Posts Tagged ‘Salvation Army’

Princess Stephanie

August 14, 2013

Tuesday August 13th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I am still working every day to pare down my piles of clutter. I took two boxes of accumulated trinkets and baubles to a friend of a friend that will hopefully be able sell it all on Ebay, and then brought a couple of bags of clothing to a Salvation Army store. Little by little, it’s getting done.

   I witnessed something at the Salvation Army store that disturbed me greatly. There was a cute little curly red haired girl of maybe six or seven who was with a war pig that I assumed had to be her grandmother. Judging by her sour demeanor, it would be a major stretch to imagine any man sleeping with her recently enough to be the mother of this angelic little sweetheart. What a bitch.

   She was constantly scolding the kid as they walked through the store, and heaven forbid if she wanted to stop to look at something or play with a toy. I really felt for her, and could clearly see the look of hurt in her eye get worse every time the older woman would start getting on her case.

   She was a little kid. What kind of harm could she do in a thrift store full of donated junk people didn’t even want anymore? So what if she would have dropped a glass or something. How much would it have cost to replace it, a quarter? The old lady made it seem like it was a museum of art.

   Unfortunately, this was all too familiar of a scenario. My German grandmother had a similarly icy cold domineering persona, and I remember walking through stores with her catching the very same hell when I was that age. I couldn’t touch or look at anything or have any fun whatsoever.

   My grandmother was a dented can herself, but it wasn’t an excuse in my opinion to turn around and be so cold hearted to a kid. What’s the reason? I’ve read where people do that because it’s all they know, but one would think it would be the exact opposite – at least I would. But it isn’t so.

   I remember having my infamous one on one with my father when I was 31, and he told me that he’d had a face to face with my grandfather when he was the same age and told him he was upset about the way he was treated. Then he said something that chilled me to the bone. “And I turned right around and did it to my own kids. Isn’t that odd?” Odd? Uh-uh. Uncalled for? Absolutely.

   It has always scared me to death to have children because I was afraid I’d carry on that hideous tradition that has been so prevalent in my family. I’m sure it’s in every family to a certain degree, but mine takes it to a high level. I can’t think of any relatives who got to enjoy a childhood filled with Hershey bars and Archie comics – which is exactly what childhood is supposed to be about.

   After several minutes of watching this poor kid get yelled at, I felt like I had to somehow break the tension. I wanted to punch the old bag in the face, but I knew that was the wrong option so all I could think of was to drop a glass on the floor when they weren’t looking and break it. That got both of their attention along with a store clerk, and I immediately put all of the blame on myself.

   “OOPS!” I said aloud as the clerk came quickly over with broom and dust pan. The girl looked up with her pretty blue eyes as if she’d expected the old lady to spank us both but I said “I know a good kid like YOU would never break something like that, would you? That was MY fault.”

   I know how that works from when I was a kid. Someone else screwing up was a relief in that it took the heat off of me for at least a little while. I wish I wasn’t so familiar with this concept but I totally am. Life was full of constant tension as we waited for what would set the old man off.

   I figured that I would take some of the heat off the kid at least for a few minutes. The glass that I chose was only fifty cents and already had a crack in it, so I figured I’d make the investment for the kid’s sake. I knew it was none of my business – but it totally was. I could feel that kid’s pain.

   “She’s a BRAT” snapped the old lady when I said the kid was good. I wanted to kick her in her two ax handle wide ass right there. “NOOO, I think she’s a sweetie pie. I know a good kid when I see one and she is IT! Look at all those BEAUTIFUL red curls and those PRETTY blue eyes!”

   I could see the kid’s face start to light up as I said it, so I kept going. “Are you a PRINCESS?” I asked. She laughed out loud and said no, but I knew I had her going. “Well, I think you’re the prettiest girl in this whole place, and from now on you’re my new Princess. What’s your name?”

   “Stephanie,” she said barely audibly and with a slight lisp ala Cindy Brady. What a sweetheart.

   “Well, from now on you are PRINCESS Stephanie!” I said as I bowed low in front of her. “All hail the BEAUTIFUL Princess!” and I grabbed her hand and kissed it. The store clerk spoke very little English, but she was smiling as she finished cleaning up the glass. The old lady didn’t smile once, and grabbed Stephanie by the arm and they went on their way. I wanted to cry right there.

   I took a lap in the store to gawk at all the junk, even though I’m trying hard to divest myself of as much useless garbage as I can. I guess it’s force of habit, as I’ve gone through thrift stores for as long as I can remember. It’s cheap entertainment, and I had a few minutes to kill before lunch.

   As I walked out of the store I saw the two of them in line to check out. Stephanie smiled at me as I passed by, and I bowed low in front of her once again and waved good bye. She waved back but I could see that it was irritating the old lady so I didn’t say anything else. I did what I could.

   This whole scene really bothered me all day. I’m sure the old lady had a closet full of problems of her own, but she had no idea that she was in turn making Stephanie’s life miserable and giving her unpleasant memories that would last a lifetime. That age is so impressionable for every kid.

   Who can’t look back and remember something that happened when we were six or seven like it was yesterday? Good or bad, memories at that age are very vivid, as often it’s the first time we’re experiencing something. How good did the candy taste then? How fun was it to go down a slide?

   On the other hand, how scary was it to awaken from a nightmare or get chased by a mean dog? That age is supposed to be filled with golden memories on which we build our lives, not hellish torture we spend the rest of our lives trying to forget. Nobody’s childhood is perfect, but some of us have it happen like it’s supposed to. Dented cans spend our adulthoods overcoming our pasts.

   My heart goes out to all the Stephanies of the world – and unfortunately there are MILLIONS. Most of us start out as that cute kid, and then life starts happening and we go our separate ways. Everyone reacts differently to both heredity and environment, and thus we’re all individuals.

   I don’t claim to know everything, and never have. I know that I struggle on a daily basis to get over many unpleasant aspects of my childhood as do all dented cans. Some choose to drown the pain in drugs or alcohol. Others become entertainers to become someone else. Either way, we’ve all got a Princess Stephanie somewhere inside but if nobody tells us we’re good we’ll never have the fun in life we’re entitled to. I do hope I made that kid feel good today. She’ll need it later.


Everything Must Go!

August 7, 2013

Tuesday August 6th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It’s prime time for a possession purge in my life. I feel a backup of clutter weighing me down, and chopping as much dead weight as I can will free me up to move forward. I try to live as lean as possible – or at least I thought I did – but too many piles of junk still manage to accumulate.

   Books have always been my downfall, and that’s the pile that needs to be trimmed most. I have way more than I’ll ever read, and at this point they are just weighing me down. I do read as much as I can, but often it’s online or other sources. These books will be best served in someone else’s possession, as even if I’d start tomorrow and read twelve hours a day I’d never finish them all.

   Almost all of them are nonfiction. I have a ton of self help and how to books, along with health related, biographies and business. I’d love to get to every one of them, but that’s just not realistic and never was. What guy doesn’t want to sleep with every centerfold? That won’t happen either.

   I also have a butt load of audio programs – most of them on cassette. Nightingale Conant is the company that puts them out and most if not all are excellent. I found the majority at thrift stores or rummage sales at minimal cost, but I know for a fact the retail price for a long time was $60.

   I checked on Ebay, and they’re being offered at around $12.99 each for the “buy it now” price. That doesn’t mean they’re getting it, and I’ve got at least 100 titles from Anthony Robbins to Zig Ziglar and everyone in between. I’ve got a few CD sets, but the majority of them are cassettes as that was the technology at the time they were made. The content is still good, but who wants it?

  I’ve listened to quite a few of them, and luckily I happen to have had cassette players in my last few cars but there’s no way I would ever hear them all even if I drove to the North Pole and back six times in a row. Most of them I haven’t gotten to, and they’ve been gathering dust for years.

   If I really wanted to hear them I would have by now, and the same goes for the books. I got to as many as I could, but the future looks bleak for the rest of them. I just don’t have as much time as I’d like, and it would make me feel much better if I’d cut ties with all of it and cleanse my life.

   I took a big box of books to the Salvation Army today, and that felt great. Many of them I read, but a few I hadn’t. It stung a little to put them in the box, but I realized if I hadn’t gotten to them by now I probably never would. I don’t want to be the equivalent of a cat lady for books. I’m not a hoarder, and if I really want that book in the future I can check the shelf at the Salvation Army.

   That’s where a lot of this stuff came from anyway. It gave me something to do on the road, and it didn’t cost much. A couple of bucks here and there weren’t missed, but it sure would be nice to have all of it back and start over. Too late now, as the choices were made. Time to choose again.

   Making time to list the titles and then listing them on Ebay isn’t what I see myself doing in the next little while. I’ve got other projects that need attention, so I think the best option is to clear it out any way I can. If I have to give most of it away, so be it. It’s time to cut losses and move on.

   If you happen to enjoy reading or listening to what I’ve described, feel free to contact me and it will be my pleasure to hook you up with some outstanding material. You could pay me money if you want, but far better payment would be to make use of it yourself then pass it to someone who might also enjoy it and help make the planet a better place. That’s what I’m trying to do myself.

Less Is More

December 23, 2012

Thursday December 20th, 2012 – Niles, IL

   Call me a cynic, but I’m not betting on the end of the world happening tomorrow despite all the hype about the Mayan prophecies. It would be too easy if everything just screeched suddenly to a halt, and my life has been a lot of things but never easy. I’m betting on struggles o’plenty for all.

I did hedge that bet just a smidge though, and consciously chose to not do the enormous pile of laundry that’s been stacking up like firewood for a while. If the Earth does indeed decide to blow up tomorrow, I’m saving myself that chore. Why waste time sorting socks for the Apocalypse?

Instead, I started to purge myself of the majority of my worldly possessions. I’ve attempted this several times before, and the more times I do it the easier it becomes. Things accumulate in all of our lives, and before we know it we’re choking on our own possessions. They eventually own us.

If anything, I am an anti-hoarder. I come from a family of pack rats, and after they died it was a major hassle getting rid of all their useless clutter that they thought was so ‘valuable’ for so long. I saw it happen with my grandparents, father and an uncle and aunt, and I refuse to let it be me.

Part of what makes it easier for me is that I’ve moved more than the average person. I’ve lived a nomadic gypsy lifestyle most of my adult life, and the process of moving becomes more hated and unpleasant each time I do it. Still, I’ve hauled way too many boxes places they never needed to go. I have spent much of this year going through every last scrap of paper, and I’m glad I did.

I salvaged some things I’m glad I kept, like random comedy notes from my years of traveling I didn’t even remember making. Looking at them now, they’re a time capsule that I can create new material from, and the ideas are all my own. It’s like finding a hidden bank account in my name.

Most of the rest of it is piles of books I’ll never read, music and audio programs I’ll never hear and clothing I’ll never wear. Every time I move I purge myself of things like this, but it manages to pile up again and before I know it I’m backed up again. I need to stop doing this over and over and pare down to the bare minimum. It’s much easier to exist free of clutter – at least it is for me.

Step number one today was going through all my clothes and anything I haven’t worn in a year was put in bags to be donated to The Salvation Army. I dropped some significant weight with my exercise regimen after my diabetes diagnosis, and I had a lot of clothes I won’t likely wear again.

I don’t know why I was hanging on to them, but it felt great to load them into the car and drive them to the Salvation Army store in Gurnee, IL and drop them off. My closet is looking bare, but my spirits are looking up because I know it was the right thing to do. Hopefully someone will get some use out of those clothes, but I’m just happy they’re out of my life. This was a perfect start.

Even if the world does end tomorrow, this was the right thing to do. Clearing out the old makes room for the new, if even symbolically. I’m betting we’ll all be around after tomorrow, so I’ll see how much more I can purge to keep this going into 2013 and beyond. Less is more, more or less.

The Magic Of Believing

October 2, 2012

Monday October 1st, 2012 – Niles, IL/Fox Lake, IL

   Today kicks off the 4th quarter of 2012, and I’m ready to dig in and give it all I have. Victory is often a matter of just staying the course until time runs out, and I intend to do exactly that. I have accomplished some positive things so far, but nowhere near what I feel I can. There’s a lot to do.

I don’t think there are any secret formulas other than getting up every single day and giving my all in everything I do. I also need to continuously work on keeping myself organized and focused on one thing at a time. That’s always been difficult, but it needs to be done and I am improving.

There are so many areas to work on. Daily exercise and eating healthy is never easy, and I have had even more of a challenge since I’ve been on the road of late. That lifestyle just isn’t designed for one to maintain a healthy diet or exercise properly. I need to get back in the groove and stay.

Another thing is making both big and small picture goals and trying to mesh the two. It’s great to dream of conquering the world, but if my little corner of it is constantly on fire or having a big storm it can be next to impossible to think about anything else. I need to keep going back to that.

It’s much easier to break down lifetime goals into years, months, weeks and days, and I haven’t done that very well. I tend to get lost or hung up on tangents, and that backs everything else up to a standstill and clogs the toilet. What I need to do for the rest of this year is snake out that drain.

It’s totally time for a major housecleaning. A purge of anything and everything I’m not using is in order, and that includes possessions, people and pursuits. If I haven’t used it in a year, it needs to be gone to help remove some clutter. It’s time to reshuffle the deck and freshen everything up.

I had to take my rental car back today and it was near Marc Schultz’s house. Marc is one of my favorite people, and also a booker of corporate entertainment. I told him I was in need of a purge, and asked for his help in shooting for that elusive ‘next level’. Times aren’t the greatest now, but these are the times we’re all in and everyone is in the same boat. I can only do the best I can do.

I absolutely believe I’m headed in the right direction, and I’m going to keep working and make adjustments as I go. Cleaning out a large percentage of what I’m not going to be using will really help simplify everything, and I started today by filling a big box with clothes I won’t need again.

I’ll donate them to Goodwill or The Salvation Army and keep going with CDs, DVDs and then work on shrinking the mega-mountain of books I’ll never get to. I did stop today to purchase one I’ve been meaning to read for years, and that’s ‘The Magic Of Believing’ by Claude M. Bristol.

That’s the book Phyllis Diller swore by and credited for her success, and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never read it. It cost me $6.99 plus tax at a Barnes & Noble, but I look at it as an investment in myself. If I pay full price for it, I’ll be more likely to read it and that’s my intention. I’ll pass it on to others as well. The saying ‘use it or lose it’ is 1000% true. I may have a giant collection of quality books, but if I don’t make time to read them what good are they? I’m starting with ONE.