House version 2.0

For several months, my bedroom was a shambles. I had hired someone to rip out the plaster and replace it with drywall. Unfortunately, he wasn’t qualified and left the place a mess. He had planned to do more work to finish it, but the quality wasn’t satisfactory. My bedroom was on standby as I slept in my living room for several months.

I was hospitalized in March for 10 days. Mom and dad made the room livable again. However, mom was operating under the direction “do not throw anything away” while also not knowing what different things were for or how to organize them.

She did her best, but one person’s organization can be another person’s chaos. I’m rearranging things in a big way–my vision is that it will be better than the original ever could be.

I’ve got various goals. One is to turn the house into a refuge from the storm for people needing help. I’ve already failed at having people stay with me, so that’s not an option. However, housing is not the only refuge people might need.

I’m hoping the living room can become a party room. While a typical party has loud music and posing, I’m hoping for the opportunity for small groups of people to share something unique. The current kitchen might double a room for people to meet in private.

The bedroom and office are in flux. On one hand, I’d like the current bedroom to be an office. I’ve got a map, but it would be cramped and the current computer room would become a bedroom and library. That’s a middle term goal while my primary goal is to close down my storage unit which costs about $40 per month. I’d also like to create a place for producing music and videos.

The expensive goals are to fix the plumbing, electrical outlets and lighting. This month I need to get a lot of quotes on the many different sub-projects.

I have big hopes and am looking forward to getting stability in what is currently very shaky. I’m tending toward having a tent theme to the house where the rooms will not be divided by modern plaster. I’d rather have a form that harks back to humanity’s experience as wanderers in a big world. Our world is hard to understand. Making something simple seems worthwhile.

An open letter to Jimmy Carter

I wish a falling star
would light that perfect candle.
Its wick would consume the darkness
and its fragrance perfume the night.

Faith does not regret its weakness
because its firm foundation is hope.
Our horizons are lighted by its joy
and its love glows all around us.

Each war must end one day
despite their evil power.
If rulers bare their steely eyes,
let our light blind their stare.

The swords of love and faith
can cut them from the story.
They should have no page to find
when history’s book is seen.

We have the tools to light that candle.
We have the pens to write the story.
We have love.
We have faith.
We have joy.
We have hope.

Dear Jimmy Carter,

Although the world loves its money and power, I believe the prayers of a child are a better guide. When they sing, they have no fear. When they hope, how can we explain the hate?

The boy from Cyprus can love a girl from Bogota. The child in Zanzibar could kiss the elders of Harbin.

To find a new world is all they ask: A world where children cry out of love and compassion and not sorrow or fear. It is a world that we can give them. Let no one take it away.

May God bless you this day!

Holy week is unique in 2018

On April 1, 2010 I had a cardiac arrest at work. I was able to survive, but have been disabled since them. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to work and the biggest long term accomplishment is that I’ve lived independently since then. Considering the length of time I was on CPR before my heart rhythm was restored, that’s no small matter, although I tend to take it for granted.

In addition, I was never in a coma and woke up the next day which was Good Friday. I had no broken ribs from the CPR and had no coronary artery disease when they did the heart catheterization.

This year, the 8th anniversary of the crisis, April 1 is Easter. That’s hard not to notice and it has a symbolic significance, if nothing else. Some of my friends with special dates such as the date of a death in the family, getting off drugs and alcohol or a divorce, the period leading up to the anniversary can be difficult.

This month I had a psychiatric crisis and was in the hospital for 10 days. Although it was triggered by a medication change, the day before my admission, my computers were doing impossible things. For example, one spontaneously started playing a recording of an learning day event I had recorded from a couple years ago. I do not even know where the files are and the tablet playing them had never had the audio files on them. One computer had the icons in the task bar counting in binary and there were other peculiar things as well. It was more than I could handle at the time and I haven’t looked very closely at it either–I don’t need to freak out again thinking dark agencies were at work against me. There were more than 8 files identified as being corrupted with viruses on my laptop and it was too much. However, I didn’t fold, throw down the cards and run.

It freaked me out extremely. As the last day unfolded, I became unable to do even some basic tasks like organize my medication tray. I discovered when I got home that some medications were causing bad effects when I took them.

This years, the weeks leading up to Easter are turning out to be difficult. Despite my decreased level of functioning (Now it *is* an accomplishment to be living independently), I’m hopeful that I can begin working again. No one has told me that it is not realistic, but they don’t want to dash my hopes. As a result, I haven’t got feedback how it’s unlikely that I’ll succeed, but I notice that unlikely and impossible are not the same.

I’m really thin emotionally and get sad and weepy really easily. I also have a lot more empathic understanding and am really good a recognizing other people’s challenges and try to help them as much as I can in a kind manner when I can.

I’ve made it through difficult times in the past and never given up trying to reach a fulfilling life. I have a lot of strengths, but putting it all together isn’t possible (today). I don’t have to run from my painful experiences and have faith that they are leading me forward. Easter is a celebration of rebirth and new beginnings.

I hope that I have a similar experience.

Talking the walk

The cliche emphasizes the need to walk the talk. That is, if you declare a path but don’t follow it, you’re just spouting hypocrisy and lies. The converse is talking the walk. This is a different principle, not leading to criticism and judgement, but rather it gives a path for growth and healing. It’s an opportunity for me to be myself, perhaps, to become a better me.

The gist is that while walking outside, I’m not so bound by the synthetic world of men. The static seat in the kitchen or an automobile’s mechanical cockpit get their light from anonymous strangers. By walking, I put my life in front of a different mirror and can see hidden strengths in the reflection.

A friend of mine does counseling with teens. He remarked that with teenage boys, instead of meeting in his office, going on a walk can be a lot more productive. The youths are able to be more direct and make more progress in that less clinical setting.

I’ve noticed a similar effect with myself. When I’m walking with someone, the distraction of my sink of dirty dishes is gone. I’m not avoiding a wreck as traffic merges onto the highway. Instead, I’m sharing an authentic experience with a friend.

Perhaps we’re walking in the park. If we come to a moment and need to contemplate alone, we can take a break and look at a remarkable oak tree and watch the birds fight on the playground. The transition is completely natural. All of that outer beauty won’t hide any inner beauty slowly forming within us together. We’re not trying to entertain each other nor put on the happy face.

When I’m talking the walk with a friend, we explore different parts of our lives. Sometimes I get answers and can solve problems. Of course, life isn’t deathly serious all the time. However, developing a pattern of shared meditation like this in good times can be golden when I don’t know what to ask.

Gifts, unearned blessings


What do I get when I am looking too hard for something to love? I end up stirring up trouble and getting far away from my goal. Often, the things that I desire are not really good for me. I try to get an answer and it ends up that I just get more confused. The world doesn’t run to the song that I hope for and as a result I can get unhappy.

When I am patient and waiting, good things come to me. I get new qualities and I wonder where I had been to not see that I needed the grace to be happy again. The world is full of mysteries. Things that are not possible to understand are even less possible to predict. As the days go on, I find that the upward climb can be interrupted at times by an opportunity to rest. Days come and go and I remember that I have been getting stronger. The challenges of yesterday aren’t the same challenges that I have today.

Some of my blessings I don’t even notice. I am surrounded by people who care. I have people in my life that will help me grow. I forget that I have things to be grateful for… a house, my health, a loving family. When I forget these things, I stop seeing the beauty in my life. Without gratitude, I can’t remember that each day is a gift that I can build on with effort and faith.

A Great War: Scorched Earth

The first phase of a great war has begun: Scorched earth.

The jungle has been filled with unfriendly foes. Our allies started the first round. Everything in sight near the base’s borders has been killed.

The round up of the enemies has taken its awful toll on the jungle closest to the base.

No one has returned (yet). It’s a race between the foes and friends to see who will seed combatants first. I may have to invest in some mercenary reinforcements and plant interlopers where death is currently holding our vain hope.

A second front of the scorched earth campaign took down vines covering the foliage unchallenged. They had been hiding horrific mines planted with the help of enemy canine patrols. They were attacked with two or three salvos. Nothing but remnants have been left behind.

The second phase of the war has already started: Decimation.

Vulnerable

Thought bubble
In the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” Sherry Turkle said “With some exceptions, when we make ourselves vulnerable we expect to be nurtured.” (p. 235) She’s referring Erik Erikson and the expectations coming from basic trust. That’s something that’s completely counter to the way that the Internet often works. For the most part, any time you put yourself out there, you’re at risk of being attacked or ridiculed rather than built up and comforted.

One place for this risk comes from places that encourage intimacy. It’s not always easy to trust people to begin with. Letting your guard down out there in the social media dystopia isn’t always safe. If one makes comments that might be too hard to share in person, it can still end up hurting.

One reason for this is that anonymity allows people to be more negative and exhibit the dark tetrad personality traits when, in person, they wouldn’t act out. To them, the idea that people have feelings or that they are afraid of being humiliated is alien. Often, the enemy only feels good by getting some lolz.

Sometimes you can find a community of like-minded people where you can be safe. This reflects Sherry’s comment “Communities are places where one feels safe enough to take the good and the bad.” (p. 238) I’ve found some, like deviantART, are different than most social media. One reason is that to belong there, you have to put in some work. You can’t just repost an inane meme and belong. A member of dA is a creator. A pretender just looks around and is lurking.

Every time you get in front of a computer screen and post something on Twitter or Facebook, it’s possible to misstep and be misunderstood catastrophically.