Tag Archives: purposefulkindness

All My Empty Spaces: Peace

Personal peace.

It was just after midnight when Ricardo brought the snacks consisting graham crackers, peanut butter, diet shasta, and a plastic sealed turkey and cheese on white (made by Goodyear). It was remarkably delicious, given it was the first thing I had to eat since breakfast; which comprised of powedered eggs, 1 slice of bread with butter and oatmeal (made by Elmer’s). Ricardo also brought pain meds, dilaudid to be specific. Before he arrived, I had spent 4 hours lying in my bed, helpless and hurting.

This was night 3 of what would end up as 7 nights, 9 days at the luxurious Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth. I think I managed to count every hole in the ceiling tiles and memorized every scratch in the floor. Your mind really starts to conspire against you when you are stuck in a 120 sq. ft. bare grey cold dark room with only the small light from beneath the door and muffled sounds of people passing by in the hallway outside to connect you to anyone or anything. I might as well have been in space, stuck in a capsule all by myself,  but with HBO.

Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare
“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do”

During the worst of it, I would count down the minutes and seconds until I could hit that button and request more pain meds.

Dexamethasone, cipro, levaquin, vancomicin, Zofran, robaxin, lovenox, dilaudid, and norco were among the littany of drugs that passed through my veins during that horrific experience. I should own stock in pharmaceuticals. When you have become as familiar with hospitals as I have, you have to laugh at some of the operational policies or obstacles. For instance, Harris Methodist ER is dilaudid free. Upstairs in the hospital they are fentanyl free. I am allergic to morphine. It was a fun time educating the doctors on chronic pain management, especially when coupled with other serious health conditions that only exacerbate the pain while in hell (any hospital visit after the first 30 seconds).

If you want to know what moderate to severe chronic pain feels like, I always tell people to take their left hand and using your thumb and pointer finger, gently squeeze your neck just below the base of your skull. Good, now put just enough pressure on that grip so that your neck is depressed about 3/4 of an inch. Ok, next take your other hand and using the same fingers put roughly the same pressure on the front of your neck just below your jaw. Don’t squeeze so hard you choke yourself, stupid. Great! Now hold that position and amount of pressure for 6 years. During that time, you will need to once a day poke yourself in random places all over your body with a thumb tack. After the 3rd year, please increase that poke to at least 3 times a day with each episode lasting anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. Remember, you must maintain the pressure on your neck. Yes, I know. Now your arms are burning and your hands are cramped and swollen. You begin developing trigger finger in every finger on both hands; surprisingly, not your thumbs. But now, both hands become unable to fully close or fully open. Sometimes you have to use one hand to pop open the fingers of your other hand because it is too painful to simply open your hand on its own.

Sometimes I wonder which came first, the depressed chicken or the chronically painful egg.

My body and mind have waged war against me for decades now. But in that darkest moment of isolation and pain, in that tiny cold and dark space, confined to my brick hospital bed, I began to think the only peace would be simply opening the IVs in my hands. I had one in each hand so I began considering which side would be more effective.

Ricardo may have saved my life that night. It wasn’t the pain meds or the rubber turkey sandwich. It was simply when he opened the door and let the light of the hallway into the room. It was simply Ricardo greeting me. I was nowhere near reality in that moment, just a surreal flight of agony, feeling the darkness overtaking the smallest little pixel of hope, of life. Hell, I wasn’t even the room.

It was the winter solstice of my soul and it was the moment I went numb. Then the door opened and a kind man came in to check on me, to help me. The following nights got progressively easier. They became more bearable. The overwhelming pain finally began to subside like a retreating tide. We weren’t meant to be alone. Isolation is the biggest threat to peace of body and soul. Take care of yourselves. Make your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being the absolute priority. If you don’t, you won’t be of much help to others. Peace in any form starts from within.

People peace.

Peace is surprisingly difficult and dangerous to achieve. Perhaps that is why we have all developed a tolerance to the lack of it. That word, peace, means something unique for each of us. What does peace look like for you? How can you find it in your own life?

Portions of this post were written a year ago. Other portions, like this paragraph were/are being written tonight, Christmas eve, while I am sitting in the front balcony row of Broadway Baptist Church letting the music and the soothing energy wash away all the conflict within me. Right here, right now, I am at peace. I wasn’t looking forward to service. Too much anxiety and frustration dominated my mind. But this moment of peace is just enough to keep my emotional fits from hitting the proverbial shan. It wasn’t the Christmas miracle I have been waiting for, been hoping for. But, it was just enough grace to get me through the night. Not too much, not to little.

Its all connected. Love, hope, joy, peace, faith. Just like the little trains made of wooden letter blocks. It all goes together. I write these words often. I say them often. It’s a little practice in the power of positive affirmation. And, it works. Take a ride on the peace train and find all the warm and fuzzies as you gaze out at the changing scenery of life from your train window. Choo choo!

Now I’ve been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
Oh, I’ve been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Someday it’s going to come’Cause I’m on the edge of darkness
There ride the Peace Train
Oh, Peace Train take this country
Come take me home again

I have a confession. I cry less than I used to. I have started filling the open spaces in me with anger, resentment, and even vengence. Crying has always been for sorrow or joy. I have had little room for either in an anger driven state of mind. I am trying so hard to change that. I am desperate to change that. It may be working. I am crying right now. For sorrow and for joy. I have tears today for peace. Peace for you. Peace for me. Peace for us. Peace for eternity.

As I sit here in the darkened sanctuary on this Christmas eve, I am finally talking to God. I am finally listening to God again. I am finally seeing his amazing grace again.

Light Of The World

I am a pllot. Or at least I once was. I took my first flight lesson when I was 16. I had my commerical pilot’s license by the time I was 18. That experience gave me a few skills that have been very useful in all aspects of my life, including and especially managing my depression.

Aviation is loaded with acronyms. One of the most familiar to pilots is RTFM, which stands for read the fuckin’ manual. In other words, know your airplane and know the procedures.

Flying taught me how to proceduralize and troubleshoot my life. Needless to say, I have lots of lists. Flying taught me to remain cool under pressure. Flying brought me peace. It brought me closer to God and a much better view of this beautiful planet we share. It took me away from all the chaos and conflict down below. That’s a true realization. We desire peace but actively harm each other and destoy it.

Flying was one of the only times in my life where I found peace, both within and without, but always up high.

I sat upon the clouds watching the world, finding peace only where my demons could not reach.

Gods beautiful creation. Being up there, in the sky was the only time I ever felt I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I felt complete and all my troubles were lost in the tiny objects below me.

Even after long and difficult flights when I was so tired my eyes burned, taxiing in after landing was always bittersweet.

Let me dance about the sky. Let me burst in and out of the clouds and rest ever so gently above them.

I still occasionally catch a scent that reminds me of the cockpit; the smell of electric devices in a small space, the combo of fuel, oil, carb heat and leather seats with wool covers.

These days you can’t ask to stick your head in the cockpit without getting someone nervous about your intentions. But if any pilot ever catches you taking in a deep breathe through the nose while even close to the controls, they won’t think it strange. Because they know, we know, it smells like home. That is, unless your copilot had Whataburger for lunch.

Flying never failed me, never let me down, ever. Not even that time I flew Robert J. in his Piper Archer to Cleveland, Tennessee, with him picking his nose the whole 7 hours and 52 minutes of flight time, breaking only for fuel in Pine Bluff. Rob was in the Christian music industry and going to Tennessee for a few months for work. He wanted to fly his own plane there but invited me to drop him and return his plane to Fort Worth. He wasn’t sure when or from where he would be heading home. I was solo for the flight back and loved every second of it.

Life is better with a soundtrack.

J.J. Abrams’ movies often have a trademark characteristic or style. He uses an emotional yet calm and soothing piece of music to score actions and images that are chaotic, even violent. While the imagery can hurt, and the intensity becomes almost unbearable to all senses but sound, its the music that carries us though. That is how I might define my life on certain days. The music carried me through the pain and destruction until, yes, finally, morning has truly broken and God has recreated the day. We are reborn each day. Maybe this day will be better. Maybe this day, those who wish harm to me and mine will relent, repent, and fucking relax. Maybe this day my hands won’t just hurt. Maybe this day my hands will hurt from healing.

“Say it’s here where our pieces fall in place
Any rain softly kisses us on the face
Anywhere means we’re running
We can sleep and see ’em coming
Where we drift and call it dreaming
We can weep and call it singingWhere we pray when our hearts are strong enough
We can bow, ’cause our music’s warmer than blood
Where we see enough to follow
We can hear when we are hollow
Where we keep the light we’re given
We can lose and call it livingWhere the sun isn’t only sinking fast
Every night knows how long it’s supposed to last
Where the time of our lives is all we have
And we get a chance to say
Before we ease away
For all the love you’ve left behind
You can have mine…

December 25, 2021

I think it should be said that while those of us who believe in and follow Christ are celebrating these glorious pillars of God, hope, love, joy, and definitely peace on earth, it should be said that we must include everyone in that dream, not just, ESPECIALLY not just Christians. Otherwise peace truly is impossible.

Peace also means loving thy neighbor, even if they make false accusations against you. Even if they purposely hurt you. Even if they do harm to those you love. Even if they are booger eating morons with the IQ of an empty can of bean dip. Yep, I said it. Stupid hateful people need peace too. They need it especially. We don’t hurt each other instinctively. We just don’t. We are all completely connected. So, hurting each other only hurts us too. We must show kindness and sue for peace. Yes, we must be angry at times. We must fight harmful elements of this life. But the fight is always and only for the dream of peace.

So, kindness warriors. Walk softly, but carry a big stick. Practice a little kindness kung fu. And when your enemy is stopped, they are your enemy no more. They are your brother and sister, your mother, your daughter, your best friend. Just like that. Put down the staff and open your arms with love. It really can be that easy. Seriously. Stop the hate. Share. The. Love. Make. The. Peace. Fill the empty spaces not with those things I seem to be struggling with, but with warm and fuzzy, gooey, sappy, funny, extraordinary, love.

Let it fill you up. Let it drip onto your shoes. Its ok. I love the scene in Ghostbusters 2 when the guys convert their packs to spray that love stuff, positively charged emotional slime. Everybody at the end (spoiler alert) is hugging and saying I love you. Doesn’t that seem like a great plan? Doesn’t that seem like the right kind of Christmas miracle?

We can do better for each other.

Dear God,

I want thank you for all the lessons, love, and daily grace you have given me. I want to thank you for the incredible people you have put in my life;
My friends, my family, my children and my wife.

You showed me how to fight depression. You gave me a clear mission to help others, to be a light in the darkness.

Lord, from that moment under the streetlight across from my house, so many years ago, when I was just 12 years old but filled with so much curiosity, but also so much darkness and pain, from that moment you have continued to flicker that light to let me know you are there. I have never doubted your existence since then.

Perhaps I have questioned your motives from time to time. But to be fair, tell me one person who hasn’t. You are the boss, so what you say goes. You don’t have to explain yourself to me. I get that loud and clear, Dude. Is it ok if I call you Dude? It’s totally out of love and R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Man, Aretha sure could drive home a message, don’t you think?

My soul is weary, Lord. I have no peace and my hope of finding it is waning.

“Speak, O Lord. Your servant is listening.”

Amen.

Whether you are working toward world peace or the peace of reconcilliation, whether you are coming to terms with your past or looking for peace in your present, remember the peace process always and forever starts by making peace with yourself. So go easy, my friends. Breathe deeply and let it go. Be at peace within and you will come to peace without.

Be love. Be kind. We are all connected.

Life is better with a soundtrack

For a playlist of the music found in this post along with a few other songs I listened to while working on the writing, checkout this link to Spotify.

All My Empty Spaces part 3: Peace – On Spotify

All My Empty Spaces: Hope

Have you noticed lately that noone is ever wrong anymore? People just never make mistakes and their opinion is always the correct one. I know this phenomenon has been around for a long time. Ego, narcissism, misplaced anger. We have all become so fucking smart that we can never be wrong about anything, especially when talking about politics, religion, or other people. 🤔😉 But this incredible mass generation of geniuses really became epic around the time of the internet, the world wide webs, the information superhighway, and Fox news.

Chris, what the hell does this have to do with hope? We thought you were gonna tell us a story of hope, positivity, kindness, and other warm and fuzzy stuff. Well….

Let’s just see where this takes us.

Hope IS actually my favorite subject to write about. And, I have met so many incredible people over the years with these amazing life stories of hope. When I drove Uber/Lyft, this was an almost daily occurrence. That in turn, supercharged my own hope. In fact, that experience gave me enough hope and faith to get me through some of the darkest and most challenging moments of my life.

God gave that to me. And I made full use of it. I also, well, my family and I also found our beloved Broadway Baptist Church around the same time. Another gift from God. We became a part of a bigger family of love, acceptance, and support. I honestly never thought I would find a church that didn’t have me running for the door 15 minutes into the service. But Broadway, and the good people of Broadway have been a huge part of our lives, our children’s lives. That was God sending angels, a bunch of them, to help us through difficult times, to teach us to be better people ourselves, to inspire us, to concentrate on a life of service and kindness. Broadway gave us hope.

I haven’t written much about hope lately, because I seem to have lost mine. At least, I have lost hope in certain things, like the overall goodness of people. It has also become clear that hope just isn’t as easy as I thought it was. Hope is actually tough. Hope takes guts. Without action in pursuit of it, turns out, hope is just another 4 letter word. Stress is another four letter word.

Just go with it…

Still looking for that Christmas miracle.


Stress is playing a central role in life at the moment. Does anyone else feel that way? Stress just likes to steal the show, be the center of attention. Stress sucks. Stress is a hope killer.

My wife and I have been married 19 years. We have seen plenty of stress, obstacles, and dark times. But we have shared some beautiful moments too, miracles even. This year, like several others in the last decade, we are in some rough waters. We have had a number of what I call Christmas miracles over these last few years and I am praying, hoping for yet another. But this time is a little different. This year my hopes are in other people, and that scares the crap out of me. What I mean is, the miracles Mindy and I have received in the past were with God’s intervention but also a result of us vigorously pursuing our hope, our goals, our reconcilliation, or our combined efforts to improve our family life. This year, we are placing our hopes in the goodness of other people. This year I am scared there will be no Christmas miracle because this year, and the last few years, people have really let us down.

For example, a good friend of mine is going through an incredibly stressful ordeal right now. My friend has been doing what she does best, supporting and helping others. Not long ago, someone made a false allegation against my friend and it has had devastating effects.

My friend, she is always so selfless, a true servant of God, especially in situations where no one else seems to care. Now, she is basically cut off from her true calling, because someone either misunderstood or was bothered by my friend helping a particular individual. Sorry to be vague with this story but its a live one so, best not to go into detail.

This is the kind of crap that keeps diminishing my faith in people. At this point, I have also begun to lose hope my friend will ever fully recover from this, nor her husband and children who are also impacted by the attack on her character and good name.

I am losing hope that we will ever get back to working out our differences with each other peacefully. It seems like everyone just jumps to quick assumptions and judgements. Then, they go telling other people their version/opinion of the whole thing and we are off to the races. You end up with a whole network of people being given lies and deception, or at the very least, a tiny sliver of information without any context.

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”  -Joseph Goebbels.

Yuk. I hate quoting evil people, but Joe has a point.

I feel like every time I get my hope recharged, something happens and destroys it. Lately, it has been people, not places or things.

God never gives you more than you can handle. So God keeps going “I think he can handle a little more.” And the angels all said “God! What are you doing? You’re out of your mind!”     -Tig Notaro

So how do I break the pattern? How do I get that focus on hope again? How do I fill the empty space where my supercharged hope used to be. Because right now, it’s gone.

My life used to be a series of mistakes, regrets, and failures.
Now, I realize my life is a series of lessons, valuable experiences, and miracles. In the most recent years, I have come to understand my life isn’t about me at all. It is about all those souls around me and that gives me eternal purpose and yes, hope. If I can keep my demons in their cage and remember that purpose, I can keep the light of hope in front of me. I can actively pursue it. After all, God has given me so much. I can’t let people destroy that. My life is full of grace. But I still fight it some days. We all do. We all do.

Grace is that moment when God’s will syncs with your will. You might then think perhaps you have never experienced it. But you have, every day. If you didn’t see it or feel it, you haven’t opened your heart to it. But it is given to you nonetheless. So how is something given to you a product of God’s will and your own? Simple, God is the one who gave it to you.  Don’t overthink it. Just allow it to be. Open your heart, allow God’s love and you will find grace wherever you go, whatever you do, every day.

If you want to be in sync with the universe, just let it happen. Stop pushing on the ocean and realize that your life isn’t filled with a single thing you “have to” do but millions of experiences you ‘get to” do. And those people who let you down might just be the ones who need your kindness and hope the most.

Did you ever see that movie “For Love Of The Game” with Kevin Costner? He plays an aging pitcher in his last baseball game. The plot moves back and forth from the game to his life leading up to it. It’s a love story to be sure. But it is about the love of baseball as much as a romance between two people. It’s a great movie.

Anyway, when Costner is on the mound,  he has this routine where he says “clear the mechanism” and all the noise goes silent while he gets laser focused on the next pitch. As the game goes on and he is in more and more pain, giving his last efforts ever on the baseball field at a possible perfect game, his routine starts to fail him. “Clear the mechanism.” And the crowd is muted but only for a second, as his focus fails him. “Clear. The. Mechanism.” Still can’t zero in. He does it one more time and manages to hurl another fastball over the plate but the batter makes contact and sends it low near 2nd base where the 2nd baseman quickly snags it and throws the batter out at first. This was so very close to a hit and ruining Costner’s perfect game. But now he has the whole team playing their absolute best to get that perfect game. He has the whole team and everyone watching the game full of this amazing hope.

I won’t give away the ending but it is worth the time to watch this movie.

I am having trouble clearing the mechanism these days. There just seem to be too many distractions, too much pain, and way too much disappointment. I need to find my way back. I need to focus on hope, remind myself of all those redemptive stories. I need to trust in people again. I need to get back to Church. I need to let the anger go. I need to reach out to those who seem the least interested in my hand and keep trying, for their sake and mine.

I need to realize that I get to do all of this.

Clear. The. Mechanism.

Be love. Be kind. We are all connected.

Life is better with a soundtrack.

I think I may have listened to Southern Cross more times than any other song, ever. Something about it always gives me hope, makes me smile, and I can feel the warm salty air on my face. I can see the sun setting over the ocean with orange, yellow, purple, and pink. I always find myself beginning to heal my broken heart and weary soul. For me, the woman they sing of is a metaphor for the incredible but often very destructive moments in my life that I am trying to move past, sail away from. It is about the healing power of the universe.

“When you see the Southern Cross for the first time,
you understand now why you came this way.
Cause the truth you might be running from is so small.
But it’s as big as the promise, the promise of a coming day.
So I’m sailing for tomorrow, my dreams are a dying.
And my love is an anchor tied to you, tied with a silver chain.
I have my ship and all her flags are a flying.
She is all that I have left and music is her name.”

Here’s hoping you find wind in your sail as well…


#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected

All My Empty Spaces: Faith

I have a messy mind and my writing is a process of cleaning up the mess.
-Judy Blume

I know I have used that quote before but I love it. And, it truly describes my own mind and process. Actually thinking of putting it in everything I write.

When I was twelve or possibly thirteen, I asked God to prove he was real. I wanted to know if God actually existed. And if he did, I had  a whole lot of questions and gripes, or as my twelve-year-old self would describe it, a buttload of questions.

Yeah, I know everyone questions the existence of God and we all have our own idea of what the answer is. For me, the answer was simply, yes. Yes, God does exist. And that night under a flickering streetlight across from my house, that hot summer night in Texas, God responded to my plea for attention and my need to verify his existence. Right when I cried out was when that streetlight flickered, went out, and came back on constant.

That moment in my early adolescence was also the first time I believe I suffered a significant depressive episode. I certainly didn’t know it at the time.  In fact, I didn’t have a true understanding and awareness of my lifelong pattern of depression, tracing back to that time, until I was 46 and suffering what was by far the darkest and most destructive depression of my life. God answered me and revealed his presence when I was young, and he saved me again in 2017. In fact, I now have an awareness and understanding of my wiring because God cleared the fog and revealed not only the lifelong destructive patterns but also his presence, His grace through every moment of it.

I have depression. I have been challenged with disease and physical pain. I have been close enough to death through my own despair, to have accepted it. I have cried as I knew I was seconds away from death only to find a moment, a flash of joy that turned into an avalanche of love washing over me. In that instant, I could see joy in the pain, because one cannot exist without the other.

For me, streetlights represent hope. A metaphor. And occasionally when one flickers as I go by, its God reminding me He is with me, always. So, when I began to recover from my worst depressive period in late 2017, I also found this new purpose in life. I found a different path. I was driving Uber and Lyft full time then. My driving and interactions with so many people became a conduit for my writing and for me to find ways to reach out to people in need of a safe space. I became someone to actually see them behind their mask to let them know that while depression is a lonely battle, they are not alone. Someone else has seen and felt the way they do and can give them validation, courage, and hope.

This adventure of mine became a way to renew my faith in God and people daily. I still had plenty of my own battles to fight but that faith in people kept me fighting. Becoming fully aware of my disease and learning how to control it didn’t just make it go away. I still and forever will, battle depression. But now I have power over it. Now I can help others do the same.

One of my empty spaces is where my faith used to be, or at least how I defined my faith. The last few years, even after this incredible journey of grace, I found myself questioning my faith. I have finally realized, I wasn’t questioning my faith in God, I just stopped talking to God. Instead, my faith in people is really what has taken a big hit. Humans, what a bunch of fucking idiots. I wonder how we got this far. Will we find redemption? Can we stop putting it off until tomorrow? Driving used to restore my faith in humanity. All it usually took was just one rider who I could connect with to get the lights back on.

My Driving experience came to an end on March 18, 2020. Covid dominated everything we did. I am someone who has chronic health issues meaning I was a high risk individual. I simply risked dying if I continued to drive at that time. Coincidentally, that is when my faith began to crumbIe.

I have spent years trying to cultivate a life of kindness and service. There has always been this inner conflict, this battle in my soul to live a life of love and kindness while constantly mitigating anger and frustration with hateful stupid people. That’s kinda hilarious, don’t you think? It’s like I want to beat someone for being a bully while screaming “be kind” in their face. That isn’t what I was going for when I chose to focus on kindness in my life. Nevertheless, I have finally come to terms with who I am in this regard.

I believe in love and kindness as the way we should all treat each other. I also believe sometimes, in order to bring love to one, you must fight another. I am not a cynic. I am a realist. It is hard to imagine a kind and joyful life when there are monsters roaming the land. So, be kind. Be love. And when absolutely necessary, be a tough ruthless motherfucker.  I don’t think that’s hypocritical. 

I prefer to think of it as kindness Kung Fu.

Letting my anger out used to be a practice in failure. Now I realize I can be kind, find joy, and be seriously combative at the same time (when the situation calls for it). My faith in God is as strong as it has ever been. My faith in people is what has caused one of the empty spaces in me. It has created this void. When I try to fill it with joy, it’s like water pouring into and through a colander. It never holds the joy. It never restores my faith, in people. It just flows through the empty space.

I am not ok. Filled with anxiety, depression, self-pity and self-loathing. I am angry and disappointed. I am tired. I have spent the last 3 years fighting one health issue after another. Staph infections, heart attack, surgery, and 6 hospitalizations in 2019 alone. Here is the real kicker, in the middle of Covid, I became ill with West Nile Virus. that was another 9 days in the hospital. West Nile has left mr with a few lingering symptoms including enormous chronic fatigue and chronic stomach issues. But I have continued to find a way to live and be of service in this life. I realized I cannot remain silent, even if I am not feeling the warm and fuzzies.

So, here we are. How is your faith these days? Are you like me, struggling to hold that faith in other people? I have spent way too much time thinking about this stuff, which is why I finally decided to start writing about it. I need to find a way to start filling those empty spaces with the right ingredients again. Will you help me? Here are some of my rants and ramblings as I work to restore my faith.

Do things happen for a reason? I don’t mean like the reason the chicken got ran over by a car. I mean fate. Do you believe in God? If so, is everything part of his plan? Did God know I would be here hammering these words out with thumbs rata tat tapping on the tiny keboard of my trusty Samsung Galaxy on a late Saturday night? (I finished this post on the laptop in case you were wondering.)

Has God commanded everything? each breath we take? If so, then…. Perhaps we need not bother to take out the trash. It was God’s plan for me to sit my ass down on the couch and watch Criminal Minds instead.

Active or passive? Do prayers work? Do more prayers garner more support from the almighty? Better yet, maybe there is a reward system.  Like those little tkckets that pour out of the skeeball machine at Chuck’s house when you score the middle hole, you can rack up prayer points. Careful though. If you don’t have enough proper prayers when you try to cash in, you get the Godly intervention equivalent of one glow stick, a plastic spider, and a couple of tootsie rolls. If you want God to let you have the lava lamp answer to prayer, you are gonna need A TON of prayer power.

A good example of a beneficiary — George Bailey.  He got over $10 grand, and his own personal angel for the night.

So yeah, prayers do work. And as far as my faith in people? That is a work in progress. But I am trying.

Next up. I need to find some hope to fill another empty space. In the mean time…

Try not to be imprisoned by the way it could have been.

I hope you are feelin’ alright. I’m not feelin’ too good myself. But I am getting there.

Be love. Be kind. We are all connected. Life is better with a soundtrack.

Feelin’ Alright”

Seems I’ve got to have a change of scene
Every night I have the strangest dreams
Imprisoned by the way it could have been
Left here on my own or so it seems
I’ve got to leave before I start to scream
For someone’s locked the door and took the key

Feeling alright
I’m not feeling too good myself
Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself

Boy you sure took me for one big ride
And even now I sit and I wonder why
That when I think of you
I stop myself from crying
I just can’t waste my time
I must keep trying
I’ve got to stop believing in all your lies
‘Cause there’s too much to do before I die

Feeling alright
I’m not feeling too good myself
Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself

Don’t you get too lost in all I say
But at the time you know, I really felt that way
But that was then and now you know it’s today
I can’t get set so I guess I’m here to stay
Till someone comes along and takes my place
With a different name oh and a different face

Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself
Feeling alright
I’m not feeling that good myself

#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected #findingjoy 

#TBT All My Empty Spaces

Ok im back. So lets see now, where were we?

I have been quiet and away from this space for awhile. I thought that I needed to be in a different mindset to post anything. Maybe a bit less confused, sad, and angry. Maybe a bit more “use my inside voice,” he said in a mocking tone. Maybe, a bit kinder. Maybe a bit more positive in the message.

Buuuut then I said fuck it. If I’m ugly, I’m ugly. I reminded myself, once again, that I heal the most when I write. I push back my demons when I write. And, I have much to say.

Actually, I’ve written quite a bit over the last 2 years of our collective misery. But I haven’t found the way to connect the dots, to make it all come together in a way that makes sense. There are too many gaps and holes in my process and thoughts. It turns out, that’s because my life has been very inconsistent. So, I have finally figured out what to do. I have chosen to focus on the gaps and inconsistencies of my journey over the last couple of years, all my empty spaces. And, there are many. At least this will be a way to get back into the flow.

Perhaps we can find some peace. Perhaps we can refocus on hope and joy. I know I am not the only one who has found those qualities elusive.

So let’s get it out there, the good the bad and the ugly. I know we are in the advent calendar, so my music choice for TBT might oughta be something more in the spirit. But, most of this year I have been away from regular posting.  I have been in this writer’s slump.  I have struggled to know which way is up. The world has been confusing, harsh, and even a bit surreal.

Life can hurt. Life can deliver devastation to those who you might think deserve it the least. You become certain the sky is falling at some point. But that seems like tragedy from natural disasters, or traumatic accidents. The real hurtful and devastating stuff is what we do to each other. That which breaks my heart the most is seeing kindness and love crushed by the darkness of anger, selfishness, jealousy, and so many other harmful flaws in our human nature…

Not to mention, stupidity. Pain and anger are extreme power zappers. They will leave us in a fog; a dark and smelly fog of (insert your own expletive).

Whenever I need to clear my head or think through some things, I drive. Although, my metaphoric road has been filled with brake lights in front of me on most days. Still trying to find the warm and fuzzy parts of the journey.

I find myself wondering things like, is the beginning of the end, the middle? Is there a way to reverse the slow unraveling? Do we find joy or create it?

Psalms 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Unfortunately that does not literally mean we will weep through the night and tomorrow everything will be ok. But instead it assures us that there WILL be a time of joy even in the midst of our trials.

I am going to do more driving. I am going to get back to writing and posting often. It is time to take back control and get back to hope and joy. It is time to refocus on kindness and serving others. It is time to mend fences and forgive. It is also time to goto bed. I worked the midnight shift and as the sun rises, I need to sleep.

This will be a process. Perhaps we can drive together for awhile and heal together. Our path will become clear under streetlights until the sun rises. But for now…

Be love. Be kind. We are truly all connected. Oh, and life is much much better with a soundtrack.

Today’s #TBT song comes from August 23rd, 1982 (which was a Monday, not a Thursday).  It was written and released by Golden Earring, specifically the band’s guitarist George Kooymans, who got the inspiration from a book by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity. “Twilight Zone” appears on their 1982 album Cut and pays tribute to the 1960s television series The Twilight Zone

It also happens to be my state of mind these days.

“Somewhere in a lonely hotel room there’s a guy
Starting to realize that eternal fate has turned its back on him
It’s two A.M.”

“It’s two A.M. (It’s two A.M.)
Fear is gone (fear is gone)
I’m sitting here waiting
The Gun still warm (the gun still warm)
Maybe my connection is tired of taking chances

Yeah, there’s a storm on the loose
Sirens in my head
Wrapped up in silence, all circuits are dead
Cannot decode, my whole life spins into a frenzy

Help, I’m steppin’ into the twilight zone
Place is a madhouse, feels like being cold
My beacon’s been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I’ve gone too far? (Oh oh oh)
So you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone
So you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone

I’m fallin’ down a spiral, destination unknown
Double crossed messenger, all alone
Can’t get no connection, can’t get through
Where are you?

Well the night weighs heavy on his guilty mind
This far from the borderline
When the hitman comes
He knows damn well he has been cheated

And he says
Help, I’m steppin’ into the twilight zone
Place is a madhouse, feels like being cold
My beacon’s been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I’ve gone too far? (Oh oh oh)
So you will come to know
When the bullet hits the bone”


#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected #findingjoy

What is the future of humanity when we have become so hate filled and vengeful, we slay the very angels God has sent to save us?

Sometimes being kind comes at great cost. Answer this, if you knew it would cause you harm, would you still help someone else in need?
I am praying today for all those whose hearts are filled with anger, including my own.

How many times have you heard or used the phrase, “God never gives you more than you can handle?” That’s a load of crap.

If you haven’t heard of Tig Notaro, you should checkout her latest special on Netflix. Tig is a stand-up comedian and actor who has gone through enormous life challenges, including a double mastectomy. Her Netflix special tells her personal story and how she used humor to prevail. About 32 minutes in, as she is talking about the pain of losing someone and finding out she had cancer almost simultaneously, she gave this wonderful quote.

“But you know, the nice thing about all of this is that you can always rest assured that god will never give you more than you can handle. [Audience laughs] I just keep picturing God going, ” You know what, I think she can take a little more. And then the angels are standing back saying, God, what are you doing!?” You are out of your mind!”

Kindness Warriors, take part of your day to give the kindness of prayer. There are so many who need it. There are so many whose pain is too much to handle.

Normally I would say, hold fast until the dawn. You are not alone. We are all connected.  Be love. Be kind.

These are not normal times and my faith is shredded. I am wondering if the sun will ever rise again. The only light is from the lightning of a gathering storm, and it pains me so greatly.

Tired eyes, maybe you’ve seen too much
Tired heart, every end has a start
If you find yourself in trouble, falling off the track
Would you come back?

#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Finding Joy

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, being normal is my greatest lust.

Reality bites but you know what you get. It is the dream and hope where I place my bet.

Finding joy is a diificult task when you don’t know where to look.
But the truth and solution to this enigma, is realizing that you are the cook.

You create joy. You don’t search for it. You make it yourself.
It isn’t something you take from a shelf.

But how do you make joy when you are filled with sorrow?

On occasion, to get the right ingredients, you steal or you  borrow.
So when you hold the joy you find or you make,
Does it become more valuable?

Do you fear it is something another would take?

Try this on for size. The greater the pain, the greater the prize.

I looked up and saw the moon. It was a crescent. It was surrounded by stars. I could even see the mysterious mars.

In a moment of despair I saw the beautiful night sky. That little bit of joy when I felt I might die.

Does that mean joy is more powerful, more valuable when I find it in the midst of despair?

Does that mean in order to pay for that incredible moment of being alive, it costs a much higher fare?

Is that actually what is normal? Is my sorrow necessary and true?

Is the basic ingredient for joy derived from feeling blue?

Is the dark ride worth it now?
Knowing that there will be light?
I don’t know. But I keep going. And I keep believing that my path will be shown, like streetlights on a Saturday night.

#findingjoy

Be love. Be kind. Be joyful. Make joy.
We are all connected.

Life is better with a soundtrack.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #drivingawaydepression #WhatAWonderfulWorld #hope #peace #joy #love #streetlights #grace #TheKindnessClub #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected

The Airport Queue

StreetLights from July 5th, 2018

10:48 pm

I pulled into the terminal A parking lot, the designated staging/waiting area for Uber and Lyft drivers. Both apps running. The queues for Uber and Lyft were 253 cars and 151 cars respectively. But it was Thursday night, the heaviest night of the week for business travelers coming home and between 9 pm and midnight, the highest number of arrivals. Nevertheless, I had some time to kill. So, I started walking the perimeter of the parking lot, left foot stepping on the faded red fire lane stripe.

10:53pm

Uber 240 cars ahead of me, Lyft 141.

So many people, so many cars. Up ahead I see Jeremy. He is always on his phone, alway very busy. At what, I’m not really sure. But, if I went over to say hello, I might be there awhile. Best keep walking. Jeremy usually has lots of drama to share. One night I watched him roam the parking lot on the phone with his ex-wife for almost an hour, arguing. He drives all the time but likes the flexibility of the work so he can spend time with his kids, the subject of the long call with his ex that night.

10:59pm

Uber 189 Lyft 127

There is Amir by his Lexus. He can’t seem to get his cigarette lit. Amir is from Qatar, I think. I know he works 3 jobs. Besides driving, he works at his uncle’s convenience store and also at a restuarant in Irving. He is saving up money to bring his family over. He says driving is really helping him learn the area and learn english better too.

11:05pm

Uber 137 Lyft 104

I see Sherry standing outside her Dodge Avenger. She loves her car. I ordered a Lyft ride for myself not too long ago when my car was being repaired. Sherry was the one who picked me up. She didn’t have a holder for her phone so she held it in her hand the whole trip and kept looking down. She is fairly new to driving and kind of a mess. I offered her a little advice and told her where she could get a phone stand. Hope she got one. Sherry drives as a second job too. She is using the extra money to pay down her credit card debt so she can qualify to buy a house to raise her two boys.

11:12pm

Uber 74 Lyft 68

Still walking the circuit. Cars keep buzzing in and out of the lot. Oh, there’s Willie. Willie is pretty cool. He drives an extended cab F150. Willie always has funny stories to tell about his riders. He constantly draws an audience in the parking lot. Willie is retired but needs the extra income to help support his grandson. He is talking with Brad, from Denver. Brad is retired Army. Brad sold everything he couldn’t fit into his Mitsubishi Endeavor and moved to Dallas to be closer to his adult daughter. He has zero debt and low living expenses so he lives off his military retirement and what he earns driving. Brad can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about army helicopters. After twenty minutes with him, you could practically repair one yourself. Brad has lots of strong opinions, some of them contradictory. But he always seems to respect others. Brad says while he doesn’t like it much, it’s every American’s right to be stupid and uninformed. For the record, I don’t agree with that sentiment.

11:25

Uber 31 Lyft 47

It’s time to get back into my car. About to get a request. Lots of cars, lots of drivers. Lots of dreams. Lots of hope. This parking lot is the perfect place to see the American dream in action. It ain’t easy. But it is still alive. Everyone here is here to better their lives or to better the lives of their loved ones.

Next time you hop into an Uber or Lyft, ask your driver why they do it. I bet you get an interesting and maybe even an inspiring story.

We are all connected. We each have our own unique story but we are all on this journey together. Be kind to each other. I wish you all a very happy Independence Day.

kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Phoenix

From his Daily Meditation, April 4, 2021, Easter Sunday…

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which allows faithful Christians to trust that, indeed, all will be well. I like to think of the resurrection as God’s way of telling us that God can take the worst thing in the world—the killing of the God-Human Jesus—and change it into the best thing: the redemption of the world.

To believe that Jesus was raised from the dead is actually not a leap of faith. Resurrection and renewal are, in fact, the universal and observable pattern of everything. We might just as well use non-religious terms like “springtime,” “regeneration,” “healing,” “forgiveness,” “life cycles,” “darkness,” and “light.” If incarnation is real, if material creation is inspirited, then resurrection in multitudinous forms is to be fully expected. Or to paraphrase a statement attributed to Albert Einstein, it is not that one thing is a miracle, but that the whole thing is a miracle!

If divine incarnation has any truth to it, then resurrection is a foregone conclusion, not a one-time anomaly in the body of Jesus, as our Western understanding of the resurrection felt it needed to prove—and then it couldn’t. The Risen Christ is not a one-time miracle but the revelation of a universal pattern that is hard to see in the short run.

– Fr. Richard Rohr

Facebook Memories is a great feature. I am constantly reminded of the many wonderful people I have met and posted about, through Uber and Lyft. Yesterday, that reminder was about a man I met 3 years ago, named Winston.

As I drove Winston to his destination, a church in South Dallas, he told me an extraordinary story.

In 2005, Winston Norton suffered a burst aneurysm of the brain. He was taken to the hospital but was expected to die within 24 hours. The aneurysm caused a severe stroke. When the doctors went in to try and fix the aneurysm, they found over 40 more.

The chance Winston would live was becoming smaller and smaller. In fact, he coded (heart stopped) more than once. In other words, he died 3 times that night and once again, the next.

He lived.

Winston had lost much of his bodily function and control. He couldn’t move half his body. He spent 9 months at Baylor University Medical Center. 9 months!

Winston is a man of faith and determination. You can see the trauma he suffered in his walk, but you couldn’t tell from his outlook on life. He lives to serve now, thanking God for every precious beautiful day.

He knows God still has a purpose for him so he works everyday to fulfill that purpose. His recovery/survival is nothing short of a miracle.

He believes it is important to tell his story. He and I both agreed we didn’t cross paths by chance. Winston reminded me how important it is to live in the present, to be humble, and to be thankful for every day.

There are days when we feel lost in life and wonder what our purpose is. Here is the answer. You wouldn’t exist if God didn’t have a purpose for you. You may feel your calling in life very clearly. That purpose can and will change. The important part is to get up and live each day in service and thanks, with love and kindness in your heart and every action. One way or another, God will reveal his purpose for you.

Winston, rise again my friend. Keep inspiring people through your story and your dedicaton to spreading kindness and love.

Winston’s story got me thinking about the mythical bird, Phoenix. Like the Phoenix, Winston rose from the ashes. That led me to a Dan Fogelberg song of the same name that I listened to often in my youth. When I listened to it again today I found a particularly powerful line in the lyrics, “Like a Phoenix,
I have risen from the flames
Like a Phoenix,
I have risen from the flames
No more living
Someone else’s dreams.”

Someone else’s dreams…

In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz describes our lives as dreams. “What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake.”

We make many agreements with life, with God, with ourselves. In doing so, we submit to the dreams, or the influence of others, in the way we think, we perceive, we act. We live someone else’s dreams.

Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word

Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally

Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions

Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best

His book, The Four Agreements, teaches us how to break old agreements and make four agreements with ourselves to create our own dream, free of influence from others. In doing so, we are filled with love and peace.

Our lives are like the life of the Phoenix. There are periods throughout our lives when we die and are reborn. As Christians, we attach this life experience to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each day is a renewal. Each day is an opportunity to become a better person, to give and receive love, to enjoy God’s creation and grace. Each day we rise like the Phoenix.

So RISE! Get up, get out, and feel God’s love. Share that love, so that others may find their way out of the dark, out of someone else’s dream.

Thanks again for the book recommendation Mindy Lee Carlson.

In reposting Winston’s story this year, I am grateful to have met him on the day before Easter. The timing, then and now, is not lost on me. He is risen! Be safe in this extraordinary moment in time. Be love. Be kind. We are all connected.

For the full meditation from last week or more of Fr. Richard Rohr’s writing click the link below.

The Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Oscar

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Rerun from 2019. The Uber Machine is still garaged due to Covid19.

#Peopleprofiles

Oscar

When Oscar was 11 years old, he suffered a traumatic accident. Oscar was leaning on a shotgun when it suddenly went off, destroying his left arm below the elbow. He lost his left hand and part of his forearm.

Oscar grew up in South Texas. He lives in Fort Worth now, but Harlingen was his childhood home. He laughed a little and said the two major pastimes where he grew up were drinking beer and working on cars. He and his friends also spent a considerable amount of time shooting beer cans, junk cars, and occasionally a pesky bird or two.

When I picked Oscar up, he had one of his 4 prosthetic arms on, with a metal pincher on the end. Oscar said he also has one with controllable fingers and thumb. He wasn’t shy about telling me all about his experience missing one hand.

I told him about a friend of mine named Allen, who had the same thing happen to him when he was nine. That didn’t slow Allen down either. In fact, Allen became a pilot; a pretty good pilot. I flew with him once. He was more proficient than most of my other flying buddies. Oscar thought that was “outstanding!”

We talked about when bad things happen, like his shotgun accident. Oscar was quick to tell me when things happen, “you adapt and overcome! Ain’t nobody gonna feel sorry for you a week later, so you better figure it out.”
Oscar said most days he actually is glad it happened. I was caught off guard with that one. But, He said he gained an appreciation for many things two handed people take for granted. And, that humble sense of gratitude has dominated his extremely positive outlook on life.

I wondered how many of us, including myself, spend way too much time focused on what we don’t have, rather than celebrating what we do.
Oscar also told me he always uses the pinchers, rather than the full prosthetic hand when he coaches boys soccer, because he can flip off the ref and get away with it after a bad call.😉.

As he was telling me about his team, a song called Easy As It Seems, by The Mavericks played from my Spotify playlist. Oscar stopped talking for a second and just listened. “Dude! You like The Mavericks? I love these guys.” He said with a big smile on his face. He saw the band in Austin once.

Oscar had such a positive outlook and attitude toward life. It was infectious. I am always amazed by how influential positive people can be. And, Oscar reminded me how important it is to find joy in the moment. Bad things happen. But grace is always there too. Don’t spend too much time worrying about stuff you can’t control. Take a deep breathe. Look around. Find the joy of life around and within you. And there you will find grace.

Keep the faith. Be kind. Be loving. Be in the present.

This one goes out to my new friend Oscar.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #Peopleprofiles #StreetLightsOnASaturdayNight #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #drivingawaydepression #weareallconnected

StreetLights: Sunday Night Edition

Good evening, Kindness Warriors. I hope you all had a good weekend. As I have been taking inventory of my life these last few days, I am reminded of finding the right perspective and appreciating so much when I once thought I had so little. It occurs to me that, while I use many tools and checklists to control my chronic depression and anxiety, those same tools are helpful to anyone, not just headcases like me.😜

We are still in difficult times. Many of us have struggled, dealt with loss or tragedy. It seems overwhelming and we can find ourselves out in the wilderness alone. Many of us feel “lost in the woods.”

Here are some items to remember as you start your week:

Your checklist for the week.

  1. Life is better with a soundtrack.
  2. We are all connected.
  3. Life is love. Everything else is a waste of time.
  4. The world is a better place because you are in it.
  5. Keep kind on your mind.
  6. Everything is gonna be alright.
  7. In case you didn’t know it, I love you.
  8. The Light Of The World is within each of us. Let it out. Let it shine for others to see, as they too need help out of the darkness.

One last reminder for those feeling lost in the woods…

Trees.

“Getting lost in the woods” is a phrase often associated with dark or troubled times in life.

If you are lost in the woods, take a moment. Take a deep long breath. Then look around you. The trees that surround you are not your enemy or your obstacle.

Look close and you will see, God has put those trees around you. They are there to protect you, to give you sustenance. They help form and define your path. Those trees are life giving and life saving. They offer you love and joy. Those trees are your friends and family, and safe spaces.

If you ever feel lost in the woods, take a breath, look around and know, you are not alone! Trust me, I’m an Oak…

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected