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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

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

Introduction

Since I was born I have died twice, lived three lives, fell in love with four men, and am known by five different names. I’ve danced the halls of a Spanish hacienda, and shivered in the dark corner of a run-down shack, hung every holiday decoration in American suburbia, and been so hungry I couldn’t eat. I’ve protested for peace and marched for war, rescued sex slaves, and fed the poor. I’m famous to some and a nobody to others. I’m greatly loved and easily forgotten. I’ve been praised by thousands, but damned by even more. But who cares about all that? I was born alone in this world, and alone I’ll leave it. I’ve come to realize that I live or die in every moment. Let’s just say I’ve had a few moments. Hell, at times I’ve done both simultaneously, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

This particular story, my story, begins on a hot July afternoon in a southern hotbed filled with hippies handing out flowers of free love, or embittered in a battle of protests for everything from women’s liberation, to civil rights, to war and draft-dodging. Indian Reservation by the Raiders played constantly on the radio, and President Richard Nixon was neck-deep in the Vietnam conflict. In the maternity ward of the Dekalb Medical Center in Atlanta, a young couple was heard screaming at each other down the hallway, fighting over what to name the quiet sleeping baby girl being carried in the arms of an elderly white-haired lady to the nurses’ station.

“Damn it, I’ve already told you, woman, her name’s going to be Rebekah Lynn!’ shouted the red-hair, freckled-face blind man at the young woman lying in the hospital bed. In one hand, he held tightly to the reigns of German shepherd service dog, whose silvered tags glinted with the name Fritz, and in the other clung tightly to a little boy with bright copper-red hair.

The young mother, no more than sixteen, started crying. “But, I want to name her Laura Lynn after Laura Ingalls Wilder, my favorite character from that book I read to you.”

The two continued to argue over the name, their voices filling the hall where the little old woman finally made her way to the counter at the nurses’ station. She looked down at the young, black nurse busily scribbling on her clipboard. “You were in there when my granddaughter was born, weren’t you, child?”

The nurse looked up, glanced down the hall toward the yelling couple’s room, and then smiled at the white-haired lady. “Yes, ma’am, I believe I was.”

“What’s your name, honey?” The old woman rocked the baby girl in her arms.

The nurse pinched her brows together, but finally answered after a few seconds, “My name’s Tonya.”

The little old lady quickly slapped the paper on the counter and started scribbling on it with one hand while she held the sleeping baby girl in the other. After a few seconds she waved it to the nurse. “Now you just go right on ahead and submit that information now before those two get finished.”

The young nurse took the paper and looked down at it. It was the little girl’s birth certificate, and hand-written on the first line was the name Tonya Lynnette.

The nurse smiled up at the little old lady and then stamped the certificate with the notary seal, and that was how I got my first name, Tonya.

It’s ironic. My parents were fighting over the names of a Jewish matriarch and an author of a book, and my grandmother named me after a nurse, a care-taker, someone that helps and nurtures others. All three fit. They sort of define me in many ways. Sadly, my family never called me by my given name, and most of my relatives don’t even know my real name, nor did the grandmother who gave it to me. Tonya means “priceless, without praise.” That too is prophetic and quite ironic.

I wish I could tell you that day was a day for celebration and marked the beginning of a wonderful life, that it was a beautiful, loving, bright story, full of inspiration and love, but it only marked the first of many dark days. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting tale; a roller-coast ride filled with many hills and valleys, twists and turns. You might want to grab hold of the safety bar before we get started. There will be moments that will surprise you, cause your stomach to ache, and have you feeling scared, even perhaps terrified; disbelieving the world can be so cruel. But there are other moments that will take you to the top of the world and have your heart soaring as your hair flaps in the various winds of love, hope, and joy. That’s life, real life. It’s not always a happy story, and not everyone gets a happy ending. It’s messy, complicated, and filled with real moments of good and bad. You can’t really appreciate one without the other. So, let’s go. I’m inviting you into my story. You’re not going to like everything, but my greatest hope when you reach the end (that is… if I can make it to the end), is that you find a little bit of understanding, that your perception of the world and the people in it change just a little. There’s evil in the world, real evil. There is also pain, real pain. But, there’s also good out there, and love, real love. So, come on, let’s go.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Hope, Hurt, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 1 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 Time

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Body, Mind and Soul… Day 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

Victim: Made or Chosen

 

Victim

Shit happens, and most of the time shit happens to us beyond our control. If you’re a human being and have meet another human being, then shit at one time or another has happened to you. You’re not special. You’re not unique in THIS aspect. We don’t always see what someone else has endured, but EVERYONE has had shit happen to them. No matter how cushioned or sheltered or privilege of a life they live, or how depraved, everyone has experienced pain, disappointment, abuse, neglect – shit. Everyone. Every – one. Understand that? I know some of you right now are thinking about someone who you think has had a perfect, sheltered, and uncomplicated life, but you’re wrong.

What makes us different is how we individually process the shit that’s happened to us, and how we allow it to affect us. Some of us have endured horrors unimaginable, yet are mentally and emotionally amazingly strong. The strongest are the ones that refuse to allow the shit that’s happened to them break them or repeat the cycle of abuse to those around them. When you can take a person that has been abused, neglected, and beat down, and they spend their life and make it their mission to encourage, help, and love a hateful world… that is a true hero, a beautiful soul. They are not victims, they are victors, survivors, over-comers. On the flip side of that is a weak person that has allowed their souls to be filled with all the shit that’s been piled onto them to consume them and transform them into the monsters that tormented them, and now torment others. They are the new monsters, predators, abusers. Then there are those that dwell somewhere in the middle – strong in some areas, and weak in others. This is where much of society lives. This is also where victims dwell. 

I believe with all my heart that victimization is a mindset, and one that is chosen. I can feel the excuses dwelling up inside your mind right now. There is ALWAYS an excuse, always a reason, always a diagnosis for the victimization. I’m not disputing that. SHIT happens. Things happen to us beyond our control, at the decision of someone else, and it’s not fair, it’s not right, it’s painful, and it causes damage. I have endured unimaginable shit.  But HOW we respond to the shit that happens to us is OUR decision and completely in our control and up to us. How we allow this shit to affect us, to guide us, to destroy us, etc., is also up to us. We choose to become heroes, or monsters, or victims. We choose to fight with a will of steel or a pill, with a determination or an excuse.

Sometimes laziness is because we’re simply fucking lazy and have a weak will, not because we can’t face or handle the shit that was thrown at us or that covers us. Laziness is a CHOICE. Laziness is weakness, and a state victims choose because doing what needs to be done is hard. Cleaning up the shit in our lives is hard. But if we want to live a clean, victorious, strong life, then we must be willing to do the hard work to make it happen. All by ourselves! Because WE choose it. We don’t need a pill. We don’t need a diagnosis to tell us it’s okay. We don’t need someone else to tell us we can. We must face the facts of who we are, where we are, and then make a fucking choice. When WE don’t work on cleaning up the shit in our lives, because we choose to be victims, then what we are really doing is being lazy and leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. Guess what, victims… you’re becoming the shit-slingers now, throwing your shit around for someone else to clean up. You become the burden to those who love and care about you. YOU are creating more victims. Many of you reading this right now just shut that thought down because you don’t’ like to face the truth, you’d rather hide in your corner and wear your victim cape. You can’t make a change until you face the truth. Life isn’t fair. It never has been and never will be. Get over it.

What I’m talking about is changing a mindset. STOP thinking you’re a victim. No, changing your mind to become a victor, an over-comer doesn’t mean that the shit will stop flying and your life will become perfect. There is ALWAYS shit flying. ALWAYS. What changes is YOU and who YOU choose to be, and how YOU effect the world around you and the people you love and who loves you. You can’t save the world, but you can choose to save yourself. Victims whine and complain about how they were treated, and how unfair the world is to them, but do they think about how THEY treat the other people in their lives with their victimhood?

Changing your mindset will change how you respond to the world around you. It will change how you respond to everything in your life. Being healthy, be energetic, being successful, being focused, being compassionate, making a difference in your body, your mind, your heart, and your world. It will change how you love, how you forgive, what kind of person you are at home, at work, at play. You don’t be like everyone else around you. You will destroy all the boxes, be an outsider, not be understood, and most often unaccepted.  But you will be AMAZING, inspirational, and be something good in this shitty world.

The choice is yours. There are no made victims, only chosen ones. There are no made victors, only chosen ones. There are no made monsters, only chosen ones. Choose.

 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

Categories: Blog Post, Faith, Health & Fitness, Hope, Hurt, Life, love, Musing, Philosophy, relationship, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cinderella Getting Restless

I’m so discouraged.  I’m trying to stay positive, because those of you who know me, know that I’m always chasing rainbows and glass slippers despite the world constantly telling me I’m a fool for doing things the way I do them, or thinking the way I think.  This is also the same world that wants to teach me about love, show forgiveness, obtain success, and walk with integrity. Have you seen the world’s version of those things?  Have you seen their interpretation?  No way!  That’s not for me.

I’ve accepted the fact that I walk my own path, knock down boxes that people try to place me into, and swim against the current, walk the narrow path, shovel the ashes, and any other metaphor that will describe how odd and out of touch with what is known as common that I am. I am covered in cinder. (It’s no secret.  Some people try to be different, spend their whole lives in a movement (along with a billion-other people), trying to prove it.  I try to be common and normal, to fit in, to act the part, but I fail – according to the world. But…. BUT, I succeed at being me.

So, having said that, can you imagine how frustrating it is for me trying to date?

I’m going to pause there for a little while. I’ll try to continue this thought later. I’m sure as I try to sort this confusion and discouragement out, and try to get a grip on this thing called dating, I’m going to go through many stages. These stages are very like those that go through addiction and depression counseling. 

This is stage one – acceptance.  I accept who and what I am. I’m an odd duck.  Took a loooooooonnnnnnnnngggggg time to get there, but I’m there.  I’m a princess without a prince, a castle, a father’s love, or a mother’s touch. I’ve been abandoned in a selfish world. Now what? Where do I go from here? What does this mean for the relationships in my life? Will I always be the woman that most men find fascinating, amazing, love the way I think, appreciate the way I am, and value me for my character, my integrity, my creativity and talent, but fall in love with ‘common’ women?  I gotta think about this.  

Till next time,

~Lost Princess

 

24-Hours Later

Okay, I’ve thought about it. I’m sure there’s an odd duck out there like me who experiences the same difficulties I do, who dreams as I do, who dares to hope as I do, and refuses to give up no matter if the world calls them a fool.  I know there is a man out there that will love the way I love, who hopes the way I hope, who cares the way I care.  I don’t need a fairy godmother to give me a pretty dress and a pair of glass slippers to dance. But,  It doesn’t mean I’ll ever meet my Prince Charming and we fall in love with each other. There’s no guarantee in life. I’ve witnessed too many people die alone to believe that “other” fairy tale – that as long as I’m patient and show up to the dance that my ‘happily-ever-after’ will come along.  I not stupid.  I know damned well that I may never find my soul mate.  Actually, that’s not true. I’ve found my soul-mate twice already.  Once when I was a teenager, though a few years later he died.  The second time just recently, but he left.  I’m hoping the third time will be the charm… (pun intended).  But, I know free will, the ability to choose, determines much.  I can’t make someone love me, fall in love with me, want me, or choose me. I believe in magic, especially in the magic of love, but I don’t hold a magic wand. I refuse to manipulate and force a man to love or be with me in any way.  I don’t want someone because I need them or they need me, only because I want them and they want me.  I REFUSE to accept anything less.  That makes me odd.

I’ve had many opportunities to be in relationships, to not be alone, to have a companion, to have a lover, to have a convenience.  But, I believe I deserve so much more.  I want love. Real love. Deep love. When I love, I love with my whole heart, and so I want someone to love me with their whole heart.  I’m not their toy, their distraction, their fantasy, or their temporary place-holder.  I’ve been told so many times, and left behind for lesser women, that I’m loved, respected, admired, and valued, Bu……..t, they can’t choose me because I deserve better than they could give.

If I deserve anything, it’s simply to be loved. I don’t need anything to be given to me. I don’t need saved. I don’t need to be supported. I am not co-dependent, have low self-esteem, or incapable of doing anything for myself. I’m smart, I’m self-sufficient, independent, and driven.  I don’t need a man, a partner, a lover, or a friend.  I WANT one.  There’s a huge difference between need and want.  Someday… someday someone will ‘want’ ME, not my body, not my talent, or anything else I could give them, but want me, my heart, my mind, my love, and all my oddities. 

I’ve mentioned this before. I made a promise to myself, no a VOW, about 7-years ago, and it is still valid today. I have it posted on my refrigerator – “I will never again waste my time, love or energy into that which does not first invest those things into me”.

Oh, Prince Charming, come slide that glass slipper upon my foot and allow the magic to envelop us both, transforming us into something wonderful, and then let us disappear into the unknown to explore it together. I have my sword.  I’ve slayed a dragon or two in my time already.  I’ve got your back. 

Till next time,

~Cinderella getting restless

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Blog Post, Fairy Tale, Hope, Inspirational, love, Philosophy, Relationships | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Back to the Busyness of Being Happy

 

Back to the Busyness of Being Happy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Business of Being Happy

 

The Business of Being Happy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

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