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Saturday, December 28, 2013

We All Have A Secret - Here Is Mine

   
Those who read my short story last week will see the metaphorical reasons for why I put this picture here.

A few months ago I wrote a blog about an issue that I had developed with alcohol in the past and how I overcame that issue.  I still get emails concerning that particular piece and it remains one of the most popular blogs I have ever written, but I held off on the remainder of the story because I have always been apprehensive about where it would leave one's mind to make false assumptions about my character.  Some people have told me that it is stupid for me to tell the world about my struggles and battles and, with that should employ a more stringent filter when it comes to writing about myself.  The thing is, I do have a filter and I do try my hardest to keep anyone else in my life out of the subject matter of the more personal posts.   I tell you these stories about my life because of the responses I get from people I don't know.  Until you open yourself up and let some people in a bit, you have no idea who else takes solace in knowing they are not alone in a fight which is similar to your own.  Until a complete stranger confides in you and shares a similar story after doing a Google search and finding someone they can identify with through an experience posted online, you will never understand.  What am I talking about?  Hardly anyone knows about this, not even my parents, but they read these, so they're about to find out.  It's time I make mention of it.
  
 In 2009, I went to the doctor because something didn't feel right with me.  My daily life had become unreasonably difficult to deal with even though nothing in particular had provoked me to feel such a way.   I assumed I had some sort of virus which was making me nervous and worn out all the time as my motivation to do most things was also beginning to lag.  Going from living as a person of moderate energy to feeling as a useless and on-edge lump didn't sit well with me at all, but after some tests, I was found to be physically healthy.  I couldn't make any sense of it at that point and my PCP sent me to a specialist I didn't want to see who ended up giving me a diagnosis I didn't accept.  Two weeks later, I went back for a second opinion from a different doctor and she confirmed the same thing which I finally had to absorb that day - I have clinical depression.
  
 I never believed depression was a real thing.  As far as I was concerned, depression was an excuse made up by people who wanted to blame their problems on a condition and they could just snap out of it if they actually cared enough to try.  After the first opinion, weeks of research, and concluding with the second opinion, I realized just how wrong my ignorant assessment really was.  If you haven't experienced it, chances are you will never understand what the results and effects actually are.  Telling someone to go get help or express their feelings only gets them so far when they live with it on a daily basis because as anyone who carries this with them knows, it really isn't that simple.
   
During my last year in Seminary I didn't retain much but I did gain something valuable from my psychology professor.  After class one day, she and I talked about my diagnosis and I showed her the prescription I was written for a certain drug to fight my issue.  A prescription I had never filled.  Anyone who knows me is probably aware that I don't touch drugs, legal or not, and even over the counter medications are pushing it for me, so I was going to fight whatever I could to keep that prescription unfilled.  She and I talked that day, through email, as well as after class each week and doing so eventually helped me figure out the steps I could take to regulate my depression without being medicated.  Just like anything else, the method isn't foolproof, but I have brought it as near to perfection as I ever will at this point.  A good estimation on my end would be that I am completely stable ninety-nine percent of the time over the span of a year with that one percent breakdown popping up at some point, all at once. 
  
 The funny thing about all of this is how my perceptions of certain issues have changed after going through them.  I saw having a drinking problem as something to just get over and only trashy, irresponsible people had such a thing happen to them - until I developed a drinking problem of my own.  Depression was something which was a myth and only emo kids and lazy adults cried wolf about a fake disease as a means of gaining sympathy - until I figured out I had the issue myself.  I hate the "walk a mile in their shoes" analogy, but that's the best imagery I can come up with to support what I now see as someone who has been through those situations.  The thing is, I never complained and I never told anyone about either of my problems when they were at their worst because I assumed if I would keep my mouth shut, they would just eventually subside on their own.  
They don't.
   
Everyone fights something everyday.  I fought alcohol for a while, but now I don't fight it at all because I don't miss drinking, nor does being around it bother me in the slightest.  Depression, though?  I live that every single day, but I can fight it off entirely the vast majority of the time.  People say I'm too positive or the things I write about, post on Facebook, or tell people in person can't possibly be genuine because nobody actually thinks in such a way, but I promise, it's all real.  All of that is a part of my coping mechanism and my self-regulated therapy.  When I tell other people the value I see in them or make a well-meaning gesture towards someone, it helps me, even though most people don't appreciate those instances.  Trying and knowing I made an effort is what makes the difference to me; for every one positive impact I make with someone, there are at least five misses without gratitude in return, but I really don't care anymore.  That is how I stay "normal".

Why did I say this?
Why right now?


   As I mentioned before, ninety-nine percent of the time I can keep myself stable, but over the past day and even as I type this, I am in my one percent of being broken for no reason.  This is the point in time where I start to question things far too much and when I feel alone and need somebody because I feel scared and alone and can't shake the feeling, but I'm laying in my bed, writing to clear my mind and hoping I will wake up tomorrow (when you are reading this now) in a much better state, but I won't know for sure until then. 

I want to help people and I want them to have someone they can relate to, so maybe someone out there will read this and find it comforting that they are not alone.  Maybe someone who doesn't understand will finally be able to make sense of it and not leave someone who needs them in the dark to fight by themselves.
Why?
Because I get it now.

Maybe this post will get lost in the blogosphere and nobody will read it because it is too long.
Sometimes you have to take a chance and just be real to everyone, on the same level, because what good is it to have a story if you keep it to yourself?

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Vain Cycle Of Vanity...

Me stuck in the trunk of my car is much more interesting than me taking a picture of my own face.

The farther we go through time, the more we all seem to put a higher value upon our own self importance.  I hate this.

I want to feel old, so allow me to put a time stamp on myself for a moment and say that when I was in high school, the first mass-market camera phone came out and I believe I was a junior at the time.  A sophomore guy in my Latin class was given one of these phones by his parents for his birthday and we all thought it was the most awesome advancement ever because it could capture and store about ten incredibly grainy pictures.  Text them?  Oh, hell no, you stuck a cable into the phone and transferred them to your computer.  Actually, at the time, my cell phone did not even have a color screen and I had a text message plan that allowed me to either send or receive twenty messages each month.  
Now?
Now we want to capture and distribute images of everything.
Even our own faces.

I am a self-admitted selfie hater and I will probably stand by that until I die.  A few years ago I said the same thing about Twitter, but my Google advisor told me I needed one for this blog you are reading, so @JDrewSilvers at your service. Coming back to selfies and most other pictures you find on social media, self importance is becoming more and more rampant.  Going anywhere without being in the background of someone else's Facebook photo album is more difficult than I ever would have imagined it to be, because for some reason everyone wants to capture every moment they live, specifically their own head, but for what exactly?

Let me set something up for you...
I am sitting in my car, about to pull out of my driveway and decide something:
"You know what?  I am going to stretch my arm back a little, angle my head, hold my iPhone out in front of the steering wheel and take a picture of myself."
*Snap*
"No!  That wasn't good enough!"
*Five snaps later*
"Damn, I look good."
Then I upload the best picture of the lot to every social media outlet because...
Yeah, I have no idea why I would do that because I cannot bring myself to understand why this is even a thing people do.  And in less than a week's time, they will do the same thing all over again.  My opinion behind this has nothing to do with my self confidence, because I actually have more than enough of that, but my self importance and standard of personal vanity are apparently pretty low, which I see nothing wrong with.  I do wonder if people take so many selfies because they are in search of some sort of confidence reassurance or if it is because they have so much confidence that they crave an ego boost to exacerbate it even more.

Maybe I am stupid or just stuck in a more simple mindset than most, but I liked things a little better before we started plastering pictures of our faces all over the internet as a means to seek attention.  Vanity is not my thing, but so many others seem to cling to the idea.  I do like photography, but I like it more when the focus is candid and people are caught in a moment of living something of importance or just their daily lives with a method and motive behind what they are doing rather than the only motive being "Look at me!  This is my face.  It looks just like it did two days ago."

Bring on the hate.  I am ready for it...

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Personal Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drew.silvers
Blog Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drewcoustic
Email:  drewcoustic@gmail.com
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers
Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/jdrewsilvers

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Interest Of Being Boring...


I guess we can never say I have a shortage of articulate titles when it comes to writing.  Half of the engagement to drawing someone in has to do with the initial thought and the rest happens if you can hook someone into your topic.  That is what they tell me anyway ("they" meaning some people I fabricated).

When I was in high school, I worked as an intern for a law firm (closing attorneys) and have kept in contact with one attorney and one closing agent I worked under, even though that was about ten years ago.  When the closing agent and I reconnected, she at one point made mention of how interesting my life had become through my experiences since she and I had last seen each other.  This threw me off because I really do not find myself all that interesting, to be honest.  None of this is some dramatic, baggage-laden ploy to get someone to have sympathy for me because I have self-esteem or sensitivity issues, nor am I being unnecessarily hard on myself, but this is the person I have always been as well as the person I see in the mirror everyday. 

People talk to me - really.  The first time I actually took notice of this was when I was a server at a steakhouse during my time as a Seminary student.  Before you read anymore, rest assured, I am not taking a stab at those in food service, but after working in quite a few industries, I can safely say the people who work in restaurants carry more baggage per capita than any other environment I have seen thus far.  When the people I worked with at the time found out I was going to school to be a counselor in some form of ministry, they started following me, and I am not talking about Twitter (that didn't even exist yet).  Working with the same people about fifty hours each week while taking twelve credit hours of classes simultaneously was extremely hard not because of my school work, and not because of my work schedule itself, but because of the personal and never ending drama I was cornered into listening to on a daily basis from my co-workers.  How I remained positive during that time is a mystery even to myself, but I somehow made that happen without a mental breakdown, thankfully.

Fast-forward a few jobs, as well as two careers later, and I still am the guy whom everyone wants to talk to about practically everything, even if I have no experience with the subject.  This is the bit I sort of fit into for whatever natural reason because my ambition to be a counselor became crushed around the same time I made a conscious and spiritually-motivated decision to leave the church.  Back when I was a college student, I assumed the only thing which drew people to me had to do with my course of study, but I was wrong.  While I am sure my vow to do better for the world and comfort other people did have a social magnetism of its own when I was younger, apparently there was much more to the method than originally assumed.  

People like to tell me about their problems and I may not always find them interesting, just as I do not find myself all that interesting, but I still listen because I care - I cannot escape that, nor do I want to.  Part of the reason I write anything has to do with the opinions I have formed and stories I have built from my experiences of listening to other people, because that is really all I do anymore.  
Do you know what I hear all the time?
"You really have it together."
"You have your head on straight."
"You're not like anyone else."
Funny.  I do not see it.

I think I have this role with people, just as I think everyone has a role of sorts in someone else's life.  Making mistakes and doing occasionally stupid things happens to everyone, including me, but sometimes I feel as if people do not pay attention to how often I mess up.  Sometimes people need to talk to someone and immediately flock to me because they are looking at me from a distance, seeing someone who is sober, available emotionally, has his life together, or is even intelligent to a certain degree - but that is pretty much the end of their viewpoint and they make a choice of not seeing beyond any of that.  They see only the serious side and neglect the goofy nature or the snark I possess because they "just need to talk".  

The difference between myself and most other people is a code I have managed to crack.  People want to confide in someone when they are having an issue with themselves, another person, or a stressful situation.  They come to me because I listen;  I always listen.  You see, everyone wants to talk and everyone wants to hear themselves talk to other people, but I do not in those certain moments.  Years ago I realized that being there for a person means shutting your own mouth and leaving your own advice stored away until asked to express those thoughts.  Most of the time, people really just need someone to listen to what they have to say instead of listening to someone else come forward with an opinion about their situation.  Like I said, I listen.

People come to me with problems because they know I care and also that I will not pass judgment nor speak about their situation unless specifically asked.  Over the past decade, this is the person I have become.

I guess I am just a listener.
That is the side everyone sees and is often the only side they make the choice of acknowledging.  Nobody really listens to me because nobody really asks, since my role to them is just to listen.
With that, most assume I am serious all the time because that is the only side they care to know, just like most assume I have some sort of problem with being around people who drink because I made a choice to stop drinking myself quite some time ago.  Not true.
Everybody has something, right?

I guess that is my thing.
Pretty interesting after all, huh?

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Personal Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drew.silvers
Blog Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drewcoustic
Email:  drewcoustic@gmail.com
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers
Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/jdrewsilvers


Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Creative" Is A Noun - Not A Verb...


I have been in this fight of a headache for a few days now.  Being entirely serious, this pain began in the early hours of yesterday morning and has still not managed to subside.  Writing this right now hurts, but lies in one of those momentary instances where if I don't write as the thoughts come, I will lose something.  This is part of my passion and realization which has come to be over a number of ups and downs, considering the only thing that kept me from writing was often the frequency in which I poisoned myself - leading to a self inflicted illness.  Alcohol can be an asshole.

My "friend" Bryarly Bishop said something which immediately struck a chord with me, dealing with the way we interpret the being of others and it correlates to my own writing and other creative ventures directly.  She said:
"Artists are not their art."
At first I looked at this statement and thought she was wrong, because there are people I have met who seem to always personify their form of creativity, but then I thought a bit harder.  Maybe, in a way, she is correct.

I started thinking about myself and the way I spread my message out to the world via text more often than being there in person.  There is nothing I have ever written on a blog that I wouldn't say verbally, but the execution is a little different.  I have more of a direct handle upon what I say and the direction in which my thoughts flow if I read them as they cross through my mind and hit the screen or paper.  That is not saying I spend hours upon hours doing editing on the things I write, because I usually just do a quick grammar check before publishing and leave my content alone.  My words do express more clearly if written out, however.  Speaking to me in person, I tend to be a bit more goofy, much less reserved, and a good bit funnier. None of this is saying I am a different person between Drew who writes things out and Drew who you see in front of you (I am entirely opposed to that) but the execution and reaction tends to be fairly different simply because of the vehicle.

A well-known automotive journalist once had a life long dream from the time he was a boy of wanting to drive a Lamborghini Countach.  He had posters on his bedroom wall and knew all of the specifications as well as statistics of that car.  Later on in his career, he was given the chance to drive one of these very things he had lusted after for decades with a camera crew present.  After initial joy, he was soon greeted with a miserable experience of driving a hot, difficult to control, smelly, and rough riding fault of expectation.  When it was all said and done, he thought the car was rubbish and while entirely disappointed, walked away after saying:
"Never meet your heroes."

I have this problem with romanticizing certain things or ideas in life.  This is not a hindrance or fallacy of mine, but sticks with the same idea of James May driving his coveted Lamborghini.  I would often rather have a view of someone in my head for what I see them to be through their works and can back that up because I only admire and pay attention to seemingly positive people.  Working in the industry I did before my current career, I met more famous people than most of my friends ever will, and was mostly disappointed by everyone other than one who became a great friend of mine, and the other being Arthur Blank.

This is where I agree with Bryarly to a point, because often admiration is more about the art itself than the person behind the art.  Some of the most beautiful compositions I have ever heard were written by classical composers who were less than stellar as people, but brilliant when creating music that touches you to the deepest bits of your soul.  Part of me thinks I would have been better off listening without researching their lives to the extent I did.

We as artists and creatives tend to want to personify everything we write, paint, compose, draw, or build, but often we cannot actually be that person when the expectation comes full circle.  What I mean is that we are inspired and motivated by our gifts, but tend to use them as a constraint on our realities when we notice our true selves coming forward, repressing our real identities for fantasy.

This comes down to the legacy I always talk about.  I would rather be remembered for something I created or made an impact with as a result of my gifts and blessings instead of being remembered as an actual person.  A legacy lives on as not an individual or group of action, but as a part of the permanent results leaving an impact on other people.  To be truly considered as a creative, that is what we should want - for our works to live on well beyond our personalities.

Make sense?

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let's Be Real - No, Really...


I find myself explaining myself more than I should.
Actually, back up for a moment because that is not entirely true.

Perception is something I have mentioned in at least one blog before, and the perception I made mention of is the way we appear to those around us on a daily basis.  Within our public lives, we were always told that we should not care what anyone else thinks about us, but the truth is we all do to some extent because there actually is a reality of "social norm" in any society.  With that being said, there are many aspects of my daily life in which I really do not care about the way others perceive me, while in other's I really do care; because that is called being human.  There are plenty of people out there who are so concerned with the public's opinion that they fabricate their entire lives around being a puppet of deception.  I cannot stand those people.  The problem is that I am often seen as that very person, even though I try to be the exact opposite.  

Am I saying my life is a shining example of what you should be?
Trust me, no, I am not who you want to look up to.
A few years ago I did figure out that being yourself is personally much easier than faking anything.
With that comes a few little annoyances though.

I am pretty sure everyone has been around at least one person before who is significantly overweight and claims they are eating healthy, can spout off all sorts of dietetic information, eats sparingly around others, and makes claims of a regularly active lifestyle.  Half a year goes by without seeing this person and when you cross paths again, they are still talking up the game, but you see no physical change whatsoever.  More common still are those who say they are losing weight and then post updates or pictures of themselves practically eating diabetes off of a plate through their social media outlets.
Am I being harsh?
No, because I think I have earned the right to say these things since I have lost over seventy pounds myself in fairly recent history.  

You see, I run multiple days each week, pay attention to what I eat on a daily basis, rarely eat anything you would consider to be a "dessert", and stopped drinking alcohol entirely well over a year ago.  When I tell anyone this who knew me as a younger, very thin guy in his early twenties:
I am rarely taken as being serious, just like the overweight people we all know who are not taken seriously about their weight loss methods.
I keep this picture ready on my iPhone for those who do not believe me:
Now, this is not bragging at all, but an attempt at proving a point of my honesty.  Actually, I figured out after some reflection that I am not proud of losing all of that weight because I was the person who allowed myself to get there in the first place - so it was my responsibility to fix my own issue.
(I know some overweight people have legitimate health issues, don't start with me about that.)

During this period of me taking the big jumps to get myself back to being "myself" I came to the conclusion that anything I had done in the past to appear as anything other than who I really am was no longer worth my time.  

I really did figure out that living life without thinking twice about what others perceived me to be was much easier than trying to make myself appear as anything else.

With this, some people see me as anything but the truth.  There are those who believe I fluff myself up or have some sort of motive or expectation out of them because of the way I readily present myself.  Here in the south, there is a commonly known occurrence of people without southern accents flipping a switch of the vernacular variety when surrounded by those who carry the trait.  I knew a girl when I was a teenager who grew up in the city but carried the drawl of a yokel when surrounded by certain people - and it bugged me, actually it still bugs me to this day and I have no accent to the best of my knowledge.
Why do we do things like this to "fit in"?

I was having a conversation a few days ago with someone I had recently met and something came up about porn and strip clubs.  First off, I have never bought any sort of porn in my life, though I have actually been to two strip clubs, neither of which I was interested in going to in the first place and will probably never set foot in one again.  Needless to say, she seemed hesitant to believe me, but the few who know me on a real level would easily back me up on that fact.  This stupid topic has come up with others a few times before and most people think I am being untruthful, but no.  My feelings about these two similar things do not hold to religious values as some would think - I genuinely and simply do not care about either of them because they are both designed to give a false sense of reality.  
Such is not my thing.

What I have found through this journey is that telling the truth about yourself is always easier than trying to make others think you are something else to gain some sense of acceptance.  However, I have also found that being truthful about certain things often makes your honest conversation appear to others as a lie.  

There are people who get turned off of me fairly easily because of my bluntness towards them, even if I am doing so in the most positive way.  I have this constant urge to tell people they are valuable and important to me if I really do fancy them in such a light.  This can and in some cases has turned them away, but at least I can say they knew their real value to me if my life were to suddenly end or became irreversibly compromised.  

I became tired and sick of living twenty-five years of trying to fit in or attempting to stand out.  
If my honesty turns you away, makes you think less of me, or causes you to believe I am actually lying for whatever reason, then so be it - I am better off without you.
If I have an intention for my actions, I let them be known, otherwise, I always mean exactly what I say without any other supplementary motive.
All I want is honesty.
I do not care if you chose not to believe me.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew


 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Personal Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drew.silvers
Blog Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drewcoustic
Email:  drewcoustic@gmail.com
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers
Instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/jdrewsilvers

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We lie.
Everyone has their own moments of being untruthful in some faction but the real truth behind the act of telling a lie is the compound effect.

I have no reason to tell you the meaning of what I just wrote - we are all adults here, right?  When we really look at what happens as the result of a lie we realize we have all been story tellers.  I do not know about you, but when I was a kid, my grandmother would refer to lies as "telling stories" which makes perfect sense to me now (I assume that's a southern thing).  You see, I write and I create stories within the book I am working on and also, to a much lesser extend, within the blogs I write a few days each week.  My "job" in some sense is to make topics or ideas sound interesting to those who happen to read them.  All I need to do is create that "grab" which sucks you in to make you wonder where I am going down the rabbit hole of the moment.  
Lies tend to function in the same way as my writing.

Being untruthful with someone creates the underlying basis of a story and further questioning within that conversation or even at a much later time which compounds the original topic.  A lie always covers up a lie with covers up another lie, which never seems to end until of the person involved is either found out, confesses, or takes it to their grave.  

As adults we hear the term "dog eat dog" when making reference to business in whatever capacity we dwell and this is sort of like Wikipedia for me. 
Wait, what?
I read all the time and as dull as this probably makes me, most of my reading is research, because my mind has problems focusing on fantasy and fiction when put into text.  I will hear about something I had never known to exist and do a Google search which usually leads me to Wikipedia.  While researching the topic (again, because I am SO entertaining) I will open up multiple browser tabs of other things mentioned in that article and read them one by one.  I believe my record is somewhere in the teens for most open Wikipedia tabs at one time.  My open tabs of potentially useless information have everything in common with the "dog eat dog" mentality.

In the same way I started with one, singular topic which lead to offshoots of many other topics, the perception of the most basic business reality holds similar ground.  Start with the most recent encounter of someone within your respective field doing something questionable and often immoral to you or someone else and start back-tracking.  Layer, upon layer, upon layer until arriving at the source and you will see how everything stemmed from that sprouting instance was most likely a lie being told or conveyed to someone else.  In case you had not thought about it before, a lie can easily be deception as well as directly false information.  

Oops.  I have cracked the code.
We do this to ourselves and I hate it with everything I am.  I have no idea why we embrace these as terms of acceptance and I also have no idea why the normal practice of making everyone a personal footstool is so typical.  Maybe we just do not pay attention and throw falsehoods around at such a rate that we have lost all sense of relevancy and decency.

Think about a world where everyone spoke their honest opinions and how in the open instead of in the dark we would all be as people.  This is not some hippie moment of me thinking the world can change in this respect, because I am well aware that it will not.
Unfortunately we think the truth is rude for some reason?
Even when asked questions directly and not simply voicing an opinion out of spite.
When did that happen and why is it common and accepted?

Just think it over, because I tend to get myself into trouble for not lying and it confuses me.
Yeah, about that...

Grace and Peace,
-Drew


 -Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Live Your Own Death...


I have been thinking, and not about anything of monumental evaluation, but more realistically than in the past.  Spending considerable time alone can do this to a person, especially when that time is spent in taking long runs on wooden paths.  My constant and my handicap tends to dwell on the reality of death, and none of this has to do with romanticizing the subject nor is me having the wishful thinking that some day I will be in such a place.  Maybe I think far too much, but while there is a calm and freedom of being alone which puts me in a better place, there is always a lingering feeling of whom else may be watching.  Is there someone waiting for me to cross their path when I am not expecting them?  Should I even fear that in general?  My answer is “no”.

I really believe we are all given a set period of time to just be and live the way in which we choose.  Everything happening for a reason and purpose is not realistic at all because we, and nobody but ourselves are the only forces who dictate what we actually are.  One of my closest friends made a choice a few years ago that it was time for his life to be over.  I think about him every day and most likely always will.  My mind fills with thoughts of what he was thinking about when swallowing those pills; when writing the notes I still have not read.  Here I am, watching his children grow up, and he will never know anything about them at all.  In his case, things could have been much different, but as I said, we are who and what we teach ourselves to be.  

I have cheated death more times than I should have by now and have made past decisions which could have ended badly for me.  Everyone does these things which the world would never expect of them due to their own perception of who that person has become over time.  Had my decisions resulted in my demise as a few should have, there would be nobody to blame other than myself, even if some of the onlookers may have blamed themselves through their own eternity.  

Looking back, I have been to more funerals than anyone I know and if anything, this has taught me that we all have just one shot at life.  Living life to the fullest is a cliché which has lost every ounce of meaning since the time of the concept's inception.  What I have learned instead is to live life with a purpose and legacy.  We should make sure we are never forgotten and never end up as just a headstone or a can of ashes catching a breeze.  These are things we should think about and perceptions we should be well aware of as we convey them to others every single day, not just at certain instances of time.  I have been to those funerals and known those people who are remembered as being “nice” and nothing more.  There are those I knew who may have been remembered by a few people, but within a generation will be reduced to a name in the newspaper or on public records.  The typical, the average, the people who died young as no fault of their own, but left behind nothing other than being the definition of “normal” or having the expectations of their generation's silly ideas be the only thing they lived for.  Some ended their lives on their own accord and left bitter and confused people behind, though still nothing of memorable substance.

Do you see what I mean?  There is no purpose in life if we are not remembered for something other than being “typical”.  Not one of us know when we may pass at the hand of someone else, which is why I think about these things when I am running by myself.  I have no sense of paranoia about me, rest assured – I am simply aware of my potential reality.  

The last thing I want to be remembered for is as someone typical of my age.  I never want to be remembered as “Drew the sports fan, car guy, or social butterfly.”, which may as well read “Drew, the forgettable.” I write because I want to leave something permanent behind me and I display it for the public since finding it in a box after I die means nothing has served its purpose and I will still be forgotten.  

Remembered by the masses?  No, just a few outside of my circle who would not think me as average.  Truthfully, we are who and what we surround ourselves with and thus will be remembered by those same parameters.  Keep me away from being normal.  

Take a risk every now and then, but do not make the same mistake twice.
Listen to yourself with a clear head and never take anyone for granted.
Escape what the world expects of someone your age.
Give the world something to talk about.
You never know when your time will come to a close.

You're rarely as "epic" as you appear on Facebook.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew


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Embrace...



Comparisons exist for entrapment
A sense of uniqueness no longer matters
We spend so much time:
The hours, the minutes, and seconds drag on
In this desperate search to find something
That one thing, that one person
Maybe an action, or just some signature
We always fail to look
Spiking judgment on the caring instead
Ignoring the adoration instead
Seeking out others for worse instead
Assuming that life and dependencies
Assuming the people and support
Assuming for the sake of assumption
We will always have the common
The things we expect from those who adore us
We expect them to always exist
Throw to the side the things which matter
Live our lives not paying attention
Unopened eyes miss amazing moments
Neglected opportunities reflect pain
Sometimes we do not see this
Even the brilliant show ignorance
One day, time catches up to us
Some time soon, we could be alone
The comparisons should stop
Time should be allowed to stop
We, as people can stop
To embrace before we throw it all away
Open those blinded eyes...

Grace and Peace,
-Drew


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Career Hopscotch Of The Millennial Generation...



You read this blog apparently, so you know I have this romanticized idea about life in the nineteen fifties which goes right along with the same romance I have about city dwelling;  meaning I have have my slightly rosy Wayfarers on my face.  Regardless of my stupid metaphors, I have been thinking about what the heck is going on with us in our job market and career sector.

My deceased grandfather was a meat cutter/butcher in a supermarket and my deceased grandmother was your typical officer worker.  They bought their retirement house long before retiring and actually paid it off in full with enough years to enjoy it as they should have.  Also, my two uncles worked in the same concrete block factory for a few decades as hourly, full-time employees and both own their homes, some other property, nice vehicles, and have enough retirement to live more than comfortably for the rest of their years.  What?

I am not sure what is going on exactly because I am no economist so putting my finger on the source of the issue is a bit difficult, but something is off in this day and time.  We went from having generations of comfortable and happy people to whatever this is we are in now.  I am well aware of the fact that my grandparents had a taxing marriage from time to time, both of my uncles have divorced, and all of them had their own financial struggles smattered within their histories.  My grandmother, both uncles, and myself had a pretty hearty fight with alcohol at some point in our lives, so we are not all that different, and if nothing else bleed the same DNA.  As people, we Millennials have the same struggles and temptations as those who came before us, but the difference is just that - something is very different. 

These days we move around more than we take the time to actually dwell and build our lives as those two generations ahead of us did.  This holds true in our jobs, our homes, and our relationships as well.  Being somewhat transient is just fine in some situations, but I feel as if some of us Millennials are taking advantage of the mindset a bit.  Maybe I am showing my ignorance, but I know quite a bit of people who leave good, stable jobs they enjoy to chase another job for the sake of a bigger paycheck and nothing more.  Not that these people hated their career, were ever struggling financially and needed a higher paying position or anything of the sort, nor did they want to move cities, but I know few who will put in a solid three year employment anywhere before chasing the next higher salary of the unknown - just for the dollar.  But I am seeing it start to catch up to them.

The closer I get to my thirties, the more I see people a bit older than me who bounce from one career path to another wondering where the time went.  They also wonder what has happened to their employer-backed retirement plans which have been jumbled into a mess from company to company;  some of which are nearly worthless for that reason.  I am not saying that we should work for the singular goal of retirement, but with as educated as we are in this generation, most of us sure do have a difficult time paying attention to that sort of thing.  I mean, why pay attention to the future when you can invest more time into learning hard stats of professional sports instead of understanding your finances or personal career goals or actually owning something tangible?  How about leaving some sort of legacy behind when you die, because sometime, sooner or later you will?  Right.  Why enrich your life and figure out who you are when you have an iPhone to distract you, expensive vacations to go on, and hungover mornings every weekend to look forward to?  

The thing is, I cannot see many at all around my age being in a financial state as comfortable as so many of those two generations before us - most of whom were blue collar without a college education.  Actually, there are quite a few Millennials who will be paying on student loans the size of a monthly mortgage payment for more than half of their lifetime.  

We were told to do that.  
We were told to go out and chase the dollar before anything else.  
We were told to live our dreams on a whim which lead to going about it all wrong without thinking of potential consequences.
Everyone was given a trophy in little league...

The thing is, we listened because we knew nothing else and believed as we were told.  Thinking on our own terms and having sustained mentally practical growth was an unknown entity to so many of us because we were sheltered.
Is this every Millennial?
No, but I can confidently stake a majority claim on these thoughts.

I just think we lack the structure which once existed in our previous generations.  Yes, times have changed, technology is much different now, and we are more educated as a whole, but maybe stepping back to a different mindset would be good for us.  Maybe we could learn a few things from those geezers who are sitting on their front porches, looking at us and saying:  "What the hell?"

Really, though...
What the hell?

Grace and Peace,
-Drew


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Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Creative" Is A Noun - Not A Verb...Part 1.


Sometimes you slowly grow into a certain demographic until you have one of those monumental realizations that you should have been following said direction a little more closely in life.  I am talking about "creatives" and they (we) are somewhat set apart and distinct from those who do not have such traits to claim.  

Just to get this out in the air a little more quickly, I will say that there is no form of elitism in being a creative as a whole, but there are just as many cocky and arrogant people which throw a blanket of stereotype over the entire lot.  The thing is, we cannot really help who we are and how we are wired, but a few take the wrong approach.  Some of us came into the creative realization when we were young and some (like me) picked up on the fact much later. 

With that, I will share some discoveries with you which have come to me through my own experience.

Creatives are just fine being alone.
Within this age of video games and social disconnect through technology, it is easy to lump us all into a big grouping of awkwardness.  The truth of the matter is that I am well aware of being alone, and am in that state fairly often.  When I was a teenager, I wanted to have something in the works every weekend and never allow myself to just be by myself.  Since I have a creative psyche, I now wonder what I may have missed out on after spending too little time invested in myself for being distracted with insignificant happenings.  I have a phone full of contacts I could use to have something to do every waking hour when I am not working, but if I were doing so at this point, there would surely be missed opportunity in my writing, expression, or music.  After years of never wanting to be by myself, go to dinner alone, or just sit in silence, it is now something I cherish.  All of my most favorite writings have come from my time spent alone, focusing on myself;  they are also the pieces I am the most proud of.  None of this is saying I would reject an opportunity to do things with others, but saying creatives do not always require social settings and sometimes are just as healthy alone when left to their own thought processes.

Most creatives hate Pinterest.
I have a Pinterest account, but I have never actually logged on and it only exists so someone else does not claim my username.  A fair share of hate may be brought in my direction for saying so, but Pinterest is generally a nightmare for creatives because you get a bunch of people reproducing the original ideas of the people who actually came up with something unique.  Feeding off of ideas is one thing, but claiming creativity for replicating someone else's idea is an entirely different story.  Claiming something as your own after finding it as a post on Pinterest is about as relevant as saying:
"He makes great pot roast in the slow cooker."
Meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, water, bullion, set timer...Anyone with two hands and a crock pot can do that and this is how most creatives feel about Pinterest.  There is nothing wrong with using the site, as long as nobody claims anything plagiarized from it as their own creation. 

Creatives are into details.
Within everything that I have seen in my twenty-seven years, there are just as many unorganized creatives as meticulous, but on either side of the fence, the details are always important.  When I was nineteen, I bought this car:
After driving the car back home that very day, I took out my tools and gutted the interior.  The car was like new, but the stereo was awful.  Being one with a developed musical ear, I could not drive the car for any length of time without first replacing the head unit, speakers, and adding amplifiers and subwoofers to it.  Having clear music in my ears is just as important to me as the joy of driving a muscle car like my Firebird was - I have done this with every car I have owned since then as well.  I pick out details in music and that is a part of my creative mannerisms, so I like to hear it clearly.  The same holds true for anything within the interest of creatives because the idea of "good enough" is never enough concerning creative detail in the things we enjoy.  

Creatives enjoy personal exploration.
I get annoyed when people say they only listen to one type of music or limit themselves to what is played on the radio - there is much better music out there, I promise.  As with anything else fitting in the scope of genres, creatives do not like limiting themselves to what happens to be popular at the time (and no, this doesn't mean "hipster") but would rather take it upon themselves to give a "hit or miss" approach to most things in life.  Before I was intelligent enough to give any real consideration to Electronic Dance Music (EDM), I always thought it was garbage and irrelevant - then I started exploring a little.  After watching a few videos about how EDM is made, my opinion changed and I have grown to appreciate it much more than I did in the past.  
Example (listen to the depth in the music):
Much like anything with a set of rules, creatives would rather explore things on their own.  Part of the reason of why I have not finished restoring my Mustang even though I am not that far away from completing it is because it is so mechanical and mapped out in a certain order and process to me.  That was the first car I ever had, but at this point in time, I would rather break out a welder, some grinders, and an obsolete engine to build a Rat Rod out of some rusted out beater car pulled from a barn.  Building a car like that would allow me to cut it to pieces and construct it in trial and error, just how I want to.  But my Mustang is a number's matching, original car so I could never bring myself to chop it up in such a way - it is meant to be built just like my shop manual tells me to.  My current want is to build a rolling metal sculpture - my Mustang is too pretty for that, so I am letting it sit for a while.  I really want to transplant a 1940's-era Ford Flathead V8 into a late model Ford pickup truck.  Not because it makes sense, but because it makes none at all and would be a challenge to fabricate.  The latter idea is in the same boat with current bands releasing vinyl albums, or the people who make their own clothing - there is no practical reason for any of it, but that makes it even more challenging and fulfilling for them.

Part two will be out soon.  Stay tuned.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

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Friday, November 22, 2013

I Have A Strange Driving History...

When I was a kid, I had an obsession with baseball until about the age of ten.  After years of playing in leagues every Saturday during the season, I lost interest and starting paying attention to cars instead.  All I wanted was to be sixteen years old, with a driver's license because the only thing I wanted to do was drive a car.  However, I have had a bit of a rocky history with being able to drive my cars when considering being pulled over by the police for (often) no reason.
Allow me to share.

From ages sixteen to eighteen, I had both of these cars and did not even get pulled over once:
Sixteen, driving a muscle car and no infractions.  Crazy.

In 2005, I bought this car:
And was pulled over for speeding at 2:00AM.
The ticket was written off after I did a stint of traffic school.
Then some idiot pulled into my lane and killed my pretty Z28 Camaro:


In 2006, I was driving my Firebird Formula with my best friend in the car and was pulled over for speeding again:
This was the only ticket that ever stuck, but it gets better...

In 2007, I was driving this:
-I was pulled over in the parking lot where I worked at 5:00AM.
Because I was...going to work...and it looked suspicious?
-I was also pulled over going to a church event in downtown Atlanta because the cop thought I wasn't wearing a seat belt.  I was wearing a brown polo which matched the color of my seat belt.
No tickets.

I bought and restored this MGB in 2008. 
The same week I bought the car, I was pulled over on my way to the tag office because the previous owner had cancelled the registration, which is exactly what I was headed to do when the cops lit me up.
No Ticket.

Also, in 2008, I started driving this:
In 2008 alone, in this car I was pulled over for:
-Illegal window tint (which the officer tested and came back legal).
A few months later...
-Suspicion of a DUI when a cop saw me drink out of a glass ginger ale bottle.
No tickets.

In 2009, I was riding this:
Pulled over for:
-Weaving.  I was doing a controlled weave, within my own lane to warm up my tires because it was below thirty degrees outside.
No ticket.
A few months later...
-Improper eye protection.  This one was my fault, but the cop wrote the ticket incorrectly as false identification, so the the city wrote it off.

In 2010, in this car AGAIN: 
I was pulled over for:
-Another suspicion of a DUI for drinking water out of a Nalgene bottle (I'm not kidding).
No Ticket.

In 2011, I was pulled over in this:
For a registration issue I didn't know about.  The cop squared it away on the spot.
No ticket.

In 2012, I didn't get pulled over a single time...

However!

This year, 2013, I was pulled over while driving my mother's car for an un-illuminated license plate in May.
 This morning, November 22nd, I was pulled over in this car, again:
For a burned-out tail light.
No tickets.

Let us recap my driving history:
-I have been pulled over a total of thirteen times, but actually received only one ticket.
-I have only been in one collision, and it was not my fault.
-I am the most cautious driver you have ever met, but still get pulled over for suspicion.
-I don't drink at all anymore, but when I did, I did not drive.

I blame nobody for any of this, but just thought I would share.  For a while I was a bit bitter, but now I just brush it all off and laugh at the frequency in which I spend time talking to cops on the side of the road.  This is all normal to me now.
Give life a good laugh and move right along.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

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Thursday, November 21, 2013


Most of us were given the gift of speech.  The moving of our mouths and tongues, passing breath across our lips to make these noises is our most common medium of communication, but also the most dangerous.  Words we speak can bring joy, encouragement, laughter, and comfort.

What about the other side?
What happens when we speak a bit too much?
What happens when we are more comfortable writing certain thoughts instead of actually saying them?

I have taken a very strong notice about our generation and the way we tend to convey how other people perceive us.  Everyone seems to want the perception of happiness to be a trait other people see in us, but the unfortunate reality is how we tend to skew the truth.  What I mean by this is no matter what may be going on in our lives, we often want to broadcast the illusion to the world of our lives being in order or unnaturally good.

With what reason?

I hate to be the person to bring up touchy subjects about personal situations because I do not really enjoy the backlash, but sometimes I feel as if some person out there will be desperate enough to listen.  More often than my comfort allows, I read people expressing how happy they are in their lives, friendships, relationships, or marriages on social media and in person.  There is nothing wrong with being in love and there is nothing wrong with expressing thoughts, moments, or emotions, but I fear something I call "The Line of Truth".

The Line of Truth is that boundary we have as people which lies between our own happiness and the happiness we show to the world around us.  The way I see this line is as a division of our actual state of being and the image we want to convey to everyone else.  

I knew this married couple who would blow up their social media accounts about how great their spouse was.  What I am talking about is not a Facebook post to randomly encourage each other, wish a birthday or anniversary, or congratulate one or the other during a proud moment.  These two would post public statements of how ideal their marriage was and brag on each other daily, or even more frequently.  This continued for a few years, and nearly up to the day I heard they had separated and were filing their divorce proceedings.
What?

Someone I knew when I was much younger and reconnected with did practically the same thing as the couple I mentioned before, but his mistress of flamboyant bragging was money.  Money he did not have.  I can only see so many pictures of expensive watches, new cars, designer clothing, and negligent spending before I stop believing what I am seeing.  Most people who paid any amount of attention would know the four entry-level jobs he had been hired and fired from shortly thereafter within a year's time could not support the lifestyle he claimed to be living.  Then his whole persona was exposed as a complete farce.  At nearly thirty years old, trying to convince the world of his success while being trapped inside his own lie.
Where did that get him?

There are many more examples, but I will stop right there.  I just wonder why we think so much approval is needed by the world that we are willing to live and tailor our entire lives around a lie.  There may be a few ignorant people out there, but I would really like to believe people can see through false stories of greatness as easily as I do.  

Wrapping my brain around having people believe you are anything other than your natural self is very hard for me.  Understanding why we have a need for false acceptance from people who do not matter baffles me to the core of who I am.  

Wait, maybe that is because I actually know who I am.
Maybe it is because I actually know who matters to me.
Maybe it is because I know to whom I matter.

I know the people who love me.
They know who I am.

Do you know who you are?

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

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The lyrics in the title of this blog came from this song:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Passive Loyalty Is An Oxymoron...


Have you ever taken a step back in times of stress to explore a little personal evaluation?
What I mean by this is not concerning yourself within your own mind, but those we cling to when we we have these instances of stress, panic, or need for guidance.

There is a trend within our generation of hitting a wall and then trying everything we can to escape the hindrance, but looking for it in the entirely wrong place.  Socially, we are always looking for something new and more appealing in our lives for the most part and I commonly hear it mentioned as "new and interesting", which works fine on the social scale as long as we do keep this social and outside of a well-developed and personal aspect.  

I will explain.

I have spent time lingering at the bottom of not knowing where to go within my life in many instances such as:
A personal faith struggle.
A crumbled career path.
Alcohol abuse.
(To name the big ones.)
Even though I spent so much time researching and writing papers on psychology and knowing that it was not the best for me, I would still have a tendency to stray from those who could help me through my issues the best - I have not a clue why, but this seems to be common.  

I have my close friends and my family, which I have mentioned before as being very small in number, but very big in purpose;  and there are others who are more of acquaintances which serve a more social, less involved purpose.  I had to take a minute to pause myself at one point when I realized just how much my priorities had been slipping in my support system.  The people who could impact me the most and had stuck by me through everything in life were the ones I was treating more passively while trying to lean on the support and ideas of those who were nowhere near as involved or committed to my life.  

Gathering new ideas and thought processes is a great thing, but what I figured out in the long run is that the more common denominators in my life which made all the difference to me were just that - common.  After a while of leaning on the wrong people or jumping outside of my circle for the type of un-involved, "feel-good" support as opposed to those who had my back unconditionally, I realized my fault.  Passive personal investments hold no ground when you have an arsenal of completely personal and fully invested people backing you up in any situation.  Yet, these people are also easily overlooked because they are sort of expected to be around, or to use the word from a few lines up: "common".  

What happens when you look for something you are in need of in the wrong places?
What if you step away from those who have a keen interest in every part of your being and can offer you more than anyone else?

Sometimes they leave.
Sometimes their departure is justified.

I spent a long time trying to rationalize a certain instance of when I ignored the best of what was in front of me and instead went astray to seek help in the passively invested thoughts of others.
The answers were sitting in front of me, but I spent so long expecting the support to always be there, that I took advantage one of the rare people who was patiently waiting to share the frustrations, anger, and fight for me. 
I never asked.
I should have asked.

What I am saying in all of this is that when a struggle arises, before you decide to seek out anyone who is invested in you trivially or passively, open you eyes to what is standing right in front of you.

We could all use a little clarity.

Do not waste an opportunity.
Never be afraid to ask.
Always appreciate those who have had unabridged loyalty to you.

Grace and Peace,
-Drew

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Southern Gentleman Or City Kid?


This takes a bit of a detour from my more common blogs of generational scrutiny, but maybe not as much as I was anticipating when the thoughts were running through my head this morning.  

I grew up in the Metro Atlanta suburbs, but the difference between myself and the vast majority of those around me lies in the fact that I was not an import or transplant, but born here.  My father's family moved to a little "city" called Alpharetta in 1969, which was long before it was considered metropolitan by any stretch.  When my parents were engaged, they began building a house after buying some land from my grandparents which was finished by the time they married in 1978.  My sister was born a few years later, and I came along two years after her.  

The area we lived in was heavily wooded, had dirt roads all over the place, and it was your fairly typical smaller city until the population surge a few years before the 1996 Olympic Games.  Pastures, wooded areas, and older homes were developed into subdivisions, shopping centers sprang up, sidewalks were poured, and schools popped up continually - property values also went through the roof.  Here was my family of my mom, dad, sister, and uncle next door (my grandparents had passed a few years prior) all living on a three acre spread watching a small city become a massive, affluent suburb.  

The thing is, my dad comes from a long heritage of farming and his two brothers were the first men in the family to break that tradition when one became a commercial welder and the other a commercial machinery mechanic - dad followed suit becoming a warehouse manager before ultimately being a carpenter.  Though, when I was a kid, my grandparents still farmed and had multiple, large vegetable gardens on our properties, as well as chickens, and your typical herd of cats running around.  That is how I grew up: seeing my grandparents in their feeble age plowing gardens, picking vegetables, pressing cider, shucking corn, canning, tending to chickens, and drying bed sheets on a clothes line, among many other things.  All of this was normal to me growing up even though everyone else I knew at school lived in a subdivision and had no experience with any of that stuff.  

When I was a kid, my parents did not have a lot of money to spare, so just like my grandparents and uncles, they saved money in the winter by heating their houses with wood heaters and fireplaces.  I grew up carrying in the firewood we had split over the summer so we could burn it on cold nights to keep the furnace from kicking on.  This is not uncommon in neighboring areas, but in Alpharetta?  None of my friends had to do that.  

Fireplaces give off a type of heat that has more of a comforting feeling to me than having a furnace running.  There is something about it you only understand if you grow up with the experience and I really do not know how to explain what I am talking about, so take my word for it.  

Today, for the first time in probably over ten years, I went back to that place.  I had things I could have been doing today for work and such, but my dad and I went over to my uncle's house instead and split firewood for a few hours.  As far as seeing the benefits of this effort are concerned, I will not since I no longer live with my family, but helping with things like that are traits I learned from watching my grandmother and grandfather.  These are the things you do because you care about people, no matter how sweaty, sticky, or dirty those things happen to be, and no matter if you have time for it or not.  
Any of that is irrelevant when you have a job to do.  
I let that all slip away for a few years because I was too focused on what I was doing for a living, where I was living, "friends" who ended up not mattering, going out to places which had no lasting impact on my life, buying a bunch of toys I did not need - it was nice coming back today and remembering the things I did growing up which have shaped me into who I am currently.  

I am the city kid who may have escaped the southern accent, but I never want to forget where I came from no matter where I may end up.


Grace and Peace,
-Drew

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