downsizing my life

(the parts of this entire post i write will be in lower case letters)

if i had my way, i would own almost nothing. the bare essentials, and maybe even less than that. we as a family have collected sooo much crap it seems almost mountainous. i hate it.

i want less.

a lot less.

i have recently cut people from my facebook friends and can see the value of less people in my daily space everyday too. less to say and or do with.

as a cartoonist i needed to be able to work “alone” and as a writer i would be inviting the same thing…total solitude. i am 100% ok with this.

strange thing is, my day job involves people.

been looking into “downsizing” my life.  i included some notes i found on this topic…yet to be applied.

(First you will need to organize your thoughts and make a plan, What is your goal? move to a smaller house, simplify your life, sail away? Whatever the reason, know what it is and plan for that goal).

(Now, look around you and take stock of what stuff you have. Chances are you have a lot more than you thought you had or need. Start getting rid of everything you don’t NEED).

(Try to minimize the commitments you have on a day to day basis that do not add to the quality of your life. This is also an important step to take when you downsize your life. Don’t look back. You will see that unburdening yourself from material possessions and unnecessary commitments is freeing, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it before. It also serves to get rid of many of the reasons why you “couldn’t” do something you always wanted to do)

(Take a deep breath…)

not everything is beneficial. relationships clutter up as much space as some junk does…so  i am considering everything while we go thru our physical junk and start moving out, just to move in somewhere else.

work. friendships. family. whatever isn’t going somewhere needs to be cut off and discarded. i started with facebook. i need to keep going. i plan to keep going.

the link to the site i took my info from: http://www.ehow.com/how_5041408_downsize-life.html
look, i even kept this post to a minimum. less = more.

-S.

Published in: on September 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

My future past, calls back

12 years ago I was 29 years old about to be a dad and was settling into my new office digs at Ramada Corporate when God called.

On Jan 16th 1998 I was called to spread (effectively preach) the gospel of Jesus Christ. “The Good News”. As I have written on this blog before I wrestled with this calling and avoided dealing with it for a long time before I brought this revelation to my Pastors at the time.

A few months later I was (ie: we as a couple, Dawn and I were) conscripted by the out-going senior pastor to take up the mantle of the also out-going youth pastor and run the youth program.

So we did for a solid year, before we “burned” out and stepped down as the then new in-bound Pastor came on board and our first child was due any day…

Thus ended our career in ministry.

In the years since I prayed the “sinners” prayer in my youth (age 11) and all thru High School and growing up I have had a faith and a belief in something much bigger than I was. And in the years since my temporary run as a Youth Minister I have been nagged by the calling…or perhaps it is just God tapping me on the shoulder reminding me of his gifts and his calling I left unfulfilled.

It feels like a lifetime since that night in January 1998 and having settled (more or less) into a new church within the last year I am beginning to feel the pull back to his original calling. Not quite like it was yesterday, but close.

I am feeling responsible now.

I’m older and perhaps less likely to “talk” myself out of accepting the job. I used to keep a journal and some minor “sermons” written for the purposes of writing online for an internet community church I was going to start. I blogged in this direction for a little while but never really gave it my all.

I likened my restlessness and reluctance to Jonah who fled God when he was instructed to go to Nineveh and get the Ninevites to repent. I called what I was going thru and sort of dealing with “My Own Private Nineveh” and scribbled on the notebook were the letters MOPN.

I am older now and wiser and having been thru some crap in the last 4 years or so (see other posts here and on my previous blog for that story) I am really getting the urge to deal with addressing this calling and my faith.

I’m not saying I am planting a church, but I might strike out online again and perhaps write more about this stuff ala Anne Lamott and Donald Miller. (two of my favorite writers, by the way)

It seems every Sunday I sit in church and Pastor Nick shares what God has put on his heart it feels like he is only talking to me. Reminding me that I am not living my life to its potential because I have dodged God’s calling and ultimately I am missing out on a wealth of blessings I can only begin to imagine.

Do I think I missed the bus? Maybe. But God as I am learning is a patient God as demonstrated multiple times in the bible and he is just reaching out to me again…nudging me, gently reminding me I was set apart for bigger things. It’s subtle but he’s doing exactly that.

And this time I am ok with it.

The Apostle Paul was called and he went. He didn’t seek permission from a school or university or seminary. God equipped him and off he went. Two thirds of the word GOD is “GO” and as Christians we are all called to witness to the lost.

One of Dawn’s favorite stories is about the boy running along the beach where dozens upon dozens of starfish have washed up after a storm. The boy picks up one starfish and flings it back into the ocean. He runs to the next one and does the same thing. Over and over again. A man watching this boy exhaust himself starfish by starfish calls his attention and says, ” son, you realize you can’t possibly save them all” and the boy replies, “I know, but I can at least save this one” as he throws another starfish back into the water…

That attitude is something we all must have. We are all flawed, broken human beings. We make mistakes everyday and screw up everything we touch. We are sinners, period. Without God’s intervention we are headed straight for hell. A place designed for Lucifer (formerly the Angel of Light, became known as Satan) and the angels he took with him after his rebellion in heaven.

We were not intended to go to hell, but Lucifer plans on taking as many of us with him as he can. Since the “fall of man” and sin entered the world God’s creature (us) designed to live forever now only lasts about 75 years. Our bodies give out, become diseased and just fail us. We die physically.

God bridged the gap sin created between himself and his beloved (us) by coming to earth as a helpless child. Living a mere 33 years and paying the ultimate sacrifice for us. It’s an awesome story if you really take it apart and think about the creator and what his Love for us really means.

Most other religions or “gods” want their believers to pay the same ultimate price first in order to collect a reward afterward. But the one true God saw fit to correct the problem himself and sacrificed his son instead of letting us pay that price for our sins. (Jesus is God, God is Jesus) it’s complicated and so simple at the same time. And the bible says the wages of sin is death. No escaping that. And bible says everyone has sinned (except Jesus of course, he had to be blamelss in order for his sacrifice to count). No escaping that either.  

Bottom line I am coming around full circle (I think) and may start writing about faith and culture and God stuff etc here or in another blog.

I have a few other ideas that need to be mapped out before execution but if it’s God’s will it will succeed.

After cancer I wondered why I was still here. Why was I spared? What am I supposed to contribute while here on this decaying planet? 

Why am I still here? Did God spare me for a reason? If so and I continue to ignore him I deserve to have my ass kicked (by him).

In recent weeks since we have settled into “Faith with Love Fellowship church” and begun to swing back toward restoring our commitment to our faith I believe God has honored our faith and has provided for us. A new place to live. Some responsibility at work (which may lead to other opportunities down the road someday) a new job for Dawn and some surprises every now and again that if taken for granted wouldn’t be so amazing but viewed thru spiritual eyes (if you will) I see the grace everyday.

I am not taking my new promotion at work lightly. We are making slow progress on moving but we are getting there. A lot of little things you might not see suddenly become very apparent when you look at them from the right angle.

All I am saying is, expect me to continue to post what is on my heart here and having lived thru what we as a couple and family have since 2006 we are seeing changes everyday in our lives in big and small ways. Pastor Nick mentioned to me when acknowledging our story that we indeed have a testimony to share…and I am beginning to see the value of sharing that testimony.

I have the credentials to back up my calling.(not that I need them) but I pursued them thru an organization that believes like I do that if God called me, that is sufficient enough and they offered me ordination based on that. So while I need to further my education on some of these matters I can borrow some of the materials my father has amassed in his education thru the channels he chose and reinforce the knowledge I do have.

It all comes down to the simple fact that God loves us and sent his son to die so that we might live eternally (as designed)…I pass a huge rock on Route 23 North on my ride home every day that has been spray painted over and over again “Jesus Saves” and we have all seen the verse: John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

This verse is the whole point. This is where I start over…this is my beginning. This is my Second Chance Mission. (to live life better) 

Amen.

More on this later.

-S.

Have a good night.

Random Doodles

Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 12:25 am  Leave a Comment  

And when I said I loved you…

“You’ll be fine tomorrow
The sun will rise again
It’s never easy to say goodbye
You know I’ll always love you
You know I always will

Chorus:
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
My old friend (my old friend)
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
We’ve reached the end (we’ve reached the end)

I don’t cry with sorrow, I cry with joy
The memories we made can’t be destroyed
You know I won’t forget you
You know I never could
And when I said I loved you
You know I meant for good

Chorus:
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
My old friend (my old friend)
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
We’ve reached the end (we’ve reached the end)

You know I’ll always love you
Goodbye”

(words by: Audio Adrenaline)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHoFMZitxXI

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Redefining Cartoons

Just read one of Mo Willms’ Pigeon books to the kids. And boy did we laugh out loud.

It’s work like his that I aspire to. Simple. To the point and perhaps just plain funny.

I need to update my cartoon blog but having just taken on the new job and we are still in the process of “moving” yada yada yada (all excuses I know this) …bottom line we all have to make time for these types of things, I especially have to make the time. I am feeling the drag of not making some kind of art and it’s weighing me down.

Somewhere I will find my voice (and the time to sing with it as it were)

For many years I have admired the work of Keith Haring, Matt Feazell, Chuck Close, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollack, David Horvath, Evan Dorkin, Al Hirshfeld, Jules Pfeiffer, Ralph Steadman, Bill Sienkewicz, Charles Schulz, Jon J. Muth, Kent Williams, Bill Watterson, Wiley Miller and Michael Jantze (just to name a few influences)

The mixture of talent listed above is a combination of gag cartoons, abstract art and water colors with my hopes of blending all these influences together into a children’s book someday…or not.

I have no idea. I just know what I like and what I wish would fall out of my head, travel thru my right arm into the pen clutched in my fingers and be brilliant once put down on paper.

Or at least be slightly entertaining, or somewhere in between.

(maybe)

Evan bad art would kill the urge I have right now.

Cell phone camera, pad of Post Notes and a good pen is all I need and I should be all set.

I found that traditional cartoons were made up of a lot of writing. Even pantomime cartoons had to essentially be “written”…I find that I need to study vaudeville and stand up comedy, do some creative writing and ultimatleyI need to write a monologue.

And (in my head, convince myself to) perform the monologue as a one man play (in front of people). One act, one man (me), perhaps several stories. Ala: Spalding Gray.

A desk, a chair, a microphone, a glass of water and the truth.

Maybe that’s why I wanted to cartoon in the first place. I suffer from stage fright. My “actors” would/could act out whatever I had written and somehow I would then be satisfied as an artist.

Ahhhh, one day. ( I swear, I’m working on it. If I don’t… I will kill somebody, if not myself in the process)

 Be well. Check the cartoon blog…oh Hell, I’ll let you know if I add anything to it. Who am I kidding?

-Scotty

Random asides…

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

When they asked me what I love most about life, I smiled and said you.

It doesn’t take a reason to love someone, but it does to like someone. You don’t love someone because you want to, you love someone because you are destined to. It’s because you fall in love with them, that you try and find a reason, but you always come up with the same answer: No Reason.

Who do you turn to when the only person in the world that can stop you from crying, is the exactly the one making you cry?

Three things in life that are most valuable- Love, Self Confidence and Friends.

Don’t find love, let love find you. That’s why it’s called “falling in love”, because you don’t force yourself to fall, you just fall.

Time is slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice…but for those who love, time is eternity.

If you have it (love), you don’t need to have anything else. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you do have.

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s all about the “Dash”.

We can’t explain why some things happen. Things just do. I read somewhere recently that said we assign “good” or “bad” to a situation, when in reality all that happened was “something happened” …good or bad is irrelevant.

My relationship with my family had been strained a lot this last two years and with the passing of my mother last month you tend to think, I have tended to think I was “ok” with it and began to move on, we did have 18 months to prepare for her passing. When my father called to tell me, it still hit me kind of hard. My lungs filled with air, I let out a deep sigh and immediately thought of her alone somewhere in the universe with the rest of us left behind on earth to deal with what had just happened.

There is a lot of weight to losing a parent. A lot to process and accept. The finality of this statement:

“we live, we breed, we die and we disappear”

She is never to be seen with human eyes again.

My thoughts after the wake/funeral was “it’s over” and we would move on to the next phase. But then my mother’s cousin (my cousin) Julie found some old pictures at my Aunt Eleanor’s house. (Aunt El died maybe a month before my mother, 6 weeks if that)…

I took the 5 or 6 photos out of the card board envelope to find a couple of pictures of my parent’s wedding day, a picture of my brother and I as teenagers when we were on speaking terms and a picture of my wife and I taken on Christmas Eve the year or two after we started dating…on the back in my mother’s hand writing it reads:

“Scott and the love of his life, Dawn. Very Serious!”

I never knew she wrote that. in the photo she and I are all of 19 and 17 if we are that old. I’m guessing the photo is from Christmas Eve 1988 or 1989. And here we are still together 22 years later.  Been thru heaven and hell together and still standing strong. A little older but still standing strong.

I look at the kids in that picture that I believe my mother took and I hardly recognize us. And I think back thru the dating years, the engagement years, our wedding day and the nor’easter that wouldn’t let us take a picture outside that day in October.

I think about this house. Our kids. And Cancer… in an instant I think about my grandmother’s, then mine and then back around to my mom. Two out of the three of us are no longer here (thanks to cancer).

But all of this represents a life lived. Somewhere in between all the bullshit and arguments and misunderstandings in life, it still and only comes down to people. People we love, don’t always get along with or like all the time.

The pictures of my parents in their very early twenties, this is July 1968. Just 15 months before their first child would arrive. (yeah, me) and they look like they have the whole world ahead of them, just like Dawn and I look in our wedding photo. In it together, forever.

For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. Til death…do we, do they…does anyone, part.

Just when you think you have it all figured out…kids are grown with kids of their own…life is supposed to slow down and you get to relax. When life reminds you of your past and the smoking catches up with you (or whatever it is, drinking, drugs etc) and you get handed a diagnosis that changes everything and turns your world upside down.

Dawn and I have already been down that road…sort of. Close enough to it.

But it seems just when you think life is as good as it’s gonna get….BAM! God punches your ticket and calls up your number and your partner in this life down here on grubby old earth is ripped out of your life and you get left behind.

I remember once, still living at my parent’s house when we witnessed our family cat stalk and catch a mallard duck. I don’t recall if it was male or female but the fury of the response, the retaliation or attempt to rescue the duck from our cats jaws involved the duck (not attacked) and even us…he had it by the neck and had killed it.

Hours later I saw the mate to the duck that was killed, walking along the river bank (my parent’s house sits on the edge of the Passaic river). This duck was wandering about like it was lost. Looking at the remains of the duck our cat successfully hunted and killed in the yard. At the time it was the saddest thing I had ever seen in my life. Ducks mate for life. This duck now left behind who until an hour earlier was probably the happiest duck on earth, was now all alone.

Life does that sometimes. We can’t win. All we get is the time we get and we forget to make the most of it. Because before we know it, it’s all over.

There are days when I think of my mom and miss her (even though I never fully understood who she was the whole time I knew her)…which leads me back to my dad, wandering around now without his mate. Who until a year and a half ago was probably the happiest guy on the earth, thinking he had at least another decade with my mom by his side…

We learned the other day another friend/acquaintance we came to know a little bit during Eric’s pre-school days had died from his second battle with cancer. Tony had testicular cancer and treated it and beat it nearly 5 years earlier. When it turned up again his wife told us he was hard to get to go to CT scans when he had it the first time (before their daughter was born). So when given the chance back then he decided to not follow his doctor’s suggestions and missed or skipped his last treatment/surgery.

Tony’s cancer came back with a vengeance and almost two years later his wife is now a widow and their daughter who should be Eric’s age (about 7) is fatherless. And I’m sure Kristen felt she had decades to grow old with Tony by her side. And like that mallard duck she is adjusting to life without her mate, taken away “just like that” never to be seen with human eyes again.

Life sucks! 

The built-in capacity to love and lose but live and experience all sorts of amazing things with the people you love is a complicated puzzle of epic proportions. I can’t figure it out. But looking at these pictures reminds me of how life in and of itself is short and to the point and fighting over something stupid is just wasting precious time.

It’s over before we know it. I have entertained my own mortality, when we didn’t know what was going on with my two cancer’s at the time. Having imagined my family living without me in their lives was enormous. Just being a face in a picture that can’t talk back. That can’t hug back. That can’t kiss back.

Our lives are fleeting. A vapor. My mom was 62. My grandmother was 60.

I am going to be 41 in just a couple of weeks. So barring anything unforeseen (which is everything) I need to break 63 before calling it a life. When you look at how far away that is for me right now…it might as well be two weekends away.

Before Dawn and I know it, our kids will be dating, engaged. Married etc. Life keeps moving forward. It has to…we do too. It’s not easy to let go but it’s all about “the dash” on our head stones. That “dash” means we have lived. Even if it has been cut short. The dash means everything. And it is something we all will have in common someday,  no matter who you are or where you come from. We all started somewhere and we will all end somewhere.

It’s what happens in between (the dash) that matters.

Please give some one a hug and a kiss.

-S. 🙂 hanging in there.

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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untitled

rainy day headache

just enough to be annoying

awkward white boy

inconsiderate something

opinionated asshole

nothing nice to say

five finger discount

maybe it’s me

missionary positions

angry young man

partly cranky

personality disorder

life is sexually transmitted

nothing original

previously cared

formerly yours

full of myself

truth hits everybody

hell with it

uncommon nonsense

burned bridges

no looking back

oat soda

shark infested waters

automatic soup

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Can Only Imagine

I have heard this song before.

But I came accross it on my ride home tonight, and it was the first time I had heard it since my mother died.

Hit me right between the eyes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWMk_MoFTFM

Be well

Published in: on September 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

NUMB

“I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child has grown. The dream is gone. I…have become comfortably numb” -Pink Floyd.

I have been “numb” for about a week now.

Emotional Numbing symptoms are defined as:

A loss of interest in important, once positive, activities./Feeling distant from others. /Experiencing difficulties having positive feelings, such as happiness or love.

The catalyst for this was the mishandling of a few choice words that set off a string of events that have rendered me emotionless. I feel dead inside to everything it seems. 

I feel nothing.

So, I have decided to evaluate what is important to me and prioritize accordingly. I need to discard what is no longer moving me forward and simplify the rest of my life from there.

This re-evaluation could take a while. What I will do once I have sorted out what to keep and what to do without is beyond me.

Maybe its just time to sort things through. I am fast approaching 41 and this last year for me has been quite a ride. This might just be a natural progression of reassessment and reassignment of people, places and things in my everyday operating life. It might have something to do with tidying up after my mother’s death and adjusting to life with my dad as a widower. It probably has something to do with this past weeks events. It may be an involuntary need to shakedown stressors and find relief from some physical and emotional pain I have had recently.

It may also have a lot to do with a job change taking shape of the coming weeks and the decisions I made to take this job. There are certain intangibles that other people might question and doubt or not fully understand because they are not me. They are not living in my skin.

I just need to look at life my clearly and adjust settings to proper levels and right my ship as it were, I need to focus on my true north. (as if I knew what that was or is supposed to be…as if any of us know what that was, or is supposed to be)

Where people, places and things rate in my life after today will not be evident to anyone. Only I will know. I keep a list.

It’s tucked into the farthest corner of my heart.

Where no one has ever been!

This list is being rewritten as well.

Maybe it’s just part of growing up. I am taking stock. I am moving the pieces on the game board that is my life and preparing for my next move.

In the long run, I just hope it’s a good move.

Only time will tell.

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment