Gifts For Free

I’d usually make it a point to go to the box store when it opens on Monday because I’d be able to check out new merchandise, take my time in a non-crowded store and never spend more then 5 minutes at check out.

For the past few months I noticed there was a lot more people who discovered Costco wasn’t too busy on a Monday morning, because the store seemed to be a lot more crowded and there was always a wait at the checkout stand.

Last Monday just after 10 am, as usual, I headed for my local Costco. I had a wind chime to return . . .Costco’s return is the best and encourages impulse buying because they take returns with a receipt with no questions asked.

”Good Morning Jerry.” said Ruthie, “What are you returning today.”

You can tell I’m a regular at the return desk.

“Good Morning Ruthie, how are you today?”

“ Oh, a wind chimes. Why would you want return a wind chime?”

“Because, I already have two”

Ruthie joyfully took the wind chimes, I don’t know why, but she’s always joyful.

I spent the next 30 minutes checking out the new merchandise, working my way to the book department to see if there was a new Stuart Woods, Stone Barrington novel there. Nope. There was none.

I scouted the six or so open checkout. There were lines at each. Being an American in a hurry . . .I don’t know why I was in a hurry, I guess that’s the American way. But, I voted against my normal checkout, which is run by a very efficient woman.

At the head of my line, an elderly woman with a single bunch of Bananas was checking out.

Perfect, I thought, I’d be through in minutes. But something was wrong. The woman and Jeff, the fellow running the checkout, were in a discussion. It lasted what seemed like 5 minutes and was probably only 2 or 3.

“What’s the problem?” I said out loud to the man in front of me noticing the line I turned my back on was moving quickly.

“Confusion.” He answered.

The man smiled and added.

“I told to myself this morning that I would have a great day and wish everybody I ran into a great day.”

“That’s a good way to start your day.” I said.

The bananas matter was resolved and the man quickly checked out,

“Have a great day,” he said to Jeff and me as he left.

What a gift.

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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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Shame on me…

It’s funny how sometimes it takes awhile to realize what is the cause of increased fear. The sometimes, was my gift this past weekend…

My daughter Annie, who lives in Los Angeles, was taking a wine tasting birthday trip for her best friend, Tracy, who was celebrating her second 39th birthday.

They had done it right, renting a vehicle that would hold some twenty people and was driven by a non-wine tasting person. Like I said, they had done it the right way, the safe way.

But, how would Annie get home from Tracys? I wondered to myself . . . and the impending doom grew.

Knowing it always made me feel better to talk to someone else, I refused to call my son, Jason, because he would just tell me she will be fine. . .and he would be right. . . .and I would feel better. But, I didn’t want to bother him and most likely didn’t want him to know how crazy I was.

I sure couldn’t call Annie, after all she’s a woman who is in charge of her life and doesn’t need an over protective father.

I know I am NOT in charge of my daughter, or anything else, but when the impending doom is in full swing, I suffer. I know I have unwittingly given the damn impending doom to Annie, and that hurts me. . .badly.

By Saturday night I was a mess and couldn’t stop thinking  the worst would happen if Annie dared to attempt to drive home after a wine tasting journey.  I told myself trust God, he is in charge, but I went deeper into fear. How could I trust some one or some thing I believed in, but no one alive has ever seen.

I refused to call Annie because my struggle with this negativity made her angry. . .and it sure as hell triggered her struggle with impending doom, but I hadn’t thought about that until now.

Then it happened.

I realized that when Brannon and I went wine tasting… I went wild. Drank a lot, smoked dope, drank some more.

I thought about all the times I drove drunk, and by the grace of God wasn’t stopped by police.

It was then I realized that Annie was not Jerry. That she is a smart woman. I was feeding my impending doom and fear by projecting that my daughter was acting like I did . . . and that was my gift.

Annie is not Jerry.

It was my shame driving me. Shame for the way I had acted.  Shame on my shame.

That truism took 30 years of sobriety to finally surface.

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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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Feelings are NOT facts

It was another warm February day in Los Angeles and I was feeling terrible, worried about my second son and ex-wife. I had gotten myself upset and frankly sick over the fact that whatever I tried to do to make them feel better failed.

I was feeling guilty of not being able to fix all the problems they were having and by 4 P.M that afternoon I was a mess.

Over and over I could not stop thinking about their problems with life. After all, they were family. . .my family, I should be able to fix them. So why was I feeling so helpless?

Why was I feeling so much guilt?

It was 7 P.M. in the east as I dialed the phone number of a good friend.

It turns out A.J. is not only a good friend but also a very smart friend and fortunately he answered.

“AJ, I’m feeling terrible and I needed to tell someone.”

“What seems to be troubling you?”

“Everything I try to do to help my ex-wife and son fails and I feel terrible and I don’t know what to do?”

“So, you’re feeling guilty?””

“Guilty?”

“Yes, guilty that you can’t fix someone else problems.  Why?”

“Because, they are family and I should be able to help them.”

What A.J. said next, immediately made sense to me especially since A.J. is not religious?

“Feelings are NOT facts.”

“What?”

“Feelings are not facts.”

What a Spiritual thing to say. . .not religious but Spiritual.

Did I think I had more power than God? Obviously, I did. What I needed to do and do immediately to feel better was realize there is a power greater than me involved and that I was trespassing thinking I could. . .should fix someone other than myself.

I was making my situation a lot worse by what I was FEELING and I was FEELING guilty.  The FACT is, and not selfishly, the only person I can fix. . . is me.

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 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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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 cry, Men 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 Viet Nam. 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.

 

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 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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Slow Learner

I’ve learned a few things in this New Year, important things that will help me.

Death is NOT negotiable, so when it is accepted, life is lived daily and enjoyed rather then living in the fear.

That is fact. So, if you truly believe in another go around, what ever it is, then accept life and the fact that God is more powerful than you.

After all, it took 30 and half years for me to finally learn to deal with my fear of death. Thirty plus years of the answer to living happily and enjoying life and no one said it but, they did say it.

Several times a week, during my first years of recovery from alcoholism, then at least once a week in recent years, the answer, ACCEPTANCE, was mentioned or at times the topic of acceptance was discussed. 

It just never hit home until now.

There have been times when I was expected to die, but I didn’t. It still didn’t dawn on me.

Five bi-pass heart surgeries left me hurting so badly I cried. And, for the longest time I slept half sitting up on a chaise lounge.

An incurable non contagious, event with Central Nervous System Vasculitis was my next stop. A disease that will kill me, but I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that.

Oh, and I had a broken neck that was fixed in four hours of surgery without, my choice, a catheter . . .but that’s another story.

And believe it or not, I’m grateful. . .very grateful for all that God and life has given me.

Death is NOT negotiable, so when it is accepted, life is lived daily and enjoyed rather then living in the fear.

That is fact. So, if you truly believe in another go around, what ever it is, then accept life and the fact that God is more powerful than you.

RELAX AND ENJOY THIS WONDERFUL GIFT.

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Written January 8th 2018

 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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