Just say, “NO”. 

How many times have you taken a day off and said, “today is my day”. And then you pick up your phone…. And the day is no longer yours. In order to have time to give away, you need to make time to get away. 
We live in a world of busyness. REST is just missing a few letters to read as STRESSED. We add too much to rest and then it becomes stress. Stress is DEADLY. Many evidenced based studies show the negative impact of stress on our life. Rest is the easiest cure yet we never get enough. 

We need rest. Sometimes when we get away from everything we take a vacation and we take our friends with us. This is not getting away from everything. This is taking your life with you and you are not truly getting away from it all. There is a difference between traveling and vacation. 

So many times, we find our identity in our work. This is not who we are. The problem is that we feel as though people need us. That’s just it. People don’t need us. Everyone is replaceable. That’s life. We can give more of ourselves when we are fulfilled and recharged as opposed to just being and constantly draining ourselves. How can you be inspiring and of use to somebody if you are no different and no more passionate than before, because you never stepped away to learn more and get rid of the old and allow yourself to receive the new. 
On the 7th day of creation, God rested. How in the world do we think that we don’t need what God wanted. We need rest. Sometimes we need to simply learn to just say, “no”. …. And when you say, “no”….. Be okay with it. Otherwise the stress from your regret or saying “no” will eat you alive and ruin your rest. Set boundaries in your life. 
We live in a world that doesn’t stop. We work so much and push ourselves so hard that we are literally killing ourselves. 

You don’t have to have the answer for everyone, everytime, everywhere. Take time for YOU. 

Murder/Suicide: Fate of our friend in Chicago

How do we process this?

 

In light of the recent tragedy, in the death of one of our fellow Couchsurfing hosts, (name protected) I thought I should shed some light on the background of the situation. Many are in shock over this incident and reasonably so. To see the Headline “2 dead in a Murder/suicide on Chicago’s north side” would not phase most. However, when you continue to read and you find that it was a friend, the element of shock settles in.

After staying at his place last year, I gave him a copy of my autobiography. After reading my story, He opened up to me about his background and I began to mentor him, as part of what I do. With the background He gave me, I can’t really say that I am shocked that he committed suicide, however the murder part was more of a surprise to me, although, with suicide comes desperation. I do remember one conversation  when we talked about our suicidal attempts in the past, he said that if he ever killed himself he would want to take all of his enemies along with him if was going to kill himself anyways. I understood the line of thinking, even though it wasn’t rational to most. This was over a year ago.

He was an interesting character to say the least. If you ask many who knew him, you would get many different opinions. Like everyone else, he had a story in life. His childhood was not the greatest. He went through much suffering as a child and young adult that most would never understand. He faced setbacks and challenges put before him the best that he could. He did what most of us who have been through tough times did, he survived. As an adult, after several life changes, and life decisions that brought him to where he was in Chicago, He came to a crossroads in hos life. He decided that his life was going nowhere and that his alcoholism was gong to get the best of him eventually. He had most of his “community” in online forums and blogs, where people understood him. He came across couchsurfing.org and that began the new chapter in his life.

He opened up his home to men and women from all over the world to stay for days and sometimes weeks at a time. The culture of Couchsurfing is that of helping each other out and experiencing new places and learning about new people. Each person who is a Couchsurfer has a different reason for why they are a part of that community. For him it was a unique reason. He had come to the place in his life where he needed a reason to wake up in the morning, and hosting Couchsurfer’s did just that. It gave him a purpose in life.

He began hosting multiple people at a time. People from all over the world wanted to come visit Chicago so he was busy EVERYDAY! When he had guests stay, it gave him a reason to keep his house “clean” and it gave him a reason to make food- most importantly it forced him to stop drinking everyday- which was one of his greatest struggles. To host surfers was a form of accountability on his journey to freeing himself from alcoholism. His great depression that he faced was easily forgotten about as he had joyful, new faces in and out of his home all the time. With each new person brought new stories to Michael’s world. He began to hear about journeys that others took and he began to gain perspective.

It can be argued whether this was a healthy coping mechanism or not. Couchsurfing was to Him as drugs are to addicts. It was an addiction. His “power hosting” became a race and a point of contention in many threads. He would take pictures of his guests and post them in groups to share with people how many people he hosted each night and what his new tally of Couchsurfer’s was. He began to cling too tightly to the numbers aspect of it and lost focus of what the intent of Couchsurfing really was. This made many avid Couchsurfers upset and uncomfortable and confused many who were new to the community. He began to have unrealistic expectations of guests and would be territorial when they would come and go. He was opening his home to people and yet they would leave during the days to go explore the city of Chicago and come home late at night to sleep and then be off to a new city the next day. To him this felt like abandonment. He then began to feel as though he was being used. This brought back many negative feelings from his childhood and he started thinking irrationally. He started drinking again and would get angry. He stopped hosting for a short period and even ran into some trouble with the Couchsurfing system where his profile got deleted.

There was a case where this was due to two homeless people that he let stay with him for a short period that refused to leave. The cops were back and forth to the home and it was very hostile. He felt like a prisoner in his own home. Once they left he drank heavily again and his past continued to haunt him. After many of us wrote to the Couchsurfing board, he eventually got back onto the Couchsurfing site and began to host. His thinking had already become irrational.

Through a separate online site he met somebody that was willing to move in to his spare room to help him with rent and also let Couchsurfer’s come and stay in the common rooms. This new roommate was a very hostile situation as well. When it got out of hand and He wanted him to leave, the man refused to go. He then became desperate. After cops coming back and forth to the home, and then resuming his drinking habits, He finally broke.

He had reached out to a few people and made mention of suicide and about “getting rid of this man and then himself” but the comments were easily overlooked, because who would expect that from him?! He reached out to his “ friends” on forums and messaged previous Couchsurfer’s, but everybody has their own lives and futures. The people who he considered his new “family” as he worded it, were now too busy for him and had forgotten to write back. It brought him back to a negative place in his childhood where he was neglected and abandoned and in many ways abused. This solution to his problems had now become another “attacking force on his persona”.

He had posted quotes about the imminence of death on Facebook and posted pictures of the grim reaper and graves to his public pages. It was easy to look past. Not many actually understood what was going on inside his mind. He was desperate and looking for help but he looked to all the wrong places. He refused to turn to God or have faith in anything because he wanted to figure it out on his own and not have a “higher power” decide his fate. So he chose his own fate.

That fateful day in June, He and his roommate had a disagreement and he had clearly pre-planned in his mind how he was going to handle it the next time around. I talked to him the day of and he was at a peace about things. The happiest he had been—in his mind, the suffering was finally going to end. Later that day, when he requested for me to call him, I, as many other was too busy to get back to him, and this was only hours before the incident. Who can say what it was he wanted to talk about, I doubt he could have been talked out of it maybe he just wanted to say goodbye, or maybe he wanted me to hear it. I will never know but I will remember the desperation and the hurt that he always talked about and I will always wished he had looked upwards instead of down, but he had no hope and he would not allow himself to look elsewhere for help.

With mental illness there is no rationale in these “psychotic breaks”. Was what the roommate did, worth losing his life over, I am not the judge of that, nor can I say that anybody ever deserves to be murdered- but what’s done is done, and many will continue to wonder, “why?” and we will always say, “what if?”.

What I will say is that you should not blame yourself if you were one of the people whom he reached out to that day or even the week prior. Everybody has their own schedules and lives to live and as much as we try we can not help everyone. As a mentor, and life coach, it is hard for me to accept when I lose one of the people I was trying to help, but it comes back to the fact that you cant help somebody to change if they do not want to change. Change comes from within.

It has been confirmed that he shot his roommate and then he shot his dog, (She did not die instantly, as of 3-4-15, she is at a local clinic and they said that she should survive but will need therapy) following these two gunshots, the final one was to his own head. The autopsy report proved that it was his own hand that shot himself based on the forensic ballistics aspect of the gunpowder and size of the exit and entrance wound on each subject. His ETOH level was extremely high. He had drank heavily prior to this all taking place. Does that justify it, NO! However, it was a factor and alcohol makes people irrational. When you have a mental illness alcohol intensifies the neurological patterns of psychosis. This was a sad day in the heart of Chicago and many are mourning his death while others are sitting back to say, “I told you so”. Regardless, It has happened and his pain was valid and his story affects others.

Maybe this will be a motivation and reminder to you to pay attention to red flags when people are crying for help. Never ignore the small comments about guns and suicide, rarely are they minor comments. Every word spoken has a purpose. Please take mental illness seriously and remember that we all have a purpose in life and our stories all connect somehow. Don’t get caught up in the busy-ness of life where we get task oriented and we forget about the people we meet along the journey. Everybody that you meet is for a purpose. Try to figure out what each one means. Don’t waste your life…it really is short.death

Life is short….How do you spend your “dash”?

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend,
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From beginning to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth. . .
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own;
The cars. . . the house. . .the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard. . .
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile. . .
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a while.
So, when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash. . .
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

– Anonymous

One of my favorite poems with such a great message.. thought provoking!

Friends vs. Acquaintances

A bomb just went off and all the banks have been destroyed. Money is no longer an element in society. Anarchy is taking over. It is now, every man for himself. Homes are being broken into and innocent people are getting murdered. Supplies are limited. Who are the people in your “circle” that you would stand next to in that scenario? Who would have your back and share their supplies with you until your time ran out? Who would you want to spend the last week of your life with if you knew there was an impending air raid? Who are your “friends”? Who can you trust? Who do you invest your time in, and why?

There is a difference between friends and acquaintances ( people you have met along the way) people who invest in you and build you up as a person are friends. People who you say “hi” to at social functions and have as a Facebook friend don’t necessarily count. Who is investing in you as a person and your future. Who can you go to when your car breaks down at 3 am…who do you value as a person? Who will bail you out of jail when you get a DUI and wont tell anybody else about it and wont treat you differently? These are things I think about when I decide who I am going to put time and effort into.

We put so much time, emotion and emphasis on the relationships we have in life. That is good- community is key to survival. In life, one of the biggest hurts we face is the loss of a person close to us. We lose people daily in many ways. Some die and some move away whereas some are romantic relationships that ended and others are friendships that grew apart. Either way- it is a loss. It is important to validate that each loss causes pain. With every goodbye, you learn.

The key point is that each person you come across in life is for a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to get us through a hard time in life when we didn’t think we had anybody. A person will come out of nowhere to be “your person” through that trial. In time, that person may fade out of your life yet sometimes they stay. Sometimes we enter into romantic relationships that don’t last. We have to go into relationships knowing that each relationship you enter into will either end in a breakup, or you will end up together. That is part of the process. Each person that you meet may not be the one you end up with- however, they were there for a purpose. Yet each breakup we face we are devastated- why?

When romantic relationships end, we tend to get lost in aloneness and lose self worth thinking that we will be single forever because we lost the one that we wanted to be with. If you ended the relationship then you made the right choice- it wouldn’t have been an option in your mind if it wasn’t the right decision. If that person left you it is important to remember that there is no use wasting your emotions on somebody that LEFT YOU. What you do with yourself and your future no longer includes them. It is hard to face that but it is true. You WILL miss them. That is also part of the process, but remember that you weren’t the one who gave up. When the relationship is right, that person wont just walk away. If it is TRUE LOVE then they will love you unconditionally and work through ANYTHING. When you experience a broken heart think of it as a blessing from God. It is your reminder that He saved you from the wrong one. You dodged a bullet, so to speak. Nonetheless, it will still be painful and it takes time to make peace with that.

When your friend circle dissipates and you start to feel alone, it is natural to feel lonely. Your best friends may enter relationships and start investing their time in a significant other rather than you. That is hard to accept and it is easy to resent their new love. However, if the roles were reversed you would do the same. It is a natural part of the process. Some of your friends may get married and start having kids. It is fun to see the baby here and there, but eventually you realize that you as a single person don’t fit in with the married people and their babies. You just don’t. Not yet. That is hard to accept as well. The key here is to accept that as normal. It’s the cycle of life. Singleness is NOT a bad thing. It is fun and exciting and it is typically only for a time period. Don’t waste that season of singleness in misery worried about who is the right one. If you don’t remove yourself from that previous scenario of your previous friend circle and create a new one then you will get depressed. We all do.

We have to realize that our community of friends is ever-changing. People will come and go from our lives at different points in time. We need to be open to making new friends and entering into new circles in order to avoid getting lost in aloneness. Holding on to the past of how things “used to be” is delusional thinking. Move forwards not backwards. Things will NEVER be the same…that doesn’t mean that is bad- It will just look different. People will be in your life for a specific reason….or they may just be there to help you through a season….and sometimes, JUST sometimes, people stay in your life until the end. Those people are rare and those relationships should be cherished. It is important to note that a relationship takes two people. That means each party needs to invest time and effort into it.

If you come to a point where you are investing a lot of effort into people and you are not getting the same return as you used to, that may be the point where you have to stop and realize it may be time to let go and move on. You only have two hands. Holding on to two hands that don’t want to hold yours back will take up your energy and your hands. Free yourself up for people who WANT to put the effort back into you. Stop crossing oceans for people who wont jump puddles for you. Life is short. Spend your time wisely with those who want to spend it with you. Don’t force relationships. You will be fine….just fine…..

Daddy issues? Reality check on dating older men

Things to keep in mind if you are dating somebody older than you, ( 12+ years of age difference) when dating older there are benefits as well as risks.

Typically I would write my posts gender neutral, but in this area of interest the statistics show that women are more often in this situation of dating older, as opposed to men.

Benefits: The person has had more life experience and has wisdom to offer you. They are typically more mature. They have seen the good and bad in life they Are generally established and know what they are doing in life as opposed to dating somebody in their 20’s who is still figuring out their life. They offer a sense of safety and security. They can fill voids in some sense ( some call it daddy issues but regardless, if it works for you WHO cares).

Lifestyle: A risk here is that they can be very set in heir ways. Many times when dating somebody older they expect you to drop your life and be picked up and dropped into their life they have set up. This may be a dream for some women….you get a man with a great job and a car and a boat and a house with land and a dog and everything is move-in ready. That is a beautiful thing and hats off to the man for establishing his life like that. But what if you want to live in a loft in a big city and he wants nothing to do with that idea. what if he has a dog and wants more and you dont like dogs…..” exit relationship here” KEEP in mind.. In a healthy relationship that is based on love, each party to the relationship needs to concede and be willing to make changes for the other person. If something as simple as changing which city you live in locally is going to cause an issue where the guy is unwilling to change, and if he isn’t willing to give up a pet to be with you ….is that really somebody you want to be with? I have come across this situation before and it is unfair for one person to drop their life to enter another’s …it should always be 50-50. I think that two people should want to build a life together and be willing to make concessions for the other. If there are more than 2 things you want to change about a person then you are probably with the wrong person. NEVER SETTLE

Health- LETS BE REAL- In the normal way of life with no traumatic events an older person will die sooner than the younger due to simple degenerative health conditions. Heart attack, stroke, diabetes etc. That being acknowledged you have to realize that if you are dating somebody 20 years your senior then when you are 60 they will be 80 if they are still around. Therefore it is KEY in dating an older man that he is willing to make healthy lifestyle choices to make sure he is in good health as he ages to be less of a burden to you. That is not a selfish thing to ask for. It is selfish if the older person that you are dating is not willing to work out and stay in top shape for you. That is the least they can do out of respect for you giving up the end years of your life withy partner to enjoy them in your life now. It’s going to play out to where you are taking care of your parents as well as your husband at the same time. ( this is not a negative…it’s a beautiful loving sacrifice- but it still has to be acknowledged or you will be in denial and quit the relationship early when you realize the expectations)

Finances. When somebody in their 20’s dates somebody in their 40’s it is obvious that the older person will be more financially stable and have more assets than the person in their 20’s. In most situations this is typically the reason for the relationship in the first place…and those relationships end early or are not truly satisfying. Men like to feel needed and they want to be the supporter and women like to be taken care of. This gets complicated when the women quits her job to be a part of this relationship and let’s the man support her. For the time period of the relationship this may work out well for both when both are getting what they need. You both get to spend time together and you can be the dream wife who has dinner on the table every night and meet all his needs as your full time job. BUT if the relationship ends 10 years into it and the woman has been out of the workforce for so long with no income or savings of her own it will be very difficult to be a part of society again. This needs to be discussed as a reality.

Children: Typically ,e in their 40’s have had children who are grown now. They are usually done having kids. This needs to be established before the relationship continues…..do you want your own children? Do you get along with his? If he already has his own then they will most likely not be ok with him dating you! I mean face it, if your dad came home with a girl your age, how would you feel? Lets be real…. There is a stereotype and there will always be judgement. You have to accept the fact that you will never be #1 in his life if he has children. They will always come first. That is how it should be. At the same time the man should never sacrifice his happiness because of a simple unapproval from the children. if that is the case then you need to move on for your own good and fall in love with somebody else who will treasure you and make you feel wanted in the midst of his circumstances. never let your needs be bypassed because of somebody else’s choices in life. Never sell yourself short. If the kids are grown and they have their own lives then it should be a non- issue.

Retirement: This goes along with finances. When dating somebody who is set up to retire in 15-20 years, this can pose a problem if you are both not on the same page. It can work out well if the man says that when he retires he wants you to retire with him and to not work anymore and then you guys can enjoy retirement life together. That would be best case scenario for the relationship. Sometimes if that is not the case where the man can financially offer that to you, then you will come into the situation where: you go to work 40 hours a week and you are stressed and tired just like any other real- life producer and you come home to a retired husband. He has done nothing all day and is stress free and making travel plans in his retirement dream living. This is dangerous territory. It can be easy to start to resent him. I have seen this many times. It is very hard when one person has several years till retirement and their spouse sits around drinking margaritas all day. It isn’t a typical lifestyle and that is a hard pill to swallow and it isn’t something that is thought through when starting the relationship.

Do you and the person have the same retirement goals.. That is HUGE! If the person you are dating or married to wants to move to California when they retire and you still have 20 years left at your job and you like the place you work at, are you willing to move jobs for the last part of your life if you have to continue working? All things that are difficult to think about but are a reality and need to be considered.

I’m just giving some common problems that I have witnessed and experienced myself. Dating older is a wonderful thing and I approve 100%. Most of my boyfriends have been 35-50 and I am 25 years old. I have learned a lot through the process and I have learned what really matters and have seen the realities of the end-goal. Just have fun with dating and make sure that younare both on the same page…..but realize that there are definite considerations to make if you see the relationship going further than a learning experience.

When you are ready to settle down…make sure that you are not settling!

Oh, the places you’ll go!

Whenever I get stalled in life and need to find direction or I lose heart or I feel stuck and alone I refer to my favorite Dr. Seuss book….

Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. Your feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who decide where to go. You’ll look up and down the streets. Look em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains in your shoes full of feet, you are too smart to go down any not so good street. And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out-of-town. It’s opener there in the wide-open air. Out their things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you. And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. Your start happening too. Oh the places you’ll go! You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sites! You’ll join the high flyers who soar to high heights. You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You will pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest……. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that bang ups and hangups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickly perch and your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a lurch. You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a slump. And when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Unslumping yourself is not easily done. You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? You dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win? And if you go in, should you turn left or right… Or right and three quarters? Or maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind maker upper to make up his mind. You can get so confused that you’ll start into race down long wiggled roads to break necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdest wild space, headed, I fear toward a most useless place. …..The waiting place…….. For people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a yes or no or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for when to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps, for their uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a better break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or another chance. Everyone is just waiting. NO! That’s not for you!!! Somehow you’ll escape All that waiting and staying. You’ll find the right places where boom bands are playing. With banner flip flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winningest winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when I don’t. Because sometimes, they won’t. I’m afraid that sometimes you play lonely games too. Games you can’t win because you’ll play against you. ALL alone! Whether you like it or not, alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot. And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between Hither and Yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on. But on you will go though the weather befoul. I knew ago their enemies prowl. On you will go through the Hakken- Kraks Howl. Onward up many of frightening Creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you’ll hike. And I know you’ll hike far and Face up to your problems whatever they are. You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You Up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that life is a great balancing act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never makes up your right foot with your left.

And Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! It’s 98 and 3/4% guaranteed KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So… Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali van Allen o’shea … Your off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… Get on your way!

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