Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I Choose to be Happy

        What is happiness to you? What does it mean to be happy? Is there a measurement for how you are doing in life? Is life like dieting? You make some good choices and some bad ones and hopefully happiness is ending the day with more good ones than bad? I wish I knew the answer to my questions. As for me, and hopefully my house, we are happy. I am happy. However, many simply are not. It's those people I wish I could give an answer to.

        Right now, I can only say:

1. Follow God. Even if He hasn't made Himself known to you in ages.
2. Marry the right person. He or she will save your life before their own. If you don't believe they were the right person, give them a chance to be.
3. Find a career you can tolerate. The saying that "If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life" is only for the rich. Real people hate going to work. Find something you don't hate completely.
4. Always have something to look forward to. You will save your family if you risk debt to go on a family vacation. Go and laugh and soak up every moment.
5. Stop wasting time on people that hurt you. Instead invest your time into the people that love you, even if they annoy you. They will be the last ones standing with you.
6. Try to be nice to everyone: even the people that frustrate you. It hurts both of you to be mean. It benefits both of you to be nice.
7. It's so cliche, but slow down and try to enjoy moments. Sitting and watching a television show with your loved ones may seem trivial, but life is short, and one day when you are gone...they will remember.
8. Give people a chance. I've learned the hard way that you should never judge anyone by first impressions. Wait it out. I think you will find some really great friends this way; even though most will probably confirm your initial reaction.
9. Don't be jealous of anyone. We are all messed up in one way or another. If someone seems to be perfect or have figured it out...know that it's fake. No one has it figured out. NO ONE!
10. Lastly, don't keep secrets. The horrible truth is far less damaging than the horrible lie. At least you can still be trusted and respected. Without trust and respect, you really aren't anything special at all.

        So there is my completely flawed and incomplete list of things I've learned about being happy. Life isn't just for you, it's for everyone else around you as well. We are all connected. Remember that you effect the people you see every day; even if you aren't happy where you are.


Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Catch

        I dream about it a lot; my old life. At least the one I used to try and support my family with. It was my dream job that I never thought I wanted. At first, it wasn't a job at all. I did it because I loved it...I loved to help hurting kids. It became my livelihood and I still loved it. Until the end part. The end part is always the kicker. In movies, this part would be the catch. The part where it was always too good to be true and any hopes of perfection are lost. Everything becomes lost when you lose hope.

        The catch?

        I would love to blame it on others not caring about these kids. I would love to shift the blame to someone else. I try to do that a lot. The catch was that I couldn't do the job anymore, because I lost my heart for hurting people...because I was hurting. I had lost my faith in a God that wanted to heal. He could heal, but seemed to always choose not to.

He is God and He is good.

        But I stopped believing that He was a God that did miracles anymore. That's a rough place for me to be in. My own life has been a miracle. How does a person reconcile that? How do I see God lift my face out of the mud, even when I deserved to die, with the same eyes watching his brothers die miserably?

       So I left my perfect life and my dream job and became a nurse out of the desire to see people be cured with science instead. What I got was a lot more death. So much death that I had to find another nursing job with less death. What I learned is that people are going to die and no one is going to stop it. Some that I love died before they should have. That was always the catch.

        Everyone wants to be happy all of the time, and never feel the sorrow that makes happiness real. I was watching one of my favorite movies in bed the other day...a day that I chose to remain in bed half the day. Vanilla Sky came on, and the main theme was that happiness exists because of the bitter.

What a hard pill to swallow.

        So I am supposed to stomach the pain of losing so much to preserve this idea that this loss has created something pure and beautiful?

I look around. Here is my wife. Here are my children... happy and safe. Here are my friends... a list still growing. Here is my job...leading people to life and to death. Here am I... still breathing.

Still breathing.

        This journey has been anything but easy, and I'm guessing it was never supposed to be. But a thing that I've learned is that, It's equally as hard for the faithful as it is for the faithless. We all have to watch our friends and family die. We all have to feel powerless. We all have to weep and mourn and become something you never wanted to be.

None of us get out of this life unscathed.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Lonely Ones

       I don't write much on this side of my life...the side I have always promised myself to share. Some of the reason is because I am writing short stories for this podcast. I've found a more productive way to express myself with that, and I guess I'm putting more time with what makes more sense and fulfills me more. It's never been easy to write this blog. I write something in a moment and leave it. I've made the mistake of reviewing it later in the past, only to be embarrassed. I do it again for the very reasons I started this blog to begin with. I don't think it's good for people to live alone or to have secrets. I think if others know what you need, they will provide...and vice versa. We are whales in a really big ocean that sing to each other only in the wild.

        Another reason is that I haven't had much to say. There is nothing ground breaking or life changing going on in my life and I'm not really inclined to comment on the going-ons of the world right now. Everyone has an opinion right now and I don't have anything new to add. I'm grossed out like you, and that makes me lonely.

        I'm inclined to write tonight because it's Christmas: And as you know, this is a mixed bag for so many people. Christmas reminds us of our childhood's and the way our parent's home's smelled. Christmas reminds us of caskets with our loved ones laying in them. Christmas reminds us that death remains imminent for everyone. Christmas reminds us that Jesus came to give us hope in that death...and in life. For some of us who have faith in that hope, it doesn't always feel like it. Sometimes, it just feels like the floor has fallen out and we hang there, by a thread, waiting to lose strength and fall.

This is the reality of life that being raised a Christian may have neglected to tell you.

        The last several nights, beginning with the anniversary of Joe's death, I've started having these dreams. I have them every year, but this year, it's different. Usually, Will and Joe are in them. This year, whenever I sleep, it's moments from my childhood...both good and bad. Every time though, when I wake up, I feel really sad. Sometimes I think it's nostalgia, and others, I think it's just a sadness for the anger, and despair, and apathy all around me. I think it's a desire to not be angry, or sad, or apathetic anymore.

        It used to be simpler. You would go outside and find a friend and play in the snow. You would lay under the Christmas tree and look up and try and find the angel resting at the top...barely visible because of all of the lights and beauty. Now we often doubt there are any angels at all. I think that happens when we stop looking for them, and start absorbing the negativity; which is a devil lurking around the corner, waiting to pounce on you.

        My journey has taken so many unexpected turns. Every time I think I have it figured out and feel safe in knowing what's likely to come next, I am redirected by force into another direction. This may be because I am stubborn and always have to learn the hard way; as I have already told you. It may also be that I was built to accept punches and continue smiling. It doesn't mean the punches hurt less, it's just that God seems to resurrect me through important people He has placed around me. And another terrible option is that I was made for garbage. In the Bible, in Romans, it says, "When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn't he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? NLT. 

        I'm gonna choose not to believe this one. It may be true, but I don't think so. I just need to look at those around me who have both held me up and allowed me to hold them up, to see that this cannot be true. Not for me. I've met and called family to some of the most extraordinary people. I've seen too much perfection to believe that. So I am forced to believe that God is not just the Resurrected, but also the Resurrector. Both for Jesus, and for me...for you. 

This is Christmas. We are whales that need only to sing to find each other. The ocean is dark and cold, but the ones that sing are not the lonely ones. 


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Path to Peace

        I think most people find their way to some sort of peace, no matter what their journey has entailed. I think that this is kind of a great gift in a really crappy world. The pain experienced prepares us to experience more, thus giving us the ability to take on more and more without breaking. It's a gift that only people that haven't broken completely enjoy. The rest aren't here anymore, or sadly won't be for too much longer.

        Truly, the world can be a beautiful place and it can also be hell. It isn't all what you make of it either. It's what you become because of it that will direct your steps, if you're either lucky or not careful. When the waves are crashing, we are forced to find ways to adapt and find some peace. Or we fail to find it. Like I've said before, I've made quite an interesting stable of adaptation techniques. From a small child laying next to the heat register, to sleeping on the dryer while it turns and hums. I've practiced imagery and make believe. Music. Running. Sitting in front of open windows when it's cold and wrapping myself in a blanket. A stiff drink. All ways to forget the chaos out there and focus on what's good in here.

       Sometimes, the best way to relax is to just pay attention to people; to actually engage them. I see their nuances and quirks and they usually make me smile. I look at the things people do to make other people laugh and that comforts me. Them laughing comforts me. There is something about watching someone who had absolutely lost it in laughter that makes me laugh too. I start seeing the magic in them. I start to really see what makes the world so's the people that live inside of it.

      I think the cure to the worry and anger is to turn everything off and spend time with actual people. Not everyone fits into the boxes we buy for them. It takes real time to place the correct labels on them. I'm thinking if you take that much time on them, you're likely to throw out the label maker in the process. I think it's time for the world to be friends again. At least it's time for your own little world to reconcile.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


        I'm not always a good son. Sometimes, I get caught up in my life and my wife and kids and forget to cherish the times I get to have with her. When we call, she always answers. She treats her grandchildren like they are her children. She leaves absolutely nothing on the table and she never has. She has always worn her heart on her sleeve.

        I'm not really all that good at being serious when it comes to how I feel in person. I love to probe and listen to people's stories. I love to share everything, just not so much in person. I do better in writing. In writing I can say what I feel without my emotions or insecurities getting in the way. It's part of the reason I keep this blog. I want the world to know me, but I want to do it silently. In the middle of the night where people like me live.

        So this one is for my mom, who I neglect.

        I used to lay behind her legs as a kid. I was scared to sleep alone. I hated being alone...always! My mom would sleep on the couch to give me and my brother our own rooms. After our TV shows would go off, she would send us to bed. Jason would go quietly, without argument. I would beg for more time. I never have liked the idea of sleep...of being so vulnerable. After a while I would shout from my room. "Mom! There's something outside my window! It sucks in here!" After a few rounds of this, she would tell me to come out to the living room. I'd lay behind her legs...something my son does with me on our couch and it reminds me of her every time.

        After a while, when I had fallen asleep, she would try to put me to bed. I would never go. I would get up and go to the heater on the other side of the room and lay down and wait for the furnace to bang around and blow comfort into the room, sweeping past my face. I'd fall asleep soundly. I think I was scared of just about everything and I always felt lonely without her around. I was a mama's boy that didn't have the option of being a daddy's boy. It didn't matter, because she gave me everything I needed.

        My mom knew things about me that I didn't think she knew. Sometimes, she would see the sadness in me in the morning and instantly change the narrative. She would keep me home from school because she saw something off about me. A practice I still keep with my kids. She would let me have fun instead; or sometimes, just let me lay behind her legs and not be so lonely.

         Once, when I entered high school. I was going through a very difficult time being me. I didn't much like anything about me. I was having trouble with being a man that had never been taught how. I had gotten the confidence to ask a girl out. This was big for me because I always lost my nerve and lost the girl. I asked and she accepted. I was so excited and felt so strong. A few weeks later, she dumped me. I found myself wrecked. Not in some dramatic teenager way; but because I was tired of being rejected by people. I was laying on my bed, pretending to sleep when she came in. She put her hand on me and prayed for me. I don't care what other people think of prayer. What this meant to me was that she was trusting in God to repair me. She knew I was broken...because she was my mom.

        Nothing was ever easy for my mom raising us. We didn't have any money. We didn't have the most popular things. We had to move a lot and leave our friends. It hurt because a kid doesn't see anything beyond themselves, but I see it an adult that is trying to make a life for my kids and wife. My mom, like me suffered from depression. It was hard on all of us, just like my wife and kids suffer with me when the lights go out. I didn't understand it then. I definitely understand it now.


        We always had the very best Christmases. She somehow always got us what we wanted. Me and Jason would wake up at 5:30 AM and wait for her to stir. Once we heard a cough or a sniff, we would run out to the living room that was always decorated in tinsel and lights and wake her screaming. She would wake, make me drink some orange juice, because I was hypoglycemic, then smile as we opened our gifts. I never took my mom's gifts for granted. They meant a lot to me and I'm guessing took a lot from her to get.

        We would go through some tough times. I was a nightmare teenager. I was angry and sad and blamed everything on her. I was mad at her because a coward couldn't stay and find a way to be a dad. That's what teenagers do. Teenage boys blame their moms for their absent fathers. I found myself in my darkest place. The most awful place I had been in. She knew it. It may not have been the right avenue to take, but she tried to intervene again. It wasn't successful, but it is a part of me now; remembering that she cared when I thought no one else did.

        I write this today because my mom is going through a surgery. It's routine, but when I think about it I find my hands shaking. It makes me nervous to think that I may not have mentioned enough how very strong you are. Mom, I cannot envision another person going through what you had to go through...sacrificing what you had to sacrifice...while giving all of yourself to your kids. No one but you could do what you did. Thank you mom.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Another Year

        My thought for today? Do the things that improve you as a person. Stop doing the things that are at the very heart of your destruction. Our bodies are dying, but we can be so very much alive. I think that it takes us remembering the times that we were the most happy and content with ourselves to find who we really can be. Then we have to get to the bottom of why we were so happy. The answer to that question is the very thing you have to return to.

       It's not always that easy. I can point to times in my life I've been happier, but mostly because everyone was still IN my life. But what I can say about myself is that people get through things in the best ways that they can. People find a way to adapt and to find the light in their lives. I've done that too. I bury myself in my kids. I've always loved kids and have always admired their innocence. They don't have to deal with the stress that their mother and I have to. They get to be innocent for a very short time in their lives. Me and my wife give each other everything, and I think we both would agree that holding them is the greatest therapy.

        This is the time that I want them to remember me. I think about negative things and I project negative things. I think about them and my wife and how great my friends and family are, and I project who God is, both in my life and in the lives of others. There is significantly more value in one than the other. So I try to outweigh the bad they see in me to redeem their view of the world and the things that are constantly happening in it.

        Looking at everyone's pictures of their children returning to school a year older...and looking at my almost grown up kids reminds me that we get one short attempt at representing everything that is true and Godly and wonderful about being alive. One short try at it. I really...really don't want to fail. Both because I want them to be extraordinary human adults, and also because selfishly, I want them to remember me as one of their greatest heroes and influences.

I want them to see that my importance outweighed my mistakes. I hope I succeed.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Wherever You Go...

        I haven't had issues with anger since I was a young man. Everything began to fall into place and I was blessed with everything I ever wanted. I guess that makes it a lot easier to be a voice of reason to yourself. It's easy to be cool when no one or nothing is trying to hurt you. But if you add a lot of grief and harmful people harming you, things could start to change.

       So finding myself with such a short fuse and cynical attitude is a little new to me. It's familiar from a life I led that feels like a hundred years ago...but it's new to me now. It sits in the basement of your guts and silently rots you slowly. It goes unnoticed until you say something or think something about another person that alarms you. Then all of the sudden, you don't know who you even are anymore.

        A lot of people take the road of deleting social media and avoiding the things that they often get angered by. I'm not sure that makes a lot of sense to me. "Wherever you go...there you are" - Earnest from Earnest Goes to Camp. While I think it is wise to avoid senseless things that piss you off, like mainstream news and politics, I also think that we need to learn to find the love and good in the world around us. It won't help me to retreat. It will only help me to change the way I think. To look at the beauty that is beneath those storm clouds.

        I'm going to try and only say good things. I've found myself spewing negativity constantly and I don't like that at all. It taxes both myself and others around me. I'm definitely gonna mess up, so I'll ask you to help me by reminding me gently, that I only want good things to pass through my lips. It's not a denial of the bad. It's the refusal to add more bad to the world.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Where Am I Migrating?

        So in light of the news of this new podcast, that will feature original short stories written by myself and others, I will be changing what you see here on this blog. This won't change much for most of my readers, as most of you came here when my blog was personal and strictly autobiographical. You came here while I was on this grandiose mission to share my entire life with everyone. A lot of you got a front row seat to my meltdown. While I was thriving and broken but glowing, you got to see what happens when a person gets decimated.

        I posted it all here when Will died. I had to. For me it was a form of imperfect therapy and I needed to get it out. I wrote things here that I had not even told my wife because I was afraid of her reaction, and if I posted it here I couldn't take it back. I regret that. She shouldn't have learned things about me the same time as you did.

       I wrote so much and said so much that it hurt Will's family to read. I didn't think enough about them when I wrote those words. I saw the damage later. I tried to lay off for a while.

       But then Joe died. I had a lot to say about that. I didn't say much...only what was welling up inside of me. I needed to find a different avenue to express what was inside of me so that I wouldn't hurt those that meant more to me that anything. So I started writing short stories. I wanted to mask what was going on in me in fiction. I wrote a lot over that last couple of years. I think I probably alienated many of the people that came here to see inside of me. To them, I wasn't speaking anymore. To me, I was speaking more than I ever had. I was using symbolism and stories and exposing myself more than ever. I was singing.

        After a while my regular writings felt more like whining to me and I cut down on that. It was more of the same to me, so nothing became extraordinary and wasn't worth sharing. But maybe it was, and I got embarrassed.

        So I got this idea about this podcast. This is a way to spill my guts in both short story and music. I'll be working with Josh and bringing stories about everyday life, masked in extraordinary circumstances to you, while still spilling what's inside of me. We are excited about this venture and plan to release only what inspires us to share. Nothing more. Nothing less. We will be singing.

       What does this mean for this blog? It will go back to my thoughts. I'll try to come back to speaking without riddles and stories to express myself. I'm gonna be open and honest and tell you plainly. I'm a very different person than I was when I started this blog. Those of you that have been readers over the years know this already. I am both a better person and also worse. I have more turmoil and questions. Nothing is cut and dry or black and white with me anymore. I am more complicated. I may need you to help me with directions. I'm still singing and I'm still migrating.


Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, August 18, 2017

Great News!!!

        Exciting new things coming. Me and Josh, a brother to me, have begun work on a new podcast. The podcast will feature all original short stories and music, artistically designed for each story. The point of the podcast will be to attempt to stimulate thought and reflection in our listeners. We won't be covering politics or pop culture, We will only be interested in the imagination and the beauty of being alive. More info to come.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Here By My Side

        My bride has been out of state for a few days. I was thinking that first night when I came home and got into a very large empty bed, that we have spent so very few nights apart over the past 15+ years. It doesn't cross your mind until you realize you are lonely.

        Then when you get lonely and the house is silent and you can't hear your very heart breathing next to you, you start to remember how great they are. How great she is. There are a ton of things that I can never repay her for, and spilling these words onto the internet doesn't do it either: But I think the single greatest thing she has ever done for me, was sit in the silence with me when my brothers left us. I don't think I have ever felt so empty. I don't think I've ever hated a quiet room more. I've never stared off into siege for so long. She would sit next to me and rub the back of my head or just lay her head on my shoulder.

        She didn't even try to fix it. Most days, she didn't say anything at all. It wasn't something that could ever be fixed and I wasn't going to be fixed either. But there she sat with me in the shadow of death. A perfect picture that God used to describe the reason we don't need to fear. I have a really great person living this life with me...helping me raise three really great people. I'm very thankful for her, and them, and you, and the life God has blessed me with.

I'm going to try and remember these things every day, so I learn to never take them for granted.


Thanks for reading...Z