Are Relationships Hard?

I was having a conversation recently about a couple who are in the midst of some turbulent times in their relationship. It’s possible that they may not make it to the forever they promised one another. It’s commonly said that in any relationship it will not always be ‘peaches and cream.’

Well it’s true that life in itself is at times very challenging. Externally there are things going on all around us that grab our attention. We have goals, wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes it’s as simple as survival. From where will come our next meal? How will the rent get paid? Whether goals or stresses, these will abide no matter what. I’ve heard it said that in life we are either going through something, about to through something or recently came through something. We don’t need to be coupled up to have these challenges. They will be with us regardless.

So what does this say about relationship?  Are they hard or are they easy?

As I think about it, I don’t believe relationships are hard. I believe WE are hard. It’s easy in the beginning to find favor with someone we like, care for or love. We even know going in that the object of our desire is not a perfect person. We know that he/she has faults. If we are self aware we also understand that we are deeply flawed or at least far from perfection in a human sense. There will always be room for growth no matter what stage in life we are in. And yet when someone has our favor we are graceful towards our partner’s imperfections. Some of us overlook them altogether. Some of us who are a bit wiser recognize them yet view our partner’s imperfections as an opportunity to step up and really show love and compassion towards him/her. Either way, it’s not the relationship that is the problem. It’s us!

At some point in relationships it is us who change. We become less graceful towards our partner. We become stubborn, resentful, unforgiving with a hardened heart. We become rigid, impatient, judgmental, prideful, lazy, and self absorbed. We forget or refuse to remember the first fruits of what attracted and connected us in the first place. We stop putting in the work of developing our own character to grow and be a better person and by extension a better partner.

It’s easy to love when ‘things’ are good and going our way, right? However, love is strengthened through trials and tribulations when we as people decide that no matter what is going on externally, we are determined to remember and maintain a basic foundation of humanity and decency when we think of and address our partner. When he/she misses the mark in our opinion, we can choose compassion instead of spite. We can choose soft words or if necessary temporary silence in the midst of conflict or pressure. We can choose to remember that our partner is a person who needs the same grace and kindness that we desire when we are not our best selves. We can decide to never ever remove the emotional security blanket that assures our partner that he/she is never alone and will always be received and accepted; without question. We all have and will always have faults as well as external distractions. Through love and devotion our partnership can grow us under the tent of a security that says, “No matter what, I’ve got your back.”

Always remember, nothing great and worthwhile happens by accident. Love is an action word. It is achieved, maintained and perfected intentionally!

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Real Love Is Just That, Real

It’s not unusual ever day when my wife and I wake up and for one of us to say, “I love you,” first thing in the morning.  As a matter of fact, it’s most unusual if neither of us does. However, earlier this week I changed it up a bit.  Not because I was trying to.  It was just that another phrase came more naturally that morning.  I said to her, “I adore you.” 

Her response surprised me a bit.  When I tell her I love her in the morning, she always smiles and says, “I love you.  Normally without any hesitation.  If she beats me to the punch, my natural response is usually something like, ‘I love you too baby.”  Changing the phrasing provided an interesting response.  I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something akin to, “I’m glad to know that though I often don’t see what you find adorable.” 

Her response gave me pause.  I felt the pain at what must be a hurtful feeling regarding how she saw herself, (though I can certainly empathize with doubtful feelings of self value.) Not to mention how that affected how she viewed my sentiments towards her.

I asked her to elaborate.  And she went on to give me the reasons that she didn’t see herself as adorable.  I used this opportunity to share the details of what I felt within when I expressed those words.

I said something like:

“You are adorable because you are.  And adoring you has nothing to do with only appreciating everything that is so called right or good about you.  Our lives are a journey.  Each of us has virtues, gifts, talents, and yes even baggage and faults.  Navigating through baggage and faults are a part of our journey.  I have never expected you to be perfect.  But I do love you in your weaknesses while recognizing your strengths and celebrate your growth in a number of areas.  When I say, ‘I love you’, or that ‘I adore you’,  that means I love and adore all of you.  Not just that which has been refined.  Think of it this way: We love and adore our daughters, and yet we can quickly name several areas where growth and development is needed.  Love and adoration doesn’t wait for perfection.  Instead, they team to nurture, protect and make better what has already been created perfect;  A child of God, more valuable than anything the world has ever or will ever see.”

I didn’t say these words to her as if I were to teach her something.  I was also talking to myself. Oh how great a thing it is, to adore, and be adored, just the way we are.

I hope we both learn the lesson~

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Suicide, Is It Ever a Viable Option?

Suicide:  Let’s talk about it.  I know someone who recently had a suicide in their family.  As the family started to put the pieces together, they learned that the young man had elaborately planned his demise.  This in spite of the fact that his secret was revealed prior to the day of decision and help was offered. 

So I have a few questions as it relates to this:

Is suicide ever a viable option for the hopeless?   What would you say to someone who told you he/she was contemplating suicide?  Would you try to convince them not to go through it?  If so what would you say?  Would you use bible scriptures or call the authorities? 

Have you ever thought about or considered suicide?  I am not ashamed to admit that I’ve been there.  I have strongly considered it before and planned it as well.  I consider it a miracle that I am here today. 

Have you ever thought about it or planned it?  Will you share?

From what I see, the stories of these kids who have killed themselves because of bullying have been sensationalized.  But several folks young and old end their lives daily and we hear nothing of it.

 Suicide is real and it’s here in a serious way.  So let’s talk about it!

Daddy, Daughter, and Transitions

I’ve always looked forward to my children being adults.  That’s what I train them for.  In everything I do I do it with the purpose of seeing them be free and successful as adults. 

I also look forward to relating to them as adults.  Sharing secrets and grown folk talk.  Respecting them for being adults while still bonding with them on this new level.

For the first time such the occasion happened over the weekend.  My daughter and I got to hang out as adults.  And it was beautiful.

I have so much respect for her as she is extremely both mature and free.  A wife and a mother, she is so far ahead of where I was at her age.   She is wise and sure about herself in ways that amaze me.

Through this transition in our relationship I am also understanding a new how much she loves me and how protective she has always been of me.  What a blessing she is.  I tell you what:  All of my children are so special and they each hold their own special places within my soul.  The experience I had with her last night and the transition to the next level of our relationship is truly something every parent should be able to experience.

(Pictured: me and Chrystal)

Guilty Pleasures, Or Simptoms of a Workaholic

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2

Most of us understand that these economic times are challenging for most of America.  Far too many of us are looking for work and not able to find it.  As of now I am blessed not to have that problem.  I am employed by three different companies in addition to being an independent contractor myself.   As of now, having work to do is not a problem for me.  (knock on wood)

As a matter of fact to the contrary, I have been working in abundance and even more than what normal people do.  The two days I was off in February were the two days that I purposed to be off for my birthday.  Otherwise its been non stop.  Part of my business is seasonal so I have to grab many of the opportunities afforded me while they last.  Yet despite the lack of rest and constant running, the payoff is an attempt to try to get ahead, have savings and at least some sort of options for fun.  Then there are the occasional unexpected and expensive  items such as having to get a car repair.  I have all sorts of good reasons to justify getting my hustle on. 

And yet equally true is that I find on a day like today, an evening when I am actually off and purposed to rest and chill out for the evening to catch up on the rest that I have neglected, I find that very difficult to do.  On my way in from the office I stopped at the bank to make a deposit, and then to the store to pick up dinner.  I wanted to maybe get on the computer, or hop on the couch to watch some TV, (something simple and mindless as a matter of fact) enjoy dinner and chill out.  I wasn’t supposed to clean the kitchen or take out the trash.  Not supposed to wipe things down or police the area.  I’m tired for godsakes!  My mind is weary and my body is holding on for deal life.  But for some reason I find it hard to settle down and take advantage of the rest while I can.

It’s called being a workaholic.  And workaholics tend to feel guilty for having time off.  We feel unproductive when we aren’t accomplishing anything.  I got it bad.  When I was off for my birthday weekend, I was so tired for most of it I didn’t get to enjoy it quite as much as I should have.  I fell asleep early and was tired often.  At least then because I looked forward to it I purposed my heart to rest and relax.  I did for the most part.  Though I still ended up doing a bunch or errands.   After all, when your off work there lies the opportunity to do the things you never get to do when work is constantly calling such as pick up the items I dropped off at the cleaners a month ago or washing clothes before I run out of clean underwear.

Sigh.  I know that rest and relaxation are a part of having a balanced life.  I should embrace the restful times and take full advantage of the breaks I get.  I’ll work on it.  Been through this before.  Whenever my schedule gets this busy, there is an adjustment period where it takes me a while to get used to actually sitting still when I get a break.

In the meantime, I can’t allow guilt and the difficult times of America to NOT allow me to enjoy the blessings in life.  I’ve had hard times before and know in my heart I am thankful.  If I don’t enjoy my rest, I will be no less guilty of a lack of faith in God and His provisions.

Of Cars, Bars, Friends and Strangers

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Recently I went to a local watering hole to have a cold one while watching some Sunday night football.

While there I had a brief conversation with BR. BR is a respectable enough fellow. He proudly wore his Vietnam Veteran baseball cap.  Upon noticing it I thanked him for his service to our country.

Shocked he thanked me and said, “Wow I don’t get that too often. Since those days I’ve normally gotten the opposite.”

I assured him that regardless of the politics of the war itself he was a soldier following orders and he should never be faulted for that. I appreciated BR as an American and my thanks to him was indeed sincere. After that we dabbled in a little conversation about politics and since he was rather full of the vine he was kinda loud with it.

It was clear that BR had too much to drink. After a while as he was saying his goodbyes I asked him how he was getting home. He showed me his keys and started to stumble for the door.  I knew he had no business driving that Lincoln Continental in the parking lot so I tried to convince him to let me take him home.  He tried to convince me that he was just fine and didn’t need my assistance.  As he stated his case and started to make his way to the door he stumbled into my arms.  I looked him in the eye and said, “BR, I know you think you are OK and perhaps you aren’t used to another man challenging you in this area.  But this is not about that.  Screw pride.  You are in no shape to drive.  This is not a judgment on you, but a plea that you accept the help.

BR was a tough customer.  I sensed he wanted to let me drive him home but he didn’t want to leave his car at the bar.  I supposed the thought of trying to get it the next day was burdensome.  I had to go for broke and pull out all the stops.

“Where do you live BR?” 

“About a couple miles from here,” he said.

I told BR that I would take him home in his car and arrange my own way back.  This seemed to satisfy the chap.  I drove him in his car and when we got there walked him into his home.  It took about 10 minutes to get from his drive way to his side door entrance as the man was totally six sheets to the wind. 

How are you getting back he said?

I’m walking… but its cool.  I’m in excellent shape!  Have a good night BR.  See you around.

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Fast forward to this past Friday:

I celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday where she was looking to get inebriated.  Not that this was her first day of drinking, but first day of legal drinking.  She was great on transportation as she and her family on her mother’s side took a school bus where they all rode together. 

When I got to the restaurant/bar I tried to get some photo shots of the birthday girl with my blackberry and initially had trouble with the lighting.  I decided to check my car to see if I had my camera handy.  Upon walking out the door I noticed two women leaving and walking toward the parking lot.  Well sort of.

Really they were all but stumbling towards the parking lot.  If I were to estimate the level of intoxication of the two, I would say woman 1 was about a 5 on a scale of 10.  Woman 2 was an easy 9 at best.   As they looked at me one of them made some sort of comment and laughed as I walked by.  I went to my car to search for the camera.  After a few minutes as I locked my car door noticed woman 1 had escorted woman 2 to her car.  Woman 1 literally had to help woman 2 into the passenger seat.  Woman 2 couldn’t stop laughing at herself obviously amused at her state.  Woman 1 said to woman 2 between chuckles, Call me when you get home so I will know you are alright.” 

These two events are what prompted this post.

This isn’t about the drinker who has too many and decides to get in the car irresponsibly.  That’s because most of us understand the dangers in that and there are plenty of organizations to sound that alarm.  Not to mention we do have millions of alcoholics in our nation.  Alcoholism is an addiction and as such I understand that any addiction brings with it irresponsible behavior.  Driving while impaired is dangerous for any and everyone on the road.  That includes myself, my family and friends as well as any of yours. We get that?  Or do we?

My problem in these two instances were not so much the drinkers, but the other patrons and friends who see someone in a drunken state whether a stranger or worse yet a friend about to get behind the wheel of a car and let them.   Believe me when I tell you that though I took BR home that night, I knew him the least of everyone in that bar and not one of them was willing to help him.  They were fine to watch him possibly turn his car into a missile and hurt himself and or others.  Woman 1 whom I referenced seemed to have thought to come to a stopping point where she wouldn’t be so bad off.  Yet she had no problem putting her “friend” behind the wheel knowing full and well she was not capable of expertly handling that vehicle.  Why wouldn’t she take her home?  Why not call her a cab?

Think about it.  Where I live there are thousands of restaurants and bars where one can buy liquor.  When I go to a bar, I know within 5 minutes who needs to drive who doesn’t.  In most every bar there is a great chance that every single night of the week there is at least one person that drives away intoxicated.  Victims of drunk driving can testify to the damage.  So can police I’m sure.  But how many of us enable people by not even saying a word.

BR could have kept blowing me off.  I don’t know what I would have done if he had.  Maybe I would have followed behind him.  Maybe I would have called the police.  Maybe I would have asked for some assistance.  I don’t know.  It just didn’t seem right to do nothing.  I think at the end of the day, the man knew that I cared and that made the difference.

I know we live at a time when folk don’t want to get in other folk business.  I know that challenging someone not to drive drunk can cause conflict.  It just seems to me that I would rather have a person tell me ‘no’ than to not say anything at all.  It don’t seem right to see someone who may have had too much get behind the wheel when it could be a tragedy waiting to happen. 

I hope others will extend a hand and show someone you care when someone can’t help themselves.  The life you save may be your own or someone you love.

Sorry Mark, A Blog Apology is No Apology At All

I’ve always liked Mark Cuban for the most part.  His fire and enthusiasm puts a different face on pro sports ownership which is usually full of stuffy blow-hards.  Sometimes he brings up issues that would otherwise go unnoticed in the NBA such as questionably inconsistent officiating.  I was even disappointed when MLB would not allow him to purchase the Cubs. 

Cuban is an innovator and is a brilliant guy who hustles like a hungry man in whatever he is involved in.  I respect that.  But what makes him great is also what makes him stink at times.  Sometimes his mouth writes checks that even his rich bank account can’t cash. 

It’s not unusual for Cuban to make remarks at the officials during games, and sometimes even to opposing players.  His is famous for making comments to the media as well as post on his blog to express himself.  But what he did the other day in pointing at the mother of a Denver Nuggets’ player and calling her son a thug was just way over the top and not befitting the owner of a sports franchise. 

What is worse is that while folks all over the sports world were calling for Cuban to apologize quickly, he waited and let it stew over the entire weekend.  Then when he offered his weak excuse ladened apology it came by way of his blog.

That is just plain WEAK!  The fact of the matter is, he pointed his finger, and disrepected the mother of an NBA player.  He didn’t make his comments Saturday on the blog.  So why does he think an online apology would suffice? 

See that’s the best and worst thing about a blog.  One can really share important information or insight.  One can also hide behind the words typed on a computer screen to say the things they are too afraid to say in real life. 

Cuban needs to man up and speak face to face with both Kenyon Martin and his mother.  Anything else is just sheer cowardice!