If not now…when

“If not now. . .when” is what a friend said to me over the phone the other morning.

“If not now….when, what?” I said to AJ.

When are you (meaning himself and every other person alive) going to be happy?

“I’m a happy man today.” AJ said. ”But tomorrow, I may not be happy.”

His statement stayed in my mind for the next couple of days.  He makes a good point.

Another friend said that statement reminds him of his favorite Elvis Presley song; It’s Now or Never, and he agreed with the statement.

Yet, another friend finished the statement, If not now. . .

I asked him if he had talked to AJ figuring AJ had told him about it and he said no, but he just knew the saying.

I was surprised that so many knew and agreed with it. It is true! How many of us put off being happy, for example until when.

It’s imperative to live in the now not when because, as we know it, now is all we have.

Do you live in the NOW or are you living in the WHEN?

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Expectations lead to disappointment…

I was reading an article on Jennifer Lawrence in the Hollywood Reporter and the question “Is your life what you expected?” came up.

I thought about that and tried to remember if I had any expectations for my life when I was young.

 At first I couldn’t think of any. Then during my high school years, mostly because of my mother, I expected to be medical doctor. The problem I had, being so young in college, 16, was that I couldn’t get into the science classes. Actually, I really didn’t care for all that book learning.

By age 18, I’d had enough and dropped out of college. Accidentally. I met a fellow named Ron who worked for WBON-FM in Milwaukee (that was before FM Radio became popular).

I got a job at WBON as a radio host and that’s where my career began. Oh, and I worked for nothing.

There were 4 other stations I worked for and was fired by. And there was alcoholism; I’ve been sober for over 30 years, a fine family and a good ex-wife. Yup, there was a divorce.

Yes sir, all of that was what I expected.

Seriously, how can you plan out your life with an expectation? Expectations bring disappointment . . .disappointment brings anger . . .anger brings- – -well you know what’s next!

Acceptance is the key to my happiness. When I accept what is happening . . .when I accept, truly accept, good with bad, I find happiness. Acceptance is the key to my happiness.

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Impending Doom

        Impending doom crept into my being when I was very young. The fact is, probably when I was born and as I grew bigger, it grew worse all the way into adulthood.  It has caused a terrific amount of pain and I’ve lost many hours to it. I’ve said numerous times, this has got to stop but the demon did not stop.

It came from my mother, who was born to an unwed woman in 1908 and was raised in several foster homes. Never knowing her mother or father she searched for years trying to locate them and the parental love she never got.

Her tragedy was my reward and my terrible demon.

My reward?  My Mothers lack of parents helped her become a loving mother. The demon was that my mother was a control freak.

She always feared something bad had happened if I were just minutes late.She had to control absolutely everything.

As a result, all of my life, I also feared something bad had happened to my kids if I didn’t hear from them regularly.

That fear would cause worry and my imagination would run always to the negative, to the worst happenings and then I would obsess on that fear.

Impending doom stole hours of peace and replaced that with worry. I recall one time my mother was supposed to be home at a certain time and she didn’t show up. I was probably 10 years old at the time.

When she came home, it seemed like she was an hour late when in reality it was probably twenty minutes. I freaked out and started yelling and crying. I told her all the bad things I had been thinking and imagined and she told me not to worry because she was home, safe and sound. I can’t recall if she apologized or if my first session with impending doom caused her to think about her problem with the gloom of doom or not. The impending doom didn’t end. . .it grew.

I joined the army in an effort to get away from the doom. I didn’t get away from it. I married and was father to three children. The doom grew stronger and seemed to affect my daughter most of all, probably because I raised her from the time she was six years-old.

I struggle with the feeling, the belief, that life is always going to end in doom until I realize that only I can change that.

I, with the help of God.

 * * *

 Jerry writes on personal growth, happiness and life, including lowering stress in the work world. His book “Life is a Joke and God Wrote it” can be ordered through www.jerrystanecki.com

©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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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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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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