Archive | February, 2012

People

26 Feb

If you didn’t catch it this week on my Facebook status, I came up with a new quote and it goes like this,”I  have the opportunity to learn from everybody.

Now, I didn’t say I learn something good from everybody. I also may learn something I want to avoid or correct in myself.

Let’s see what I learned just this week from people I came in contact with.  I had just finished my first day of my new job and I was feeling good. I hadn’t worked in over  four months and I was feeling blessed for the opportunity. That night I joined my bowling team for some strikes and spares. I reported to the ladies on my team that I started working again. They had lots of questions for me and were overall happy with my new fortune. Then I heard it from Ms. Negative, “you won’t make it six months.” Talk about taking the wind out my sails. Before that unnecessary remark, I had been bowling pretty good and after it, not so good.

I know what you are thinking. Come on, it was just one negative comment. What’s the big deal? I don’t know if you are anything like me but I can be told four great things, and then hear that one negative zinger and that is what I focus on. So, what did I “re”learn from Ms. Negative, I don’t need that type of influence in my life today.

I also learned this week that people will make “small” adjustments if I ask, but anymore than that, not so much. If the adjustment is out of their comfort zone or it may require more effort than they are willing to put forth, forget it. The bottom line: don’t expect “too” much from others, they will disappoint you.

Another lesson I “re”learned again this week: that I when I retire, I will make time for others. I find it simply amazing how “busy” people are when they are retired.News flash, when you retire you don’t have to schedule everything, be flexible, be open to the possibilities.

Another valuable tidbit I uncovered this week is that I trust people too fast and too easily. I asked my mom about it and she said that she has the same issue and her mom had it as well but we just couldn’t figure out why. I was burned again by someone I believed in and it hurt. I need to slow down and take time to trust others. It’s funny because I expect others to trust me as quickly as I want to trust them.

The last lesson I learned this week is that people really watch me. They learn from me. Even when I don’t think they are “watching” me, they are. I can honestly say with all of my heart that I am truly walking the walk not just talking the talk. And it has all been made possible by what I have learned from not just anybody, but from God.

Hero

18 Feb

When I was a kid, my hero was Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man). Steve had a bionic eye, bionic arms and legs. He never faced a bad guy he couldn’t handle. You can ask my family, I used to make the “sounds” that The Six Million Dollar Man made when he moved. I wanted to be able to run as fast he could (up to 60 mph), to be as strong as him (could bend steel bars with his bare hands) and of course, see like him at least out of one eye.

Then, my life changed forever when Steve met Jamie Somers (yes, the bionic woman). I learned what love was from Steve and Jamie (even though I was in love with her too). I learned from this bionic couple that if you found your perfect mate then life would be grand. But, of course as all fantasies go, reality set in and the perfect couple broke up and the Bionic duo was taken off the air. I was lost. Now, what do I do?

I found a new hero in high school when I got to know my “new” Cross Country Coach. The “old” CC Coach would be passed out drunk in a storage area when we returned from our runs. Yes, this new Coach had competed against the great Bruce Jenner (how he ever got involved with the Kardashians I never understand), gold medalist in the Olympics. He brought fire and vigor to us lowly, pimple infested teens. When Coach said run, we didn’t ask how far, we just ran. When he said that we needed to run 500 miles in less than two months during the summer so would have the proper conditioning for the Fall CC season, we did it and even added a extra few miles for good measure.

But as Steve Austin left me wanting for more in a hero, so did my Coach. You see, I trusted Coach with everything and believed in everything he said. But, as most humans do, he let me down big time and he stopped being my hero. If you want to hear the rest of that story, then let’s sit down sometime and I will tell you.

I really can’t say I had a hero until I got sober in 95′ at the age of 28. I found my new hero in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Jesus came to this sinful world and remained perfectly steadfast despite detractors and temptors (even Satan himself). He came with one purpose in mind, to die on the cross to give us freedom from our sinful prisons. Jesus lived a life of compassion, kindness, tolerance, patience (except for those darn money changers), and most importantly, love. Yes, Jesus has been my hero since 95′ and he will continue to be my hero for the rest of my life until the time I will spend eternal life with him. Wow!!

Personal Responsibility

16 Feb

Elvis, Winehouse, and now Whitney…

What did they all have in common? Substance Dependence.

Elvis died in 77′. When he died, I was only 11. At the time, I didn’t understand why the King of Rock n’ Roll died. Winehouse died last year at the tender age of 27. She had won five grammys for her sophomore album and was destined for a bright future. And now, Whitney, the Queen of Pop in the 80’s and 90’s is dead at the age of 48.

When I visited Graceland in 04′, all I could think of is when I was reviewing Elvis’ life, was how could someone as big as him check out of this life at the age of 42? Back in 77′, substance dependence wasn’t such a known quality as it is today.I Iam not excusing Elvis at all, but Winehouse and Whitney (and the people around them) had no excuse. There is just too much information, education, treatment and 12-step programs out there today to prevent the personal tragedies of this magnitude to happen.

Just think for a moment of all the time and effort “healthy” parents put into bringing up their children in the best and safest ways possible. They make sure they get the best education, have the best friends, eat right, play right, etc…And then when the kids turn 18, they are turned loose into this “mixed-up” society. (Writer’s note, just because your kid turns 18 doesn’t mean you are done being a parent, being a parent is a life-time responsibility).

Being a “true” friend (how many do you really have? Are you sure?) means being there through thick and thin and not ever giving up on your friend for any reason. If you have a friend who has substance dependency (simple definition: loss of control of a substance as well as being obsessed and compulsive in one’s use), insist that they get help and more help and more help (if that is what it takes). Every person is unique in what type of help they need to arrest (not cure) their substance dependency.

Besides the personal responsibility of the parents and friends, each individual with substance dependency is responsible to stop using his or her favorite substance(s) and for the maintenance of their recovery. For myself, my substance was the legal (at age 21) and socially acceptable alcohol. My alcohol use was “out of control” for about 10 years. No one tried to get me to stop drinking. I made the decision to stop drinking. And I did in 95′ . Do you think I wanted to stop? No. When you stop drinking alcohol, you immediately become an outsider in this society. Over the years I drank, I thought I was an insider. Do you think it is easy to stop? No, after all of those years of numbing my real feelings and escaping reality (at least for a few hours). But I came to realize that I had to stop or I would die a premature death like Elvis, Amy and Whitney have now done.

Besides making the decision to stop drinking, I have had the make the decision every day for the last 17 years to stay in recovery from substance dependence. Do you think it has been easy? No. But the payoffs have been tremendous and the biggest payoff is that I am still alive today to write this post to tell you it can be done but “you have to go to any length” to stay clean and sober. And guess what that means?You can’t marry a fellow substance dependent person. You can’t hang out with the friends you used to hang out with (unless they are true friends and guess what you find out fast who they are). You can’t hang out in the same places you used to hang out. It is up to you and only you to stop the cycle of substance dependence. If I can help you stop, just email me at darronv@hotmail.com and I will be very grateful to help you to change your life and stay alive one more day.

 

What Audrey Hepburn said about “People”

12 Feb

“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed: never throw out anyone.”  Audrey Hepburn, British actress

I think what grabbed my attention most from this viewpoint was that People are more important than Things. I attended a discussion this past week between two individuals vying for an open school board seat. The incumbent, a woman who is an “active” Christian said that she believes that life is all about relationships with other people. I strongly agree with this belief.

However, in today’s world, Peoples’ relationships with Things seem more important. For example, the other night I was having dinner at my church. I really wanted to visit with other people, but the couple across from me at the table were playing with their smart phones and were clueless to my interest in visiting with them. Did you know that most people only have 2-3 people in their lives that they can really talk to? Of the 7 billion people on this planet, only 2-3 people. Simply sad. (By the way, this planet only has the resources for 2 billion people, scary thought, eh?).

Since the beginning of my time, I have not been a big collector of Things. At this moment, I live in a one-bedroom apartment with very little Stuff in storage, pretty much if I had an office again, my Stuff would be in the office. As a good friend said recently, “you can’t take your Corvette with you when you go (you know, die)”  So why bother with big homes with piles of Things? Back in high school, I was “forced” to read Walden by David Thoreau. At the time, I didn’t realize it but his philosophy about living simply and keeping life simple has served me well in my life.

But back to what I think Audrey was thinking when she breathed the above quote. How many friendships have you made and lost over your lifetime? How many family members have you written off for whatever reason? Audrey advises us to “restore” (re-establish) those relationships. I was at the start of  “restoring” a relationship with an old friend and old teammate when he unexpectantly died just a few days after we had started to talk again. After he died, I read his memorial page through Facebook and witnessed how many loved and respected him as a man and a Christian. I never got to see that “new” man because time slipped on by and I didn’t make that particular relationship much of a priority in my life.

Audrey also advises us to “redeem” (to restore worth) to those relationships. At one time or another, that certain friend or family member meant something to you. What happened? Who cares now. The time is now to restore the worth to that relationship. What are you waiting for? I recently watched a video clip of Suzanne Somers (Chrissy) and Joyce DeWitt (Janet) from the hit show from years ago, Three’s Company getting “together” for the first time in about 30 years. After enjoying huge success from Three’s Company for five years and becoming pretty much best friends off-set, something happened (it really didn’t come out during this clip) and they hadn’t talked in 30 years until Suzanne invited Joyce to be a guest on her talk show recently. I thought, what a waste of time for two friends to let something (whatever it was) get in the way of their friendship. But hopefully now, they will be able to “redeem” that relationship and make up for lost time.

I have just started to unearth (by writing this post) a very valuable asset we have at our disposal, People. Thank you Audrey for reminding us that People are more precious than “any” Things.

The Art of Criticism

8 Feb

Criticism, that dreaded 9-letter word. Or is it? It all depends on how it is delivered and how it is accepted by the sender and receiver.

If you weren’t aware, criticism’s main purpose is to make us better and more productive people. However, it all depends on how the criticism is sent and received. I like to think of criticism as advice. As we were growing up, we were constantly receiving “advice” from our parents and teachers. It is how we learned. But as we got a little older, the “advice” started to rub us the wrong way because we thought we didn’t need it anymore. 

But then we entered the workforce and started a family and criticism reared its ugly head again. Our bosses told us that and our parents told us this. Just leave us alone, we know what we are doing. 

Who do you think makes better parents, those who accept criticism gracefully or those who do not? I think we know the answer to that one. Who generally succeed in their vocation, those who accept criticism willing or those who fight it or reject it? I think we also know the answer to that one as well. 

When I got sober 17 years ago, I didn’t particularly like criticism. Why? Because, I believe I grew up in an “overcritical” home. Nothing I did seem to be right or ok. But, as I opened my mind and my heart to God again, I was able to accept criticism I was receiving from loving and supportive “friends” to help me stay sober and to change my life. 

When you criticize someone, do it in a gentle, loving way. And when you accept criticism, do it in a graceful and open way. If you do this, you will grow and the other person will grow too!

Abe & Martin

4 Feb

They both were murdered.

They both were too young to die. Abe (56) and Martin (39).

They both changed America by what they stood for.

They both educated and inspired many.

Abe once walked back to his home in Illinois from New Orleans when he first witnessed slavery. While Martin marched with 200,000 in D.C. because he had a “dream” to end the injustices of African Americans.

Abe never joined a church but used the Bible to educate and inspire. Martin was a Baptist minister who was inspired and educated by Jesus.

Abe was the first republican party president and Martin refused to endorse anyone for president but he secretly supported JFK (democrat).

Abe was self-taught and Martin earned a PhD at a very young age.

Abe and Martin both had four children, but only one of Abe’s children lived to be an adult.

Abe was on the verge of starting the reconstruction of the United States when he was killed and Martin had set his sights on the reconstruction of American society when he was killed.

They both believed in peaceful resolutions to conflicts but Abe was thrown into a war he wanted to avoid and Martin was against a war that he didn’t believe in, both wars costing great #s of  Americans lives as well as having wasteful and unnecessary social and economic costs.

Ironically, the great organizations that Abe and Martin started, are today both empty shells of the greatness they once were.

I have visited both resting places for Abe (Springfield, IL) and Martin (Atlanta, GA) to pay my respects to two of the greatest men who have ever lived.

 

 

Clyde

4 Feb

For 12 years now, he has stood by me, laid on me, laid by me…

For 12 years now, he has been my rock…when no one else was there, he was…

He has provided comfort, humor and love…

He hasn’t criticized me (well as far as I know), he has supported me always…

When he has purred, I purred back…

He hasn’t expected that much, just change his box and give him some food and tap water…

When I look at him, I have peace…

It’s funny because at first I didn’t want him, but as soon as he was placed in my hand, I never wanted to give him back…

Thank you mom and God for giving me such a one of kind, precious, special, loving companion.