Four Paragraphs on Love

There’s the old statement about actions speaking louder than words. Now I’m about to use some words to discuss how I find that statement to be true. Love in action is greater than someone saying they love me and then proving their self to be a liar via their treatment of me. It’s best when love links hands with action and words for a double dose of goodness. That isn’t the way people, or life, always work though.

High emotions are not all they’re made up to be. One of my favorite musical groups put out an album around 13 years ago titled “I and Love and You” and the title track is eloquent. This group is The Avett Brothers. As much as that title song I enjoy the explanation behind the song that’s written in the CD booklet. There’s a long paragraph about how the statement of “I love you” can mean so much or so little depending on the deliverer of the statement and their intent with those three words. The three words can be used with authenticity. The three words can be used as a tool for manipulation. The three words can be merely flattery. The three words can be sincere. The three words can be a lie. As the band sings in their song “Three words that became hard to say…”

I sincerely hope my life’s story shouts love. I hope it shouts it from the highest (insert your favorite cuss word here) rooftops. I can be introverted and I can be quiet, but I cannot go around with hate or malice in my soul. It isn’t necessary for us to tell all of our friends that we love them all of the time. What is necessary is to keep showing up for them and showing that we care. Love is the reason I’ve made it this far in life. If I don’t share the sort of love I’ve experienced then I’m doing my life wrong. Life is too short to be fueled by negative emotions and hatred. There’s no future or progress with division and meanness. I hope your life’s story shouts love.

This is only a short blog with a few paragraphs but what I’m writing is from the heart. Let’s aspire to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our world needs more of that sort of thing. If you want to change the world it starts with you; if I want to change the world then it begins with me. Love is a powerful force for good! May our actions and words unite.

Happy Father’s Day to a One-Of-A-Kind Dad

Here it is Father’s Day once again. It’s time to break out the World’s Greatest Dad shirts. The Number 1 Dad cards will be passed out with love. Meals will be shared and photographs will be taken. Favorite family memories will be told around the living room and kitchen table. It is a day of rejoicing for those who are close with our fathers.

My dad is one of the only people I can always count on to respond to my text messages and to always be there for me in general. He is quite the dedicated writer and photographer. I believe I get some aspects of my sense of humor from him. We both love a fine hat. We like to go to the movies. Travel brings us great joy. We each have an outstanding record collection. Small collectibles and action figures and general knickknacks make us happy. We are two-of-a-kind while maintaining our individual personalities. Dad is really one-of-a-kind. Unique people are to be celebrated and treasured. Jay Brooks is unique.

Happy Father’s Day to my father! It will be a sunny and joyful day! I thank him for always being there for me and the family. He’s got a pop-up card waiting on him and he’s already received his gifts for this year. Now it’ll be on and out for a wonderful meal and new adventures.

If you have a wonderful father make certain to make their day today special. If you had a wonderful father that you’ve lost then I hope today takes it easy on you and that you recall happy memories of them. Let’s celebrate the fathers today!

Happy Father’s Day to all and to all a good day!

The Secret Ticket

Manic depression can be one hell of a bad time. The old label is manic-depressive illness and the new label is bipolar. I’ve wondered before what exactly my life might’ve looked like if I had not been born with manic depression. Would I have been nonstop happy without hardly a care in the world? Would I have failed to understand pessimism and sad people? Would I have thought that mental illness could be snapped out of by simply choosing to cheer up? Imagination is all I have when it comes to how my life and personality would’ve turned out if I’d not been born with a lousy disease of the mind.

Mental illness need not destroy those of us that deal with it. The individual with depression or manic depression has the right to a joyful life as much as anybody else under the sun. Undiagnosed manic depression was a whole universe of trouble for me growing up. It was but a season in my life’s story and I’m glad it’s passed. I’m ecstatic to report I chose a life of gladness when I was 18 years young. The ancient Carpenter I’ve read about in the New Testament of that controversial book of books has been kind to me. My faith found and healed me and I found the faith before I found out that I was dealing with mental illness.

At 19 years old is when I discovered that I had manic depression. Early on I was told of how treatable it is with medicine. I knew I’d be on medicine for the rest of my days and I was grateful that good medicine existed. Hope is not the same thing as medicine, yet I believe in and practice the use of both. Throughout the years since 2004 I’ve never once gone off my medicines for manic depression.

I’m thankful I was born with an obstacle like mental illness. This obstacle has caused me to see the world around me differently than I believe I would have without it. It’s helped me to have the moxie or courage to be myself no matter what crowd I’m currently in. If manic depression were a card in a deck of playing cards I’d liken it to the Joker. It doesn’t really belong in the deck, but there it is anyway.

I don’t write or speak about mental illness as often as I used to. Yet I wanted to write this blog as an encouragement to state that anyone can overcome anything. I’m one of the happiest people in the history of happy people. Hope and faith and love and joy are theme songs to the soundtrack of my everyday life. Manic depression is what one makes of it. Yes, it can be one hell of a bad time. It also can be the secret ticket to living a beautiful life. The choice was mine to make long ago and I chose beauty. If life itself or mental health issues or whatever negative deal are weighing you down currently then it’s never too late to start over on a better path.

Go Have Some Fun Today

The individual that has hobbies has no time for boredom. There is always something to create or watch or listen to or read or somewhere to travel or somebody to photograph or perhaps a friend to meet for an adult beverage. Sometimes people get to the age of retirement and yet they keep on working. Where are their hobbies or favorite pastimes? Did they become so in love with the workplace that they forgot the joy of free time? I’m in love with life’s joys and I have zero time for boredom.

A favorite pastime of mine is the reading of books. I set a numbered goal each new January and I often meet my book goal or exceed it be a few reads. Literature is one of the most beautiful creations I’ve found. I didn’t read for fun until I was around 18 or 19 years of age. Once I got in the habit of enjoying one book after another I never lost my zest for reading. An imagination is a sad thing to not make the most of in one’s life. Books stretch the imagination and grow the soul of the reader.

Another of my favorite hobbies is listening to music. I started a vinyl record collection at the close of 2015 when I received a Crosley 5 in 1 entertainment center as a Christmas gift. Over 100 records later and I still spin them regularly. Music is soothing to me and brings a tremendous amount of happiness and joy. Before I owned records I bought CDs. To this present day I still purchase old cassette tapes. If you like music like I do then let’s continue to let them spin.

I loved video games as a boy. In recent years I’ve decided to start playing them again from time to time. A month or so ago I hooked up my Nintendo 64 that had been put away for at least 15 years. The old console from 1996 worked flawlessly! I’ve been playing Mario 64 again and other fun games. For the longest time I gave up on video games because I thought I was too busy with books. Now I realize I definitely enjoy both hobbies and I certainly have the spare time for each of them.

I hope you have favorite pastimes also. Let’s vigorously pursue doing the stuff that we love! Settling for boredom or non-stop work, in my opinion, isn’t the best way to journey through our life stories. Happy Monday! Go have some fun today!

A Story About Karaoke and Stories

A wonderful aspect of writing is that there are limitless possibilities concerning subject matter. When it comes to crafting fiction there are no wrong answers. With non-fiction the choices of what one might write about are as far as their knowledge of the world stretches. Perhaps writer’s block is more of a myth than a fact. If one starts writing then one thought will lead to another. Sentence after sentence after sentence begins forming. Pretty soon there’s a paragraph that didn’t exist before and then not long afterwards there’s a whole new blog or poem or story. Hooray for the demise of writer’s block!

Why is it that we humans often study the science of selling ourselves short? What type of silly science experiment is that anyway? I did a thing recently that was difficult for me due to stage fright. I’ve never been a musician or a singer of songs. Yet I braved the bar stage and did karaoke a few weeks ago. I was out with a friend and she had sang several songs. If I got up and sang a song I knew she would be proud of me and that I would also be proud after it was over. So I sang “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys.

The bravery of the moment felt outstanding afterwards. Later that evening I posted about this feat on my Facebook page and received around two hundred Likes. Friends commented also. I wrote something about how karaoke is the introvert’s worst nightmare and how I did not regret my decision to take to the karaoke stage. People connected with that notion. Karaoke on a Tuesday was worth ignoring stage fright.

Let’s not sell ourselves short or hold back from doing things we love or want to do due to fear of the stage or fear of rejection or fear of not being good enough at our artistic endeavors. We need not forget that when it comes to writing fiction in a way there aren’t any wrong answers. Some folks will love the story and others will find it okay and yet others might just think it sucked. Those who thought it a bad story are not our audience or fans and their lack of approval can be dismissed immediately. They probably won’t ever read another of our stories. Why ought we feel bad about their negative response to our art?

Take the karaoke stage and grab the microphone to sing out loud like everyone and no one is listening!

The Beauty of the Eraser

A friend of mine recently enquired about whether or not I had ever made a bucket list. Now I have seen a good movie titled “The Bucket List” but I’ve never so much made a serious list for myself of things to do before I leave this earth behind. The reply I had for my friend a week ago explained that much of what I’ve wanted to accomplish in my life has already happened for me or is currently taking place. Contentment is a gift and I am content most of the time.

Do you have a bucket list? If so would your list only be upstairs in your own mind or did you take the effort to put pencil to paper and jot it down? A lot of my life’s dreams have come true and I feel pretty good about the dreams that have yet to become reality. Honestly, I’m at the age where I realize that whether the unrealized dreams come true or not I’ll still keep on smiling and loving life.

The main hope and dream I had as a youth was to become a happy person. I didn’t want just a small dose of joy or happiness half of the time. No, I desired to be ridiculously joyful and astoundingly happy. Undiagnosed manic depression back then was hindering me from my dream of an incredibly happy life. My dream found me whenever I found my faith in Christ at age 18. Twenty years of joy and wonderful times and great friendships and unlimited smiling has been my story that’s written each new day. I share this happiness and joy with others and I feel like it makes the world a better place in a small way.

I truly doubt I’ll ever jot down a bucket list with pencil and paper. Although if I do make that list, it will be crafted in pencil instead of pen because not all dreams come true and not all plans become accomplished. The pencil in a way is mightier than the pen because it comes with its own remedy for error commonly known as the eraser. Let’s never underestimate the beauty of an eraser when it comes to life goals.

A bucket list that truly gets accomplished or completed is probably merely the stuff of movies and novels. Although it could be great fun to write one out and aspire to cross out all the fun ideas one by one on our journeys. Let’s not be unkind to ourselves though if things don’t go as planned. Life goals rarely go as planned. But I think the surprises and mysteries of life help make for better stories. My bucket list and plan for the rest of my life are to keep on living joyfully.

Five Star Friends

Friends should be appreciated. I aspire to always treat my friends with kindness while letting them know that they are dear to me. Let’s not take our fellow humanity for granted or treat them poorly. Kindness is key to making and keeping friendships. Friendly kindness can be underrated in American culture.

It’s good to always end our interactions with each other on a positive level. We might not ever cross paths again in this world. Let’s celebrate one another and keep joy and positivity overflowing. We never know when we might lose a friend to death or the friend might decide they want out of the friendship.

Appreciate those you care about and love while there’s still time. Friends move away to never return. Friends start families of their own and don’t have as much time for us as they used to have. Friends pass away unexpectedly. I’m a sentimental soul and I aim to never take a moment for granted. When the moments of our lives pass then they become memories. Memories turn to stories. Stories can be happy or sad. I don’t live for the sad stories. No, the happy stories are what keep me going strong. An abundance of happy stories is five star stuff on the five star scale.

Be a good friend and you will lose few friends while gaining many. It’s not always easy or simple to go an extra mile to be a quality friend. Although I believe it’s way worth the difficult journey.

If you’re reading this and you consider me your friend, I offer you my thanks. Thank you for enriching my life’s story and journeying with me through the beauty and ugly of life.

Congratulations Class of 2022

Today was graduation day for the students of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I’m happy for them! Graduating from college is a tremendous accomplishment. 2008 was a good year for me and also the year I graduated from SIUC. I began working full-time for my beloved university in 2009. One could say that college has been kind to me.

Although today isn’t about me or the year of 2008. It’s about those that graduated in the year of 2022. I wish you all the best now and always! I hope your ceremonies were quick and that your parties keep going. I hope you look back on your college days with joy. I hope the friends you made while in school stay friends throughout the years. If I know you, I sincerely hope we stay in touch. Cheers to the class of 2022!

Throw those hats high to the sky! Congratulations! Keep your heads held high!

It’s an easier task to start college than it is to finish. I’ve always been proud of attaining my degree in English (Creative Writing). It was truly difficult at times for me to work toward my goal of earning a degree. Even at age 38, I still consider it one of my finest achievements.

I’m proud of the SIUC class of 2022. Congratulations and come back to visit Carbondale from time to time. I’ll be glad to see you.

A Plethora of Kind People

Peacemaking is an undervalued virtue. To be at peace with one’s self and to give peacefulness away isn’t always so easily accomplished. As a boy I dealt with issues of an ill temper. I overcame the problem at a young age. It wasn’t easy to fight the good fight to become a better version of myself. Faith helped me out tremendously in my struggle. Christ treats me better than anger ever did.

Life is far too fleeting to be ticked off all of the time. I prefer laughter to tears. I choose peace over quarrel. I like being happy ever since I rediscovered the prize of joy that came naturally to me as a small child. If we desire to be peacemakers in our troubled world then we must first choose to be at peace with ourselves. If we’re upset about the plethora of jerks in the world then perhaps we should become dedicated to being kind instead. Kindness practiced, whether reciprocated or not, is truly its own reward.

Jesus taught that peacemakers are blessed. I don’t believe this blessing has much of anything to do with fame or money or power. No, I think it deals more with the blessedness of a quiet, inner calm that benefits ourselves and those around us. The older I become I more fully believe that the life of quiet faith is greater than the life of loud, or boisterous faith. At times I’ve felt like everything except for blessed. Although I know that a peaceful demeanor is the appropriate way to behave.

Peace is good for us and our neighbors in our stories. Virtues are worthy of pursuit. I aim to be better always than I’ve been in my past. Better behavior has placed a smile and continues to place a smile on my face. Let’s aim for the good stuff under the sun! Peace and kindness and laughter and joy will never go out of style. I aim to value the values that I know make our world a greater place to live for all of humanity.

Keep Creating

Why does one write? Does the author write only for their self or are they writing for their readers? How constructive is the audience’s constructive criticism? Is it easier to simply give up on writing than it is to keep placing pen to paper? I write with the hope of being read. I write to please the reader and myself. I’ve never cared for criticism too much and I don’t deal well when it happens. I’ll keep putting the pen to the page.

I believe the purpose of writing or creating anything at all is for joy. To bring joy to others and to one’s self is a serious occupation. If I was going to give up on my writing then I would have done so early on in my early twenties. Giving up was no sort of real option back then and it isn’t today either. A life of joy is the only life for me!

What about when the sorrows happen? Criticism can harm and hurt and cause us to believe the lie that we suck at our artistic endeavors and we aren’t ever going to get much better. To hell with criticism and all of the negative noise. I’ve written stories and poems before that I didn’t think were too good, but at that age and time I was doing the best I could. The sorrows that accompany rejection letters can get tossed out with last week’s leftover lasagna for all I care. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and start crafting my next story anyway.

I write because I have the ability to create happy blog posts and stories and our world needs more happiness and joy. I write because I like it. I write because words are powerful stuff. I write because maybe what I’m saying needs to be said and no one else can say it exactly like I can say it. I write so my soul can be closer to being whole. I write for you and for me, my friend.

Keep on creating!