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Independence Day 2014

This past 4th of July marked the 238th year since we as American citizens gained our independence from the British. In my lifetime, I will hopefully have seen the 250th anniversary and maybe even the 300th if I live to 89 years old! Countless struggles and trials have been overcome in those 238 years. Numerous victories won. Injustices done to people have been too many to count. What we are today is a manufacturing of the choices we have made along the way. The America that we see is a product, a project, but we are not a finished project. We are not a finished product. No. As the years go on, we change, shape, and decide what America will look like in the next 20 years, 50 years, or 100 years.

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I Will Wait.

Songs. We all know that they have deeper meaning than just the music that makes its way to our ears. The notes, harmonies, melodies, strums of the guitar, beats of the drum, and skills of the artist…mixed with the venue you heard it in…is a concoction for memories. We remember the mood we were in, the people around us, the smells in the air, the clothes we were wearing, the time period, and if we were crying or laughing. Songs imprint themselves on us like pieces of emotional history.

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I have to say that I remember many years ago when Mumford & Sons first came out with their giant hit and debuted on the scene with The Cave. I remember saying to myself, “This makes me feel pretty good. I like these guys a lot.” The reason I am writing about Mumford & Sons in this post today is for a specific reason.

url-2Mumford & Sons new hit I Will Wait, off of their “Babel” album is already a huge sensation. When I first heard this song, I was delivering pizzas in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was making money to get by, paying bills, paying rent, etc. At this time in my life, I had two degrees in social work and had put myself through 6 years of university and graduate school. At this point I had been planning to move to New Zealand for the past 3 1/2 years and had been working my fingers to the bone, day in, and day out, in order to fulfill my lifelong calling to work with youth in New Zealand. My calling was beginning to look like it wasn’t going to happen, and I really didn’t know what was happening. Things were tense and I was struggling to get a job. I took a degrading job so that I could survive in the meantime, all the while telling myself that it was going to be worth it.

The pizza parlor I worked in was right next to Gerald Ford Airport. It was a common occurrence to see airlines soar over me and take off for their destinations. I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t think to myself, “One day, I’m going to be on one of those flights, waving down below to the pizza guy looking up at me. One day.” Well, on this one particular day, I Will Wait came on the radio for the first time. I couldn’t help but feel overcome with emotions. Songs mean different thing to different people. Many will hear this song and think that it is being sung about waiting for a person. When I hear this song, I think about waiting for my dreams. And I’ll tell you why: It took everything within me not to ditch my job and everything I’d brought to Michigan behind, and chase my dream every time I saw an airplane take off. Instead, I did what I needed to do, and remained patient, and every time I saw a plane soar over me I thought to myself, “I will wait.”

Can I tell you how incredibly emotional it was being in the plane overlooking the ground on the day I left for New Zealand? Well, it was. And now that I’m here, fulfilling my dream, I cannot help but thank God, and thank all my family/friends who helped me get here, and stayed with me when I refused to give up on my dreams. You know who you are.

On a side note, this song is just really happy, and I’m found renewed with joy whenever I hear it. Enjoy.

Bucketlist & Social Workers in Space?!?

I have a new item on my bucketlist. Yes I have a bucketlist. It’s simple. You think of the things that you’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason can’t. Then you put them on a list. As life goes on, you’ll find that you run into opportunities where you cross those items off your list.

Having a bucketlist can make a person seem whimsical or non-committal. “If you want to do those things on the list, THEN JUST GO OUT AND DO THEM!”…some might say. Those would be your “go-getters.” In reality, there are obstacles that get in the way of us doing what we’ve always wanted to do. Carrying out our heart’s desires, intrigues, and wildest dreams can seem so far off and distant. For you, I say, “hold out.”

The unique thing about a bucket list is that it is very parallel to what therapist use in therapy sessions. We work with the client to make sure they have some sort of goal(s) that they are trying to reach while in session. (not with all clients, but with most) Most goals will be manageable and achievable, so that they do not become discouraged for not reaching it. Baby Steps. But, we also encourage the client to think big, even if it is one goal that may seem outside their reach. And Go For It.

A bucketlist is just a list of “goals” that you hope to accomplish one day. Lofty aspirations and maybe a few that you really do hope come to pass. A life without direction is a boat on open seas without a navsat. Frightening. Aimless. Confused. Even if you set just one goal for yourself, I challenge you to do that today. It will give you direction, purpose, meaning, and motivation. And who knows, it may even cause you to think about that thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never did…for whatever reason.

Oh! I almost forgot! I added a new item to my bucketlist. Okay, so check it out: Social Workers….IN SPACE! Eh?? Ehh?? Astronauts need therapy too…God knows they do. I’ve got a few different titles for my new position that I just made up: Orbiting Social Worker (OSW), Astronaut Social Worker (ASW), Space Social Worker (SSW), Outer Space Social Worker (OSSW), Space Station Social Worker (SSSW), and one of my favorites, Planetary Social Worker (PSW). There are Psychologist in space, but not Social Workers…to my knowledge. One thing’s for sure if this ever pans out, I’d be low in the referrals department, haha.

My Crazy Dream

Let’s see how much I can remember.

For backstory, this was one of those dreams that I was seriously planted RIGHT into it. All of the emotions I was feeling felt real, all of the dialogue I fel like was actually being said, all the chaos actually felt like was happening. So it starts off with Eric Brown, the guy who took me to the oral surgeon’s office, and myself. We are walking on some street, not far from his parked car. When all of a sudden, we start seeing these people acting really weird. Almost comatose. We think it’s weird, but we kinda shrug it off. So we enter the shop we were walking to in the first place. The second we step into the shop, it is red-dead obvious. Every person in the shop was either dead or being eaten into by very sick looking people. I stand there looking at the mess thinking to myself, “This isn’t possible. This can’t be happening. I’ve seen this scene over and over in movies and video games, but this can’t happen in real life. This isn’t real. This must be a set of a movie or something.”  Suddenly Brown grabs me and says,

“We need to get out of here, NOW.”

I am slow to react, mesmerized by the impossible scene before me, but the images are too real to ignore. This is Real. This is Happening. I follow Brown out of the shop in a very brisk run back to the car. Suddenly those comatose people are now serious threats to me staying alive. I avoid them with more intentionality. We jump into the car faster than we had the 1000 times previously on days much more normal than today. Days without…zombies? Ugh, it still seemed so weird to say. In the drive out of the town, we are silent for about 60 seconds, just taking everything in. I stare at the dashboard, Brown stares at the road. My mind is racing. I had playfully created scenarios of what to do if there was ever a situation like this in real life. Playfully. Because it would NEVER happen. None of the scenarios were making their way to the surface. All I could think about was what to do now. I break the silence.

“Dude, we need to arm ourselves. Our hands are just not going to cut it.” Brown agrees and changes course. “Is this even happening??” I plead with my friend. Brown answers without hesitation,

“Yeah man. We need to keep focused. I need your head. Okay?”

“Yeah…” And I return to sit relaxed in the car seat. I had been on the edge of the seat for the past 10 minutes.

We arm ourselves with ammo and rudimentary guns that haven’t already been raided from shops. For some reason we begin to enter a sports arena. The catacombs under the stadium are a very bad place to be right now. Narrow halls, moderately lit, at any moment we could run out of ammo trying to fend off hundreds of infected. We walk in anyway. cautiously, we surface out of the entrance to the field. I peak my head into the stadium seating and notice people moving around. They notice me too and shout out for me to identify myself.

“We’re Friendly!” I shout up to them. I look at Brown and we share a look that says, how the heck could they know that? 

Gratefully, they let us up and we start climbing the stairs into the seating area from the field. As I get closer, I notice that one of the leaders of this pack is a very old friend of mine since I was eight years old. Corey Olsen. I embrace him in a one arm hug, since I am holding onto my shotgun. I hadn’t seen him in over ten years. We weren’t close friends anymore, but any friendly face gave a flood of relief. I also notice a familiar face of a guy I worked with at a summer camp in Evart, MI. Being that this is a dream, this doesn’t seem weird. And neither does what is coming next. We talk for a bit, and I ask who is in charge of this group. Up a flight of stadium stairs in front of me, dressed in a black trench jacket walks in Samuel Jackson.

“Samuel Jackson?! Oh man! It is good to see you!”

“We should get out of here.” Jackson demands.

Right as he says that, we notice that many infected have made there way into the stadium and were climbing there way up to us. I turn to Jackson to have him explain more about our escape.

“Get to the cars. Now!”

Everyone, like they had done this before, start to exit at the top of the stadium. The cars are all parked outside and we form a convoy out of there. We travel for what seems like a couple hours and pass by this little town. There is a biker behind Brown’s car, who is apart of our convoy. As we pass by a few shops that look like they have some promise, we quickly notice that they have been ransacked. One such shop has, what we can see, a gang of bikers who don’t look like very much fun. We keep driving, but the biker behind us, starts talking smack to them to eg them on.

“Oh great,” I motion to Brown behind us, “That guy is an idiot.” And turns out, he was. The gang of bikers began to suit up to follow us and ride us down. That’s when chaos ensues. The biker behind us is picked off pretty easily. A few cars infront of us explode as the bikers start their fun. We are dodging and making sweeping drifts around debris, but eventually we clip something and it takes out the entire front right side of the car. We flip and eventually come to a stop.

This is where the dream ends, and I awake.

Pipe Dreams

So I went with Randy , my brother in law, to visit a guy who has rumored to poses a treasure of old timey pipes circa 1900, and some even older than that. Naturally I was geeking out. This was the same guy that Randy bought my current pipe from [featured in the picture on the right]. Needless to say I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head the entire night.

When I get to the guy’s place, I recognize him immediately. I had worked with him at Apple. His name was Andy. Great guy. We get to his, “man cave” which in the truest sense of the word is a man cave. It is a shed about twenty feet by fifteen feet that looks like it hasn’t moved for 300 years. Decomposing in front of my eyes, I enter the shed to see shelves, a workstation with tools everywhere, and a table saw. The place is covered in spider webs and history. I love it. Later I find out that Andy has not one but TWO sharpening stones outside the man cave. I’m talking about the ones that you spin in a circle by peddling it. He was sharpening his machete right in front of me. I love this man. haha.

So he brings out the goods. Two boxes of pipes. One box is about two feet by one foot…a fairly deep box. The other is about a couple inches deep and 9 inches long…a smaller box. He open the boxes and I glaze over. I’m talking about some of the coolest, unique, knarley pipes you’ve ever seen. He was sitting on a gold mine.

He told us about the history behind the pipes and how his Great Grandfather was a Slumlord in the area and one day a store owner came up to him to tell him that he didn’t have the money he owed. The store owner told Andy’s Great Grandfather that he’d have the money in month, and he would put his store up as collateral if he didn’t come through. The man died one week later. Andy’s great grandfather inherited a Pipe Shop that day. He ran the shop successfully for a while until he couldn’t do it anymore, and the entire inventory was boxed up and stored away.

Andy’s Grandfather gave him the boxes because they were taking up space and he didn’t know what to do with them. By this time in the story, Andy had brought out 5 boxes of varying depths, and proceeds to tell us that there was a flood about a couple years back, and Andy lost 75% of the pipes! He then continues to tell us that there are EIGHT MORE BOXES in the basement!! I’m flipping out right about now.

I bought four pipes, all new and dating before 1910, for less than 50 bucks. The entire trip was a blast and I can’t wait to go back to check out the rest. I need a limit on the money I’m allowed to bring to Andy’s place, ha.