Friday, October 31, 2008

Change "You" Can Believe In

We have heard a lot about "change" during this presidential election. Both candidates have committed to changing the course of this country. But let's make it personal for a second. How can you change the course of your life?
Perhaps you have a nagging habit like chewing your fingernails. Maybe you sit around all day and get nothing accomplished. There is a chance you are like me and are intent on exercising. Tomorrow, always tomorrow.
And what if you are the person who's need for change runs deeper? You need to change the way you treat your wife. You need to change the way you talk to and around your children. You need to work harder so you are not in danger of losing your job. Your overall temperament is so rotten that people can't stand to be around you for lengthy periods. You need to talk that girl you have a crush on. You need to meet new people. Any people.

Here is the change you can believe in: First, if it is something you truly desire to change, then set about to change it. I imagine that hit you as either too simplistic or too difficult. Such as our election, there is little room for middle ground by thinking, "oh, well that all makes sense now. I will get on that!" But until you get over the mental hurdle that change needs to happen and you actually want it to happen, no change will occur.
Once you have it in your mind to change, start small. It is great to realize the end goal but know that you will not jump from nothing to the end result without a little work. If it was that easy, you would have done so in the time it took to read this post. In starting small, find progressive steps. It is suggested by some that before you must implement change, you must plan out your course. I agree to an extent, but this is where most people get discouraged and bogged down. If you are finding you are getting stuck, move on. Sometimes the best course is to put one foot in front of the other and before you know it, you have reached your destination.
After you have moved beyond planning, start obtaining your goal in small increments. Try not chewing your nails for a day, run half a mile, talk to a girl you don't like. Gradually add onto this: don't chew your nails for a week at a time, add half a mile to your run every other week, say "hello" to the girl you like when passing her by. Repeat until your goal is reached.
If you slip, don't be afraid to start again or try a new way of getting there. Thomas Edison said about his light bulb invention, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Over the next few weeks, I will break down change in more detail. The change, however, starts with you.
In the meantime, I would love to hear your examples. What do you want to change? What have you tried changing? Success? Failures?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charlotte Word Camp

Charlotte WordCamp is coming to town on November 15, 2008 and I am hoping to attend. Charlotte WordCamp is a conference type of event that focuses squarely on everything WordPress. Everyone from casual end users all the way up to core developers show up to these events. These events are usually highlighted by speeches or keynotes by various people.

So why am I telling you about this? For a few reasons. First, by posting a blog on the event, I can potentially earn a free registration to the event sponsored by Second, I would really like some input onto how I can make my blog more interactive and user friendly. Please provide input on anything you can think of. Are my posts too long? Is the font or coloring making it difficult to read? Do I make it to personal or not personal enough? Content: what would you like to read about?

My last two blog posts have had more readers and comments than my entire blog's combined history. How did you find my blog and what would keep you coming back to read it on a normal basis?
And for those observant types that notice the conference is for WordPress while my blog is on Blogspot, I will learn valuable tips for blogging in general but I also have a blog planned out for the future that will exclusively focus on counseling issues and an advice column, which will most likely end up on WordPress.
You can answer these questions and provide in feedback below.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Doom and Gloom Mentality

Currently our citizens are experiencing, what some would define as, pretty rough times. We have two politicians, which approximately the same amount of people vehemently hate, vying for our country's top political office. People who could once take pride in the fact that they had a roof over their head, may no longer experience that same comfort. Even our future is at stake as Mutual Funds, IRAs, and 401ks are being rocked by a volatile stock market. We don't trust our financial institutions, our creditors, our government or each other.
Picking up the news paper or turning on the news is like an exercise in futility as we find out about natural disasters, crooked politicians, crazy foreign leaders, gas prices and crime. It is easy to see why people are increasingly getting depressed and hopeless. This has even trickled down into some of my personal interests. For example: I am a huge Tennessee fan. We have not had a great football season. But instead of realizing that we have an inexperienced QB and a new offensive scheme, people on the message boards act like it is the end of the world. If Tennessee loses, life is lost. I am sure you can think of similar examples. Your team also sucks, gas lines that recently troubled and nearly crippled the South, the double cheeseburger being taken off the dollar menu at McDonalds, the shrink ray at the grocery store. Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, you might be affected by a feeling of loss or hopelessness as the world you knew simply seems to crumble around you.
I want to look at two things: why we buy into this feeling when it is completely unnecessary, and also how can we recover from it.

First of all, if people actually read my posts, I am sure I would receive responses such as, "you have no idea what I am going through," or "just because your life is rosy doesn't mean mine can be." I could easily counteract with the old argument that even if you were to lose everything, you would still be better off than the third world countries. But that is not my intent. I will get nowhere by slighting your feelings.
I am going to be completely transparent and say that the number one reason I do not fear any of this is because my faith in God and the promises He has made in my life. Not a Christian? Don't stop reading yet. Bear with me through the next paragraph as I explain my personal beliefs in these matters and then I will widen the net.
God has told us that there is no need for us to worry. He has promised that if He is going to provide food for the birds of the air and dress the fields with the splendor of lilies, then He is going to take care of our needs. That does not mean that we should not plan and take responsibility and initiative in these areas of our lives but it does mean that we should not have to stress over them when those plans do not work out like we had hoped. When the world seems unsteady, God's hand steadies and holds us up.

Still with me? Good. So, perhaps you have little faith or no faith at all or simply like to do things your own way. There is still hope and reason not to resort to aggressive trichotillomania. How can I claim the feeling of loss or hopelessness is unnecessary? Because, while things may be less than stellar, we are far from Armageddon. In this country we have every possible natural resource we need to survive. The only thing stopping us is regulations and I promise, if all hell broke loose, those regulations would be removed or the people of this country would forcibly rise and remove them. We have structures in places, someone will have to occupy them even if it is for pennies on the dollar. We have food sources in grains and animals. We have oil that could be obtained if need be. We have a strong military and we have some most of the most brilliant minds working on economic, technological, and innovative issues. While this might not help in immediate personal situations, it does give reason to believe that the country is not going to end up back in the stone age.

As for my second point, what can you do in these times to provide stability and ride the wave of doom and gloom? Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice and in case I have not stressed it enough yet, sacrifice. I know from my experience as a grad student that rent and utilities aside, I can survive on less than $30 a week if I am not driving. That includes groceries and other household items. It was not enjoyable but I survived. Oh yeah, that was in the dead of winter too. It was a short time but I made it work. I cut the cable, turned off the heat and bundled up, shopped at the dollar store, walked more places, gave up most forms of entertainment like movies and made my food stuff like Ramen Noodles. By the way, MSG causes me nausea so this was miserable for a few weeks. The thing is though, I made it through, got a decent job and slowly built my savings.
I am not implying that this is the preferable way to live, but if life pushes you down, hold the weight and eventually life will pull you back up. Even though I have a personal aversion to most government sponsored programs, they are there for just such occasions so you might as well utilize them. Here are some of the programs offered in North Carolina as an example. You can have rent paid for and food covered plus utility credits. Also figure out what you want versus what you need. I have enough jackets, I don't need a new one. The shoes look great but do they serve a function that a pair I already have do not? Do I need to eat out or can I plan ahead and eat cheaper at home?

With all of this said, there is good reason not to be too worried about our current state. While it might mean that we can not drive the car we want or live in the location we desire, we can survive. And ultimately life is more important than what we posses in it. If I get enough people reading and commenting with feedback, I will post a side bar with additional resources for saving money and and easy tips for being financially wise in turbulent times.

Ultimately decide what is important. Hopefully your answer by now consists of things like God, family, friends, etc. Find your enjoyment in those things alone and eventually you will no longer need to worry about the state of the world around you. Goodbye Doom and Gloom. Hello joy and contentment!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Addled Femininity

It is no secret that women baffle and confuse me. Heck, I am fairly confident that most men could attest to that statement. But more than anything else recently, I have been confused by the hearts versus the actions of women.

My personal penchant is to treat all women with as much respect as I can muster. I have on more than one occasion been accused of putting some women on a pedestal. I cannot explain exactly where it comes from, but I hearken back to a more chivalrous time. I still open the doors for women young and old, including car doors when the opportunity arises. I try to be patient with womens' thoughts and emotions. But above all, I try to take care of their hearts. I am not alone in these actions and I am certainly not above making mistakes where I am rude, hurtful, or discourteous. But in general I try to treat women with care and respect.

I have, however, noticed a trend from as early on as high school that many women allow themselves to be treated, in my opinion, with disrespect. I am not talking about the women society has slighted, who allow themselves to be in verbally or physically abusive relationships. That is to obvious of an example. I truly wish I could reach in to their lives and rescue each one of those women.

I am referring to the everyday woman who allows the men in their lives, be it co-workers, boyfriends, or friends to make dents in their esteem and leaves it unchallenged. These dents come in the form of what could be observed by many as casual flirting or joking. A comment about the large size of a woman's posterior, belittling a woman's looks or the care they have taken in their appearance and clothing, insulting a woman's intelligence, etc. I could go on but I think you are beginning to get the point. Rarely are these comments uttered with malicious intent but that does not mean it does not cut into the heart of a woman. I have talked with many women who on the surface take these comments and jests in stride but go home questioning their value, beauty, and worth.
Have you ever had a rough time with a group of male friends and gone home to discuss it with your friends Häagen and Dazs? You might be one of the women I am referring to. I have heard from women who have dwelled on a seemingly innocent comment or remark and allowed it to penetrate their heart. However, for unexplained reasons, these women go back to the same men who have hurt them and instead of letting them know of the emotional pain, they continue to receive more of the same abuse. What is more, they work harder to gain the attention of these men.

Furthermore, recently I have heard men call some women very derogatory things that I won't even post. And yet these women still try and curry favor and attention from them. I would hope for any man's sake that he should never utter such words towards my wife or daughter.

So women (men, your input is welcome too), this is the interactive part. I would simply like to know why? Why do women speak so much about finding someone to care for who they are, their heart and souls, yet allow themselves to be treated so poorly? Is it because the assumption is made that all guys will treat you in this manner so why even talk about it?
It is one thing to say in today's modern feminism that women can take the same jokes and jabs to the ego that a guy can. But I am finding in my observations, that is simply not the case. I would love some help for myself too. Is it appropriate to joke about the things a woman should still find sacred and reverent? Or, am I completely off base in all of this?
When I question my guy friends about it, they say they are just joking around and don't mean the things they say. Women, does it hurt or affect you in any way? Or, non-surprisingly, have I just misjudged and misheard women?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Protected Trouper

Lift up thy curtain
and take a peek.
Do you glimpse reality,
or view mystique?

Words chosen in order to deceive.
Not malicious, but protection received.
Veiled intention serve to hide
the character called Wounded Pride.

Look beyond words to find the truth.
Disrupt the game played since youth.
Wardrobe is cloak of mystery.
Keeps you from seeing empty.

The theater show began at Act One.
The closing curtain can't be undone.

Random Thoughts

Updated October 22, 2008
Worry is one of the biggest things that keeps people awake at night. Not me though. I have far to many other random thoughts in my head to have any room for worry at night. I have often wondered if there is some device in my pillow that is activated by the static electricity in my hair and causes my brain to start sprinting. To help me get to sleep faster I have begun jotting down some of the thoughts that enter my mind. Anything legible in the morning (I am writing in the dark) is going to start ending up in the blog. So keep up with this one because it will be constantly updated. And because I like to keep things interactive, if there are any ideas you want me to flesh out, let me know and I might create a new blog based on your suggestion.
So here are my random (good, bad, and what the...?) thoughts:

  • Hope is a tricky thing. Too much of it leaves you blind. Too little of it leaves you dead.
  • How are cockroaches suppossed to survive a nuclear blast when they can't survive the bottom of my shoe?
  • There are few things worse than somebody you haven't seen in a while asking you what you have been up to and you respond "nothing much." It is actually worse if that is true.
  • Bear cubs are one of the cutest animals alive until their mother mauls your face off.
  • Saying "sneeze" while actually sneezing is a messy idea.
  • Life would be better if people had to suck helium right before they got into an argument. I think arguments would end pretty quickly if everybody had to yell at each other while sounding like a chipmunk. Who could not laugh?
  • Never start a good book late at night just to pique your curiosity.
  • I found out I can make it out of bed, through the shower, teeth brushed and to work (which is a 10 to 15 minute drive away) in exactly 26 minutes. Better not to ask how I found out or how it was done.
  • If you are supposed to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, then where do you keep the people you sort of like?
  • It is very disturbing to me that the ice at Sonic and Zaxby's does not melt.
  • People say don't sweat the small stuff. The small stuff is the only thing I want to be sweating. My pores are too small to sweat the big and medium stuff.
  • A lot of liberals claim Fox is to biased with a conservative slant. A lot of conservatives claim CNN, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC are too biased with a liberal slant. I say both camps need to shut up because they have all been reporting about Anna Nicole Smith and Brittney Spears for three flippin' weeks straight.
  • If money grew on trees I would still be broke. Gosh darn urban sprawl.
  • Why are best friends so hard to make and/or keep after college?
  • If someone steals you identity, and you find and kill them, is it murder or suicide? I mean technically you are taking yourself of the records.
  • Am I really considering resorting to E-Harmony? Has it come to this?
  • Do vegans breast feed their babies?
  • If a donkey mated with nine kittens...ah forget it that concept is just asinine.
  • Is it sad that I learned to identify Classical music composers from my cell phone ring tones?
  • Why are bed sheets more comfortable in the morning than they are at night?
  • Why do protesters for peace always look so angry? (oooo I feel a huge rant coming on.)
  • Can/do women pee in the shower like a man can/does? (rhetorical question, don't want answers)
  • Do you ever think to yourself (or out loud) how people first decided to see if something was edible? (ex. oysters, another animal's milk, eggs, potatoes, etc.)

That is all for now, but stay tuned. Good or bad, I am sure there will be more.

Friday, October 17, 2008

After All This Time...

Oh where does the time go? I posted an indication during the start of the presidential primaries that I would respond to the idea of a Christian's obligation to a welfare state. I never completed that thought, blinked and we are three weeks out from the general election. For those scoring at home, it has been nearly eight months since my last post.
So I will quickly bring you up to speed and my absence and then pave the way for hopefully a slew of blogs including some poetry I worked on while away. (I know, who pegged me for the poetic type?) My mom is at home waving her hand in the air saying, "Pick me, pick me! I knew!"
I am still at the same job I was at working in the Ethics and Compliance field, but I have also been working on expanding my counseling practice. We re-branded, got a new logo, and increased our awesomeness with additional staff. I am really proud of all the work Kim and Laurie have put into their baby and the website looks amazing!
As you can imagine, trying to juggle two jobs is often quite taxing. I often spend an hour or two reading after my roommates have gone to bed and work in a minimum of eight hours of reading per week just to make sure I am in compliance with Licensure expectations. On top of that I am seeing a few clients and doing some marketing. But I try not to let my exhaustion show too much in my energy level thanks to a healthy diet of Red Bull and Starbucks.
Speaking of diets, I have lost some weight! When I weighed in for my physical in March, 2008 I was at a whopping 236 pounds. After a disappointing outcome to a situation, I became motivated to lose the weight starting in July. I am now loosing the weight for me though. At last weigh in I was at 210 pounds. Now granted, I was on a luggage scale at the train station. At my friends apartment, I was at 204 pounds. Being cynical in that matter, I am going for the higher of the two weights as a healthy reminder that I still have a lot of work to do to reach my goal of 185 pounds. And that gout I mentioned in a previous post? Gone. It seems a bit of weight loss combined with simply eating cherries clears it right up. I have not had an outbreak in at least six months!
Summer was absolutely amazing as I had a tremendous time hanging out with friends. We spent a couple weekends at the lake, kayaking/camping on the Pee Dee River, and taking an all guys trip to Cape Hatteras on Labor Day weekend. I have also been playing volleyball on regular basis most Sunday afternoons.
I moved three times this year. In January, Matt Jernigan and I parted ways as roommates. We were still really good friends but Matt craved the opportunity to live by himself for once and I agreed he should experience that at some point in his life. I moved in with a guy I did not know, but we shared a mutual friend. The guy was very weird and was apparently quite unprepared for a roommate as indicated by his refusal to accommodate for space. A small example was a cabinet filled with his coffee mugs leaving no room for any of my dishes or food. The guy admittedly did not even drink coffee. After three weeks we mutually decided to part ways (much to my relief). I moved in with a guy named Brandon Russell. I am not big into name dropping but I know Brandon likes to get his name out there for career purposes. Living with Brandon was much less stressful than the prior encounter. Brandon is a great guy who has a heart for children and for serving others. We were not best friends just due to our difference in proclivities, but I am honored to call him friend and hope to continue in that friendship.
In September, Matt and I found a place we liked and moved back in together since his apartment lease ran up and living by himself was not all he had desired for. We also took on a third roommate named Russell Matthews who was one of my good friends and former college roommate. The house is absolutely amazing and I hope that you will come spend some time with us as we do have an open door policy there. The deck alone is worth the trip out.
This does not adequately summarize everything that has happened in the past eight months but I have to breathe and I have to get back to work. If you would like to keep up with my daily trappings, you can follow me on Twitter at and you can check out my running commentary of the last presidential debate here (#NOPBR08 is a tag to help keep all the thoughts in one easily searchable place).

Please check back in as I have some good stuff stored up and ready to go so posts will be more frequent. I should have some posts up soon about God, Relationships, and Politics.