Monday, December 09, 2019

Being Motivated




Being motivated doesn’t have much to do with how you feel.  You can ‘feel’ motivated, but that doesn’t mean you are actually motivated.  Encouragement is when you’re having an emotional reaction to some outside stimulus.  You’ve heard a good word, you watched someone else achieve something and you want it for yourself, you’ve been encouraged by friends, family, doctors, co-workers, lovers, etc.  That’s all great, we all need encouragement at times.  We sometimes need someone to get in our face and tell us some hard truths, or whisper in our ear and plant dreams and ideas of something better than our current situation or state of being.  But, motivation is not an emotion, it’s a state of being.  The dictionary states: the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way; the general desire or willingness of someone to do something. It doesn’t say you feel good or feel bad.  Feeling good and/or feeling bad will drive the motivation, but it’s not the motivation. Motivation is the reason for the decision – it’s the driving force behind our actions in spite of how we feel.  Those actions will either make us feel good or bad, but our feelings are not our motivation.
Being motivated - making a decision for whatever reason – is not contingent on how we feel.  We don’t act because we are motivated, we are motivated to act because of decisions we make.
Motivation is a choice.  Motivation must be decided, and enacted, and that is done through discipline.  I am not motivated to work out because of how I feel. I am motivated because the facts are - I must work out to maintain a healthy state of being for my body.  Sometimes I ‘feel’ like working out and conquering the world, and other times I “feel” like lying in bed, eating pizza and hamburgers and being fed bon-bon’s by a handsome king.  So, my feelings are not what motivates me to get up every morning at 4am and head to the gym to work out – my knowledge and understanding of what it takes to remain healthy and active motivates me.  Being able to physically do the things I love to do like kayaking, dancing, having sex, etc motivates me to get up when I’m tired, when my body hurts, when it’s cold, when it’s lonely, when I didn’t sleep well, when progress is slow, when it doesn’t seem like anyone else in the world cares.  I go through the motions anyway – despite my feelings – because my motivation to achieve what I want is greater than how I’m feeling in the moment. That takes discipline.  As Jocko Willink says, “If you stop looking for a short cut …and find your discipline and your will, then you will find your freedom. Discipline = freedom.” 
So, stop lying to yourself.  Stop whining about not being motivated because you’re feeling lazy.  You’re not motivated because you haven’t found your reason.  Stop waiting on how you feel and start looking for your reason, that reason that is going to push you forward on the days you want to retreat.  Start looking for that reason that will drag you on when you want to give up.  Start looking for that reason that will go beyond how you feel and hold onto it tightly. Put it in front of you every day.  Post it on your mirror, your fridge, your door, your office computer, your phone so you can see it every day – and let that TRUTH be your motivation.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Being a Parent




What is being a parent? Donating sperm or giving birth doesn’t make you a parent.  Not donating sperm or giving birth, also doesn’t make you NOT a parent. Love, kindness, discipline, sacrifice, giving into the well-being of another human being – that’s what makes you a parent.
God has given me many gifts.  Most of all, he has given me the opportunity on several occasions to be a parent. I haven’t always been a good parent. I haven’t always made all the right decisions. I have made some really bad choices and made some really bad mistakes.  There’s no ‘but’ in that, either.  I’ve learned some things along the way, mostly from my mistakes.  I suffer still some of the consequences of those choices and mistakes.
I’ve come a long way.  I’ve come a very long way from being that scared young girl facing the decision of becoming a teen mother.  I was terrified.  I lived in hell and felt I had no one in this world I could trust.  I had no one to take care of me. Yet, there was this life growing inside of me – a defenseless child that I would be responsible to care for, to protect, and to provide simple everyday things. I couldn’t even provide those things for myself.  I had dreams. I had an escape plan to run off to the military that was going to take me away from the abuse I lived under and secure me a future – but if I chose her – I couldn’t escape – not yet.  There were days I hated the choices I had. There were times I wanted to give up, to die, especially when I was ridiculed and called names at school (Yes, I was that popular high-school slut wobbling down the halls everyone felt sorry for, or made fun of, or called names, or glared at with their disapproving eyes.) Yet, every time I felt my daughter move within my stomach, my hands would cradle my big belly and hope would grow – hope for a great life, a good future, a little bit of love in my dark gray world.  I would pay the price to make it happen – no matter what it cost me. I was young (16), scared, and didn’t know ANYTHING about being a parent. Hell, I didn’t even know how to be an adult. So, I made some mistakes.  But, everything I did – I did in love – love for her – love for the hope that she was going to one day bring into this world.  I don’t care how she was made – I’m the one that made the decision to bring her into this world.  EVERYONE I knew wanted me to give her up or abort her.  The religious didn’t want me to have an abortion, but they didn’t want me to raise her either.  The rest told me on a regular basis I was wasting my life, sacrificing my future, giving up my freedom when I had another choice.  I didn’t know much, but I already loved her and I wanted her – so I chose her.  It kills me that as an adult she doesn’t choose me, but I still have hope, and not for a millisecond regret my choice. She’s a beautiful, loving, kind woman and I am so proud of her.
I have two other children, who are also now adults, who make me smile every time I hear their voice, or see their texts, or video chat, or am able to wrap my arms around and hug them.  I also have the most beautiful grand-daughter. I love them with a love that is indescribable.  Not because I gave birth to them or genetically related to them.  Not because they’re good human beings.  But, for love.  The love I feel from them and for them. That love isn’t granted just because of genetics.  I never had that love for or from my parents.  Not ONCE, not EVER did they ever hug me – and if they had, I would have not felt that love.  My parents gave birth to me, but they were not parents – they were manipulative abusers that took a long time for me to escape. 
I now have another child, another chance to be a mother to someone who needs a mother.  I look at this kid and see the manipulation and emotional abuse he’s been through and I remember that lost, scared, angry little girl I used to be – and I try to be the mother I needed, the friend I could have used, and the love that was desperately missing in my life.  Maybe he won’t have to face the same hard choices I had to face – and he will make better decisions, and his life will reach even greater opportunities.  Most of all – he is loved. Every day.  I am hard on him, I don’t let him get away with anything, and every day is a constant learning lesson – because I want him to be a good man. I want to teach him the things of this world that is going to make him a descent, caring, productive, and good man.  I find it ironic - He now has the opportunity to escape his abusers and run off to the military and secure himself a future.
Being a parent is hard.  It’s sacrifice. It’s constant love, constant worry, constant energy, constant demand, constant giving of your time, your focus, your life, your space, your money, your peace, and your choices. It’s about providing what is NEEDED, not wanted. It’s providing a place of understanding, communication, and learning – constantly.  I can’t give up.  I want to give up at least once a day – but he’s worth it.  He is worth every little inconsequential sacrifice. Just like my daughter was worth it. Just like my other two children were worth it. Just like my grandbaby was worth it.  Love is worth it. Hope is worth it. 
Being a parent is a privilege, not a right.  There are some really shitty parents out there. I’ve been one at times, but I wouldn’t change one single solitary moment, not even the bad moments – because it was from those moments I learned most.  I didn’t give birth to Anthony, but I am his parent, I am his mother – because I love him and he’s worth everything I do for him. I get the best part of this relationship – his love in return. That is being a parent.  Those who pour love into him …are his mothers and fathers, not genetics. This young man is lucky – because he is now being surrounded by people pouring love, life lessons, instruction, and encouragement into him (thank you Scott).  When he gets into the Navy he is going to be surrounded by new brothers and a new family …and once again I am filled with hope.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?




Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Me.
I had a dream a few nights ago about Red knowing the wolf for he was, yet she still feigned ignorance.  He called her on it, yet she still denied the truth of his character, his intent, his danger up until the moment he attacked.  In my dream version, the Wolf devours Red. I understand the fairy tale has a happy ending with the Huntsman showing up and destroying the wolf and saving Red, but we all know that’s not how it plays out in reality.  There’s never a Huntsman to save us from our own ignorance. 
I don’t blame, Red. I fear of being like her. I fear being just as naïve, just as stupid, just as blind, or be just as deceived. Wolves are cunning and they seem to be getting better and better at stalking their prey. 
I hate wolves.  Not the four-legged beautiful amazing creatures that live in the wild, but the predators who live next door – I’m talking about the deceivers, agents of deception, liars, cheaters, users, and vampires.  I’m talking about the cold-hearted, callus, selfish predators who destroy the souls of other human beings with their games.  The world is full of male and she-wolves, but God I pray not to be a Red, yet fear there’s more of her in me than I want to admit.
I don’t have a problem seeing wolves. I see them. I smell them. I recognize when they’re tracking, hunting, and stalking me.  I get their deceptive messages, I smell their scent of betrayal, yet I still walk through the dangerous forest alone, I still tell strangers my destination, I still trollop through the tulips with my basket of bread, with not much regard for my safety.  Being safe is being guarded, being suspect, being armored, and being cold and hard as steel.  I’ve been there. I’ve done that – and it didn’t protect me. A wolf disguised himself as another warrior and got me to lay my armor down before he decided to chew me up and leave me for dead.  So, even protected I was not safe.  Being aware, being awake, seeing the truth, and learning how to walk away, to change direction, to evade and avoid …is all I can really hope to do.  My weapons is now truth – by living in the light, not lurking in the shadows.  Wolves don’t like the light and they can’t play hide and seek or stalk prey sufficiently in the open.  So, I don’t hide. If a wolf comes at me, he will have to come at me in the light – and he will be met with a survivor who knows how to fight back, not a victim.
I hate the wolves of this world – both men and women.  Liars, deceivers, con-artists, players, users and manipulators destroy the souls of men and women more than anything else in this world. 
“Grandma, what big eyes you have – do you see me, because I see you.”
“Grandma, what big ears you have – can you hear me? You will hear me roar.”
“Grandma, what big teeth you have – mine are sharper. You will feel my bite!”
Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? I am – not that it could or would hurt me – I only fear being naïve to not recognize him before it’s too late.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, November 25, 2019

I'm Learning to Let Go





I’m learning to let go. It’s hard.  Every time I’ve ever walked away from someone or something, left a relationship, lost a loved one, or watched my children leave to find their own way in this world, it takes a piece of me. What I’m learning I grieve most is not often the familiarity or the presence, but the dreams that were dreamed, the hopes that held deep in my heart, and the love that was attached to that person or thing or place.  I think that’s why when it comes to my children – their growing up and moving on is bitter-sweet, because the hope that’s wrapped up with them is still possible, it’s within their independence and journey in life.  But, losing someone to death, disease, divorce or a break-up leaves a huge hole in my soul.
I’m learning to let go.  It’s complicated.  I don’t like giving up on myself or on people I love and care about.  Often though I fall into an unhealthy situation when my hope and love for them begins to effect and become destructive to me. I hate losing. I’m the biggest optimist in the world, even when my mouth is often filled with Doubt.  I struggle, because my heart, my mind, my experience, my common sense will often scream one thing – yet Optimism and Hope will be in war with those thoughts.  I’m sometimes wrong, and someone or something will surprise me and turn out for the better and Hope will celebrate.  But, the realist inside me – the one who carried the pain, the scars, the doubts, and the cautious pessimism – hates to be right because she understands that when she’s right she damages hope and optimism.  She fears she may one day find they no longer have the strength to rise again as they have so many times before.
I’m learning to let go.  It’s devastating. I’ve searched my whole life to be loved and wanted.  But, those are the two things that have escaped me most.  I’m damaged.  I’m broken.  I’m sometimes still that little girl crying out to God trying to understand why I suffer, why I’m hated and hurt so much from the people who are supposed to love me, why my own parents and children have rejected me.  I let them go, but I always held out hope they would someday choose me.  But, even in that – I’m learning to let go.
I can’t make the world love me. I can’t make someone choose me.  I can only hope and try to remain optimistic.  But, eventually – if that choosing never comes and love never appears – I will walk away because I have chosen me, and I have learned to love myself - and no matter how much Hope wills it – I will only endure for a season.  I have learned to walk way. I have now walked many miles alone. I may always be alone.  But Hope and Optimism keep praying, keep smiling, and keeps trying = and I love them for it.  
I am learning let go.  Maybe someday I’ll not have to anymore.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Breaking Necks and Being Single

Being single today is hard, even if you're considered "pretty". Being single over 45 (I'm 48) is even harder. At this age I know more of what I don't want than what I do. I know more of what I need than what I don't. I know more of what I can tolerate than what I can't or refuse to tolerate.

One of the biggest signs you're getting older is when you catch yourself saying often, "What is happening to society today? What hapoened to ..." then fill in the blank. Well, whatever happened to respect, kindness, decency, and 'courting'? Yes, I said an old word ...courting.

I'm not really old-fashioned, nor am I narrow-minded. But, when does being a cheap piece of shit become the norm? Do those methods really work? Are women so low-minded in today's society they allow themselves to be treated as objects, cheap pieces of meat, bitches-n-ho's, and flavor-of-the-week-bae's?

I want to scream, "I'm not that easy. I'm not a piece of meat you can go to the grocery store and buy prepackaged. I'm wild, and I run really well, and my senses are sharp. Only the best tracker and skilled hunter will be able to even know I'm around, much less catch me. If you want simple and easy, you're in the wrong place."

I am currently not married, therefore I'm single. But, it appears that having the label 'single' is an invitation to every perverted, desperate-deginerate on the planet. I say planet because inappropriate messages, comments, and unsolicited pics and requests come from all over the world. So, its not just an American Asshole issue.

I'm a nice person. Any of you who have read my blog or posts for any length of time knows that I'm a very open, honest, and kind person. I fill my life with purpose, positive habits, and hobbies, and spend most of my time looking for the bright side, the hope side, and the victorious side of things. Most of all, I'm respectful. However, there seems to be another underlying cue to men that being nice, or saying a kind or encouraging word, or liking a meme or quote is a signal for flirting and open season on all the bullshit listed above.

I post a selfie every morning. That's another story, a long battle, and something Ive blogged about before. My selfies are for ME. They are not an advertisement to solicit 'other' kind of pictures for a viewing audience. Yet, I get asked regularly. Does that really work? Is the porn industry so hard that men seek their porn for free. Do women not value themselves enough not to be some perverts' flavor of the minute? You know damned well they are asking EVERY woman they message for their pics too ...you're just another set of titties. Before I get bombarded with comments ...I don't think there's anything wrong with a couple to share pics with one another. I believe it's a wonderful tool to keep things spicy in a beautiful relationship. But when a man doesn't even know my name asks me for a 'sexy pic', I literally get disgusted. I have resting-bitch-face. You should see my expression when that happens. Believe me, no one will mistake my thoughts or feelings on the matter. Most often though, besides being disgusted, I'm disappointed. I'm saddened and now regard that man as having a mental handicap, regardless of his education or success.

I don't want to be disappointed or ashamed of men. I love men. I know so many great men. I know real life gentlemen, true heroes, great fathers, wonderful brothers, and spectacular sons. I love and admire their capabilities, their strengths, and their physique. I want to be proud of every one of them, so it hurts to see some of them fall so low over something so fucking stupid.

...and the women. I cry! I cry almost daily when I see the state of women. I am a feminist and have fought for the rights and dignity of women my whole life, starting with my severely abused and handicapped mother. I am a survivor, not a victim. History has not been kind to women. Most of the world is still cruel to women. But the most abusive, demeaning, and detrimental species to women are other women. The most cruel, abusive, demeaning and detrimental species to men is women. Before you women spam me with hate mail, think about it, honestly, and you'll see I'm right.

I love women. No, I'm no homosexual or bisexual, but that doesn't mean I don't respect those sexual choices. I just know what I like, and I'm attracted to warriors, often bearded badasses dripping with confidence. It's just my preference. But, I love the beauty, the nurturing kindness, the inner strength, the fighter spirit, the ability to see potential in simplicity, and the healing nature of women. I believe women are the strongest beings on this planet. We can often survive what would break the toughest of warriors. But to see a woman debase herself to accept the behavior, advances, and demeaning treatment makes me sick. And when I see a woman do the same thing to others, makes me angry. There are so many I literally want to beat the stupid out of them. Women are the neck of society. We turn the head, we connect the head to the body. The state of things lay more at the feet of women more than anything, and I want to break a few necks everytime I get a rude, suggestive, or disrespectful message.

Bottom line - everyone is responsible for their own actions regardless of influence. I'm responsible to not allow that disrespect in my life. So, if you're that way toward me and I delete, turn down, or block you - suck it up Butter Cup and try to be a better person.

It's great being single, but it also sucks. Most of all, it's most important being a good person, to have integrity, and be filled with respect for myself and others. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

To Thine Own Self Be True





Shakespeare may have penned the phrase, but it’s a truth that’s existed before he wrote Hamlet, and one that has taken me a long time to comprehend.  I haven’t yet mastered it, but I’m working on it.
I’m finding the only way finding and being true to myself is possible …is by being completely honest with myself.  I am more than capable of lying to myself. I was a master at it.  If I were to bet or guess, I would say that a majority of us lie to ourselves quite often, rarely identifying and accepting the truth, because truth hurts.  Truth is hard to take sometimes. Truth is hard to face.  But, as the Good Book says, Truth will set you free. It really will.  It won’t make your problems magically disappear, but it will set you free so that you can begin the journey of living an honest life. 
How can we live a true and honest life if we won’t face the truths in our lives? We want and demand truth from others, but how hypocritical of us if we don’t FIRST find, accept, and acknowledge truth within ourselves?  We are living in such an enabled society, where we even lie to ourselves because the truth is harsh and a hard pill to swallow.  It’s not OUR fault we are fat, lazy, and unhealthy and out of shape.  It’s society’s fault for making it too hard to eat healthy, by making poor meal choices more affordable and convenient.  It’s the Fast Food and marketing industries’ fault for my lack of self-control and discipline.  It is my cultural and socio-economical circumstances’ fault that I can’t afford personal trainers, gym memberships, and beautiful parks and recreation centers to work out. It’s our genetics’ fault that I have to work twice as hard as my skinny counterpart.  It’s time’s fault I have poor time management because I put other things in a higher priority  - like watching tv, sitting in restaurants, playing video games, chatting online or scrolling through social media outlets.   I have kids and don’t have the time and energy and money and opportunity.
We all have excuses.  We all cling to them when we want to justify our behavior, and then we moan and complain when we have to face the consequences of those decisions.  That’s the truth of the matter.
We all have the same 24 hours a day.  We all have obstacles in the path of what we need or desire in our lives. It may seem unfair when we try to compare ourselves to others and their opportunities.  Most often we tell the biggest lie to ourselves – “if I had the same opportunity as them ...then I would.”  LIAR.  You don’t do it now – you won’t do then – you won’t do it even if you had EVERY advantage because you are NOT true to yourself FIRST.
When we truly have a passion for something, we make it a priority.  When we make something a priority, we have to take a truthful evaluation of where we were, where we are, and where we want to be – and THEN make some REALISTIC, honest, truthful goals – and then do them.  DO THEM.  One day at a time. One step at a time. One victory at a time.  One choice after the next, after then next, after the next – and NEVER GIVE UP. Don’t focus on the big goal, put all your focus on just making it to the next goal.  Be faithful in the little things …and you will be the master of many things.  But be unfaithful in the little things, you will also be unfaithful in the big things, and master nothing.  
Success isn’t that you’ve gained something.  True success is when something has cost you – something you had to sacrifice a piece of yourself to obtain – and being true to yourself along the journey.  THAT’s the true success of anything. 
Life sucks sometimes.  I mean it really, painfully, soul-crushing, can’t breathe, pushes you to the edge sucks sometimes.  I’ve had my share – and I know there’s more to come later.  But the best things I’ve ever accomplished in this life is learning to love myself, learning to see myself for who I really am, and then learning to be proud of the woman I am.  It isn’t my MBA, or my writing awards, or my publications, or my public praise, or anything I’ve accomplished that makes me proud of myself.  No, that confidence and pride comes from knowing what it took to get there – knowing the truths I’ve had to face – and being true to ME.
You want to get in shape – face your truth and stop making excuses. 
You want a better job – face your truth and stop making excuses.
You want a better relationship – face your truth and stop making excuses.
You want to be happy – face your truth and stop making excuses.
You want to succeed – face your truth and stop making excuses.

To thine own self be true!

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Good - Get After It

You're probably going to see this a lot in the near future, because when I heard Jocko Willink give this little speech on his podcast on YouTube, it hit me - deep in my bones and it's burning it's way into the center of my soul.  I hear Jocko's voice, but I feel God's prodding. 



Listen to it. 

Listen to it again.

Listen to it every morning when you first wake up.

Listen to it with your heart and soul.

Listen to it with purpose.

Listen to it until you get it.

Then, when you get it ...listen to it some more.

This speaks to the Warrior in me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray