Month: August 2018

<em>Permission to be Quiet</em>

Permission to be Quiet

Recently, a friend emailed and asked why I didn’t post last week as I usually do.

I haven’t missed a post in over two years! Every Friday, before midnight, I hit the publish button; whether I’m scared to death or not of putting my life out there. I’ve hit the publish button.

Last week?

Nothing. Nada. Crickets at best.

I did something that is extremely hard for this rigid, to be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late, kind of guy.

I gave myself permission…

To deviate from the normal routine that I have established.

I gave myself permission not to be inundated with guilt because I dare to even think of doing something different.

So, I gave myself a break free from a routine that I developed which I found myself becoming a slave to.

Hence why I decided not to publish last week.

Sounds silly, actually…to feel guilty about doing something like that.

But, my creative time had become stale and during a time when I’m experiencing a season of changes. A few are intentional; a few are not–where the circumstances of life popped out of nowhere and are out of my control.

There once was a time where I would’ve freaked out and would’ve overanalyzed every possible outcome and fretted over every possible solution.

Knotted, anxious, and fearful, I would have run myself into the ground until there was nothing left to give of myself except for an angry and agitated shell of a man to whoever would be at the receiving end.

This time, I decided to be…quiet.

Instead of forcing life and kicking down doors with certain situations—like I was trained to do in the Marines and as a SWAT officer—I’m applying a different approach.

I’ve decided to quiet myself and allow life to come at me; sort of like letting go a bit and not trying to have a stranglehold on everything in my life.

 

During this time, I’m focusing on a few things without turning these things into a form of rigid control…

— I focus on my spiritual health. I take longer walks to pray and meditate a bit more. It’s helped me to remain level-headed while circumstances out of my control have changed the trajectory that I have planned out for life (think reality vs my expectations).

— I focus on my physical health, without pounding my body into the ground till I’m sick, exhausted, and injured.

— I focus on mental health. A deliberate act of not letting my mind turn into a soft gooey thing—it’s a muscle, and it’ll easily go soft if not exercised properly. I don’t spend much time on facebook anyways, and I limit that even more in times like this. I read more, which means I give myself permission to read and not write as much—let the well recharge, so-to-speak. Just the other day, instead of doing my idealist, I studied some new vocabulary words.

— I focus on emotional health and make intentional decisions as to who I let in close. I don’t have time for drama, nor am I interested in being sucked down that rabbit hole ever again. There is no sacred ground here for me; drama, dismissiveness, gossip, negativity…no matter who…it gets cut out of my life. Sounds harsh, but life is short. Too short to live under the cloud of someone else’s drama that they try to impose upon others. Too short to live being condemned by and shoved into a dismissive category because my box doesn’t fit into their box.

So, I gave myself permission to be quiet.

I gave myself permission to process the big and small changes that are occurring.

I gave myself permission to take the time to reflect on the unexpected circumstances which have arisen that have changed the trajectory of life.

I gave myself permission to change, adapt, and be more flexible, without the guilt, anxiety, and fear.

Permission to ease up on myself…

I think it’s something we all could benefit from, and give to ourselves from time to time.


Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement
What Egging Cars Taught Me About Empathy

What Egging Cars Taught Me About Empathy

I was born and raised in the inner city of Denver. So, when my parents moved to suburbia, I took all the tricks with me.

As a kid, on occasion, I used to throw small rocks, sand, branches, and occasional pop-bottle rockets (when available—thank you 4th of July)…at passing cars. Just for fun…and the thrill.

Fun = very cool to hit a moving target.

Thrill = when the car stops, you run like hell to save your skin.

***

I raised chickens as a teenager. Most of my hens laid brown eggs and would lay throughout the day, which came in handy later on for a fun, thrill-seeking delinquent.

“Here,” I said to my buddy as I handed him a freshly laid egg.

“What?” he asked with a grin, knowing full well what my intentions were.

“Come on, it’ll be fun,” I retorted. Then, I gave him the precise military plan how we were going to ingress the field of battle, execute our diabolical sortie, and egress with minimal casualties. And, ultimately, have our alibi down just in case.

Like I said, I brought all my tricks.

So, we, two thirteen-year-olds set out to egg a car with the most awesome ammo ever…freshly laid eggs!

Enter the station wagon. Perfect. Long, slow-moving target. Who can’t hit that?

SPLAT, and then…SPLAT. Perfect in execution.

As expected, said station wagon screeched to a halt, but a bit earlier than expected.

“Holy shit,” I yelled to my buddy.

A very mad looking, fast moving dude, jumped out of the slow-moving station wagon. He was pissed.

Turned out later, he was the Fire Chief for the Bancroft Fire Department. Yep, the big cheese.

He saw us, but we were faster.

Yet, we only had thirteen years of life experience behind us—a tad shallow for such an operation.

We ran, ducked, and jumped into my backyard; then shimmied into my bedroom window; then, turned on some music.

Oh, and laughed our butts off…until, my Dad opened my bedroom door.

“Come here,” he told us while motioning an authoritative finger at us. “There’s a man out here that says two kids just egged his car, and he thinks they live here.”

“Really?” I replied rhetorically. Not giving anything to chance, I quickly started with our alibi, “Well, Randy and I have been listening to music…in my room.”

Next, we were paraded outside by my Dad in tow.

The accuser handed my Dad a broken, brown eggshell and declared, “No, these aren’t the kids I saw. They had different colored shirts on.”

I couldn’t believe what I just heard.

Honest, we didn’t change our T-shirts; we weren’t that smart.

Then, he declared to my Dad that the egg was a chocolate covered egg.

I shrugged.

Randy, too frozen in his sneakers to think, no less speak, looked a bit like a frog in a hail storm.

I spoke for both of us, “Um, we don’t have any chocolate covered eggs. Besides, we were in my bedroom. Didn’t see anybody,” I explained to both accuser and possible executioner: Dad.

After a few tense and unnerving moments of conversation between my Dad and the Fire Chief, we were allowed to leave.

I remember that my Dad gave me a slight grin at the time. Hm.

***

A silly story I suppose just to say that I have thrown a lot of crap at a lot of people over the years…

Anger, guilt trips, judgmental opinions that melted the frailest of individuals.

No doubt, I burned a lot of people…all in the name of being righteous.

More like self-righteous.

Yes, I thought my glass house was safe as I tossed a lot of stuff at others. Usually behind their backs.

If your belief system didn’t fit into my box, I judged you harshly.

If your family life didn’t fit into my box, I criticized you ruthlessly.

If you wore your hair a color that didn’t fit my expectations, wore clothes I thought were too whatever, you spoke like, I don’t know, someone who shouldn’t, or just lived your life differently than others…I judged, condemned, and pretty much threw the biggest egg at you I could find.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Why did he do that?”, or “How come this?” or “How come that?”

Only later, to repeat the same thing myself.

Then, you learn empathy.

Empathy is hard to teach someone.

You don’t learn empathy by memorizing a sterile definition.

Sometimes, you learn empathy by going through difficult and trying times that forge you into who you are today.

You learn that just because someone lives in a camper, or out of their car, doesn’t mean they’re cooking meth.

You learn that not everyone who goes through a divorce is a subpar individual who doesn’t know how to make life work.

You learn that when life beats a person up and they’re hurting, confused, numb, and bleeding out internally, does not mean that somehow, God is judging them, or that Karma got ‘em.

Maybe, just maybe, they’re like you and me who have simply lived life, and life has tossed them a nasty curveball.

Maybe, just maybe, through no fault of their own, bad things just sort of…happened.

Bewildered, they’re no different from you and I…looking for some compassion, looking for a release that, hopefully, someone would come up alongside and help pop open the valve to let all the pressure hiss out.

***

It’s too bad we learn such things later in life.

Just something to think about.

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Leadership, Life Hack, Living Better, Self-Improvement