Category Archives: Dreams

Mentorin’

Originally posted Fall 2010.  I stopped mentoring a few months back and share this in the hope someone else will take up the baton.  There is a need everywhere! 
Mentoring—or more accurately, the thought of mentoring— used to really scare me. Here are the top 3 reasons
  1. I don’t like kids
  2. I don’t understand kids
  3. I don’t like kids
Then, I decided to actually check it out. I had financially supported The Mentoring Project for a couple years. I had a little bit of time then –see “Tired” below—and so wrote a couple emails. Then another and another and another over a year or so. I wondered why they weren’t answered at the time, but I think if I went to a class or orientation the first time I inquired I would have left thinking it wasn’t for me. Doing it after having time to think and study, things changed. So when the time was right I became connected.
I still wasn’t fond of kids and definitely still didn’t understand them. But I was ready to give it a shot. So I met with a guy and then another. I sat through an orientation. Filled out forms. Sat in a coffee shop telling someone about how awesome I was and how much I was willing to hang out with a kid.
The entire time I was stressing about how much I was going to mess some kid up. I didn’t return phone calls for days. Or reschedule meetings until the following week. I thought of every excuse in the book. My work won’t let me leave early— but they did (and in fact have put up with 4 schedule changes in the five months thus far). I wouldn’t be matched—but was… very quickly. My friends would think I am weird—actually they almost all thought it was awesome.
Somehow my delays and struggles and doubts didn’t stop me from showing up at the match meeting. Up until that point I could have run away. It was now too late. I remember leaving that meeting thinking “What did I just do? A year minimum with some stranger who is 10 years old and from a different race, culture, city, socioeconomic status…? Really?”
The first week we met he told me a lot of jokes. I told him some and we laughed. Then we played Connect Four for 45 minutes. About the time I couldn’t go on any more, the time was up. As I drove away I was wondering what we would play the next week. And kind of hoped it wasn’t Connect Four.
It wasn’t. We played SpongeBob Sorry. For 50 minutes. And the next weeks more Connect Four, Battleship, Uno and when it was nice outside we shot some hoops. And occasionally we talked. I started hearing about his family, his absent father, over worked mother who loved him a lot, his siblings, his teachers…
It’s been five months now and I look forward to Wednesday afternoons. We still play a lot of board games and occasionally chat. But I am cool with that.
Work was intense a couple weeks ago. There was more to do than hours available and so I canceled on my buddy. Later that day, I realized that Wednesday afternoons at 4 pm is a positive moment in my busy week. I thought I was supposed to be teaching him and listening to him. But he has taught me how to rest. To sit and play a game over and over. To laugh and smile and just enjoy life. To ask permission and take chances. Things I don’t have to do, so don’t very often anymore. But things that are part of the code a 10 year old lives by.
I kind of like this kid, and what he is teaching me. But I still don’t understand them all.

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Filed under Archive, Dreams, Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way

Jokes

I’ve had this written for a long time, but I just was not funny on Facebook again, and a funny thread was ruined by a bad joke so thought I would share this with some edits today.

I am a funny guy.  Most of the time.

But occasionally I offend people…really bad…even less occasionally.  The later happens less each day as I learn how to actually be the former.  The thing I have learned is to not joke at sensitive or serious situations.  Death is never funny to me, so I don’t even try to use humor to change other’s moods around that.  Weight or size or ethnicity are also generally not funny.  As Tim Minchin says, “Only a ginger can call another ginger ‘Ginger’”, and it is also true that only a chunky, fluffy or fat person can call themselves fat or a short person, short.  It’s not funny when it is confirmed by someone else.  Especially a friend.

But something I realized recently shocked me again as life has gotten more complicated and stressful.

Sarcasm was a crutch for a long time.  I would say what I really felt or meant but with a tone that allowed people to laugh it off.

“I hate it when you cancel plans with me.”

“You are the last person I hoped would have come to my party”

“No, it’s ok. I’ll get that.”

They thought I was being funny, but I was actually hurt.  Then when I told friends this is what I was doing, they noticed it and were hurt how I treated their friendship.  How I was consistently sarcastic with them, and some were not sure when I was joking and when I was not.  This was never truer than in print.  I tend to be a different, more eloquent speaker in print…just ask the beautiful Hannah.  I was shaken when I noticed this sarcasm started creeping into my virtual life.

It is hard to tell when someone is offended or just joking when it is written and you can’t see emotion.  So some 14 year old girl invented emoticons, which if you didn’t know should only be used by 14 year old girls.  Yes, only one gender, and only for a year of life.  It will save the world.

I don’t use emoticons, because they ruin my image and I don’t want to be mistaken for a 14 year old girl, especially online.  So how do I deal with emotion or sarcasm or jokes in just words?

Words. I use well picked words.  Words should be emotional.  And jokes should be written only when safe.  When you get a gauge of how the reading party will receive those words.  I know not to joke with teachers or childcare workers about having a “real job”.  Their work is far more influential on influential minds than mine ever will be and know this, but it isn’t always taken that way.   So I stopped saying that, as well as using sarcasm in emails or on Facebook when situations are tough.

I changed and grew by realizing jokes or humor is not always appropriate and it is a lot easier to let a bad joke die than have to explain yourself for a minute, hour or evening!

 

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Filed under Dreams, Obese Obsessions, Transparency

Love- The Story

Sunny Day in Portland

There I was minding my own business when we were brought together.  Literally and figuratively. I wasn’t really paying attention to her when I realized there was something attractive about this girl whom fate made the only other person in the massive room that night. With whom I had to work together to string lights over a basketball court in the gym.  I dismissed the thoughts quickly.

The week before I had been telling a friend that starting dating around the holidays was worthless and not genuine.  It would be all about emotions and would be not be a good time to meet someone.  Plus, the only reason I was there was because no one else was willing to lead decorating on Christmas Eve. Also, I was done with girls for another few months.

But there she was.  With an amazing smile.  Giving up her Christmas and Christmas Eve to volunteer.  Seemed to love people, was beautiful and goofy and sarcastic and funny.  After what might have been the most stressful day of my year being a “leader” Hannah invited me to a friend’s place for Christmas dinner and some games.

I was just invited to the decorating girl’s friend’s place for dinner.  If I go I know emotions will be involved. Encouragements and rebukes welcome” is what I texted a buddy.

I had noticed Hannah blush a little as she wrote down her number.  It seemed like there was something there, but I was exhausted, but what if this is the one chance Eminem talked about, but I’m really tired and I’m already late, but I should just go.

I went, late and with beer to celebrate making it through the largest event of the year, and for nerves.  I made a short appearance, lost at Skip Bo and went on my way home.

How was your night?” was the text I received as I got home.

It was fun. She is really cute and funny, but not sure if she is nice to everyone”, to the same buddy.

And 20 minutes later he got another. “Well, I know now…we have a date Wednesday

‘What am I doing?’ I thought.  I just asked a girl out on Christmas…by text.  I thought similar things when I invited her to my friend’s New Year’s Eve party for our second date.  And when we took a 12 hour road trip two days after.  But… she was different…beautiful…caring… and open.

Little did I know these emotionally open, exhausted, completely censor free interactions would influence the rest of my life less than 3 months later.

Last Sunday, having planned a super romantic and creative way, only to have it not completely work, I surprised the girl of my dreams in her house when I asked her to marry me.  I was sick and Hannah was still waking up from her nap, but it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  The timing was a surprise but the act was not.

We had talked about marriage early in the relationship as we clarified our intentions.  A couple weeks before I walked out of a horrible movie with my mentee to call her mom and ask if I could marry her.  Her brother also gave his blessing.  My family was on board as was the inner circle.  My grandmother’s ring had been restored, sized and cleaned for her…and wasn’t going to wait until our trip to majestic Crater Lake next week.

We spent the weekend with friends in Bend, where it was cold and snowy and forest-y and beautiful.  I had gone to retreat, pray and figure out how to take over the world.  Hannah came because I was going away for the weekend.  Since I had the ring, and am not an eloquent speaker…just writer…I decided to type my thoughts out.  How amazing she is, has made my life better and how much I want to spend every day of the rest of my life with her. The standard things.  Because I knew I would want to actually say the words, I left the last sentence unresolved and asked her to read the last few sentences aloud…

The forecast for the mountain pass coming back to Portland was treacherous at best so I found a hiking trail near Salem that we could take a short hike and then when we returned to the car I would give her the letter while I changed my shoes and shirt, leaving me time to grab the ring and listen for her cue.  The pass wasn’t that bad but my cold was. It started to make me tired, stuffed up and nauseous occasionally.  As we approached the turn off for the trail, the skies opened.  It was not raining- even by Oregon standards.  It was dumping a month’s worth of sky water in a matter of hours.  So we kept driving, skipping the hike and I prayed…

God, I thought this was it.  Did I miss something? Am I supposed to wait? Is there a better place or did I mistake your timing?

The negative thoughts flooded in as my perfect plan failed.  I still had the letter and realized there was a better place and it would have more meaning.

After a much needed nap, we were sitting on the same loveseat we confessed love and infatuation for the other.  It was where we had shared some of the largest and deepest pains and hurts in our life.  It is also where we decided we were in this together and neither Hannah nor I was leaving. Now to make that official.  I had called her over to the chair after finding a song that we both enjoy- and she sings to me- and handed her the letter.

As she started reading, I held her and I could feel my heart in my chest, then throat… then forehead.  I waited as she read.  Setting the laptop to the side so I could get up and down on one knee.  I waited more.  I notice she was reading parts again so pointed to the margin note to read the last part aloud.

She started, “After thinking of you in all these ways, I have made a decision that both delights me because there is no one as perfect as you and scares me as I wonder if I can protect and love you as much as you deserve, but it is with incredible certainty I ask… “

I have to admit I teared up a little as I asked her to make me the luckiest man I know.  She accepted. We hugged and stared at each other.  Called family.  Texted friends. Told my Portland family at Sunday night dinner.  Then I went home alone to my cold now lonely bedroom, ready to start the next chapter of this thing called life.

So there is the story.  And no, we are not getting rid of that chair anytime soon.

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Filed under Dreams, Storytime

Love

For almost 20 years I wandered around looking for this elusive thing called love.  According to Wikipedia:

Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”. Love may also be described as actions towards others or oneself based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.

Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.

That is all well and good but like a lot of life it was not as easy to put into practice.  For me, after losing a friend and then my father to car accidents at age 19, I shut down and decided I didn’t need love.  Pushing away friends and family for a period of time and just dwelling in my own world.  I was still looking for things like love, but never really was able to give or receive it while being emotionally locked down.  The fortress was solid, the walls high and the inner workings idling but never revving.  As it turned out nineteen is an interesting age for that to happen since most guys go through that period for a few months or a year.

I was in that shut down, emotionally closed off period of life for 7 or so years until someone tried to break me out.  She was great and amazing but her eventual rejection brought up all the past rejections again.  It brought up a lot of pain and brokenness that did not allow me to trust.

“Do you trust anyone?”

-Not really

“How about yourself? Or your family? Or God?”

-Nope.  I don’t think they have my best interest and I apparently don’t either.

Those might not have been my exact words, but in 2009 I uttered something like that to a counselor…who then teared up and said he was sorry that the world was not a safe place for me.  We took a couple years to get through some of those issues, but I came out the other side victorious…mostly.

In the midst of those years, I started looking more actively for love.  I was pursuing what I knew as love.  It wasn’t always what love is, apparently, because it hurt, stung or made me drunk for a couple hours.  The dates weren’t defined, so the rejection wasn’t as harsh.  The calling just ended, and was often my fault.  The words and feelings were dealt with, to an extent, and laughed at by confided in friends.  It was fun most of the time.

Then, it wasn’t.  I realized I had fake love in 5 area codes, 3 country codes, and a couple Facebook profiles.  How was I to trust anyone when I couldn’t trust myself?  So I gave them all up.  I let some of them go.  I confessed fake, or projected, love to others and reconciled a couple more.  More dudes were confided in for advice.  A couple more girls entered the outer gates of the fortress but never were issued a treasure map to the hidden passage way.  Eventually those who were trying to be close gave up and no more invites were given out.

It seemed like a good day to renovate.  To open up a couple windows and air the place out.  To dispose of some old souvenirs that held more hurt than pleasant memories. While cleaning up the corners and deep recesses I was allowed the chance to see some amazing examples of love in those around me.  Love that isn’t written about but simply lived out.  The examples of friends and families loving each other whether in spousal relations or in neighborhood, employment or community realms.  I started noticing more and more how people made time for each other and just listened.  I started taking notes and planning when I would be done with the cleaning process…figuring the fortress needed to be cleaned well before anyone would want to come in or should be invited.

The yellow caution tape was put up… and this metaphor is losing steam.

As the old adage goes, when you aren’t looking you will find what you want and need.  Or something like that.

Last Christmas Eve, I was minding my own business doing what I needed to do relationally—preparing a Christmas dinner for 200+ people when circumstances set me up.  Only one girl stayed more than a few minutes to decorate. Since both of us were holiday orphans and had nowhere else to be we worked for about 3 hours together decorating significantly better than the previous year…and talking and towards the end I started admiring her smile and joy in life.

That girl quickly became a woman and something special to me.  Hannah walked past all the caution tape and somehow found the secret pathway into the fortress like she had been given the code and map by a higher power.

For almost 20 years, I had been searching for this elusive thing called love. Looking high and low, in corners and rooftops, in person and on phones. And yet that elusive thing called love simply showed up one day in a greater way than I would have ever imagined.  A way that in two months has made me a better man than in the 200 months previous.  The way that makes me wonder if dreams do come true and if Hollywood is writing my life story right now.  In a way that things just feel right…including the timing.

More about the amazing Hannah in the coming weeks…stay tuned.

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Filed under Adulthood, Dreams, Grieving, Storytime, Transparency

Giving Life?

I hate death.

A lot.

Most people do but I seem to react differently.  I realized in college that I experienced it a lot more than people around me.  It started with all the deceased animals I had to bury in the acre lot of my adolescent home.  Some affected me more than others.  Some dogs took a while to die, and other rabbits didn’t make it very long past coming home.   But their loss was no comparison to when I lost both granddads while 12 years old.  The first as part of his downturn, the second was a middle-of-the-school-day leaving sudden surprise.  And required a drive for 12 hours.  Which should have prepared me at a young age for those 12 hours of hell on a flight from Fairbanks to Atlanta when I was 19 to walk into a house that was barely still home since my dad wasn’t there.  I was just learning to grieve sudden auto accident deaths at that time, after my friend Lindsey was killed at 18 while chasing her dreams.  My therapist says this is when I shut down.  I say it is when I stopped caring deeply about people.  Some say that is the same thing.

No one at 19, in my circle, had lost a parent.  They didn’t know how to act.  One friend had grieved her brother before, but our interactions had more to do with hormones than grieving.  So I became a lone wolf.  Hitting the road and shutting down when amazing friend’s fiancees died.  When friends of friends had breast cancer, heart attacks, fatal injuries, car accidents.  I mean I got pissed at God, or the world, or life and then after a couple days I shut it all in.  I ran and stopped going deeper with people because it hurt me when they died. I had no real friends. Only friends that knew the superficial me. Appearances were kept up well. When facades cracked, I moved…two years max was the motto.

I have lived in Portland for four years and 3 weeks now.  It feels good, it feels right.  I went to counseling to deal instead of run and started being vulnerable to friends.  It is a good feeling most of the time.  In the last month, since the beginning of the year, I have realized some major life change will happen this year.  It doesn’t always feel safe or good, but it feels right.

I have had a couple dreams in the last weeks…well two weeks that have shaken this “good” feeling.  The invisible people—those often forgotten or overlooked by society or the world—have gotten more of my focus in the last year.  I am more involved in their lives and by proxy they in me.  But I had lines.  One of the biggest was to look at a weekly feeding I coordinate as just that…”We provide food, nothing else.  If we have something else, it is lucky and not to be expected.”   Even the meal had lines that I didn’t cross.  Not caring if we ran out faster than planned, didn’t provide a vegetarian, kosher or halal option or only had spoons when forks were required.

This year that is changing.  We are providing more.  I am engaging more.  Birthday cards have been bought.  Boot orders filled on an as needed basis.  Tents are still being looked for.  And bigger needs like housing and jobs are being considered, not just dismissed.

Back to those dreams…

I have dreamt twice those I made connections with have died.  Ironically, the three people my girlfriend made the strongest connection with were the ones in my dreams.  The first dream was proved false yesterday.  My 6 hat wearing buddy showed up and brought his newly arrived lady.   This was an amazingly welcome relief after dreaming about his demise 6 or so days before. But I awoke in a cold sweat this morning when another couple were not only dead in the dream, but their cold, frozen bodies brought to me. A father and his skateboarding son.  The son was still breathing and somehow I knew I was in charge of them.  They were my responsibility to keep alive. In the dream, I ran away…literally ran away.

My subconscious knew what I would do in my own power…

Luckily, I am a hero after my real feelings take place in my dreams and I remember being in a hospital while both were being “chemically warmed”.  Not sure what that means, but it means they were resurrected.  It means by someone’s caring they were given life again.

As I type those words, I tear up.  I am not sure I could handle a friend freezing to death because I was too busy to give a damn.  Too broke to donate the needed time.  Too tired and consumed with other people or things to fight for their rights…to live.

But unlike 4 years, I don’t fear death, but maybe it fears me.  Partly because I believe in a being who has shown death has no power.  And I still hope like hell I don’t have to face it so, that I don’t actually have to take a frozen body to a hospital.  But if I do have to deal, and lead and be in charge of keeping someone alive.  It isn’t about just me because I have heavenly and earthly support.

If you pray, please pray that I have no reason to fear death, nor do the invisible people around me.  If you are in Portland, please come meet some of my invisible friends.

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Filed under Death, Dreams, Global Community, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People, Transparency