T.L. Gray

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 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

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The Business of Being Happy

 

The Business of Being Happy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

It’s Time

 

It's Time

Life is filled with moments.  Good moments, bad moments, great moments, and moments of defeat.  We laugh, we cry, we love, we hate, we fall, and then we rise. 

This past year has been filled with a little bit of it all.  Hell, the last few years have been such a rollercoaster, riddled with ups, downs, sharp curves, steep inclines, and free falls.  I regret none of it because all it means is that I have LIVED.  I have felt and experienced the greatest of love, and I have also experienced the worst of pain. It’s time.  It’s time to move on to the next phase, to get on the next ride, and see where the universe takes me.

My spirit cries out with a howl so deep and filled with so much longing, even the wildest of wolves would bow in reverence. My soul has been ripped in two, a piece of it lost, possibly forever.  I’m a weary warrior who’s been fighting the ghosts of my past for so long that my blood-soaked sword is heavy, my arms are weak, and my resolve is exhausted.  But, it’s time.  It’s time to rise from the ashes, leave the battlefield behind, and be reborn to peace. 

It’s time to let the sunshine warm my face, caress my shoulders, pour its radiance into my skin, healing me from the inside out. As Jack Johnson says, it’s time to radiate. It’s time to face my ghosts.

I think it’s time to finally write my story.  My mother just recently passed away, and I think a part of me held back from telling my tale because I didn’t want to hurt her more than she has been hurt in this life. My story isn’t an easy one, and she’s suffered enough.  I’ve tried to write this story a few times already, the last being because I had a source of joy to battle the heaviness I knew that would come, I was in love. Love is always a strength of comfort when battling something very painful. But that source of joy left me, and I just wasn’t strong enough to face my ghosts while my soul was in so much pain. But, it’s time. 

It’s time to face my ghosts. It’s time to open my heart and let healing come in, to let my walls down, to let my gift once again flow freely.  It’s time to get back to being great.  I am great. I am talented. I’m not wasting my life chasing mindless things that mean shit.  I don’t need drugs to numb my feelings, or alcohol to drown the thoughts that torture me, or mindless sex to make me feel alive.  I have many gifts and it’s time to let them do what they’re meant to do. I will not apologize for being driven, for having vision, for living a life focused on rising above the circumstances of a shit world.  I love myself, and believe I deserve the best this world has to offer.  That doesn’t make me a snob, it makes me a warrior.  This world didn’t give me anything, nothing was handed to me, I was not of privilege, and I have fought for everything I’ve accomplished, everything I have done.  I’m so sick of being surrounded by people with nothing but excuses. There are NO excuses.    

We are responsible for the things we allow to come into our lives that distract us, that use us, that hurt us, that we let bring us down.  We have the responsibility to ourselves to remove those things, take a stand against the vampires and the distractions that seek to destroy us.  We can only blame ourselves when we allow people to lie to us and tell us this is who we are, when we should be looking up and forgetting those things that hinder us. I will look forward, look up, move ahead, casting off all those things that hinder. I’m the only one responsible for my situation and my circumstances.  If it was up to the world, I’d be a cheap whore dancing in the local strip club, drowning my sorrow in booze and sniffing my morals away up my nose, blaming everybody else for my circumstances, not caring who I hurt in my path of destrucktion.  But this world can go fuck itself. I am not a victim. I am a survivor, a warrior, and a lady.  I choose love over vices.  I choose hope over the mentality of defeat.  I choose vision instead of excuses.

God, I’m so sick of hearing excuses.  Everywhere I turn I’m bombarded with them.  Everybody has issues.  Everybody.  EVERY BODY!  Everybody is going through something. EVERY BODY has been hurt, tripped up, knocked down, had the rug pulled out from under them.  Who we are – is not what happens to us, but how we respond.  Being a liar, being a cheat, being a fucking vampire scumbag, being an addict or full of excuses and quick fixes, is OUR choice. The only person we have to blame is ourselves.  Keep whining like a little bitch, and that’s all we’ll ever be… a little bitch. So what – We got hurt.  So what – Our dreams were crushed.  So what –  We have to start all over again.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  It’s time.   

I’m tired of hearing excuses… from myself and everyone else.  It’s time. I’m cutting that negativity out of my life.  Some of you are NOT going to like me very much in the coming days.  Some of you are going to hate me because I’m not going to be your sounding board to whine about your problems or lie to yourself with your endless excuses.  I’m going to tell you to shut the fuck and do something about them.  Some of you are not going to want to hang around me because I’m going to be focused, driven, energized, and fighting.  If you’re lazy, you’re going to be intimidated, jealous or irritated by me and my energy.  I don’t give a damn.  Sayanara, bitches.  It’s time. Those I leave behind… I will miss you.  Those who are about to come into my life with all your energy and vision, I can’t wait to meet you.  I’m not apologizing for being hard to keep up with.  Shame on you for being too weak. I know we live in a world of weak people.  That’s their choice.  I love me just as I am.  I have fought hard to be the woman I have become.  It’s okay, I don’t need you or anyone else.  If you’re in my life, it’s because I choose you and I want you.  I can choose to leave at any moment.  It’s time.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Sunrise Healing

sunrise-healing

I’ve been watching the sunrise lately at different beaches.  There’s just something about it, something about watching that big ball of fire break through the morning clouds, rise out of the sea to greet me, that just does something for my soul.  I can’t explain it.  I can’t even really describe it.  I may have a whole thesaurus at my disposal, but in that moment, I’m speechless, without words, just full of feeling, full of life, full of appreciation.  Medicine to my bones. 

I’ll have to find my spot.  I know it’s out there somewhere.  Went to Indialantic, stopped by Starbucks and got me a warm Carmel Macchiato, and walked over to the beach to find myself surrounded by more than half-dozen of other people I assume arrived for the same reason.  Except they wanted to socialize instead of be in the moment.  It didn’t upset me my quiet was disrupted, but it did help me realize that’s exactly what I wanted… silence, solitude, an intimate moment with me and the world. 

Nature soothes me. It always has.  It was my beautiful sanctuary in my world of rage, of pain, of chaos.  As a child, I often ran to the woods to get lost among the trees, trails, and let my imagination take me on an adventure somewhere far, far, away. 

While the sun gets all the attention, I know that it’s not the only element that cleanses my soul.  There’s the wind, the waves, the water, the sand, the smell of salt in the air, the cry of the birds overhead, etc.  They all work together like a well-choregraphed symphony, each in tune, each have their individual parts to play.  It’s a movement that never stops.  It ebbs and flows, softens and builds, rises and falls, yet keeps going on and on and on and on.  This is how our souls also move… continually, non-stop, without pause.  Sometimes it’s in full motion like a hurricane, and other times a soft, gentle roll, yet its moving, it’s playing, it’s dancing, or it’s dying. 

The sunrise heals my soul.  My soul has taken a beating lately, and I can’t express the sunrise healing I’ve been receiving lately.  Let it heal.

Today the clouds are thick and the wind is a little hard, and there’s a little chill in the air, but… let it rise.  Let it rise. 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

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

Friendship

I had a conversation last night with a very good friend, where I made the statement that while I was very empty in romance, I was very rich in friendship. I am.  I am very lucky that I have such wonderful friends in my life.  The meaning of friendship has been on my mind a lot lately.  I’ve made some new friends because I’ve opened myself to allow new people into my life, and I’ve cut out some toxic because of the way they’ve treated me.

I have to fight very hard not to lose myself in someone else, not to allow their wants, needs, and desires to override my own. I’ve done that all my life, gave up the things I wanted to accommodate others, sacrificed my own needs to make sure those I love were never in need or without.  Oh, boy… I’ve made some HUGE strides in this area over the past few years.  I’ve learned to say “no”.

However, I still find myself at times putting up with the bullshit, keeping quiet when I’m disrespected, letting others place their needs, their issues, their wants, their devices, their additions, and their bullshit at a personal cost to myself. 

But that’s okay, because I’m back on my journey to self-love and self-respect.  The stronger I grow, the less I put up with the bullshit. No matter how much I love my friends, I WILL walk away from those who continuously abuse, neglect or take advantage of me.  I put up with a lot, because I know none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, we all have weaknesses and failures, and I’m no judge.  I hope for the best for those I love, and I’ll do anything for them to help them achieve their dreams, dig out of their problems, and fight for what they need. But I don’t have to put up with the disrespect and the abuse.

Ignore me, lie to me, use me, always come to me with your hand out, but NEVER bother to ask how my day may have went or if “I” needed anything, I’ll start to put my wall up.  Push me away when you’re going through something, and because I love you I’ll keep coming back. Keep pushing me away, one day I’ll eventually keep walking.  I’ve been there, where I’ve pushed everyone away in my life.  My real friends didn’t let me completely block them out, and I love them for not giving up on me.  But, there will come a time when I will give up, because I’ve made a vow to myself that I will never remain where I’m not wanted, where I’m not respected, where I’m neglected and abused.

My greatest hope is that one day I will be happy and deeply in love with my soul mate, my best friend, my greatest companion… and he will be just as much in love with me.  I will never doubt his love, I will experience the beauty of his respect, I will taste the fruit of his passion, and I will give him my everything because he will be my everything.  He will not abuse me or neglect me.  He will honor me, love me, cherish me, respect me, desire me, care about my hopes, dreams, fears, and passions.  He will sometimes piss me off and disappoint me, but he will make me confident in his love so I’ll be unafraid to just be myself. He will not make me feel small or a fool.  I will be his crown, his closest companion, his biggest cheerleader, and his greatest fan, his best friend.

At least that’s my hope and fantasy. I’m not yet ready to meet him or jump immediately into a serious situation.  I still can’t breathe. I’m still a mangled mess. But I will be ready, someday, and I hope that day comes soon.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: Blog Post, family, friends, Hope, Inspirational, Life, love, Philosophy, relationship, Relationships, respect, T.L. Gray | Tags: , | Leave a comment

YOLO!

yolo

Yep.  I don’t know why it comes as a surprise for some people, but you really ONLY get ONE life.  Yeah, yeah, I know… some of you believe in reincarnation, life after death, transformation, transcendentalism, etc… all those other “possible” conclusions.  But, I’m not talking about those right now. I’m talking about the 50-100 meager years we get to walk on this planet.  Well, some of us crawl, some of us run, some of us spend it on our backs, while others spend it on our knees, but you know what I mean.  One life.

So, let me ask you… what are you doing with your life? Are you even living it, or are you just existing? Do you just go through the motions, or do take charge and move through the universe experiencing everything you can while you can?

People, we get one shot at it.  Just one. 

There have been some low times in my life where I wanted to end it, when the pain was too much to bear and I just wanted it all to stop. Abuse. Cancer. Death of a love. Divorce. Break up with a soul mate. Times I’ve felt so lonely, so lost, so unwanted, so unloved, so rejected, so unnecessary, that I just ached inside. Of course, my love for myself, for my family, for my friends, and for life itself always stayed my hand during those low points, but I’ve been there.

There have been some high times in my life where I never wanted to end, ones I wished to live over, and over, and over again.  A kiss that melted me from the inside out. A touch that still gives me butterflies today. A hug that felt like it held together all my broken pieces.  A moment of my hard work being recognized. The birth of my children, holding them for the first time. Laughing so hard I peed myself. Jumping from 2.5 miles in the air.  Racing down white rapids. Watching an ant meander through the grass and meeting God. Writing. Playing my guitar. Kicking alien ass on my Xbox.

Life. A series of moments.  Good moments. Bad moments. Loud moments. Quiet moments.  I’ve lived a lot of moments. I’m not guaranteed one more.  So, I want to make them count.  Love the people in my life.  Live my life being happy. Loving and being loved. Discovering and being adventurous.

I can’t imagine trying to numb my life with hate, drugs, alcohol, or behind a thick wall never letting anyone in, or with condescending judgment.  It’s not always going to be sunshine and roses, and there are still dark days and dark moments ahead, but there’s always good moments, and bright moments, and life and love. 

Be silly. Laugh. Take a chance. Jump. Kiss the girl (life).  Dance. Dream. Sing. Touch. Smell. Stop hiding. Stop running away. Throw your hands into the air and let it go.  It’s your choice. No one else to blame but yourself if you’re too coward to embrace life.  For fuck’s sake… SMILE!

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Kiss the Girl!

kiss-the-girl

Wake up! Get up! Move your fucking feet! Kiss the girl!

Look, Life knocks us down. I think the abusive bitch really enjoys it, because she knocks me out quite a lot.  It seems like every time I stand up on my feet, dust myself off, and start picking up my pace to make a little bit of forward motion, she’ll drop a damned 747 out of the sky to fall on my head. But, I’m indestructible, immortal, and a freaking superwoman, because I choose to be. What’s your excuse?

Listen, I have my moments where I want to lay there on the ground and just cry because of how unfair life can be, is, or will always be.  But, I’m not five-years old.  Add forty years to that, and a whole lot of responsibility never really having time to be a brat. I’m jealous of you spoiled mother-fuckers that always had someone else looking after you, cleaning up your messes, wiping your noses, and patting you on the head telling you what a good job you’ve done.  Take your participation trophies and wrap them up in your dirty diapers, and go suck on your binky. I don’t have time for your pity party.  Believe me, I’ve been trying to have one for the last few years, and it isn’t working!

Hey! Knock it off.  Suck it up, Buttercup.  It’s time to get up. It’s time to move, even if you don’t know which way to go, move anyway.  The sad part is not moving, being stuck in the moment, being mired in the muck of self-pity. Learn this lesson: Life is NEVER fair. NEVER! Fair has never existed, and it never will.  This is a stupid concept ingrained into our psyche as children and we carry it with us throughout our lives, beating ourselves up when LIFE throws us a monkey wrench.  We are taught that WE are in control of the bullshit that happens in our lives.  That if we are good, good will happen to us.  That if we are fair, fair will find us.  BULLSHIT!  You tell that to every abused child, cancer patient, soldier’s widow, the betrayed, the rejected, and the good-hearted discarded because keeping up is hard.  Life is not fair.  She never was. She never has been. She never will be.  So, get up!

Want to know what you control? Nothing, except HOW you respond.  That’s it.  That’s all the control you have.  You can’t control the universe, you can’t control the weather, you can’t control the ocean’s tide, you can’t control someone else’s response, you can’t control God, you can’t control the economy, you can’t control anything. You can bribe, manipulate, lie, and scheme, but you can’t control anything in life except how YOU respond to it.  That’s who you are.  Not who you say. Not who you think. Not what some piece of paper says, by degree or birth certificate.  You are how you respond to every little and every big decision you make.

Stop being a pussy. Stop being afraid of making a mistake.  Fucking make a mistake, because you’re at least living, doing, deciding.  Stop hiding. Stop wallowing. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop WAITING for the right time, the right person, the right circumstance.  Stop waiting to win the lottery. Stop WAITING and start fucking moving. Start making decisions. Start making choices. STOP making excuses.  I’m so fucking tired of hearing excuses.  I hear it at work, I hear it at home, I hear it in society all around me.  I hear it out of my own mouth.  The mantra is … “I can’t… because. I won’t… because. I don’t… because.  I hear that bullshit a whole lot more than I’d like to admit.  But, that’s the problem. Until we admit to ourselves, until we recognize our reactions, our inaction, and our whiny excuses… we can’t change them. So, as a society, we keep ourselves distracted with bullshit, nonsense, shit that don’t matter, so we don’t have to hear our souls crying out to open our fucking eyes. Because to open our eyes to the truth is to be faced with the choices that define us.  We WANT to be fair.  We want life to be on Easy Street. We want someone to change our diapers for us, to take away all the shit we’ve produced, and give us a clean diaper so we can soil that too.  Feed us, because we don’t want to learn to feed ourselves.  Hold our hands, because we don’t want to face the struggle it takes to walk on our own. Coddle us, because our little feelings are hurt. Rock us, because we’re sleepy.  We bitch about putting on ten pounds, all the while stuffing our feelings.

Move.  Choose.  Kiss the girl – life!  She’s right in front of you.  See her.  Stop thinking about whether you’re making a mistake, or will there a better option tomorrow, or will she love you back because all the girl’s you’ve kissed before had hurt, abused, and used you?  Stop being a fucking coward and kiss the girl. It’s better to have kissed, than to have missed your opportunity, because guess what… life will continue without you.  All you’ve lost is the opportunity to really live. To live in the moment.  To get out of life ALL that you can in that moment… whether it ends up being a mistake.  Even from our mistakes, we live.  I have a life full of mistakes, but not ONE regret.

I lived for nearly twenty years doing the ‘right’ thing, the practical, the responsible, the ‘good’ thing, and I don’t regret any of it, because it was to fulfill the dream of being able to provide a certain life for my kids.  That was my dream.  However, I didn’t do a whole lot of living in that era, nor the era before . I was too busy trying to be good, to be right, to make responsible choices and so afraid of disappointing everyone else around me, of disappointing God, and of making a mistake.  THAT was the true mistake.  Because all that did was steal life from me.

I’ve got some heavy choices before me, and many of those choices paralyze me because I’m so afraid of making the wrong one.  I’ve spent so much time being afraid of the consequences of those choices, because I know life isn’t fair.  I’ve felt the pain and suffering of an unfair life.  Those burn scars still hurt today.  But, this is me this morning, puckering my lips… ‘cause you know what… I want to kiss!  I don’t want to just kiss, but I want to rip my clothes off and make beautiful, passionate love.  If it turns out to be a mistake, at least I had an orgasm, and my toes curled, and my stomach had butterflies.

Kiss! Kiss!

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

 

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

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