Blog Elul: Prompt 6: Want

We all have things in life we want. I have always tried to balance my wants with my needs.

When we want something it’s a tough decision to see how much we really need it. When we are hungry we want to eat. We clearly need food. We could be thirsty and want and need water or tired and want and need to sleep.

The dating site OKCCupid.com asks people to list “the six things I cannot live without”. Most people lists want more than needs. Their phone, computer, music, or their kids.

I have had to learn through extreme adversity that the only things we truly need are water, food, and air. Preferably we all have shelter. Especially those that live in cold climates.

All of us can live without love and being wanted. If not the infinite amount of dating sites and apps would not exist. That is one that most people strive for.

Having someone to go through life with, to be the last person we see before bed and the first person we see in the morning makes life a lot more special.

Even after a divorce, most people want to be able to move on and be able to find someone else to share life with. Do we have the need or want to love and be loved?

We can all live without love and companionship in our lives. It’s probably a combination of want and a need. Being loved and needed helps our emotional well-being. It can also help our self-esteem. Some might say it shouldn’t. For many people, the want and need to be needed creates more love within us.

We should all love ourselves first. Getting to a place in our lives where we get the things we want allows us to become more fulfilled in life.

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Blog Elul: Prompt 5: Accept

There are so many things in life we have to accept. Doing as an adult is far more difficult than as a child.

Nearly six years ago my life began to change forever. I began to have to accept things in my life that no one should have to accept.

My now ex-wife became ill and paralyzed as the result of an illness. It began a three and half-year slide that would alter and eventually destroy my life.

I wanted to show my wife how much I loved her. Through seven months of hospitalization, I visited her six to seven days per week in the hospital. This included my brother’s wedding about a month after her initial illness.

So many things began to happen that I had to accept…or did I? Within a seven-month span from her diagnosis some of the things that happened were dealing with her family, her moving in with her sister, and her filing for divorce.

I wanted to work with a mediator and somehow at least get along for our children. That’s not what her family wanted. I had to accept there was going to be a battle.

That began a three and a half-year custody battle. Lies, exaggeration of the truth or doing what was in their best interests to get custody became more important than doing what was truly in the best interests of the kids.

The two worst days of my life we accepting that my wife would never be an able-bodied person and then the loss of the custody of my children.

I didn’t know how I would survive emotionally. I learned through it all that we are often stronger emotionally than we realize we are. I leaned on my friends and some of my family.

Some of the friends were new. They helped me greatly get through that time. I learned through a very difficult time that we all must accept things in life that are difficult. Being able to do that and get through it is all a part of life.

 

Blog Elul: Prompt 4: Choose

Blog Elul is based on the month of Elul that precedes the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. In Judaism, every child begins life as being chosen.

We go through life with choices throughout every day. As we get older and gain more responsibility the choices often become more difficult. How much of life do we choose and how much does life choose us?

When we are children with the help of our parents we can choose which activities we participate in, the friends we have and a few others things about our own lives. As we age we might be able to choose who we spend time with and which college we will attend.

As we start to come into ourselves we are able to make more decisions and more choices. Once we begin to start dating do we choose who we date and are in a relationship with or do they choose us?

We make a lot of choices in life, but being in the right place at the right time can often dictate the choices we make. Sometimes we chose life and other times life chooses us.

One wrong or ill-fated decision can change the course of our lives. That can encompass many things. Hanging out with the wrong group of people, being in the wrong job or wrong relationship can alter our fate. Any or all of those decisions can result in life taking us down a path we might not want.

When we search for a connection in life it often leads us into a relationship that might not turn out to be the life we wanted. That, in turn, can lead to the end of a relationship and down another path of a life we would not have chosen for ourselves.

If it is one that was a marriage that ultimately ends in divorce too many become contentious. Far too many become at the mercy of someone else. The system often splits up families destroys lives and ultimately leads to someone else being able to be the one to choose how our life turns out.

Blog Elul: Prompt 3: Prepare

Almost every bit of our life is preparing for something. Every day we prepare for something. Preparation is almost always present.

We begin each day by preparing. At the beginning of each day, most of us must at least get dressed. Many of us prepare for the day by getting what we need for work, make breakfast and coffee.

Those are the everyday things that are secondary to us. Those things often come easy and are almost without thought. How well we prepare emotionally, mentally and logistically for the unexpected things in life can often define how we live and what path our life goes on.

My strengths are taking care of the everyday. A string of many unexpected events and not being well enough prepared took my life in a direction I didn’t expect nor want.

Part of the decisions I made were bad advice and others were not be prepared enough to give myself the full chance to succeed. One of my favorite quotes is Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

When we are prepared when an opportunity comes along we will be more likely to succeed than someone who is not. The only luck in any situation is the opportunity coming along. The success is being prepared for the opportunity.

As I listened to a lot of the Hurricane coverage over the last week they repeatedly spoke about preparing for it. Some of the coverage post-Irma compared Hurricanes to earthquakes. Knowing a Hurricane is coming minimizes a lot of the casualties.

People are able to put up shutters and/or evacuate to somewhere safer. Earthquakes strike unannounced. That puts people in a much more perilous situation.

Meteorologists have a general idea where the eye of a Hurricane will hit. If seismologists could do the same with earthquakes it could save thousands of lives.

Being prepared in our own lives will almost always lead to more success, opportunity, and safety.

Blog Elul 2017, Prompt 2: Search

We spend almost all of our lives searching for something.

We begin searching for the love and attention of our parents. As we go through childhood we search for a lot of things. That can be anything from how we fit into the world, to our friends, where we fit in in our own families to what our interests are.

Once we come into ourselves somewhat we hopefully have found our inner selves. What makes us the people we are. Some find that almost instantly. It can be innate within us. Others might spend their entire life searching and never truly find out who they really are.

Searching for a place to fit in can be one of the most difficult parts of growing up. Some children find their place and some don’t. Towards the end of becoming an adult, we must decide the next step in our lives.

The only choices are generally to either search for a place to go to college or somewhere to work. It can be a search wrought with obstacles and a difficult task for a teenager to deal with.

These are tough decisions someone who is just beginning their search for life as an adult. These decisions early in life can influence the remainder of their lives.

College and the beginning of a career also begin more searches. They set the foundation for how and where life may take us. We might spend our early adult years searching for what kind of career we want to pursue. We date searching for companionship and to eventually find a mate. We get involved in activities for a variety of reasons.

Once we settle into adulthood after a few years the searching continues. The majority of generation X reported being at their jobs for 13 months or less. The Baby Boom Generation had far more loyalty from companies and from employees.

That creates having to search for new employment frequently. Other things we might search for later can involve things for our children, places to live, a mode of transportation and the important things in life we need to survive.

The cycle will then start over as many of us raise children and help them to learn how to search for all the same things we had to growing up.

 

Blog Elul 2017: Prompt 1: Act

This is my third year participating in Blog Elul. Elul is the third month on the Hebrew Calendar. This prompt challenge was created by Chicago area Rabbi Phyllis Sommer. The first prompt for this year is ACT.

We are taught about acting from nearly the moment we are both. How often did we hear from our parents to act or not act a certain way? How often do we say the same things to our own children?

We are all expected to act in certain ways depending on the situation and moment. We all act differently in different environments. We act one way at work, another at home, in social situations and in public.

We also might act differently depending on who we are with. Every person we interact with can bring out different aspects of our personality and that can often change based on the person and the situation.

The way we act can also be influenced by our own inner feelings. What is our mood? How was our day? What has happened in the past in a similar situation and how do we act based on what we anticipate might happen?

Do we have anxiety about a certain situation? Are we depressed? We might act one way based on our confidence for a situation and another based on trepidation.

Our personalities, makeup, nature versus nurture all go into how we act every day in every way. We are all judged on our behavior and how we act in every situation we find ourselves in throughout every moment of our lives.

The way we act can speak a lot about the person we are. How do we handle adversity, success, failure and the good times as well as the bad? We act throughout every moment of our lives.

Hopefully, we act on the opportunities available to us and make the most of those opportunities to cease the most out of life.

 

Numb

I've touched on and alluded to my divorce. I have never really directly discussed it.

My ex has made me afraid to go to court. I'm at my best when I can focus on each individual day.

She out spent me after winning and large sum in a malpractice case. Without an attorney I had no chance.

Now the Judge has awarded her the house I bought during the separation. I feel numb. I think I might have found an attorney. I have money for the retainer. Not sure beyond that.

There is a statute in my state that claims if one person has substantially more money than they have to pay the other's legal fees. That has no happened in my case.

Life has me feeling completely defeated. The court have reduced me to my knees and feeling literally worthless. Seems like a good day to stay in bed.

I'm open, real and honest. I hope to be more positive in the future.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 12: Wonder

Dealing with anxiety, the sense of wonder is a constant. This works in both positive and negative ways.

My mind is always working. I am constantly thinking. This works in both positive and negative ways.

I consider myself an information hound. When I am unsure about something that interests me, I usually wonder enough about it to look it up. Growing up I use to read the encyclopedia.

I now use Google or Wikipedia to look something up that I wonder about. By doing this I learn about something that I didn’t know before. This can often increase a sense of wonderment about something related to what I looked up in the first place.

It’s important for all of us to have a sense of wonder about the world. The internet has made the world a much more accessible place. When we wonder about something, we now have supercomputers at our fingertips to look something up or connect with someone thousands of miles away.

The negative aspects of wonder are something I constantly battle with. The unknown is something that is an internal struggle that often goes on in my brain.

The list of second guessing and wondering what is going to happen is seemingly endless for me. It can involve applying for a job, trying to get new clients, making an important phone call or attempting to kiss a woman after a first date.

In anxiety, wonder is a constant. The Wikipedia page for Wonder says:

“French philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer René Descartes (1596–1650) described wonder as one of the primary emotions because he claimed that emotions in general are reactions to unexpected phenomena. He noted that when people first encounter a surprising or new object, “… this makes us wonder and be astonished at it”. Descartes therefore propounded that “Wonder is the first of all the passions.”

There are many beautiful senses of wonder in life. We always have a sense of wonder early in a relationship. We learn more about our partners as a relationship evolves. Their likes, dislikes and discovering them intellectually and physically.

When we enter the world we all have an almost daily sense of wonderment. Being able to see the world through a child’s eyes is an ever evolving sense of wonder. Children see the world in a different way and are almost always wondering about something.

Wonder gives us all a sense of learning and exploring the world. Without it, we would stay in our own communities, own comfort zones and life would be far more boring.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 11: Fire

There are many reasons for man to be grateful for fire. The two biggest are that is provides us with a source for cooking and heat.

Via the source of gas, fire still continues to provide us with heat and a source of cooking. The fire is under much greater control than it was when Neanderthals discovered fire tens of thousands of years ago.

Fire is something us to be grateful for in many ways, but it can also be a scary thing that causes tremendous damage each year. We can still have a sense of gratefulness towards those that work to fight fires.

As technology advances the fight against putting unwanted fires out seems to continue to get better. Accidental fires can happen for many reasons. Some happen through nature from lightning and other sources, while others occur from man-made sources or arson.

Most of us take much of what we have in our daily lives for granted. Having fire is something that we don’t usually think about consciously think about. It’s always prevalent in our lives.  We use fire to heat our homes and with a gas stove cook our food.

When we roll our garbage cans out to the curb once or twice per week do we think about how the garbage is disposed of? It’s picked up by a garbage truck and eventually brought to a landfill where the waste is slowly burned off.

Fire can also be used in many other ways. Other sources can be to provide light, energy, blacksmithing and glass making all require fire. Without fire, most of the things we take for granted would come to a halt.

Although most of us don’t use it directly, on a daily basis Fire provides us with most of the things we now consider necessities to live, thrive and survive.

30 Days of Gratitude: Bonus Prompt 10: Friendship

There are not too many things in life I am more grateful for than my friends.

Several friends have been there for my through my adversity more than anyone else in my life. One friend, in particular, has called to check in over the last six years more than just about anyone else.

My friend John has called me once or twice per week to check in and see how I am doing. He doesn’t judge me, despite knowing the mistakes I’ve made and everything I have been through.

He always listens to what’s going on in my life without judging or withdrawing from me. I have had friends over the years who have become distant because they don’t want to listen to the difficulties I’ve faced in life.

I have learned that friends can be defined differently for different people. Our closest friends listen to us, are compassionate and have an interest in everything in our lives, not just the triumphs.

Other friends are there as social friends. These are friends we meet in social situations. This can encompass many different aspects of our lives and often depends on our interests.

I have one friend I almost always seem to see only when we are going out to high school classmates of ours that are in a band. The only exception to that is when we have spent two of the last three New Year’s Eve’s together.

We both like to be outside and be active. I have asked him to go with me when I spend time in hiking groups. He always says no when I ask him to do anything other than seeing the bands our classmates are in.

In the past, I would have become frustrated and not gone out with him at all. I have learned to be grateful he likes getting together to at least see the bands play. I love seeing live music and it’s nice having a friend to go out with.

For people with a variety of interests having friendships that fit those interests is important. It’s better to be grateful for the friendships we have then to expect more from them.