Don’t Go Crazy on Purpose – 3 Ways to Understand the Power Inside You.

1974: “She went crazy on purpose because she had you!”

1959:  The same Long Island Rail Road schedule followed every week. Sundays. When most people were asleep. When humans of the mainstream were hiding under bed covers to escape personal asylum, he embraced discomfort. He ventured out in it. He traveled on the fringe of time. Early. On Sunday.

Like a soldier who accepted and knew his duty. He carried on. Tired. Only one name compelled him to tremble. It was rarely spoken. Except for Sunday. Sunday was different. Her name was all he could think of. On the long trip he tried to remember what her voice sounded like. He worked hard at this. At times, he was upset with himself because he felt her voice slip away deep into the past.

The Sunday ritual should have been comfortable. Or at the least, accepted by then. Nineteen years of the same routine, facing the same distant stare from a bed. His wife. His Josephine. It starts all over again. Every week. His journey to the silent. The only women he ever knew and loved. Gone for 19 years but still breathing. A shell.

Two hours from now he would enter a tiny room, lead painted white, half battleship gray. Eternally cold. Even in summer. At least that’s what I remember. Joseph told me so. He was solemn as he entered a world that would remain silent. He respected what he couldn’t understand. Perhaps it was out of respect. Out of loss. I know he screamed a lot inside. He told me that, too.

Kings Park Psychiatric Center was Josephine’s home for close to two decades. Immediately after she gave birth in 1940, something happened. Something bad. She suffered a stroke as soon as the baby was delivered. By the time the baby, a new daughter, was cleaned up and presented, Josephine could barely speak or move her arms.

Joseph lost it too. He was an immigrant from Italy, his English broken,  but he was able to clearly mutter two words. Again, from what he told me. From what I remember.

My God.”

Allegedly, Kings Park was haunted. I believe it.

This Sunday, 1959, November was different. Joseph was able to borrow his boss’ car. A Buick. The Kings Park doctors were going to allow Joseph to take Josephine on a road trip to Brooklyn. Her daughter was going to be married in a few weeks. Josephine was aware, sort of aware. Partly in this world, one foot in another. She couldn’t speak any longer. No voice at all. She knew she had a daughter, however. Josephine sort of knew her mother was raising the child as her own.

It was to be Joseph & Josephine together again. For a road trip. For an introduction. The cover was going to come off, blown off, a family secret.  Revealed to an 18 year-old girl who was told her mother died during childbirth. And now at a pre-wedding party she was to be told the truth. In front of family. Two weeks before her nuptials. At a party.

Joseph purchased Josephine a new dress for the visit. It took him a month to save for it. He stocked food shelves for a small store in downtown Manhattan, lived in a tiny apartment close by the store. Never remarried. His daughter lived in a nice house with his mother-in-law, raising his only daughter. A subway ride away. In Brooklyn. His only real family. And he lived separated. As I mentioned: He existed on the fringe. For his wife and daughter. Oh, the in-laws adored him. His sacrifice. His dedication. But it wasn’t the same for him. He spent all his free time (for what it was) with Josephine and his only daughter. He was always traveling. A life on trains. He told me.

Joseph bought me a battery-operated aqua-colored locomotive that puffed real smoke. It was 99 cents. He told me that’s what it cost. I never forgot. He told me about all his time on trains. His thoughts while sitting. I felt how tortured he was. I heard the despair in his voice. I hugged him. I wanted to take the pain from him. I felt his chest sob. I still remember his tears on my forehead.

“Passion and love can cause tears.” He said that. I remember it. He was right. As I get older I realize how truly spot on grandpa was. I didn’t understand at the time. For a grocer he was the the most intuitive man on earth. He wasn’t ashamed to cry. I bet he cried a lot.

Random Thoughts:

1). Words Mean Everything. What you say to others counts. I imagine each word immediately gains 100 pounds when it leaves my mouth. I can feel the heaviness on my tongue. A sentence weighs a thousand pounds. Don’t say what you don’t mean. Mean what you say. Mean it deep. Last month, I received a twitter message from a person I haven’t spoken with in 15 years. She told me how words spoken by me changed her life for the better. Then I got to thinking: What have I said to others in the past that may have changed lives for the worse? I was a friend who provided sincere encouragement at the time. Remember your words weigh heavy. Screw all this “actions speak louder than words,” bullshit you hear.

2). Words Mean Everything. What you say to yourself counts. If you speak to yourself negatively, good things won’t happen. On occasion, bad things will. If you tell yourself you’ll be financially secure, your mind will work toward it (even without you knowing from a conscious level). If you say to yourself that you will be better – physically, mentally, it will happen. Never underestimate the power of words.

3). Words Written or Spoken Lead to Self Discovery. The more you communicate, the more you weigh the words, the more you shape the tone of those words, the more people can see you mean them (and they will) the more influence and power you’ll possess. The right people will love you more. The wrong will hate you more. I used the word “more,” more on purpose. Deal with it.

1974: “She went crazy on purpose because she had you!”

I screamed those words at her. Mom. She was pushing my buttons. Hard. She was drunk. She hit me. I hit her back. There was blood everywhere. From her nose. My nose. I meant it too. Josephine went insane because she saw your future, mom!! She saw what a miserable human, horrible mother you were going to turn out to be and the disappointment was too much!!

She sat there. At the edge of the bathtub. Bleeding. She said: “I’m sorry.” That’s it. I stopped her in her tracks. My words hit harder than a palm against her face. I knew they would.

Grandpa Joseph told me about his mistake. He saw a change in his girl. When he wheeled in Josephine and introduced her to his daughter. He said the words he knew changed his daughter forever. But it was too late.

“This is your real momma, honey.”

I barely remember what Grandpa Joseph looked like. I can’t recall his voice at all. But I remember the words he spoke to me. I remember what he told me.

Like it was yesterday. I remember the words I said to mom. Like it was yesterday almost 40 years ago.

Who will remember your words?

Today.

40 years from now.

Will those words comfort you or drive you insane?

You choose.

Your Personal Declaration of Independence – How to be Reborn on the 5th of July.

“The brick is on fire!” Donna screamed.

Pointing feverishly to the Armeggedon in front of me. She was long at my back. Way back from my back. Like to the doorway to the exit to the floor below.

Are you lighting the right passions? What is your focus?

And it was.But if (when) you stepped away, the bricks engulfed in flame was the least of my problems.A good part of the apartment building’s roof was engulfed. It was a super-hot Fourth of July, too. 1976.

The tenement building’s roof was my personal summer sticky playground and now my playground was in danger of melting.

At least if a Brooklyn FD unit was in my future, I was wearing pants this time around. The last time fire trucks showed up I had my bare bottom stuck to hot asphalt. This time? I was prepared! Pants locked. Secured.

It all happened so fast. This was supposed to be the best fourth ever too. Portable radio, new hibachi (tiny, best BBQ ever), and $200 worth of assorted fireworks (that was a fortune for me). A fortune for 1976. Hey, it was the bicentennial. A big deal. I wanted a big bang to celebrate (from Donna too who wore a July 4 themed tube top ready for removal).

For those of you too young to know what “Hibachi,” is.

The wind was unusual. Air was still. Then a gust. Still. A gust. Let’s say it was damn unusual. I placed the first (of what I thought would be many) of the colorful fireworks, cone shaped, on the ledge of the roof facing the street.I was going to orchestrate the most impressive pyrotechnics display these sweaty bastards ever saw. Happy 200th birthday, America!!

I lit the fuse and stepped back. Excited. Then it hit me. A formula for disaster was right before my eyes.

Wind Gust + Huge Paper Grocery Bag of Fireworks On Roof Floor + Ignited Fuse =

Brooklyn rooftops were both beautiful & dangerous.

I couldn’t have planned a  more perfect disaster. The wind knocked the cone directly into the bag. Then the real show began.Before it was over, there was a flaming pile of ash and a trail from the wind swirling remnants of fiery trash now starting fires all over the roof.Flaming fireworks were now raining down on the courtyard too.

I dreadfully imagined the emergency call to the FDNY this time:

“The roof of _____? Is it the kid who had his genitals stuck? He’s at it again?”

Hey, it wasn’t my fault!!!! I didn’t plan this!!

Or did I?

Fuck off!! I’m the victim here!!!!

Was I?

I needed to face smoldering facts. I was turning into a human I didn’t want to be. A person worse than a hoodlum. My soul was on fire.

My mother always blamed everyone else for her troubles, her fate, even though she was responsible for what lit her fuse and how she crashed and burned. Over and over again.

Turning into my mother was the worst thing I could imagine. In the flames I was still. I was hoping to burn. Donna? Long gone. On the phone with the fire department.

I was next. Ready to burn. Ready to be consumed by the hell fire of a victim’s mentality.

I imagined myself a scarred drone. A victimless victim. An ash hit my face. I left it alone. To wake me up.  I was not going to fall for the hypnotic bad flames around me. I was bigger than the fire now.If there was indeed going to be fires, I was going to make damn sure I was responsible for them. I was going to use them to fuel my path. Out of this neighborhood. No more rooftops. No more bare ass to asphalt. And I was going to make sure my fires were mostly for good things. Not for ruining property. My beloved roof. Scarred forever.

At 12 years old I declared my independence. Never looked back. Little did I know when my mother left town forever a year later with a guy she knew for a week, this move would serve me well.

On July 4 we celebrated. We took back America. The one we remember or at least, like to remember. The one of loyalty, love, faith, friendship. The old of glory. The flames of patriotism and of course, independence.

Then July 5 rolls around. And it’s over. We are slaves again. Slaves to debt, slaves to overwhelming bosses and the corporations they serve, slaves to politics, slaves to shit we don’t need. We lose ourselves in the bad flames. Next 4th of July we’ll restore our faith again. Not good enough. It’s time to light your fuse.

No. A year is too damn far away. Today, July 5. You will be reborn. Today is your personal independence day. How will you create and serve this noble purpose?

How would you begin your PDI? What will be your Personal Declaration of Independence?

Random Thoughts:

1). Burn (or blow up) Bridges. Set to flame those people who don’t ignite your passions, your creativity, your strengths, your will to live. You’ve already identified them you just haven’t had the guts to set the bridges on fire. Not literally. Put away the lighter fluid. Don’t even call these pricks. Just stop communication. Walk out. Get an attorney if you’re married. Nothing wrong with using the laws of the land to light the dynamite.

2). Be a Firestarter. Direct your fire slowly to those activities, the people, the materials that enhance your intelligence, bolster your wealth, lighten your mood and encourage you. Light the spark every day. At the end of the day, be thankful you were able to set good thoughts ablaze. Be thankful for the firestarters.

3). Who Holds the Fire Extinguisher Now? Or who is out to hose you? I’ve identified real false fire gods. They lurk in the coals of corporate America. You think they’re mentors. They are. Up until you stop chugging the Kool-Aid and speak out against an action that’s inappropriate to the customers or clients you serve.

Do that and you’re dead. Even if you speak out once. Dead. Covered in white foam. Your career fire is out. Just like that. What the hell happened?

Create a personal, small rebellion (which will turn out to be BIG) against corporate America. Corporate America is no longer your friend if you’re an employee. Although, you’re extra, extra special as a shareholder or a bondholder.

As a worker, you’re drudge at the bottom of a drudge bucket. Yes, there are exceptions but not as many as you think. Every corporate action that is taken and will be taken going forward will be to drain more life out of you and take time away from your family. All for the sake of fatter profit margins. All to appease Wall Street analysts. You work for Wall Street now. It doesn’t matter what your check says. Your corporate mentors will spoon feed you, pacify you until you speak up. It only takes one time.

After the financial crisis in 2008, behind the doors of mahogany boardrooms I’m thoroughly convinced that corporate decisions makers know they have you over a barrel. They’re willing to take advantage of the situation for as long as possible. They want the fire in your soul until there’s nothing left.

You’ll work longer hours for less pay. You’ll progressively be thrown lofty goals soaked in management hubris, which will be increasingly impossible to meet. And when you don’t meet or exceed these hurdles you’ll be written up or threatened with firing.

The future indicates you’ll need to deal with greater “innovation” from middle managers who consistently need to work off your sweat equity to enhance their miserable careers. You have now become a flesh cog in the corporate machine until the scales balance more in labor’s favor. It will happen someday. They’ll be more workers seeking to break free. For now? You’re screwed.

Don’t be a victim. What actions can you take today to further strengthen your personal declaration of independence. Knowing your enemy helps. Some dress well and talk sharp. Take what you can get. Be respectful. But never trust corporate mentors.

4). Positive Fires Rage through Humility. I’ve heard America likes overachievers. I don’t believe it. People will sincerely appreciate your help but don’t fall too in love with yourself. Remain humble and grateful in your life and in your delivery of guidance. Overachieve in your heart and be thankful when people recognize and commend your fires.

God will bless you and people will actually heed your words. Humble also means you have a fire to constantly gain knowledge. You can never know or learn enough.

I never went up to the roof again. I left everything. For all I know, the Hibachi  and the radio are still up there.

The person I was remains in the brick of an urban hearth. The person I  was died in flames on July 4, 1976.

On July 5th,  I was reborn.

How will it happen for you?

Although on occasion, I miss the dirty beauty seen from a Brooklyn roof.

Life & Money Lessons out of Asphalt – The Parking Lot IS the Paradise.

Who watch is that?”

This dude is askin’ for trouble.

He came out of nowhere. Kept asking me about my wrist watch. Where I got it. Who made it. Too much focus on the watch.I knew what was coming. Why were criminals compelled to ask a bunch of questions before they violated your  already-diminished faith in humanity?

I guess it was sort of nice how muggers tried to warm you up for the kill back in the 70′s. At least that was my experience.

Today? No small talk. It’s right to eating your face. Everyone is under a time crunch. I mean everyone. At least another person was taking an interest even if he wanted to kill me.

I always wondered if this questioning technique was effective. I guess it did indeed work as I was ready to turn over a watch I knew I should have never worn to high school even before I recognized a six-inch stiletto blade ready for action.

It was my late grandfather’s gold watch, too. It was the first time I  wore it. I had enough sense to keep it home all this time but  sorrow got the best of me. Gramps died six months earlier and I was missing him.

I was late to class this particular day and to save time I cut through a paved parking lot (now more littered with broken glass, used condoms and tall weeds that eminated a foul odor).

He rose from behind the stink. The hurry in my step took my defenses down, my blinders were off and this time, the one time, it was a big mistake.

“Who make watch?”

Oh I don’t know. I think it was Timex, really. Most important was the person who wanted to make sure I owned the damn timepiece when he was gone. Now it was almost on to new ownership by a toothless bastard who badly needed a heroin fix.

Even I could tell and I never took a damn drug. Good for him. Wait until he tried to sell this thing. He thought he was twitching in the parking lot. Wait until shaky mugger was told by Mr. PawnBroker that it was worth $8 bucks. Maybe.

Yet to me, it was priceless. The days granddad came over after slaving hours stocking shelves in a grocery store. He reached out to hug me with that arm. That hand.  He was left handed (like me). The watch. I noticed. The fresh italian bread he cut, buttered and handed to me. The watch was on that arm. I noticed. When he took my hand to cross the street for ice cream with that hand. The watch. I noticed.

I did. Should have worn the button over the watch? Stupid.

This wasn’t my first criminal rodeo. When it came to muggings this was seemingly going to be my fifth go round.However. This time was different because I was going to adjust the outcome. I was going to see how this ended before it ended.

I was going to take control. In a parking lot loaded with more semen than I had in my little scrotum (and it was very little).

The parking lot became a “high-noon,” moment.

I asked Mr. Shaky with shaky knife: “Are you planning to take my watch?”

His face changed. The toothy grin was gone. The change was frightening actually. There was a demon in front of me. Even the shaky bakey stopped.

“Hands it over.”

Mr Knife made an appearance. Surprisingly pointed. No jitters.

“I have a hard time getting it off,” I said. All the time staring at him in the face-blood shot eyes.

He grabbed at it. Dropped the knife. I raised my arm, my right hand as steady as it can be (I was again, a leftie, so it wasn’t easy) and uppercut him with my bookbag. He fell.

On his back. He was shaky again. I got on top of him. I took an old condom and shoved it in his mouth. I took dog shit and shoved it in his mouth. I closed his jaw and then pushed his teeth together with my palm. Right until I saw (felt) him swallow the mix.

Now his blinders were down.

I took the knife. Thought about what I was going to do next. I was ready for anything. Someone was going to pay for the others who were able to mug me before. Before this. Before I possessed the will to fight for what was important. I held it to his throat and began to press. Now I was shaking.

                                                           Grandpa can you see me?

Some of your best lessons will occur in places you least expect.

Random Thoughts:

1). Learn anywhere. There are lessons in the rhythm of the world. Everywhere you go. Can you see them? Every day as I drive the toll road I pass a huge parking lot. It’s a place where automobiles are stored before they’re spidered out to car dealers. In late 2007, during the early stage of the financial crisis, this huge lot was EMPTY. It was then I realized the world had changed. The entire world stopped buying cars. I helped clients take action to protect. I watch that lot every day. It’s 25% empty now. I’m concerned.  Is your financial advisor truly watching what’s going on? Ask him or her. Ask for an opinion. Not the opinion of the firm they work for either.

2). Fight for what you believe in. The people you believe in. I will do what I can to promote my friends and mentors. I don’t care for anything in return yet I get everything in return. I will fight to keep the people I love even when they don’t love me and they try to stay away.  What or who will you fight for today?

3). Don’t let the status quo take your watch. When I reported my incident to NY’s Finest they advised me that I should have never worn the watch to school. I also should have never gone through that parking lot. Thanks. How helpful.  Who is stealing what you cherish today?

4). Don’t be afraid to move to ground level to survive. When you fight for what you believe in and it comes down to a good old gutter fight, I’m willing to pick up used condoms and dog crap with my bare hands. How will you get your hands dirty for what you believe in today?

In 1970, the legendary Joni Mitchell wrote and performed a song titled “Big Yellow Taxi.” It was one of my favorites growing up. I don’t know. It was full of whimsy. I don’t give a shit about the message about hugging the environment or whatever.

From Wikipedia. Where would we be without Wikipedia I mean really.

Mitchell got the idea for the song during a visit to Hawaii. She looked out of her hotel window at the spectacular Pacific mountain scenery, and then down to a parking lot.

Joni said this about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s:

I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.

A well-known line from the song: “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” For me, the parking lot was (is) the paradise.

I tossed the knife. As far as I could. I was out of energy. I did the best I could. The cheap watch was toast. Busted. The mugger was wide-eyed and still. Not blinking. I took what was left of Grandpa’s legacy and stuffed it in his shirt.

I got up. Went to class.

I realized the most valuable possession wasn’t the watch. I just didn’t realize it until I was late for school. On the day I cut through a parking lot.

I learned a valuable lesson, Joni. I’m sorry.

The world needs more parking lots.

I’m convinced.

Mental Images you Live and Die For.

The natural light, prismatic through stained glass was the strongest I can recall. But then I hadn’t stepped foot in a church in such a very long time. Perhaps it was just me that Saturday morning-inspired, taken, soulful, as I watched early morning sun embrace the face of  big wooden Jesus up on a cross behind the pulpit.

I stood 20 feet from an angel. She was standing center aisle, close to a row of seats nearest the front. It was a graduation morning. Garbled tones rose and carried from a thousand voices blended as one. The acoustics were amazing. I heard nothing as soon as I spotted her.

The floor was a sea of people. Most dressed in black and white at least from my point of view.  She stood there. Talking. Shaking hands. In red. Straight. Her erect posture noticeable. It never failed as long as I’ve known her. It was her way of standing up to the pain and kicking the ass out of the shit she endured in life. Her above-the-knee length designer dress color was bright, yet as deep as blood. The diffused light captured her big smile. Dimples still intact. Check.

At one point she stared. Dead center towards me. Yet, I could tell deep inside-she was looking directly through me. No connection. Even though there was a very strong bond a few short years earlier. I felt the most invisible I ever had in my entire life because indeed, I truly was invisible. I was in a house of God and he told me so.

Perhaps she didn’t notice me. Felt better to tell myself that.  Maybe her memory had blended me into the gray stream of the past where people’s faces customarily blur and dissolve.

I felt myself dissolve into a pew.

I remembered the funny things we did. How she laughed at my jokes and shook her head at my awkward gestures. All good. I walked toward her personal space. The closer I got the darker the red became. I felt sick to my stomach. There was much heat now. My face felt flush. I was dizzy. She was sitting now. Close to end of the aisle.

I can see clearer her other children there to witness the graduation of the eldest daughter, sister from high school.

Directly next to her was the fiance. I made my presence known. Quick. I wanted to get this over with.  I reached over the new guy. I didn’t introduce myself. He knew who I was I’m sure.  He was sort of thuggish in appearance. Chewing gum in a manner I found disrespectful for a church. Until that moment I had no idea what the hell that meant. The thought just popped into my head. A more well-mannered way of comparing penis size I guess (I would have lost for sure).

“I’m so glad to be here for ________ graduation. _________ invited me,”  I said because I believed I needed a valid excuse, possibly a notarized certificate of some sort, to be in attendance. The graduate did indeed invite me.

But it was strange. Afterall,  I was sludge from the past puncturing through the purity of her present and in a house of worship no less.

“Thank you for coming,” she now smiled. Right through me too. Close up. Shook my hand. Thank you for your patronage. All the while, gum chewer was watching me. I said nothing. I noticed the velocity of his chewing picked up. Loud now, or at the least-noticeable. I sort of liked that I shook up his cadence. I revel in small victories as I age!

I walked backwards away. Gone for good now. Fade to black or something darker.  I sat in the back of the church and experienced an incredible young lady graduate. Actually, I watched much youth overly excited about life. New adventures. Gave me faith.

I experienced the slight twinge of God again. Deep inside. Like a spirit sparked to life. I coughed because the feeling startled me. Was that wonderful spark now attempting to leave? Not sure. Not yet. Not here.

Random Thoughts:

1). Daily you die. Understand this now. Maybe it’s some asshole who cut you off in traffic or somebody left your life. You thought he/she cared but never really did. You feel like a jerk. Don’t know maybe you got the runs from a late-night drive through a Taco Bell. Whatever it is remember death to some degree is going to happen. You will stop breathing today. Face it. Recognize when the life light goes out. There’s going to be a setback. Some may shatter you, others provide a mere inconvenience. I’m not here to judge your obstacles. They’re all serious to us.

2). Light the spark as soon as humanly possible. If you go months, years, decades, before moving on it’s going to take much longer to ignite the positive spirit inside. I know. My spark has gone out many times. Hell, my pilot light has been obliterated a few times too. Try like hell to light up utilizing positive actions. What nurtures you? How can you work today towards re-building the warmth, the fire again? Is there one small step inside you?

You must nurture your spirit or it will exit. Permanently.

3). Be attentive to your relationship with money. If you overspend, only live for today, take on too much debt, you are killing yourself financially. Perhaps it’s a money imprint. You watched your parents make stupid decisions, you were never taught the basics.Maybe your parents were incredibly frugal and you’ve been fighting subconsciously  to detach from their habits (even if their good). Believe me I’ve seen this behavior many times.

Ask yourself: What is your money habitude? What type of money decisions, good or bad do you make over and over again?

Check out www.moneyhabitudes.com and order Syble Solomon’s Money Habitudes Cards. A modest expense. No, I don’t work for Syble nor am I rewarded financially by your purchase. I’ve used the cards. I complete this exercise with people on a regular basis.

From the website:

Although it’s fun and feels like a game, Money Habitudes tackles serious business: helping people talk about money, understand financial psychology and explain their money personality type. As a result, the innovative, hands-on tool  is used in a variety of ways:

Start great conversations about money and finances. Money is one of the most difficult subjects for people to discuss. As a fun and engaging conversation starter, Money Habitudes makes talking about money easy and approachable.

Provide AHA! insights regarding finances, relationships, career and lifestyle choices. Often, we don’t know why we do what we do with our personal finances. Money is the number one reason why couples fight and is frequently the reason people stay in dead-end jobs. The financial personality quiz aspect of the tool provides important insights about money issues.

A versatile tool. They can be used as a quick ice breaker or conversation starter, a standalone activity or as a class module in a class, workshop, or seminar. They are used by individuals and couples on their own, but are also trusted by financial, relationship and career professionals such as financial educators, financial planners, therapists and career coaches. And because the cards do not require deep financial knowledge and use broadly applicable statements, they are used across the age, income, and education spectrum.

Ok, that’s enough. You get it. Live again through smarter money decisions.

I smiled when I realized: I had died and lived again. All in a morning. In a church. Although I believed I didn’t belong. Out of place. It happened.

I left the graduation ceremony before it ended. I didn’t belong to that special moment when this girl now a grad, was ready and eager to embrace a new world. That was space reserved exclusively for celebration with current family and family-to-be. Not me. And I always knew (know) my place. It was ok.

I halted at the first step outside. Looked back. Winced up at the steeple. I thanked God for the moment. A mental image to live and die for.

I was convinced the day was going to end better than it started.

And that was a true blessing.