hafacenturyncounting

Motivated by a lack of material.

Archive for the month “March, 2011”

What Greed Ultimately Costs You

There never seemed to be enough. I was an overweight child. I was not born that way, there were no hormone imbalances, I  did have a problem though. In my mind, there was never enough. I could never get enough. My parents never hid things from us, treats were accessible. However, we were all told if  we ate them up in one day that was it until the next grocery shopping day AND our behavior would be a consideration in whether or not we got those same treats again. I didn’t care. I had to have those “Oreos” and since we probably were not going to get any more any time soon, after I did what I planned on doing, I might as well eat the entire package. That sounds obsessive doesn’t it?

Defined as excessive, extreme desire for something and usually more than one’s share; greed has been a costly character flaw in numerous individuals lives. The media makes it seem as if it is okay and encourages us to want and pursue more. Bigger, stronger, faster; did I mention we need this gratification instantaneously. For the believers, isn’t it funny how the world generally is in direct conflict with God?

Let’s run with this for a moment. We are disapproving of the inner-city-entrepreneur. His education process and indoctrination from the streets. He sees, he wants, he goes after with whatever he has available to him. In”our world” that is initiative and drive. However, in both instances the same result is desired, THE REWARD. There it is what we all want but no one wants to work for it, no one wants to sacrifice for it, and no one certainly wants to wait for it. Oh but it looks/feels so good doesn’t it. Why can’t we have it easily? Why can’t we have it quickly? Why can’t we have it all?

My personal greed still costs me, because I still fight a loosing battle with these excessive, extreme desires. It is ugly and I hate to admit it, but I am human.  I really want to do better. Yet sin is sin; if you lie you will cheat and so on, simply because you are able to tell yourself well this is not as bad as that. Perhaps by acknowledging the existence of our flaws we are better equipped to recognize, face,  and maybe one day defeat them. I hope and pray that I am right about this.

Sacrifice, patience, and the ultimate reward. That is a recipe for something truly worth having. God has made it possible for us to claim the ultimate reward, because Jesus our savior made the ultimate sacrifice for us all. He paid the ultimate price for us, don’t let greed cost you the ultimate gift.

I’m With Stupid

Ah the catchy tee shirt slogans of the 70’s. Some genius came up with the idea of telling other people what was on our minds without having to be bold and/or brave enough to actually vocalize it. Furthermore,  if it was offensive you had the built in excuse, it’s just a tee shirt don’t take things so seriously.

“I’m with stupid” holds a special place with me. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, yet the reason I  feel the way I do about this particular slogan is that I have, on more than one occasion, felt as though the arrow in that slogan should be pointing to me. Somehow, somewhere along the road life has taken me on, I thought I would be making better decisions. I thought I would be wiser than in my youth and while this is all arguable so, I am still wondering why I am still able to manage doing stupid things. Is it that we somehow mistake the fact we have passed a certain chronological phase it places us in a higher intelligence level? The phase does pass  though; people do stop saying, ” They are much to old for that type of behavior”. Now they just think it.

Just as we relate death and age, it takes us a lifetime to realize that age and death have very little to with one another.  A young person dies and the first thing we note is, “______ was so young.”As a side note we never say” It was horribly insensitive of his lungs to give out after filling with water, didn’t they know he was only 14 years old. ” Perhaps this just illustrates that we really do not become smarter/ wiser with age.

Over the years there have been countless films, books, and screenplays about having the magical power to go back in time to re-do this or alter the course of that. I must admit I enjoyed these pieces of entertainment. I did exactly what the writers wanted. I said, “I wonder what I would do if given that opportunity again”. I question my readers, does this ever happen to you? Do you ever wish for that opportunity? Funny thing happened to me very recently though I asked myself, “What if this was the case, what if you were able to go back and get that “do over” with the awareness of what was to come and you ended up doing the exact same things?” It feels like The Twilight Zone to me. Therefore, pardon me while I escort “stupid” to another place.

Feels Good, To Feel Good

How many times can you watch a feel good movie? A movie that restores, if only for a couple of hours your faith in the human spirit.  the magical silver screen lets us escape to the romantic places that may not a part of our real everyday lives. It doesn’t matter if it is a true story like “The Blind Side” or  fiction like “The Karate Kid”.  Sometimes it’s the love story- comically growing up,”Cant Buy Me Love”; the love story- eternally serious “Wuthering Heights”; or the love story- self revealing and self discovering, “Something New”. Ordinary folk doing something extraordinary, overcoming life’s obstacles. Love that is conquering and triumphant.  These stories always make my heart skip a beat or two and that is great, because at my age it could easily be a health problem.

Our realities make the brief visits to happy places,  longed for and very welcomed. We are such a busy group that we do not take time out to, in fact smell the roses. Come on back with me to a Saturday around noon and the corny theme song to a made up rock and roll group began to play, announcing to all “here they come”. The guys were not more than cartoon characters themselves, doing silly things and getting into trouble, but alas there was always a happy ending. As time went on we got a glimpse of real life musicians who looked more like us, but they were ironically cartoons. We would later find out their existence was far, far away from the happiness and freedom of the cartoon lives portrayed on the television.

Saturdays still means escape to us. The beginning of OUR weekend. The part of the week where we don’t have to do anything that we don’t want to. We can sleep in late, because we made the schedule and we say what is on time. We don’t have any classes, so we don’t have to make sure homework was done the night before. We don’t even have to get dressed. This part of the week is ours to design and shape the way we want it to be.

It is short lived though. We sometimes feel sad, anxious, frustrated before it begins. Why can’t we have more time with our beloved weekend.

Here is a parting thought. Smile with me as we revisit the very first time you fell in love; mind you this is the love that only happens once in your life, because never again will you have the innocent heart required for this particular feeling of love. Loving someone and being in love are two very different experiences. Remember, if he or she went to school with you, you couldn’t wait to get to school to see that wonderful, special, incredibly good-looking being. The mere thought of them made your heart feel funny; be it skipping a beat or racing, it wasn’t acting or feeling normal. This fabulous unproductive time in your life, had you peeking from behind an obstacle or staring aimlessly into space. My theory is, though wonderful tributes of song and literature have been borne of this experience, it is not while the individuals were in the grasp of the experience. I can’t imagine how they could do anything, but be captivated by the source of their affection. It feels like an eternity and a heartbeat simultaneously. SLAP! In your life outside of being in love; not sleeping, not eating, thinking of only one thing would make you a physical and mental wreck. Another SLAP back to the feel good place. I have to end this on happy.  Search and figure out a way to carry that springtime, take-your-breathe-away feeling with you, at least for a little while everyday.

They Hold The Key To Your Heart

Let’s face it we Americans have an ongoing love affair with our automobiles. They symbolize beauty, sex appeal, success. Short version of the way we feel about self.

Have you ever lost your car keys? There was a point when I would sit my keys down and minutes later I had no idea where I put them. The worse thing about this was I had several keys attached to this one keyring; so if this mess of keys was lost I could not get in my house, I could not open my desk, and I certainly could not drive my car. Looking back at those times I wonder how I could be so careless and forgetful. As time went on that phase passed; I became resourceful, I stopped carrying all of my keys on one keyring and had copies of all of my keys, just in case. I learned it was not a good thing to have so much weight in your car’s ignition.

Suffice to say I cannot tell you the last time I lost my car keys. However, this deserves a bit of clarity, the truth is I did not actually lose my keys during this careless stage I merely misplaced them. The one and only time my keys were truly lost I was at work. I finished early enough to take advantage of over-scheduling and ended up waiting hours for a locksmith, who relieved me of $100.00 for two seconds of effort some twenty plus years ago.

Technology brought key finders and remote entry devices. For additional cost(be that vehicle selection or upgraded options) you don’t even have to carry a key to start your car engine. However, we everyday folk are still at the mercy of keys. I have been told around and/or about 1999 automobile manufacturers started distributing keys with “chips” in them. Now I have bought several new cars since 1999, and do recall hearing the word “chip” tossed about in reference to the keys, but remember I haven’t lost or misplaced a key in twenty plus years.This”chip” was marketed as an anti-theft device/deterrent, and while there may be some basis in fact here is some harsh reality about these wonderful little devices.

First, if you ever decide you need a spare key you cannot go by the local hardware store or even the large national chain that  has a key department and pay a couple of dollars for a quick copy.That little chip has enabled the automobile dealer the ability to almost exclusively be the only option you have to replace this once simple and common item. Getting a key copied is a service department matter; and get this it will take up an hour of your time, and cost you at least 150.00 depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Recently I purchased a used car which the owner only had one key, I found out the hard way and to say I was slightly upset (pissed off) is putting it mildly.

Now there are other options you can order keys and remotes from the internet and do a self-programing job. I am not that good with these types of things so I didn’t even  make an attempt. You can also take a chance with the hardware store key and hope it works, but does not mess up your alarm system or starter. I really don’t recommend this.

Low and behold there is a happy ending to this. There is a way to get a  fully operational key copy for what the dealer would charge you for the  blank un-programmed key alone. Do the research; look for a local small hardware store, not the big national companies they don’t have the equipment.

Strange isn’t it? Do you have any idea why any nation chain home improvement superstore would not have what a small “Mom & Pop Operation” does. What is there to be gained? Indulge me for a brief moment, if the automobile dealers are the only ones who make the keys then they have exclusiveness. A large national chain could put a dent in that exclusiveness, to avoid this happening the automobile companies pay this same chain to keep them from putting a dent in this exclusiveness.  Of course this is just a theory. However, once again we the consumer suffer.

You Can Count On Me, Until You Do

My family, all of who can swim, and I were caught in an area where a dam’s floodgates were going to be opened.  The time, in this state of limbo, was very brief. There was only time for me to go from one family member to the other and then collectively remind them I could not swim, and in the event we were not to safety before the gates opened they would have to hold onto me. I received “lack-luster” responses, more or less “brush-offs” as though I was overreacting. Although, they affirmed they would look out for me I was still anxious. Suddenly the wall of water broke loose and my family came to life, but they were not looking for me. There was a mad rush toward the closed, locked gates as waters rapidly approached. Terror filled my heart, I was in a state of quiet panic, then the gates opened and we all made it to safety. In the seconds to follow instead of sighs of relief and happy embraces, the scene was filled with me going up to my deserter family members and shoving each and every one of them in the chest as hard as I could and then sharing some choice words. Then I woke up. Whew! It was just a dream, but the next thought was for me to say a quick prayer and I did.

I interpreted that dream. It rocked me and my faith.  I feared a lesson was in the making. I really did not want a lesson, but we do not get to tell the Lord how we need to be taught. I hoped I was in the midst of the lesson already, and the Lord was telling me that He would save me from the disaster; just when I thought it was over, as hopelessness was overtaking me. My thought was and I envisioned, when all is lost you can count on God. That is not what I call an epiphany, that is just real.

I challenge you to examine this statement “You can count on me” , do you know who said it, who it applies to in your life. Maybe the statement was never made, maybe actions implied it. However, do you feel comfortable enough to put this statement to the test. When your loved ones are on the line, is this a wager you would be willing to make? Finally, how does this apply to you? Can you be counted on?

Let Go and Let’s Go

Simply, this is about release and moving on.

I have a beautiful pedigree cat, a Ragdoll. I adopted him a decade ago, he was a rescue. I laid eyes on him and thought, ” What a pretty cat. I’d like to have him”. I talked to his foster parent and get this sad story of a tormented, terrorized beauty. Well we had room for him in our home and I was ready for another cat in my life. I renamed him Storm,  partially because he was the color of threatening clouds and he had they deep blue eyes, but mostly because I hated his name Toby.

It had been 10 years since I had a cat, Yheti was a beautiful Himalayan Flame Point with soulful blue eyes who I got as a young cat of six months. He loved me and I loved him. When I came home in the afternoon, he was waiting at the door for me. He would come to me when I called  him.  You really have to be a cat owner to understand a close relationship with a cat. They are solitary,  independent, oftentimes moody creatures; you may pick one of them as a pet, but they decide if they want you. Yheti belonged to me. He became ill suddenly and we had to put him down. I left one morning with a cat that I knew was ill and returned home with a broken heart. Many years would pass before the thought of cat ownership would occur to me again.

Back to Storm. I knew there would be an adjustment period, but had no idea how very long that period would be. He was never the kind of pet his pedigree suggested. Noted for loving to be picked up and held, you did well being able to pet him on his back. Perhaps the ultimate blow was when he decided he preferred my eldest son, who did not even live with us at the time. The years passed and Storm did not change.  My position was to serve as caretaker/nurse. I accepted I had selected a creature who would never be a pet, at best he was a fixture.

Now he is 12, his health is not great, but it is not terminal. He is simply getting old. He could die tomorrow or live another 8 years(some exclusively indoor cats live 20 years), either of which I feel indifferently toward. I know that sounds bad, however it is true.

I spent a lot of time to talk about a cat, a pet if you will,  and not a very good one by my own admission. One may ask why. Here it is, my cat is characterizing how I think we are dealing with changes that occur in various times in our lives. The youth are impatient, anxious to get on with “it”, they have a vast unknown to discover and loads of time to do it in . The ones we consider elder folks want to slow things down, their unknown is plagued with the knowledge that the inevitable is probably close at hand. Then there is us. We tend to be stuck in neutral, we wait for something to happen rather than make it happen. We are not strongly in favor of slowing down, but we are not ready to jump feet first into anything either. We have a lot of recollection and memories to reflect upon. However, there is still the vague uncertainty of what is to come and when. Our challenge is, “What about The Now”, for this is the place where we currently reside?

Read This Before You….

Instructions. It is rumored that most men do not like reading directions. I know a few women that this applies to as well. The truth is almost all of us have issues with being told what to do on one level or another. The sad thing is that we are all forced to do that which we despise, and on a regular basis. My father, a wise man  indeed, told me as a child; “No matter who you are, no matter how rich or powerful you become, someone will always be telling you what to do.” My time with him was so very precious, I cannot recall exactly why this  particular discussion came about. I just know he was always able to put things into perspective for me. I may have said, “I hate doing this or when I grow up no one will ever make me do that”. Have words like that ever crossed your mind, have you ever said something along that line?

Instructions, directions, order, what’s wrong with them? I get a sense of stability from them, yet I resist. I  cannot say I have ever been particularly rebellious. I was not always in agreement with standards, but I would follow instructions. My protests were silent murmuring. Perhaps that is the worst kind of rebel, one who holds it in. Now on the other side of this milestone age, I find strong suggestions quite annoying (being polite). Orders  are viewed as trying to take control and at this point in life who needs to be controlled.  Not only do I not want to take these orders I do not want to give them either, for their are a few folks around that feel as I do, and they would make my life miserable.

The endeavor of owning my business was not completely based on a diluted view of independence, but in retrospect I have to realize it did play an important part. This was my way of taking control of the orders. I would now decide. Yet in reality, I only decided to take orders from someone in particular. Being in control is an illusion, an illusion that somehow you are in charge of something. The flip side of that control is responsibility, and are we not moving in a direction that is the polar opposite of responsible? We approach retirement, the children have grown up, mortgages almost paid off(I WISH!).

These endings in many ways represent freedom, but do not take freedom from whatever lightly. Freedom in itself has attachments; what will you do with these new found freedoms and what will they do to you? We all need purpose in life or we stagnate and die. Purpose requires interaction, interaction requires order/direction/instruction. Perhaps order is not so bad after all. As we look to simplify our lives isn’t it possible that one’s journey is easier to travel when it is mapped out in a plan, than to forge on aimlessly with no idea where you are going and what you will do once you arrive.

All We Do is Eat

When I was in my late twenties eons ago, one of my close friend’s mother(a.k.a. play aunt) was telling us about a gentleman she was seeing. Now she was/is an attractive lady, however as father time becomes a more familiar character in your life the “pickens become slimmer”. I remember laughing my heart out one day as she spoke of this gentleman with a bit of sarcasm; saying every time I call him or he calls me and the conversation moves to what are you doing he says, “Well er um I ‘m about to fix me something to eaaat…” I clearly remember thinking,” He must be a lazy fat slob lying around on the sofa, hot sauce drizzled down the front of his wife beater tee shirt. She can do much better than that.” I knew better, it was just a comical thought; his speech and diction alone dispelled that notion. However, Mr. Always-Feedin-His-Face did not disappear as rapidly as one might think.

I have to be honest here, food is my personal vice. If I am ever accused of anything, it will be first degree consumption. I am guilty as charged. I can find something to tempt my taste-buds on most menus, and if I cannot buy it generally I can cook it for myself. I have to ask, is gluttony a pre-geriatric condition? Do we, just before slipping into he ranks of “old age”, become reduced to virtual  eating machines. I can see how it could happen very easily.  Eating is recreational, eating is entertaining, eating is sensual.

Where are the “tailgaters”,  and who makes the best beef  brisket you know? Be it a football game or a backyard cookout, these are examples of eating for recreation. These events are excuses to eat. “Let’s do lunch, dinner is on me”…. Okay you may get together with those special someones to discuss the way of the world, or  even a business opportunity, but ultimately you are trying to get at that food. Candle light dinner at an out of the way little restaurant, breakfast on the balcony overlooking the white sandy beach and it will be that much better IF a stimulating conversation comes up.

Eating is wonderful, but we have to remember that what we eat will determine if we will be around for that next fantastic meal. It is easy to overdo, and  then overlook our health in this process of eating. One can be overwhelmed with the intake and ignore the danger signs. Don’t let “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” be your prophetic epitaph. So if all you do is eat, put some fiber and green veggies in your diet as well.

“I Gotta Rock”

You know this line. Any self-respecting “Charlie Brown “fan recognizes this from “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”. We are getting on in years. Some of us are doing it better than others.

Now do we sit still and accept the fateful hand of what nature has dealt us, or do we handle nature in our unique manner? Let’s explore. Remember when there were no advertisements for physicians? The way you found a doctor was through a family member, a friend, or by chance. Now some big P.R firm shoves the idea of having Doctor I. M. Special for your primary care physician down your throat and you accept it. After all you saw him on television all fixed up to look perfect, and if he is perfect you are convinced he knows what he is doing. There was a time that plastic surgeons were looked upon as the “perpetual black sheep” of the profession, now they are the “golden child” and it is all because of mainstreaming. We are looking for perfection, or the edge that can give us a closer shot at it. Keep in the back of your mind, that we all are moving on in age like it or not.

You have lived through years of eating three meals a day at some fast food restaurant and you wonder why you are overweight and have high blood pressure. Well we have to fix that, schedule yourself for out-patient liposuction and get a prescription for a diuretic of  your choice? Now what is the “hot drug” this week?By the way did it ever occur to you that just because some large pharmaceutic company is pushing a  particular drug that you may not be qualified to suggest to a trained physician what you need to take. You can stop putting that unhealthy fat-riddle fast food into your system, you can start exercising and eating balanced meals, oh but what am I saying that process would take time. I’m gonna need this weight loss/improved health/more youthful look on the instant gratification plan.

I shook my head in minor disgust, as I noticed the national tabloids sporting articles on celebrity cellulite and plastic surgeries gone wrong. I watched an ad for anti-aging cream  warn about fifty year old skin.  Well what’s wrong with fifty year old skin,  especially if you are fifty. If you have cellulite you go to the local plastic surgeon; he botches things up, now not only do you still have the signs of cellulite, you have additional scarring. You could have had that cellulite and not incurred a costly and possibly dangerous procedure. Forgive me, I am not going to rush out and have a doctor put me into a sleep that I may not awake from, so he can do something  to me that may not work.

When I was growing up my parents cautioned me to take care of my things, so that they would last for a longer time period. Huummm…However, when you are not satisfied with self, when you think that there is an easier, faster way of deceiving nature and turning back the hands of time; you have to realize that you, much like “Charlie Brown”, may end up with a rock.

II-“hafamindtochange”

Here we are again, in search for that comfort zone, we return to what is familiar.  What happened? Are we not trendsetters; the generation where so many changes took place that when the smoke cleared, we hardly recognized where we were and who we were.

Did we settle in or did we just settle?  Is it possible that so much change bred complacency, and innovation died in the process.

Mine is a restless soul, but I am NOT a risk-taker. I did a job for almost half my life and I didn’t even like it. As-A-Matter-of-Fact most people who knew me would tell you I actually hated it. I didn’t even know that I wasn’t doing a good job of disguising that contempt, it was after all, a means to an end . In silent protest or sheer stupidity I actively undermined a comfort zone. A method I would not suggest. I wish I could say that was the first, last , and only time I did something like that. I wish I could call it brave, devil-may-care, or cavalier, naah I was just plain stupid. The good news is I managed to land on my feet. I managed, with the help of God.

Born and raised as a Baptist, in adult life I sought an affiliation that was a bit more calm and reserved. The Methodists appealed to me and I joined them. I served on the usher board  primarily, because I could not sing. It made me feel like I was on the right road, I found that place with the Methodist. The spouse was not interested in organized religion but would ocassionally visit a place of worship. The children, as children, were never encouraged or discouraged from attending. Yet ironically, it was one of my children that lead me to my current pla ce of worship and in this place I have learned more in a few months than I did in all the years I attended and went through the motions . Sunday Service is a pleasure, a welcomed needed retreat and refuge. “And a little child shall lead them” Isaiah 11:6

What waits for us on the other side? The other side of what, well the other side of anything that is a barrier or stumbling block. My two examples give the impression of  it turned out better for you, but did you read between the lines? Just because we stop at a good point does not mean that the trek was not riddled with challenges. What is this life without challenges. God never told us that this life would be easy, He did say He would never leave us. Don’t be afraid  of change, have a little faith.

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