Muses

Beautiful Complexity

Hello words.  It’s been a while.  I’ve missed you. It’s good to be back.  There’s so many things I could say with my mouth, but there’s so much more that I am able to say with my fingertips, which are extension of my thoughts… thoughts that are only buried deep in my heart and mind.  My mouth can’t often express them, and most of the time comes out wrong when I try.  But, my fingers… ah, my fingers weave magic.  They’re like a silver-tongue, able to coax words out of their darkness to dance upon the page in beautiful black font. My mouth often fails me, but not my words.

 

When I speak, my feelings, emotions, prejudices, and expressions get in the way of what I truly want to say. My vocal self is a mess.  Humanity is complex.  I wonder if the rest of life on this planet, or even in this universe, is as complex as the human mind.  There are so many parts – some strong, some fragile, some hidden, some obvious.  Our epidermis is only our shell.  How deep do our minds really go? What of the spirit? What of the heart? Simple; yet complex.

 

I’m forty-six years old, my temporary life on this planet is already half over and I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of understanding what living means.  I’ve been living, but my appreciation for it has been clouded.  My heart sinks at the thought of how much of my short life I’ve wasted. Yet, I can say I don’t have much regret.  I have many failures and lots of mistakes, but very little regret. 

 

Existential questions plague me.  Not because I’ve got to know answers. Don’t get me wrong, I have a curious mind and searching for answers will always be one of my greatest quests. However, it’s not in answers I seek most, but in purpose.  I hope my fingers can weave the question clearly for you, pull out the bits and pieces among the multitude to make my meaning clear.

 

I’ve been feeling really stressed and frustrated lately.  Not because I’ve quickly, almost overnight, have gone from a nearly lonely existence of spending ninety-five percent of my time in solitude to a full house where I have NO time alone.  I ate alone, always slept alone, and most often had my own thoughts to keep me company.  I tried dating, but found no connection with the strangers staring across the table at me, often spending my time defending myself from being pawed or molested.  My roommate/best friend and I had become distant and I found myself avoiding contact as often as possible in an effort to keep peace and preserve a sisterhood that I had dreamed about my whole life. I was taking adventures on my own, exploring the coastline for lighthouses, learning history, working out, doing anything and everything to keep my mind occupied, but I was empty; void of purpose. 

In my loneliness there was also a LOT of confusion; still today.  I am in love with a man with relationship issues and who has hurt my heart deeply. I’ve tried to pull away from him, walk away on many opportunities, but I could never just let him go, not completely.  My pride, my mind, and my will was able to put up walls, even able to convince myself I was over  him and ready to move forward, but my heart never listened.  I couldn’t stop loving him. I still can’t stop loving him. I know 

 

I will always love him. It’s a strange relationship we have. I’ve never known such depth of a connection in two souls, but on the surface, there are so many conflicts, so many differences.  We are so different from each other, have different views on so many different levels, different values, different personalities, different life patterns; we are an Oscar and Felix.  Yet, like that odd couple, we are connected in a very deep way.  Our love is a deep love and lives in such a depth, it’s almost an unspoken.  I don’t doubt his love, real love, spiritual love, deep love, but everything else (wants, desires, expectations, etc., they swim in doubts.  I never know from one minute to the next where we stand, what we are, what we’ve been, or even what the future holds for us. I can’t label our relationship.  Yet it’s enough to know that it occupies my life, it owns my heart, and I can’t give that life or heart to another. It belongs to him and him alone.  So, I’m stuck… in a confusing, beautiful, messy, uncharacteristic chaos.  Sometimes I wonder what kind of crazy test God is putting me through.  It feels unfair, unwinnable, yet beautiful and complex.  Just because I can’t identify a thing doesn’t mean that thing is any less valuable or meaningful than what I can identify. 

 

 I desperately love two teenagers that are just as precious to me as my own children.  I fell madly in love with them from the moment I met them. Actually, I think I started loving them before I met them by listening to their father speak about them.  He spoke of a lot of things, but when the topic turned to his boys, it wasn’t just his lips that moved.  His eyes lit up, his face changed, his posture changed, and the tone of his voice changed.  Love exuded from him.  His sons are his life, his pride and joy, his opus.  I could only imagine the depth of love this man possessed because of the way he spoke about his sons.  Surely if he possessed such love for them, he could provide love like that for me too.  I couldn’t wait to meet them.  When I did, I also saw the love they had for their father too.  Oh, don’t think they’re a perfect family, no family is perfect and without issues. There are issues, there are needs, and wants, and complications just like every other family, and some of theirs are big issues too.  But the love they have for one another… that’s real; that’s deep, and I connected to that love; I craved it. It felt like a centerpiece to a puzzle snapped in place, like I had been the missing link and they had been the missing pieces around me.  I fell deeply in love with all three of them, the father and sons. I loved so hard it scared me. Again, there are no perfect stories, no perfect plans, only perfected chaos.  As with everything else in life, there were issues, there are still issues, and those issues force me often to have to love them from a distance.  I was constantly reminded they were not mine; he was not mine.  I had three beautiful souls tethered to my heart, with no way to hold them or keep them. In fact, I was often pushed away.  It was tortuous to my soul.  I wanted desperately to just walk away from them so the pain in my heart would allow me to simply breathe, but I could never manage to let them go, none of them – father or sons. 

 

My own children didn’t seem to need or want me.  They never called or visited, not on holidays, birthdays or any time.  I would send them ‘good morning’ prayers/wishes, but never got a response.  My youngest would sometimes text me, to hit me up for money. My son would messenger me sometimes to see if I had watched something or heard about a new game. My oldest just never messaged at all.  I was estranged from all my family, all of them.  My parents were dead, and even when they were alive I had a failed relationship with them. My brothers didn’t even seem to remember I existed unless they were stealing from me. I had moved away from all my friends in Georgia, and they seemed to have forgotten about me. Needless to say I felt a huge failure as a parent.  I had failed as a wife. I had failed as a daughter. I had failed as a sister. I seemed to be failing as a friend. I failed as a girlfriend, and I felt as if I had failed these two boys and I had failed God and my faith.  Of all my successes in education, business, career, civic duties, physical achievements, beating cancer, getting published, receiving promotions, having a stellar resume, etc.; I seemed perfect on paper, but I felt like a failure as a human being.

 

I was lost.  I was a piece of dust blowing in the wind, searching for purpose.  I was lonely.  I would put a smile on my face every day, tell myself how much I loved myself, take selfies so I could convince myself that I was happy, but inside I was lost.  I controlled nothing.  Sometimes I would close my eyes hoping I wouldn’t open them again.  I felt rejected, unloved, unwanted, and unneeded. I desperately looked for purpose, tried to keep myself busy with adventure, and constantly sought direction.  I couldn’t understand why I was so unlovable when my heart ached because I loved so many, so deeply.  What was so wrong with me that no one wanted to love me back? That has been the question that has plagued me my whole life, starting as a child wondering how my parents could hurt me like they did, and my brothers, and God must have hated me too – he took away the only man that had ever showed he loved me on a battlefield in Somalia, to my husband who couldn’t even tell me he loved me  for the twenty years we were married, to my children running away from me or forgetting I even existed, now to man who my soul loves telling me loves me but has relationship issues,  to two teenagers boys who are mine in my heart but I have no right in their lives.

 

See, complicated mess. Simple; yet complex.  Well, that was a couple months ago.  Almost overnight I went from that lonely existence to never having five seconds to myself because that man and his sons have moved in with me (we’re together, but not together) and our relationship is still unidentifiable. I can’t even describe it.  I have my family with me, yes they are my family, and my heart couldn’t be happier.  I have them, but I don’t. They’re mine, but they’re not. They’re with me, but not with me. My youngest daughter has also come home, and she’s pregnant with my first grandbaby.  She’s here, but she’s not.  My roommate is unpredictable now, with health issues and mental issues.  She’s also here, but she’s not.  I can’t even begin to express the stresses of having 6.5 people and three dogs living in a two-bedroom apartment create.  Everyone is stressed. Everyone is doing their best to work together and keep the peace.  It’s chaos, but a beautiful chaos.

 

I’m watching that man sleep right now. He’s the most beautiful thing in the world to me, not because he’s a handsome man, and that he is, but because I see his soul – his heart, his spirit.  He’s a mess, and somedays I want to strangle him because he’s often an arrogant asshole, but he’s one of the most helpful, giving, smart, and compassionate person I’ve ever met.  So, this brings me back to my original query – that existential question – what is the meaning to all this chaos?  My frustration isn’t from the cooking, cleaning, no privacy, no time for myself, being busy working and taking care of my family, including the dogs.  No, I LOVE taking care of my family. Taking care of them gives me purpose. Taking care of them is a way to express my love and appreciation for them.  My frustration comes in not knowing what tomorrow holds. They could all leave tomorrow and I would be alone again.  I have no control over them. I can’t make them stay. I can’t make them love me or appreciate me, or even want me. My frustration comes from fear – a history of those I love leaving me.  I love my family. I love this man. I love his sons – my sons. I love my daughter. I already love my grandbaby. I love my best friend. I even love the damned dogs.  I don’t want to lose them. But, I have no power or right to keep them. I can only love them as much as I can while I have them, and continue to love them even if they leave me.

 

Love – this is the essential key to purpose and our short existence on this planet. While my life has been riddled with one chaotic event after the next, love is the one thing I never regret.  Even if I fail, even if love is never returned to me, I will never regret loving.  It’s really the only thing in the world that truly matters.  While I may not be able to identify my relationships right now, and I can’t’ put any of them in any known or familiar box (girlfriend, friend, step-mom, Gigi (that’s the name I hope my grandbaby calls me), bestie, roommate, lover, etc., there is love in and around all of it.  I love Jon. I love Anthony. I love Nathan. I love Kelly. I love Little K. I love Jenna. I love Nova. I love Bella. I love Gizmo. I love Johnathan. I love Meagan. 

 

God is love.  Where there is love, God is there also.

 

Till next time,

 

~T.L. Gray

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

The Story, My Story, Cheerleading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

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

The Whimsical World of T.L. Gray – The Story – My Story – Meeting God

 

The Story, My Story, Meeting God

Everyone has their own journey, their own experiences, and their own meeting God moments.  As a human being, there comes a time in our lives when we face our mortality and understand that our time and presence is limited on this rotating rock.  We finally see how small we are compared to the vastness of the universe. Or we finally understand the physics that the world doesn’t revolve around us. Yet “our” worlds do revolve around us, we are at the center of it, and everything that happens to us or comes from us, stems from the center of our being.  We don’t experience what’s going on across the universe – only what is within our scope, our reach, and our influence.  Some of us have a very limited reach, while others have a vast one, but we all have one, even if it’s only within ourselves.

I’ve heard the name of God my whole life. Most often in a damning expression when something went wrong or someone was angry, or when danger was present, which was during most of my childhood.  God was damned about every four to five words that escaped the cigarette or joint-ridden mouths of my parents. The concept that while God gave life to all things, my parents were ultimately responsible for my birth, and they alone had the right to take that life from me should they choose. I do believe the words were, “I brought you into this world, and if I damned-well please, I’ll take you out of it.” Have you really thought about the phrase ‘damned-well’?  That’s an oxymoron.  Nothing damned is well.

I’ve had a few meeting God moments, but one stands out in particular.  It wasn’t when I died after being attacked by a Doberman Pincher at age 5, or when I rode on top of a car through a barbed-wire fence, or when I fell off the back of a pick-up and got ran over, or any of those life-threatening moments. No, Meeting God moment that sticks out to me was a happy moment, a peaceful moment, a vision of beauty and grace, surrounded by nature and probably one of the first instances of human love.

I was about five years old. From my life time-line, this was some time after the burned-down house, the place where my little yellow canopy bed was destroyed and where I was attacked by the dog following my fifth birthday, and some time before we moved to Texas where I started Kindergarten, so sometime before my 6th birthday.  We lived on what my parents refer to as ‘the farm’.  I’m not sure what the farm really looked like because my memories are brittle pieces. I do remember some scenes, such as a log shack with a fold up cot me and my brothers would play in, until we got bed bugs.  This is the place I learned about chiggers, muddy wells, horses, and how to hoe a vegetable garden, and the first time I heard the name William Smith.  I’m still not sure who he was, only that he was on the farm with my family, had dark-curly hair, and couldn’t ride a horse.

Next door lived an old black couple. I wish I could remember their names, but I can’t.  I do, however, remember their hands, and their smiles, and their chickens, and their red-painted barn.  I remember happiness riding on the back of an old Chevy pick-up truck, (my father hated Fords – so it isn’t ironic that I grew up loving them) through bumpy, dusty, red clay dirt roads and mazes of corn. To this day I still love riding down winding dirt roads among corn fields. Our old neighbors had a bunch of chickens that ran around the yard. I loved chasing them, feeding them, picking their eggs, and then running from them as they chased me back.  It was carefree fun. It was a moment I got to just be kid. I didn’t have many of those moments, but that was one of them.  The old lady, who I will call Henrietta, told me stories about the farm, about her animals, about love, and about God.  I remember her telling me that God was watching me, and watching over me, and sending angels down to protect me. It as a nice thought because I always felt danger.

I remember my Meeting God moment.  I was lying in the deep green grass next to Fred and Henrietta’s red barn.  A tin pail sat beneath a water spigot that dripped crystal drops in a constant rhythm, creating a harmony with the universe, with the birdsong, with the wind that swayed the tops of trees.  It was like the universe in that moment was singing a universal song and they had allowed me to hear them, to see them worshipping in harmony with the sun, the grass, the wind, the trees, the air, the animals, all of life and all of nature, and even with a little five-year old girl lying in the grass, touching their cool with the tips of her little fingers.  I turned my head to the side and watched a tiny ant meander through the forest of blades and wondered if he knew he was being watched, if he realized how small he was to the world I knew? Wondered if this was how God watched over me? Then I looked into the sky above me, realized how small I was in the universe, and tried to imagine the world beyond the clouds, beyond space, beyond everything – not in distance, but in reality, beyond deeper than what we could see, and wondered if that’s where God lived and if he could see me on this side of the veil, to see little ol’ me lying in the grass. I can still feel the warm tears slide out the corners of my eyes and trickle down the side of my face as I yearned to know THAT God.  Not the god of my father, not the god that damned everything, not the god that people were killing for, but the God that all the universe was apart, the God that watched over me and sent his angels to protect me. I wanted to know him with all of my being, all of my heart, and all of my hope. I believe I met God in that moment. I believe that He heard me, and He touched me, and He smiled because He loved his creation, and his creation loved him back.

After that moment there would be many angry times, hurt times, and lots and lots of doubting. There still are because life is hard, it is complicated, and it’s formed with many different levels and layers. But, anytime I stray too far from my faith, I’m always drawn back to that moment, back to that Meeting of God, and I’m reminded of that experience and my faith is restored. I still have lots of doubts. I still believe with my whole heart that we’ve got it all wrong, for the most part, when it comes to God. I hate religion.  I hate the things men do in the name of God. I hate the way humanity treats one another.  But, sometimes I get a glimpse of the beauty of nature, of the universe, and even of humanity and am reminded that God is love – and love (not the world’s version of love, but pure love) is not of this world, is not of nature, but it is something more, something beyond the veil, something I can’t really describe because it must be experienced to understand.  I’m never afraid to meet God, but of man I am terrified.

The Farm was a brief happy moment in my life.  I always think of it with a smile every time I smell burning wood, or see a corn field, or a red barn, or chickens, or a tin pail, or a water spigot, or a horse.  Many nightmares follow the Farm, but that’s another part of this story. This is where I met God.

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

 

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

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

The Story, My Story, My Play Time

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

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

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 Excuses We Tell Ourselves

The Excuses We Tell Ourselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… 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

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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