My Name is Matthew, and I am a soldier. I have an interesting view that I share from time to time with the folks I encounter as I walk the road. Some of those people have encouraged me to seek out ways to help others or simply share my views or ideas with more people. I will blog on many subjects, from things that piss me off on a daily basis to more important issues such as dealing with chronic depression and the struggles that ensue as a result. I will be taking bits and pieces from emails and rants that I have verbalized as well, so if you see something we have talked about please, smile and nod...Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Every so often we are afforded a great opportunity to see things from a different direction than we are used to. Often times this comes when we least expect it. We get so wrapped up in what is important to us that we forget that the rest of the world is spinning around and that there are other people there who have their own issues to attend to as well. In short, we develop into the kind of thinking that makes us feel as though we are the center of the world.

If you have read my post before, you know that I don't judge. As a matter of fact I do my very best not to and I strive to keep an open mind. However, I am not immune to getting wrapped up in my own little world. I am not above the thinking that lends itself to the selfish nature I'm attempting to describe.

Childish and selfish is the person who thinks, even for a moment that the world revolves around them. "I can deal with that, I've been called worse" I say to myself as I write this. We all have our own roe to hoe as it is said. We all have our own cross to bear, bridge to build and bridge to burn from time to time.

Someone at work upset me the other day and called me out publicly about a very sensitive subject. I pat myself on the back as I tell you that I handled the situation the best way possible I think. First thing I did was calm down and not over react. Then I attempted to process the events, not the emotions I was feeling about them. My supervisor wanted things done, and he was taking his frustration out on me and committing a personal attack. First things first, get the job done. Which I did, and then asked to speak to him privately. Then I allowed myself to be wrong, I know that I'm not perfect and I didn't do the job he wanted me to do the way he wanted me to do it. So, I simply admitted that I screwed up and what I was doing to fix the mistake. I then stood up for myself, properly. Any fool can get upset when they are attacked and sling insults or throw punches. It is in our nature to defend ourselves. What we should do, instead, is find out exactly why we feel so attacked and address that. I told my boss, clearly, that I respect him and look up to him for sage wisdom and advice when I'm confused or unsure of things. This gives him the credit he deserves for being in charge and working hard to get to a position I aspire to. Then I allowed him to see what he did that offended me. "I felt X when you said Y in front of other people". "I was offended that you called me out in public over a personal mater and it violated the trust and confidence I place in you as my boss". More or less. I allowed him the opportunity to explain and apologise if he felt the need to. I did not expect an apology or an explanation, he is after all, my boss. As he did explain and apologise, even offered up to not do such a thing again, I felt that my trust and confidence was not misplaced. A strong leader will never be afraid to admit that they too are mortal, they too make mistakes, and they too are not perfect. A strong leader may find themselves in a position to be bogged down with things to do and stresses to be managed and say or do something without thinking it all the way through. In my opinion, a strong leader will apologise when they have done wrong.

As a person, we can take this lesson home and realize that as parents, as Brothers, and Sisters, we can have the same effect on our families. As a Boyfriend or Girlfriend, we can affect the people we care about in the same way. The equation stays the same, the variables change. Again, I say in my opinion, because I don't know everything about being a leader. I certainly know nothing about being a parent. Although I am a Brother, an Uncle, and a Son, I am a Nephew and a co worker. I fill the role of leader at work, and I fill the role of Boyfriend to my Lady Friend. The best way to avoid saying "I'm sorry" is to think clearly and thoroughly before saying or doing something. As people, we don't always do that, and often times we find ourselves in a position to offer someone dear to us an apology. I don't always say I'm sorry, sometimes I wait and think about the whole situation.

It's very easy to say "ooops! I screwed up, I'm so sorry" when we do something that affects someone we care about. Almost as a quick measure to ensure that the relationship stays on good terms. For me, if it's not heart felt, why waste the breath? So when someone I care about explains to me that I did something wrong or upset or hurt them in some way, I do what I should have done in the first place and think. I take my time to try to understand exactly what I did and how I could prevent future screw ups.

Recently, I upset someone I care for and was completely beside myself when they got upset. I had to think about what I did and why. I had to try to understand exactly what happened and how I could prevent recurrences. When I did offer my apology, I explained. "I will no longer write an immediate response to emails I receive in the morning. I will read the email and digest it and then respond when I am clear headed enough to understand." My apology was heart felt and sincere. I explained what I will do in the future and how I will mitigate the situation. I did not expect a pardon. What we do, every day, teaches those we interact with about us. We shower knowledge on people every moment of every day. That knowledge can be good or bad, and it can leave a good or bad impression. Taking the time to think things through will never be a bad idea. The only exception I can think of is life and death. In that case, defending yourself, your home, or your family should always, ALL WAYS be the primary focus. Even in the heat of battle, you can take a second or two to try to understand exactly what is happening and make a rational decision though. Making a bad decision can haunt you for your entire life. Some times there simply is no going back. Some times, the decision you make is the one you live with for the rest of your days.

I will never forget the events of the Summer of 2003 and the events that took place so far from home. I thank God for whatever it was in me that allowed me to take pause, when every fiber of my being told me to react.

I wish you all the best, and sincerely hope that you have the opportunity to apologise when the time comes, we are all human after all, and we all make mistakes.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Forgiveness and other "F" words

Sometimes, we like to get ourselves into trouble. Sometimes it's just been too long sence the last speeding ticket or the last fight with our Significant Other (S.O.) Sometimes we have an urge to mis behave. Sometimes we simply screw up big.

I recently had a few dealings with such business. We all have those moments where we realize that we goofed up seriously. We all have moments where someone else offends us or hurts us in such a way that we feel hatred or anger or just frustration with that person. Sometimes when you least expect it the things tumbling out of your mouth can cut the person you care about to the bone.

Many different faiths out there talk about forgiveness. Just about every faith I know of says that we should forgive those who wrong us. Holding on to anger and resentment is simply not healthy. It pulls us down that dark road. However I have a certain belief I'd like to share.

If I wrong you, in any way shape form or fashon, I don't expect you to forgive me. I don't feel that you owe it to me to forgive me for the wrong that I have done. I certainly don't expect you to let me off the hook, no no. If I have done something wrong or hurt someone I feel the shame and frustration within myself that comes with knowing that you screwed up. In short, I have a concience.

I have a rocky relationship with some of the people in my life. Some people I have to keep at arms length to be safe. Protecting myself is something I have become quite adept at doing. Once I felt frustrated and confused so I went to a Priest and asked the simple question. "Father, I'v been hurt by someone I love, and I believe I have indeed forgiven that person, but I don't want to be near that person any more. Does this mean that I haven't completely forgiven them ?" The Priest took a moment and then addressed my concerns. "You know, you can forgive someone who has hurt you but not allow them the opportunity to hurt you again. You can even forgive someone and never tell them that you have indeed forgiven them. It might bring closure to the situation if you do, but forgiveness isn't owed".

Sometimes clergy is the best place to go for advice. I'm sure many would agree to this. The opinion may be based in a religon that you aren't completely comfortable with, but you can pretty well guarentee that the advice will be based on a set of morals and values that are wholesome and fair. There are exceptions to this, and I'm not going to breech the subject of religon here, that's not the point I'm making. The point that I'm trying to make is that sometimes the best advice is un biased. Then again, sometimes the best advice is from someone who knows you well and cares about you.

I encourage you to take stock every so often and ask yourself if you have hurt someone. "Have I said something to offend someone I care about?" Sometimes we don't even know that we have hurt someone until we ask them. "Did I upset you when I said X Y Z ?". Or ... "Did it bother you when I came home from work and jumped straight into the shower without asking you how your day was?". Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own stuff that we ignore those closest to us and it never even occurs to us that we have done something wrong. Ask, and then ask that person to please try to find it in their heart to forgive you. Genuinely appologise. Making amends is never easy, but if you don't try you never will. So much in life revolves around that.

If you aren't happy, either do something about it, or continue to be un happy.

As for forgiveness, try not to take it for granted. Try to earn it. Try to remember when to ask for it.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Morning

This past weekend, I was instructed to relax. I was told by my favorite Lady that I need to stop stressing so much because it was causing me tension in my back. I described in another post that depression has physical symptoms that are just as bad as the emotional ones. Stressing can be just as bad. I have aches and pains that become more prevelant when I'm not careful about how much I stress.

This posting is about some methods I use to control and limit how much of that stress and anxiety I allow myself to feel. As you may have read in recent posts, I have things that are going on that keep me very wound up. My personal life and my work life are both points of stress for me as the situation evolves. There are good days and bad, as I suspect we all go through.

I have created for myself, little rewards and simple pleasures that I can enjoy when I've had a particularly bad or good day. One example, is a simple one, I have a sweet tooth. I know that my metabolism isn't what it was when I was 20 years old. Back then I could eat an entire cake, run 5 miles, and never see the weight hit me. My body would absorb it and float on by like it's no big deal, never adding a pound. Today, I'm a bit older and my body tends to take longer to break down fatty and sugary foods. One reward I have developed for myself is a pie. I made an apple pie last weekend, which was fun in the kitchen, it got me up and moving, and it wasn't straight sugar. Yes, pie is fattening, but it's not as bad as a big chocolate cake. I make chicken fajitas on my cast iron grill pan when I'm in the mood for them as well. Cooking is something I enjoy and having a menue laid out for me during the week gives me something to look forward to. Not only am I thinking about dinner tonight, I'm thinking about the fun it will be to cook it.

MJ, is a dear friend and relative and she has a crochet blog. Until recently she didn't realize that I crochet as well. I have used her blog to give me ideas and tips for projects to create. My back has been sore lately and getting up and going for a run on Saturday just doesn't seem to be something I'm ready to do anymore. However, I did go out and shop for some good quality yarn and start a blanket this weekend. It turns out that the lady checking me out of the store has a husband who just got done making blankets for their grand kids. I'm not the only guy out there who crochets! Not that I give a flying four letter word about what anyone thinks of how I spend my off time, but it is comforting to know that there are other guys out there who make things.

Personally, it's a point of pride for me when I create something out of raw materials that I can use. I make key chains out of leather and hemp, I grow my own herbs that I use to cook with, and I can now make blankets to keep warm with during the winter season. As I may be moving to a colder climate sometime in the future, and the winter where I am isn't exactly tropic, I am sure that whatever blankets I make will be used. I may also make a scarf or two. Imagine wearing a home made scarf that matches the one your Significant Other (S.O.) is wearing. For me, it's a silly pride thing.

Taking time for yourself should be something we all do. Working hard is good for the budget and such but you will burn yourself out if that is all you do. Work, come home, eat dinner, and then sleep. Seeking to have some hobby or a couple of hobbies that you do will enrich your life and make you feel some internal joy that you might not otherwise experience.

When I get home from work, I take a hot shower and clear my head of all the garbage from work. Then I turn on some good music and dance in the kitchen while I fix my dinner. After dinner I typically write or work on a crochet project while passively watching a T.V. show. There is no need to sit idle while watching T.V. Why not keep my hands busy making something beautiful and useful? The point I'm trying to make is that you don't have to keep yourself busy climbing rock walls. Not everyone is that athletic, or has that kind of time. However, if you have little things that you can look forward to, it may help bring you up out of the funk you find yourself in after a particularly hard day.

Being generous helps too. I made a mess of pickled peppers, twenty jars, and brought them to work for my co workers. I have had many people I work with who have asked for more. I suggested a five dollar donation per jar to keep me from spending all sorts of money on projects that I just give away. The first round is always free, the seccond I will ask for help with the cost. I'm not making any profit what so ever, but I'm not giving my own self into poverty either. The point is, if you can find something that you enjoy doing and share that with other people, you have this abundance of things that you gather enjoyment from. Cooking or crocheting things, keeping your idle hands busy, and making friends and or co workers smile by sharing your passion with them.

Any time I find myself in a particular funk, I either find a new recipie to cook or I come up with a new project of some sort to keep myself busy. It's hard to be miserable when you are actively working on making something. Even planting my little window garden, keeps me busy and I get to watch my plants grow. I water them every day and I keep the window blinds open to allow the sun to hit them. Sun is a good thing, it helps you stay positive.

I wish you all the best of luck and send prayers and positive energy toward you all. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I'm a "normal" person. I have good days and bad, some worse than others. I have deadlines and stress at work like anyone else. I recently had to confront something I had done wrong. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I felt as though I should know better. I felt like I let my people down. As a leader I can tell you nothing hurts worse than feeling like you let people who depend on you down.
Everyone makes mistakes, sometimes there is no going back. Some times there is no second chance. Some times, you have to stand there, and confront what you did wrong, and do your best to learn from it. Yes, I made mistakes, and no, I wasn't thinking clearly. My people were in a tough spot because of something I could have prevented. I have a saying, "if you can hold yourself responsible for the good things your people do, then you should be able to take responsibility for the bad things they do as well." How can I, as a leader take compliments based on the labor of my people, if I can't stand up and take responsibility for when they do wrong? Worse, when what I have done has put them in jeopardy.
What I failed to do, for myself is something I take extra care in preventing when I deal with my subordinates. When someone who works with me does something wrong, before imposing a punishment, I take into account their good deeds as well as the thing that got them into trouble. I won't list my good deeds here for your amusement or reading pleasure. Suffice to say that I have helped out my people in many ways and I have gone out of my way time and time again. No one has ever called me for help and not gotten it. That much I can tell you, proudly.
Facing my misdeeds is not such an easy thing to do, but I stood there, and took my punishment. I didn't run from it, or hide. I didn't say that it was someone else's fault. I didn't blame my people, for something I should have prevented. I have learned allot about leadership sense the incident, but today's lesson was the culmination of that class. I had to learn to accept that I did something wrong, and that it didn't define me. My failure, and my transgression doesn't define me. I am not, without blame. I am not without shame, or sorrow, I am not without pride either. I have done good things, and I have been recognized for my good deeds, some of them anyways. Some I would prefer no one ever know about but the person they affected. I'd like to keep it that way, in the interest of modesty and humility. Irony, is that I feel the same way about my transgressions.
As I was listening to my punishment today, I was upset. I felt as if I was a failure, and a horrible leader. Let this entry into my blog serve as a mode of support for anyone who has done something they wish they could take back, or change. You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it. I certainly have. Don't allow your failures to define you, chop them up into little bits and pieces and chew slowly that you may digest them and glean from them whatever good they may provide you. Never forget your failures, but don't allow them to overshadow the goodness within you, for we all have goodness within us. We all have moments of extreme pride, and fulfillment. There deserves to be a balance within us of good and bad. If we find ourselves without flaw, we might need to look a little closer, or take the next steps with great care. Whenever you feel as though you are high on life, you are careless and complacent. When the world is falling down around your ears, lift your head and strain to hear the sounds. There may be a rescue party heading your way. You won't hear it with your head in the sand.
I sincerely hope that this entry gives you hope and pause. Take stock and inventory. My best wishes and, as always, thank you for reading.