26 March 2018

Eloquence And Grace

The one gift I have acquired through the years is seeing beauty in simple things. After I found a Higher Power through sobriety a sunset never looked the same. A sunrise always seems to bring joy and a feeling of rebirth.

I have come close with death. I watched my ex-wife die and be brought back to life. I witness near death myself after complications from heart surgery. While in the hospital during cancer treatment I saw the families of two patients, within minutes of their loved ones death.

Have you ever just watched a pigeon? Constantly searching for food and coming so close to taking a crumb from your fingers… showing trust to a giant… a higher power if you will.

Look at God’s handiwork with every doctor, teacher, and pilot. As well as the plumber and carpenter. All using God’s gifts to help others.

Then look at those creations. Computers, planes, and boats. To earlier times with a carriage, a wheel, and a windmill.

Eloquence and Grace

standing tall… proud and alone
a symbol of hard work and perseverance
spinning tales and stories long forgotten
giving us memories of family
and a loving  caring way

simple eloquence… eternal beauty
a melody of time… the windmill constantly singing
spinning… sweet music in the heartland
your distinct sound… our lullaby at night
forever moving… forever working

simpler times… home on the plains
weathered wood or rusted metal
dignified with style… in bitter cold and scorching heat
making the roughest weather serve you
a value… we’ll always treasure

withstanding the test of time
you’ve graced our landscape
and as we walk below you
we wonder how many stories have yet to be told
and how many more memories will be shared

24 March 2018

Capitalism vs Socialism

Having lived and worked in England for the last two years, I believe I can make a comparison between capitalism and socialism based on my experiences in these philosophies, both politically and economically.

This isn’t meant as a political statement, saying one is better than the other. In my opinion, both have some good points as well as their bad points. I’m just speaking as a person who has worked for over 40 years and has grown in my thoughts about what it takes to be a good employee and citizen as well as what it takes to be a good employer and caretaker of the nation.

What I have found to be the most difficult part about working in a socialist society for the last two years is that I’m not entirely working for my own benefit. I don’t mind helping others. I did it in America by donating to the Salvation Army throughout the year, with monetary gifts as well as quality second hand products. In the UK, some of my taxes goes to help others, which again I don’t mind, but the “helping” others get can amount to more than what a full time job offers. So in the end, why work?

The people that work in England – work. Than you have a group that works because they have too, yet they do just the bare minimum and rely on the government to fill in the shortfall. In America, there were two major times in my life where I was unemployed. The first time I ended up homeless. The second time was because of being made redundant.

The first time I didn’t have enough of a work history to get government help. The second time, I was offered classes to help find a job but I never received a penny in unemployment compensation. I didn’t receive food stamps or any help with rent or to help pay the utility bills. In England, I could have had a nice “paycheck” with all the benefits I would have received.

This part of socialism I don’t like. If I work, I should be paid a good wage and it is mine to do with what I want. I shouldn’t have to support those who don’t want to work. If I work to support others, what is the incentive to work? It is a part of American capitalism I agree with. You work to better your life. If that means you have more money than your neighbour than so be it. And vice-versa, if my neighbour has more than you have, it means they have worked for it and have earned it.

The part of capitalism I don’t like is health care. If you have money you can afford insurance, prescriptions, hospital care, doctors, and everything else. If you don’t have the money you won’t be able to take care of yourself medically without some kind of outside help. And to get that help means getting government assistance which is filled with shame and guilt. So people wait as long as they can before seeing a doctor. Sometimes the wait is to long and feeling better is no longer an option.

Years ago America used to offer free breast cancer screenings. It was a great idea to help poor people get checked for cancer for free. The problem was that after being diagnosed with cancer the patients didn’t have the resources to get treatment. So, nothing got done. The person knew they had cancer, yet the government wouldn’t help them without jumping through hoops and sacrificing whatever little they had just for a chance to receive therapy.

Recently I was sent a notice for a free bowel (colon) cancer screening. Everything turned out to be normal and that is the end of it for two years. If there was a problem I would have been sent for a colonoscopy and whatever else needed would be done without anyone asking how you would pay for it.

Something is wrong in a society that judges healthcare with the amount of money you have in your bank and what kind of job you have. Part of my taxes in England go towards health care, not just for me but for those who can’t contribute. This is part of human decency, anything less of being treated as equal we should feel ashamed.

I’ll quit there before I turn this into a political speech...

17 February 2018

Letting Go of the Faith of Fear

The Sixth Promise of Debtors Anonymous states that Isolation will give way to fellowship; faith will replace fear.

Letting Go Of The Faith Of Fear

No faith in a future
when life is dead
no faith in a future
without money to cure all ills

no fear with no money
credit cards bring new life
no fear with no money
live for today

no faith and no fear
living in isolation
hiding in the darkness
praying to be alone

won’t answer the phone
won’t open the mail
won’t answer the door
won’t be a part of life

to live without credit
finding faith in oneself
new fears of the unknown
a new life set to begin

confidence built with every payment
worth built with every bill paid
to walk away from isolation
to be free from debt paranoia

free to answer the phone
faith to open the mail
secure enough to open the door
a new life being debt free

15 February 2018

The Sixth promise of Debtors Anonymous

The Sixth Promise of Debtors Anonymous states that Isolation will give way to fellowship; faith will replace fear.

When money owed was more than the money made isolation was a best friend. The phone was the enemy. The mail was the enemy. Knocks on the door couldn’t even be trusted. Everything was feared. For awhile I’d find comfort at work, that is until creditors started calling me at work. I never opened mail and never signed for a certified letter. I did everything in my power to stay ignorant of everything going on around me. I knew I owed money… a lot of money. Exactly how much? I had no idea and really didn’t want to know. All I knew was that I owed money and I had no money to give.

Part of the problem was my own selfish thoughts. I felt entitled to my daily pack of cigarettes. I felt I had earned my morning donut and coffee. I was a hard working man who was entitled to expensive lunches and even tasty treats at break time.

Until I met my isolationist behaviour and my selfish thoughts about my worth, I would never get out of debt. First, I had to admit my debt. I had to admit I was broke. That I couldn’t afford a morning coffee and donut. Heck, in reality, I couldn’t even afford the morning newspaper. Second, for my own personal physical health it was time to quit smoking. It was a deadly and expensive habit… that also kept me very alone. At family functions, I’d have to go outside and have a cigarette as everyone else sat around and had enjoyable relaxing chats with each other. What did they talk about? I have no idea, I was to busy smoking my cig.

What change my life was getting a divorce and at the age of 53, I didn’t have enough money to rent a small apartment. Even if I could get a place to stay I had no money for furniture or even food. When most people my age were planning their retirements, I had no plans for a future, nor any plans on how to get out of debt.

I have experienced fear before but this was new. I have been homeless, but that was when I was much younger and physically in better shape. I knew this was my last chance. Gratefully, I found a landlord that held my first months rent check for a couple of weeks. By doing that I had enough cash for the electrical deposit and just enough left over to get some bread and peanut butter and jelly. That was my meals for those first couple of weeks.

I didn’t have cable TV or the internet. I didn’t have a bed and slept on the floor. It was the first time that I realized, I wasn’t entitled to anything, nor did I earn anything. What I realized very quickly was that if I wanted something then I needed to work for it. And I went to work. I started paying myself first.

Then I paid my housekeeping bills and got food. Then and only then did I start paying off my debts. My early goals were very simple. I would never bounce a check every again. Eight years later, this goal has never been broken. And second, I would live on cash only. I would quit using credit cards. This goal stay in effect until I got out of debt.

Eventually, I did get some new credit cards and started using them. The new goal with them was to never carry a balance with them. To never pay a penny in interest and so far, six years later I have never paid any interest on any card.

By living with cash only and never running into credit card savings, it became easy to pay myself first and save some money. No longer are emergencies things to be feared. Instead they can be met with a plan of payment and then a plan to replace those emergency funds.

Eight years ago, there was a debt of $65,000 on my head. Now the pendulum has swung the other way and debt is not one of my fears, nor is isolation part of my life.

21 January 2018

To Be is here and there

Thoughts for "To Be" is Here and There" came about after receiving an honour from the Clean And Sober Not Dead website. With everything I have tried to accomplish with my sobriety, this award means the most because I got it for just being plain old me.

To Be” is here and there

racing through the day
obligations and commitments
doing things to achieve
a success which can never be reached
reaching for the moon
once reached… it isn’t good enough
now the stars are the goal
but… what happens when
that destiny is found

can’t being “here” be OK
do we really need to get over “there”
more we do… more we achieve
that “there” becomes “here”
and we chase a new “there”
a new level of success
only to be found by doing
somewhere along the way
we lose who we are

no longer can we exist
with just being at ease
we forgotten the innocence
of just… being
there is a reason why
we’re called human beings
and not human doings
maybe its time to quit doing
and just start… being

20 January 2018

Dreams of Yesterday

Oh the Dreams Of Yesterday, for me they will forever stay.  Great job or should I say career? A wonderful home, with fancy cars.  Everything that was preached to me as a child... so many dreams, but like the end of this poem wonders...
... or is life just one... continuing nightmare... where the true evil... is part of the dream

Dreams of Yesterday

remembering the dreams of yesterday
seen in a peaceful sleep
dreams with no worries
stress free… wonderful sleep
it seems so long ago
a war in a mind
that never is at rest
a mind occupied with thoughts
beyond… control

sheets thrown around
pillows sprawled across the floor
wake up in a cold sweat
wondering if another day
can be survived
spent so long being down
forgot how to feel…
happiness… love…

remembering the dreams of yesterday
at least… maybe they’re memories
of innocence and…
euphoric comfort
will those dreams ever return
or is life just one
continuing nightmare
where the true evil
is part of the dream

19 January 2018

Living Within Our Means

For years the start of a new year, for me, was the start of stressful times. The joy of celebrating Christmas was over and now the reality was setting in. How was I going to pay for all of this? I gave the kids some amazing gifts… everyone of them was paid for with a credit card. Not one card, not even two cards… at least three cards, maybe four.

The time was coming that payments would be due. Of course, there was no way I could pay them off in full. Not all four anyway. Hell, I couldn’t pay one of them off, why even think about four? So began the minimum payment cycle on all of them. Months would pass and it seemed like I hadn’t paid anything on them. My checking account was getting smaller but the balance on those cards didn’t seem to be shrinking at all.

I look back at those days and see how insane they were. I was trying to buy love. What was really amazing was how much control children had over me. They were great manipulators and knew how to fill my head with shame for broken promises throughout the year. I can’t blame them. They were kids, I was suppose to be the one in charge. And certainly, I was the one supposedly in charge of the money.

I was the one who knew how much money I had for gifts, not including credit cards, yet it never seemed to be enough. I can still catch myself in that trap of thinking that the gifts I gave were not enough. The other part of it is when do I quit giving gifts to the ungrateful?

For years I have given money to my kids, so their families and their kids can have a nice Christmas without falling into the traps I fell into. Yet, not once in over a dozen years did I ever get a thank you note, heck I rarely even got a Christmas card. Don’t mean to sound like I’m whining, my question is when do we stop trying to buy love and just move on?

This past holiday season I saw in myself how much of an addiction the holidays can be. I purchased a beautiful gift for my wife. One gift. Then my mind started wondering. Is that enough? Surely, I can find something else! I searched and looked and in the end I stayed with that one gift. I did also get a Christmas card for her and that was it.

When we opened our gifts she loved her card and two days later was still looking at it with love. The expression she had when she held her gift wrapped present was priceless. It is a photo that I will have in my mind forever.

It was perfect. One gift. Perfection. She didn’t want more… nor ask for more. One gift. And the ultimate gift? It is paid for and the books on this Christmas are closed – paid in full.

My life has been always trying to please others. The best way I knew how to do that was by buying their acceptance. The messages of my childhood that I was “less than” has stayed with me my whole life. Getting rid of those messages is a daily struggle. I don’t need to buy love. I don’t need to do anything special to earn acceptance. I don’t need to lose my own identity to please others because in the end, by doing so, I’ll never please myself.