The Life Altering Hurricane of Love

It’s easy to dwell on problems and sorrows. It’s hard work to come up with solutions and find joy. A joyful attitude is inspiring and a great traveling companion through the heartaches and happiness on the dirt road of life. All of the problems I’ve ever had cannot conquer or overcome the one solution I’ve found.

Today’s sermon at zoom church through First Presbyterian of Carbondale was on the subject of love. I thoroughly enjoyed its message. If it were not for the life altering hurricane like force of love I would not by typing these words in this present moment. Love rearranged my life many years ago. A soul is better off not being fueled by hatred and bitterness. This is a lesson I learned the hard way.

Love and kindness are what we all need more of in our lives. To hell with pride and fighting. I fight the good fight against these foes. Love solves problems and heals the human heart. I could quote 1 Corinthians chapter 13 from my New Testament Bible, but one would be better off reading it for his or herself.

The one solution I’ve found for my problems is Christ. Following Jesus has saved me from so much and puts a new smile on my face every new day. Christ is greater than bipolar and anger and hate and thoughts of despair and self destruction. Christianity is a crazy story. Although a crazy story can also be a true story.

These are my Sunday afternoon thoughts on joy and love and a life of faith. A happy week ahead to all of you.

Show Up Happy

An old saying wisely states, “Showing up is half of life.” I try to show up when and where I’m wanted and needed. To be reliable is a good thing to be. Reliability matters in our work lives and our relationships with friends. If I fail to first show up where I’m needed then obviously I cannot complete the other half of that journey or day’s work.

Life isn’t all work and it isn’t all play. Although work can be fun and leisure time can feel like work at times. It’s fun to go on vacation, but it can seem like work to get to the destination. There’s work to be done at the office, but sometimes there’s donuts and fun joking around also. A secret to enjoying life to its utmost is to always seek to make the best of all situations with a smile added into the mix.

Writers can become discouraged with their writing routines because they feel like it’s becoming work instead of fun. In these moments the artist needs to remember that work can be fun and that their art is worth the time because of what it means to them and what it might mean to others. I aim to start showing up more often to my writer’s desk and comfortable chair.

Our stories are inside of us writers and I hope they don’t die there. Let’s not become discouraged with our writings or compare ourselves to those whom we believe to be finer artists. Let’s just show up! And then we can see what happens when we put in the work and the fun. If you have a new blog or story or poem idea don’t wait until tomorrow to get some words down. Today is the greatest day to begin.

Now I’m off to write a couple of pages on my latest short story because I’m trying to practice what I just preached. Happy writing to all of us!

Let’s Put on Some Fancy Hats

To feel appreciated is a truly wonderful feeling! I enjoy walking into a room and knowing that I have friends or friendly acquaintances present. Being a good friend is something I attempt to be great at. I did not have many friends during my shy childhood when my world was much smaller. As an adult I appreciate my friends and I always hope that our friendship lasts a lifetime.

On Monday I turned the age of 37 and my friends showed up for me in a major way. The Happy Birthday wishes were many and beautiful. The words Happy and Birthday go together like cake and ice cream. Some folks say that their birthday is no big deal or just another day. I say to hell with that nonsense and slice me another piece of cake! I hear one only turns 37 once.

May all of our days have wonder and beauty to them like my recent birthday. Look for the good stuff around you and you will surely discover it. Let’s not say it is just another boring day or a depressing Monday or a trying work day. Let’s make the utmost of all of our days.

Perhaps a reason friends showed such appreciation to me recently is because they know I truly appreciate them and their stories in my life’s story. If we want to have friends then we must first be friendly. Be a great friend to your friends.

Our birthday celebrations only come around once per year, but causes for rejoicing are every new day. Let’s put on some fancy hats and keep the party going. Cheers!

Read and Write On

Reading is my favorite hobby. Books have enriched my life in so many ways. A book can be similar to a map that leads one where she or he might like to travel. I read all sorts of stuff from graphic novels to novels to non-fiction memoirs and biographies to theology to young adult novels to the Holy Bible. I’ve been a lot of places from the comfort of my living room easy chair.

Words are powerful weapons. They can be used to divide or bring together. They can make you laugh or make you cry. They can be insults or words of praise. I weigh my words and attempt to use them wisely.

If it were not for the knowledge I’ve discovered through reading then I might not be typing these words tonight. Mental illness and melancholy were a couple of giants I fought against at a young age. I’m thankful for the right book at the right time and the life and joy that that book can bring forth.

Television is not a bad thing, but I think too much TV can distract us from better things. Smart phones are not a bad thing, but I think being addicted to them is detrimental to us. Reading a book takes more perseverance than many other pleasurable hobbies. That book isn’t over in an hour or two usually. Books make the reader pay attention if the reader is going to truly comprehend what they’re reading. Sometimes I struggle to pay attention. Novels and non-fiction help me out with this struggle.

Humanity can learn a lot from books and magazines and consistent reading. I’ve played the part of the fool in the past and way back then I did not have a love of reading. Reading is really more than a hobby for me. It is a thing I feel I have to do on a regular basis. I set a book reading goal on goodreads each new January and I often attain my goal by December 31st.

It’s commonly stated that in order to be a writer one must also be a reader. To this I encourage myself and all of us to read and write on.

A Mysterious Process that Hurts Like Heaven

Faith is mysterious. I grew up being taught about Christ and the Bible and not understanding any of it until I was seventeen years of age. The Christian faith will make a man out of a boy. As a teenager the Holy Bible taught me to take a difficult look at who I was becoming. I did not like what I saw in the mirror. I lost my smile once upon a sad time in my life; I smiled brighter than ever when I found it again.

It annoys me whenever preachers or so-called wise men speak as if a life of faith is simple or easy to live. Jesus himself described throughout the gospels a narrow and difficult path that was the equivalent of following him. It was hard for me to decide to follow Jesus. The process of being born again hurt like heaven.

Easter is coming around again on Sunday. Do the carpenter’s hands still have holes in them? This is up to the individual to decide. I’ve never been a pastor. I’ve attempted to live the life of a wise man. It took me from age seventeen to age thirty-three to complete the reading of the entire Bible. I didn’t hurry through the wilderness of the Old Testament. Honestly, parts of the Bible I don’t much care for at all. Yet I believe the carpenter’s hands still have holes in them.

Life is mysterious. I’ve learned much from books other than the Bible and I’ve learned a fascinating deal about life from others other than Christ. Against all odds, I am a Christian. I’ve fought against anger issues and low self esteem and mental illness in my lifetime. Melancholy is a foe of gigantic stature and I hope to never meet this Goliath again. I’ll have my slingshot and stones ready in case I do.

Embrace your life and its mystery if you believe in Jesus or do not believe.

Ideas for Free

Where do writers get their ideas? I recall a friend from church inquiring about this once when she heard that I liked to write. I was much younger in those days and I don’t believe I articulated an answer to the question because I did not know the correct response myself. At the age of almost 37 I think I’m closer to knowing the answer for myself and my scribblings.

Do you pay attention to the story of your life? A little wandering and wondering is good for the soul. Sometimes, however, it’s best to drown out the excess noise and truly focus on what is going on in our worlds. I try to pay attention to the small and large stuff in my life and to do a better job at being me with each new opportunity commonly called today.

I’ve written fiction stories before and realized years later how the story paralleled my own life happenings. At the time of creating the fiction I did not see or realize it at all. Many months later it became clear in my imagination that my imagination was influenced by non-fiction of my personal life story. In Creative Writing 101 it’s taught that one should write what they know. Although beginning writers might not realize how much they already comprehend and know.

Now the question remains. Where does the author get their ideas? The author attains ideas for fiction and non-fiction from anywhere and everywhere. Authors ideas come from the entertainments, heartaches, good experiences, bad choices, best choices, wisdom, folly, time and perseverance commonly referred to as life itself. My life writes its own words. The important step for me to take if I am to be a writer is to sit down, listen, and put in the time and work.

Writing isn’t always easy but it’s always rewarding. If we want to learn more about ourselves and how much we really know about our universes we should put the pen to the paper or our fingers to the computer keys.

Ideas are all around us. Let’s pay attention and tell some stories.

A Polaroid Picture Worthy Day

Celebrations are good and good for us! My family practices the habit of keeping the party going for holidays and birthdays. I believe in celebrating all new days gifted. Each new day I aim to be better than the day before and have the new greatest day of my life. For me this is the best way to plot my days.

What was one of the happiest days in your life’s story? Has there been a wonderful moment that you recall often with fondness and joy? Or is there one Christmas that topped all of the others? One of my favorite birthdays was when I turned 23 because a friend had my stories published as a surprise present and also because I realized how truly young I was.

Let us celebrate for the applause of angels or the best of friends! The sorrow in our lives will have its say, but I am convinced it won’t get the last laugh or torment. Let’s do the stuff that we love and say pessimism and despair be damned! Dance to the beat of the drummer you find most preferable.

Today was a fun day for my family and I. My mother had a birthday today. There was cake and games and a wonderful dinner and drinks. Mom was happy and so were the rest of us. Today was Polaroid picture worthy.

Happy birthday, Mom!

Love and Old Shirts

To Write Love On Her Arms is a charity I’ve long admired. This charity helps raise awareness for those dealing with depression, addiction, self injury and suicide. I bought one of their shirts at the Vans Warped Tour concert back in 2010 outside of St. Louis. An interesting story is that I still own the shirt and I’m actually wearing it as I type this blog post.

I’m thinking of getting another one of their shirts soon. What a great idea it is to shower people with love who feel hopeless and helpless! To write love instead of despair and destruction is quite wonderful. I’d go so far as to call it beautiful.

We can all write love in each other’s stories by being kind and considerate. We can choose our words wisely and our actions with wisdom as well. I believe lives are sometimes saved and the one who helped never knows or realizes that they had any impact at all in the situation. When we choose to write love there’s no room for hate.

One time when I was wearing my shirt a stranger commented on how cool it is that I was wearing it and supporting the charity. This man told me that I was only the second man he’d ever seen wearing a TWLOHA shirt. He remarked it was often young women and girls who he’d seen wearing the shirts and supporting the movement of love.

As a man with manic depression I know wholeheartedly that depression is real. And I know the tremendously positive impact that love has played in my life’s story. Let’s love one another the best we can.

A Hard Road to Travel

For many years I have sought after light. I need light to guide and to save me. I need it to chase away the darkness. Light is necessary for love to enter my soul. I’ve read both of the testaments the Holy Bible has to offer. There’s much talk of darkness and light contained in its pages. The struggle for me to behave and become a child of the light has been an epic battle.

When I think of heaven I imagine a country of light where all my sins and all of my sorrows are no more. I imagine no more bipolar disorder and no more mistakes that are deadly to my heart and soul. It can be difficult to travel the Christian’s path. A great hope of mine is that I am heading in the right direction.

What are some aspects of life that defy the darkness? When you are kind to another human being without any selfish agenda then you’re defying darkness. Living with humility is doing the same. When we love we are on the side of light instead of the dark. And when I sin and seek forgiveness perhaps more light may enter in. 

Let’s not be victims of our own selfishness. Humanity knows right from wrong instinctively. Eyes for eyes and wrongs for wrongs lead us down dead end roads. Christ taught about a narrow road and gate that I seek to walk and enter in at daily. It isn’t always easy to be a child of the light and follow Jesus. 

I’ll always have the heart of a seeker.

Sentimental Souls

I enjoy collecting items of value as I travel through life. Stuff that is significant becomes my treasured possessions. Other stuff, that many would view as insignificant, is also treasured. I know that I’m a sentimental soul because I’ve always been a saver and an individual that wants the good stuff life has to offer to last as long as possible. Sometimes it’s easy to be sentimental and other times it’s tough.

I treasure memories and Polaroids and friendships and CD’s and vinyl records and laughter and smiles and great times and good times and the people in my life that keep on showing up for me. When I lose a friendship it hurts my sentimental soul hard. When I gain a friendship I rejoice wholeheartedly. As a man with bipolar I believe I feel things differently sometimes than those without manic depression. Bipolar can make my emotions a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I always want the good stuff to last forever, but life doesn’t work that way.

Loss is a part of life. This part of life is extra hard on sentimental souls. I care deeply about those I love and those who in return love me. Something I have to do is focus on the good and great times while knowing deep down that these times are the theme songs to the soundtrack of the movie that is my life. The sad songs are also part of my story, but these sorrowful tunes are not the greatest hits collection. The happy and joyful stuff equals the amazing and great songs.

Even though it can be difficult to be a sentimental soul I wouldn’t trade my personality or worldview for anything. I like who I am and who I’ve become and who I am continuing to become. I might feel sorrow and pain deeply but I also laugh louder than anyone else in the room. I hope to keep laughing frequently for all time.

I hope you choose to laugh with me.