Category: Uncategorized

Riding the storm out

Riding the storm out

Everyone faces storms in life. Some blow out as quickly as they blow in. Others linger, deluging you with heartache. And some never seem to leave.

For quite a while, life has been like being trapped in a Category 5 hurricane – destruction and heartbreak at every turn. Sure, every now and then the wind and rain would subside down to about Category 3 level, building up my hopes only for them to be dashed when the intensity returned.

I had reached the point where I simply wanted the storm to end – one way or the other. I was about to give up when something happened. A shaft of sunlight broke through the clouds for just a moment and restored a little hope to life.

With one email, I began to think the storm was ready to part. One email lead to another and then a phone call. Then another phone call and another and then a longer phone call. And at that end of that call the clouds broke and the sun shone brighter than it had in a long time.

As the storm pushes away from my life, a new adventure is ready to begin. What is that adventure, you ask? Well, thanks for asking because I am ready to scream it from the mountain tops. Here goes – I’M MOVING TO FLORIDA!!!

That’s right after spending most of the last 35 years in North Carolina and the last 13 at my current job, a door burst open with a privately owned newspaper in central Florida and the offer was just too good to pass up. And the offer was the first real ray of hope in a long time – one that came at the perfect moment.

While it was an “easy” decision, it is never easy to box up your life and move on. Yes, the storms of life had been battering me recently, but the rains don’t wash away the amazing memories I have made here. I graduated from college. I met my future wife and we got married here. We built and owned our first home. We have friends that we will cherish for a lifetime. But if the prolonged storm taught me anything it was to seek the rays of light life offers and follow them.

So the adventure begins. Boxes are starting to pile up. Donations are heading out of the house faster than pizza disappears around me. The stress level ebbs and flows from cataclysmic levels one minute to a mere minor annoyance the next. But life has reached a level of excitement that has not been present for quite a while.

Saying goodbye is never easy. Despite the many “bad” things that have happened of late, part of me will always be in North Carolina – much like part of me still resides in Pennsylvania. There are amazing people who have shaped my life in both places, people who have made me the person I am today. I pray that I will find those kind of people on the next stop of the journey.

One thing is for sure, it will be nice to see some sun and be out of life’s storm for a while. I certainly know that storms will come back – literally and figuratively – but there is joy in the journey again. And I have to say that makes riding out the storm worthwhile.

Laughing to keep from crying

Laughing to keep from crying

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I try to post something funny or whimsical each day. Some folks have been nice enough to thank me for giving them a daily giggle or for helping them start their day with a smile. I am happy to do so, but truth be told, there is another reason I do it. Let me explain.

If you have ever suffered with anxiety, depression or just general malaise, you understand how difficult it can be to get out of bed each day. You certainly know that smiling or laughing are extremely difficult when all you really feel like doing is crying. For me, the chance to make others laugh often covers up my inability to do so, and it certainly helps me feel better to know that I have made others smile.

I know this about myself, but it never really struck me how important making others laugh is to some people until the passing of Robin Williams. Many of the moments I have laughed the hardest have been watching or listening to Robin Williams. I honestly believe he was one of the funniest men to ever live, but he certainly wasn’t living a happy life based on the sad end to which he came. And I have to wonder if he was working the hardest to make others laugh at the times his life was the darkest.

Those suffering from depression or anxiety will find their own coping mechanisms. Some will eat. Others may exercise. And then there are those of us who swallow our pain and sadness by trying to make those around us happy. We receive joy when those around us are smiling. Unfortunately the flip-side of this is when a joke bombs and no one laughs – that makes us feel worse. And there are times when we will joke at inappropriate times because we simply can’t deal with what life is giving us. It’s not that we are being crass, but we simply can’t bear any more pain and anguish so we try to joke our way through it.

Sadly, those who seek to make others laugh often fool those around them into thinking that life is fine. Others believe anyone that funny can’t simply have problems. In actuality, the problems exist but the coping mechanism of humor helps cover them over. Sometimes the funniest people alive are living a miserable existence, much like must have been the case for Robin Williams. Underneath all his antics and wackiness was a man who obviously had a lot of problems.

All of us have our good days and bad ones. And those people you run across who seem to be hilarious and fun-loving, have their bad days as well. Never forget when dealing with people to look past the surface to see how someone is really doing. And after you laugh at someone’s joke, take time to ask them – how are you REALLY doing? Sure, you might get another joke as an answer. Or you might just find that the funny man needs a hug and a listening ear. What a difference that might make in someone’s life and it just might keep the laughter going for a while longer.

The good, the bad and the learned

The good, the bad and the learned

I sat in my newsroom tonight, alone, trying to get caught up on some work. The only sound emanated from the scanner – the constant source of information and, at times, entertainment for journalists. I glanced around the room, picturing the people who would be at those desks in the morning. Then my mind wondered a little farther, and I began to envision those who occupied those desks a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago.

It dawned on me as I took a few moments to reminisce that I had learned a great deal from the people who manned those cubicles and offices. Some of them I looked up to for they had helped me when I was just a kid cutting my teeth in the business. They answered all my questions. They offered me advice and tips. They made me a better journalist, editor and page designer. Some of them became like family as I felt a camaraderie and love for them that makes them special to this day.

Others, to put it kindly, I just couldn’t stand. They were irritating, braggadocios, incompetent … well, I believe you get the picture. But after some thought, I realized that I also learned from them. I educated myself in the ways not to do things or to treat people. I learned traits that I did not want to emulate. I saw things in them that if I avoided would make me a more productive journalist.

You see, a newsroom is a microcosm of life. We always will have those people in life that we love and cherish. Friends and family who stand by us and offer advice and tips that make us better people. These are people we love to be with and we want to experience as much of our life with them as possible. Then there are those people in life that we simply don’t care for. We separate ourselves from them, avoiding them as much as possible because we just don’t like them.

Both groups have something important in common – we can learn something from them. Countless people come in and out of our lives. There are those we look up to who are gone too soon. There are those we dislike who seem to stick around far too long. No matter our feelings for people we can learn something from everyone. Good lessons and bad help shape us and make us better people. How you view these experiences will help determine what kind of learned person you become.

If you avoid the irritants in life at all cost, you are going to miss out on valuable lessons. How will you ever know which traits are bothersome if you never experience them? How will you learn what mistakes not to make if you first don’t witness them? How can you become a better person if you don’t live life with some people who aren’t friendly or uplifting so you can see the flaws in your own character?

A newsroom is a diverse group of people who hold a common goal – to inform the public and put out the best product possible. Some people you will like, even love, and consider them treasured friends. Others you would gladly do the 25 to 30 years the judge might give you for your actions. But from all of them you can take things that will make you a better human being. And life outside of the workplace is the same. Everyone, good or bad, can teach you something if you are willing to learn from them.

As I reflected on the newsrooms of yesteryear, the names floated through my mind. I could hear old co-workers favorite expressions and tidbits of advice. I can recall the times we laughed together with a sense of humor only journalists can really appreciate it. I remembered those folks who were less than pleasant to work with and the lessons I learned from watching how they went about things. Both groups left a lasting impression, and hopefully, made me a better journalist.

As I continue to travel life’s path, I think about the lessons I have learned from everyone I have met along the way. Some were amazing opportunities with wonderful people who I will cherish forever. Other moments were painful, irritating and downright maddening, but contained valuable lessons of their own. The good and bad of life have helped me become more learned. And it did so more readily when I was willing to learn from everyone. How about you – are you willing to be taught by both friend and foe? If you are, life will hold far more lessons for you to learn and from which to grow.

It’s about to get lit in here

It’s about to get lit in here

What in the world am I doing with the title of this blog? I don’t even know if I am using that “hip” expression the way it should be. I am just trying to sound cool, and the one thing I have known for years is I am not cool. Sorry to disappoint any of you who thought I was.

As we get older, we have to admit things to ourselves – and others. Some of those things are silly – like me thinking I was ever cool. Rest assured, no one was ever going to confuse me with the Fonz when it comes to coolness. Just like no one was going to mistake me for a professional athlete or the sexiest man in the world. I always have been who I am – just the average guy who grew up in Small Town America and did his best to fit in.

Lately I have had to admit something to myself that is quite painful about that little kid who grew up in the small town. I guess I kind of knew this about my life, but I have never admitted it. Maybe I was embarrassed. Maybe I didn’t want to admit it happened to me. But as I have moved through life, there has been an issue that has bothered me more so than others, so it might be time to put my cards on the table.

As a journalist, I read accounts of horrible things happening to people each and every day. I can’t avoid it; it comes with the job. Natural disasters, murders, fatal wrecks, dirty politicians – on and on goes the laundry list of terrible issues that make the news. One has hit me harder than all of these – not because those others aren’t important but because the victims often are the most helpless in society. I am referring to the issue of bullying – and mainly when it comes to children. I know adults also are bullied, but children being the subject of cruel and many times physical attacks really gets me fired up.

The reason is simple – I was bullied. Now, don’t get me wrong – what I suffered is no where near the magnitude of what many young people suffer today. Bullying has gone far past simple name calling and the relatively harmless pushing and shoving. Today, children are killing themselves because of the abuse they receive from their peers simply because they are different. Often those who can help are too late for these children who feel there is nothing they can do to make life better than end it.

Bullying leaves scars – some literal, some figurative. But those who are bullied all end up with their life changed in some way. For me, the bullying may have been because I was a small kid. Maybe it was because I wasn’t very cool and not very athletic. Maybe it was because I was smarter (a geek) than those who were bullying me. No matter the reason I was bullied, the actions of others affected my every day life just as it does anyone who is bullied.

In school I would linger by my locker in hopes of giving the bullies a chance to leave or get to class so I wouldn’t pass them in the hall. Other times I would rush to my locker and leave out the back of the school, traversing the football practice field and walking home. The best thing for me was avoidance, but when that didn’t work, I had another weapon at my disposal – comedy. No, I didn’t stop the bullies with a knock-knock joke. I developed a self-deprecating humor that often would disarm or appease the bullies. You see, if I made fun of myself, there really wasn’t anything for the bully to do other than maybe a shove or a punch on the arm before they would walk away.

The problem with that for me is that I have carried that humor with me through my whole life. As many people have said, including myself on many occasions, I am my own worst enemy. To this day, I still am quick to make fun of myself when I feel threatened or pressured. What was a defense mechanism to combat bullies became a permanent weapon in my arsenal. Frankly, it isn’t a healthy habit but one I find difficult to break.

Why am I sharing this with you? Really, I have no idea other than to educate people that bullying does indeed leave a lasting impression on its victims. No, I didn’t commit suicide because I was bullied. No, I didn’t shoot up my school because I was teased and abused. However, I didn’t come through it unscathed either. No child who is bullied remains unblemished. It’s terrible to go through your childhood being scared of who might be around the next corner. I coped the best way I knew how, as do many young people today. But my point is they shouldn’t have to cope. Children should not live in fear of being ridiculed because they are small, uncoordinated, smart or whatever it is that makes them different than the “cool” crowd.

Bullying needs to stop and we need to do everything in our power to make sure it does. If you are a parent and you believe your child might be the victim of bullying, talk to them. Find out what is going on. Empathize with them and don’t simply offer trite “solutions” to their problem. These children need to be heard before they are helped. If the problem is serious, talk to the proper authorities to help the situation. If you think your child might be the one doing the bullying, stop them! Do what it takes, but make sure your child is not the reason another young person does something drastic that will cause harm to themselves or others.

No, nothing got “lit” in this blog other than maybe my pride. No one likes to admit that they were bullied, but if by doing so, I can spark conversation or help one person who is being bullied than I am willing to suffer a bruised ego. Many times a bruised ego is far easier to deal with than a bruised and battered body.

Life’s dark journey

Life’s dark journey

Imagine yourself in a dark tunnel, so narrow you can barely turn around. There are no turns, no deviation in altitude – just a long, straight, pitch-black tunnel that you have to travel. When you scream out, your voice bounces back joining the cacophony of voices echoing in your head. You see no way out, no way in, no relief in sight.

Now, picture this subtle nuance of your dark journey – you can see the smiles of those on the outside. You can hear the laughter, witness the successes and jubilation. All those things you long for are right there – just on the outside of your personal hell. Try as you might, you can’t reach out and join the celebrations, but you can experience them all from the outside looking in. Stop and think what a life like this must be like.

I am not a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist. I am just another face on this big planet of our’s who was shaken by the recent tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. While I may have never met either of them or have any idea what they were going through, the subject of suicide is one for which I have strong feelings. For you see, I imagine these two amazing people were traveling down their own dark tunnel. And as is normally the case, I have heard words to describe Spade and Bourdain which I simply think are unfair. While you may disagree with me, and I am sure many will, I am going to share some things I believe to be true.

First, I often hear people use the word selfish to describe those who take their own lives. I would ask you to think just the opposite. Many of the people who I have known – personally or by reputation – who commit suicide are the most selfless people I know. It seems they are constantly doing things for those around them to make them happy or to assist in making life easier. As has been said before, I think this is because people contemplating suicide know how miserable life can be, so they do everything the can to make others happy so they never know the misery of traveling life’s dark tunnel. Selfish? No, these people are many times selfless to the point that they exhaust all hope that their life will ever be better. So stop and think about those around you who seem to spend their lives trying to make others smile and laugh – maybe they need someone to help them do those things.

Second, you will hear that people who commit suicide are chicken or cowardice. Those words anger me no end. Put yourself in their shoes. Stop and think what it must be like slogging through that dark tunnel never feeling the joy and happiness of those around them. Imagine what it must be like to drag yourself out of bed every morning just hoping beyond hope that one little thing goes right. I believe it takes an immense amount of courage and strength to go through life like this. And imagine the immense amount of courage it must take to end your own life. It’s one thing to ponder ending your life; but a completely different thing to actually go through with it.

Third is the thought that suicide is a sin for which there is no forgiveness. I will never be one to sit and believe I know the Lord’s mind and plan for anyone’s life. I barely know what is going on in my life, so why would I have the gall to judge someone’s actions. I prefer to think that God approaches each and every life individually. Just because a person was rich and famous doesn’t mean they were happy. Their tunnel could have been long, lonely and horrible and the only person who can know that is God. I believe He will judge these people knowing all the facts – something none of us can do.

For many people, contemplating suicide is all they do. They think about it, pondering what life would be like if they weren’t in it. Some will even go as far as to plan how they would go. But these people still have a sliver – albeit small – of hope. It’s that slight hope of things getting better that keeps them shuffling down the dark tunnel. The thought that the one person they want to acknowledge them might just smile or talk to them. The hope that all the hard work they do will be recognized and they might be appreciated for their efforts. So that slim chance of something good coming keeps them going.

However, there comes a time when depressed and hurting people reach the end of the tunnel. There is no door to let them out. There is no hand reaching out to help. It’s at this point that people lose all hope. Those people who they desperately tried to impress, love, help, influence paid them no mind. All that work they did in desperate need of getting some affirmation simply led to more and more work with no one really appreciating it. All their efforts were for naught. Life for people at this point is like a candle that slowly has burned itself out, and the only thing they know is bringing it to a sad and tragic end.

For a lucky few, their hope perseveres and someone reaches out and helps them get the help they desperately need. These people escape the tunnel and are able to see their slim hope begin to flourish. But the truth is the tunnel never completely disappears. Even for those who never reach the tragic end of suicide, they still remember the journey. They can still be haunted by their past – the dark feelings of failure, emptiness, pain and heartache. Each day is a new journey in hopes of never returning to the tunnel.

The one thing I know to be true is you never really know what a person is going through. You can never know the depth of pain, heartache and anguish a person is suffering. For you see, many of us try to hide those ugly things. You don’t want people to see you as “weak” or “cowardice.” While the real hope is that at least one person sees through the veil of fake happiness and reaches out to help.

Is suicide the answer? I think what we need to ask ourselves is – what is the real question? If you were traveling down your own dark tunnel with no help and merely the slightest sliver of hope would you know anything else? Suicide is an ever-growing reality in our society – one for which I don’t have the answers. The tunnel is dark and long, but we need to find a way to help those who desperately need it before their tunnel comes to a sad and tragic end.


Keep living life

Keep living life

One thing is certain about life – it never stops. It can come at you fast with moments of joy being eclipsed by times of intense sorrow. One day you can be on the mountaintop and the next in the darkest valley. It won’t matter how well you eat, how much rest you get or how much money you have in the bank – life will throw things at you for which you won’t be ready.

Unfortunately, when times are rough, there will not always be someone there to help. In fact, there may even be those who don’t care about your plight. In most cases, your employer cares little about your child’s illness or your financial difficulties. They only care that you make your shift on time. Your co-workers probably are more concerned about you doing your work so they don’t have to. Even the closest of friends may not be able to help because they may be going through their own personal hell.

So what can you do? When it appears life’s storm is too much to survive, what then? Much like a person adrift at sea, you have to keep fighting. If the person lost in the ocean doesn’t battle for survival, there is a very good chance he or she will die unless someone is lucky enough to find them. When we feel life has given us more than we can handle, we need to keep on keeping on. We have to wake up each morning, get out of bed and keep fighting. We have to take care of ourselves when no one else can.

It’s far too easy when times are tough to pack up your tent and surrender. It seems the best course of action when we are down is to curl up in the fetal position and hide. But here’s the thing, even when you do that life doesn’t stop. It is going to keep coming at you in waves – some good, some bad. No matter how much you try to avoid life you can’t. You can’t sit around waiting for the good times and not expect there to be bad. You have to keep living life no matter the circumstances.

So if today things in life are not as you would like, look in the mirror and tell yourself these two simple words – keep fighting! Keep living life no matter the situation. Strive to be a better person today than you were yesterday. Yes, seek help from those who can help you. Yes, pray to the one who is always there to assist in our times of need and times of joy. But never give up on yourself. Never give up fighting. Never give up living life. You only go around once, so keep fighting to make it the best life you can.

What patience?

What patience?

The old saying is patience is a virtue. I prefer to think of patience as a test that I flunk each and every day. Not a day goes by where something or someone doesn’t cause me to lose my patience. And then I am constantly reminded that is one more “test” I have failed. I mean, come on – minute rice takes 45 seconds too long to make. I shave my head because I don’t have the patience to comb my hair. Seriously!

I have no idea why I am patience deficient. I guess I have been for as long as I can remember, but I am not patient enough to think about it for long. Traffic. Lines at the grocery store. Poor Wi-Fi connection. People who would rather talk than work. On and on I can list the things that try my patience. In fact, I could probably spend countless days making a list if I was just patient enough to sit and do it.

I am not even patient enough to enjoy a good meal. I eat so fast one would think that I had never seen food before. And don’t even ask me to sit in your lobby waiting for an hour to eat so I can be done in less than 10 minutes – not going to happen. That kind of commitment to a meal takes patience, and I ain’t got it.

And don’t even get me started with being patient with those who call themselves leaders. Whether it’s in the workplace or the government, I have zero time for those who can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. Talk about a serious patience explosion. I have no time for those windbags at all. My patience wears extra thin with those who can’t do anything more than talk a big game.

OK, yes, I know I need to be more patient. Yes, I must be more patient with those around me who can’t live up to my unrealistic expectations. But please don’t ask me to pray for patience. The one thing I have learned through the years is that is a bad idea. If I pray for patience, I am going to face even more tests of my nonexistent patience. And that really tries my patience. And, no, I am not going to make it my New Year’s resolution.

I think I need to wrap this up now because I am not patient enough to keep trying to tell you about how I don’t have any patience. Hopefully you had enough patience to make it through this. As for me, I guess I will have to hope one day I find the time to be patient enough to look for patience. Come on light turn green already!!

No one to blame

No one to blame

I am no longer dreaming of a white Christmas. No, we have not been hit by a massive snowstorm causing all the bread and milk to disappear in the South. Instead, I turned my kitchen white this morning because I am an idiot. You see, if you go to shake up the coffee creamer and don’t check to make sure the lid is on tight, well …

As is the case I am sure with many of us, when we do something stupid we look for someone to blame. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to look long to find the responsible party. I could blame someone else in my house for not closing the lid, but I was the one who just checked to make sure the seal had been removed. I could blame the company for making a terrible lid, but that line of thinking would be faulty. I only had myself to blame for the sticky mess that now had my black sweatshirt spotted white and smelling of cinnamon roll.

The unfortunate white out reminded me of a critical life lesson – we all look for someone to blame when life doesn’t go as planned. Certainly there are times when things are not of our doing. The person running the red light who hits our car is not our fault. The company going bankrupt causing people to lose their jobs is not their fault (entirely). The storm that damages your house again is not your fault. And we could sit around playing the blame game and pointing fingers, but would it do any good?

You see, finding someone to blame doesn’t change the situation. Sure, I wouldn’t feel like the complete moron I am if I could blame someone else for my creamer conundrum. But that wouldn’t change the fact that creamer was everywhere and needed cleaned up. All that would happen if I had someone else to blame is I would be angry and sticky – what would that solve?

There will always be unfortunate circumstances in life – and some will be completely our own doing. Wasting time trying to find someone to blame would simply be counterproductive. Passing blame and complaining about what someone did – or didn’t – do is merely a waste of time. What we need to do is pick up the pieces and move on. Just as I had to clean up the mess I made in my kitchen, we need to sweep up the messes life makes from time to time and keep living life.

As Christmas approaches, are you sitting around blaming someone for the troubles in your life? Have you taken a moment to look in the mirror and see if you are really to blame? Forgive whoever needs forgiven and quit wasting time playing the blame game. Life is not going to stop while you point fingers, so clean up the mess and move on. You will find life is more enjoyable and productive if you do.

Why not?

Why not?

I have hesitated to put into words the feelings I am about to share. I am about to wade into the deep end of the pool, and I know by the time I finish some of you may be ready to hold my head under until the bubbles stop. That’s OK; this is a topic that is dividing not only our country but the world. But I am going to share anyway, and I hope you take these words with the spirit intended and not as me trying to stir the pot.

Before I go any further, I am not here to start an argument about the weapon chosen to take human lives in Texas. Devin Kelley could just as easily have stolen a semi and drove it into the Sutherland Springs church killing scores of people. He could have mixed pounds of fertilizer with other chemicals and blown up the building. He could have used a large knife to kill innocent people. But he chose a gun as his weapon. And it was just that – a weapon. So this is not about the weapon but the event.

Now, attacks on innocent lives are happening with regularity around the world and many times the first question people ask is why. Now, not to be crude or uncaring, but I think the question that comes to me first is why not. I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon or some doom-and-gloomer, but to me it is a miracle more things like this don’t happen. And, again, it has nothing to do with the weapon these people choose.

Here is my thought on this – people are quick to label these mass murderers or terrorists as having mental issues. Well, of course they do! You have to be a little off to willingly take countless innocent lives. I would like to think no sane person wakes up in the morning thinking acts like this are acceptable. These individuals have issues that need to be addressed, and unfortunately, they often are not.

As a society, we are failing those who need us most. Maybe it’s because we are scared to confront someone who we know needs help. Maybe we don’t know where to turn to get them help. Or maybe we just don’t want to get involved. No matter the excuse, we are failing people who need help, and too often lately these people spiral out of control and others pay the price. We need to change the way we see mental illness and do more to help those in need.

When a friend or loved one has a physical issue, we encourage him or her to seek medical help. When they are unable to do so for themselves, we call the appropriate medical authorities. Why are we not as willing to do so for those who are suffering from mental issues? When did we become so concerned about political correctness as to turn our backs on someone in desperate need?

In a world marked by hatred and division, is it any wonder that these situations happen? People who already are suffering are being bombarded with hatred and violence every time they watch the news or pick up a paper. In a fragile condition mentally already, they are moved by these images and accounts thinking that might just solve their problem. Often these individuals have lost the ability to think clearly because of whatever demons they are battling, and without help, may make deadly decisions.

I am not so naive as to think that better mental health care will solve all the world’s problems. There always will be radicals driven to violence by their beliefs or the ideology they choose to follow. But I do believe that if we can help those who desperately need it we might just be able to stop one or two of these individuals. And don’t you think the people of Texas would be much better off today if someone had helped Mr. Kelley get the help he obviously needed.

Folks, you are not being intrusive or meddlesome by trying to help someone with mental illness. You are showing them the ultimate act of love and caring by encouraging them to seek help – or in extreme cases, calling someone in authority to force them to get help. We can no longer ignore the plight of the mentally ill. We do so at our own risk, and to the risk of countless innocent people. It’s time to stop asking why these things happen and do what we can to prevent them from happening. Why not help? Why not be part of the solution? Why not?

If I only had a brain…

If I only had a brain…

As I sit here and listen to music that takes me back to a simpler time, I am asking myself – if I could go back to those days, what would I do differently? Laugh more? Love deeper? Live life more fully? What would I change if I was able to go back and do so?

While I would certainly do all of those things I have mentioned, there is one thing I am convinced I would do if I could turn back time – I would think more. Now lest you think am an idiot – and believe me, I am sure there are many people who think I am just that – it wasn’t like I didn’t think at all. I do see myself more like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz than the other characters, but I do have a brain. Trouble is I just didn’t use it enough.

Like many young people, I relied on what others were telling me rather than thinking for myself. While I do believe we need to seek out wise counsel, I’m not sure I was always hearing from wise people. What others said sounded good and many times it was easier for me to roll with what they thought than to think for myself. You see, thinking is hard work. You actually have to stop having fun and concentrate. Unfortunately for me, that was not always high on my to-do list.

Now, I don’t have anyone to blame for the poor decisions I have made in life other than myself. It was my choice to not think (or not think enough) about the choices I was making. It was my laziness that caused me to simply rely on other’s advice or follow the first thing that came to mind. I chose to dance around and sing, “If I only had a brain.” Again, like many of us, I’m not stupid – I just didn’t think about what would happen if I made certain decisions.

So, what now? All that not thinking has gotten me to where I am today – what should I do now? Simple – think more. Be more careful with my choices. Take the time necessary to analyze the major decisions of life rather than jump at the first thought. Seek “wise” counsel from people I know I can trust and who have proven themselves worthy of that trust over the years. I have to use my head for more than a hat rack if things are to change.

For some people things like laughing, loving, living carefree come easy. But thinking can be a real challenge. It’s not that they aren’t smart. It’s just they often can’t slow down from living life and take time to ponder what it is they are to do. And so, for me, I believe today I will think about thinking. Then and only then can I use the brain the good Lord gave me for more than remembering song lyrics from a day gone by.