Saturday, May 31, 2014

Crafting Perspective

Everyone can look back at different points or events in their life and say what if. We all have the lingering regrets that surface if we dedicate too much thought to the past. I don’t care who you are, you know that you have had moments when those thoughts would run through your mind wondering if things would have gone differently if you had made a different decision. While most days these thoughts are nowhere to be found, I have the occasional day when the memories linger like a heavy fog on a cool humid morning.

Regrets, in the right amount, are a healthy part of life. It is the time when the analytical and creative minds meet at a common point and time in your past and try to figure out the scenarios that could have played out. It is actually a fascinating process if you remove yourself from the decision… basically, by taking an objective view of the situation you are able to enjoy the projections and story lines that can be created. It’s like a chose your own adventure book (remember those?) but with a vividness and reality that is seldom achieved through the words on a page.

Of course, in order to do this you have to come to terms with your past decisions. Sure there are moments that you may not be proud of or that may piss you off. Some things were completely in your control and others you had now control over the situation… regardless of the situation you have to leave it in the past. Besides, the clichéd little chestnut is true, all of those events and moments in your past have made you who you are today. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am pretty darn happy with who I am and where I am at this point in my life. There are some things that I wish were a little different but nothing that I would really change.

If you are able to keep things in perspective the creative logic that is applied to your own past can provide you with pages of content and hours of entertainment. I have created many stories and scenes by leveraging my own past and tweaking it to create an alternative timeline to fit the needs of the character and story. As a bonus, once you put a different name in the situation and build an entirely different story arch it, for the most part, removes that trajectory from your own mind and therefore eliminates a avenue of regret.

It may seem odd but it works. This is what makes the creative process so personal at times and why many of us invest so much in the stories that we tell. It is a part of us, a part of our past, a part of our reality… it allows the possibilities of the past contribute to who we are today in a positive and productive way. In the end, embrace the past, good and bad, as well as the realities that did happen and possibilities that never materialized. All of these things are what feed your mind it is up to you weather that is a good thing or bad thing.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Throwing Around The F Word!

There is a certain four letter word that keeps getting thrown around and few people are taking note of the vulgarity that is behind its usage. To be completely honest, I use that word on a daily basis and while it has never caused any problems I am always cognizant of the company around me because there are certain people that will throw a tantrum when those four letters fly from my mouth. Ironically, those same people use the term, most of them more frequently than I do, but I guess it is all about perception.

The word ‘fact’ frequently makes me cringe upon it initially reaching my ears. All too often the usage doesn’t fit the definition or is stretched so thin that the meaning becomes frayed and almost unintelligible. Opinion is being crammed into the public perception of the word and the culprits of this bastardization are all around us. The most glaring misuse of the word stems from the processes that are employed to tailor statistics to fit the needs of a group, political party, or publication.

Recently, CNN conducted a poll asking the following question: “Does the United States need stricter gun control laws?” At first glance this seems to be a valid survey question to be asking the American people. After all, it would provide insight into the breakdown in the US population of those who support the second amendment and those choose not to honor the constitution (you know me, I had to phrase it that way). However, the question is not being asked of the US population. The poll can only be found on the CNN International site. No mention is made on the US edition. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself:

Seems like it would be more appropriate to have those in the United States casting their votes rather than those in other parts of the world weighing in on our rights. While most things I really don’t mind if the entire world voices their yes or no opinion but the poll itself is exclusionary in where they have decided to post it. This is particularly problematic when you consider the fact that the ‘results’ are not going to be used internationally, they are to be leveraged domestically for the purpose of promoting a certain point of view which I clearly do not share.

Of course, this may be a moot point as the poll I currently in my favor even with the “news” agency not counting all the votes. So, and I am speaking to everyone, stop throwing around the F word when most of the things reported as such need at least two words to describe them. And, in this instance, focus on the real threat and make fists, knives, and hammers illegal (or at least make people pass a background check before using them). After all, if it’s good enough for the UK its good enough for us. Right?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Day Late And A Shekel Short!

I took this photo of the Jaffa Gate during our honeymoon in June 2009.
Every Jew connects with Jerusalem in their own way with the roots of our faith as the common thread among us. It is this deep passion and bond that makes this modern holiday resonate so deeply within us. It is the Holy City and our capital after all.

One of the many narrow alleys in the Old City, July 2011.
And even though I only spent about half a second living in Jerusalem, that short time has magnified the connection I have with the city. It is a bond stronger that steel that it is hard to describe to those who have never walked those ancient streets, gotten lost in the maze of alleyways in Old City, and placed their hand on the Kotel (Western Wall). It is this passion that prevents me from accurately putting into words the importance of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). It is that passion that forced me to let the holiday nearly pass before starting to write this post.

The Kotel, June 2009.
Even now, it is difficult to put this day into words. Taking the time to celebrate and free and unified Jerusalem has never been more important than it is today as we are constantly facing forces (mostly politicians) that seek to once again divide the capital. At the very least, those people are a shekel short of sanity. To understand the importance of liberation of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967, you have to look at the centuries old struggle that led to that day. For this background, I have included the summary of the history found on Jewish Virtual Library website:

Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day in Hebrew) is the anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty that occurred during the Six Day War. It is one of four holiday (in addition to Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron, and Yom HaAtzmaut) that were added to the Jewish calendar in the 20th century. Yom Yerushalayim is celebrated on the 28th of the month of Iyar (one week before Shavuot).

The liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 marked the first time in thousands of years that the entire city of Jerusalem, the holiest city in Judaism, was under Jewish sovereignty. The destruction of Jerusalem was a watershed event in Jewish history that began thousands of years of mourning for Jerusalem, so, it follows, that the reunification of Jerusalem should be a joyous celebration that begins the process of reversing thousands of years of destruction and exile. Jerusalem is central to the Jewish tradition. Jews face in the direction of Jerusalem and all of the prayer services are filled with references to Jerusalem.

The observance of Yom Yerushalayim outside of the city cannot compare to its celebration in reunited Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, thousands of people march around the city and walk through the liberated Old City, where Jews were denied access from 1948 to 1967 while it was under Jordanian control. The march ends at the Kotel (Western Wall), one of the ancient retaining walls surrounding the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. Once everyone gets to the Kotel, there are speeches and concerts and celebratory dancing.

Rare in the Jewish liturgy, a festive Hallel is recited during the evening prayers. This practice is only done on the first night (and, outside of Israel, on the second night) of Passover and Yom HaAtzmaut. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared that the holiday version of Pseuki d'Zimra and Hallel should be recited. According to the major religious Zionist halakhists (decisors of Jewish law), even those who do not recite the blessing over Hallel (psalms of praise) on Yom HaAtzmaut should recite it on Yom Yerushalayim because the liberation and reunification over the entire city of Jerusalem is said to be of an even greater miracle than Jewish political sovereignty over part of the land of Israel.

Many religious leaders also hold that the mourning restrictions of 33 days of the omer are lifted on Yom Yerushalayim for those who observe them after Lag B'omer. In the Progressive (Reform) community in Israel, the prayerbook notes that Hallel should be recited on Yom Yerushalayim but the Masorti (Conservative) prayerbook does not. The American Conservative siddur Sim Shalom mentions that Hallel is recited "in some congregations" on Yom Yerushalayim. When it is celebrated in liberal Jewish communities the commemoration tends to include special programs on Jerusalem and festive celebration.

Despite the fact that the religious Zionist community in Israel holds that Yom Yerushalayim is even more important than Yom HaAtzmaut, the non-Orthodox diaspora Jewish community generally does not observe Yom Yerushalayim. This may be because the holiday makes politically liberal Jews uncomfortable as the status of Jerusalem in the international community is debated, and the international community does not recognize the liberation and restoration of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem as valid.

This holiday, this monumental moment in Jewish history, will continue to inspire and motivate Israel and the Jewish people in general to stand our ground. We cannot be forced to make near sighted sacrifices which will make long term peace and security an impossibility. Jerusalem needs to remain a free, unified, holy city if peace is every going to have a chance in Israel and the entire Middle East in general. And if you don’t believe me, get on a plane and see it, feel it, breathe it for yourself.

View of the Temple Mount at night with Mount Scopus in the background. June 2009.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Does It Make Sense?

In addition to the changes mentioned previously regarding the annual encore of this blog I decided to give something else a try… AdSense. While I have enjoyed an ad free environment during this past year it was time to face the reality that this simple inclusion doesn’t cost me a thing and doesn’t interfere with me posting content on a daily basis. Of course some people may be annoyed but this is the state of the internet and everything else on my blog is free.

We are in an age when browsing websites is quickly becoming passé. It seems as though every other site has a pay portal keeping me from taking a look at the content and reading what people have to say about different subjects. And while the other pages are littered with ads, some to the point of overkill, at least the content is still free and I can think about what people are writing rather than whether or not their work is worth reading before I have a chance to read it. If you couldn’t guess, I don’t do pay portals.

So, this is my way of finding a bit of a happy medium. There will be ads posted in a couple of spots on the blog. It will be minimally invasive and, for the most part, lost in a torrential river of free content. Keep in mind, this is something completely new to me so if the ads seem a bit odd in the beginning it is because I am still trying to figure out the settings. There are different ways to shape the ad content and with the little time that I have, I am unable to explore all the tools at my disposal to hone the content. Of course, you could also see the ads as an accompaniment to the randomness of my posts.

Over time, I hope to find the right mix to compliment the content I post. Maybe it might add value at that point and provide you easy access to various companies, products, and websites. Who knows but that is the goal. At the very least I had to make you aware of this possible change… Of course, all of this may be moot if the blog doesn’t pass through the review process. While I have looked at some of the no no’s in the user policy and I don’t think I am in violation of any of them, you never know and maybe you will continue to read this blog free of ads.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That Was Too Fast

With all the changes going on at the moment and the schedules that my wife and I have had over the past few weeks the long weekend was a welcomed occurrence. It is for this reason that we did not plan a single thing during the three days away from work. We know months ago that by this time we were going to need as much time as possible to do nothing.

While we did head out and do a little bit of exploring, we generally stuck to our plan, relaxed, and just took each day as it came. Friday night was a nice calm night at home. Saturday we did a little bit of local driving and exploring. Sunday we spent a few hours apart with me going to the range and my wife getting some homework done for her summer grad class. Today was more of the same as our sole venture beyond the confines of the apartment was for a buy one get one burger at Fox & Hound. What can I say… my wife is a cheap date.

Not surprisingly, there was plenty of work that I got done during the weekend as well including the posts that wrote for this blog. There has been a lot of things popping up lately at the office and it is that time of month for the lodge so there were a number of projects that had to be tackled during the last few days. I guess you could say that is was a long weekend for all the wrong reasons.

And now we are in the midst of the difficult time when Tuesday feels like Monday and we have to cram in five days of work into a four day span. I hate when Tuesday Jan pretends to be Monday Marsha… it’s just a high maintenance situation that I would rather not be a part of. And really with all the loose ends from the previous week, it was already going to be a long week even if it wasn’t cut short. Almost makes me wish that I had taken a few days off to extend the time away from the office but, then again, it would just be that much bigger of a headache upon my return so really I don’t know what would have been the best option.

So… now is the time to put my head down and work. When you see the words posted on this blog those will be the moments when I come up for air. And while I hope to continue providing you some daily entertainment and insight, I am not counting on anything of particularly fine quality. They may be short, they may be long. It really depends on how long I need to surface in order to fill my lungs. For now, it’s time to rest. I guess I will talk to you tomorrow!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Memorial Day Perspective

Gettysburg National Cemetery, 2013.
Today is one of those days when I can’t help but be grateful for sacrifices made by others to ensure that we are able to live the lives that we do. Without those who gave all for this country we would not be able to enjoy the rights and freedom that we do today. It is for this reason that I am so angered when some insists on stripping the rights and freedom of people through the stroke of a pen which flies in the face of the sacrifices made to preserve all that we have in this country.

As I have done before, to give you a concise description of the holiday, I am pasting the introduction below that can be found on Wikipedia:

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

Annual Decoration Days for particular cemeteries are held on a Sunday in late spring or early summer in some rural areas of the American South, notably in the mountains. In cases involving a family graveyard where remote ancestors as well as those who were deceased more recently are buried, this may take on the character of an extended family reunion to which some people travel hundreds of miles. People gather on the designated day and put flowers on graves and renew contacts with kinfolk and others. There often is a religious service and a "dinner on the ground," the traditional term for a potluck meal in which people used to spread the dishes out on sheets or tablecloths on the grass. It is believed that this practice began before the American Civil War and thus may reflect the real origin of the "memorial day" idea.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

One amendment that I believe that should be made to this holiday is to honor those active duty personnel and veterans who lost their lives due to physical or psychological injuries received in combat. This is an issue that seems to be forgotten, especially considering the controversies running rampant in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and VA Hospitals throughout the country. We need to honor those veterans fighting those battles beyond the theater of war and do all that we can to ensure that they are not one of those fallen after the war is over.

We must honor those who fought and remember what the fought for. While an imperfect union, it is the best that we have and we should not allow the flick of a pen to change the course of our country and question the freedom in this country that we all tend to take for granted. We must remember, support, and defend all that those men and women gave their lives to defend. That is the best way we can celebrate Memorial Day today and every day.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

One Year, One Blog

Just over a year ago I made the decision to start this blog. It took me a few days to determine what I wanted to write about, what rules I was going to set for myself, and how often I was going to post. Well, as you know, I decided to post every day and I have done so for a complete year now. That’s right, this post is number 365. It has been a busy year with a lot of changes and a lot to write about. I don't know how sane this daily endeavor has been but, at the very least, I had to set this goal to prove to myself that I still had some kernel of creativity left in me.

It has been tough at times to motivate myself and there have been times when I have given up free time and sleep but it was all worth it given the cathartic nature of the things that I have posted. Even the things that may seem like records of what happened the previous day, there was a certain element of venting, processing, or thinking that allowed me to end the day, deposit the experience into memory, and focus on what was in front of me instead of what is behind. It has also been a way to focus on something positive, or just something else, than some of the things that were happening around me or things that I may have been dealing with beyond the words on the screen.

This has been a fun little experiment and one that I have enjoyed sharing with all of you but now the question is… what is going to happen with the blog now? Well, while this anniversary was originally set as a goal it has evolved more into a milestone. This blog is not going to be coming to an end any time soon. However, I will be making a small change that should make a big difference for me moving forward. While I will still be posting my daily thoughts and experiences, I am lifting the minimum word count.

You all know that I can be very long winded with my posts and I think it is time to put an end to that vicious circle. This doesn’t mean that I won’t have my long posts now any again but now, when the thought is complete, I can stop at a more natural point rather than having to continue to meet that 400 word minimum. This may even open the blog up to other forms of writing and observation so that I can write about interesting or funny conversations or I can post a poem or two that I may be working on. Essentially, by lifting the minimum, I am maximizing the possibilities of both content and form.

So, here is to another 365 posts, another 19,000+ views (a little short of my goal but I'll take it), and another year of recording life, thoughts, opinions, and places. Any other suggestions you might have as to content, form, frequency, etc. that you have please feel free to share below. I look forward to entertaining you for another year and, more importantly, I look forward to recording life.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Finding A Forgotten Park

The past year my wife and I have been so focused on finding places to go that we have had a tendency to overlook some of the places scattered around us. Today we were driving around after a failed attempt to think of a place to go while sitting in the apartment. We drove up and down different streets that we hadn’t seen in years if not decades. As we approached Bryn Mawr I suddenly remembered a small park just off of South Ithan Avenue that I haven’t explored in probably 15 years, maybe longer.

Turning down the old road my wife was confused as to where we were heading. Turning left through the gate and over the bridge the look of bewilderment only grew as for all the years that she spent living on the Main Line she assumed that where we were going was an entrance to a private home. With only a couple of other cars in the lot it was clear that there still isn’t a lot of people that know about the park hidden in plain view. The park, opened from dawn to dusk, seemed to be a bit forgotten with an overgrown lamp and washed out hills around the parking area.

This was proven further when we attempted to walk down the paths along the creek which were overgrown and, in some instances, blocked by fallen trees. With little luck making our way further along the bank of the creek, we headed back and ventured onto the path heading up the hill toward the highway. What seemed to be an old road or driveway had an eerie feeling in its overgrown state and it made me wonder where this road used to lead.

After a few minutes exploring a bit of each path and taking a handful of pictures, which was the real objective of the afternoon, we slowly made our way back to the bridges. It is here that you can really see how dense the trees are along the creek and how old some of the growth is that is fighting to reclaim the park. There is even, for lack of a better word, a mystical quality to some of the trees that seem to live both on the bank and in the water.
On the other side of the bridge it seems a little lighter but still with a dense canopy muting the light and intensifying the green leaves handing above the water.

On a warm spring day it was nice to revisit this park that I had long forgotten existed. With the rare exception of the occasional travels down this road, I rarely think about this place. It was nice to revisit this place a saw on a daily basis riding the bus to school and explore the light and shadows as they danced across the moss covered sides of the bridge.

This will definitely be a park that we will explore again this summer when we are better prepared for the overgrowth. Glad we now have an option close to the apartment to explore when we need a break from all the driving that we will be doing this summer. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes you just have to search your own memories when you are looking for a place to explore.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Pitch Black Creative Catalyst

It always seems that I am up late at night writing a blog. It’s not that I don’t try to get it done earlier it’s just a very simple fact that the ideas and the ability to construct these short essays don’t come to me until there is a slight heaviness in my eyes. I even have the word document open on my computer throughout the day, ready to go, but I rarely find myself actually typing anything. The same can be said for the blank sheets of paper that wind up being neglected as they are shuffled from one side of my desk to the other during the course of my regular working day.

Sometimes, like now, the night brings a wave of prose that forces me to either write well beyond the 400 word minimum I set at the beginning or I am jumping from one document to another recording two streams of thought nearly simultaneously to be posted on consecutive days. What you are reading now if the second of the two. It is an annoying all or nothing situation that I find myself in every day. It’s almost like my creativity is bipolar… it either shies away or I can’t get it to shut the heck up.

Of course it could be the fact that there is only so much creativity and focus that I can produce at one time and with my job requiring much of that focus and energy it proves difficult to syphon enough of the focus away to even jot down a few sentences or word combinations. And that is just for this blog… my other writing is solely a weekend endeavor and only when that too is not filled with the overflow from the week. Those projects require more than the focus of night, they require the vibrancy of the day.

For everything else… personal correspondences (yes, I still write actually letter on occasion), newsletters, emails, and blogs… the evening is still the time to let he ink flow and the fingers fly like a wounded hummingbird. In the end, there is something about the night that motivates me to write. The catalyst that is midnight, the urgency of the hour, and the desire to bring the day to a close are what I need to keep this blog going. It isn’t every night but it is more often than not an essential part of this less than creative process. And when I stop to think about it, it has pretty much been the same way throughout my writing life. Maybe not always this late but certainly after the sun has gone to sleep and the liveliness of the day is all but a memory.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Checking Things Off The Masonic List

There are times when I lose track of all the little things that I have to get done in a day. Hey, its what happens when there are so many things going on at the same time. With everything that has been going on lately, especially at the office, I have not been able to keep up with a lot of the things as Secretary of my lodge. Don’t get me wrong, what needs to be done gets done but just barely. Besides, I am not one to just do the minimum.

Even something as basic as keeping up with a few of the records has been put off for the past month and the notice and minutes for the meetings have been last minute scrambles, sometimes the day of the stated, as there always seems to be one project or another popping up and stealing the time away. It has been this constant running behind that has been grinding at me for months and keeping me from taking time to relax.

Today seemed a little different, almost like the air had changed and the inhale and exhale seemed slightly easier. While there is still plenty of work that needs to get done much of which will certainly bleed into the long weekend, the pace has been picking up and my focus has gotten a little sharper. Just enough to notice. Because of that internal and external environment, today I found myself finally having a few moments in the day to knock out some of the things that have been relegated to the background of my desktop.

It’s when I finally find the time for these tasks when I truly appreciate the work that I am a part of and the privilege that it is to be privy to the details of the lodge. It is also during these times when I realize that I have actually been accomplishing a lot even though there may be things here and there that are slightly behind. Being in the center of the lodge and the communication thereof, I can’t help but get things done and keep things moving.

When I see the number of items crossed off my Masonic checklist I feel a great sense of accomplishment but, at the same time, it makes me look forward to the slow months quickly approaching when the lodge is largely silent. We all need a break every now and then especially those who proudly serve in various roles at the lodge. It will be nice to take some additional time to catch up with some of my brothers without having to run back to my office to get something done. I am looking forward to this time off not from the lodge but from some of the routines of the month so that I can better appreciate the times of fellowship that are scheduled during the summer. Of course, I do have other things scheduled in the early part of the summer but you will just have to read about those later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Did You Vote?

I am a huge proponent of exercising one's rights. The variety of the rights granted unto us are there to be embraced. We all have the option to exercise the rights that we chose to use. While there are rights I fervently support, sometimes I do not exercise one of my rights. Sometimes there is little motivation and even less time to get to the voting booth.

On Monday night I went to bed with my alarm set about thirty minutes earlier than usual so that I could swing by the community center in the morning before heading to the office. When the alarm sounded in the cool glow of a new day, I was having nothing of it and, without hesitation, reached over and hit the snooze button on my phone. The next thirty minutes, this process was repeated like the directions on a shampoo bottle. Finally I rolled out of bed and began my groggy routine.
Before heading out the door, my wife and I discussed the plans for the day and the times we expected to be home that night. It was a lodge night so dinner was pretty much up in the air. I guess we were going to just have to figure it out later in the day…. Usually during out midafternoon phone call. By this point I had been watching the minutes tick by on my watch and I knew that the voting booth was just going to have to do without me in the morning.

If it were a simple run in, run out type of thing I would have taken the detour but I know the people that work the polls and I know the contingent of Democrats that flood this particular location. Frankly, I didn’t want to deal with the delay or the debate. Not that morning. Besides, I know who my nominee is heading into the heat of the campaign season.

Throughout my drive to the office I couldn’t help but think about the various races with the Governor’s race playing the most prominent role in my mind. And while this may seem wrong to some but I couldn’t help but hope that the weakest, most radical of the candidates would win the nomination. I won’t name names but let’s just say that I am really not a fan of the Congresswoman from Abington and her radical brand of liberalism. If anything, I wanted her to win simply because of the fact that it would demonstrate just how successful the Governor has been and the balance that he has brought to the economy of the Commonwealth.

In the end, a one percenter secured the nomination and held a party at a minor league ballpark that he rented out in York. I hope he stays in the minors (maybe we could start calling him "Meat"). I know what you’re thinking and its okay he owns a Jeep that he drives himself so he’s just like one of us. I wonder if he supports paying his own ‘fair share’? It should be an interesting race to watch and I know you will all be shocked when I say this but I already know who I am voting for come November. But, until then, Play Ball!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What Are Your Symptoms?

And both will kill you over time!
Stress is something that we all deal with on a daily basis on one form or another. Most of this encounter this little monster at the office while others deal with numerous outside factors that impact the level of stress in their life. Lately, life seems to be shuffling the grab bag and pouring out numerous stressors all at one time from all different areas. While I am a firm proponent that stress in moderation is a good thing that can help with motivation, too much stress, especially on a consistent basis rather than the normal ebb and flow, has the exact opposite effect.

Unfortunately, stress is frequently overlooked when someone isn’t feeling right. I have seen it time and again in countless friends and coworkers and have experienced a few symptoms here and there in my own life at different points and for various reasons. It is with this underdiagnoses in mind that I want to bring to your attention (or remind you) of the detrimental symptoms and effects that stress can have on you. While by no means complete, here is the list from WebMD:

What Are The Symptoms of Stress?
Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including your emotions, behaviors, thinking ability, and physical health. No part of the body is immune. But, because people handle stress differently, symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and may be the same as those caused by medical conditions. So it is important to discuss them with your doctor. You may experience any of the following symptoms of stress.
Continue readi
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
·         Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
·         Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
·         Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
·         Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
·         Avoiding others

Physical symptoms of stress include:
·         Low energy
·         Headaches
·         Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
·         Aches, pains, and tense muscles
·         Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
·         Insomnia
·         Frequent colds and infections
·         Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
·         Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
·         Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
·         Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
·         Constant worrying
·         Racing thoughts
·         Forgetfulness and disorganization
·         Inability to focus
·         Poor judgment
·         Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
·         Changes in appetite -- either not eating or eating too much
·         Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
·         Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
·         Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Those are just the symptoms that you could be feeling at any given stressful moment, the more serious and damaging problems occur when there are periods of prolonged stress. Those consequences include:
·         Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
·         Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
·         Obesity and other eating disorders
·         Menstrual problems
·         Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
·         Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
·         Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon

So, here is where you would usual read about the “useful tips” that someone has for you in how to deal with stress… well, I am not going to do that. Whatever I say will work for some (if any) but not for others and, honestly, it depends on the stressor, situation, and individual. Sometimes I just stopped giving half a crap about while other things I have had to cut back on. In the end, it all comes down to what calms you regardless of what other people think… go to the range, play golf, take pictures, write, drive, paint, etc. I can’t tell you what will work for you. I know what works for me and that was hard enough to find.

However, I will say that you need to be aware of stress and whether it is effecting you. Also make sure to look out for your family, friends, coworkers and make sure that they don’t head down this path. Just be there for others and listen. What can also be helpful is a simple invitation to join you when you are looking to release your own stress (get your mind out of the gutter you dirty people). Sometimes this can be beneficial to both of you. I guess you could consider that my ‘useless tip’ for you, free of charge.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Knowing When Not To 'Help'...

When given the opportunity I try to help people whenever I can. Sometimes it works out, other times I am absolutely no help at all. I really don’t know if this is a good trait or a bad one but it is part of who I am and I do my best to make things better for people in tough situation. However, I will say that sometimes my humor can get in the way at times and so I try to pay particular attention to that and curb those comments to the best of my ability.

In my various roles and duties across the numerous jobs I have and positions I hold, this desire to help has proven to be quite an asset. With that said, I have had to focus hard on my limitations and know when it really isn’t a good idea to interject or assist. I have written about one aspect of those boundaries before when I discussed some of the requests that I have received while at the office. That is just one place, one job, and one small part of this whole equation.

Countless times, especially lately, there have been times where something needed to be done, some assistance needed to be offered, but I was definitely not the one who could help. In some of those cases I just wasn’t equipped to satisfy the needs of the situation while other times the situation was just out of control and there wasn’t really anyone who could change what was going to happen. It is during these humbling times of helplessness that all I could do is hope and pray that everything was going to work out. At most, I could be an attentive ear but no words or actions would offer any solace, it would just be BS.

Those are the times when being a person willing to help is the most difficult. Equally agonizing is when there are challenges that someone you care about is facing and you know that any proactive steps that you may take would only make things worse so all you can do is sit back, grind your teeth and wring your hands. Selfishly, I would much rather be the person facing the challenges so that I could go full bore into the situation and forcibly clear any obstacles, nuisances, and threats that try to get in my way. Patience was never something that I was good at but I guess it is something that I have to embrace at times. So, for now, I am going to complete this rant and shut the heck up.