Monday, October 15, 2018
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Why Page Eighty5?

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On my journey through life, I feel that I am around page eighty-five of a good book. Sure there have been some things that have happened and there have been great and defining moments but really the story is just beginning. We have taken the time to form the foundation, characters/setting/background, but I am only just beginning to see what it is that is going to define me, what my purpose may be.

Page Eighty5 is a random page, as it should be because this number could be different for everyone. This project is shaped by creativity and with creativity, it is important not to ask too many questions!

Entitlement

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Every day I witness so many people with a strong sense of entitlement. There really seems to be no demographic that is inflicted more than another. Unfortunately, it can be found almost everywhere you look. Some examples that quickly come to mind are the shoppers who are so frustrated that they have to wait two deep in a line. They are spending their hard earned money and are entitled to faster service. Diners in a restaurant who feel that they are entitled to service that is tailored just to their exact specification. These are just a few that are easy to spot of the many. If we look deeper we can see that we have a culture of entitlement that only seems to be getting worse.

We all know who to blame right? It’s this new generation of spoiled, self-centered, disrespectful, ENTITLED children and young adults. Is it really their fault? Since turning 40 years old a few months ago I have started to take a hard look at the man in the mirror and it turns out that there are a lot of things that I didn’t think were my fault that may just be. Realizing this helped me to realize that on a broader scale I don’t believe it is fair for any generation to blame the one before or, especially, the one after. Where do younger generations get their belief systems from? They are taught and brought up by the very people who want to turn around and blame them for all the ills of society. This I believe is where the broadest range of entitlement rests. It rests with those who believe that they have done their duty and now they should be able to sit back and have the easy life while those around them all behave in a way that is in alignment with how they are expected to behave.

I work in a lot of different retail spaces which affords me the opportunity to observe some of the most selfish, entitled behaviors. I don’t know what it is about the grocery store or retail stores in general that seems to bring out the worst in people. During my observations now as more of a passive presence in the store and my experience as an employee/manager in these establishments, I can tell you that I see a very distinct pattern of which individuals who tend to show evidence that they feel more entitled. It is not the younger generation. The younger generation usually exhibits a patience that most adults would/should strive to achieve. They are the ones that are giving up their spots in line. They are the ones holding the doors open and saying yes sir or yes mam and giving out a thank you or you’re welcome.

I hypothesize that this entitlement is a learned behavior. Either the behavior is influenced negatively by those around them or the stresses of constantly being beaten down by life has caused people to simply abandon their polite, empathetic tendencies in exchange for rude, entitled behavior. Unfortunately, the only solution would be for everyone to come to their senses and realize that no one owes them anything. For people to understand that the only behavior that they can control is their own. For everyone to “Be the change that they wish to see in the world.” The interesting thing is that when we start behaving in a way that acknowledges that there are other people in the world and they are just like us, we start feeling better about the other people in the world. We will start to have a bit more patience and understanding. We will hopefully stave off the learned behavior of entitlement that we are passing on to our children.

I have a feeling that this will be the theme for this week’s posts because there is so much to be said on the subject. If you have any thoughts be sure to share.

 

If We Only Had a Fuel Gauge

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Yesterday as I was driving to the grocery store I noticed not one but two people who had run out of gas and were filling their cars from a gas can on the side of the road. We have all been there. Thinking we get a little bit further without the inconvenience of stopping for gas or maybe there isn’t enough money in the budget to get gas until the next day.

The reason I was struck by the fact that I saw two people run out of gas in relatively the same area and time is that I realized how rarely I actually see this occur. I believe that most people ensure that they have enough gas in their vehicle at all times. They know that the inconvenience and possible damage to the car for running out of gas could be more costly than the minor inconvenience of taking a few minutes to stop.

Why am I even mentioning this? I believe that there is an interesting connection here between the way we treat our cars and the way that we treat our bodies. I believe that we often push ourselves to the point of empty before we look for food. Just like with our car this can have very damaging results in terms of our overall health as well as our finances.

My job requires me to drive quite a bit and I do several tasks in different areas throughout the day. I try to get these tasks done as quickly as possible which means that I frequently skip lunch. Sometimes I may get my work done more expeditiously but I think more often it evens out. My productivity tends to lessen as the day goes on without giving my body the fuel that it needs to work at its highest level.

Sometimes I will stop at a fast food restaurant and go through the drive-thru and grab something to eat on the way to my next location. I think that this is a very smart alternative to depriving myself and helps me shave even more time off of my work day. The problem with this tactic is that once I complete these very unhealthy quick fixes I want a nap. I feel very sluggish and weighed down. Not exactly the smart alternative I was searching for in the end.

I think that many times we choose to skip fueling our bodies because it is not convenient. We can get a few more tasks accomplished. This waiting not only causes our work to suffer but could lead to long-term issues. We need to intentionally plan time to refuel our bodies. There are even laws that ensure that employers give us this time. I know that I personally would find ways to be productive during that meal time. Making phone calls to attend to personal issues or some other task that I felt was super important and needed to be done during the workday.

This is going to be the habit that I work on heavily moving forward. Scheduling time to refuel my body and ensuring that I am operating at my very best for the complete duration of my day. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. I will set a reminder for October 7th and see how I am doing. Care to join me?

Already do well in this area? How do you manage to keep yourself fueled throughout the day? How do you keep life from getting in the way?

I Can’t (Self) Help Myself

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For as long as I can remember I am drawn to improving myself. I know that I will never be complete and that my journey should be constant. I don’t want to stagnate and do the same things that I have always done.

Because of this I often seek out documentaries, blogs, podcasts, etc. that offer a different way of looking at things. I have been fascinated by the financial teachings of Dave Ramsay several times in my life but really have nothing to show with the hours of listening and reading. I went through a time where I found great value, relaxation, and clarity from reading Tao Te Ching and studying some of the philosophies of Taoism. Right now I am fascinated with Minimalism and have been pouring into this particular mindset.

While I am happy to add value and enlightenment to my life by learning from different perspectives I believe that I have implemented very little of the strategies that I have been ingesting. I agree with the philosophies and the behaviors but I apparently don’t believe that I can find a place for them in my life or maybe I have been approaching things in the wrong manner.

Interestingly enough the struggle that I am having in implementing these behaviors that I believe will add value to my life is also a form of “self-help”. Is that where I should start? Should I seek our resources that can help me to better implement new strategies to improve my life?

Are there any resources that you think would be helpful in my journey?

How do you implement changes in your life so that they stick?

My Struggle with the Five Stages of Grief

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Today is a new beginning. I feel much better after expressing my true feelings. I believe that it was a very important step in the process of moving forward. Christina and the boys returned yesterday after a week at the beach. I think that their absence gave me the opportunity to reflect upon what it is that I am missing in my life as well as what it is I already have in which I should be extremely grateful. It is only today that I realize that over the past 8 or 9 months I have been going through the 5 stages of grief. I believe that at some point upon my families return I finally entered into acceptance.

As I look back at the past 8 months I realize that I have been cycling through the first 4 stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, and bargaining. At first, I thought that I just went through them out of order but as I really started to dig down into it I realized that I could never quite get to acceptance and would start back at the beginning. You may think it strange that I would enter into these stages of grief over a move from one place to another but to me it symbolized the death of my way of life.

Denial

Even leading up to our move I was in extreme denial. I told myself that my life would be better once we moved. I told myself, and everyone else for that matter, that I hated Florida. I said that I couldn’t live there another minute. I focused on every frustrating aspect of life in Florida. This may be a different way of seeing denial as I was not in denial about moving, I was in denial of the effect the move would have on me. I was in denial that this place that I had called home had embedded itself anywhere inside of my heart and that I might possibly need that in my life.

Anger

This along with depression have been where I have sat for a majority of the 8 months. It would works itself in with denial often as I would get angry at anyone who still lived in Florida, anyone who was visiting Florida, anyone who talked about Florida, etc. I had anger issues that would flare up at any time. Once I would get angry for no reason this would lead to the next stage quite easily.

Depression

Man have I been depressed. Sometimes it is hard to even get out of bed in the morning. I have a certain amount of drive that has carried me through but not to the best me. Only to the me that can function at an elementary level. Oddly enough anger would sometimes give me the jumpstart that I needed during the depression. That is why I mentioned that the two most often coexisted. I would get angry and because of this become depressed. I would then become angry that I was depressed and at those that I thought were causing it. It was a vicious cycle.

Bargaining

I would often enter bargaining, I would tell myself that there were ways to avoid this. I could have made better decisions that would not have led to this drastic move. I should have had the foresight to realize that this would be the reality if we moved back to Ohio. Usually, this is where I would go right back into denial. I would tell myself that there were very good reasons for moving away from Florida and back I would go in the let’s trash everything about Florida stage. I could not quite get to the last stage.

Acceptance

I believe that the post that I shared yesterday allowed me to finally see the light. I think that getting all of this off of my chest and finally truly being honest with myself and everyone else allowed it to be ok. It allowed me to stop going into denial. It allowed me to understand that while I can still be a bit angry about my circumstances I have no right to be angry at others. I have finally accepted that this is reality and now we need to look to the future and do what we see necessary to either move on and truly embrace our new life in Ohio or we do what is necessary to make our way back to Florida. Either way, I have accepted the death of that chapter of my life.

In some way, I believe that I went through each stage in a short amount of time yesterday. Maybe that is what led me to acceptance. Maybe it is only possible to see the other stages once you reach acceptance. Maybe that is when our minds are not completely clouded. I want to thank everyone who has been patient with me along the way. I want to apologize to any that I have hurt along the way. I’m hoping to now rebuild my life and to rebuild the relationships that I put on hold due to the struggles within myself.

Those who may have been distancing themselves due to my unpredictable behavior or crappy attitude I invite you to reach back out to me. I am going to need each and every one of you to truly regain the person that I was and to continue working on being that better person. I will be reaching out myself but don’t wait for me.

 

What Were We Thinking?

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Is it really fair to feel this way? After going through all of the effort and time and energy and emotional preparedness, is it ok to feel disappointed? Is it ok to look back and realize that there was so much put into following through with a decision that appears to have been a huge mistake? If so, what do you do? What is the next step? The huge effort, time and energy that it took to make this happen pales in comparison to the amount that would be needed to reverse it. We are not only dealing with minor details here, we are dealing with completely life-changing events for not just us but everyone around us as well. What am I talking about? If you know us well enough you may have figured out that I am referring to our decision to move from Florida back to Ohio.

While living in Florida there were a myriad of things that we could point to that led us to the decision to move back to Ohio. We were living in a house that we did not own and did not have the finances to keep up. We asked a lot from my mother and step-father who owned the house to step in and help us financially when this became an issue with the upkeep of the home. With every passing day, we found this more and more unfair as we were also depriving them of time with their grandchildren by continuing to live in Florida. This was the main reason for the move back, so we told ourselves.

We also argued that we missed time with family. My family had weekly dinners that I would always seem to call during and realize that I was not really an active member of the family. It has become a joke now upon returning that when at these family dinners and the phone rings everyone shouts “There’s Michael!” I really enjoy helping my parents and while living in Florida that help normally came in the form of long, interesting phone conversations trying to walk them through some sort of technical issue. My wife also missed her family dearly. There would be the occasional visit from her parents to Florida but other than that we only saw family through video chat. We have nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, and uncles that we would like to visit with as well. Here is the interesting thing about this argument. Even though we are able to attend weekly dinners and very much enjoy them, we find that we may have still enjoyed more “quality” time with family by being able to focus all of our attention to visiting when we would travel to Ohio about 4 times a year. There was no distraction. There was no hurrying back out of the door to go get something done for work or prepare for the next day. And as for time with extended family, I have only seen select aunts and uncles a few times since moving back in January. I am pretty sure we spent more time visiting with them when we lived in Florida. Time with family was more deliberate then and we really came to appreciate that time and look forward to it. Now it has become a part of the daily grind and just another appointment to keep.

Interestingly enough this is one of the other arguments we used when leaving Florida when speaking about our time at Walt Disney World. We argued that it had just become a part of our everyday life and was no longer special or “magical.” Looking back we could not have been more wrong in this assumption. Now that we have been away from Florida for over six months I can say that our time at Disney parks and resorts was a very important, and crucial part of our lives. We tried to lash out against Disney. We tried our best to make ourselves believe that we had just fallen out of love with it and maybe by moving away we could regain that love. Well, we were right about that! A little more than we expected.

Another reason for our decision to move back was my inability to find a job where I fit in and that would work with my wife’s schedule and the boys both being in virtual school. Ironically the jobs that I ended up getting up here in Ohio would have worked perfectly down there. What I didn’t take into account was that the boys were getting older. Jordan is almost 15 years old and is very capable of babysitting an almost 6-year-old child for short amounts of time. These two partnered together would have made it very easy for me to do the jobs that I now do while Christina continued her career. We could have made it worked but again had convinced ourselves that by moving back to Ohio we would have the opportunity to have more help from family if needed and we could both have amazing jobs that would provide the type of income that we needed to live comfortably. That is not the case as Christina still hasn’t been able to find a job, which ironically is one of the huge reasons for moving to Florida in the first place. We have basically reversed the roles as I go to work and Christina stays home and worries about getting a job. The only difference is about $20,000 or more a year. That’s all. (Yeah we were better off financially living the life we loved, go figure.)

Now it is time for the biggest reason that we decided to move back in my opinion. We can look at all of these other issues but this, to me, is the real reason. We felt guilted into moving back. Not as you would think by my mother and step-father who had sacrificed so much and given us more than they should have to allow us to follow our dreams. Not by our close friends that understand that we took a leap and seemed to be somehow keeping our head above water while we were living the life that we wanted. We were guilted by our own conscience to move back to Ohio. We felt as if we were robbing our children the chance to have a relationship with their grandparents and extended family. We felt that we should be there for birthday parties for our nieces and nephews and other special events. We constantly felt guilty because we were able to have incredible experiences almost on a daily basis living in Florida. Our days would consist of work and school during the day and Disney parks and concerts and ice cream at resorts and the list goes on. We were living the life that we wanted and we didn’t feel like we deserved it. What was the only thing to do? Punish ourselves and move back to Ohio.

I’m not trying to sound harsh. It isn’t an all or nothing proposition here. There are good and bad things that come with living in either location. For example, we just went through a hurricane that shook us to our very core last year. This is going to be the case anywhere that you live. The issue is whether or not you are living your life for you and your immediate family or if you are living your life to be the people that you think others want you to be. We are struggling here and tears are rolling down my face as I write this. We are struggling to make life work in the world that we feel everyone wants us to live in. The world where we can’t make ends meet, a world where we struggle to be able to do anything fun. That’s perfect for everyone looking at our lives because that’s the way it should be right? We shouldn’t be able to go to Disney all the time if we have debt or bills that may go a month late. We shouldn’t be able to go to the beach AGAIN because we don’t have two jobs and stress ourselves out. Our kids shouldn’t be in virtual school so that they can actually enjoy their lives as they grow up. That’s not going to teach them anything but being lazy and expect life to be unicorns and rainbows.

I declare bull-shit (excuse the language). I am so tired of people sitting on their high horse telling me how I should live my life. Telling me that certain decisions that I have made were wrong. They may have been wrong for YOU but they were not wrong for me. The only decisions that have drastically altered my life in a bad way have been decisions that I made based on the opinions and advice of others. I am not a stupid person and more importantly, I know what makes me tick. I know what makes me happy and I know the dynamic of my family and what works best for us. Moving forward that is what will fuel these decisions and if everyone wants to sit and judge and get upset then so be it. They are doing it, even now, and our lives are miserable. Might as well have a little fun and enjoy life.

I want to share one last story before I wrap this up. The other day I was at a store doing my job and I overhear a woman complaining about kids getting handed everything these days and how she saw a young man driving a BMW. She got all upset and said that he did not deserve that car. Why? Did he not deserve the car because YOU didn’t have a nice car? Did he not deserve the car because he was young? Maybe he paid for the car himself with revenue he received from his YouTube Channel that he has been working 10 hours a day on since he was fifteen. We don’t think of that. We don’t look at this boy driving a nice car and think good for him. I’m happy for this young man that he is driving a nice car. Nope! We pity ourselves and act like the victim and try to put him down because he has something we don’t. I’m sick of it personally!

Here is a call out to anyone who may have an issue with any decision that my family and I make moving forward. I don’t care. I really don’t. I’m not going to allow your unfounded, selfish attitude cause me to make one more bad decision. I can make those just fine on my own but at least if I make them myself I can justify them. I cannot justify what I have done to my family by moving back to Ohio. We should have come up with alternative solutions that may have been a bit more difficult for us but that would have allowed us to continue living the life that we loved. Although moving all of our things 1000 miles seems more difficult, it really wasn’t because it was what everyone else wanted us to do. We originally thought it was to have us closer but in the end, I’m pretty sure to the ones who really shouldn’t matter so much it was about making sure that they never had to feel bad about themselves while watching us have fun.