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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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!

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God works in mysterious ways!

They say the Lord works in mysterious ways. Perhaps there’s no better example of that saying than the January 2010 reconciliation on WWE Monday Night Raw between longtime bitter rivals Bret “Hit Man” Hart and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, following 12-plus years of not communicating with one another.

Michaels became a born-again Christian in 2002, shortly before he came back to competing in WWE after a four-year absence. If you followed Shawn’s antics as part of D-Generation X in 1997-98, or if you followed his backstage antics via the Internet, you would have concluded that Michaels would be the last WWE Superstar to find God, unless “Stone Cold” Steve Austin were to start preaching John 3:16 instead of Austin 3:16.

Earlier this year, Shawn released a book, Wrestling For My Life, which details his faith journey. When he first left WWE following WrestleMania XIV in March 1998, by his own admission, he was angry at the world. He became addicted to pills and painkillers to mask the constant pain that he was experiencing. He married his current wife, Rebecca, in 1999, and they couple gave birth to a son, Cameron, in January 2000. However, that didn’t stop Shawn from continuing to take his pills and having a generally miserable outlook on life. As best as I can recall, his son had just turned two years old, and began to notice his dad constantly drugged out. Shawn eventually began to see the error of his ways, and through the prayerful intervention of his wife, sought out a Bible study in his hometown of San Antonio. The Bible study leader led Shawn in the Sinner’s Prayer, and Shawn wrote that he wept like a baby and became a new man. Even though he still goes through the same human ups and downs that we all do, Shawn resolved to become a God-fearing man and a better husband and father, and, in my opinion, has followed through on that promise. Shawn and Rebecca had a second child, daughter Cheyenne, in 2004.

Meanwhile, following the Montreal Screwjob at the 1997 WWE Survivor Series, Bret Hart left WWE for WCW, and to the surprise of absolutely no one who followed the business, was grossly misused. He eventually had to retire from active competition in 2000, after suffering a concussion resulting from an errant kick from Bill Goldberg at WCW Starrcade 1999. Moreover, his personal life went to hell in a handbasket in the years following the Montreal Screwjob. Hart admitted in his 2007 autobiography that he had a lot of extramarital affairs and was not the most faithful husband to his then-wife, Julie. That led to the couple’s eventual divorce, and I think Bret at least has to take some responsibility for that happening. However, there were plenty of awful things that happened in Bret’s life during that time period that weren’t his fault: the deaths of his brother Owen and his brother-in-law “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, the deaths of his parents, Stu and Helen Hart, the deaths of several friends within the industry (Mr. Perfect and Rick Rude come to mind right off the bat), and to top things off, suffering a stroke, which took him a long time to recover from.

Ironically, the first person to call Bret in the hospital following his stroke was none other than WWE chairman Vince McMahon, the same man who Bret punched out following the Montreal Screwjob. Bret wrote in his book that he felt very emotional as a result of that call, and that led to him slowly but surely making peace with the WWE, including an excellent DVD career retrospective which was released in the latter part of 2005 (featuring several great matches which Bret himself selected for the DVD), and his rightful induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in April of 2006.

However, Bret wrote in his autobiography that he still held ill feelings toward Shawn. I’m sure that Bret thought Shawn’s conversion wasn’t for real. In fact, Bret wrote in his book that he would never forgive Shawn, or his best friend Triple H, for what they did to ruin the business.

Evidently, the good Lord had other ideas. Shawn wrote in his book that Bret began reaching out to him in the latter part of 2009, and the two began texting one another. Bret made his official return to the WWE on the Jan. 4, 2010 edition of RAW and confronted his old rival to begin the show. After the two addressed each other, Bret extended his hand to Shawn in friendship, and Shawn accepted. The two even hugged each other. It is easily the most surreal moment in WWE history: more surreal than former WCW boss Eric Bischoff becoming the storyline General Manager of WWE Raw in July 2002, and more surreal than former WCW icon Sting making his WWE debut at the 2014 WWE Survivor Series.

At the WWE’s annual showcase event, Wrestlemania 26 in 2010, Bret defeated the evil Mr. McMahon via the Sharpshooter in a no-holds-barred match (which was really a glorified squash match, but at least the right man won!). Meanwhile, Shawn lost a Streak vs. Career match to The Undertaker in the main event of that show. Shawn retired as a result of that match, and hasn’t wrestled since. I don’t think it’s an accident that they both had their Wrestlemania swan songs at the same event. Shawn took his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2011, and later that year, WWE released an excellent Greatest Rivalries DVD, featuring Bret and Shawn in a sit-down interview with WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross.

In his recent book, Shawn wrote that he and Bret are not best friends today, nor have they ever been best friends. However, they have a real and authentic friendship and still keep in touch to this day. Definitely a case of divine intervention! Very awesome stuff, if you ask me! If that makes me a old softie, then I guess I can live with that label.

Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels will always be linked together in the annals of WWE history. Thank goodness they are now real friends instead of bitter enemies.

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My struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome

Hopefully, this post will not come across as self-pitying or anything of that nature. Instead, it is meant to enlighten and educate others (and myself), and to encourage you guys to be kind and compassionate toward others who may struggle with being shy or introverted, like myself. It is also meant to let you guys know, as honestly as I possibly can, what I struggle with on a daily basis. We all have our struggles and crosses to bear! Hopefully, I am conducting myself with dignity and class in the process.

As anyone who has known me for even a little bit can recognize, I am very introverted and shy, even on my best days. I am trying my best each day to overcome that stuff, but it’s not easy. Unfortunately, I was bullied on a daily basis in elementary school, and even in high school, because of my weight issues (which I struggle with to this day), as well as because I was so painfully shy. I wanted to fight back, but I didn’t know how to! I sat by myself in the cafeteria every day, I was always picked last in gym class, and I never had a single date in high school. Social life was quite difficult. The thing was, I went to Catholic elementary school (St. Matthew in Detroit) and Catholic high school (Notre Dame High School in Harper Woods)! My family lived in Detroit at the time (they moved to Clinton Township in 1992), and had they not sent me to Catholic school, the other option was to attend the Detroit Public Schools. That was not an option from my parents’ standpoint, and I am eternally grateful for their decision! I got a top-notch education and had the opportunity to graduate from Central Michigan University because I attended Catholic schools. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t wish my social life during those days on my worst enemy!

As I mentioned, I never went on a date in high school, and to this day, haven’t been on very many dates. I’m 44 years old and have never had a serious girlfriend. That feels like such a heavy weight to bear, even though none of my family or friends have passed judgement on me. My two younger sisters, Amy and Jenny, have both gotten married and now have families of their own. During their respective wedding days, I tried as best as I could to be the supportive big brother, and Amy and Jenny were both very compassionate toward me on their respective big days. Thankfully, they realized that weddings aren’t exactly my favorite things in the world. Just the same, it was hard to enjoy their weddings, because deep down, I wondered, “Why can’t I have what they have?” I realize now that it was self-pity on my part, but that’s how I felt at the time. I’m so thankful that I have good relationships today with Amy and Jenny, and that I have two wonderful nieces, Kayla (age 9) and Elianah (age 1).

I don’t remember exactly when, but my parents and my sister Amy talked things over with several professionals in the mental health field, and the professionals came to the conclusion that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. If you don’t know about that condition, I encourage you to look it up on the WebMD site. The site states that symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome can range from mild to severe. Those symptoms include: problems with social skills, eccentric or repetive behaviors, unusual preoccupations or rituals, and communication difficulties, just to name a few.

I am very thankful that I have several female friends who look past what’s on the outside and realize that I am doing the best that I can. To be quite honest, though, I would eventually like to move past friend status and have an honest to God relationship with a woman. Of course, that’s easier said than done! I look at that as a form of redemption for all the unhappiness I’ve endured in my life, and I also look at it as a reward for persevering in the face of adversity. Of course, I realize that God’s way of rewarding people is different from my own! I need to focus on taking things one day at a time and living life to the best of my ability.

I realize I took a risk by writing this post. My parents and sisters probably think I’m crazy for writing this. While I understand their concern, my reasoning is that if you can’t accept me as I am and that I’m doing the best I can every day, then I don’t want to deal with you from a personal or professional standpoint. I also view it as another step toward being the best I can be, toward cleansing myself of the past and moving on with my life.

Thank you for reading and God bless you.