Thursday, December 29, 2016

Moving Forward... Day 5

Well, it’s day five and I’m still moving forward.  Not in leaps and bounds, but in tiny steps, but the most important thing is that I’m moving.

One of the ways and keys to moving forward is making plans and small changes to fulfill those plans.  If you would have asked me last year what my plans were, they would be so different than the plans I’m making now.  Why is that?  Because of the people that are in my life now.

Since last year, I’ve met three people that I’ve fell madly in love with, and knowing them has filled my life, my heart and now my plans, but I’ll get into that more as I go through these plans that I’m making in my quest of moving forward.

Lighthouse Adventure.  As most of you already know, I’m on a quest to visit, picture, and explore all the lighthouses along the Florida coast from Amelia Island to Pensacola, including the keys.  I’ve already discovered, photo, or visited more than ten so far.  I’m constantly searching maps, books, and google maps searching and researching the lighthouses of Florida. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s educational, and it’s an adventure that makes me smile.

Writing. As you can see, I’ve picked up blogging on a regular basis again, but I haven’t given any time to writing.  But, as part of moving forward in my writing, I’m making a promise, a plan, to write at least one thing a week…whether a short story, or a chapter, or an article.  This doesn’t include blogging.  I plan to do that every week day.

Gaming.  I’ve been playing Xbox video games now for the last 4 years, starting with Assassin’s Creed, Red Dead Redemption, and then moving to Destiny, with splashes of GTAV, Halo, Call of Duty, and various new games here and there.  I’m not hard core, but I enjoy them.  Most of all I enjoy the company of my gamer friends.  My plan is make time to play, at least an hour a day during the week, and no more than a few hours on the weekend.

Side note: Well, my boys (two of the three people I’ve met this past year that I mentioned above), Anthony and Nathan, now play video games with me.  It’s a common ground activity for us, a way to spend quality time together, doing something we all enjoy, yet in the comfort of our own homes/rooms.  I love hanging out with these boys, they are two amazing teenagers, and I know they wouldn’t be the remarkable kids they are without the love and guidance of their father, Jon.  He’s a single dad and got a lot on his plate, but one of the things I admire most about him is the love he pours into these boys.  He’s not perfect by any means, struggles on many levels, but on the important things, I feel he’s doing a damned good job.   I also don’t think he gets enough credit for the effort he makes.  He lets his boys be themselves, but within defined guidelines.  He always tells them he loves them.  He’s always hugging them.  Most of all, in his busy world with all his responsibilities, he spends QUALITY time with them whether taking them fishing or surfing, or playing a vicious game of Monopoly or Poker.  He’s home with them after work, and then spends most weekends with them.  He makes them brush their teeth, do their chores, and pitch in with cooking, doing laundry, instead of doing everything for them.  

Warning: Rant ahead.  It pisses me off sometimes when his selfish friends are always asking him to go do things that they want or need, that will take him away from time with his boys, when they have no similar responsibilities, or when they take advantage of him by asking him to do things to help themselves in the middle of THEIR crisis, instead of helping HIM. I’ve never heard any of them offer to take him and his boys on an adventure, go over and help him clean his house, cook him a meal to feed his boys, or ask him if he needs anything. He wouldn’t take their help if they offered it, but they never offer. They come to him with their relationship problems, stupid-ass choice, and dire straits, because he listens and he cares.  They take, take, and take… want, want, and want for themselves and what THEY need.  Where’s the giving?  Where’s the helping? Where’s the love? They’re selfish bastards. (And I don’t give a fuck if they get pissed at me for feeling this way. I’ve yet to see any of those fuckers do anything for that family but take. And there have been many opportunities for those fuckers to help. Fuck them!) Yet, Jon would do anything to help any of them if they needed it, and he helps them often (I’ve witnessed it), usually at the sacrifice of valuable time that he needs to keep on top of his own responsibilities. Fucking selfish bitches. Yet, when he needed something – none of those bitches were around. A real friend wouldn’t have to be told what he needs, they would see it. I don’t want to get to know any of them, and the one’s I have gotten to know so far, I’m not impressed. Yes, it’s important that Jon spends some time for himself, doing adult things, not forgetting he’s not just a father, but a man or a friend. But his friends should be more considerate of his responsibilities and not even ask him to do anything that would make meeting those responsibilities harder or more of a burden for him. Take the man out to eat, put gas in his truck, help him change a tire, buy him a beer, go surfing with him (even if it’s not your thing – do something HE loves, not just ask him to join in YOUR activities), take him to a movie, or play a game of poker (bring him a fat cigar too – he loves those). Oy veh! Okay – rant over, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Fishing.  I plan to learn how to fish.  Not just because I want to know myself, nor for the fact that I live in Florida and with all the lakes, rivers, and ocean all around me, fishing is abundant.  I want to learn how to fish, because I know it’s a passion for Nathan, and I want to be able to share in that activity with him.  I’ve seen this kid’s face completely light up when it comes to fishing.  Seeing that love and excitement on his face, that’s worth it to learn.  So, I’ll be researching poles, equipment, bait, methods, patterns, etc.  That’s one of my new goals, and I’m excited about it.

Sailing.  I have also met this year a wonderful new friend, Jason, that can see the joy and excitement on my face when out on the water, and has offered to make that activity available to me.  This is one of those treasured friends that are rare to find. I’m glad I met him and I’m glad he’s my friend.  I’ve been sailing now a few times, and boating aboard a floating Christmas tree a couple times, and planning a huge trip later in 2017.  I love being on the water. I love being in nature. I can’t express how it soothes my soul. Nor can I truly express how grateful I am to the opportunity Jason is offering me, and not just me, but for those I love most too… like my best friend Jenna, and my boys, Anthony and Nathan. 

I’ll have more plans as the new year unfolds, but right now I’m off to a good start. One thing I’m suspending for the time being is dating.  I’m open to get to know someone, but I still need some time to heal. My heart is mangled mess and I don’t think it would be a good idea to jump into a romantic relationship until my heart’s not hurting anymore. I don’t want a band-aid or a temporary distraction, I want real, deep, forever-kind of love.  I want romance and adventure.  So, I’ll wait because doing it right, being healed first, is important. Until then… I’m going to put all my focus on moving forward.  Healing is part of moving forward.  So, let’s take a new step today.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Moving Forward... Day 4

Moving forward has two key elements… moving… and then moving in a particular direction… forward.

So many times, we can get stuck in a moment, a mood, or a state of being. Whether that moment is good or bad, if we stay where we are we will die inside.  Life is fluid.  Constantly moving, constantly ebbing and flowing, our tides come in and go out, and our lives moves forward like the hands on a clock.  Tick-tock, tick-tock.

King Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

The key is that our lives are comprised of all these moments.  We can’t be happy, successful, and in love all the time. If we are never sad, fail, and heartbroken we will never appreciate happiness, success and love. We can’t stay in one moment.  We have to keep moving through time, through life.  But, we must be careful and make sure that our direction is forward.  So many of us spend too much time looking backward. We can’t.  We must not.  Looking backward stops our forward motion. That time has passed.  It’s gone.  Grieve it. Let it go.  Look forward and hope for better days.  If it’s a love you can’t let go, think of the love waiting for you up the road. Give yourself time to grieve, but then get your ass up and move… forward. If your life is in shambles and everything crumbling around you… move, start planning the steps you need to take to pull yourself out of the hole, and then take a step forward, even if it’s just a small step.  One step leads to another, to another, to another, to another. Keep moving… and keep moving forward. 

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Moving Forward... Day 3

The new year is around the corner. I’m so ready to get beyond all the holidays and get back to my adventures, get back to my agenda of moving forward.  Moving forward is not standing still, it’s not planning and contemplating, and hoping and wishing... it’s taking the steps, even tiny steps, to moving forward.  That’s where I am today.  I’m not waiting until next week, with the new year, I’m moving now.

I’ve started my workout. I’m getting out my maps and planning my next lighthouse adventure. I’m making a budget to start putting money away to move. I’m dusting my hands off from all the dirt of pulling myself out of the emotional hole I’ve been living in and I’m moving forward. 

Let the sun shine. Let the adventure come. I’m focused. Let’s go.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Moving Forward... Day 2

The following was my good morning post, but I find that it fits perfectly with my blog series about moving forward, because it’s a crucial step in moving toward a soul free life.  It’s about reminding yourself what’s important, because we live in a world that tries to distract us and sell us an ideal of what our lives are supposed to be. We set up these false expectations in our mind of what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to act, what we’re supposed to obtain to have the life we’re supposed to live, but it’s all bullshit.  It’s a distraction to what’s important, and the true reason there’s so much disappointment in the world.  Disappointment comes from unrealized expectations. 

So, here’s my post. 

Good morning, world. Smile. Take a step. Breathe. Even though it hurts, Smile. Take another step. Breathe. Love.
Love the life you've been given. We only have one. Let go of the stupid, vain ideals that we think we're supposed to have, because they will rob us of the life that is available.

Connecting heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit, smile to smile, body to body, lips to lips, in those perfect moments when the universe shifts and our internal, eternal, and ethereal eyes and hearts are open and we experience love, real love, even if for just a moment. That is what living is about. Those moments.

We spend the rest of our lives chasing vanities that mean nothing, missing what's truly important filling our minds, hearts, and time with useless shit. When it doesn't satisfy us, we then try to dull the emptiness with vices... sex, alcohol, drugs, obsessions, and addictions. But they too fail.

We are more than body. More than mind. We are souls...spirits...ethereal creatures. Our time here is temporary, but the essence of who we are is existential, beyond this plane of existence.

Love. Love for ourselves. Love for others. Love...soul-to-soul... That's living. It's what we draw from to love our soulmates, love our children, love our friends, love humanity.

If we are empty and our wells are dry, then from what can we draw? Stop the foolishness. Let go of the vanities. Live today, in the day, and love what's real. Leave the bullshit. Get rid of the vampires. Stop playing with things that don't matter. Time continues to move and you don't have long. Stop wasting it on bullshit. Stop listening to your body and mind, and listen to your soul. It's crying out.

Sm. Take a step. Breathe. Love.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 19, 2016

Moving Forward... Day One

I’ve often commented that life is fluid, ever-changing, and we are either dying and falling back, or growing and moving forward. That’s in all aspects of life including love, friendships, goals and aspirations, especially when it comes to our dreams. To obtain these aspects we must move forward.  We will never reach our goals dying and going backwards. So, here I am.  Setting my goals before me, putting the pieces I need in place, and mustering the courage and drive to see them to fruition.

To plan the first steps, I must know the main objectives.  What are they?  There aren’t just one, but one for every aspect of my life.  Sometimes we set objectives for different areas of our lives that conflict with other areas, and this is the major cause for our failure.  Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to try and identify those major objectives and the start planning my first steps.

Practical people tell me that I dream too big. I think they dream too small.  I am the fool that desires to change their stars.  I’ve been told my whole life what I can’t do, and I’ve been proving those proclamations wrong time and time again. Yes, I’ve failed at some of the things I’ve reached for, but at least I reached for them.

A couple of years ago, I thought my life was over, and in that mindset, I let go of many dreams. A couple months ago, I lost a beautiful relationship, and in that mindset, my heart shattered into a million pieces. I’ve grieved… grieved lost dreams, grieved hope of what that relationship could have been, grieved the dreams I had allowed to die, and grieved the love I had the pleasure experience for a short time.  Grief hurts, but most of all it puts you into a stasis.  If you don’t grieve enough, you’ll never fully heal.  If you grieve too much, you can become stuck in that mire and then began to slowly die inside.  There is a time and a season for everything.  Now, is the time to move forward. 

Hang on… it’s going to be one wild ride.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, December 16, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 9

I got angry yesterday. I mean, I got mad as hell. But you know what… it felt good.  Not the bullshit that got me angry, because that really hurt, but the ability to process it, rise above it, and then actually get pissed about it made me feel good.  It still makes me feel good.  Why?  Because that little, stubborn, rebellious, spit-fire inside is wide awake.  She’s got her sword in her hand and she’s not taking any more bullshit. It’s about fucking time!!!!!

I’m an amazing person.  I’ve got so many gifts and talents, skills and knowledge, and I’m strong-willed.  I’m the type of person that when I fall, I may reach up for you, but it’s not for you to pick me up and carry me… it’s just something for me grab hold and pull MYSELF up.  I don’t trust people.  Not that I think they’re not capable, I’ve just discovered that not many are willing, and there sure as hell not many I can depend on. 

I’m fearless. Not that I’m unafraid, because I’m always afraid, terrified really.  But, I still choose to move in the face of fear.  I choose to leap even when I can’t breathe.  I choose to plunge in knowing that it’s going to hurt.  And to be frank, I’m so fucking tired of carrying other people. I’m so tired of hearing the excuses for their negligence and selfishness.  I’m so tired of hoping and believing for the best in others, when they’re too damned lazy to hope and believe in themselves.  I can’t carry anyone, but I’ll be more than happy to hold your hand… as I’m moving.

I’m not without trouble, stresses, problems, and obstacles.  My life is FULL of them.  However, I don’t avoid them, at least not anymore.  I see the issue in front of me and then I start working out a step-by-step plan to get out.  I focus on what I can do, and deal with what I can’t as each of the issues surface. YES, sometimes I lose things I want, opportunities, and possibilities… but I keep moving, I keep fighting, I keep hoping, and I fill my mind and heart with the positive thoughts and ideas that’s going to move me out, get me up, and get me headed in the right direction.  I’m cutting out the negative, separating myself from the doubters and the whiners and complainers.  You all know the type of people I’m talking about… that’s against everything, thinks the worse of everyone, and blames everything in the world for all the problems… except themselves.  That shit is heavy and I’m done with it. 

There’s this one friend, not even my friend, but a friend of a friend, who is always, always, always negative, thinks the worst of everyone, and when their fantasies don’t work out, blame everyone and everything for their failures. I won’t even answer his texts or calls anymore. I just don’t want that bullshit in my life. I don’t fucking care.  I tried to help, I tried to encourage, I tried to show a better way, but they didn’t listen, they never intended to listen, they just wanted to complain, and I’m not a sounding board.  They’ve NEVER once asked ME about anything -  how I was, did I need anything, not even how was my day.  OMG… these emotional vampires.  NOT HAPPENING!!!! I’m cutting all this bullshit out of my life and man, it feels GOOD!

So, in loving myself and realizing I deserve good friends, people who actually care about ME, who care about my day, who care about all the stupid little crazy shit I do all the time, THOSE are the people I will give my time, love, and attention.  All the rest can kiss my ass… because I’m done!!!

I’ve deleted a lot of old contacts… and it felt good. I feel lighter. I’m released from their bullshit. It’s not my job to save the world. I only am responsible to save myself.  You know, I’m an amazing person and if someone can’t see that and value that… they don’t deserve my friendship. I’m a damned good friend. I’m an even better woman.  I have so much love to give and share.  I’m awake. I’m fighting now, and I’m focused, and I love myself very much.  Watch me…  fly.

Till Next Time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 8

This was a post from a group called Wild Woman Sisterhood, and it encompasses my soul. THIS is what I’ve come to see in myself.  This is what fuels my love for myself, and the love I have for others. I am a deep woman.  I’m learning more and more why the relationships of my past have never worked.  Even now, when I meet or am introduced to a new man, I first consider the woman that I am and THEN determine if he would be able to keep up with me, to be able to dive into the depths.  It’s not fair for invest any portion of my heart to a man incapable of filling the depths of it.  A shallow man, a stupid man, a simple man, a lazy man, an uncommitted man that can’t swim or fly would never do.

I am a deep woman and I love that about myself.

Listen to the wisdom of the wild woman…

The deeper you are, the harder it becomes for you to find someone who wants to have a relationships with you. You can go out on a lot of dates but at some point the relationship fails to progress any further and that is mainly because of the intensity of your depth. Not every man is strong enough to handle a deep woman. Here’s why:

 1. A deep woman asks deep questions. A deep woman will dive further into your life and ask questions that you may not be prepared to answer. Even on the first date, she will dig deeper and ask personal and philosophical questions –she will never enjoy a shallow conversation.

2. A deep woman is honest. Too honest –often blunt. A deep woman takes her integrity seriously and one thing she believes in is honesty. If you ask her anything, she will tell you the truth and she expects the same from you.

3. A deep woman knows what she wants. Or who she wants. A deep woman knows right away if she likes you and doesn’t need to date around or explore her other options to be sure of her feelings. Her heart only beats for a special few people and she knows them right away.

4. A deep woman wants a deep relationship. She wants long conversations about your life, she wants to hear stories about your past, she wants to understand your pain and she wants to add value to your life. She wants a real relationship that goes beyond going out and having fun.

5. A deep woman is not afraid of intimacy. She is not afraid of getting closer or risking getting hurt in the process. She doesn’t think it will entrap her freedom or make her vulnerable. Her depth and intimacy go hand in hand and she will always cherish the beauty of intimacy in relationships.

6. A deep woman sees through you. She can see who you really are and what makes you vulnerable. She is not the one to hold back from pointing out what she sees in you or how well she can read you. Even though it makes you uncomfortable, she wants you to know that she understands you and that you can be yourself around her.

7. A deep woman craves consistency. She gets turned off by inconsistency or flaky behavior. She desires a strong connection and a solid bond and she knows that consistency is the foundation of that bond. A deep woman will not participate in the dating games.

8. A deep woman is intense. She may be slightly intimidating because she brings intensity to everything she does. Her emotions are intense and so are her thoughts. She will never be indifferent about things that matter to her – not everyone is strong enough to handle her intensity.

9. A deep woman only knows how to love deeply. If you can’t love her deeply, she will walk away. She doesn’t know how to casually date someone she’s really into or be friends with someone she has feelings for. A deep woman knows when someone can’t meet her halfway and she will slowly detach herself from anyone who is not willing to give her the deep love she is looking for.

10. A deep woman won’t wait for you. She will not wait for you to make up your mind or watch you be hesitant about her. She is strong and passionate and will not waste her emotions on someone who doesn’t appreciate their depth. Even though she is looking for a special kind of love, a deep woman is not afraid of being on her own.

–Rania Naim

Till next time,
T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 7

Sometimes, as men, women… humans, we can be terribly blind.  We are often so busy in life, looking ahead, looking behind, looking all around us to be in the present, and yet still be ignorant to what is standing right in front of us.  It’s not because we can’t see, it’s most often because we’ve created this ideal in our minds of what we’re supposed to see, that we miss the reality, or better yet, the potential. 

Hindsight is a bitch.  She’s that nasty, arrogant know-it-all that shouts, “I told you so.”  I despise her.  I work so hard every day to not let her get a leg up on me, but I often fail.  It seems the more I try to open my eyes, the more I miss.

Life is so fluid.  People come and go, some are only around for a small flash of time, while others who’ve gone before stop by, come right in without knocking, and kick their feet up.  We deceive ourselves into thinking we can control the flow, but that’s another lie we tell ourselves.  We even wrap those lies in commitments, promises, vows, and contracts, but all can and are often broken, because life isn’t something we can control.  We can’t promise tomorrow, because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and doesn’t belong to us. We can’t make people stay, love us, fight for us, or even remember the promises they’ve made to us… or the promises we’ve made to others.  We can only determine how we respond to the changes as they happen.

Today is a sad and happy day for me.  One friend is leaving today, and it breaks my heart something terrible. He was a source of comfort for me at work, yet life changes. I wish him a lot of luck in his adventures, and hope the best for him. I’m also happy today because a boat load of my crazy writer friends suddenly showed up out of the blue.  Though we haven’t really gathered together in a very, very long time, the chemistry is still there and it’s like we never left.  I’m so excited to have them back in my life again.  They were such an inspiration to me.   

I’m sure there’s a reason my Insomniac friends have popped up lately.  I’m learning there’s a time and season for everything.  I’ve been avoiding my greatest gift for the longest season, but I know it’s time to get back to it.  There are no coincidences.  It’s not an accident that the last couple of weeks, I’ve been contacted by different members of this group in various ways.  I’m not the same person I was. Life has changed me, but it didn’t change my gift.  I recently removed “author” from my profile because I felt like such a failure for neglecting my gift for so long.  I felt I let my fans down because I allowed the heartaches of my life to keep me from releasing my work.  I felt I let my friends down by running away. Yet, here they are… as if it were yesterday.

There is was right in front of me all along.  I didn’t realize I felt all this disappointment in myself. I thought my writing was suffering because of space.  True, lack of space hampers, but I used to write anywhere.  I was blind.  In my quest of falling in love with myself, I didn’t think I’d have to deal with this part of my life, but this is a very big part of who I am.  I am a writer. I am a scribe. I am silver-tongue. I am a record keeper. I am a steward of imagination and creativity.  I must forgive myself for my neglect.  My imagination and writing gift was, is, and will always be my first love.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds. I cannot control life, love, or time.  But, I can choose to decide to love myself, and love the gifts I have been given.  We are to value the things we love.  Just as we value the people we love in our lives, how we consider their needs and do what me must to meet those needs, so is the same for every part of us.  To love myself completely, I have to love all parts of me.  Believe me, there are many parts.  Many, many parts.  I may not be ‘hard to carry’ (btw – I misquoted my friend yesterday.  He didn’t say I was hard to carry (that’s what I heard), he said I was hard to keep up with, that someone with my level of ambition would be hard to keep up with unless my partner had a similar level of ambition for themselves.  That while that enthusiasm is attractive at the beginning to any many, unless they were my equal, they would struggle to keep up with me and I’d have to carry them.  In other words, I’m too much for the average guy- he’s going to have to be strong and something extraordinary – my superman), but I’m great at flying.   

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 12, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 6

I had one of the best weekends, spending it with the people I love most… well, most of them anyway. I also set out to check off a couple more of those adventure goals I’ve been working toward.  My current quest is to find, explore, and take pictures of all the lighthouses in Florida.  Being a peninsula, surrounded mostly by shoreline, I’m thinking this adventure will take me a while to complete. I now have a new adventure in the planning stage of sailing to the Dry Tortugas for a couple weeks.

The reason I set up these adventures for myself is because I neglected me for so long, putting everyone else’s needs and wants before mine. I was a big sister, a parent, and a wife.  It’s what we do. Now, I’m not really any of those things and have been so lost, like a ship without a compass.  It took me a while to even discover what I liked to eat, what made me happy, what makes my soul sing.  Many of the things I’ve discovered are things I’ve always liked, but there are many new things I didn’t even know existed for me. I didn’t know me, but I’m learning more and more about me every day, and I love the woman I’m discovering.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently, and while I know his words were meant as a compliment and in no way pointed at me in accusation, they still hurt very much.  I was told that I was very smart, inspiring, radiant with positivity, a beautiful soul, unique, strong, independent and someone they very much want to be friends with and have in their life, because they want to develop those virtues for themselves.  He told me these qualities are what make me very attractive …at first… but.  There’s always a ‘but’.  Even though this was coming from a friend and not a date, I still felt my walls cave in and heaviness fall, causing that familiar huge knot to form in my throat. BUT… he said, this also made me hard to carry.  Every conversation from every failed relationship I’ve had where I was told how much I was loved, but… came crashing in on me.  All my exes still love, respect and admire me.  All of them.  Yet they are weak and none strong or brave enough to choose me, to love me.

I don’t need to be carried. I don’t need to be saved.  I just wanted to be loved. Am I supposed to dumb myself down, act like I can’t take care of myself, be cruel and selfish so that a man can feel comfortable enough to love me? As much as ideologically this sounds ridiculous, I believe it’s true.  I see it evidenced every day in society and have felt the pain of it in my own life.  I won’t change who I am, even if this means I’ll always be alone.  I would rather be proud of myself and of the beautiful soul I am, than lose that part of myself because a man isn’t strong enough to stand with me, to let me love them, and have courage enough to love me back.  A weak coward has no room next to me.    

So, if loving me is so hard to carry for a man, then they don’t deserve me.  I want a strong man, a man that will love me just as fiercely and I will love them, who will fight for me just as strong as I would fight for them, who would believe in me as much as I would believe in them. So yes, a shallow man only interested in a pretty face or a pretty body will NEVER be happy with me.  A weak man who is so insecure he needs a weak woman to make him feel strong, would NEVER be happy with me.  A coward too afraid to touch the sun, doesn’t deserve to bask in its light.  When I love, I love with a love that’s real, deep and true… not superficial, not shallow, not vain… and so only a man that knows how to love with real love will ever do. I will not make apologies for that. While all men think they possess this kind of courage, strength and power… I’m learning very few ever do.

Bottom line – I choose to love myself because I know I’m strong enough and the love I have for me is unashamed, deep, real and never hard to carry.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 4

When I speak of passion, I speak of it from my own perspective.  We all sometimes call the same thing by a common name, but that single thing means something different to each of us, depending on who we are, and what we’re made of, and what we’ve been forged from.  For me -  I’m fire, I’m Leo, I’m artist, I’m goddess … and passion burns in the marrow of my bones, and extends through the thinnest of my split ends, reaching out around me and touching all within proximity.  Passion burns, and cools, and flies, and cries, and hurts, and empowers, and weakens within and through me, and from me.

My passion has caused me so much trouble and excitement in my life. It has saved me, given me strength, weakened me, and led to the greatest of my pain.  It is my biggest ally, and my greatest enemy. But I have made peace with my passion.  Not in the sense that I can control it. Only a fool believes they can control the passion within them.  I know. I deceived myself into thinking I’ve controlled it all my life.  I controlled nothing.

I’ve learned to love my passion, respect it.  I’m learning to listen to it.  Passion gives me the strength to fight, to defend, to hope, to love, to encourage, to dream, to fear, to want, and to desire. Life sucks sometimes, and there have been moments when the pain was too much to bear, so heavy I couldn’t breathe. When those moments come and the Pied Piper begins to play his melancholy song enticing me deeper into the darkness, a flicker of passion ignites within me to fight.  Passion is the root to all my gifts, even this one… to write.  Passion is my true muse, my inspiration.  God has given me great passion. 

I love the passion within me.  I hate the passion within me sometimes, because it’s heavy and in those moments when the pain comes, it’s because of my fire, my passion, that increases that pain.  I feel everything in magnification… the good and the bad.  When I love… my love is so deep, filled with so much fire. But so is my pain. I live life… a life on fire… a life of burning flames… flickering hot.  Feed it and it will grow, it will spread, it will consume… starve it and it will wane… but it will never go out.   Just the lightest of breath, the smallest of air, a flicker… and the flame will rise again.

I’ve realized I need air… air to breathe, air to fly, air to fan my flames.  This Leo, this goddess of fire needs her god of air, earth, and water.  All three in opposition can hurt her, starve her, dampen her, or put her out… but in conjunction with her, not in an attempt to control her, but as her partner… he will set her ablaze.

I love this about me.  I love that I’m passionate. I love that I’m alive and live out loud, not in secret, not hidden, not afraid to jump.  Yes, I fall. Yes, I burn. Yes, I get hurt. Yes, I fail. Yes, I lose.  BUT I am alive. I am free.  I am raw.  I am not ashamed. I am not passion.  Not everyone can handle that truth, and that’s okay.  I love me just the way I am.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 3

I had a completely different message I wanted to write this morning, but after receiving another phone call listening to the train wreck of a guy playing manipulative mind games with his ex-girlfriend, him reading me his texts filled with passive-aggressive bullshit, making a bad situation worse because he’s reacting during the height of emotion instead of sitting back and reacting with sense, reminds me more of the type of person I want to be, especially when it comes to my relationships.

I’m a passionate person.  I react with passion, in passion, and for passion.  I don’t always react at the right time, the right way, often resulting in the opposite of what I had hoped.  LOL!  But, I’ve matured a lot over the years.  Wow, I used to be so stubborn. I used to be so stupid. I used to be so selfish.  It was always about what I wanted, how I felt, and what I thought was right, and I wanted it in my time, when I didn’t really know shit.  But listening to this man making huge mistakes in his eagerness to save what he thinks is love, makes me smile.  Not at his distress, but at the knowledge that I know I’ve grown beyond the pettiness.  I’ve grown well beyond those shallow waters.  I’ll never have his problems, only because I know that I would never accept anything but the deepest of love.  Other side of that coin is that I may only find that kind of love within myself.

There was a piece of advice I gave this man that smacked me right in my own face.  Usually, just like with this blog and many of the things I write, most of the things I say and do are for ME more than anyone else.  I may have said them to him, and I doubt he even heard a word of what I was saying, but I heard it and it stung… ouch.  This is what I told him.  “We have to stop from responding to things in the height of our emotion, because it only makes things worse when we don’t receive the response we’ve already imagined we’d get in our minds.  People are individuals and they respond to things in their own way, not the way we think they should, or expect them to, or even according to what we think is the right answer.”

When someone responds to us in their own way, through their own filter of experiences and triggers, we are often stunned, surprised, and confused because it almost never turns out how we have already imagined.  Come on, admit it, how many times have you had an argument or discussion in your mind with someone about something that upset you, but… when you went to talk about it, it came out so much different? It’s called foot-mouth disease. I have a bad case of it.

Communication is the key to any relationship, friendship, soul-mates, co-workers, family, etc.  All relationships are built or torn down due to the level of effective communication.  Don’t get me wrong, communication alone can’t save a relationship, but it will help with understanding and being able to determine when to fight and when to walk away. It’s about integrity.  So, getting to the love letter to myself, I am very proud of the way I communicate with the people I love, but mostly with the way I communicate with myself.

So, for Jinx… I love the way she listens, and then tries her best to understand. Believe me, she doesn’t always understand, but she tries.  I love the way she gives the benefit of the doubt, and isn’t quick to jump to conclusions and always dwells on the worse. She truly encompasses the message in the Lady Gaga song, Million Reasons – “I bow down to pray, I try to make the worse seem better. Lord, show me the way, to break this worn-out leather. I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away, but Baby I just need one good one to stay.”  Her mind thinks a million thoughts about everything and it drives her crazy, is the foundation to much of her anxiety and stress, and the master of her fears. But, I love, love, love the fact that she is quick to apologize, quick to admit her mistakes, quick to make amends when she realizes her fallacy, and doesn’t give up until she makes it right.  She owns her weaknesses and that has become one of her greatest strengths, and I love her very much for it.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Falling in Love... Day 2

 I think about the type of man that I’d like to meet and have in my life. I’m not talking about that long laundry list of wants and requirements like having a job, aspirations, dreams, being kind-hearted, and having a heart that considers the soul and mind above body. No, I’m talking about the whole package, the man in all his complexities. But, before I meet him I think about the partner I’d want him to have. 

When you love someone, you don’t just think about what would be good for you, what would make you happy, what the relationship could and would benefit you.  Love is about thinking and considering your partner’s wants and needs, too.  As amazing as the man I want in my life, I also want be able to offer him an equally amazing woman. 

I was talking to a friend this morning, and he’s had one disastrous relationship after another. He made a statement that he’s so tired of garbage.  I told him if he doesn’t like garbage, he needs to stop digging through the dumpsters hoping to find a masterpiece, and to stop blaming all women for the bad decisions he’s made. I also told him to start being the man he thinks a ‘good’ woman deserves, get his shit together, so that when he does meet a good woman he would have something good to offer her… a good man.

He, of course, went off into a rant about how preposterous it was for women to expect men to take care of them, provide for them, and how women’s rights are the cause of our fucked up society.  It was a lost lesson by that point, but my comments struck a chord in myself.   

That’s the funny thing about me.  Most often my blogs, my musings, my thoughts, my articles, etc… they’re for me more than anyone. It’s a way I communicate with my soul. It’s a way to step outside me and see me in an abstract. 

I also had a conversation with another friend last night.  We talked for hours as he drove back to the Army base in North Carolina. I was just being my excited, rambunctious, over-talkative self.  It felt good. I haven’t really talked to anyone in a long while, not since I lost my best friend and soul mate.  I just bottled up all those millions of thoughts and ideas inside, really afraid to share them with anyone.  You see… all those crazy little thoughts and ideas, so matter wacky they are, are what I consider the BEST part of me. It’s the essence of who I truly am.  It’s more intimate than my body.  It’s more personal than my intellect.  It’s all those quirky weird ideas that makes up who I truly am… and that person I don’t share with just anyone.  THAT person is who is precious to me. Let me tell you a little about her… I’ll call her the nickname my best friend gave me… Jinx. Maybe you and I both will get to see some of the things I love most about her.  This is, after all, my love letter to her.

Jinx has this amazing wild imagination.  She thinks some of the oddest thoughts.  She questions EVERYTHING. I remember this one time she stayed up all night contemplating the idea of black holes and super novas, stars, universes, galaxies, time and space.  She couldn’t sleep.  Her mind just kept exploring existence deeper and deeper and deeper.  Just when the universe couldn’t get any bigger, she zeroed in on herself and saw how small she was in the midst of it all; so insignificant.  A huge knot formed in her throat and she couldn’t breathe.  Who was she? Why was she here? Does she even matter? In 20, 30, 50 years… will anyone even remember she existed? Suddenly, so many things she was so worried about didn’t matter anymore.  Bills, expectations, career, life stuff, none of it mattered.  ALL that mattered was this small, brief, minute moment in space and time, and what she had to offer in that small spec.  Nothing she’s accomplished or failed, nothing she’s gained or lost, nothing she had or wanted meant anything without love. Love is all that mattered.  Love she had for herself. Love she had for her children. Love she had for God. Love she had for humanity.  

Forty-five years… I’ve been in this universe for forty-five years, and what do I have to show for it? I have many achievements, many awards, many successes, yet the only things that really matter is my heart and my ability to love.  This world has been so cruel to me. I have been knocked down so many times, rejected by so many people, and the one thing that’s eluded me… is being loved.  Yet, in spite of it… I choose to love. I’m still that little girl crying in the corner being told she’s not good enough, she’s a mistake, and she’s not wanted. *sigh* I am also that little girl that stood to her feet, balled her little fists so tight, dried the wet tears streaming down her face with her arm, and declared, “NO! I am not a mistake. I am a good girl and I love me!”

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, December 05, 2016

Falling in Love... Day One

I’m on a quest.  It’s the greatest quest of all. It’s one I’ve accomplished before, and one I know I can and will accomplish again.  I want to fall in love.  I want to be excited about life, thrilled about all the great possibilities that lay ahead for me every day.  I want to see the beauty in everything around me because I’m looking through eyes of beauty, eyes that know love, feel love, and exude love.  That can only happen if I’m filled with love.  So, I’m on a quest to fall in love again… with myself.

As much as chemistry is important, the major factor of falling in love is a state of heart and mind.  Opening our minds and hearts, or also closing them, to the concept and acceptance of love is the beginning of any relationship.  If we are empty of love, we cannot give what we do not possess.  We then become vampires, because we have a need inside, a hole desperate to be filled, so we seek love from others around us, sucking the life out of them to feed that need, only to discover after we’ve drained them dry, the hole is still there.  That’s the thing about holes…  unless their patched, bottoms sewn together, mended, or sealed, everything that goes into them, drains right out the other end.

I used to be so angry at vampires, because they’re so fucking selfish. They’re so self-centered, desperate, needy, they don’t consider the damage they do to their victims.  They just need the blood, the love, and so they take, and take, and take, like a junkie using everyone in their life to get their next fix. They don’t “mean” to hurt anyone, but their disease controls them. A vampire’s need for blood controls them. They use, manipulate, lie and suck those that possess any love dry of that love, and then discard them, push their empty shells out of their lives, and then move onto their next victim.  And most often, these demons don’t realize they’re the vampire, destroying all the relationships in their life. Most see themselves as the victim, and most often at one time they were by another vampire.

I don’t want to be a vampire. I could very well become one. I have a huge hole in my heart, and it’s been bleeding for a while now. I can feel it turning more and more into stone day by day. I was recently so in love, probably the most in love I’ve ever been in my life. The world wasn’t magically perfect, and all my dreams didn’t come true, and all my problems didn’t disappear. On the contrary, loving this man pushed me so far outside my comfort zone and magnified the difficulties this cruel world has to offer. He’s a mess. He’s complicated. He’s damaged. He came with a lot of baggage.  Yet, I would light up just to hear his voice, my stomach pitched with butterflies when I stared into his beautiful eyes, and the peace I felt when he held me calmed the deepest storms inside. He had nothing to offer me, and that meant nothing to me, because I had the greatest thing of all… love. He was my soulmate. I was so deeply, madly, crazy in love and that made me happy.  I didn’t just fall in love with him, but everything that came with him. I know he loved me too, because I felt it.

I still don’t understand what happened, and I suppose now it really doesn’t matter. I may never know or may never understand why I lost that love, but I can’t allow the loss of it to turn me into a vampire. I LOVE the woman I am. I have worked hard to become her, and she is the woman that I cannot lose, refuse to lose, and will fight to keep. 

So, here I am. One of the things I learned from all the marriage counseling and couples workshops I participated in trying to save my marriage, is that all relationships require constant work.  ALL relationships, and that includes the one I have with myself.  In essence, THAT relationship is the most important one of all. How I love myself is the key to loving other people, it effects EVERY relationship in my life.

So, to my first love, my deepest love, Tonya… I see you and I love you.  I love your unending hope. I love the way you see the best in people, look beyond their weaknesses and imagine their greatest potential. I love how you defend the defenseless, and go out of your way to put a smile on someone else’s face, especially when you’re crying inside and just want to die.  I love how you would give up your lunch money to make sure someone else didn’t go hungry.  I haven’t forgotten the time you gave away a dress you saved MONTHS to buy to a stranger. Or how you opened your home to a pregnant woman who had nowhere to go. Even in the darkest of times, you always fought to protect, to save, even knowing you would pay the greatest of prices.  I will never, never, never forget the sacrifice you made to save a little girl from the hell you lived.  No one else knew the price you paid, but I remember, and I love you for it.  No one ever tells you thank you, hell, they don’t even remember you, most don’t even know your real name. You gave your gifts, your talents, your love, your support, and everything you had without hesitation and no one cared. I do. I care. I know your deeds, and most of all I know your intentions, I know the motivations of your heart, and you are precious.  Those are the very words God said to you, “you are precious.” Never forget them.  

So, in my quest to fall in love again with myself, I am going to keep reminding myself of the person I am, and see the virtues that I believe make me beautiful, and I’m going to do this every day until I can fill that hole, ease that pain, and feel loved once more.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray