Posts Tagged With: T.L. Gray

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

The Story, My Story, Chick-O-Sticks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

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

I Am the Biggest Fool

I Am the Biggest Fool

I am fool. I am a fool because I care and love those who are even bigger fools than myself. I’ve always heard a phrase that God watches over fools and idiots. He must have a league of angels watching over me.

I’m not unintelligent. I’m not naïve. I see what’s around me. The world is an ugly mess. People are an ugly mess. I try so hard to be something beautiful in this gray world, but sometimes I get tired of carrying that light.  Yet, I’m a strong person because I’ve been forced to shine that light for myself, find my way out, and put up my guards and shields all my life. Yet, poison still gets in. I open the door to danger. I invite in chaos. Why?  Because of love.

Not because of others loving me, or that I’ve fallen into that crazy, wild love and can’t see what’s around me, or that I’m refusing to see the truth. No, I see the truth and walk in it anyway. THAT’s why I’m a fool.  I’m in love with what can and will never be in love with me, who chooses the company of vampires and leeches over me.

But I deserve better than this.  What about me?

I remember another God moment, where I was on my face, nose in the carpet, pouring my heart out and praying for my kids, my ex-husband, my church, my friends, my job, etc.

When I was done unloading all that worry, I heard a whisper calmly ask me a simple question.  “If you knew one of your children were starving, hungry, and in pain, what would you do for them?”

I answered, “Anything, well, anything that would help them, even if it was hard for them, hard for me, or misunderstood.”

The whisper replied, “If they were in danger, would you risk your own life to save them?”

Without hesitation, I answered, “Yes. Always.”

There was a long silence. Whisper said to me, “You are my child, and you’ve neglected yourself trying to take care of everyone else.  You’ve ignored your needs, buried your wants, and your soul is starving for the love it needs.  You’ve abused my child long enough. I won’t tolerate it anymore.”

I felt so ashamed, because I had ignored myself. I’ve always done whatever to survive, to meet what everyone else needed, because I was in need. I knew what it felt like to be hungry, so I spent more than 17 years feeding the poor.  I knew what it felt like to be unloved as a child by your parents, so my heart reached out to any unloved kids that crossed my path – I still do. I knew what it was like to be pregnant and alone, so I opened my home to a pregnant stranger. I knew what it was like to not have a friend in the whole world, have someone to help me in a time of need, so I became the kind of friend I needed.  But, it doesn’t come without a cost.

A friend posted a meme on their Facebook wall the other day that said, “I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Damn, that’s mine!’ and just be proud to have me.”  I responded with a simple, “It’ll never happen.” A complete stranger sent me a message that had me crying in the middle of my shift at work. I hid the tears as much as I could, but I couldn’t help feel the pain, a pain that I’ve been stuffing down and trying to ignore.  This stranger messaged me, “…you’re a very attractive woman. So, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even this year, but you’ll find someone who’s proud to call you theirs.”

What this stranger doesn’t realize is that I have MANY people in my life who love me, even more that respect me, and I’m not in want for friends. Remember, I’ve spent my life being a good friend. But, no one has EVER claimed me as theirs – not my parents, not my family, not my ex-husband, not any of ex-boyfriend’s – who are still my friends because they love me as a person.  I’m great to love – as a friend, to depend on, to respect, to turn to, to be there when no one else will, but… to love me – the woman?  I’m turning 46 years old next week, and I’ve only ever felt truly loved once in my life… for just a very brief moment and then he died.  Loved …for ME.  In love …WITH me.  I’ve been in love 4 times, but only deeply, madly, crazy in love once. But, they didn’t want me.  They love me, but not how I love them. They choose their chaos over me.

I’ve been neglecting myself again, putting myself on the back burner to focus on others and their needs. There’s always a reason. There’s always a need.  All the reasons are good, but it doesn’t mean they’re not interfering. When do I matter? When does what I need and want matter? Life is shit. Life is chaos. There will ALWAYS be something – but WHEN do I put me first again?  I have needs too.  I’m such a fool. I’m not naïve. I know the reality of my situation. I know that I’m loved, but unloved.  I’m not blind. I see more than I let them know I see. I’m not stupid, either. Just because I don’t expose what I know is in the dark, doesn’t mean I’m unaware. I just choose to be a light, something positive, and spread a message of hope instead of judgment. I choose to focus on what’s important.  I love because I need love. I help because I need help.  I’m friendly because I’m lonely. I give, because I’m empty.  I go without so other won’t. I have to believe it’s not for nothing. I’m not stupid. I know I will not be chosen. I will be left behind for the vampire, for the leech, for the lotus flower, for the opportunity, for the drug, for the convenience, for the addiction, for the easy way, for the simpler path …. I always have been, especially by those who claim to love me most. It’s hard to love me. To love me is to stand in front of a mirror.

My whisper, my God, my love watches over me. They have to, because I’m the biggest fool.

“Someday when my crying’s done, I’m gonna wear a smile and walk in the sun. I may be a fool, but darlin’ you’ll never see me complain, ‘cause I’ll do my cryin’ in the rain.” ~Jaime Ellis

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, Complicated frustrations, Dream, Faith, family, friends, Hope, Hurt, Independence, Inspirational, Instructional, Life, love, memes, music, Musing, Philosophy, Quotes, relationship, respect, song, Spiritual, T.L. Gray, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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

The Story, My Story, My Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you not Tonya?”

“Tonya? That’s not my name.”

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray ©2017

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

I Have Value, Too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Beautiful Soul… Shallow World

Beautiful Soul Shallow World

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Motherhood – A Story Born in Violence

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Categories: author T.L. Gray, family, friends, Musing, Spiritual | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Budgeting… Our Resources

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Budgeting… Our Time

Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Body, Mind and Soul… Day Two

Body, Mind and Soul - Day Two

Okay, this is now day 2, and I promised I’d get to the mind and soul part of this blog. I’m conflicted on which to write first.  During meditation this morning I was really focused on the soul part, but then had electronic issues that pissed me off, so now I’m on the mind. Let’s just see where my fingers take me.

I suppose this part is both mind and soul.  There’s a rule in life that I’ve learned over the years. It’s one that’s help me realize many goals and dreams.  I’ve accomplish most of what I’ve set my mind on accomplishing. The rule is this, which is actually from the Word: Don’t start what you don’t plan to finish, and count the true cost before you make the first move. Then commit to it. Then jump. When I make a decision, I then make a plan, visualize the steps I need to reach the end result (write my vision upon the walls), and then settle it in my heart and mind to do what is required and necessary to achieve those goals (they will test resolve and require sacrifice), and then act.

Listen, this is important: Having a good idea never got anyone anywhere.  Action and dedication are required. But, that’s not all.  Action only gets the plan moving.  Do you know how many great plans have failed because when the planner took the first few steps, things got tough and they gave up or changed course?  I bet if you looked back you can see a long trail of unfinished plans and dreams.  Those didn’t fail on accident. They failed by choice. It may have been an easy or hard choice, but it was still a choice. You chose to quit, you chose to give up, and you chose to let it go.  There may have been good excuses, great reasons, or magnanimous consequences, but it was still a choice.  The ONLY way to make a plan succeed is by making the choice to fulfill it.

One of our biggest problems when we make a plan is that we make plans where we don’t possess the tools, determination, understanding, or skills in order to fulfill them.  This is a little complicated.  On one hand, we should always strive to reach beyond ourselves, outside our capabilities, and above our limitations, but at the same time we have to be reasonable and practical.  Dream. Oh, God, dream big! But then break that dream down into obtainable, sensible, practical steps.  If you can’t see the path to the dream, you’ll get lost, detoured, distracted, and discouraged.  Don’t be afraid to take risks, but be practical and honest about the true cost of those risks. Don’t lie to yourself. Be willing to pay those costs, or get off the pot and go back to half-ass your way through life. NOTHING good has ever been without sacrifice. NOTHING.

I once made a vow, just like King David, that I would not give to my God, or myself, that which costs me nothing.  I would not be like Cain and give the least of what I had to fulfill a requirement, but to always give my best and with my whole heart – at work, at play, at love, and at life. That promise is not for anyone but me, for the sole purpose of being able to stand in front of the mirror and face that woman who has been through hell and back, and know that I’ve done my best. Whether I succeed or fail, fly or fall on my face. SHE deserves my best. I value my dreams and goals, and THEY deserve my best.

So for the sole purpose of reaching my life goals and dreams, I have to set my mind on what I want to achieve. I have to focus, fill my thoughts with the things that will help me succeed.  I need to protect my mind and soul from people or things that will steal, detour, or destroy the plans I make.  Not everyone in our lives is good for us, some will not only destroy the plans we make by messing with our minds, but they will also seek to destroy our souls.  That’s what I’d like to blog about tomorrow – our souls.

Until next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

Body, Mind and Soul… Let’s Go

Body, Mind and Soul

Well, it’s a new day and I’ve got a lot of things bubbling up inside and I’m ready to start working on them. Last night I went on a date, and I think that will be my last first date for a while. It really confirmed to me what I want in this life and that I no longer have the patience or tolerance for anything that will distract me from that goal. I had a pleasant time, but I couldn’t wait for the date to be over. I don’t want to play anymore. I don’t want to keep getting disappointed when others don’t or can’t meet my expectations. I didn’t quite realize what those expectations were until this weekend. They’re quite high. I’m tired of being hurt or let down. I’m tired of putting my heart out there, when others are unwilling to put their own. I’m a risk taker. I’m an adventurer. I’m not lazy in anything, and that includes love.

So, what’s on the agenda? Well, that included a LOT of things: I’m working on body, mind and spirit. I’m going to really sharpen my focus on my physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Let’s start with the physical: I’m healthy and active. I’m not skinny, but I’m not obese. I work out so that I will be able to participate in the activities I enjoy. Being single I am WELL AWARE of how important the physical body is when it comes to attractiveness. I don’t have an issue with it. I personally would never date someone extremely obese because it’s unattractive, unhealthy, and detrimental to my own healthy lifestyle; however I think a few extra pounds on a man looks good, healthy, and not so vainly arrogant. I do have a stereotypical reaction to men who are what I call ‘gym rats’ and I know it’s not fair. I’ll stop thinking they’re overcompensating for either a lack of intelligence or penis size if they will actually try to see a woman beyond the first two layers of make-up and skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love being sexy, I love men being attracted to me, and inside a relationship I love to have lots and lots of sex (I mean, really a lot of sex). But, I don’t fall in love with someone based on their sexual appeal. I fall in love with souls, not faces. I have loved some really plain faces that had such beautiful souls. Anyway, my physical health is very important to me and it’s time I amp up my workouts and start focusing on setting and meeting some physical goals for myself.

  1. Body Boarding – I got to experience it for the first time on Easter, and I love it. I want to do more and do it often. During the experience I realized I need to focus on my upper and lower body strength because trying to get passed the breakers required a lot of energy. It’s the hardest part of the whole process. So, now that it’s getting warmer, I’m planning on spending more time at the beach working on my upper and lower body strength, simply swimming passed those breakers. I also want to start working at the gym/home with strength conditioning – using weights, yoga, and workout routines centered on strength training.
  2. Bike Riding – I plan on doing a lot more bike riding around my town. Not only is it great exercise, but you get to see and experience the world around you with an open view. I see so much more when I’m riding my bike. I feel so much freer. I’d love to have a riding partner, but I’m determined to go alone because riding my bike also gives me time to think. With my job and all the other things I’m doing, I really don’t have a lot of time to think anymore. Everything is rush, rush, rush, rush. I’ve sometimes considered getting a physical labor job, because when my hands are busy my mind is free, but then I think about the heat or the toilets and change my mind. Maybe with a little more bike riding I’ll be able to figure out the perfect job for me.
  3. Swimming – Because I do live near the ocean and have daily access to a pool, I want to become a really strong swimmer again. I used to be one, even competed for a time, but these last few experiences have shown me that I’m not that strong of a swimmer any more. Also, swimming is great physical exercise. So, I plan on doing a lot more swimming. Also, being in the water is really helping this white girl get a beautiful golden tan. I just hope I don’t get that dark leathery skin that makes you look old. I look so much younger than I am because of my porcelain skin.

So my new workout routine will involve:

  • Monday – Friday: Early Morning Yoga, Afternoons – 500 Stairs, 30-min swimming, 3 miles on the treadmill, and strength training on the machines – targeting legs and arms. (12,000 min on FitBit)
  • Saturdays: Bike Ride & Beach
  • Sundays: Lazy Day – Off (Video Games/Writing/Binge-watching)

My new diet will include:

  • M-F Mornings: Grapefruit/Cheese/Coffee/Water
  • M-F Mid-Morning Snack: String Cheese/Trail Mix
  • M-F Lunch: Smart Ones – 3 Cheese Ziti & Water
  • M-F Late-Afternoon Snack: Cottage Doubles/Pineapple
  • M-F Dinner: Lean Meat/Green Vegetable/Starch/Tea (Less than 1000 cal)
  • NO EVENING SNACKS
  • Weekend Morning: Bagel w/cream cheese, bacon
  • Weekend Lunch: FREE – whatever I want
  • Weekend Dinner: FREE – whatever I want

I’ll blog tomorrow about my mind and my soul.

Until next time,

~T.L. Gray

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

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