Life Lessons

Do You Listen or Wait To Speak

There at two types of people in this world. The ones who listen and the ones who just wait to their turns to talk. If I’m be in completely honest here, I’m the latter but I have a very promising future in the former.

Lately, I’ve been catching myself wanting to jump in the middle of a conversation I’m having instead of respectfully waiting for the other person to finish. Even after everything I’ve learned and all the changes I’ve made, I still struggle with this. I’m getting better though. It’s just sometimes I can’t help but to be overcome by my in me Vince Vaughness (think wedding crashers:) ). If you were someone in my family, this wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary because you’d be doing the same. Something like a directors commentary on a DVD, speaking over and throughout the whole movie. It works for us, we thrive on it but I understand this isn’t for everyone.

I come from a family of professional conversationalists and once we get going, like a meteor, you’ll be hard pressed to stop us or get in a word edgewise; that is unless you’re accustomed to it.

My sister is actually the person who triggered this post. We were talking on the phone the other day and I asked her a question about work, which triggered her chatter reflex. She unleashed. Honestly I love it, my little sisters a beast. But towards the end a feeling hit me, something I may have not noticed before but never gave much thought. I finally heard what other people must hear when they listen to us talk. (My poor mother).

Though my family makes this form of conversation work, most people are not like us. Again, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped myself from talking out of turn this past year but the good thing is I’m conscious of it and I’m working on doing better from here on out.

When it comes to my family, I don’t want it to change because it’s a part of who we at and I love it. Yet, when it comes to others, I’m going to do better of quieting my mind and taking in everything they say. One of the best things you can do in any relationship is to simply listen. Even a seemingly small thing like this can go a long way in building and fortifying our relationships. How can we ever really know anyone if we don’t listen. Think on this. When you talk to others, are you listening or just waiting for your turn to talk? Which of the two are you?

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Life Lessons

Common Courtesy (Male Relationships)

“Whoever degrades another, degrades me, And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.” – Walt Whitman

I’m going to start treating my friends better. In the male realm, we like to use a lot of vulgarity and bravado when interacting with one another. I even read somewhere that little boys wrestle and ruff house as a way to be close and show affection. How can we expect to have any real, meaningful connections this way? Why must common courtesy and decency go out the window because we’re men? It doesn’t have to.

Last week I noticed a friend of mine was a little off. Now our visual interaction would consist of some vulgar jokes about the others appearance or lifestyle, followed by some sort of smack or punch. The usual caveman stuff. But today felt different, I could see something in his eyes, so instead of the usual low-minded “affection”, I just patted him on the back and asked how his day was going. From the look on his face, I could that it was just what he needed.

I knew from our previous conversations that his son had starts college nearby and still hadn’t come to visit him. He liked to pretend he didn’t care but I could we that it hurt him deeply. It had been many years since he’d seen him and from the looks of it, it would be many more.

We forget sometimes that everyone has a story, worries, families, etc; the normal human condition. Wearing the same blue ensemble, walking to and from call outs and meals, like some characters in an uninspiring dystopian world, without color or warmth: our empathy can erode with time if not cared for.

We do have a say in all this, a choice to make. For to long we have been told that this is how men act. Raised by men who tell us that boys don’t cry or show tenderness in the way girls do because if we do we somehow become less of a man. I remember once when I was young, a male figure in my life called me some kind of “pussy” because I was writing poetry with my story ideas. You know how devastating the can be for a kids? I just wanted to be a writer and in one sentence he completely demorlized me and it would be years until I would write again.

Little things matter. When we’re taught these in and credos at a young age, they embed deep roots in our subconscious and we carry them with us through highschool, relationships, college, jobs and marriage. In time these unhealthy views can have real world consequences once men begin to have families of their own and enter into the workplace. Some of these men get into very powerful positions such as congress men, heads of corporations or even movie moguls like Harvey Weinstien, who feel their position entitles them to dehumanize the people under them.

Common courtesy can go a long way. Teaching our boys how treat others and allow in them to process their emotions in a way children should. Not telling them to hold back tears or internalize pain, so that one day it all comes out with unintended consequences.

Laugh, smile, hug, write poetry, tell your best friend you love and appreciate him. Me, I’m going to hug my five year old son every chance I get, kiss him on the top of his head and always tell him how much I love him. Encourage his passions and support whatever he decides to do with his life. Also teaching him to respect women. and to see them as his equal.

It’s not such a daunting task if we keep taking small steps. Like today, in my everyday interactions with others. I’m going to be considerate, listen and ask sincere questions. We can’t continue on this malignant path if we want to leave a better world than the one we inherited. We need to set better examples for our boys and them that it’s okay to be themselves. It’s ok to care and express affection to others.

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Love

Blessed In Love

I’ve thanked my mother, my brother, and my family but now I need to thank my girl who has recently been taking over much of the support for my blog. I don’t know what I would do without your help and your inspiration. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve your love but I thank God every single day that you’ve come into my life. I hope to earn your love and devotion. I love you panda bear.- A

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Women

Have a Little Compassion, Men

“I have years of experience riding the dragon.” – Bernadette, The Big Bang Theory.

Women are amazing. From an early age you ride a roller coaster of emotions every month as your menstrual cycle continually refreshes itself. I can’t imagine men already hardwired with testosterone coated brains, coping with these fluctuations in the same way.

During the first two weeks of a woman’s cycle, they tend to be more socially relaxed as estrogen fertilizes their brain cells. In this estrogen phase, the hippo-campus experiences a growth of connections of about 25%, which can actually make a woman’s brain a little sharper. Her mind will perform better, she’ll be clear and even remember more. But then around the 14th day, the ovaries begin spurting progesterone, which will actually reverse the work of the estrogen and begin destroying those new connections in the hippo-campus. In these last two weeks, the brain will become more sedated, less focused, slower, and even more irritable.

Think about this guys and try to have some compassion for our female counterparts. Remember this when you begin growing irritated because you think your girls is “acting crazy.” It’s not her fault (most of the time anyways reasons to smile) It’s just nature in all her wisdom decided to wire her this way and she’s just doing her best with the cards she’s been dealt. Imagine if we had to deal with these shifts in emotion every month, for a majority of our lives. There probably would’ve been a nuclear war by now. If men had to deal with things like menstrual cycles and pregnancy, there would be a hundred drugs to damper the effects of mood swings and cheer us up. Maternity leave? Not a problem, take a year off with pay. Morning sickness? we’d declare war on it like we do with cancer. Natural childbirth would be quickly phased out, not to mention that birth control would be absolutely 100% effective.

Now that I have taken all of this into account, it’s changed my way of looking at things completely. Looking back at my previous relationships, I see how insensitive I was to these things. As men, many of us treat PMS as some derogatory thing and even those three letters have become synonymous with “unmanageable” women. I wasn’t compassionate because I always thought it was something that could be helped and if my girl was acting up, it was because she was trying to be difficult. “Being a girl.” I was completely ignorant in these matters.

It’s not just women who should be taught about these things, boys should be too and it would go a long way to help improve relationships they will one day be in. In this male dominated world, we fall short when it comes to educating our boys on the opposite sex. With smartphone and instant access to anything you can think of, they are finding things that are teaching them contrary to reality and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. If your frame of reference is porn hub, you’ve misused the boat on this one.

I think about this now, in my interactions with women and it has improved my relationships dramatically. I no longer grow impatient or agitated and make insensitive remarks, like it’s something they should just get over. So think about this guys, the next time you feel your girls is “acting crazy” because it may just be the progesterone dragon riding high.

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My Story

Before Sentencing

The week before sentencing is usually a hard one for inmates in county jail. Restless nights spent tossing and turning on  sheet of metal welded to the wall; growing anxious and experiencing a spectrum of emotions from anger to sadness to fear. Yet as this inmate stood, watching the lawyers and clerks walk around the room preparing for court, he felt unexpectedly calm.

He stood there thinking of all the things he’d done and the destruction he’d brought down upon everyone around him. He understood this account would have to be paid in full he would live with the consequences without complaint and do what he could from where he’d be.

Just then a good guard walked into the small room and set some papers on a table in font of the inmate. “How goes it Mr. Martinez, are you ready?”

“You know me”, he replied.

“So how much time you looking at?” When the inmate told him, the guard whistled softly and said, “Damn man.”

The guard had come to respect this inmate’s calm demeanor because he knew he’d never have an issue with him. Yet, even after all these years in corrections, he was still surprised at what these men were capable of. Humans are very adept at masking things and most never see the emotional turmoil that roils just beneath the surface.

“How are you holding up?” The guard asked.

“Good, I’ll be alright.”

“So, what now?”

The inmate stared at the wall in front of him but his eyes were unfocused, what now? A question he had asked himself everyday for the last 6 months and one he would continue asking for the foreseeable future. Things were different this time, only he didn’t know how.

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