When will I be there?

I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions. I think I am pretty good at keeping my goals in mind year round, and a date doesn’t really affect them all that much. I also know that if I make some, I probably won’t keep them. I’m more of a keep track sort of person when December 31st rolls around. It’s time to box up the bills and receipts from the year and get a fresh box for the new ones. In that box are also pictures and cards, and other odds and ends memory stuff I want to keep. It’s then I kind of sort things out in my mind about the year and where I made improvements and where I fell short. I was able to see the whole year in a few hours of organizing the box getting ready for doing my taxes.

When I was flat ass broke and finally got a career where I was saving money, it was fun to count up my net worth at the end of the year to see how much I improved over the previous year. Then through a couple of stock market crashes, job changes, bonehead investments, and having kids ended the fun in that. It’s no fun to watch going backward. Now I don’t do that anymore.

This was also a good time to assess my health. Money is important, but if you feel lousy it doesn’t matter if you have any or not at the time. I’m not one of those gung-ho types who join the gym on January 1st and work out until February, then move on to something else. I work out year-round, sort of a stress reliever for me. Assessing my health for me was making sure my pants fit the same, making sure my vitamin routine is up to date, getting a physical to check the other stuff, and thinking about what I could improve in the coming year.

OK, those two things are mostly in my control. Relationships, on the other hand, don’t seem to be. Seems that around Christmas has been the make or break for many of my relationships. Probably not much different than anyone else. It does make you a little gun shy of the Holiday approaching, and a little relief when you get through it still intact. That changing of the clock on December 31st always make me think about who I am with, how is it working for me or her, and what can I do to improve it. It also makes me think sometimes I can’t. And that’s sad.

This year with New Years approaching, I feel different. I have been thinking about it for a while now to try and find the words. Bear with me.

I will be turning 65 years old in the coming year. I already have my Social Security and Medicare lined up. I have officially retired, which has been a dream for a long time. Not to retire per se, but to have the freedom from working a 9 to 5 just to pay the bills. Financially, I am going to be ok. Not going to live like Donald Trump, but I have enough.

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I’m living in Maui, which has been my dream for over 25 years. I have broken away from dreadful Minnesota winters and muggy buggy summers. I know many of you are having a brutally cold winter. I feel your pain. If you think I go to the beach every day, sleep in till I want, and stay up as late as I can, you would be right about one of them. I do go to the beach every day, even in the rain, but I get up to take the kids to school and go to bed at ten, my choice.

Speaking of kids, I did it right, at least for me. Having them late in life has been a complete blessing that I get to enjoy and spend so much time with them now. I can’t imagine my life without them. I guess I can, it would be lonely and dreadful.

When I am not with the kids, right now I am not in a relationship so my time is mine to do what I want. That’s a bit hard for me to get used to, to be honest. I have committed so much time and effort taking care of others, I think I neglected to find out what I want out of life. Maybe I should get a dog.

And this brings me to where I am today, this year, going into next. I don’t have to work if I don’t want to, I’m living in my dream place, I have my kids and my time of my own. Then why do I feel like I’m not there yet?

Maybe because there is no “There”.  Life really is the journey your soul takes. “Life is what you make of it” isn’t just a cute little saying, it is really the most honest reality of you. You may learn from your mistakes, and get plenty of second chances, but there is no do-over. You get one shot. 

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Sometimes I lived life like a speeding freight train, my life going by like blurred telephone poles. I think back now and wish I would have taken the leisurely scenic route instead. I have no regrets though. I lived my life the best way I knew how.

Like a great book you can’t put down, I have been looking forward to the ending, kind of like the point I am at right now, but also like a great book, I never want it to end. That is the paradox of life. We are always waiting to be “There”, but when we get there, we want more. I guess I will just have to read the sequel.

I truly believe that I am not my body. I am the soul who inhabits it. My body is my experience with this wonderful time on Earth as life. My soul is the benefactor of all the pleasure and pain and wonder and feelings that my body goes through in a lifetime, and when it’s time is done, lives on. I haven’t always thought this way. I wish I would have.

You know that jaw-dropping feeling you get when you get away from the lights and the noise on a cloudless starry night. That feeling is your soul (the real you) connecting with the universe. You feel so small in its vastness, yet so connected that time stands still.

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2018. I think next year will be a year full of surprises, of many happy moments, and some sad ones. It will be a year of change and a year of stability. A year of peace and a year of conflict. There will be ups and there will be downs. It will be a year like all the rest. 

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I think I am qualified to offer life advice to my kids, no one else. So I would like to offer some to them as someone who has lived a great life, and hopefully have many more years to come, and want to share some wisdom picked up along the way. These are some of the things I wish I had known when I was young and would have been smart enough to listen to them.

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There is only one person you have to live your life for. You. Without being the best you, what can you offer others? Love yourself first, and the love you give others will be sincere and with all your heart.

Love your family. They are your rock, who will always be there for you. When it’s time for you to have your own family, be their rock.

Plan for the future, let the past go, live for today.

Live in the moment. Every second is a gift. Even the small things will haunt you if you pass them by. Put yourself into life 100%, and you will have no regrets.

Ask someone to dance. I guarantee you will regret it if you didn’t.

Roll with the punches. Sometimes life doesn’t go the way you want and gets hard. That will end. If you think that something good will come from something bad, you will be right. It also works the other way, so always be positive.

Don’t judge. This is probably the most destructive thing you can do to yourself. Judging others doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you. You become cynical and mean. This will take a lot of fun out of your life.

Work hard, play hard, and know the difference. There is a time for both.

Take risks with money and love. Playing it safe all the time will give you a mediocre life to look back on. Taking risks will give you an extraordinary life. 

Don’t overthink everything. You will be paralyzed by indecision. Sometimes you have to go with your gut and hope for the best. 

Make a difference in someone’s life. Give more than you take. It doesn’t have to be money. Sometimes a kind word, some deserved praise, or a hug is all it takes.

True success is measured by the love, peace, contentment, and happiness you have in your life, regardless of how much money you have.

Make a difference in this world. Leave it a little or a lot better than you found it.

Take care of the Earth and all its inhabitants. We are all here for a reason, and we may not know what that is all the time. We all deserve to be here.

Take care of your body. Give it lots of rest, good food, regular exercise, and loving care. It’s got to last your soul a lifetime to live in.

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Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Besides ruining your health, wealth and relationships, it will cause you to miss out on the best that life can offer. I can tell you, any decision ever made under the influence has never been a good one. 

Be patient and kind. Two qualities above most others. If you have these two, others will be attracted to you and make your life easier.

Never stop learning. This universe is such a miracle. To grow as a person, keep an open mind to every possibility. 

Keep a daily journal. You will not regret it. I didn’t and wish I did. 

Finally, know there are no limits to what you can do or become. There is a whole big world out there just for you to enjoy. Follow your dream, and start by dreaming big.

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They say that writing your thoughts down is good therapy. I have to admit, this has helped me with some of the issues I have been facing. I now realize this isn’t about me. It took me 65 years to get to this place, at this keyboard, to write down some things my kids may someday read, and something just might strike a chord to help live a more fulfilling life.

When the new year is upon us, I am going to start over, again. Not as in a New Years resolution sort of way, but in that sequel to my “Book of life” kind of way. I feel that my life is on the right path, and have continuing hope for things to come. I feel blessed to be alive and in good health. I am lucky.

When will I be there? Who cares. Sit back and enjoy the ride…..

Happy New Years……and may your life be always blessed.

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A Broken Heart for Christmas…..

Christmas is a magical time of year for a ten-year-old boy. They pretty much have the Santa thing figured out, and they get two weeks out of school. Most kids that age have lots of things they want and can’t wait to get their presents. Life and relationships are pretty uncomplicated up to this point. Then it changes.

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At the little school my Son attends here in Maui, there was a classroom volunteer and helper since the beginning of the school year.  She is 18 and is also the sister of my Son’s best friend. I only just met her a week ago at my Son’s football game, and he never really talked about her at home.  Mentioned her name once in a while, thought nothing of it. I thought she seemed very nice. She is going off to college after Christmas and will no longer live here on the island.

My Son has stayed over at his friend’s house a couple of times this month, the last the night before he flew back to Minnesota for his two week Christmas break to spend with family there. He was very upset when I picked him up and had to say goodbye to her. She will be leaving for college before he gets back. She gave him a sweatshirt and took a few pictures. After that, let’s just say it was a rough night and next morning right up until the time he got on the plane. He talked about her being his friend, how she smelled so nice, how he was going to miss her and probably never see her again, how he didn’t want to go back to Minnesota and miss some more time with her. She is his first crush.

That night I spent about three hours with him just talking about friends and relationships and stuff. I told him a story that I had completely forgotten about up until that night.

I grew up on a mink farm. My Dad was very successful and had people come from all over the world to buy mink and also learn how to raise them. One of the people who came to learn was a girl from Italy named Maria. She was 18 and her Father sent her to stay the summer in a small apartment in the town near us and learn how to raise the mink. I was 10.

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Every day she would come to the farm, and I would spend a lot of time with her. She was very kind to me. I liked being around her. It made me feel good. Sometimes I would get dropped off and spend time with her in her little apartment, and we would play games or just talk. She had a heavy Italian accent, long dark hair, and dark brown eyes. I thought she was beautiful. I have no pictures of her, just memory.

The end of the summer quickly approached, like it always does for kids on summer break, and I had never really given much thought I guess about what would happen to Maria. I just thought she would always be there. Then I found out she was going back to Italy. That hit me pretty hard. I cried and cried. A few days before she was to leave, I wanted to go see her, but my Mom said no. I think she was trying to protect me from feeling so bad and felt it wasn’t a good idea to prolong it. She sent me to my room, but instead of staying there, I jumped out the window and ran to Maria’s house, which was 4 miles away. I still to this day remember running in the ditches towards town, tears streaming down my face, scared and confused. When I got to her apartment, luckily she was home, and she let me in. Knowing that my parents would be frantic, she called them to let them know I was safe. They let me stay a couple of hours before my Dad came and got me. I remember Maria holding me as I cried and said everything would be alright, and someday we would meet again. My parents never said a word about the incident. I never ran away again. I never saw Maria again.

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As I told the story to my Son, it made me realize how that crush I had on Maria that summer changed my whole life. How I think of holding on in relationships, afraid that they will leave and never be seen nor heard from again. How I felt so strongly, and that love was not given in return. How life could seem so unfair to a ten-year-old when they have no control in situations like this. I can now see that the many relationships I have had over the years have been affected to some extent by, I know it sounds silly at ten, my first love. Now I wonder whatever happened to her. She would be 72 now if she is still alive. Have our paths ever crossed somewhere along the way, like she said they would? I wonder if she has ever thought of me. To her, I was the bosses 10-year-old kid. To me, she was my world. I know she got my infatuation, and she handled it well. I miss her.

It was a different time back then. My parents never talked to me about my feelings I had and how to handle them, or at least acknowledge them and look for the positive. That stuff didn’t exist in the early sixties. I knew they loved me and wanted the best for me. The support was there, it just wasn’t talked about. In the silence was the message, get over it and move on. Move on I did, but not so sure I ever really got over it.

It’s funny that I had completely forgotten about the summer when I was 10 and fell in love with an 18-year-old girl from Italy named Maria until it happened to my Son. I want to be there for him and try to help him understand and appreciate the time he did have with her, and use that foundation to learn and become a better person. Trouble is, I don’t think I ever resolved it myself. Lifes lessons take time I guess.

How do you tell someone that life moves on? That pain and love sometimes are intertwined. That this is the first of a lifetime of relationships that will build you up or tear you apart. That this is the first of countless tears of joys and sadness, of the best of times and the worst of times. How do you tell someone of all the beautiful moments and heartbreaks ahead of them? That it breaks my heart to know his is breaking. Maybe it’s best to just let life happen.

This may then be the circle of life. Maybe it all happened to me so I could relate it to my Son in his time of need and sorrow. I lived and learned, and just knowing him, he will move on and be a better person for it, and maybe someday teach the lesson to his Son or Daughter. There is no beginning and no end.

I am going to offer him the same thing my parents gave to me. A loving home that will always be his to come back to. A smile to show I care and a Kleenex to wipe away tears. A warm bed and a hot meal. A hug and a hand to hold. An ear to listen and a comforting voice to give advise. An unconditional love that I someday hope he finds in a mate and a family of his own. I will always be there. That is my Christmas present to him.

Mele Kalikimaka……………..

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About Face………………

Drive into a neighborhood you have never been to. One that you know nothing about. Now pick a house. Doesn’t matter which one. Look at the size, and shape, and how it is kept up. Is the yard mowed or the grass long?  Is it orderly, or is there things left all over?  Does it look clean or dirty?

Based on your observations, now imagine who the people are that live in that house. I would guess that by the appearance of what kind of house it is, the neighborhood, whether it’s kept up or not, you have a pretty good idea of what they might look like.

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Now keep driving around until you see a couple of houses that are similar, but different colors. One might be a neutral beige, and the other a hot pink, or maybe many different colors. What do you think of the people who might be living in them? The houses are pretty much the same, but does the color make you think that the people are different?

Based on our past experiences, influences (such as parents, TV, friends), and observations, we all have opinions and visual expectations of who we might perceive coming out of those houses to greet us if we went up and rang the doorbell. And a lot of time, we might be pretty close. But in reality, we have absolutely no idea of who would come to the door. We don’t know one thing about them, their dreams, desires, their past, their future. Whether they are good people or bad. The only thing we will know for sure is our desire to justify our preconceived notions about them.

Why is this? Why do we want to place everything we see in a category? I think it might come from our past, when we had to decide instantly whether something is going to harm us, help us, or at the least, educate us for next time. I’m talking millions of years of trying to keep from getting eaten.

Moving to a completely unknown area has made me more observant. Of houses, the cars people drive, their yards, clothing, but mostly….faces.

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Our face is how the world sees us. Our face doesn’t change (except getting more wrinkles), but the perception of us does by who is looking at us. Every face is as unique as us, but for some reason, we want to pigeon-hole and categorize the person behind the face based on our lifelong study of faces. Just like houses, we base our opinions on the shape, the care, the detail and the color of the face. How we get that opinion is based on our never-ending bombardment of information about similar faces. And just like houses, we make our assumptions before we ever ring the doorbell.

And just like houses, we really don’t know one thing about the person behind that face just by looking at them.

Living in Hawaii, I see lots of unfamiliar faces. Just like in the old Doors song, “People are strange when you’re a stranger.” Because I was raised and lived mostly in a one race town, growing up I did not have a tremendous amount of contact with other cultures, other faces. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my opinions about them. It’s just that I realize they are mostly wrong. Even my decade’s long career in retail sales taught me little about the real person behind the face I was dealing with.

My kids make comments about faces. They categorize them by what they call their resting face. Like a resting sad face, or a resting happy face. Or mad face. It’s mostly about people we know, and it makes us laugh because usually, it’s nothing like the person we know behind the face. I know they are forming their own opinions about the faces they see. By the way, I supposedly have a resting happy face, according to them.

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Images of faces and the story behind them are everywhere. Every time someone is arrested, or act inappropriately, they get their face plastered all over the media. That face then becomes associated with that act. I’m glad I don’t look like Charles Manson or Donald Trump. Even people who look normal (whatever that may be) commit horrendous crimes or should be avoided.  Should everyone then become suspect? That would be a horrible way to live.

I saw the new movie, Wonder, and this is a perfect example of judging a face and not the person behind it. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to do so. It’s a great movie. Bring lots of tissue.

Our face is the front door to the home in which our soul resides. Once in awhile, I get an unbiased glimpse of my face. Before the delusion begins. Before I dismiss the wrinkles and sagging skin, the darkened circles, the graying hair. Before I mask my face the way I think the world should see me. But by doing that, I am depriving the world and myself of connection. The connection of the real me. Almost everyone does. That’s what faces do, protect those inside the house. Doors are meant to protect, I guess it’s the same with faces.

I get judged a lot. By the color of my skin, the age of my skin. My sex, my gray hair, my crooked bottom teeth. I understand it. That’s what humans do. When I was younger, I used to get looks from the opposite sex, checking me out I would assume. I did the same. Now I get looks from the opposite sex. I wonder what in the world they are thinking about.

I know that our skill of judging a person has to do with our past survival. And in many ways, it still serves us. Who hasn’t seen a scary person who should be avoided? Obviously, we must use our brains. But take away the shape and color of the face, and there is one thing that we all have that is pretty much the same, the eyes. Our pupils are all round, the sclera white, with the iris only changing with different colors. This then might be the person behind the face. The old saying you only get to know someone by looking in their eyes might be the truest way.

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I know when my kids are happy or sad. I know when a friend is glad to see me. I know when someone I love feels the same about me. It’s because I know who they are behind their face.

I look at everyone’s face, sometimes openly but usually try to be discreet. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one doing that. I can look at everyone around me, and they all seem to be oblivious or absorbed in what they are doing, they hardly notice anyone’s face. Maybe we all feel this way, or maybe it is just me. I bought a pair of those hard to see my eyes sunglasses so I can look more, but I might just be fooling myself because everyone thinks that whoever is wearing glasses like that is looking, so don’t look back at them.

My comfort zone says to keep to myself, my curiosity says to reach out. This new life in Maui has given me a great opportunity to expand myself. To expand myself, I need to connect with others who are not like me. I need to get to know more of others than just what I think their face is telling me. I need to get to know them.

I’m guessing the only way to get to know who someone is, is to ring the doorbell. 

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