Peace of mind

Yesterday, my friend John sent me a message via Facebook Messenger. Included in that message was a link to a blog, titled, “Seashell Nell,” in which the author wrote a post titled, “Someone asked me what I wanted.” The author then proceeded to write a bunch of things that she wanted, in quite eloquent fashion. A lot of those things were spiritually related.

My list of things I want isn’t quite as eloquent. In fact, there is only one main thing I want out of life, and that is peace of mind. Those who have read past blog posts of mine know that I can be hard on myself and unforgiving of myself for past transgressions and mistakes that I have made. I am certain that is not the healthiest approach to life. I want and need to remind myself that I am doing the best I can each and every day. My quality of life is important to me from this point forward, and that doesn’t have to include material things. Rather, the quality of my relationships with family and friends needs to take top priority. I think good things will happen to me once those take shape.

Being OK with myself

The more I think about it, the more I realize I have to be as content with myself as I possibly can in order for me to move forward with my life. Of course, we all have to adapt to changing times and circumstances in order to survive. No one wants to see the world pass them by. However, being content with myself is easier said than done.

I readily admit that I am not very good when it comes to managing my money. Eating out seems to be a bad habit for me. Even though I am not independently wealthy to begin with, the temptation of eating out is often too great for me to resist. Between my Social Security disability and working at Lowe’s, it is a struggle to make it each month. However, I am not doing myself any favors. I feel like I am letting my parents down, and moreover, I feel like I am letting God down. After all, He calls us to be good stewards of what we have on this Earth, and I haven’t always done that. I also feel like I have let a lot of people down by not being in a better spot from a life standpoint. Since I am in my 40s, and a college graduate, I think I should be in a better spot than I am. However, I think I am in the majority of folks for which life hasn’t turned out like they had planned. After all that I have been through, I need to celebrate and take pride in the smaller victories that come with each day, and not be so hard on myself. By the same token, I need to recognize that there is still room for improvement.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a member of the Reflect retreat team, which conducts 1-2 retreats per year for midlife Catholic singles at St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt, MI, not too far from Lansing. I have been on the team for about 5-6 years. I am grateful for their unconditional friendship, acceptance, and support. I think they realize that I have my own unique gifts that I bring to the team. Just the same, I think there are times where I feel inadequate in their presence, and it isn’t because of anything they did wrong. It’s just that the majority of them have life experiences that I’ve never had: home ownership, having family lives of their own, going on vacations to places I’ve never been, etc. It’s totally illogical, yet that’s often how I feel.

I guess that goes to show you that while I think a lot of things have changed for the better for me since I moved back to metro Detroit back in May 2012, I still have to learn to love myself first and foremost. I have to be good to myself before I can be good to other people.

If I could turn back time

I realize that is the title of a Cher song (I think it was released around 1989), but in my case, it applies to how often I wish my life could have turned out differently. 

I think everyone has regrets about some aspect of their lives, or wish they could do things over. As folks who have read this blog know, I deal with Asperger’s Syndrome every day of my life. Each day is a challenge, but I think taking the “one day at a time” approach helps tremendously. Because of Asperger’s, social interaction is seemingly harder for me than it is for most folks, although I think I have made strides in that area. If I had to live my life over again, then high school wouldn’t have been as difficult socially for me as it was. I would have had more friends, gotten involved in sports (instead of getting picked last each time in gym class!), and maybe even gone out on a date or two.

I often wonder if the teachers or staff at St. Matthew Elementary School in Detroit or Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods could have intervened on my behalf. After all, they had to have noticed that I was seemingly in my own world while my classmates were having fun and interacting with each other. I was also jealous of my elementary and high school classmates, because they seemingly had more material things and traveled to more places than I did. For heaven’s sake, these were Catholic schools I was attending! I wouldn’t have counted on any intervention from anyone within the Detroit Public Schools system (thank heavens my parents didn’t send me there!), but Catholic schools were supposed to be more caring and concerned about the total person!

I tried talking to some staff about the situation, especially when I was going to Notre Dame, but social life was still extremely difficult. I think from the staff’s perspective, their main concern was that I was succeeding from an academic standpoint. That was not an issue for me, as I attained an approximate 3.45 grade point average while taking a lot of Honors and Advanced Placement classes. In addition, I don’t think much, if anything, was known about Asperger’s Syndrome back when I was in elementary school and high school. Therefore, I don’t think the teachers or staff knew how to intervene for someone like myself. It’s especially easy for me to forget that, because some of the teachers and administrators at NDHS were priests or other religious. I tended to think they had all the answers, when in reality they didn’t. They did the best they could with the knowledge they had.

As far as my NDHS classmates were concerned, on the outside they seemingly had things a lot easier than I did. I certainly wish that I could have done a lot of the fun things that my classmates did. However, I didn’t know what sort of internal struggles they faced – I was too preoccupied with my own struggles! Even now, I have to remind myself that everyone is dealing with internal struggles to some degree or another. Perhaps I am being a little bit too open and honest about it, but for me, writing is a tremendous coping mechanism that helps me connect with other people. 

So, even though I wish I could turn back time, the reality is that I can’t do that. I can only move forward and take life one day at a time, and do the best I can with each day.

It’s official!

I have signed up for the National Catholic Singles Conference, which is scheduled for Oct. 23-25 in Atlanta. If you want to find out more information about the conference, check out its website at http://www.nationalcatholicsingles.com. I am very excited about attending the conference and what it has to offer! I realize that it is about five months away, but I hope I can adequately prepare for the conference from a mental standpoint, as well as earn enough money between now and then to pay for my airfare, hotel and lodging, and miscellaneous expenses.

As I was driving home from a party this evening, I was listening to the SiriusXM channel 80s on 8, and heard the Guns ‘n’ Roses song “Patience.” Now, I am certainly no Guns ‘n’ Roses fan, but for whatever reason, that song resonates with me. Those of you who know me know that patience is not one of my strong suits. I can’t imagine God being a Guns ‘n’ Roses fan, but perhaps in His infinite wisdom, He was using that song to send me a message. Last week, I wrote about how much I feel the need to redeem myself for all the social unhappiness I experienced in elementary school and high school, and for my relative lack of dating experience. I still worry about if it’s too late for me, at 44, to find a girlfriend and eventually a spouse. Deep down, I realize that God has plans for me that are far greater than any I could imagine for myself! Still, in my human weakness, I want Him to make those plans known to me now, instead of in His time. I’ll never understand why I’ve had to go through the trials that I’ve been through.

While I realize that I need to trust God and His providence more than I do, I still feel compelled to dig in and fight the good fight, to keep my focus on character development and improving myself. Of course, I need to do this one day at a time. I’ll go stir crazy if I take any other approach! Still, for my own peace of mind, I need to persevere. I am thankful that I have family, friends and professionals to help me out and to encourage me to keep going when I stumble and fall (we all do, because we’re all human).

Hope you guys are having a good Memorial Day weekend. Please take the time to remember those who served our country so that we can enjoy the quality of life that we do. I would especially like to remember my grandfather on my dad’s side, who served our country doing World War II. 

National Catholic Singles Conference

Earlier today, I came across the website for this year’s National Catholic Singles Conference (www.nationalcatholicsingles.com), which is scheduled for Oct. 23-25 in Atlanta. I’ve done some research on the conference, and will do some more research (specifically on how much it costs), but I’m strongly leaning toward attending the conference. You guys all know how much I stress about being 44 years old and unmarried, and worrying if I am the only guy on Earth who is going through the kind of stuff I am going through.  

Well, I think this conference presents a fantastic opportunity. At the very least, it will allow me to grow in my faith, meet new people (both men and women!), have fun, and probably remind myself that I’m not the only 44-year-old single, never been married, Catholic male out there. I’m sure the folks at the Lowe’s White Lake store would allow me to take the time off to attend the conference if I gave them sufficient notice!

Just wondering what you guys think of this? Any feedback is welcome!

The Yes Movement will not go away

WWE superstar Daniel Bryan just can’t catch a break. 

At Wrestlemania 30 last year, Bryan stole the show and won the WWE World Heavyweight championship, to the roaring approval of fans at the Superdome in New Orleans. However, he had to vacate the title due to injuries. Fast forward to this year, when Bryan won the WWE Intercontinental championship at Wrestlemania 31. Again, he doesn’t get to hang on to the title for very long, as he vacated that title earlier this month due to injuries. It’s not certain, when, or even if, he’ll return to active competition.

Bryan seemingly has been underestimated ever since arriving in WWE in 2010. I’m fairly certain that a certain WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon, never saw Bryan as a future Wrestlemania main eventer. The same Vince McMahon who thought it was a brilliant idea to start the XFL (how did that turn out, by the way?), and the same Vince McMahon who made an idiot of himself in the Stand Back video back in 1987. I could recite countless other examples, but you get the point: McMahon is not infallible, and Bryan has every right to have a chip on his shoulder for being underestimated by him. If I were Bryan, I’d rub his success in McMahon’s face every chance I could. If Bryan doesn’t feel comfortable doing that, then he can at least have someone like The Rock do it on his behalf. However, Bryan is a better man than I am, so it’s probably not going to happen.

I also believe that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon constantly referring to Bryan in storyline as a B-plus player was a direct reflection of how the WWE powers that be view Bryan in real life. Despite all that Bryan has accomplished, I wouldn’t be surprised if they still view him as a B-plus player. I don’t think Bryan will ever get another run with the WWE World title because of his injury history, which is a rotten shame. 

I’ve never met the man, but from all I’ve heard, Bryan is as humble as it gets for being as talented as he is (much like former Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman). I’m sure Bryan is flattered that ordinary Joes like myself are sticking up for him, but at the same time, he’s probably at least a little embarrassed. He doesn’t seem the least bit interested in fame or what the world views as success. He just wants to be the best and remain down-to-Earth at the same time. I wish I had his outlook on life.

The WWE is producing a DVD set on Bryan, to be released in June, and is putting out a book on Bryan’s life, to be released in July. I plan to purchase both items. After all, the poor guy and his family shouldn’t have to starve just because he is injured, and I’ll do my part to make sure that doesn’t happen. I have to wonder if the WWE wants Bryan and the Yes Movement to go away so that the WWE can promote guys that more closely fit their viewpoint of what a WWE Superstar looks like. News flash: the Yes Movement is not going away. You can’t fool the fans, and you can’t stop talent.

Even if he never competes in another match again, Bryan has accomplished enough in his career to warrant inclusion into the WWE Hall of Fame. Only a select few performers can say they stole the show at a Wrestlemania, and Bryan is one of them. I’m sure he’s not preoccupied with when or if he makes it there. However, he’s going in, whether he likes it or not! (LOL)

Godspeed and get well soon, Daniel.

My CMU years and redeeming myself

I know full well that everybody makes mistakes, that no one gets a free pass in life. I’m sure my family and friends think I’m being too hard on myself.

However, I firmly believe I have to redeem myself for me not turning out like I hoped I would growing up, meaning that I have a well-paying job, a family of my own, and get to take lots of nice vacations. Of course, that’s not how my life turned out! I readily admit that I get jealous when I see Facebook posts of couples who are seemingly happy together, as well as folks who get to take nice vacations, and pay too much attention to them and wonder to myself, “Why can’t I have that?”

I know that in a previous post, I touched upon how difficult my social life was in elementary school and high school. What I haven’t talked about previously was how difficult social life was for me even when I went to college at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Keep in mind that I lived a pretty sheltered life growing up. I went to Catholic elementary school and Catholic high school, and a strong emphasis was placed on having strong morals and values, both in school and at home. 

I was not prepared for the culture shock I would experience my freshman year at CMU! All three of my roommates were heavily into partying and drinking, and I would often find myself alone in my residence hall room at Larzelere Hall at CMU during weekends. One of my roommates thought he was all that with the women, and he seemingly brought home a different one to our dorm room each night. I wanted to speak up, but as I alluded to in a previous post, I didn’t know how to, because of the Asperger’s syndrome that I’ve dealt with my entire life (of course, I didn’t know what Asperger’s syndrome was at the time!) I eventually requested and was granted a transfer to a different room within Larzelere for the second semester of my freshman year.

Looking back, I wish I had a stronger sense of who I was, and what I had to offer the world, when I was a student at CMU. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have majored in psychology. I heard that you had to get at least a Master’s degree to go anywhere in that field, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. Keep in mind that I was the “guinea pig” in my immediate family as far as going to college (I was the first one to graduate from college; my sisters Amy and Jenny have since graduated from Oakland University in Rochester, MI). Still, I wish I would have been more discerning and asked more questions before deciding on a major. Again, I think it was a combination of Asperger’s and me not having the proper life experience that prevented me from making a better decision for myself.

Having said that, I enjoyed myself a great deal at CMU after my freshman year. My favorite CMU experiences while I was a student there would unquestionably be the two times that the CMU football team defeated the Michigan State Spartans. CMU shocked the 18th-ranked Spartans, 20-3, in 1991, and just to show it was no fluke, the Chippewas again defeated the Spartans 24-20 in 1992. Clearly, the Spartans did not respect the Chippewas in either year in their preparations for the game. Michigan State had seemingly every advantage over Central Michigan: more money, better facilities, bigger name recruits, larger fan base, etc. However, the Chippewas had the advantage in one key area: coaching. Longtime CMU head football coach Herb Deromedi (now in the College Football Hall of Fame) clearly outclassed and outcoached MSU coach George Perles. If I remember correctly, Coach Deromedi’s main motivational message to his team in preparation for facing MSU was that “Michigan State didn’t want you.”  The result of that motivational message was quite evident!

I’m sure my MSU friends weren’t too thrilled reading that last paragraph! However, as a proud CMU alumnus, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t bring it up! Plus, you guys would do the same thing if the roles were reversed, and if you say otherwise, then you’re kidding yourselves!

While I had plenty of good memories at CMU, I still battled loneliness and awkwardness on a daily basis. I had a couple of instances of unrequited love when I was a student at CMU. Shortly after one student gave me the old “we can just be friends” deal, she began parading around the hall with her new boyfriend. You can imagine how I felt about that!

That leads me to today, and why I feel the need to redeem myself for all of the social struggles I’ve experienced in my life. Of course, I view redemption in terms of dating, having a girlfriend, and eventually a spouse. I don’t think God views redemption for me in that same light! I just hope that if the Lord doesn’t provide me with a spouse in this life, then I will at least have plenty of friends to ease that burden. I don’t want to die alone! I recently signed up for eHarmony.com and completed my profile. It’s still very early in the process, but I hope that at 44, it’s not too late for me to find a mate!

Because of all the negative experiences I’ve had regarding dating, I tend to view the whole process as superficial. I’d use stronger language, but I want to keep this a PG-rated blog! I’m sure it’s not a superficial process by any means, but I think you can understand where I am coming from! I hope time proves me wrong!