Japan or bust

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This is my family. It's our first BIG trip together - as in all at the same time, in the same car, plane or train. My wife and I have talked about for years and now it's here.

See these smiling happy faces? We are all looking forward to this adventure and sharing the journey together. We look forward to sharing our love for travel and "how to's" along the way. Our hope is the boys will catch the bug for travel!

Kudos to my wife for putting so much effort into this and braving the experience with 4 grown men. She's our hero!

Eyes of others

This morning at the Acai bowl place (if you don't know what Acai is that's kind of the point of this post), there were some German tourists in line ahead of me. They were asking what is Acai, while struggling to understand how to pronounce it and also the concept of how and why it's served in a bowl with a bunch of other fruits, granola, honey or other toppings. 

They ordered a bowl that the girl suggested and then the man attempted to pay but struggled with the payment system that required him to sign his name on a screen. (Side note: In Europe, its chip and PIN based not signature based which makes way more sense to me). I stepped forward and helped him through the process. Then they waited for their food, still talking about this Acai thing they had just ordered and I'm sure wondering what they were going to get in the end. 

This weekend my family and I leave on a trip to Japan for 10 days. All 5 of us our going. Our first family trip together.

Aracely and I have forever wanted to take the boys on a trip with us and here we are, right on the cusp of our big adventure. We can't wait. For one thing, rarely do I take this amount of time off from work. Second, we have done trips separately but not as a family.  We are very excited. 

What I observed this morning is exactly the reason we have wanted our kids to travel abroad. This German couple today was having a totally new experience with something I find completely common in my experience. But for them, they had to slow down, ask questions, consider their choices and struggle with a simple payment transaction. 

Traveling to foreign lands gives you a perspective on the world you can't get any other way. You see the world through the eyes of others. It causes you to think. Slow down. Even feel uncomfortable and clumsy. You have to depend on others to help you. Japan is on a different level since it is a complete culture shift. It's one of my favorite places. 

I hope to share and chronicle our journey here. 

Post About Nothing

I'm committed to writing again on a more consistent basis. So many things rattling around in my brain that need to be shared. 

I have opinions on everything. Sports, politics, philosophy, religion, business, family, friendship and love. No shortage of topics there. 

Also, I love to tell stories. My life is full of stories that I am living and sharing everyday. So much to be shared.

The pic in this post is from a recent camping trip we took. I call it "Last Light". 

This is another post about nothing. A preview of sorts for the things to come.

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"Last Light" - Heart Bar Campground, CA

Here I Go Again

It's been quite some time since I blogged. Do people do this anymore? I've been successful with a blog once in the past. But it was hacked and I don't have the energy or desire to resurrect it. Damn Russians.

People tweet now. I've always hated Twitter. Who cares what I think in 140 characters or less?

Our President tweets, which in my opinion is kind of a buzz kill on the entire platform. Grandpa discovered something new and he's ruined it for everyone else. 

I've decided to give this blog thing a go (again). Long form tweeting if you will.

I may have some things to say. It's not just about faith or religion anymore for me. There are many things that interest me, or simply thoughts that pass through my head that need to be shared. Maybe I'm no different than President Grandpa.

Who gives a shit. This is for me. My own selfish entertainment. Let's see what happens.

I am living in the moment

This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are. ~Pema Chodron

“This very moment…”

There really is nothing else except now. The past and the future are unchangeable and uncontrollable. Living in the moment takes effort and requires clear thinking (something I’ve admitted is quite difficult for me). Breaking my life down into moment by moment living has proven to be important to my overall mental health and growth. On one hand it’s very “ZEN” and on the other it’s very “RECOVERY”. It took me going through the “recovery” part via Al-Anon support groups to get to the “Zen” part. It’s a philosophy of life that I am constantly in need of learning.

“…is the perfect teacher…”

We don’t have to look far to learn what we need to learn about ourselves. This moment is perfect to teach us what we need to know. Not “kind of perfect”, but “perfect” as in “dead-on”. This moment always teaches me the right thing if I allow it to do so. Right now, I am writing a blog post. As I write, thoughts flutter through my mind of things I need to do, should be doing or want to be doing later. Those thoughts tell me a lot about who I am, what I want, what I value, what I want others to think and so on and so on. They teach me.

I get an email from someone and it upsets me and then I have a choice of how to respond. We can respond habitually as we always have in moments like this or we can slow down and try another way. The habitual way I usually respond leads to pain or turmoil, so maybe I should be open to a new approach (or better yet, no approach at all). Letting go and not doing anything can be as powerful as trying to control the situation or the other person. This moment has taught me something new.

It’s all really very simple. Each moment of our lives has something perfect to teach us. We don’t need to look elsewhere.

“…and lucky for us, it is with us wherever we are.”

I feel very fortunate to have broken free from the ingrained teachings and habits of my past. If I get hooked into looking back at the past or too far into the future I am robbing myself of what this very moment wants to teach me. Dwelling on the past can hold me back or keep me from moving forward. Making plans for the future can create stress or fear as I try to control unknown outcomes.

I am living in the moment. For me, it’s the best way to live.

Originally written Jan 2011.

I am a Dad

My life changed on October 3, 1994 when Bryson, my oldest son, was born. The heavens did not part and choirs of angels did not sing, but I remember that moment as vividly as any other in my life. His middle name is William, to honor the memory of my father.

Due to some complications his mother had after he was born, I was thrust into the role of fatherhood and I loved it. Bryson and I got to know each other pretty well those first few weeks and months. The kid didn’t like to sleep so there were many nights of just he and I hanging out in the loft above our bedroom with me doing the “baby-dance” and him looking up at me with his saucer-size brown eyes.

For the next six years it was just the three of us. Bryson entertained us with his antics, frustrated us with his moods and kept us on the move with his activities. Those three things haven’t changed as he enters young adulthood.

Bryson and I have always shared a deep connection. However, over the past several years, we have developed a unique bond. It’s unspoken for the most part but he and I know what the other has experienced. He’s seen me at my worst and has loved me unconditionally through each and every day. Well, not completely unconditionally and I don’t blame him for that. He is his own man now and I recognize that I must treat him as such. I am so proud of him and the work he has done to accomplish his goals thus far. I have no doubt he can and will achieve whatever he wants in life.

On September 7, 2000 we welcomed Grant into this world. Because I was a one-time veteran of the experience, I was able to take it all in this time. The process of watching your child brought into the world is quite amazing. I know it was probably different from his mother’s perspective but I loved every minute of being there. We gave him the middle name of Stephen, after me of course, and that has proven to be quite prophetic.

Grant is a little me. From the physical characteristics we share to our asthma and allergies he is quite a carbon-copy of me. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and is a lover of people everywhere. He’s a thinker and prefers to process his every thought out loud to those around him. You want to know what Grant is thinking? Just listen and he will tell you. No guessing required.

It took me a little while to get to know Grant. Maybe it’s because we are so much alike. Or maybe it’s been because most of his life I’ve been trying to figure out who I am. Grant’s family life has been full of changes and much different over his first ten years than his brother experienced. But to Grant I’m still just his Dad and he seems quite content with that.

Grant enjoys just being around me not matter what we are doing. I think I take that for granted and should enjoy it more because that phase will be drawing to a close soon. I look forward to seeing Grant mature and experience life as he moves towards adulthood. For all of his emotions, he seems so very grounded. I am so proud of his ability to adapt and persevere through changes and adversity. Grant does many things well and I would give him the same advice my Dad gave to me, “Find that one thing you love and are most passionate about and focus on it.” I think that’s where Grant will experience the most happiness.

In 2006, I tattooed the initials “BWC” and “GSC” on my right and left triceps respectively. I did this about a year after the boys’ mother and I separated. It was important to physically have a reminder of them every day. They had become such an inspiration and strength to my life. They were an anchor that kept me from drifting when I was tempted to be selfish and act independently of what was most important for them. To this day and always they will be my “right and left arms”.

It’s an honor to be called Dad. If I have ever loved anyone with all of my heart and life it’s been my sons. This will never change.

Originally written Jan 2011.

I am a Man who loves a Woman

I am a Man…

I am finally coming into tune with what being a man means for me. I can’t explain it really nor would you probably want to read it. However, I can say part of becoming a man means accepting responsibility, tackling challenges, not shying away from big moments, being vulnerable, being completely honest and speaking up for yourself.

…who loves…

Love is an action, plain and simple. When you love someone (or say you do) you will demonstrate it.

Love is also a bucket of feelings and emotions. When in the midst of love, it overtakes you. Love is always irrational. We should want it no other way.

I once heard the phrase “harpooned by love” and I think that’s a good word picture for how I feel and have felt the past two years.

…a Woman….

My Woman. How do I describe someone who has broken my heart. Every day and every moment we spend together she surgically cracks apart the protective shell I had built to keep me from ever feeling hurt or loss or grief. She shows me that it is worth the risk even if we just share it for today.

How does she do this? By being so open and honest and completely vulnerable to me and expecting the same from me.

She is truly a Woman in every sense of the word and she allows me to be her Man.

We both cannot and will not promise each other tomorrow. What would be the point in that? So we love fully each day we share together. Just as it should be.

I am a Man who loves a Woman.

Originally written Jan 2011.

I am Steve

I was born in Houston, Texas in July of 1963. My mom and dad were very good parents. I had a pretty typical upbringing, whatever that means. I am the youngest of three with an older brother and sister.

We went to a large, evangelical, conservative Southern Baptist church as a family. I was very involved in the youth groups growing up. I consider this both a blessing and a curse but I don’t have anything but fond memories of the experience. However, I do think what I learned in the church skewed my view of the world and gave me a very limited and narrow perspective on most subjects. This is something that’s changed as I’ve gotten older and while I’m very thankful for my roots, I'm also very happy my perspectives have broadened.

One of the things that impacted my life a great deal was when my father died as a result of a heart attack when I was about 12 years old. I will always remember him as a dad who was very demonstrative in his love for me and my family, telling me often how proud he was of me and encouraging me to pursue and focus on the things I really wanted. I’m not sure I have fully followed his advice, but I think about these things often. My mom raised me from that point on alone and she will always be my hero for how she sacrificed for me.

Around the age of 15 or 16, I seemed destined to enter church ministry and did so immediately following high school. After some stints at small Baptist churches in Texas, I came out to California in 1989 to work at Saddleback Church. Eventually I became the High School pastor and worked with Rick Warren for three years before being unceremoniously replaced by Doug Fields. At the time I was disappointed but I look back on it now as a good turning point in my life. Saddleback style of ministry did enough damage in three years and I’m thankful I only drank that kool-aid for a brief period of my life before seeing it for what it really was – a very ego-driven (not purpose-driven) form of ministry.

I moved from bad to worse when I was shipped to a church in Colorado for a year. It was so bad I’ve blocked it from my memory for the most part. I knew after this experience in Colorado that I no longer wanted to work in the church, but I just didn’t know how to get out since it was pretty much all I knew how to do.

In 1993 I returned to work at a church in Orange County and worked with Tim Timmons who I credit for restoring what little faith I had in pastors and churches. I’m thankful for the six years I worked there because as down as I am on the church as a whole, it could have been a lot worse without Tim’s style of leadership and ministry. That job ran it’s course after about six years and I left in 1999.

Church work had finally lost its appeal and I was looking for a drastic change. Through a network of friends and relationships I was able to get into business and start a career for myself in the technology field. I worked for someone else for four years and then ran my own business for two more years before settling in where I am at my current company since January of 2006.

I no longer have any affiliations with the church. Further, if you want to know me you need to know that I no longer adhere to the belief system I grew up with or held as a pastor. If you want to know why, I’m sure it will come out as I write here or elsewhere but most of it boils down to what is true for me. Christianity no longer fits in that category. I can’t fake a belief that doesn’t exist.

Most importantly and above all, I have two sons and they are the core of my life. Also, I am in the midst of a relationship (since June 2009) with someone, now my wife, who has helped me become the man I should have been many years ago.

I am Steve.

Originally written Jan 2011. Edited Mar 2017.