A Gift to Start Your Day

      I walked out the front door this morning; it was a few minutes after five.  Instantly, the force struck me. It was absolute, complete and total silence.  So quiet, it was actually deafening.   It was incredible.

      Never before. . . ever. . .have I experienced silence like this?  It was almost like a scene from a science fiction movie. That’s it. . .it was eerie.

       There was nothing. No distant hum of traffic, no birds, no wind, nothing.   It was magnificence and a little scary.

       This is the city, for God’s sake, I thought.  There has to be noise. Any noise. Some noise. There was none.

      Even though it’s a Saturday morning, it can’t be this quiet, I thought.

     I’d been in the desert, hundreds of miles from any town, any human and still, there had been noise.

     I’d been alone 10,000 feet high in the mountains on the great continental divide, and still there was noise.

     Now, in my front yard, in the clear cool dawn nothing.

     I looked up and was instantly humbled.

      The heavens were crystal clear and filled with tens of millions of lights. . . souls that had walked this way before, souls who wait to walk this way once more.

     I stood there in absolute awe, for this was one of the rarest moments of life.  You could feel the power, the energy of the stillness, of the total silence.  So thick it was almost suffocating. It was incredible.

     I stood there for five minutes—- I swear, five minute in the darkness—- in awe.

     There is no doubt in my mind that this kind of energy could never be created by mere man. I felt faith.

     I looked to the west and saw the Big Dipper. I looked to the north and thought, it’s always darkest before the dawn.   I turned to the east and saw a promise, a soft pink glow on the horizon. I felt hope.

     Suddenly, in the distance, softy, ever so softy, I heard; “coo coo coo “ and though I could not see it, I knew it was a beautiful morning dove.

     The bird of peace, I thought as I walked to the house. What a wonderful gift to start the day.

*

©Stanecki 2018

If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.

Thanks, Jerry

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When the load gets to heavy—–think differently

         I woke up at 5:30 this morning feeling rested, feeling good.  I lay there for maybe 30 seconds before I started to worry. My spirit started to sink as fear, like lava from a volcano, slowly pushed away the good feelings.

            Then I remembered.

            Think differently!

            I realized that in my negative thinking, I was slipping into a terrible start for the day. I mean, the heavy overcast skies outside were enough to dampen my spirit, let alone feed it with fears of the future.

            Yeah, but!  My magic magnifying mind screamed. What about the money you owe?  What about the house payment? What about no guaranteed money coming in?  Freelance work is iffy at times.  What abo—-

            Hey! Think differently!”

            I jolted myself out of the negative hole I was digging and did a reality check. The house payment isn’t due for two weeks. Did I want to waste today and 14 more days worried about something that is not a demand of today?

            THINK DIFFERENTLY!

            Yeah, but.. .  I’d been struggling with depression and had kinda boxed myself in. Kinda?   I was stuck, obsessing about an old relationship, trying to figure out why it hadn’t worked.   Sadness and some anger flashed, intensifying the pain of the obsession.

             Then I thought about a couple of free-lance jobs that had fallen through and was trying to figure out why.

            I was frustrated and couldn’t figure out why I was having great difficulty writing.

            I had exhausted myself with my own insanity. Insanity for me is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

            I fought back.  Today’s reality is I have enough money.  I have enough food. I have a car; I have gas. . . in the car.  I kept listing what I had.

            As crazy as it may seem, I stopped writing and shouted; “Thank you God. Thank-you for letting me feels better, for letting these words flow. For the feelings I get when the words come.”

            Gratitude sure helps.

              I laughed and called my friend, Father Jack.  He’s an alcoholic, you know.  A recovering Catholic priest with 14 years of sobriety, of the good life, as he puts it.

            “Come on over, ” he said.

            Now, I’m not exactly the most comfortable guy in a religious atmosphere.  As I sat in the dark, wood paneled lobby of the retreat center, waiting, I thought about my yesteryear battles with the nuns of Sacred Heart Grade school.

             God, I’d been stubborn and resistant to authority.

            “Come on in.” The voice broke my thoughts. It was Father Jack. He was smiling.

            Sitting in his small office, two pictures of a laughing Jesus on the wall, I unloaded. I was feeling hopeless. When I stopped he said,

            “Think differently.”

            “Huh?”

            “Think differently, “ he repeated.

            “ Stop trying to figure everything out.  You don’t have to figure everything out.  Give it up and surrender, you’re killing yourself.”

            Think differently!  My God, I thought, he’s right.

            “Yeah, but. . . I mean, I know where some of the fear comes from.  I know what happened when I was a boy that triggers, I know—-

            “Jerry, ” he said and smiled. “ Think differently.  Stop trying to figure it out.”

             “ I hear you, thanks.”

             The lesson was clear. When the negative future started knocking I’d been sucked in until I started to think differently.  Then it all changed-. I changed it. I used the power I have.

            So, if you’re stuck in tomorrow with fear or are having regrets of yesterday, you just might want to—

*

©Stanecki 2018

If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.

Thanks, Jerry

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The journey is not meant to be traveled alone…

  Early one morning, while wandering along the main street of a village at the farthest end of land, I found myself.

            The picturesque village of Mendocino sits on the coastal bluffs of northern California. It a village where Main Street is a few short blocks and ends a rocks throw from the Pacific Ocean.

            Driving toward the sea this morning, balancing a cup of coffee, I was looking for pictures to make. Glancing in the rearview mirror, the sun blinded me for a second. As my eyes adjusted, an image came into focus.  Soon, I would come to understand, it was a mirror of me.

            It was a man, a lone traveler, walking toward me in the morning mix of ocean mist sliced by slivers of rays from the sun. The man was a silhouetted figure passing under trees that shaded the street. In a floppy hat, his coat thrown over his shoulders and hanging loose, one sleeve dangling. In the sunlight it looked as if he was wearing a cape.

            I recognized this man walking toward me from the night before. A lost soul, he’d been sleeping in a doorway when I last saw him.  I’d wondered about him then, his life, his journey.  Now, this? Coincidence? I think not.

             I jumped out of the car and aimed. A long lens brought the man into full frame.

            Click, focus, click, tighter focus, click, click.  Four times I fired, and four different images were frozen in time—images that spoke clearly and showed struggle with loneliness, sadness, of traveling alone on this journey of life.

            I saw my yesterdays on that morning in Mendocino, and by the grace of God realized, with deep gratitude, the joy of my today.

            This stranger in the morning mist mirrored to me so many years of fighting the battles alone, believing only I could handle it all. Struggling until I was bloody; finally beaten to surrender, then humble enough to reach out, to ask for, no, beg for, relief of self.

            It was only then, when I pushed through the paralyzing power of fear, did I come to realize that we are not meant to travel alone.

             I’m not speaking so much of physical partners, of marriage and friendship, as I am of truly being connected. It’s a spiritual connection, one united with fellow travelers.

            In some ways, I still travel alone, but never am I alone, for when my spirit becomes weary, I have learned to reach for a fellow traveler that has walked before me. I have learned to put aside false pride and ask for help. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned to accept myself for who I am at that moment—to accept all of my frailties, weaknesses along with all of the power of my strengths.

            For a lot of us, it is only when we are beaten to desperation that we surrender. Why?  Because we didn’t know better? Fear? False pride in what others will think? What excuse can you think of?  What rationalization do you use?

            A lot of us have gone through life believing that when problems surface, we alone must carry the burden. That fear stops us from sharing our fears, struggles—] our humanness. That alone has contributed to a lot unnecessary suffering.

            After many years of struggling to be happy, after many successes and some failures, I came to realize that never again would I have to be alone on this journey to happiness.

            How about you?

*

©Stanecki 2018

If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.

Thanks, Jerry

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Run, but you can’t hide from – feelings

 

            Melody Beattie, a noted author in the recovery-personal growth field, suggests that we learned how to deny a situation, or certain people and their actions, because of the way it felt to us. We trained ourselves; to deny or ignore how we felt because we had no choice or no say in the matter.

            Why? The answer is pain. Rather than continue to feel pain, disappointment, rejection, we develop a way to cope until we could escape the situation. Or, mistakenly, we think we’ve escaped.

            My thoughts are this applies especially, but not exclusively, to men raised for the most part to deny and avoid feelings.  “Big boys don’t cryMen don’t cry.” Ring a bell?

            One day while sitting with a group of men in recovery, someone suggested we talk about feelings. Gino the Razor started singing, “ Fe-e-e-e-l-i-n-g-s.” Several guys laughed, others groaned at the dreaded song, but we didn’t run, we talked at gut level openly and honestly about our feelings regarding death. It was a powerful and rewarding hour.

            Stuffing your feelings, denying them, leads to a lot greater pain.

            Addiction and/or obsession to food, alcohol, drugs-street and/or prescription, work, sex, are some of the ways we deal with feelings. If life hurts—eat. Life hurts—drink. Life hurts, don’t feel, focus instead on work, shopping or… .

            One of my most exciting moments came a few years into recovery when I realized it was OK to feel OK, to take care of myself. And, with those feelings came a stranger knocking . . .grieving.

            I realized that years before, when my father died, the shock stunned me into numbness, a numbness that stayed for 30 years. Oh, I was sad, but it felt almost like and actor playing a role of sadness. I controlled the degree of feelings and stood tall with a stiff upper lip.

            I was raised believing that fear was to be met, lived with or buried. You thought about it, then either charged head-on into it or you lived with it.

            I buried and avoided those feelings, only to contribute more to self-destruct. Like someone who finds food ease’s the pain, I drank.

            For a lot of folks that solution doesn’t work, because when the fear or pain gets too intense, they turn to the medicine—food, drink, drugs, shopping—anything to feel better, to help cope, to deny and avoid the feelings.

            Sadly, I heard Gino was back in prison somewhere in Florida. He apparently couldn’t deal with all of his fearful feelings and emotional pain because he went back to the monkey, heroin. While in an altered state I heard he did something that sent him back to prison.

            Here’s a guy awarded two Silver Stars (our country’s second highest award for bravery) while in combat in Vietnam. Today, at fifty something, Gino sits in a cell.

            I wonder where Gino would be, if he’d learned during those years of support groups, how to deal with his feelings rather than make fun of them.

            Ironically, Gino used to say, “A lot of people create the illness to get to the medicine.”

            Turns out he was talking about himself. Or, could he be talking about you?

            Feel life; embrace solutions that come from feelings—then celebrate your victory.

© Jerry Stanecki

If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.

Thanks, Jerry

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Talkin’ to…

Written by Jerry Stanecki

Funny, how good I feel when I pray. Thinking about it, I don’t know why I said “funny” because I realize it isn’t so funny.

Saying my prayers makes me comfortable within. I really don’t have any worries or fears while I thank my God for all that I have.

When in the morning and at bedtime, I get down on my knees, I feel a peacefulness . . . a completeness’ come over me.

Why do I get down on my knees?

It’s my way to be humble and show respect to a power greater than myself.  And when I get humble, I become teachable

I am thankful for many things.  My family, my cat, my home. I’m grateful for living as long as I have. Thankful for having been fired from four different jobs. . .so far. Thankful for the difficulty those firings caused. Thankful for what I learned in making a come back from being fired or told “You’re not liked, get out of here.”

It’s good to get out of yourself.

___


Copyright © 2017

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Delaying Immediate Satisfaction

Written by Jerry Stanecki

The five Michigan lottery tickets laying on the bedside table seemed to stare up at me. Too tired to walk back into the living room and get out the computer to check the numbers, I crawled into bed and said to myself, “I’ll check the numbers in the morning.”

Morning came, I picked the lottery tickets up and pushed them into the upper pocket of my flannel, as Arvin Pearlman, trying to be a smart ass, said during a poker game the night before, “When are you going hunting with that shirt on?”

I ignored him.

Lottery tickets safe in my flannel black and white checked shirt I got down on my knees, said my morning prayers and rolled onto my back so I could stretch.

Forgetting about the lottery tickets, I walked into the kitchen, took my cholesterol medicine and selected a Pacific Bold Keurig coffee pack.

As brewing started, I took the grapefruit cup out of the refrigerator, and thought of the lottery tickets, safely tucked into the pocket of my flannel shirt.

Should I go check the lottery numbers or eat my grapefruit first? Very carefully, I pulled the plastic top from the grapefruit. SUCCESS, not a drop of juice had come out of the plastic cup. Usually, it did.

 I took a sip.

A-h-h-h-h, that tasted so gooood. . . AND I was delaying immediate satisfaction. I was being patient and it was hard.

The lottery tickets, most likely losers can wait, I thought,  pushing a large spoon into the grapefruit.

Delicious, I thought and I ate it all. Putting the cup to my lips, I drank the last of the juice. The empty cup in the recycle, I grabbed my cup of coffee and walked into the living room.

NOW, proud of my patience, I would check to see that I’d won four million dollars. Grabbing my computer, I typed Michigan Lottery (funny how I used the word “typed” when the typewriter had been dismissed by the computer).

Pulling my lottery numbers from my pocket, I began to match numbers .

7 – O.K. ,11 -yes

13- oh yes. 21-alright.

27- Oh, my. . .. That’s a $2500.00 winner.

 31- JUST ONE MORE NUMBER  . . .AND

I’ll never have to play the Lottery again!

___
Copyright © 2017

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Charlie

Written by Jerry Stanecki

Bored, I’d decided to take a walk along the lake in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles.

I’d walk to an empty pipeline about a mile in from the entrance. Usually, I enjoyed the scenery, but today I found myself forcing pleasure out of the lots of rain, everything very green, usually brown, landscape.

I rounded the third or fourth corner muttering,  “Where’s the damn drain pipe?” It was not in sight, but I kept walking. (I don’t give up easily)

I rounded another curve in the walkway and low and behold there it was, the 30-foot empty drain pipe.

Holding my cane in my right hand, I straightened up and walked without the aid. Sitting down, the sun was now warmly shinning on my face, that’s when I noticed a man pushing a baby stroller coming toward me. He half turned and said, “That wall is new, isn’t it?”

It looked new, but I remembered it from the previous year.

“No, it’s been here.”

The man pushed the baby stroller over to where I was sitting.

“Hi, I’m Charlie.”

“I’m Jerry.”

That was the beginning of the end of my boredom. Sophie was the name of the big brown eyes girl, lying in the stroller, squeezing a plastic bottle of water. Apparently liking the sounds she was making.

“How old is Sophie?’

“She’s 10 months”

The sun was getting in her eyes and Charlie turned the stroller. Sophie seemed pleased.

“Where are you from? I asked

“Philadelphia.”

I thought to myself about the time I met Stuart Berman in Philadelphia, but didn’t say anything.

“I live here now and like it. Where are you from?”

“The fine city of Detroit.”

“Do you live here now?”

“No, I’m visiting my daughter. And staying in Toluca Lake where I

rent an apartment.”

“Is she in show business?”

“Yes.”

He didn’t ask what she did and I didn’t offer.

He told me about losing his business to a stealing partner.

“You need a lawn cutter, snow plowed, light fixed, you call one contractor who solves your problem. Great business and I lost it all.”

“Or, maybe you gained something,”

“Feel my chest.. .”

He stepped forward and grabbed my right hand, pulling it to the right side of his chest.

“That’s the pacemaker for my heart, to keep me alive.”

“See this.” I said, showing him the scar that ran all the way up my left leg, I was wearing shorts because it’s L.A. and 72 degrees in February.

“Heart By-Pass.  He said.

“Yup, five heart jobs. And, I have had eight strokes.”

“Jesus, you have put here to for a good reason.”

“I think you’re right.”

That’s when I decided to tell him the most important part happening in my life

“I have 30 years clean and sober.”

“I have 23 years.” Charlie snapped back.

With that said, we really started talking,

Charlie told me about meeting his wife, a nurse, at the hospital, falling in love and marrying her.

“She’s 100 per-cent Mexican and I’m English and Irish.

“And, your daughter, Sophia is beautiful.”

Her big brown eyes were focused on the water bottles drinking head. She wrestled the bottle around and put the head up to her lips like she was drinking. Charlie smiled and said, “She knows what to do with it.”

Charlie started talking about growing up in Philadelphia and how his father ignored him.

“I’d make a touchdown or hit a home run and he’d never say anything. He never. . . never came to any of  my games. I hated that and him.  Not one.”

He was a brilliant man, a supervisor at the naval shipyard,” Charlie told me.

“And, he drank a six-pack of beer every day before going to work.”

“Worked third or second shift, huh.

“NO,’ Charlie said loudly, “The first shift.”

“Five O’clock in the morning.  A six- pack?”

“Yes sir, everyday.”

Charlie told me that as a teen he started doing bad things and getting in trouble with the law and how he could have gone to prison. His father still ignored him, still drank a six-pack,

“Did you ever think your father hated his job?”

“What do you mean’

“He drank before work to anesthetize himself because he hated his job and all with it.

“I hadn’t thought about that.”

I could tell Charlie was now thinking about his father.

“Geese,” Charlie said, “we could have a meeting right here.”

“We just did.”

___
Copyright © 2017

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