TOUGHNESS

I recently gave a speech for our local National Guard unit. I was speaking on toughness, or as the Army calls it, resiliency. In my view… toughness is something that has to be developed. Merriam-Webster’s calls resiliency “the ability to rise above adversity”. How many of you consider yourselves to be tough, or resilient? How many of you honestly can look down at your life and say unecquivocally that you have that trait? In my eyes, we all have it, but in varying degrees. In my case, I had to grow into this. It was painful and took almost 35 years. This is something near and dear to me. I love seeing people “get over”. I am all about “putting people over”. Toughness is a whole hell of a lot more than using curse words, talking loud and being overbearing. Some of the toughest people I ever met were under 5 feet tall, under 100 pounds.

I am sure a lot of you are reminiscing by now, looking at your body, looking at the tattoos, the scars, memories. If you grew up in my era (late 1990s/early 2000s), you can attest to a shift in the overall consciousness of Americans.Seems to be a less confident, less resilient people now. More groupthink, less “rugged individualism”. More victimhood rather than a “can-do” spirit. I will leave you all with this: Do not be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to be hurt. Never fear anything.

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Pain

How many of you are in a bad relationship? A bad marriage? Like it’s seemingly done? At a loss at what to about it? Take heart. Only two options ever existed in the first place: BATES’ LAW states “that in any relationship, one must either change or leave”. It’s that simple. Yes. Very simple. But oh, so hard. Emotions, kids, money, etc. I promise you all that if you make that “hard choice” now, you will be fine later on. I am not promising a quick fix. I would be a fool to do such a thing. What I am saying is be willing to learn to fight alone (see Clubber Lang on Rocky II LOL). It’s in the hard times where you grow.

The LAST MAN STANDING

Have you ever felt that you are in a valley in life? That everything you do is seemingly “in escrow” for a later time, but you need things now? Add to that, the people around you are not making anything easier, whether they complain a lot, whine, or whatever it is that they do? Troubles, trials and tribulations are the name of the game in life. We do live in an era where people have been softened up with “sweetness and light” coming from every angle. What is more confusing, there are those who actually do have answers, but their manner of delivering the answers further isolates and frustrates the people in need. How can you make something out of the seemingly endless cacophany of voices that all promise you that they will help you, make things easier and bring things to a head? I am no expert, guru or any of that. However, I can tell you about how it is imperative that you think for yourself. Thinking for yourself, personal accountability, stuff like that, is a lost art in our world today. But HOW do you think for yourself, when it is easier to go with the flow of media, popular opinion and groupthink? It is something to behold when you see someone using the brains God gave them. It is amazing to see men and women accomplish their own dreams instead of seeing people go on some track that allows them to live “life on autopilot”. How many times have we on social media or on our blogs, comment on those who we deem to be “stupid”? How did they get to be mentally deficient? And what makes us, any better than they are? Is there some disconnect that we haven’t figured out yet? Is it because it is 2014? Is it because we live in such an affluent society that even a growing class of people who do not have the skills to pay their bills is nothing to fear, since “we got ours”?

i simply wanna say that the times in which we live, it is more important than ever to realize we must “break out of the matrix” and begin to THINK FOR OURSELVES. I know it’s not very popular to be a thinker. I know it’s not very popular at all to have a set of beliefs that prides itself on a deity, or “rugged individualism”. If it were all to end today, what would you want to be said about you in the history books? To be THE LAST MAN STANDING, you must realize the times we are in, the urgency of life (as it passes all of us by to some degree), and just how frail we really are. It takes brains, brawn, desire and the willingness to endure tragedies, troubles and disappointment. As it says in Psalm 30:5, “weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning”. 

For those of you who this hits, I hope it helps you, as writing is therapeutic for me.

For all of you seeking something in life, remember this old Roman proverb: PERDES OMNES QUI ADVENERUNT (Destroy All Who Came).

Desire the Pain

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It’s your boy once again- I must ask all of you to think. Ever feel like you didn’t measure up? Ever felt like a failure? Ever longed for something that you just couldn’t get, no matter how hard you tried? I have had decades like that. Now I am not fishing for compliments or sympathy. I can empathize with anyone who feels like they are “less than”. Frustrating as can be, isn’t it? Entertain the notion that the pain is for your education. I have learned that every betrayal, every setback is the setup for the come-up (thanks, I thought that one up on the fly LOL). I have also learned to desire the pain. What and why in all of God’s green Earth would you want THAT, you may ask? Seriously, check it out. Pain, obstacles and setbacks are a part of life. I understand this is the postmodern era, and we are in 2014, where things need to be as easy as possible. You all must understand that pain, conflict, distress and disappointments are simply a part of life. It’s just a big a part of life as love, food, sex and happiness. In my life, I have seen that pain, struggle is quite harsh. It is necessary. It has served me well. I remember growing up a weak, soft little boy. The hardness of the times I grew up in served only as a catalyst for me to be better, and to overcome every hardship foisted upon me. The hardness of the times I grew up in served to make me more analytical of why things are the way they are. It also made me hungry for success. Remember the article “Loser Mentality” I did around Thanksgiving? Me growing up the way I did, I desired pain and turmoil. Why? So I can say I conquered it all. My challenge to all of YOU out there in cyberspace is to not dwell on your failures- instead, try this: TALK TO YOUR FAILURES, TALK TO THE MOUNTAINS IN YOUR LIFE. It seems crazy, but know this- we as people often form our opinions of ourselves and the world around us from those closest to us, and the dominant people in our lives, whether that be parents, your favorite entertainers, athlete, whoever. Why do you think that there are so many memes and quotes on social media featuring some celebrity (i.e. B-List comedian, political theorist, writer) plastered all over some peoples’ walls? Simply because people are not taught to think critically. What do I mean by critical thinking? Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. I have noticed in recent years that most people don’t have this skill, oftentimes going off emotion as the basis of all thought, attitude, etc. Don’t feel bad, I operated that way for years until I knew better. Now what I mean by talking to your mountains is making your words craft the life you want. Do you realize you have the power to create the life you want, simply by speaking it? Ever say something about a situation that you didn’t want to happen, only it seemed to do exactly what you didn’t want it to do? I challenge you to train your brain to have a positive outlook. Don’t like your life? Change it by changing your outlook. Look at what you’re putting in your head- the music, the movies, what you read, etc. Examine yourself. Make it of the utmost importance to destroy any and everything that is potentially holding you back from having the best. If you believe that you have been held down long enough, that you deserve better- give this a try. What do you have to lose?

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As stated before, pain is merely a part of life. Bottom line, I wish people would get this. Life is nothing more than a fight. I do these quotes called BATESisms, touching on things in life and the living of it. I had once posted on facebook that ‘life is nothing more than a fight- so hit it in the mouth repeatedly until it submits”. Our society has become so detached from reality, so over-indulged in excess (nothing exceeds like excess), and generally soft by general standards. The “offended card” is overplayed, as our nation has sunk into a nitpicky, politically correct pose. Not much freedom of speech to be had now. I am off my soapbox (didn’t really intend to go there LOL) now.

In closing, I ask you- what’s it gonna be? Life, or a slow downward spiral of pain, shame and hiding from achieving your potential because of the fear of loss, the fear of looking dumb, the fear of rejection? It is time for you to take control of your life.

 

Obsession

Webster’s Dictionary says that an obsession is a persistent preoccupation, idea, or feeling. Obsessions can be in a good way, or a bad way. A good obsession is your expression of faith towards your deity of choice, following the doctrines of your religion to a T. A bad obsession is wanting someone’s spouse, and allowing that to dominate your life. In the case of this post, an obsession can and will be used for bettering yourself, versus the opposite, which is wasting your life and destroying your life. So let’s begin. I can honestly say that I am obsessed with physical fitness, obsessed with dominance in all areas of life. I remember when I was younger, I went vegetarian for almost two years. I went from 290 pounds to 160 in 13 months. At times, I had to make myself eat. I became obsessed with physical fitness and making myself better. Unfortunately, at that time, I had an obsession with having people like me (experience has shown me that that is a waste of time), and it killed my motivation. To quote Chappelle, “haters gonna hate”. I learned the hard way that people are a snare to your success. I personally challenge anyone who is unsure of their standing in this world to go be about something- you will instantly start collecting haters (haters are like a combination of remoras on a shark and that white stuff that collect on the corners of your mouth when you’re REALLY thirsty). I simply am aghast when I reminisce on how people act when it concerns approval from others. It is sickening to me- partly because I have come from the background where I was like so many others- a slave to approval, wishing to have everyone’s adoration. THE WORLD DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. To be obsessed with making yourself better is something that should be prized, something that other people should aspire to, and to admire. Often enough, we sit on the sidelines of life, watching life pass us by as it were another Monday Night Football matchup.

In my humble opinion, there are so many things that need our attention. Bettering yourself. Overcoming obstacles. Doing what’s right BECAUSE IT’S RIGHT, DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY- ESPECIALLY WHEN NO ONE IS LOOKING. That is integrity. That is courage. That is stuff that will never be sold on MTV, or on the internet. The closest thing you’ll get is some comedian making fun of something and all the lemmings laugh, thinking it’s humorous somehow. In closing, I would like to say to all them who are “on the fence” about their lives- just go do it already. You don’t know what is waiting for you on the other side of your doubt. You don;t know what’s waiting for you on the other side of your pain. Dreaming of a better life is one thing. Just don’t let it stay a dream. It’s not a crime to be obsessed about something that is good. It’s not a crime to want to work at something you want more than life itself. Never ever complain about your life that you refuse to change and make better. Other people usually don’t care about what you are going through, or your problems. Most of the time, they are going through some kind of pain themselves. In summation, it all goes back to “your life, your choice”.

DEALING WITH HATE

ImageThe other day, I was reminiscing on my life (seems like I’m always thinking huh), and one theme I am on a lot is hate. I remember the words, the sneers, the judgment passed on me. I think of this a lot as a mean of motivation. I am basically sold out to being ruthless in achieving my goals for life. So many people are underachievers, or they don’t understand what it takes to make something for yourself in life. It is imperative that people “get out of the matrix” when it comes to having things in life. So many people are all on the “my four and no more” philosophy of life, basically looking out for number one.

Hate is a theme of life I am intimate with. Growing up the way I did, I am on a face-to-face level with hatred, violence and pain. Hate is something that is now mainstream in the media when you don’t like something that is popular (i.e. Deena Jacobs to Kim Kardashian). Hate was something that was fed to me, being a youth in the ‘hood. All I knew was hate. People hated me cause I had buckteeth, cause I didn’t have a dad, or for some reason. People hated me because I was alive and breathing. This is something people have to understand. They hate you. And? Am I supposed to break down every time some fool passe judgment on me that I know isn’t true? I couldn’t care less about what anybody thinks of me, other than God and myself. More people need to have the POV I have (not saying it because I said so, but because it’s the stone-cold truth) if they want to succeed. This thing we call life is not for the timid. The winners in life win because they forsake all fears, even forsaking “common sense” to get what they want out of life. Too many times, we now have people who are willing to settle. Bad relationships, bad everything, no job, stuck on welfare, got kids with no father, no support. Then the hatred comes.

Hatred is something people do to distract themselves from the sad-sack reality that they have created. People usually hate things they don;t understand, things they can’t do- other times, they hate what they cannot control. It is simple in my eyes. The confusion comes when people who don’t have the mental acuity, the mental disposition you may have, start in on you. What to do?

1. REALIZE AND ACCEPT that people do not have to like you, love you, or even acknowledge your existence. You must make the determination that you will be happy no matter what people say or do to you.

2. People will be people. What they cannot understand, control, profit off of, they will hate, despise and try to ruin.

3. YOU MUST NEVER EVER GIVE UP BECAUSE OF THE ACTIONS OF OTHERS. I know it’s tough. You must develop your talents, and develop a thick skin.

4. LEARN TO REVEL IN THE HATE. I have taken to a new mentality concerning this. I often say NEW HATERS WANTED- the old ones are starting to love me!! This a mental deal that will take years to overcome. The fear of people is a snare, as said in the Bible.

5. As you are developing your talents and skills, and your mental frame, never forget that you are accountable to yourself, family, the people that depend on you, and to God.

6. Morgan Freeman said it best in “The Shawshank Redemption”: GET BUSY LIVING OR GET BUSY DYING.

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MEMORIES: How Far Have You Really Come?

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Okay… I was running the other day… for those of you who exercise regularly… your mind wanders- we seem to be pseudo-intellectuals when we are outside running, right? LOL.

Was running Thursday morning… I had my dog Dozer with me… For those of you who don’t know, Dozer is a German Shepherd/Lab mix with a touch of Malamute… means, big paws, loves to run… the regimen I am on will tire him out… 9 mile runs (one way) will tire anybody out. In any case, I got to thinking about a lot of things, and one thing stuck out in my mind. My past. I came from what I like to call “less than nothing”. Homeless, on the streets at various times. I am not a victim- I’m telling ya’ll a story. I remember how it was in Atlanta… roaches everywhere. No money… my moms working all the time. Then we move down to a small town south of A-Town. Grantville, GA is one of those towns that is so small, it has more cats than people. I’m not making this up. Got to thinking about quite a few embarrassing, painful things. Got to thinking about a few dumb things… From 1987-1996… then from ’96 to 2003. On and on it went… until I got to 2009, when I changed my life forever (joining the military). I was seemingly whisked away to memory lane… every word… every emotion… I could feel them in the pit of my stomach… only interrupted by traffic and by those fearing a big Black dude (5-11 261lbs) having a black dog on a leash (Dozer is about 3 1/2 ft, tall and weighs about 90 lbs) LOL. It is what it is… anyway, I can see and hear the people in my life at the time… every one of them… I can almost hear the laughs, the tone, the pitch in their voices… remembering the girls I went on dates with, how they smelled, what they were listening to when I first met them, etc.At times, I dream about my past. I have come an extremely long way… too many times, I got caught up in my past, trying to cover it up, etc.. it doesn’t work. I am appreciative of my memory, as I can use that to become more cognizant of myself… I tend to use the past for my education… not so much as some “cautionary tale”, as most people do… I have come to the conclusion that most people are what we Southerners call “scary”. Why run from your past? It’s not easy… but you do get used to the pain… Life is pain.. oftentimes bitter and hard to deal with. So many times in my life, I would have been better off confronting things instead of trying to limp away, even hiding from them. Problems never just go away. I can honestly say that my POV with dealing with my past and my problems, etc… has made me a better man. The question I pose to all of you in cyberspace is how far have YOU come?