Fly By The Seat Of One’s Pants

Know anyone who lives up to the idiom “Fly by the seat of one’s pants?” It’s basically a person who isn’t afraid to do something even though they don’t experience or training to do it.  I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing. I like to think of myself as someone who flies by the seat of my pants when it comes to facing different fears and insecurities in my life.  However, at one time I was the type of person who flew by the seat of my emotions and know quite a few people who still do.

These people seem to always let whatever emotions they’re feeling at the time, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, worry, ect, affect their behaviors and sometimes their actions towards others. Usually this is because they’ve done this all their lives and never practiced restraint or felt a need to change the way they behave. Mostly these types live in the extremes of happiness or the negative emotions they feel over their immediate circumstances.

It took me a long time to stop “living” by the seat of my emotions and simply begin living life. But eventually, through practice and help from people who weren’t afraid to point out my erratic and sometimes hurtful behavior’s, I found an emotional balance that has served me quite well over the years.

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Believing in Today’s Youth

We hear a lot of negative commentary about the youth of today. It would seem all teenagers use drugs and don’t care about anything except for their smart phones. However, I don’t believe this to be true. I think that the majority of teens have goals in life and act responsibly.

Granted the teenagers I worked with got into their share of trouble, but not many of them used drugs.  And despite recent reports that say alcohol and marijuana use among teens is on the rise, other reports show that most teenagers either no longer use drugs or never have.

It may also seem like there are more acts of violence among our youth today, and perhaps there are, but it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the norm.  I believe teenagers care more about the important things in life than we think they do, we just need to listen to them and let them know we care about them.

And without a doubt, we need to tell them we believe in them.

Perhaps having been a troubled teenager myself it strikes a nerve when I hear negative things about our youth, but there’s more to it than just that. I loved all the teenagers I worked with and I’m still in touch with some of them today. From what they tell me, I made a difference in their lives.

I know they certainly made a difference in mine.

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Music For The Soul

Due to the classroom antics I often displayed in my high school days, I was quite a handful for my teachers. But because most of them actually enjoyed my humor, they would actually let me entertain in class. Well at least for a little while.

One teacher in particular that I know I made laugh at times, even let me write poems on one of the blackboards every Friday. She was an English teacher who some of the students made fun of, but I never did. I was lousy at English though, because I never felt the need to know what things like adverbs and pronouns were. Looking back as a writer now, I certainly wish I would have cared more, but I did learn something important in that class.

She was announcing our final grades one day at the end of the school year, and when she came upon my name and grade, she announced with sternness and enthusiasm that she gave me a passing grade based solely on my classroom participation. This shocked me of course, as I thought I had surely failed English, until I realized this wasn’t just a reward for livening up her classroom. It was for making her life a little bit nicer by being kind to her.

After I graduated I heard she eventually left her job as a result of the torment she received by the students, and I hope where ever she is she sees this and remembers me.

I want her to know that although I may have made her time in class a little more enjoyable, she did more for me than just give me a passing grade. She made an insecure and fearful young teenager feel better about himself, and I will always remember her for that. I also hope my grammar has been correct throughout this post.

The following is a simple poem I wrote on her blackboard over 33 years ago. It doesn’t necessarily have a message to it, but I like the “music for the soul” part. I know this teacher had a good soul and enjoyed those Fridays when I would write my poems.

If Fridays were made for partyin

And music for the soul

Then let everyday be Friday

And everyone rock and roll

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Playing The Role of Victim

During my drinking days. I’d often play the role of a victim whenever I experienced unfortunate circumstances in my life. Poor me was always the theme that included anger and sadness, and as my self-pity grew, my anger usually turned into a deep-seated resentment that inevitability got me drunk.

This feeling of being a victim was also evident in some of the teenagers I worked with. Although many of them didn’t drink or do drugs, they would often dwell in their negative emotions and act out in ways that would get them in trouble. I will add, though, that many of the teenagers I worked with were indeed victims.

None of them asked for the awful childhoods they had that often involved bad parenting and an unstable environment, or worse. (Some had been abandoned as a child, and some were sexually or physically abused.)

Although I never pretended to understand what some of these young men had gone through, I was still able to help at some level because I understood some of the emotions they felt. I would talk openly about my childhood and adolescence years, and tell them what I did to stop playing the role of victim as an adult. But my main goal was to help them understand why they felt the way they did.

I had to build a lot of trust with these young men in order to get them to open up to me, and although I certainly didn’t gain every teen’s trust, the fact that so many of them talked to me about their lives made me feel more confident in the process.

Besides my story, I would tell them the stories of others I knew who went through horrible things as a child and teenager, and were still able to became emotionally well despite it. This more than anything else left them with an undeniable conclusion that whether we’re victims or not, it’s possible to change how we feel about our lives, and become a happier and stronger person in the process.

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The Greatest Love of All

I was fifteen years old when I first fell in love with a boxer named Muhammad Ali. I know that might sound strange, but I assure you, I’m not the only one that loves the man who was once The Heavyweight Champion of the World.  He has, however, always been much more than just a boxer to me and millions of others, and here’s why. The self-love he showed as a young man changed when he started to grow spiritually and as person, and as a result, he began to show more kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others, and slowly learned to love people unconditionally.

It’s been over 35 years since I began my love affair with the man who called himself “The Greatest.” And although he may not be the athlete he once was, I know his beliefs allow him to love who he is today. Of course at 52, I’m certainly not the athlete I once was either, but I can also say I love who I am today. It may have taken me awhile to achieve this self-love, but I did it the same way Ali did; through spiritual and personal growth.

When we try to grow on a continual basis, we begin to love ourselves enough to be happy with who we are, and eventually we love ourselves unconditionally. When we love ourselves unconditionally, it holds the promise of some day being able to love others unconditionally as well.

It may have taken Muhammad Ali time to be able to show everyone kindness, understanding, and tolerance. But the type of self-love he eventually possessed, not only allowed him to do those things at a greater level than most, it also allowed him to love “all” people unconditionally. That’s why learning to love ourselves truly is the greatest love of all.

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Spiritual Imperfection

To be perfect is to be entirely free of any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. I know I’m nowhere close to being a perfect person and that I never will be. However, I don’t really worry that much about my imperfections, or for that matter, the spiritual imperfections I also have.

I realize that part of spiritual growth is knowing I will always need to grow and that having imperfections is a part of who I am. I don’t necessarily like having them and I certainly don’t like seeing them in other people. But because I have learned to love myself unconditionally, I am slowly learning to love others unconditionally as well.

It needs to be noted, though, that our imperfections do not give any of us the right to hurt others, nor should they be used as an excuse for when we do. But if we honestly keep striving for personal and spiritual growth, even when we fall far short of being perfect, it’s still possible to love ourselves and be happy with who we are.

An unconditional love for ourselves that holds the promise of loving others in the same way, no matter what their imperfections may be.

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Finding Happiness When We’re Sad

I got my year book out the other day, and as I was looking at the pictures of my former classmates, some of who are gone now, I began to feel sad. Besides the nostalgia I felt,  my little trip down memory lane made me realize even more how precious time is.

As some of you know, after high school was over I spent a lot of time drinking and wasting precious moments of my life. But the good news is that I’ve been sober for close to fourteen years now, and over that time, I learned how to make each day the best I can.

Time has gone by quickly since high school. And although I wasted a lot of years drinking, I made up for it in the years I’ve been sober. I used that time to find greater happiness in life and help others realize two important things.  That they too can be happy without a drug and enjoy the time they have here, even when they’re sad.

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