where this strength comes from, but I have seen it rise within me during many low times in my life.  That love reveres itself within the many names that I have accumulated through the years.

I’ve already told the story of how I received my birth name, now is the time for the story of how I received my childhood nickname, the name known to my family, a name I have attached to a lost little girl. In my dreams she is always the six-year old me – a cute little tomboy with long, straight brown hair, big hazel eyes, and set of dimples. I don’t have any pictures of me as a child, so she’s directly from my memories only.  I can’t really tell you how I truly got my nickname, only how it’s been used over the years. I’ve heard a few different stories of its origin, but I can’t validate any of them.

My name is Sap.  I was once told it was given to me because my older brother had a speech impediment and couldn’t say the word “sissy” correctly, and it came out ‘sappy’ instead.  Another story was that I was so sassy when I was a toddler that my parents called me “sappy” in reference to the sweet-bitter tree gum.  But, if either of those were true, what was I called when I was brought home from the hospital until I got old enough to talk, old enough to be ‘sassy’ or ‘sappy’?  I don’t know, I can’t remember, and as far as anyone has ever told me, I was never called anything other than ‘sappy’ or ‘sap’.  But there is a memory I will never, or can never forget that solidified the name for me. I was about six or seven and I had just witnessed my father beat my mother, yelling at her about flirting with man named William Smith.  This is a name I would hear many times in my childhood as my father beat my mother.  I never knew a William Smith, but I had grown up hating that name.   Anyway, watching my mother cowered in the corner of the kitchen as my father held her by the hair, hitting her, I grew angry and I ran into the room, jumped on my father and started hitting him.  I knew he would turn on me, but I couldn’t just stand there and be silent.  I only remember how the first hit took a few moments before I could even feel it and the room to grow dark.  I couldn’t open my eyes all the way; they stung when I tried because they had been swelled shut.  But, I didn’t wake up to a mother holding me, telling me everything was going to be okay, that she was going to protect me, or protect herself.  I woke up to meet the glare from another swollen face, one full of anger.

She threw a cold rag at me and told me to put it on my face and her voice was cold and she said, “You’re so stupid.  Do you know why I call you sap?  It’s because you’re just like tree sap, that nasty, sticky mess that impossible to wipe off.”

That was the moment I began to hate to my mother. I hated her for not protecting her children. I hated her for not standing up to my father. I hated her for not saving me, for being weak, for being a coward.  She didn’t protect me. She never did. For many years she would remain silent and look the other way, and teach my brothers to look the other way. It took me nearly 40 years to learn to forgive her weakness.  It took until the birth of my oldest daughter for me to see her as a victim.  From that day I saw her just as much as my abuser as my father. I believe I blamed her even more than my father.  I believe even to this day, because of her, there is an anger that rises within me when I see a mother neglect her children, acts cruelly toward them, doesn’t put their needs first, or doesn’t protect them. It’s definitely a weak spot in me.

When I became a mother, I didn’t know how to be a mother, not realizing I had been born a mother – a mother of my five brothers. Needless to say, I was confused.  I was lost.  But, the day I put the needs of my children first, and made the decision to leave my old family behind – to walk away from them, was the day I shed the name Sap. I don’t think my brother’s ever understood my decision to leave them, to walk away from that family, to separate myself.  They felt I abandoned them, and I suppose I did.  But, I chose to be the mother I never had, and my first true act of motherhood was to protect my children from that family.

I had always hated the name Sap, but for a long time that was the only name I knew, not until my first day of Kindergarten.  Mrs. Bonnet was my teacher. I can remember she was tall, skinny and had this beautiful long, black hair.  She called my name, but I didn’t recognize the name she called.  She called my name again, looking right at me, but I still didn’t answer. I was confused.  She walked up to me and said, “Tonya, dear.  I’m calling your name. When I call your name, you’re to answer Present.”

“But, you didn’t call my name,” I replied.

“Are you not Tonya?”

“Tonya? That’s not my name.”

“Yes, dear, it is. You are Tonya Lynnette.” Mrs. Bonnet pointed down to the name on top of a packet of papers on the desk.  “This is you.”

I already knew how to read and write. I was an early learner, having started reading the newspaper at age four.  One of my earliest memories of reading the paper was reading about the death of Elvis Presley, I had just turned five. My name written in neat blocked letters never looked so pretty in all my life.  Tonya Lynnette was a beautiful name. I don’t know why it was so beautiful to me, but I loved it in that moment, and from that day forward, when I went to school, away from home, away from my family, I was known as someone else, I was Tonya Lynnette.  At school I wasn’t a sticky mess someone hated.  I was praised for being smart, being sweet, being kind, and being pretty. I was the little girl that had lots of friends, and I was the pretty little girl Chris Brown kissed under the table in art class and said he was going to marry someday.  I was the girl that played marbles with the boys on the playground.

Names are powerful. Their meanings are powerful. All my names have power over and within me.  God has given me a new name, a name even I don’t know, that is written in the Book of Life. I have a feeling the day I see that name written in that book it’s going to feel as pretty as the first time I ever saw the writing of my name Tonya.  Tonya means “priceless – beyond praise.” Many times throughout my life, people, even strangers, have approached me and told me that I was precious, priceless.  Prophets have spoken over me telling me God says I am precious, priceless.  Lynnette is derived from Eluned which means rescuer, image or idol.  In the Arthurian tales she is a servant from the Lady of the Fountain who rescued Owain.  I have spent my life rescuing.

All I know is that a name is powerful, but as I stated above, it’s not about what happens to us or what names are given to us, it’s what we do with them and the choices of how we respond that make us who we truly become.  I choose to forgive. I choose to be kind. I choose to love.  I choose to protect.  I choose to fight. I choose to be Tonya, to be priceless, to be beyond praise.  I don’t believe it was an accident that my grandmother chose that name for me, or that it was nurse I was named after.   However, Tonya is not the only name I have, there are few more and I will eventually get to them, too.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

Categories: author T.L. Gray, blogging, Faith, family, friends, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Musing, relationship, Relationships, respect, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Have Value, Too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Motherhood – A Story Born in Violence

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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Budgeting… Our Resources

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… Our Goals

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

Who am I?   –  Who do I want to be?

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

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

Where am I?  – Where do I want to be?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an example:

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

Dream: Finish a 50,000 word novel.

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… Our Time

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Body, Mind and Soul… Day Three

Body, Mind and Soul - Day Three

Good morning and welcome back. Yesterday I promised to speak about the soul. 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 reach those pinnacles.  I need to protect my body, mind and soul from people or things that will steal, detour, or destroy the plans I have made.  Not everyone in my life is good for me, some will not only destroy the plans I make by sabotaging my progress in my physical goals, messing with my mind and peace, but they will also seek to destroy my soul.

From the time we are born we are told how important family and friends are, often to the point that we ‘put  up’ with toxic people in our lives because we happen to be related to them or grew up around and with them. We essentially are taught to be tolerant and acceptable of abuse if we had the misfortune of being born within an abusive family or on a particular side of the tracks. As a child, we have no choice.  As a young adult, we are often tortured during those transitional years of dependency to independence, and some of us have to navigate that journey into adulthood with an already damaged soul.

Our souls are the most precious part of who we are.  Our exterior, our body, our skin, our faces, our strengths, our genetics, our culture… those are not the great and important aspects that truly define us as human being; those are the shallow parts.  The depth of who we are as a person is the part known as our soul. This is the part of us that defines the difference between right and wrong, compassion or apathy, love or hate, our integrity, and our self-esteem, etc. This is truly what defines our beauty.  But the world is shallow and most often can’t see beyond the exterior, physical, shallow aspects until we’ve entered into a relationship with someone, and thereby endangering our souls from the choices we made.

Come on, we’ve all done it. We’ve all at one time become infatuated with a beautiful smile, a set of dimples, strong muscles, or long, beautiful legs. We’ve fantasized about who we wanted that person of our infatuation to be, and it was good… while the fantasy lasted. But then we got to know the person behind the dimples, behind the muscles, behind the smile, behind the crocodile tears, behind the legs or the boobs, and that picture wasn’t as pretty as the one we had first imagined. Soon, those things we first found attractive was no longer eye-catching, because the soul became more and more evident. This has happened to everyone.  My question is this: How much damage did we allow to happen to our souls during this time of infatuation?  How much damage do we then cause to the next soul that comes into our lives because of the state of our now-damaged souls? Can you see the cycle?

We have to protect ourselves – our bodies, our minds, and especially our souls. We have to forget all that fucking nonsense that was drilled into us as children that we have to ‘put up’ with toxic people because they’re relatives or from the ‘hood.  We don’t HAVE to do anything or allow anyone into our lives that we don’t choose. If they’re toxic, selfish, detrimental to your own well-being, vampires that use, abuse, or take us for granted, disguised as friends but add no value to our lives, only there with their hands out when they need something – CHOOSE to protect and love yourself enough to walk away.  Choose to protect your soul. Choose to fight for yourself. Don’t allow them to infect your own soul and bring you down.

Here is a truth that I hope will change your life. It changed mine.  So, listen, and listen carefully.  IT IS NOT YOUR JOB TO SAVE THE WORLD. It’s not.  We don’t possess the power to save anyone from anything.  People have to want to save themselves. This is what I’m trying to tell you today.  YOU have to want to save YOURSELF.  It’s God’s job to save other people’s souls, not yours.  If the world would concentrate on saving themselves, focus on being a good person with a beautiful soul, and then they will have a beauty that the rest of the world can see.  They will possess goodness, kindness, and compassion the world needs.

Protect your soul.  Stop allowing people to use you, to take from you when you have nothing for yourself.  Surround yourself with people who sow INTO you, who encourage you, who lift you up; not take from you, drain you, and takes advantage of you and what you have. Until you are strong enough to be an example, to be a light, you’re sacrificing your own light, your own soul.  How can you be a light when you’re filled with darkness, and pain, and your soul is so damaged from the abuse of those who claim to love you most?  It’s not selfish to cut these toxic relationships out of your life. Separate yourself – no matter if it’s a parent, a sibling, a gown child, an ex, a childhood friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker – it doesn’t matter who they are.  If they’re toxic and they have an ugly soul, or your soul is too damaged to deal with their drama – protect yourself.  This is YOUR life.  You only get ONE. You don’t get a do-over.

Protecting yourself, your body, mind and soul, is not going to be easy.  It will require dedication, determination, and devotion.  Love your body enough to do what is necessary to be healthy, to be fit to enjoy the things that make this life adventurous.  Love your mind enough to do what is necessary to be brilliant, open, and inquisitive, seeking out those dreams and ideas that will fulfill your life and give it purpose.  Love your soul enough to be a good person, a light in a dark world, deep love in a shallow society.  This is YOUR choice.  This is MY choice.

I’ve been a lot of dates that remind me constantly of how much the world is so focused on the shallow outside, how much there is a lack of vision, drive, and determination in the pursuit of happiness, and how many dark souls are out there just waiting to use and abuse me.  It hurts my heart. I’m so disappointed in what I’m finding.  I had to quit dating before I fully lost faith in men and in society in general.  I’m an odd duck.  I actually care about the world around me and the people in it.  But I keep dreaming, I keep praying, and I keep working on MYSELF to become the best person I can, hoping that I may be a light for someone.  I can’t save the world. It’s not my job. I am responsible for everything I do and say, but I’m not responsible for what the world hears or how they respond.  I hope I am a light on a hill, and that is why I work so hard to make sure I protect and focus my love on my body, my mind, and my soul.

Until next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Dreams, Faith, family, friends, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Philosophy, relationship, Spiritual, Uncategorized | 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

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