Sunday, December 27, 2015

Expectation versus Reality Round One

Close your eyes. Picture what you love the most. Picture the perfect day, the perfect holiday, the perfect moment.
No lines, no waiting, no arguments, all assumptions accurate, no unforseen hang ups. Expectation whispers in our dreams of true and perfect love. Someone who devotes themselves to us and heals us while we meet their expectations effortlessly to beautiful theme music and birdsong. Not tires or garbage strewn through nature like cheap trashy clothes.
Reality, we are imperfect. We bear scars and wounds, opinions and assumptions which can be hard to bear let alone unleash in a partner's life. Some days I wake up with expectations for the day only to have a migraine shred them, weather suddenly decide that flooding had to happen on a day when hiking plans were in place.
Holidays really have a way of brining out the worst. Expectation has its hopes dashed. It cuts into our hearts, tears with a vengeance crying for justice. Justice. Just is, would be the apt reply from reason. My dear friend Bruce would smile and say "It just is." I shared conversation with a fellow this evening that was hurt, his family made it clear they patronized his input and tuned him out. He was wonderful. His family was wonderful. Their expectations were injurious to each other. I got them all laughing and you could practically see time and reason working bandages around the injuries left by expectation.
Expectation doesn't care. It doesn't reason. It's like a two year old leaving messes everywhere, loudly demanding, with a need to hear its pain echo.
Sitting on a plane headed to Dallas I am reminded of the vast difference between expectation and reality.  I anticapted the potential for horrendous weather in Pittsburgh, Columbus, and especially Detroit this week. Irony: their weather is anticipated to be temperate. Dallas on the other hand is wracked by storms. Last night people died from tornados going through the area.
New Year's will not exist for me. I will be on a plane crossing time zones. It will be something that passes without notice or recognition like a morning jogger with headphones running on a misty forest trail. It's just another moment, part of any day. It feels odd to know that I will not experience a specific second in my life, although hundreds pass by at night while I sleep. I wonder if seconds ever have expectations, if their feelings get hurt because we favor the seconds we spend with those we love.
Two voices edit thoughts and feelings within me. One uses expectations. The other uses logic and observations. I usually think the logical side is colder but during the holidays I realize what a true bastard expectations are, always hiding behind ideals and shining a light to accent the disparity between what is and what we dream of.
It's up to us. Recognize expectations, where they are healthy and harmful. It is up to us to find ways to achieve our dreams. Fly.
Sometime next year I will pick a random second to make special. It will be my New Year's second. I'm going to save it for a special occasion, it may choose it's own moment to shine. It will be more interesting than starting the year with it gone.
It's round one in the match. That's what logic says. Expectation is dreaming up a stage and a story. I'm shaking my head trying to convince these foes that they could work together to create instead of frustrate. One day perhaps they'll come to terms.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Circumstance Sets The Stage

"You had to be there." Situations play back and we have the time and clarity to evaluate.

Circumstance sets The stage. A perfect sunset makes a Welcome sign into breathtaking artwork.
Not all stages are set for good works.
Food cooling in containers where water splashed from vigorous dishwashing easily, quietly lands to add to the refried beans. A flour covered mouse leisurely walks out of a bag of flour. It looked at me, head cocked and questioning. Was I there to put down another block of poison for it to ignore? Bad set. Bad stage. Bad performance. Reasons?
Too tired, too little money. A thousand excuses do not take mouse turds out of flour.
Appearances. Priority being the look of the meal rather than the content.

It's one example.

Holiday time, people slack off at work as visions of candy canes and lightsabers dance in their heads. I did a gig yesterday where a receptionist never made eye contact and spoke in monosyllables. The person I evaluated rushed through the meeting, handing me everything we should have done there during our meeting as a jumble of papers to look over later.
Rush. Wait. Pay extra for quality. Evaluator at the door? Time for excuses. Medical. Exhaustion. Underpaid. Understaffed. Inept.
The first scenario was blamed on an individual with a food handlers card by a business owner who repeatedly blamed being tired and overworked while drinking alcoholic beverages for everything from why workers quit to not throwing out bad food.
I told her what I would tell anyone. Your business is your livelihood. It has to be your priority. Attend to your health, your loved ones. Identify and address your excuses or state at the quizzical mouse and watch your excuses fail to vanish him. In fact, watch him referee football games with the cockroaches after the sun sets. Excuses won't make things right. Excuses stink.
If you're using them all the time, why?
Picture yourself standing there with me, meeting the eyes of that flour coated rodent.
What would motivate you to change?

I gave the matter thought.
Not having someone enable excuses. In the long run an enabler only delays the inevitable.
Prioritizing and addressing real concerns. Is social media on your phone a real concern or just a way to argue opinions?
Setting goals. What are the steps to improvement? Basics before details.
Communication. Develop communication that isn't resentment or guilt based. Are you listening?
Expectation versus reality. If you leave chicken sit out too long it will go bad. No amount of cooking will make it good again.

I'm getting ready for another trip next week. More observations, character acting, and performance reviews.

One could say that I've made a list, checked it twice, will see how attentive staff are working in between two major holidays. I'm hoping they exceed expectations. I'm hoping as I travel I see people being kind, considerate, and smiling.

Circumstance has set the stage. I stepped out of a bad play, to step forward again.
I learned to cook excellent Mexican food. I made some friends. I left the restaurant to focus on the gigs I love, bouncing across the country with mini-life stories that ever change and allow me to observe and evaluate others work.

It's a sad commentary on our society that there has to be secret evaluation to verify workplace performance standards.

Last night I found a gift. A painted stone. "Believe". I believe we are more, can all be more and can achieve more. I believe in us. I believe we can make better choices and better tomorrows. Someday perhaps we will not need evaluators quietly observing our work, perhaps circumstances will change.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Be Your Own Savior

There are many things I would love to write about. I don't always have the right to choose to share them. Many issues I face or help others address are not the kind of issues I can share.

A few weeks ago I got a Craigslist follow up call, I was amused thinking it was for a foot modeling gig for private parties. Would my feet measure up? Would they be the Foot Fetishist Dream? Would  I be able to act like I cared?

Instead it was an interest meeting for brokering. It was eye opening. Company has an excellent reputation and is focused on helping people plan for retirement and set up benefits into plans that accrue interest in a consistent manner without risk of giant, catastrophic loss. Talking with Sammy about the company, income potential, and what brings people into working as brokers we covered heavy topics.

Several of the guys left college admissions. It was about getting people to choose to take on debt with high risk and minimal value. They left. They left high level management positions.  Sammy looked at me, asked why I would consider becoming part of their team. It was obvious I was not profit driven. I was the wild card in the room, great socialization skills but little concern for money.

I thought about it. I would do it to help others. I would do it to be able to fund projects and work that I believe in. I would mostly give it away.

I think about that and look around. I see a world full of people caught up in their own worlds. I spend a lot of time thinking of what I can do or say to help them step out of the metaphorical cave and into the light. Donald Trump has taught me one thing of merit. He's taught me that people aren't choosing to be as progressive as they could be. Many are choosing old and unhealthy behaviors and indulgence. It's easy to complain and rip apart Those People, when you are not one of them and you're sitting comfortably surrounded by amenities.

Some days I wonder if we need reminders of mortality and disaster to shake people into caring for each other. Other days I wish I didn't know it to be true.

Why choose selfishness? The dis-ease and unrest in our society comes from our selfishness and insecurities. Fear of jealousy, fear of change, fear of competition, fear of commitment, fear of pain or discomfort, fear that others will know our weaknesses, fear of social reprisal or ridicule. I deserve. I want. I should have. Rationalizing why it's okay just because you don't have to see the person who's picking up the tab for your excess. Record profits are great when you don't have to stare the family struggling to pay their bills signing up for assistance because the parents wages are set low to keep profits high.

We like sports. Teams to cheer for. Shit talk to dish out. Grudges and posturing to do. Its the same with religions, politics, and social status. I don't buy into it. I save my money and time for the quiet desperation I see in others faces. I save it to help them help themselves. I give them the tools when I can so they can be their own Saviors. I quietly offer them the idea that their lives are up to them, their choices are not society's to make. There are no rules they need to live by if they are willing to accept the consequences of their actions. With this knowledge comes freedom. You can drive a hundred miles an hour if you are willing to pay the price and potentially lose your life. You can also choose to start a business to empower people to help each other and to offer them tools to save themselves.

Sammy offered me the tools to be my own Savior potentially. It is in my hands whether I slide into old excuses or whether I progress around walls that have blocked me in the past. I am the enemy I face off against.

Danny says to me "You have to learn to put yourself first." It hurts to see people choosing hate, aggression, ignorance. It hurts.

What would make you happy? What do you want?
Tough questions. I want freedom. I want to keep moving, traveling, and growing. I want to see other people choosing the same. I want to see us start fighting a war against corruption, greed and corporate control. Society disappoints. It snags our focus with outraging soundbites and quotes. It seduces us with the illusion of awareness as actual change. It manipulates us through plausible arguments. It entices us with money.

Work harder. It is the only way to get to your true god. Money. Show me one church in this world that isn't operating with money. One that gives away every dime it gets. One that doesn't care if it even gets a single dime. Wait, there is one. It's the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Alright, other than an Atheist Church, any?

The more money you make, the quicker it's gone and the more personalities shift to keep it away from everyone else unless it's done in a way that makes it come back. Tax write offs are often mistaken as generosity.

And those people that own the governments and political machines, do you think they work harder?
Many were ruthless in business, earning their money from taking advantage of other people or destroying other people. They aren't working hard. They aren't working at much other than to keep the ridiculous excess they have. They spend a lot of money to convince you to go into debt or to work harder for them. They pay the politicians on  both sides just to give you sport to cheer for and rail against.

You change the world so much through social media gripes that nothing changes. You give away all of your privacy. Your desires, dislikes, all up for grabs. They are being analyzed to use for company profits. Not for your ease or benefit. That is not what capitalism or corporatism is about.

 Perhaps more people need to learn to put society first.
In a world where we value each other as much as ourselves, we would choose to take the time to settle differences. We would attend to each other's well being without worry of cost. We would share knowledge and resources as needed.

It is not a perfect world. Our society was shaped by cutthroat profiteers. We allow red collar criminals to make fortunes as we kill each other in wars that are really about money so they can be richer.

That money could be providing for everyone. Instead it is gouging our world, ripping it apart.

I can't change anyone but myself. I realize there is nowhere in this world that I can save myself from encountering greed, bullying, apathy, and shallow preoccupations except within my own heart.

I tell you. Be your own Savior.
It is up to you to choose what sort of human you are. Religions have tried for hundreds of years to keep people from choosing to destroy each other or to justify the destruction of others. Time to change unhealthy patterns. Support religious groups and leaders who live as they teach, who encourage healthy behaviors and tolerance instead of bigotry and violence.

Don't tell me you follow an amazing spiritual advisor who tells you to give away while they live in a mansion and swim in millions. That is not feeding the poor. That is not helping the needy. That is not using their resources for positive change. It's called profiteering.
Remember. In one hundred years, no one will really remember you at all. Do you remember the names of your ancestors, their stories?

What sort of life do you choose to live? What excuses are you using to keep following a path of powerlessness?

There's a phrase I love. Pick your own battles. A better one. Pick your own peace. Make your own peace.

There are many stories I cannot share. They are an ocean I swim with undertow I cannot describe but feel pulling at me relentlessly. I let go. I do what I can do. I offer what I can. I let go to survive.

You can waste a lifetime vomiting pointless opinion on social feeds. You can choose to spend that time changing your path. Your choice. Are you a hamster or a human? The wheel is waiting but so is the world.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

We are all Those People to Someone

Beliefs are clashing. Fear and outrage are the new American high. Who to blame? Who to hate? What's the group of the week?
Before the words "you people" or "they all" or "those people" come out of your mouth, remember absolute statements are dangerous. Absolute statements about groups of people close minds and close eyes, they are used to influence our behavior. It's okay to do morally reprehensible things to people we can mentally justify as beneath moral consideration. When we do this we forget, we are the "you, they, and those people" to someone else.
I don't want someone's arbitrary group bias to negatively impact me, I don't want to negatively impact someone else because I'm mistaking a human being for a stereotype that could be devastatingly wrong.
Consider, to children who have had family who were non-military die in bombings, people working in sweat shops to make the clothes we're wearing, migrant workers fighting cancer from the pesticide additives to GMO crops: the insincere, soft, ignorant, judgemental, greedy 'Muricans are all of us. You are thinking, but I am not, I do not, that's not accurate! You're probably right, but it's what others might perceive. Nobody is perfect. If I throw stones I will throw stones at myself, throwing them at anyone else isn't justified. 

Blanket hatred for ethnic groups needs to be an embarrassing human flaw of the past. We need to teach awareness, tolerance, and approach things we fear with common sense, cool heads and compassion.

Black lives matter. Native lives matter. There is white privilege, but not every white is privileged. I read justifications for blanket prejudice from individual experiences, inflammatory and derogatory actions and words with zero tolerance for other people's experiences, common sense, reason, or respect.

Society is acting like an entitled child having a temper tantrum and lashing out because "they". Religion, political beliefs, cultural beliefs are all justifications for anything: we can use them for acts of beauty and kindness. Instead of building one nuclear weapon we could provide food and stability to an unstable country.

 Food, clothing, shelter, and compassion will always have a greater impact on improving the world than any weapon. Why are we still feeding a perpetuating cycle of hate and violence? Time to grow. Time to let go of outrage and resentment. The future grows when we quit poisoning ourselves on hatred we excuse because of our perception of the past.

 Everyone has ancestors who were assholes. They survived. We learn from their mistakes. Let's not emulate them.

A small percentage of people have the wealth, legislation, and media at their finger tips. It's up to you if you choose to become a puppet to rhetoric, whether it's Islamic, Christian, or Pro-life. Terrorism is killing for beliefs. It's time for us to stop rewarding terrorism and terrorists with publicity. Their acts are shameful and heinous. Honor the bravery of survivors. Problem solve. What led to the attack? Life stressors, lack of money, relationships, religion? What can we as a society address and change in a positive way?

I'm going to refer to history.
When you want peace you take care of the needs of people whether they are like you or different. When you want war you inhumanize and provoke and attack. 

Would you want someone's arbitrary beliefs and prejudice making major impacts on your life? I don't want that level of responsibility and I don't want it done to me.

None of us is perfect. Work on yourself.
If you've got a loved one who is lost to rabid hatred and blanket statements offer them other perspectives and know that somewhere, in a ghetto, in an office building, in a war zone someone else is trying to talk sense and a live and let live philosophy to a rabid friend there.

There's no absolutes about people. Treat everyone as an individual. Treat everyone else as if their life and their choices deserve as much respect as your own.

How many lives have to be disrupted or destroyed because of prejudice? It's caused more wars, human rights violations, and murders than any bomb or gun. The bombs and guns are tools. The people wielding them are dangerous, thinking tools.

Give people a chance, disarm a prejudice today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Candy, Cannabis and Clouds

Wait. Wait longer. Stay relaxed, keep your heart at ease. The desert draws us, yet we've got to wait. Snow on the ground, disc golfers crunch through the snow to play at Memorial Park in Arvada.
Practice Spanish on Duolingo, do mindfulness and gratitude exercises, catch up on tv series and consider free tourist attractions.

Last time we explored we decided on NCAR, National Center for Atmospheric Research as our first adventure. We held clouds, played with tornados. If better health or less snow was on the ground we would hike at the nature center on NCAR grounds. Lessons coated the walls there on weather conditions.

Today it was candy. We went to Hammond's Candy, largest handmade candy company in the United States. We arrived to schedule our tour amidst the sugar rushed excitement of a large group of children.  The tour and video was enjoyable. We watched a man work on a seventy pound batch of candy, rolling layers that were over two hundred and thirty degrees. We saw smiling workers individually molding chocolate bunnies and wrapping candy canes. We perused the candy store full of a myriad flavors, colors and candies. Pomegranate, clove, blood orange, mocha and chocolate filled candy canes next to hot chocolate, berry, and cinnamon swirled lollipops, marshmallow Mitchells, and old fashioned ribbon candy.

It was a delightful adventure, a grand distraction and a wonderful presentation on candy making. The only hard part was picking one candy cane to send Danny's son. How do you pick one candy cane? It's like eating one potato chip.

Along with the free Celestial Seasonings tour and the Leaning Tree Museum Tour, these are four excellent places to take the whole family. As an adult I found all four places worth a visit even without kids.

If you're thinking what about cannabis, after all, it's Colorado, you're in luck. Many dispensaries offer recreational cannabis. Edibles and flower, you can go, present your drivers license, look at and smell various varieties with their THC, THCA percentage ratings. You can buy prerolled blunts and joints. Many local newspapers offer coupons. Try more than one Dispensary. Many have small plants growing or show videos of their cannabis plants growing. Our favorite locations for prices and service: Green Grass in Central City, Sweet Leaf and the Green Solution in the Denver area. Strainwise offers membership and lower prices for members at their chains although they do run out of bud sometimes.
If you're from out of state and you're excited a few common sense tips:
Don't open your weed in your vehicle when you leave the store. Don't smoke in your vehicle. Smoke at home or in explicitly designated places- cannabis smoking and vaping (whether cannabis or tobacco) isn't allowed in most public places. Smoke in your hotel room. Be discreet. Don't put Budtenders in an awkward position by telling them you're buying it for your trip home out of state. Be responsible.

Edibles go down easy. They are often in candy forms. You will not feel the effects immediately. Do not keep taking more, wait at least half an hour to an hour to try a second candy until you know the strength you prefer. I take one to two candies for my migraines with complete relief. I look for high CBD content (CBD in cannabis is what you're looking for for pain relief) and CBD is legal in all states.

Edibles work great for migraines, body pain, but may not all out buzz you like smoking a Sativa. If you're an adult, I'd recommend stopping and trying a prerolled joint or an edible so you have an idea what cannabis really is and does. Do you know how many people are amazed at how gentle and pleasant the effects of smoking a legal joint are? Take the hype out of cannabis. 

The future is in your hands, and in Colorado possibly a fresh joint and a butterscotch lollipop too.