Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Journal Entry - New Beginnings

Thought of the day

Own and accept who you are as a person. Look deeply into yourself, evaluate the person you are, evaluate the experiences of your past, and determine what you have to offer the world. Each and every one of us has a unique set of skills we bring to the table that, when cultivated, become a valuable asset. For so long I looked at my life with disdain through the lens of social convention and wished to be someone else. I wished I had a father in my life, had more money growing up, wasn't mixed race, wasn't such a thinker who spent so much time evaluating everything around me, that I wasn't such a sexual being, that I could dance, went to college and earned a degree, and on rare occasions wished to be a different race due to how I was treated. I looked at other people's lives and perceived them to be better than mine and imagined what life would be like for me if I were them. What I didn't realize was that I was doing myself a disservice. I spent so much time wishing to be someone else and trying to fit into a mold that wasn't made for me that I lost valuable time that would've been better spent learning and developing my own attributes. I didn't understand that my life experiences gave me a special insight that others didn't have. I am able to understand and touch the lives of people that others I perceive as better than me couldn't  - or wouldn't if they could.
Whats more, when you accept and love yourself you exude a vibe of confidence that other people feel, identify with, are drawn to, and aspire to emulate. It's a well known fact that everyone has people that don't like them. Furthermore, there is always someone with more of a particular thing or attribute than you, so what's the benefit to acting like something you're not? No matter how great you become or how great you are perceived by others there will be someone else, past or present, who is/was perceived as greater. I'm not saying that we should all accept mediocrity or that we should stop striving to be better. I am suggesting quite the opposite! In order for us to be our best we must be ourselves and accept who we are. This will allow us to better know ourselves, our strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. Once we know that we can strive not to be different; but to be a better version of who we already are.

Trying to be something you're not is like being someone else's stunt double. The stunt double looks similar to the actor sufficient enough for them to do a stunt in place of the actor while still giving the appearnance to the viewer that the actor did the stunt. The stunt double essentially assumes the identity, for all intents and purposes, of the actor. Let's take this analogy a bit further and point out that actors themselves portray someone else. When we fashiorn ourselves after someone else, we run the risk that they themselves aren't being authentic in which case we would be copying a copy. Bottom line is that no matter how hard we try to be something else, we will never be as good as the original so our only option for true greatness is to love and be our original selves.

Since I decided to let go and be myself boldly I have been more happy and free than ever. I am no longer trapped by the web of peer pressure and social conformity. I am better able decide the direction of my life and subsequently follow along that path because I know and love who I am. This state of being has fostered confidence both in myself and those around me. As a result, more and more opportunities both professionally and interpersonally, have opened themselves up to me that were previously closed. Additionally, I don't have to worry about my true nature seeping out at the wrong times because there is no variance between who I am when alone versus who I am around other people. This frees me up to concentrate on the task at hand - self improvement.

When you do this, you will find that some people may walk away from you; but for every person who leaves there will be another who will take their place. What good about that is the new people are there because of who you actually are and not who you portray yourself to be. So be proud, stand tall, and love yourself!

Journal Entry

This past few weeks have been pretty awesome! I was finally able to take a real vacation where I was out of my element and able to "get away from it all". Thanks to a good friend I was able to go down to Miami and spend a few days. I had never been there before and I had a blast. The whole time I was there I didn't think about work, home, or any of the issues I had going on before I left. I just existed and enjoyed my surroundings such as they were. There was something cathartic about swimming in the ocean. It made me realize that there is so much out there in the world that is larger than both me and my problems. Being there was like stepping into a different world. There were so many things to see, so many things to do, and so many of my senses were engaged. Overall it was a good trip. Also, on the drive back I was able to stop by in Athens, Georgia to see my daughter. That was probably the best part of all. I wish I had more time with her, but the time I did have was better than none at all. It's so crazy that my little girl is all grown up and starting out on her own life. We were able to catch up a bit and kind of get reacquainted to the extent possible given the time we had. I learned that my daughter is a really smart and loving person. I also appreciate that in many ways she is doing better than I was at her age. I think that that is the very least a parent can hope for regarding their children.

Since I have been back though, things have become a bit different for me in that I have a new and fresh perspective on my life. I am now very thankful for all of the experiences in my life thus far both good and bad because it has given me so much insight and has enhanced my perception of many things from many different perspectives. I accept my path in life which has been inadvertently forged by me. I have learned that everything in my life to this point has happened to prepare me for the road ahead. So I now choose to embark on a journey that utilizes what I've learned along the way. You see, I used to be embarrassed about the fact that I was just a simple working class man who never went to college and who possessed only a GED. Now, I feel a bit differently. My life was meant for a different road. My degree is not from that of a university, but of the school of life. Not long ago I watched a speech by Steve Jobs where he spoke of connecting the dots of your past to shape your future and instantly identified with it. I'm now realize that all of the hardships I have been through, though mostly caused by my choices, are resources to be used to make me a stronger and better man. I have chosen to follow my heart and chase my dreams wholeheartedly. Additionally, I have chosen to own who I am and make my mistakes boldly as I perpetually strive towards perfection.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Journal Entry - There's no place like home.

Thought of the day

So often we get caught up in the rat race of life and forget to take time for ourselves. We have job responsibilities, familial responsibilities, financial responsibilities, relational responsibilities, parental responsibilities, and the list goes on. It just gets to be too much at times to the point where when we get a free moment we would rather sit mindless than to do something for ourselves. I don't mean do something monetary like buy a new outfit or go out to eat at a nice restaurant. While that has its place and should be done whenever possible, I think we need something that will give us a measure of rest. Many people don't think that men think this way, but for me, I need to take time to make my immediate surroundings comfortable - my apartment into a home. It's time for me to put up some decorations, paint the walls, and finish the several undone projects around the house. Where I live is supposed to be my sanctuary. It's supposed to be the place I go to recharge my batteries; but when there are bland colored walls, decorations stacked up in the corner, and random clutter strewn about, it makes the sanctuary feel more like a storage space and is quickly dismissed as another source of stress. When I dismiss it for too long, sensory adaptation kicks in, it becomes the new norm for me and I don't even realize how bad it really is. It's amazing how just a little bit of work each day on my immediate environment with the intent of making it more comfortable for me will do wonders for my mood while I'm there. 

There’s something to be said about having/creating a place that’s all your own. Many people talk about it but few actually do it for lack of knowing themselves well enough. How can you create something you like without first knowing what you like? I mean when you're in your own space, don't you want to be able to relax and enjoy whatever leisure activity suits you without thinking about what more needs to be done around the house; or have company over without giving much thought to the appearance of your home? The reality is that this gets overlooked because of stress. There are countless times after a hard day at work and dealing with life such as it is that I come home to a messy undone house and immediately get frustrated. The problem is that in those times I'm often just too stressed to care. Several times I have washed clothes only to continually pull from the clean clothes pile until it’s gone, drank from the carton in the fridge instead of washing a glass, or looked at an undone do-it-yourself project in contempt as if it were supposed to fix itself - and promptly walked away. Other times though, I've come home to a clean and tidy home and felt relief because there was very little or nothing at all left to do. It's a great feeling and one less stress on my plate.  

I urge you to take as much time as possible to do a little something to improve your surroundings. Get a plant, paint a wall, put up a new picture, break a project up into several bite-sized tasks. Just do something! Make your environment represent who you are. Even if all you do is make sure that your space is clean and tidy, it will be enough to provide you with a place where you can unwind. If you happen to live with someone that makes such a thing impossible, just choose one room in the house as yours and take care of that room. If you have no other option than to escape into your mind wherein you can imagine your perfect place, do it! Meditate on peaceful, happy, and prosperous things. There will come a day when you will have a space of your own and if you’ve already imagined it in your mind it will be that much easier to make it into a reality. Bottom line, find and create a place all your own wherein you can free your mind and relax. No one else will take care of you like you will so get crackin'! You'll be glad you did. 

Journal Entry

The last several days have been pretty interesting. Yesterday I decided to take the day off from work. I just didn't feel like going in. Sometimes a person has to take time for themselves. The problem was that I got nothing done, but I guess that's the point of taking a leisure day off from work. However, it got me to thinking about my surroundings and led me to the conclusion that I need to make my house feel more like a home. It's too sterile. I've way too many unfinished projects and clutter sitting around. I just get so stressed out from life and when I come home from doing maintenance, the last thing I want to do is more maintenance. It's just a bit embarrassing to look like I just moved into an apartment that I've been living in for over a year. It’s time for a little sprucing up around the Semaj household.

Then, a couple of days ago, to keep consistent with my string of good fortune, my car got broken into again resulting in a broken window and the loss of my DeWalt drill and another $100 tool. WTF?! I just had to replace the damn window about a month or so ago. It's a good thing I was able to install it myself for $25 or I would have been furious considering it would've cost over $200 to have someone else do it. I guess I should just count my blessings. It just pisses me off because I have to spend money that I don't have to replace my drill considering I use it quite often. That drill can turn a 45-minute job into 15 when compared to using a screwdriver. Anyone who has ever had to screw a long screw into wood using a plain old screwdriver knows how frustrating it can be. Oh well. It could be worse. They could've stolen my car or worse...my stereo! I needs ma music!

Finally to cap it all off, in an unusual turn of events, my youngest son's mother (and soon to be ex-wife. Thank the Lord Baby Jesus in the manger) gave me back some of the child support money that she received. She did this because she knows that living on less than $300 every two weeks is nearly impossible for me, and while I am grateful for her decision to do this considering how low on funds I am, I worry that she will use this as leverage against me. She frequently uses various things she does for me against me later. If possible, I would just get a second job; but due to being on call 24/7 it’s not going to happen. I mean what job do you know that will allow you to just walk out in the middle of a shift to go do work for another job? I know! No job will allow that. Once I get more side jobs it will be better. However, I digress. I can't ignore her effort in the off chance that it's actually genuine. I am willing to admit I may perceive this as being worse than it really is because when looking through resentment/anger-colored glasses it's hard to see/believe the good in any situation. I just don't feel like she deserves for me to be nice to her. She's already walking away from this marriage looking like a saint. Now I wasn't innocent in our relationship by any means, but I wasn't the only one guilty. That woman has a tongue like a razor blade and I'm sure she has a venom sac somewhere in her throat - and fangs that come out like on True Blood with which she pierces my soul with intent to suck out my will. I do my best to show some respect to her though for the sake of my son considering that's his mother. It's challenging though.

Until next time… 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Journal Entry - Daddy, you're not doing it right

Thought of the day

Men I speak specifically to you today about your daughters. I have an 18-year-old daughter and after recounting the events in my past I have come to the following conclusions. Cherish every moment you have with that beautiful little girl! Remember that she will not be a little girl forever. One day you will look up and she will be a grown woman dealing with real life and men like you and your friends - or worse yet your enemies. If you are the non-custodial parent don’t make excuses for why you can't do this or that. Just do it! The man who is in a relationship with your daughter's mother gets more time with your daughter than you so make your time count! Even if that man is a good man he is still not that girls biological father. You are! You don't want to be phased out and become insignificant. I mean we find creative ways to find time and money for pussy that we hardly care about, so how much more should we find a way to spend time with our daughters who are among the most revered and respected of all women in our lives? Tell her often how much you love her. Squeeze and kiss her at least daily or whenever possible. Please make sure she knows that she is beautiful and worthy of love - especially your love. Let her know that a woman’s worth is not defined by physical beauty but by her character. Show her how much you care by physically spending time with her. Have teatime with her, play dolls with her, take an interest in what she is interested in and do those things with her. Set the tone for what a good man is and how a good man treats a woman because she will look to your example whether conscious of it or not. 

If you’re married or otherwise in a relationship with her mother, show her how a man is supposed to love a woman by example. For that matter if you’re not in a relationship with the mother, out of respect for your daughter, show the mother proper respect while in her presence. You may hate her mother's guts but she is still her mother. 

I am not the one to really offer advice to anyone considering the condition of my life. I am just telling you all the things that I wish I would’ve either done or done better. Let my mistakes serve as a reminder of what can happen if you don't seize every moment possible to show your daughter how much you care. Remember that today’s daughters are tomorrow’s mothers and wives and that their fathers, good or bad, help define the manner in which they interact with men.

Journal entry

In an interesting turn of events, I just learned that my 18-year-old daughter and her 22-year-old boyfriend have been living with my ex-wife in Georgia not too far from UGA. This upsets me because my ex-wife lied to me previously by telling me that my daughter's boyfriend didn't live there. Basically, I'm the last one to know about this. Now, I completely disapprove of this decision for many reasons. However, the truth is that I have no real say in this matter because she is a legal adult. I'm so worried because my daughter is making some bad decisions right now behind this relationship. From my understanding they are working on getting jobs sufficient to support them living together on their own. Furthermore, while my daughter claims they are using condoms, she is not on birth control! WTF?! Has she learned nothing from my mistakes?  I mean, I was 17 when she was born! I feel that BOTH parties are responsible for ensuring that they use contraception. 

I think this is the most difficult part about parenting because when children become adults you can't control their actions via punishment or rules, and if they so choose, they can just move out of your house. More than anything I am hurt because I thought my daughter could trust me to talk to me about this stuff. I have never judged her. Perhaps the mistake lies in something more serious - not maintaining consistent communication and involvement. I've always paid child support and kept in contact but it seems it wasn't enough. I mean, that’s my little baby girl all grown up...well, legally anyway; and now she's living in the cruel world of adulthood. I hope she ends up better than me in the end. I just wonder what I did or didn't do that caused me to be left out of the loop...

...Just got off the phone with my daughter. Now I know why I'm out of the loop. Man, I am such an ass. In our conversation I asked her to be completely honest with me and tell me whether she trusts me enough to talk to me. Her response was, "I feel like you weren't around so much and you don't know me as a person well enough to tell me what to do with my life or offer advice." She also told me that she was upset that she couldn't be a big sister to my youngest son. She thought that I would’ve had her around more. The truth is I almost never have the money to fly her out to see me because of being broke so much. We haven't lived in the same state since she was eight years old. Looking back though, she is right. First of all, I should never have moved out of Washington where she lived at the time. It was a very foolish and selfish decision on my part. Second, in times past my finances haven't been so bad. I could've made better efforts to get the two of us together to see each other. Anyway, our conversation ended with her crying and handing the phone to my ex-wife. I wish she knew how much I love her. I have told her so many times over the years. I have made many bad decisions...selfish decisions. There are times that I wish she had a better man than I for a father. Well, I guess in a sense she can - if I become that better man. I just feel like I have failed her. It was my job to be a safe place for my daughter to come, but it remains apparent that I have failed in that regard. Damn!

Until next time...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Journal Entry - No money. No money! No money!!

Thought of the day

Perception is everything. One thing about the human brain is that whatever it perceives to be real is real. To me, that means if I change how I perceive things I can, in a sense, change my reality. I don't mean that I need to bury my head in the sand like a jackass and act like my problems aren't real. Instead it means that I need to look at my problems as challenges, and my life as an adventure. I possess the ability to change my life simply by following my passions and dreams. Yes, of course I have to do certain things in order to survive, but as long as I stay focused on where I want to be in the end I can change my life. I mean I didn't get into this mess that I'm in overnight. It's taken me the last 20 years to get to this point. However, I refuse to give up because I am not a victim of circumstance. I made choices in my life that brought me where I am to day and I can reverse that by making better choices moving forward.  You can do the same! Your circumstances may not be as bad as mine, or they may be worse. Either way the concept is still the same. You must accept that you are where you are mainly due to choices that YOU have made, and it will be YOU who must choose to get yourself out of it.  I watched a video by ET The Hip-Hop Preacher recently that said "When you want to succeed as badly as you want to breath - you will succeed." 

How badly do you want it? How badly do I want it? I guess we will find out.

Journal Entry

Today has been pretty okay. It went by pretty quickly because I had to go out to a property in Rockville to help out and there was a decent amount of work to do. I was a little bit nervous though because I had to drive about 30 miles round trip and I don't have a lot of gas left...and $30 left to last me until this coming Thursday. Man it sucks to be broke! The good thing is that I only need to make it until Wednesday and I have enough food to last me until then. I'm more nervous about the next two weeks following my next check though because I have car insurance and my cell phone bill to pay, which will leave me with maybe $75 left over. I see a lot of ramen noodles, beans, rice, oatmeal, and maybe eggs in my future. Oh well, things could be worse. It's just frustrating because before my youngest sons child support kicked in I was living on about $450 per biweekly check which was bad enough but now I'm reduced to $250. Who the fuck can survive on so little? At least my rent is covered because it comes directly out of my paycheck. I have to admit though that I am truly blessed because I live in the heart of Capitol Hill and I only pay about $450 per month for rent while most others in my building pay over $1000. My apartment is nice too. When I moved in I was able to install brand new cabinets, appliances, and redo the bathroom. The one major drawback is that I have paper thin walls and my neighbors hear everything from my guitar playing and singing to me having sex. One time recently while having sex in my own room, my neighbor banged on my wall to express her frustration with the noise. We weren't that loud either. It's not like we were screaming in pornographic decibel levels. It's all good though, I just consider it free advertisement. I do think it's time to start searching outside job opportunities though. 
To save money I've been cooking a lot more at home lately, which is something I don't typically do. I mean I love to cook but for some reason I am far less likely to cook just for myself than I am for someone else. There's something about doing something that you love and sharing it with someone. I'm finding that learning to live with less has removed a great deal of distraction from my life. This frees up more of my time to do other things like practice my guitar and write which are two things that I love to do and could definitely stand to do more of. I'm trying to stay positive and remember that there are many people who are far worse off than I am. It just gets harder and harder to do so with each new bill that comes in. I'm one small emergency away from a bad situation. I can't think about that though. The key for me is to realize and accept what is beyond my control and deal with what I can control.

What upsets me the most about this whole thing is that there are so many men out there that don't pay child support either because they duck and dodge or their children's mothers don't make them do so. That shit pisses me off! I mean, here I am barely scraping by because I pay what I owe and these other fucks get off scot-free. For example, my last girlfriend never took her son’s father to court and that dude makes well over six figures. He does send money and spend time with his son but he pays WAY less than he would through the court system. For that matter he has no set time to see his son but rather comes to see him when he has time. WTF?! Then she complains to me about how she doesn't get enough money from him and how she wishes he would come and get his son more often. I always wanted to tell her to shut the fuck up because she is allowing it to happen. I never did though because it's not my place and is frankly none of my business. I admit that I am a little bitter but I promise I am working on it. In the end I have the satisfaction of saying that I am one of the better ones. I am far from the best but I am not the worst. I don't judge those men though because who knows what they're dealing with in their lives. I'm just projecting my frustrations about being broke onto them. I mean, this is a journal so I have the right to vent right?  

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Journal Introduction

Today I embark on a new journey. Today I choose a path less traveled. Today I become transparent in the eyes of anyone who so chooses to see. My hope is that my story will help another person who has walked in my shoes; and perhaps give understanding to someone who is involved with someone who has walked in my shoes. You see, I believe that everyone wants to be able to look back on their life, regardless of age, sex, national origin, religion, etc and be happy with the decisions that they made. No one wants to play the woulda-coulda-shoulda game and live with regret. No one wants to feel like their life was a waste and that the world would've been better off if they had not been born. I have to admit that I have looked back…and I don't like what I see. While I am happy with who I am at my core, I am loathed to think about what would've been if I had made better decisions. However, I want to be a better person in the future; and to the extent I can, I want to help others do the same.

Me, now and age 4. 
For this reason I have decided to open myself up on a more personal level in my blog. I want to let people out there know that they are not alone in their struggle and things can get better! Admittedly, my life has not reached the point of "better". However, I have chosen to try and make that happen. There are many people out there who, like me, have been in many ways handed a raw deal in life and are left wanting when it comes to the help and support system necessary to thrive in a positive manner. Like me, they have tried desperately to be happy and to feel loved by another only to both hurt and be hurt by others. I don't propose to have the answers for anyone’s problems. Hell, I barely have the answers for my own. What I do have is a love for people, strong conviction, and a belief that true love, real friendship, and happiness exist for everyone if we so choose to pursue it. My thought is that by me being transparent, another person can benefit somehow by hearing my story. To this day, I still struggle, I still hurt, and I still long to find that happy place wherein I feel safe and loved. So, for those interested, lets struggle together.

From this point on I will be journaling my day to day life as well as going over past events in my life and giving my thoughts on what I thought went wrong and right. Hopefully it will provide you with insight on what made me what I am. In addition to my day to day journaling, I will be blogging about topics that pertain to my life such as it is, staying true to what I have called Life Liquid as I have defined in my opening blog post. I'm still working on the specifics of how it will all work, but for now I ask that you read my words and know that they come from the very depths of my soul with the purpose of helping us all be better lovers, parents, friends, and citizens. 
My mother and me

That being said, let me end this first journal entry by giving you a little of my background. I was born November 5, 1976 in Seattle, WA. According to my mother I was a product of rape, so of course I know nothing of my father. Neither do I know any of his family - my family. I was raised the only black child in a family of white people. This of course was never really weird to me because it was all I ever knew. They all treated me no different than anyone else; and for that I am thankful. I am the oldest of four boys and one girl. My mother's first husband, the first and only man I ever called dad, beat both my mother and me routinely when he got drunk or whenever he felt it necessary, and is the father of my sister and oldest younger brother. My second stepfather, who is 10 years older than I, is the father of my two youngest brothers. He was a pretty cool dude as he was the complete opposite of my first stepfather. His issue, quite honestly, was that he was a bit of a “floppy cock” who didn’t really stand up for himself. My mother has a strong personality and walked all over him. I personally think she stayed with him because she knew he would never beat her and accepted her with three kids. They to this day, though not together physically, are still married. Don’t ask me why 'cause I have no idea.

Me at age 17
At the age of 18 my girlfriend of three years got pregnant with my daughter who was born on July of 1994. At 18 I joined the military and, being pressured by my local church, got married becoming a husband and father of two children. Yes, two children. My first wife had a son when we met who is four years older than my daughter. Approximately seven years later, at 25, I got divorced. Not long thereafter I had a rebound relationship with another woman with whom I had my first son who was born in September of 2002. We, having no future together, separated and I moved to Kansas City, MO where I met my second wife. We married in 2006 and she gave birth to my youngest son in July of 2009. Then in January 2011 we movd to DC. We have since divorced and I now live the "single life" where I have decided to work on me and help raise my son. For the record, I pay child support and I am involved in my children's lives to the extent geography and the mothers allow. 

There is of course more to the story but that's just a start. Over time I will give more information about my past as you follow along with me on my journey towards a better tomorrow. On this journey, I promise one thing - I will give you the raw truth and I hope you will walk away with something positive. Please feel free to comment or ask me any questions you want, as I am always willing to share. 

Until next time...