Those Damn Teenage Years

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In a recent conversation with my soon to be fourteen year old son, I was reminded of my youth, the choices I was forced to make, and how rough it really is being that age. I like to think I’m taking a different approach to parenting than the approach my parents took with me, I was raised in a wrath of God house by two very devout Catholics with closet human tendencies. Of course, my wife and my style differs from many parents as I’m told. I also get told I’m doing it wrong, the parents are the boss. Before you assume way to much here, I’m not the “friend” parent type. I am the type of parent who has instilled justifiable fear into his children, after all they live in my house, sleep in my house, and scary shit happens when you least expect it. Anyway, I’ve tried very hard to not raise quitters in a society where quitting has become the norm. I believe in self esteem because without it you have little control of your inward or outward emotions. But, we all get to the point where we start asking when is enough going to be enough, when will the madness end, and why can’t this be easier.

We all have given up at some point. All of us at a certain point have stopped believing that we’ll be able to make it. Some of us have done it often, some just very few times, but all of us know how it feels.The  sad fact is that most of us give up far too soon.My son explained to me that he was thinking the other day, why does he actually give up? What are his most common reasons and are there any ways to get around those reasons for giving up?

He thinks discouragement is the biggest reason for quitting and failure. No matter what you have decided to do, as soon as you share it with people there will be at least few who will tell you that YOU Can’t Do it and come up with different reasons about why it can’t be done. At that point you may decide to give up the idea even before giving it a try.  Instead of thinking about giving up think about how are you going to prove all those people wrong.  In fact proving those who doubt me wrong has been pretty good motivation for me so far, I have spent a lifetime trying to stay on top of my game. As well, if you don’t believe in yourself you will always be tempted to give up because you won’t believe in your success. The self-doubt will be keeping you from pushing forward.

I somehow thought that I was not strong enough to make my dreams come true, but then there was a shift in mindset which sort of set me free. And it was one simple realization. The realization that none of the people who have succeeded are better than me. They worked harder, they were persistent and they believed in their dreams, but they were not actually better, just approached life differently, as most of us do. These days there are so many distractions… Social media, TV series, and different smart phone notifications not letting you focus on the important things. If you don’t keep focus on your goal you will end up with insufficient results and that will discourage you even further. But, as I discussed with my son, social media didn’t exist when I was growing up, none of this shit did. My social media was friends and family. My internet was called “the outdoors”, I earned my allowance by being a part of the family unit team. Unlike today, parents give their children money to just leave them alone. As it is, in our house we are pretty tight, we do allot together on a very regular basis. On top of it all we have dinner together, every night, without fail. Also, no television is on, no cell phones are allowed at the table, and we talk or play games while we eat, there is fun and laughter, and it is also a time to gather to discuss more serious matters, if any.

That reminds me of yet another reason we, as humans, give up, we give up when we don’t get the immediate results. We all want things to happen fast and it is hard to realize that there are things that actually takes time. One can not have instant on and instant off like the flick of a light switch each and every time. Some things, to include pets and people, are more challenging, they take more time, things like trust and value in a person have to be developed and earned, which takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success so we have to keep in mind that it takes time and to be prepared not to give up.

When I am starting something new I am on fire. I am full of enthusiasm and I am motivated. But with the time things may start cooling off and at some point the self-motivation may not be enough to keep me moving. That is when I may think about giving up, that is when I need to go back to beginning and try to recall the big why. Why did I start that project in first place and what was initially motivating me? That brings me back on track most of the time. But still we need motivation, we still need the allure that there is a prize waiting for us at the end. No matter what kind of life you had, you are used to your own personal comfort zone and that brings you great comfort. Now when you have initiated changes you entered the stage of uncertainty and struggle, which by no means is comfortable. What makes me not giving up in those cases is the thought that once I get where I wanna be my new comfort zone will be a much better one. But, what I’ve learned over the years cannot be taught, it has to be experienced. This is my son’s struggle know, the learning curve, stepping out of the comfort zone, finding new experiences doing new things or with new people. Plus, he is at the beautiful age where he has really realized he really likes boobs. One more thing we have in common.

Anything worth achieving is hard. Yes the easiest option is to just give up, but then, will it be easy living with the regret that you gave up midway? On the other hand I would not say that giving up is something terrible and wrong. Sometimes you may end up having too many things on your plate and that may make you overwhelmed. Sometimes you may need to give up certain things because they may not be a priority at that point. I find myself looking at the details in my own life on a regular basis, there is never room for bullshit, it is always the first into the fuckbucket. What is important that you don’t give up your dreams and the things you want really bad. Don’t give up your passion and never give up on life. I understand living with a person like me is challenging, being a sarcastic jackass is a fine art and we all don’t appreciate fine art. We all have given up at some point. All of us at a certain point have stopped believing that we’ll be able to make it. Some of us have done it often, some just very few times, but all of us know how it feels. The  sad fact is that most of us give up far too soon.

Where does all this leave the conversation I was having with my son? Well, he was never actually clear as to what he was thinking about quitting. And, I’m not altogether sure we were even talking about the same thing. Later, while talking with my wife I was informed that a girl he knew in school, friends but not inner circle friends, had committed suicide last week. There was no clear reason why, she left no note, gave the parents no inkling that she was distressed, same with her two sisters, teachers, and friends. Except for one person, who came forward to “confess” to her parents that he knew why. You see, they were boyfriend and girlfriend. She wanted an exclusive relationship (at 14) and he wanted to play the field. She took it had, it killed her self esteem and self worth, and according to him, as she told him, she didn’t feel she was worth the effort of having his love if he was not willing to commit to her. Granted, this is the opinion of a 14 year old boy, and this story was also posted up on Facebook, so I don’t really know if it actually ever happened. But, after going back to my son to talk, he said that I did answer his question of “why people quit” without even knowing that was what I was doing. We talked more, we talked about the cruelty of emotions, especially in a teenager. But suicide is not an easy subject, simply because there isn’t an actual answer to give. The only person who knows is dead.

I don’t know if this makes me angry or sad. I do know that I have been in my sons shoes before, knowing a person who has had her self esteem crushed on a daily basis for “fun” by others. But, that is another topic altogether, since bullying seems to have become so evermore popular these days, or its just more in the public eye these days. As a parent I try to teach my children to hope for the best and prepare for the worst because the two survive together hand in hand. One may think they are just words, but others take those words to heart. As uncomfortable as I was talking with my son about suicide and how I personally believe it should never be the answer for anyone, I was also proud of my son for wanting to sit and talk to me about life, emotions, feelings, relationships, and family with me. It takes courage to begin a conversation with your father when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Both of us feeling a little bummed, we invited the rest of the family to go out for ice cream. Ice cream? Yes, the one thing on the planet stronger than any drug, stronger than and alcohol, stronger than any words, stronger than any bond, it is a time of peace for a troubled mind or a troubled soul. Its a time to take a break from the crap life offers and just enjoy a bite of ice cream.

Yes, I know, ice cream doesn’t solve all problems, but it does give the opportunity to step away from them, not to quit them, but to take a break from them. Everyone needs a break, we all take breaks or celebrate in our own ways. In the end I learned from my son that I should keep my past close so it can be accessed and shared. I never knew my life, in general, would be an education tool for the youth in my family. But then again, we do learn most of what we know from our parents and family. Having children has been the best challenge I never quit. Try something new, get in your child’s head today, give them a nice tight hug, a big smile, and a peck on the cheek. When they ask why just tell them it is because you were thinking about them. It scares the crap out of them. I know from experience that life isn’t easy. It wasn’t designed to be easy. We don’t evolve within ourselves if we are not constantly challenged. Don’t let life discourage you, leave that to the people around you, you know, the people who don’t want you to succeed because they don’t care about succeeding. Until we “meet” again, remember to eat it everyday!

A “Blast” From My Past……………

Anymore when I go looking through things I have had in long term storage, meaning its in the very back, buried in the very bottom, usually under something pretty heavy, long term storage. Lost and forgotten by all practical aspects of not knowing what is even where. In my Air Force days, working in the munitions careerfield, plainly just called AMMO by us, I collected unused ammo cans because they make excellent storage vessels for practically anything that would fit in them. Once I got out of the Air Force, and over the years, pretty much all I have had are gone. The ones I have still today still are being used in the original nature of the cans, to hold ammo. My dad asked me to look and see if I had any extras laying around because he’d found some plans on the internet to make a stove and a portable set of speakers. He wants to make one of each for himself sometime in the near future.

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Luckily for him I found three cans, my last remaining three cans being unused, that I gave to him for his projects. All three cans were empty except for one, it held a roll of very unique stickers that I would be required to use way back when. I can’t even remember putting the roll of stickers in there, but when I opened the can, there they sat, unmessed with since the late 90s. Almost like digging up an old artifact in a way. It’s got the best of me as my memories fade, trying to figure out why they were there. Just goes to prove that things sealed in these cans stay well preserved and if I hadn’t opened the can they would still be in that ammo can at the bottom of the pile.

I’m looking forward to seeing the old man’s work as he repurposes these old cans into something someone has dreamt up. One day he will let me see them, I’m sure, and I will post his diy projects for others to try. I just hope I don’t need to dig for any more stuff for him because there isn’t no telling what I will find.

Observations In Weekend Ramblings

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I spend quite a bit of my time in my shop doing different things that need to be done. I don’t think I have ever shown any pictures of where I do so much. I had run to the hardware store to get a few things I thought I would be using Saturday. When I came back my attention was drawn to my driveway. I wondered to myself when it started looking so bad. Why it looks so bad I can answer because I drive allot of heavy stuff across it on a regular basis. I never thought I would be needing to re-do the driveway anytime soon. I have had repairs to it done earlier this year because my truck was wider than the drive in spots. I made the mistake of getting by with what I needed versus spending the money and getting what I wanted. Why do we do that? I actually took the picture to send to my wife to let her know I was going to get quotes to have the drive redone. She replied with whatever I want to do is fine with her and she doesn’t see any problem with the way it is. But, when it was a gravel road she hated it and now that the asphalt is getting tore up she is fine with it. This is an area where we always disagree and probably always will. Sadly I let this conversation with my wife distract me from what I was actually on my way to do. It happens on occasion, I see things I want to get done, they get put on the “list” and sooner or later might get done. I try to keep my list in check but there are times it gets blown out of proportion. The purpose of this particular weekend was to just relax, stay off my foot, and continue to recover. But, eventhough my wife and kids were out-of-town I just couldn’t sit still and do absolutely nothing, it’s not who I am and it’s pretty much impossible for me to be still.

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When I got out to my shop I was reminded again that I need some kind of pad around the building because it gets a little messy getting in and out at times. Trust me, it’s on the list. This weekend was no different, we got a fair share of rain. Luckily for me, the ground around the building drains pretty well and really fast. Maybe that is why it is always on the back burner. I figure I will probably take the time to grade it out and do it all in gravel sometime this winter. I could do it now but my clutch foot is still full of stitches. I found it was sort of a mistake to drive something with a clutch when I took my truck in for an oil change before running errands to get what I needed. I never knew how much I depended on being able to use my left foot. It’s a challenge to drive but also a challenge to walk. Forget picking anything up heavier than a pillow as I found out. Maybe I should have just planted my but on the couch in front of the television this weekend. There’s time for that later. I’m here now. I’ve returned from the hardware store. I have what I need now and it is time to focus and get it done.

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At the beginning of the summer I was given some re-claimed cypress planks from an old house that was torn down a few miles from here. I accepted the wood as payment for helping out doing a bit of tractor work for the guy doing the demolition. He got his truck stuck and he had walked to the back of my property and noticed I was down by the creek and asked me to help him out. There wasn’t much of the cypress wood to salvage but there was enough, I found, after cleaning it all up, to make two doors. This picture does no justice to the size of them since each one of them are 36″ x 84″. They were actually purpose-built, I had the full intention of using them here on my building to replace both of the single person entrance doors which are metal. However, as I get them done I wonder if it is what I really want to do with them. Do they deserve to be more than just shop entrance doors? I took the picture and sent it to my wife for her opinion and she asked me what in the hell I was doing working and why I wasn’t resting. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for but it was the answer I received. So, there they sat for the remainder of the day, staring at me in a way that I could feel the doors asking me if I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do then why did I do it. Valid question I guess, even if it was from the doors. Perhaps the fumes were getting to me. They aren’t finished yet anyway because I don’t want to completely finish them until I know what they will be used for. Maybe I can just cut my losses of indecision and just sell them, I’ve done it before, made things for the house and decided that it wasn’t what I was looking for. I have began to ask myself why I do it in the first place. Still waiting on the answer by the way.

I spent the rest of the day straightening up my shop, putting things away, and sweeping the floor for the most part. I tried not to move anything because I really don’t want to muck up my foot after 2 1/2 weeks of nursing it back to health. All I know is the sutures come out Wednesday morning if the surgeon “feels” they are ready to come out.  Anyway, I happened across some boxes I had put out in the shop over a year ago that should have made it into the attic but ended up in the corner instead. It goes to show I get sidetracked very easily. There was no need to look into the boxes because I knew what was in them. Fortunately they weigh about 100 pounds a piece so they get to stay where I found them. I piddled around in the shop for the remainder of the day. Around dark-thirty I get a text from my wife letting me know they where home and that the gate was stuck open again. So, I closed up shop, jumped on my ATV, and headed up to the gate to see what was up. As I suspected, the linkage had become undone again. I guess it is time to go ahead and replace it this time instead of the band-aid repairs I have been giving it over the last year. Quite honestly I had completely forgot about having it fixed since I personally haven’t had problems with it. But, I had to do another band-aid fix this time and will mess with taking it off tomorrow to have a new one made at the place I bought it from originally. On my trek back up to the house I decided to skip going down to the shop to put my tools up. As I rode up the asphalt drive it hit me again that I didn’t put on my list to get a quote for the replacement of it. Pretty soon I think I need to chuck the list in a bucket and set it on fire. I don’t know why I do lists anymore because I don’t follow what I can’t keep up with. Well, I figure that sooner or later it will all be done. When I get to the house I was informed that I need to light the grill, which was good because I was beginning to wonder what was dinner.

And, by the way, I have decided to sell the doors. I decided this while I was cooking and thinking I was not looking forward to doing a swap out. I will put them up on craigslist later. Meanwhile, if anyone is interested just shoot me an e-mail. Price? the price will completely be based on who is wanting to buy them. Amazing how a little smoke can clear the clouded mind!