Funny story…

Posted in health, life, meditation with tags , , , , on February 7, 2018 by me

The church I sometimes go to has a prayer session the first Tuesday of every month.  Even if you’re not super religious, it’s just got a great vibe.  A group of people come together in a darkened, candlelit room, great music playing, someone gets up in between songs and says “hey, for the next song or two, we’re going to pray for xxx” and then it’s peaceful.  There’s just an energy about people coming together in relative silence like that, concentrating on the same thing.  In the middle of a chaotic week, it’s a nice, positive refuge.

Last night I went.  For the last ten minutes or so of the hour, they suggested if people came together, that they take that time to get together and prayer together for each other’s needs.  There was a woman a couple of seats over, so I scootched over and asked if she had any intentions she’d like me to pray for.  She told me what was troubling her and asked if she could do the same.  I said “You know, life is going pretty good for me right now.  So what I’d really like you to pray for is humility.  That I realize that I didn’t get to this spot on my own and so that I don’t take it for granted.”  And I told her that I might be judgemental, so I’d like to remember that good times pass, and bad times come around again, and to not be judgemental, that I realize that will be me in a bad place sometime.

Then I went home, went to work today, and got fired.

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Goals

Posted in friends, health, life, meditation, relationships, society with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2018 by me

A friend of mine went through a rough break-up several years ago.  He started to read various self-help books to improve himself and heal.  One of the things that was mentioned was the importance of having goals and writing them down.  They really focused on the “Law of Attraction”, which really isn’t a law at all.  He was skeptical, but wanted to be open-minded, and he was trying to distract himself from the break-up, so he did it.  And kind of forgot about it.  So several months later, at the end of the year, he was surprised to find out that he’d completed all of his goals for the year.  So he wrote some new, tougher ones for the new year, and at the end of year, found out that he’d completed all of those as well.  And did the same thing last year.

We have a weekly beer night, so we were talking about the meditation classes and goals and when I went in for a meditation, I saw a flier for a goal setting, meditation seminar.  I figured it was a sign and signed us both up on the spot.  I don’t really believe in the “Law of Attraction”, but I do believe that several things happen when you actually write down your goals.  And when you talk about them with others.  I think there’s a sense of accountability there, once you see them on paper.  If you make a “mood board”, or something to remind you of them, and put it someplace that you see daily, it keeps your goals top-of-mind.  And I think writing them burns them into your sub-consciousness, which makes you more alert of opportunities that pop up during the year.

A couple of funny things have happened since that seminar.  I’ve been more productive in the first 5 weeks of 2018 on a personal level than I probably was in the entirety of 2017.  I’ve talked about my goals to a couple of friends, put them into Trello, and acted on them.  I spent 6 months in 2017 talking about publishing a book but didn’t do much towards it.  This year I’ve started a FB page and a website for it, and have started soliciting submissions and already received my first 2.  I’ve completed my application for a new MA program.  I paid off my Jeep and several credit cards.  Started a marketing campaign for a company run by friends that I volunteer with.  And things are still happening.

The one thing that’s interesting is working on my house.  For some reason, I just can’t finish my basement.  It’s crazy, I need to do it, but there’s some block.  I don’t know if it’s just a hatred of housework or what.

I’ve got a guy that I might’ve considered on the border between a friend and an acquaintance.  I don’t remember how the conversation started, but we started talking about goals.  He asked for me to send him my goal sheet.  Because we aren’t super close, I felt a little goofy about sending it over at first.  But I figured in for a penny, in for a pound.  So I was surprised when he hit me up a couple days later and asked what I was doing to accomplish my goals that week.  And he kept prodding me.  Every week.  Sending me a music video “Anything it takes” one week.  I was surprised and appreciative of his dedication.  There were a couple of moments where I was irritated, like he was nagging me, but that passed quickly.

Here’s hoping I can keep the momentum up.  I took the holidays off from dating, that extra time has helped.  But I’ve got to figure out how to balance things, that’s a part of life.

Shook

Posted in health, life, society with tags , , , on January 25, 2018 by me

A friend and I have had a standing Wednesday get together since the meditation class late last yer.  It was in a neighborhood that’s kind of in between both of us.  The downtown Denver area is probably closer, but it’s a pain to park, expensive and a lot of the joints down there are loud and crowded and meat markets.  The place we go to is a little hotspot in a residential area.  A little closer to him, but the bars and restaurants aren’t as packed, parking is easier, etc.

So last night I went down to meet him and had to park at a meter about a block away.  There’s an alley between where I normally park and the bar we meet at.  After a couple hours, I was walking back to move my car before I got a ticket.  As I was walking through the alleyway, I saw someone wrapped in a moving quilt pulling cardboard boxes out of a dumpster.  By the time I got closer he was building his shelter for the night.  I startled him as I was walking by, so I said “Good evening!”  He said “Good evening sir.” to me.  He didn’t approach me, didn’t ask me for money.  I could see he was really young not much older than my son and he was shivering, trying to hold the moving blanket wrapped around him with one hand and layer the cardboard to make a pallet with the other.

I stopped and asked if he’d had dinner.  He said he hadn’t, so I told him to meet me back at the bar and I’d buy him pizza.  I got to my car and pulled it into a spot in the bar’s parking spot that had finally opened up and met him.  The bar’s got a walk-up window where you can order pizza til late night, so we walked around to it.  I had a spare fleece beanie in my jeep and gave it to him.  I ordered him enough pizza for the night and hopefully some for breakfast and maybe lunch the next day and some bottles of water.  He was still shivering, so before I walked back into the bar, I took my coat off to give it to him and he argued with me.  He indicated the blanket and said he didn’t need it.

There were some bar stools outside, so I put my coat on one and told him to give it to one of his friends if he didn’t want it, that I wasn’t going to take it with me.  He said “I don’t have any friends.”  So I said, “Look, you’re freezing and it’s going to get colder tonight.  Take the coat.  Put you feet in it, use it for another blanket, whatever.  I’m not taking it back.”  And he just started bawling.

I’m not comfortable with people crying in front of me to begin with.  But the fact that he was such a polite kid, and hadn’t asked for anything, and was so close to my son’s age really shook me.  I haven’t been able to get the sight of him crying out of my head all day today.  Last year, I didn’t understand when a homeless guy on the street asked me for my stocking cap, and walked away from him.  Once it clicked in my head what he asked in my head, I felt so guilty that I didn’t give it to him.  I was just a couple blocks from my car, I could’ve given him anything I was wearing.  I’ve carried that guilt around with me, and have been looking for opportunities to not pass up the opportunity to help people in the future.  But I wasn’t expecting that last night.  And I’m not sure that I fully understand all the reasons why it shook me so much.

Full Disclosure

Posted in family, life, love, parenting, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 17, 2018 by me

In my last post I mentioned punishing my son by not paying some fees.  In hindsight, that was the right decision for me, and I’d do it again.  However, I didn’t do it as cleanly and emotion-free as I’d like.  When he called/texted, I’d just gotten off a plane from a weekend away, seeing a friend retire.  It was late, I was tired and I was really irritated that he put me in the position of having to be the bad guy.  He knew he wasn’t supposed to wait until the last minute to ask for large sums of money, and he knew he hadn’t been living up to his obligations and yet was asking for more money.  And that was a topic that we’d fought over a lot that summer.  And yet he was asking.  As a parent, there’s the part of me that wants to spoil him rotten and give him everything he asks for.  And feels guilty when I can’t, either because I believe it’s the wrong thing to do, or because I can’t afford to.  And because of all the guilt and irritation I lashed out.  I’ve apologized to him since, but I’m still not proud of it.

Call

Posted in family, health, home, life, relationships with tags , , , , , , on January 17, 2018 by me

When I was younger, I did some stupid things with credit cards the first year of college, just got in over my head too quickly.  My parents found out about it, but didn’t offer to help and I didn’t ask.  A couple years later, I disappointed my Dad by buying a used motorcycle and a jeep.

When I was going through my divorce, my ex initially was trying to retain sole custody of my son and give me visitation rights, one weekend every other week.  She threw up a variety of excuses; I’d been gone so long in his early childhood that I didn’t know how to parent, he was scared of me because I was basically a stranger, etc.  As time went on, and I was offering to take more of the debt and pay more in alimony and child support, that changed.  Eventually we got to split custody and 50/50 parenting time.

Late last summer/early last fall, my son asked me to pay some fees from something.  Unfortunately we had a couple of agreements.  The first was that he wasn’t supposed to ask me last minute for large sums of money.  When he knows a fee is coming up, he’s supposed to give me time to prepare.  The second was why I was paying those fees.  So he called me last minute asking for the money, needing it that night, and admitted that he hadn’t upheld his end of the agreement.  So I refused to pay, feeling that there needed to be some consequences.  This wasn’t the first time that this had happened.  He’d been paid to do numerous chores around the house, etc. and didn’t complete all of them, it was becoming a habit.

It’s a longer story, but last I became aware that someone in my family paid his fees without telling me, and then they both lied to me about it.  He claimed that the fees had been waived for him.  And had made some fun of me while discussing the payment of the fees, suggesting I was just being greedy and keeping the money so I could travel more.  Last year I took a ten day motorcycle trip, staying with friends and family and liberally abusing a friend’s discount at hotels.  In the spring and summer I dated a woman who lives about 3 hours away and traveled to see her frequently and I took a trip to DC and an over nighter to Santa Fe, again using frequent flier miles and my friend’s hotel discount again.  My son is out of the house a lot now, I did most of my traveling when he was with his mom and did it on the cheap.  That’s the most travel I’ve done in a year just for me, not for work and not for the military or family.

Anyways, I found out about the payment, and it turned out that my Dad knew about it.  I sat on it for a couple of days and couldn’t get over it, so I eventually called him and had it out.  It was a tough discussion.  I get it, he was defensive at first.  I caught him off guard with the call.  They did it to help me out.  They knew how much I was paying for things and wanted to help.  They did it because he’s their only grand-kid and they spoil him.  They did it because they didn’t want my ex to take out yet another loan to pay for it if I didn’t.  How did her undermining me differ from them undermining me?  But eventually he admitted that it was wrong, and they didn’t consider that.  Then he also acknowledged that the spoiling had gotten insanely out of control.  The over-all cost of his combined Christmas presents is irrational, and I believe can set him up for emotional problems later in life.

After a bit we got into some more of the underlying issues that I have.  Dad didn’t want to admit it at first, but we kind of all have our roles in the family.  My older sister was the street smart, stubborn one, my younger the brain and grand success.  I’m kind of the screw up.  It started some with the credit issues.  Then the divorce.  While it was happening, I got repeated lectures about how divorce didn’t mean that I could ignore my responsibilities as a father, that I could NOT pay alimony or child support, that my son needed a father in his life and I couldn’t shirk that.

When I came back from Iraq I bought a motorcycle for myself.  A couple of years later my Dad offered to send up some money to pay to re-side my house, with the unprompted and surprising stipulation that the house was for my house, not to buy a motorcycle for my ex.

I had to point out that while there were definite screwups, that I got myself out of them.  When I had credit issues, I didn’t ask them for help, I cleared it.  While I bought myself a motorcycle when I came home from Iraq, I also paid off all my debt before I left, so if I died my family wouldn’t be left with any of it.  And I bought my family a house.  When my ex tried to keep my son from me, I fought to keep myself present in his life and to share decision making responsibilities.  When I got laid off twice I didn’t miss a single child support or alimony payment, when there was a mix up with my mortgage company last year, I didn’t ask anyone to bail me out.

When he comes up here to visit, there’s a lot of anxiety about the judgement that I’ll receive lectures about my house and yard.  So we talked about that.  He’s never been 45, with a lung disease that could be fatal, TBI and seizures, no driving privileges, a divorce under his belt and a teen age son trying to date and scared of being alone.

That’s when things really got fun.  He got it.  He acknowledged it.  He told me that as long as it’s a conscious decision and I know what I’m doing, go ahead and let the house fall apart, date instead.  He understands that I need to be out dating on weekends instead of working on my house or yard.  And that I’m not actually letting my house fall apart, but I am struggling to find a balance.

And how did he get it?  How did it sink in?  Because he’s 75 and sitting around the house scared of being alone.  There’s always the possibility of parents outliving their kids.  A freak, tragic car or plane accident.  But with our family it’s a little more of an in-your-face, keep-you-up nights possibility.  My older sister passed away.  My younger sister has leukemia, and I have the lung disease.  Are we going to outlive him?  Most likely.  But stuff happens.

It was a roller coaster.  Dad did acknowledge that there might be a slim possibility that subconsciously they were viewing me as a screw up still.  That they might’ve thought I was making a big mistake with my son, being too hard on him and screwing up as a parent and felt the need to jump in and the save the day without discussing it first with me.  And that they’d try to stop that.

I hate to say it, but it was pretty painful to bond with him over our fears.

 

 

Breathe

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2018 by me

Late last year I got invited to attend a meditation class.  It was paid for by Wounded Warrior Project and was four weeks long.  I got a lot out of it, it was great.  I really liked the woman who taught the class and the studio, so I decided that I’d try to pop in and support them.  She taught a beginning meditation class a couple of weeks later and I enjoyed that.  While I was there, I saw a flyer for a goal setting/meditation/begin-the-year-off-right session that I’ll write about later.  And the instructor told me she was glad to see me because she was doing a class on breathing and had wanted to reach out to me and tell me about it.  She felt that I’d get a lot out of it.  So I signed up for it and went last weekend.

I didn’t know what to expect.  I think the way she talked about it, I thought it was going to be a class, telling us how to breathe in different situations, how to use breathing as a tool.  That WASN’T it.  It ended up being a “breathing journey” or “breathing ceremony”.  I’m trying to figure out how to write about it, because I have a tendency to over think things, and I don’t want to over think this.  Part of my goalsetting thingie from that other class is just the word “Open”.  For the last couple of years I’ve tried to be open to new experiences, I want to take that a little further this year.  And this was a great experience, and I’m glad I was open minded about it.  And I don’t want to ruin it.

The first 30 minutes or so were kind of a repeat of some parts of the PTSD class.  She talked about how breathing can link the lizard and monkey brain, and how we can try to use it to control our fight or flight instincts.  After that we got into the exercise.  For the first 30 minutes we did a very specific type of breathing.  Almost a lamaze kind of paced breathing.  This 30 minutes was really the journey.  It’s where “the stuff” happened.  Then there was a 30 minute wind-down.

So what happened?  I honestly don’t know.  I mean, I can tell you the facts of what happened, kind of.  But not on a whole different level, because on that level, I have no idea what happened.  We started the breathing.  And it was weird as hell.  The skeptical side of me…  definitely wanted to mock and exit.  Especially when she started handing out the mouth pieces and told us that we probably needed to have water and tissues.  Uh, what?  Mouth pieces?  And wait?  You might touch us through this exercise?  Sure, just putting a hand on our jaw or chest or stomach to remind us to breath with our diaphragm and keep our mouth open.  Totally out of my comfort zone.

So yeah, we laid back and were slightly inclined.  She started playing tribal/indian music that started out gently and was going to increase in intensity over the 30 minutes.  We closed our eyes.  And yes, we popped our mouthpieces in.  To help remind us to keep our mouths open to take as much breath in as possible.  She turned the lights off except for a couple and we got into it.  She warned us early on that the breathing would make our throats tickle, but told us to keep it up and power through it.  So when that happened, I kept doing it.  She had a male assistant, and part way through he came over and put his hand on my chest, I wasn’t opening it up enough while I was breathing.  I wasn’t taking the breath in deeply enough.  I had one hand on my stomach and one on my chest and after a few moments was definitely concentrating on it.  I started opening myself up more and could feel the breathing come down to my pelvis, almost like I was forcing the breath out of my chest with my hips.

I remember thinking about it, wondering how the hell I could keep this up for 30 minutes.  It was tiring, a lot of work to bring that much breath in and force it out, and I felt like my brain was just going to start wandering at any moment.  Now that I had the breathing down and wasn’t focusing on it as much, I was probably going to start failing at meditation again, and just start daydreaming.

And then it happened, and I have no idea what “it” is.  All of a sudden it felt like I was sobbing, only there weren’t tears.  I could feel my body convulsing like I was crying, and I could feel my body starting to curl up with each breath and sob.  And it was almost getting to be too much.  I can’t exactly describe the emotions that were happening right then, just the physical actions.  It was overwhelming and I really wanted to bail out on it, and all of a sudden her assistant was in my ear.  Telling me to stick with it.  “Stay with it.  Commit.  Get this shit out.  It’s terrible, it’s killing you, get it out.”

And I did.  I remember talking to God.  And at the same time screaming “Fuck you” in my head.  Not at God.  I wasn’t… mad or disappointed in him at that moment.  But there really was something being purged from me.  I was convulsing with this weird tearless crying, sobbing, and screaming in my head and the mouth piece fell out and went rattling across the room on the hardwood floor.

All of a sudden it was passed, I was through “it”.  My breath came much easier and I was feeling an insane amount of peace or calm or contentment.  The ceremony part of the experience ended moments or seconds later, I really don’t know, and then we moved into the cycling down phase.  We were breathing however was comfortable for us.  And a few minutes later someone started crying.  The thirty minutes flew by.  No conscious thought process really.  A moment or two of weirdness while I was kind of embarrassed about what happened, but realized I was in a safe place.  And that was about it.

I was shaking for a good while afterwards.  I don’t now if that was the experience, or lack of oxygen or what.  I don’t know what any of it was.  Did breathing like that, was that hyperventilating?  Is that what caused the “experience”?  Was it some type of oxygen deprivation type thing?  Was it really a true, transcendental experience?  An encounter with God?  Was it really a spiritual purging?  And does it matter, as long as I know how it felt and how I want to react to it?

 

I don’t know where I am on the scale of emotions and transparency…

Posted in bed, books, family, friends, health, home, life, love, relationships with tags , , , on December 21, 2017 by me

…  I guess in relation to the rest of the world, I don’t know where I was.  I know that for me, I’ve grown and am doing better than I used to be.

One thing that’s funny though, is that even when I wasn’t very emotive, I knew that sometimes a woman can make a guy feel safe.  That while I didn’t mind being seen as the protector and the provider 99.9% of the time, every once in awhile I need to catch my breath and I appreciated it when a woman wrapped her arms around me and shielded me from the world.

I was reading “Cold Harbor” by Matthew FitzSimmons last night.  The main character in the series had a really, really bad time between this book and the previous one and is suffering from a variety of issues.  He can’t sleep without all the lights on and can’t sleep in a comfortable bed.  In this one part of the book, he’s been unable to fall asleep, sneaks past the bedroom where his (at this point, non-romantic) partner is sleeping and goes down stairs and falls asleep on the floor in front of the TV.  Later he’s woken up by his partner because he was screaming in his sleep.  They sit up for awhile and he explains everything that happened to him while he was missing, feeling better for opening up about it and getting everything out, including the weird symptoms of his PTSD.  After the awkwardness of his disclosure passes, they sit next to one another on the floor, watching TV in silence.

“Come here,” she said.  “Get up on the couch.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.  Lie down.”

“I can’t sleep like that.”

She stared small burn holes in his forehead until he did as she said.

“Happy?” he asked.

She climbed over him and lay behind him on the couch, fitting herself against his back.  She put an arm around him and held him close to her.

“Sleep,” she said.  “I’ve got you.”

He didn’t remember anything after.