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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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.

 

 * * *

 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.

 * * *

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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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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The Fury of the Sea, Friends in the Mountains

Petalidi, Greece, September

          The usual hypnotic rhythm of the sea is far from a gentle lullaby this morning. The rains came last evening, followed by heavy seas.

          Slowly at first, deceptively, the dance began. By twilight, the sea became more and more frenzied.  Sometime before midnight, the fury of the wild sea snapped the metal bracket and 1-inch-thick rope holding the jet boat to it’s mooring.  Like a toy, the sea threw the sleek yellow racing hull into the waiting rocks of the cliff.

             Somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, perhaps near Africa, deep in the bowels the Mediterranean Sea it had occurred.  Perhaps an earthquake. The earth rumbled and shook under the sea, stirring it like an over filled bathtub. As if suffering from a huge stomachache, the sea belched with a tremendous force that set forth a fury that knew no boundaries.

Just after midnight, I’d searched in the darkness for the brightness of the yellow boat. In minutes, I discovered her, capsized and trapped against the jagged rocks, each wave thrashing, battering, tearing at the body of the $22,000 ski boat.

          At dawn I find her more torn and battered. Like a fishing bobber, perhaps 10 feet from her body, a large chunk of her topside bounces up and down in the water

          By 7 a.m., under dark clouds, she’s gone.

          The scene on the beach is a frightening one. It’s as if an airliner had crashed at sea and debris washed ashore. Life preservers float aimlessly in a large tide pool. Chunks of fiber glass, foam padding, and the skeleton from one of the four seats are scattered across the wet sand.  Helplessness comes over me standing there, as the rhythm of the sea continues, a song that never ceases.

          The sun begins to warm the coast, and, as the salty mist start to lift, so does my mood, as I recall the afternoon before.

          I’d driven south from the villa. Rolling along the narrow road, passing through a village, I spotted a side road almost hidden between two ancient buildings.  Looking like a road less traveled I took it, and started a climb that led into the clouds and to the top of a mountain in the southern most part of Peloponnese, Greece.

         Entering a village not on any map, I’d come upon ancient houses made of stone and mud lining each side of a narrow road, a road wide enough for only one car. I turn a corner and I am in front of the only store in the village. An old woman sits on a rickety chair in front of the door.

         A huge grapevine covers the one story building. A trunk as thick as a big mans thigh grows up the side of the store. The vines cover the roof almost hiding the Coca-Cola sign. Big, deep purple bunches of grapes hang above our heads.

          “Kalispera,” (Good evening) I say and smile.

          “Kalispera,” she replies matching my smile.

           Inside, I reach into a cooler and take a coke, then notice another woman, a smaller woman, standing behind an ancient cooler in the back of the single room. Behind her lined up on a shelf are dust-covered bottles of Ouzo and other spirits.

          “Yassus,” I say. She answers with the same hello.

          The coke and a bottle of water is 90 cents.

          She follows me outside to where the other woman has now been joined by an old man with a cane. The woman gestures to an empty chair and I sit. I drink, she smiles, and the storeowner comes out and says something. She too smiles.  I smile back.

          I point to the grapes above and give them thumbs up sign, they all respond with something said in Greek and more smiles. We are communicating.

          I grab my digital camera and take a picture of the three. In seconds, I show it to them. As the picture fades in, the brightest smiles appear on all three and their smiles light the darkness of the overcast day.

             They are amazed. They are delighted. We have become friends.

 * * *

 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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Don’t Invite Trouble

Daisy Mae was curled up asleep at the foot of the green easy chair that sits in my living room. But just minutes before she was running away from my squirt gun. I shot in her direction in an effort to teach this cat not to run into the garage.

Watching her sleep apparently without fear, without any concern about dashing into the garage, with no worry about getting squirted, made me wonder if. . .

If humans can learn to do something one minute and then completely shift to being relaxed without worry the next minute.

Maybe you’ll never be like Daisy Mae but you sure can rid yourself of anxiety, fear and worry.

How?

By the way and what you think.

Learn from Daisy Mae don’t think too much and when something bad happens stop thinking about the bad and start thinking about good.

Shift your thought from the negative to the positive.

Simply choose to.

When I do the best I can do at a job, I can chose to relax and do what I want to do.

My trouble is my brain. Thinking too much about doing the best that I can do. Was that THE BEST or can I do better?

I tend to let my brain run wild. Sometimes, I think too much. . .and I get in emotional trouble. My life becomes worrisome, anxiety rises, and I find fear growing faster than a weed.

I’ve learned that most of the time, I amplify to the hills the negative of what’s happening.

My negativity usually is a hell of a lot worse than what’s really happening.

That is. . .until. . .I chose to think differently and replace the negative with positive thoughts,

I don’t know if Daisy Mae does this or not, but I can. . .then I can become Daisy Mae, in trouble one minute, relaxed the next.

Can you do it?

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©Stanecki 2018

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

Thanks, Jerry

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