To Be The Best Feel The Worst: 6 Ways To Ride The Red Stain To Happiness.

Featured

I realized early on how perfect my parents desperately wanted me to be.

perfect boys

I’ll go ahead and say the entire planet from our modest Brooklyn apartment appeared more perfect than anything going on in my universe.

However, that didn’t matter. I was the “punching bag” for everything that went wrong. I took it upon myself to be the designated martyr for a bad marriage.

Isn’t that what perfect boys do?

I  fought for perfection inside my own head for years. I tried to control outcomes and then my actions which is ass backwards. Stupid. I was controlling the end of the road but not the construction and direction of the path (thank you for the awakening, Kamal Ravikant).

Flashback 1973. Nana’s Sunday dinner: Outnumbered by 30 hairy fingers grasping for semolina Italian bread, feeling overwhelmed before the big guns, the heaping platters of her finest creations were carried out from the kitchen – I was instructed (threatened) to never allow tomato sauce to meet my crisp button-down white shirt.

Huge challenge.

Ten minutes into the meal uncle Tommy screamed at dad, dad stood up, gave the finger and uncle Tommy would begin hurling Nana’s cannonball meatballs soaked in sauce like we were in the middle of an indoor snowmeat fight.

There I was.

In the red line of fire.

red stain

Dead husky boy. Sitting target. Praying. Watching the skies. Catching mom’s eyes staring at me with that menacing “remember what I told you about sauce on your shirt” look.

Awaiting the inevitable saucy fate to treat my shiny buttons a landing strip.

And I was.

Praying, praying, praying…

For a meatball to fall neatly on my plate.

Praying hard because the odds were not in my favor.

When the inevitable happened.

Red liquid was splattered across the front. Hot in my eyes. All I could think of was that scene in The Godfather when Sonny Corleone gets it at a toll booth. My dad dragged me to see the iconic flick at the Marlboro theater in Brooklyn.

I was shell shocked then.

And I was almost every Sunday.

Sonny Corleone.

Set up.

At the toll booth (dining room table).

sonny corleone

I believe if Sonny Corleone was smart, his guts and perseverance would have made him as popular as Charlie Gasparino, but what do I know?

“What did I say about getting sauce ON THAT SHIRT?”

Not easy to stay tight white when it’s raining marinara.

Yep, my fault. Again.

Always my fault.

You win.

I have no excuse.

Again, a pudgy Sonny Corleone hanging limp like a soaked rag doll from the driver’s side.

I had no chance.

And I lived my life as such.

For a long time.

Always avoiding the splatter that comes with trying new things.

Not allowed to mess up.

Or be in the vicinity of a mess up.

Afraid to fail.

Always stupid until proven different.

I had no chance.

And it almost killed me.

Because life lived with zest is the pulsating exhilaration of a red stain.

If it wasn’t for the fear of god being placed in me about the sauce perhaps I would have ripped that stained white shirt off and sucked on the dripping Sicilian culinary art Nana Rose created with the reckless abandon of a 9 year old.

I would have loved it. Instead I was forced to act like a 40 year-old in a 9 year-old’s body.

Maybe I would have lived for the stain, not for the avoidance of it.

My brain was dying after decades of reliving those dinners.

And.

The rules. So many rules.

  1. Don’t sit on the couch, you’ll mess the pillows (everything was coated in plastic so what was the big deal).
  2. Never go out without a belt, your pants will fall down (no they won’t).
  3. You must wear socks AT ALL TIMES (to this day I’m hairless where the crew socks meet skin).
  4. All your shirts MUST BE WHITE AND THEY CAN’T GET DIRTY especially during Sunday dinner when your crazy relatives are THROWING FOOD AT EACH OTHER ABOVE YOUR HEAD.
  5. Don’t leave the Barbie doll alone and naked inside the GI Joe Headquarters.

So many rules my head would swim.

They owned me. I was a rules bitch. Rules created by others.

Not me.

I carried them through adulthood; it limited my life to a tiny square mental box.

When it came to taking risks.

Because it was always about the stains.

Stains were bad.

And the parents were clear: You cannot have stains on your white life.

And a stainless life is lifeless.

white shirt

I began to read more.

I started talking to thought leaders like James Altucher.

People in my field told me I was pretty good at what I did.

I started asking questions from those who knew more than me (I still do).

I freely shared my knowledge (regardless of what dad thought or my last employer believed – I’m not cattle, I have a brain).

My teachers have been there. No rules, broke rules. Created new rules.

I realized the rules enforced upon me in corporate America (the worst), married America, financial industry America needed REVISION.

I was out of my own skin with revelation. My mind was gone.

Three years lost in discovery.

I blanked out and was enlightened at the same time.

“Did you know you have a garlic press?” asked my friend Amy.

“I do?”

“Did you know you have spoons?”

“I do?”

“Do you see you have about a thousand ties?”

“I do?”

There was wear and tear to break the chains of the rules.

Real bloodshed. An organ and half. Gone.

A lawsuit.

Libel.

Slander.

My rewards for embracing the stain. Questioning the cooks in the kitchen who were adding poison to the food (that’s poetic license people, nobody got poisoned. Well, perhaps their money did) is not good for one’s health if you continue to swallow it.

To bust apart the rules society established for me (along with Catholic school nuns and deceased parents) I needed to feel and go through the worst.

To live.

Break through.

I learned to love the worst. I felt alive.

I was able to taste food again (I thought my taste buds were gone everything felt dead like cold mashed potatoes).

I began to explore new things.

I spoke up.

I began to write and share my mistakes.

I became aware and appreciative of the present moment.

I slayed my ego (needed a big knife).

I discovered I owned a garlic press and about 60 shirts with sales tags still attached to the sleeves.

garlic press

To be the best.

To create your rules.

You’ll need to go through some shit.

Wrestle with ghosts of the past until they let you go.

Because people are going to mock your rules.

You will knock them, too.

Because it’s not normal.

Or is it?

And who defines normal?

Society?

To do what society says you must?

That’s normal?

Fuck them.

Buy a house.

Go to college.

Don’t splash tomato sauce on your white shirt.

eats spaghetti

Whatever.

On occasion the paved road is a horrible way to travel. Once in awhile you’ll need to hit a pothole, go over an embankment.

To awaken.

Random Thoughts:

1). Be Clean. But understand it’s ok to get dirty when you need to. I’ve enjoyed tussling with a corporate bully, getting dragged through the worst muck of human behavior and beating myself with fear and anger.

I now enjoy the smell. There’s something gritty in the process of choosing and finding yourself. The bruises take on greater significance. I will spend the rest of my life helping others understand what this former employer truly is behind its “wholesome” facade.

“You learn to warrior up,” I imagine my friend Andrea saying that. I’m not afraid of the stains anymore. I greet them, earnestly.

2). Forget White. Be proud of your stains. You can’t avoid them. If you seek to reach a new level of thought, or feeling, or emotion the white shirt cannot remain white. White is colorless. Sure – You’ll fall, get beat, lose a piece of yourself. Marks will fade, scars will heal but they will always be a part of who you were before you were better. Good reminders. Rip open a scab on occasion. Feel the pain.Stain your life a bit. It’s fine.

3). Enjoy Meatballs.  I’m not ashamed. I got smacked for eating errant meatballs that made it to Nana’s linoleum floor. Never let anything get in the way of pursuing your meatballs no matter how messy it seems or how bad you look to others. Keep your eye (mouth) on the prize. I learned who accepted me for who I was. Nana did. Who are the people in your life who accept you for who you are, faults and all? Love them. Tell them you’re not perfect. They’re not either. There’s beauty in the rough edges of the human condition.

4). Think Simple. Managing your finances comes down to rules you follow, consistently – Rules based on behavior and attitude towards saving and debt. Even if you suck at investing (investing is icing on the cake, anyway) there are several core habits you’ll want under your belt first to accumulate the capital to invest when you feel comfortable to do so. If your consistent behavior is to funnel most of your take-home pay to reduce debt or make minimum payments on credit card balances; or if you’re an impulsive consumer without a budget, you’re never going to have the cash to invest and increase wealth. No meatballs for you until you face and correct your financial pitfalls.  Improvement begins today.

As my friend Linda says “you don’t have to humor me. I’m a godless pagan with a short temper and too much credit card debt.”

Be honest with yourself. Create your own rules that will lead to financial success. Seek an objective financial partner to hold you accountable. It’s ok to employ humor to make it through. Keep it real. So you fucked up. You needed those $300 shoes. It’s ok.

5). Don’t Overthink. As a kid I anticipated the most horrible things going on during those Sunday dinners. Like when uncle Vinnie cursed dad in broken English or Italian slang and the food would fly. Our brains, out of fear, will lead us to believe the worst is going to occur. Most of the time, your brain is wrong and the worst doesn’t happen. I can recall many dinners at Nana’s where everyone was civil. Imagine! And we enjoyed cannolis for dessert.

6). Forgiveness is for suckers. I don’t seek it; I don’t provide it. I’ve learned to appreciate the weakness in the human structure and absorb the lessons. Red stains that never fade. Every lesson adds dimension to the thought process.

To forgive is to ignore the gifts, bypass the wisdom of others. Refusing to forgive sharpens the blade. I’m happier to not forgive my parents for trying to make me “perfect.” It’s helped me appreciate my imperfections and form them into diamonds. Forgiveness saps energy and taps your resources that are designed to help you learn, teach, survive.

You’ll feel better holding on.

To the stains of others.

Converting them to energy.

“There’s bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet. No matter where you live. There will always be a few things, maybe several things, that you’re gonna find really difficult to forgive.”

The Mountain Goats – Up The Wolves.

There’s gonna be a party when the wolf comes home.

Imperfection is a wolf.

You own it.

Train it to fight.

Tear. Create edges.

Persevere.

Embrace the red stains.

Taste them.

And live again.

wolf

More to come on the red stain with insights from master wolf James Altucher and The Walking Dead’s Beth Greene and Daryl Dixon. 

Spend Your Way To Happiness: Five Ways To Do It.

I read 75 books a year.

Thank god for Kindle where I can highlight and store notes.

Don’t hate me.

It’s an illness. The thirst is quenched temporarily and it drowns me too.

I’m a slave to words. They own me.

Like good food or great conversation.

Sharing sparks with others; absorbing energy from people smarter and passionate than me.

I can’t get enough of the moments.

I’m nourished and starved at the same time.

book crazy

Associate professors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Noonan who wrote the book “Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending,” outline research which shows how money can do a better job of buying happiness – if you spend it right.

This book sticks with me.

Can you get a bigger bang for your happiness buck?

print your own

I think so.

How?

Random Thoughts:

1). Buy experiences. Research shows that spending on experiences edges out purchasing stuff as experiences create lifetime “feel good” moments through the connections to others. You relive memories forever; the novelty over of a new purchase is fleeting. After six months you don’t even care that the dog barfed up worms all over the buttery-leather back seats of your new (now old) ride.

We’re happy with things until we find out there are better things available. You’re happy with smart phone version 3 until version 4 comes out. Then you’re miserable. Who the hell needs this roller coaster? I’m done with this shit.

The authors’ research shows that people who pay for an experience in advance feel more satisfaction than those who get stuck with the bill months after the fun has ended.

2). Make it a treat. Abundance is the enemy of appreciation. Purchases that are special treats (a steak dinner, rich chocolate), memorable places for vacation, or annual traditions are most likely to create greater happiness per dollar spent.

McDonald’s has been the master of this mind melt (a shameless McPlay on words), for decades. They strategically roll out the McRib each year and fake-pork freaks go insane.

I’m guilty too.

I go apes**t over the Shamrock Shake. I’ve been in love with this green, minty, frosty mix since my first sip in 1977.

I’ve raised another generation of the Shamrock addicted, too.

Kudos, McDonald’s.

Kudos.

I’m ashamed.

Shameful Money.

shamrock shakes

It’s coming. The green I really care about – IS… COMING.

3). Buy time. Sacrificing free time just to save a little money will not make you happy. In fact you’ll be miserable. Driving an extra 20 minutes to save 5 cents on gas or purchasing a larger home in the suburbs farther from work appears to be a smart use of your money, but time is more precious.

Those who have more free time exercise more, do volunteer work and participate in other fulfilling activities linked to happiness. I bet they have better sex, too.

Hate them.

ben franklin

In between chasing naked French chicks 30 years younger than he, Ben Franklin was truly a genius (also because he chased and caught naked French chicks 30 years his junior).

Money is important, but time is indeed, more valuable.

4). Never buy flowers for anyone. Get yourself something nice. Flowers die. No pleasant experience here. Actually, there’s a law of diminishing returns with women the more flowers you send them. Save the money for an experience that will nourish your soul. Send a flower meme instead. It’s clever. It’ll cause a laugh.

Chicks like funny.

“Oh flowers. Again.”

“Thanksssss.”

Dead.

flowers

See – this shit is wittier. And cheaper. Happy money (in your wallet).

5). Pay it forward. Or back. The other day I gave a homeless guy a dollar. He told me my life was worth living. He altered my mood. For a buck. Best dollar I ever spent. If you owe a person money, make an effort to pay it back – salvage what’s left of a relationship.

Money is fleeting; good friends are worth more than a thousand fortunes.

slept with lohan

My daughter told me Shamrock Shake is back!

She had one today.

I’m out of here.

Off to make a memory.

Lending Money Can Be Dangerous To Your Wealth – 5 Ways To Protect Yourself.

Most of us have done it.

Don’t deny it.

I can see the scowl on your face when I ask the question.

How did lending money work out for you?

I understand the grimace.

grimace No, not THIS GRIMACE!

You’ve paid the price.

Lost money, lost friends, bad blood between family members.

What steps can you take to prevent falling into what I call the “kindness trap.”

Most likely, you don’t enjoy lending money to anyone. Admit it.

You do it because you care.

Deep down you know there’s a great chance the experience ends badly. But you’re willing to take the risk because you’re in DENIAL.

When you know the odds are close to 100% that lending money to friends and family is dangerous to your wealth. And you’ll never SEE IT AGAIN.

Here are steps to do it wisely (or not at all).

Random Thoughts:

1). Just say no – There’s nothing wrong with saying it: I do not lend money to friends or family.  Explain how you value the relationship too much to jeopardize it.

2). Consider it a gift right out of the gate. To keep the peace, I always think of loaned money as gifted money. It prevents hard feelings for people I care about.

3). Know your limits. Set a dollar threshold for lending. For example, establish a maximum. A client of mine has a steadfast rule: I will only lend up to $300. No more. So if I don’t get paid back, my finances won’t take a big hit.

4). Make it official. There should be a written agreement (term of loan, interest rate). Every month the IRS publishes an Index of Applicable Federal Rates that you can use to set your interest rate for the loan.  Ask your borrower to disclose his or her credit score. No. Demand it.

5). Multiple loans are a no-no. Don’t make it a habit of lending money. Never have more than one outstanding loan in existence at once. And be selective.  You don’t want to make lending money a habit.

And after lenders are stiffed once, they’re most like to treat their loans as expensive lessons they dare not repeat.

Neither should you.

Never forget what you paid in blood, in cash to learn it.

blood money

Dad Was Seduced By A Cougar: 4 Ways To Avoid Money Temptation.

Admittedly, she was a seductress.

Who could blame him for falling in love?

I still remember how she glistened in the summer sun.

Hot to the touch.

Smoking hot, actually.

I was as enamored as he was.

I was young, yet I remember like it was yesterday: “Her” name was Tammy.

Heck, I named everything “Tammy.” I had a mad crush on my babysitter.

1973Could be Tammy.

However, this “Tammy” was a 1969 Mercury Cougar convertible – a black-glazed exterior elegance with cool white leather underneath a rag top.

Great lines and tough to ignore.

cougar exterior

Years later, I learned the source of the money to purchase the sporty model was set aside by my mother’s hard-working father who came from Italy and lived in two rooms above a Mulberry Street, New York grocer – also his employer.

I can’t imagine how long it took papa to save $4,000. I’m sure his entire life –a respectable nest egg on his measly wages. I still admire his strong saving discipline.

Before he died, Giuseppe Zappello instructed his daughter: “This money I leave behind is to be used for Richard’s college education only.” He wrote his last instructions on crumpled note paper and gave it to mom shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer.

For Grandpa Joe, it was important that I further my education; it was his only request. I know he wasn’t enamored with my father and felt it important to outline how he wanted the money utilized.

Shortly after his death she decided to hand over the money for the purchase of an automobile, taking an action grandpa would have hated.

I’m being kind here.

I believe mom probably caused Papa Joe to roll over in his grave.

For years, it bothered me she made this decision; it was troublesome that dad was short-sighted, too. I can’t imagine blowing my daughter’s education fund on a car.

Bad money decisions tied to financial infidelity are not new. Family members can be affected by them for generations; money mindsets forever forged by them.

A recent survey conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) was conducted online among 2,035 adults 18 and older. The topic: Financial infidelity between partners. It was released on Valentine’s Day. Perfect.

From the results:

“According to the new survey, one in three couples who combine their finances admit to lying to their partner about money. The survey also finds that 76 percent of financial deceptions have an effect on the relationship.

The survey finds that three in 10 have hidden either a purchase, bank account, statement, bill, or cash from their partner or spouse. And 13 percent said they have committed more severe deceptions, like lying about the amount of debt that they owe or even the amount of income that they earn.”

I’ve been bad about following rules, especially when it comes to sharing my financial decisions with others. To be clear: I will share information however, I’m going to move forward on my intentions as long as no one is hurt financially, or others may prosper.

I admit – my money “imprint” is based on mom’s willingness to turn over my college fund to dad just so he can purchase a depreciating asset.

I ask:

Why is the definition of financial infidelity so narrow? Why can’t it occur between a parent and a child, friends, an individual’s actions vs. original intentions? Mom failed to follow through on grandpa’s last request.

She gave away blood money for a want, not a need which makes it more painful for me to understand.

She wasn’t strong enough to say “no” to my father.

just say no

Although, I believe a  measured dose of financial infidelity can be healthy.

For example, what if mom never told dad about the money earmarked for me? I figured the $4,000 she gave willingly could have been conservatively worth $8,000 by the time I needed it for college. Not a fortune, but it would have helped.

What can you do to avoid money temptation and financial infidelity?

Random Thoughts:

1). Broaden, outline and then communicate your definition of financial infidelity. Before marriage, make sure you communicate (write out and share) with your future partner specific actions you would classify as money cheating. I met with a couple recently where the man thought it was money infidelity for his fiancé to pay more than $10 for lunch without communicating with him first. In this case, the couple decided not to wed.

Consider broadening your definition to include those you care about including children. For example, I have clearly explained to my daughter how her college funds are for her, nobody else. Her mom is in agreement with this, too. If your definitions conflict or financial rules established are too restrictive at least it’s all out in the open for discussion.

2). Keep separate.  It’s important that separate property remain separate property. Assets held in trust should remain separate per the instructions of the grantor. Document each asset you plan to maintain apart from a future spouse. Communicate your intentions but don’t cross boundaries. These assets are yours. Don’t be talked into sharing.

Money earned before marriage should be maintained separately. If single, direct all your earnings into an individual account since wages, salaries and self-employment income will be considered community property in Texas (and other states) once you’re married. At that point, you should halt transfers of money into the account and maintain it as separate property going forward.

Inheritances need to be separate. It’s in your control to share. Or not. Your choice. Consider carefully whether or not sharing an asset with a spouse or future partner was truly the intention of the provider. In other words, think twice. Then think again. If you do decide to share, document the specific assets in question and sign along with the other receiving party.

Segment the cash you require to make daily purchases like lunches, nights out with friends, and clothes. I know a married couple who have agreed-upon “allowances” they direct automatically to separate accounts monthly from their joint account to cover personal expenses.

If additional money is required, they communicate and then jointly approve or disapprove the requests. I found this method effective for record keeping and accountability. It’s also useful to early detect wayward spending patterns.

3). Keep together. Property purchased during the marriage may be held in joint ownership. A bank, investment account, real estate held jointly is common and advisable if you intend to leave the asset to a spouse upon death. Depending on the size of your joint estate ($5 million or more), it’s advisable to seek an estate planning attorney to create trusts that will preserve estate-tax exemptions and outline your intentions for beneficiary distributions years past your death.

4). Keep away.  If you establish a custodial account for your child keep in mind that the money placed into it is considered an irrevocable gift. In other words, at age 21, the custodian (you) must turn over the asset to the former minor regardless of how uncertain you are of your child’s maturity level at the time of the transfer.

Custodial accounts are easy to establish which is a reason why they’re appealing. However, once money is deposited, it’s no longer yours. There have been cases where former minors have sued parents when custodial assets haven’t been turned over in a timely basis or were not notified of the accounts.

The lesson here is that assets earmarked for children and other loved ones should be considered solely for their current or future benefit. Keep your discipline. Strong mental boundaries should be maintained.

Make sure your intentions to keep away are clear to others.

And perhaps you’ll avoid being seduced by Cougars or other large purchases that drive across your path.

Classic cars are not cheap.

The Premarital Lovin’ Laws – Consider the Money Strings Before the Rings.

Featured

There are many challenges to consider when it comes to taking a big step like marriage; conflicting money philosophies can wreak havoc on a relationship.

bad marriage

You don’t need be money twins about financial matters, just hold similar core values. If the relationship with money varies dramatically from your beau’s, you can rest assured conflict will eventually tarnish the bliss.

You may scoff at these overtures; some may appear radical. However, before the rings, discuss the strings. Money strings are the beginning of good or bad threads you’re going to bring to a marriage tapestry.

Here are a few money smart steps to consider:

1). In Lieu of a Wedding Throw a Debt-Relief Gathering – How romantic to slay one of the financial beasts of a successful long-term commitment. Forgo a wedding reception – throw a party for a quarter of the expense. On average U.S. couples spend more than $25,000 on a wedding. If you’re saddled with revolving debt like auto loans and credit cards, then it may be best to use gifts to pay them off or pay down debt dramatically. Throw a nifty party and focus monetary gifts on debt.

Create a written promise to each other that out-of-control debt monsters shall never arise from the dead.

debt monster

2). Create a Personalized Series of Make-or-Break Rules – If you’re serious, well then either the matrimony activities continue, are postponed or cease entirely based on jointly-held money rules.

Be specific when you create them. Here are examples:

If our individual credit scores are less than 700 (based on Fair Isaacs) then marriage needs to be postponed until scores are at least at or above the national average of 723. Marginal credit scores can mean more interest paid on loans including mortgage alternatives. Examine and follow steps to increase your scores on www.myfico.com and re-visit this commitment in six months.

I shall provide proof of my good money habits before the marriage commitment is made. Get ready for money vulnerability – break out your budget history, open the Quicken, outwardly show that you’re taking health care insurance and disability coverage at work. Divulge your liabilities (of the financial kind). Too much debt, lack of insurance and absence of discipline may encourage you to reconsider a marriage at this time.

If individual monthly debts are greater than 25% of our gross monthly incomes, then marriage needs to be postponed until debts fall below set thresholds. I know. I’m taking all the heart out of this, and that’s exactly the point.

As a famous Godfather once lamented: “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.”

godfather

3). Write out your Personal Money Philosophy and Share it with your Future Partner – If you’ve never formally considered a money philosophy it’s an opportune time to think it through. And you do have one; your money DNA has been with you since youth. It was formed by your parents, friends, and other outside influences. Share the details of this exercise with your partner, yet work on this project alone.

The end result is a couple of sentences that spell out sincere reflection about your ongoing relationship with money.

Here are a few shared with me:

I’ve been afraid of debt for a long time and feel compelled to pay off debts quickly. My parents taught me to not dig a hole I can’t climb out of and I’ve always been that way.”

“I always make sure to have money in an emergency fund.?

“I try to save at least 5% of my salary in my 401K.”

These statements don’t need to be pretty, they need to be real and reflect values about finances.

Consider fun yet money awareness exercises with your financial partners like the card “game” available at www.moneyhabitudes.com. What an eye-opener when it comes to disclosing and understanding couples’ money personalities.

4). Consider Money Vows at the Wedding – Really want to shake things up? How about a money promise as a tie that binds? I’m not kidding! Here are examples from couples who incorporated money messages in their vows:

“I promise to never make a big purchase without you.”

“I promise to never hide a financial mistake from you.”

“I hope for mutual respect and open communication if money issues arise in our marriage.”

death wise

Well, you get the point.

It all seems romantic to me, but then I’m a money guy.

What rules and tips can you create today around  a successful money and marriage partnership?

In The Trenches: 5 Ways to Fight Bullies and Survive.

Featured

In the blast furnace of confrontation.

You roil the beast and bleed out in the muck of a life that was simpler once but you can’t remember exactly when.

You change. Snap. Bit of both.

It’s an outer-body experience when forced to fight something bigger than you. The initial chill of a bully’s threat grabs your spine and tightens; ostensibly, the fear it thrives on whips around your core until it finds a place to settle in.

Take over.

And you don’t breathe. 

The absorption of my bully (a corporate-type with a rotted, cancerous core) stole 15 pounds from me in 10 days. I stopped eating. Little water intake. I became dangerously dehydrated. I permanently lost  50% kidney function.

No doubt it’s injurious when bully teeth find your weak spot. Organs cower.

Your brain shuts down. 

Permanent injury is always a risk when bullies are involved.

ice monster

But then.

Your will to survive jump starts; eventually you thrive with the bully tight inside.

You worry what will happen when the bully retreats.

Because now.

The cold is an ally; you understand it’s insidious nature like you were born with it.

Once a threat. Now a teacher.

And the lessons keep coming.

The knowledge is such a part of you now.

A hunger is fed to know more.

What once was ice is now heat.

It’s at that point the fear dissolves.

You pull in. Sharpen your weapons.

After all, there’s not much left to lose.

Because so much has been drained already.

Organs hurt.

Bruises erupt.

Several are yet to show.

You wonder how the damage will shape itself into arsenal.

Next year.

In a decade.

Every day you’re sharper. The will to fight returns.

Will you be the same?

Probably not.

It’s not bad, really.

It’s.

Different.

Raw.

You can taste the salt in the blood even when blood isn’t drawn.

dog battle

You’ve crossed over, jumped a fence, busted up who you were before. Rebuilt.

There’s a bit more dirt and grind in your thoughts, your decisions. You move slow.

Each step means more now.

Because in the heat of battle, it could be your last foot forward.

Step back and you may die.

As you push forward you may die too.

It feels like a no-win.

But you must fight your bullies sometimes.

No matter how small you are, there’s a way to shake up your giants.

Inside and out.

In the trenches of your mind, there’s a way to fight the bullies and survive.

stop bullying

Random Thoughts:

1). Bullies target your core & create fantasy. My corporate bullies deem me a “mole” for another organization (on public record) and are working diligently to destroy my 24-year career. When bullies start to punch, observe where the blows land. Notice the swings. Take them in.

Then wait.

Formulate strategy. You’ll need to be laser-targeted and long-term in approach. Expose bullies for what they are. The greater they are the more vulnerable they are, too. Maintain a cool head. Anger is part of their arsenal. Not yours.

Bullies despise negative exposure: They abhor the truth. Truth will can cause formidable injury to a bully. However, remember what I wrote: You’ll need to take the punches, see where they land and wait to strike. And always use the truth. That’s sufficient. Never slander.

2). Seek blood. Just decide carefully where and when the puncture wounds should enter. Seek to retaliate with surgical blades as bullies come running at you waving machetes. They won’t expect you to fight. They expect you to succumb. Hold them accountable. Use public forums. Bullies abhor their hypocrisy exposed.

demons cry It’s ok to make your bullies cry.

3). Don’t back down. Temporarily dazed, permanently scarred; the wounds will soon scab over. Treat them as badges of courage. Bullies will seek to wear you down, apply mental weight. They want you to die.  

Eat healthy. Create an aerobic exercise program and stick with it no matter how tired you are from their kicking.

4). Level the playing field. You can’t win fighting a bully head on. However, a well-galvanized army can help you detect vulnerabilities and create a flanking strategy. Out your bullies utilizing social media, contact radio and television media.

Gather the opinions of powerful people. Understand who’s ready to fight with you. You may be surprised by the size of your army. You may be shocked by who’s willing to help. Win the war one mind at a time. Chip away at a bully’s false sense of superiority; you can’t do it alone. As you settle to fight, you’ll gain indispensable knowledge of your own internal hard drive and wiring. Consider yourself a warrior. The war over a bully’s mind begins with harnessing the power of your own.

If your enemy is within, expose it. Others will hold you accountable for defeating it. People love a good comeback story.

5). Ego is a money thug. Bullies force you to maintain appearances. You’ll overspend, abuse credit, drain your wallet to keep up an image. Short-term satisfaction is your ego’s intention to weaken you, especially your finances.

I have been the target of bullies since childhood. I was overweight, held on to some respectable man boobs at age 11. Nurtured a crazy mother.

I was socially awkward.

I never knew what it was like to be the star jock, date a cheerleader.

I couldn’t play sports for shit (still can’t).

I’ve been bully food for 44 years.

And it was all for this time.

To fight.

Expose.

Win.

And appreciate the damaged road.

That awaits.

Because there’s victory.

In the crossing.

damaged road

The Deputy Comes Full Tolle: 4 Ways to Step Back to the Present.

“We let go of all if it & nobody dies.”

Let’s face it.rick grimes four

Rick Grimes has come to know his truth, especially as of late.

Slammed into what is. Punched out of what was.

Confronting rage in attack mode from within and outside fences will shower demons all around you. The confrontation will startle you into where you must be right now. It’s a trigger of sorts. A switch in your head that the primal core of survival, clicks on.

You choose to fight. Stand up for what you believe.

Or.

You fall apart.

Go insane.

Full steam down the road to nothing. The path with no light and a dead end. The gate closes. Locks on you. You can hear it. You shouldn’t travel this place, but it’s too late. The snap in your head is just too loud to resist.

You’re.

Steadfast. Blinders on.

Nothing left.

Die alive.

An alkaline spray fills your mouth, your throat surrenders.

Now you’re chewing on rust.

Liking the taste.

Before who you are drains.

Into blackness.

If you fail to accept the present and fall to the prison of the past, you’re doomed to make the same mistakes.

“Not after Woodbury. Not after Andrea.”

And Philip Blake fades to black.

Forever.

governor gun He was too far gone.

From the inner core of what made him human, humane, the former Georgia lawman had fallen in and out of inhumanity.

An old man believed perhaps a deputy was too far gone.

Until.

The stagger. A right foot. A step back. There it was. Did you see it in the mid-season finale? The empathetic-driven acting of Andrew Lincoln. 

To step back from the fence. I’m sure many didn’t notice. It was just a subtle move. A motion.

But it was important.

It motivated me enough to write this blog post.

It was raw acceptance of what is. Full engagement in the present.

Because we’ve all stepped back when an outside element so threatening shakes us. Erupts from a place inside so deep you can’t describe it.

change

It was a jolt, the shock of the blade. Ready to steal another from his inner circle. From a place behind the heart. Deep.

The moment Rick Grimes knew what he needed to do, to say. The moment he stepped back to push forward into the present. A re-focus on actions, not the outcome. A focus on what he was meant to do, to be.

governor sword

The deputy had indeed arrived (again).

“We all…can change.”

And it caused an old man to smile…

The thought of sacrifice rolled over the aged, former farmer.

Herschel knew. His work was done. And not wasted.

Rick understood the power of what was going down.

He’s shed blood. Lots of it: Those he cherished have bled. Young and old.

Too many times.

He’s mercifully released the living from walking death; others, he let them wander – a rotting stagger penance in-between life and eternity.

dead girl

“Everyone who’s alive right now.. Everyone who’s made it this far..

We’ve all done the worst kinds of things.

Just to stay alive.”

rick grimes five

The former deputy has been there – rotted in the mind.

Memories that linger and rattle like diseased bone. The past gripped Rick’s brain. Poisoned icy tentacles – the old bloodlines have long shriveled. He won’t let them die.

They walk through his head.

I understand.

You do it, too.

zombie lori

Rick allows the past to possess him; it controls his thoughts, guides his actions.

Until the moment.

The devil arrived – forced a response.

When all he’s counted on – the fences, defenses, were suddenly close to annihilation.

the gov kill them all Kill them all!

Everything you care about is in jeopardy.

There’s imminent danger of losing everything, including yourself.

It’s at that point, you change.

Live or you die.

Or die and you live.

Grasp for the black or the light.

It’s time to choose.

Think..

rick grimes two

What will you focus on right now to stay alive?

What stimulus initiates a bold action?

Anger from the past. Anxiety over what’s ahead.

“But we can still come back.”

How does one die to live again? To come back?

The Deputy decides.

“We get to come back… I know.”

Random Thoughts:

1). What will force you into the present? For me: Step back, then a tumble. A corporation I dedicated 14 years of time and blood turned on me, worked me out. The loss of a close friend. Financial distress, physical challenges, choked me into the present.

I gasped for air.

I felt myself go under. I went below surface.

Inside a mental steel trap I never thought I would be.

I found myself eating, sleeping, breathing less.

Saddled with nightmares for the hour a night I did manage to sleep.

For more than a couple of months in 2013, I died.I was walking but I was gone. I contemplated an exit to complete the circle. Thought it would bring relief.

I sought escape. Isolation.

I reached out to teachers: The Altuchers, a Ravikant. God, Buddha, John R. Cash.

rick grimes three

I wanted out of my skin. My diseased brain.

I was exhausting every resource fighting and resisting what was happening to me.

All the resistance caused further damage.

And.

Just as I was about to give up. 

A force out of nowhere slayed my demon.

governor death

A sharp sword of words pierced me.

“If you think about it, how much time do we spend in our heads wishing things were another way, beating ourselves up, beating others up, crafting a different past, wishing for a different future? All of this resistance. All of this pain.”

Kamal Ravikant.

As I feel the warmth and light on my face in 2014, I know the roads traveled to get to the present were indeed for the best. I don’t seek to look back at what’s caused me to begin to live again.

For you? The step back into the present will come from a pain so strong it will feel like your soul has been scorched. Whatever that is for you, you’ll know.

Keep an open mind, it may arrive out of nowhere.

Like a tank at a prison.

What a blessing it will turn out to be.

Although at first it will appear a curse.

dont look back Carl, don’t look back!

2). What actions will you focus on right now to stay alive? The present is all you have. The rest is ego. Vapor. Heavy mist that burns away. Are there words you can share that have the potential to alter someone’s path, make a positive impact, create laughter? What small action can you take after reading this, to choose yourself? Can you do it every day? How can you shed ego to face and release who you are? How much pain will it take to wake up? Everybody’s thresholds are different.

3). Do you fight or relent? Can you accomplish both? Try not to fight the change, it’s gonna happen anyway. Your ego will do anything and everything to hold on. Even if it means killing you to do it.  All the fight. The wear and tear. Just decide now to let it go. Make the decision. You’re facing the enemy today: It’s you. From that point, you can step back and then move on. Otherwise you’ll be stuck for a lifetime in blackness.

4). Be present in your financial footsteps. Every financial action you take now generates a ripple effect throughout your entire household balance sheet. The path of light when it comes to money is to control what you can – avoid ongoing credit card balances, don’t miss out on a company retirement plan match on contributions (this happens often), don’t compare (and beat) yourself to others who may appear to be in better financial shape than you are.

Friends (strangers) like to remind you how they have better stuff, more money saved, great investments that return more than the market.

Be skeptical.

Human nature motivates us to value something more simply because we own it. It’s called the endowment effect.

We’re also fraught with overconfidence when it comes to interpreting the returns on our investments.

To be truly aware, understand that people “embellish” to impress. It’s never too late to begin good financial habits. Comparisons to others will deter and frustrate. You’ll be stuck in an ego-driven, negative financial mindset.

You’re not too far gone.

No matter how old you are. 

And no matter how little you think you are.

Never underestimate your true bold nature.

To survive.

And prosper.

kids

What lessons learned – out of love from others – will come in handy right now?

To get your head straight.

“If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. As soon as you honor the present moment, unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

Eckhart Tolle

And a loved one, perhaps an old soul.

Smiles just for you…

Somewhere.

herschel smile