Dear Son; Don’t Panic

I know how frustrating life can be at times. The world is all too quickly closing in on you and the doorway back to your sanity is getting farther and farther away. Growing smaller until it appears you’ll never fit back through it. The weight on your shoulders is so heavy it’s grinding you to the ground. It’s like you’re constantly swimming against the waves and every time you get near the surface you get dragged under by the current again and again and again… a seemingly never ending cycle.

Trust me; I’ve been on that treadmill where it seemed you’re always chasing the elusive breakeven point. No matter how hard you work it never seems to get any closer.

Then one day an old surfer friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson. He told me, “When the big wave hits and pulls you down don’t struggle against it. Just relax and let the buoyancy float you back to the surface.”

Isn’t that how life works? When the big waves come crashing down drowning you in the oceans of despair and pulling you farther into the icy depths of depression, sometimes you just have to stop struggling and relax. Stop panicking, take a deep breath, and slowly dissect your situation into those things that can be controlled and those that can’t. Then concentrate all your efforts on those things that you can change.

Figure out what it is that you NEED. Not what you WANT. Not what it would be NICE TO HAVE, but what you REALLY NEED. Then decide the best way to handle them and move on. If it’s something you don’t need, get rid of it.

In hopes that you can forgo the harsh realities I had to learn from firsthand experience, I would like to share with you a few lessons I’ve stubbornly learned throughout the years.

First, you must understand that the world is not fair. You’re not owed anything. No fairy godmother will appear and wave her wand to turn your pumpkin into a coach. Hard work done smartly is still the only key to success. Besides, a pumpkin will go a long way to fill empty stomachs. Better than any coach ever would.

There are many people who are more than willing to help if you just ask. No one in this world can succeed without help from someone and there is no shame in asking. But remember, just as there are times in your life you have to say NO, it is also ok for other people to say NO to you. That’s alright; everything is not always about you.

Secondly, you are not perfect. No one on this earth is. Accept other people’s imperfection and they will accept yours. There are always going to be certain people that will not love or appreciate you no matter what you do. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it makes no difference if you agree with it or not, respect it. Don’t try to change them and don’t try to change yourself for them. Just let them go. On the other hand, there are those that will always love and appreciate you no matter what you do. Surround yourself with them. Reflect their love and appreciation back to them. They are all you need. Embrace them. A sincere smile is always worth more than words.

Your life belongs to you. You’re responsible for it. Stop blaming everyone else for your problems. Others can help guide you but never do anything that you don’t think is right just because someone else thinks it might be right for you. They won’t have to live with the results, you will. Always remember, there is nothing more important than honesty, integrity, values, love and forgiveness. These are not just words; they are a way of life.

Sometimes people will say things they don’t mean and other times they will do things they said they wouldn’t. Accidents happen and bad things can happen to good people. You are not God; you do not have all the answers. Get over it. Anger and resentment can build a very strong fort around your heart. Only forgiveness and kindness will tear it down. Admit it when you’re wrong and learn from those mistakes.

Life is not always about work. Just like you need sleep to refresh your mind and body, you need relaxation to refuel your spirit. Be thankful and take comfort in the simple things. Remember, no matter how horrible your life is or at least how horrible you think it is there are millions of people that would gladly trade places with you.

Finally, things are never as bad in reality as your imagination can make you believe. If you keep your head and don’t panic, you will eventually float to the top.

McClendon Villa September Challenge 11-24

Installment #2 of McClendon Villa September challenge (Back Where I Come From). If you would like to play along, you can find more information on the challenge here.

#11 – Were there a lot of churches in your town? How about where you live now?

Wakenda – Population 150…4 churches. Enough said.

Helena, Montana – Population 30,000…30 churches. Also, enough said.

#12 – On the Opposite Side of the fence, did you know of anyone engaged in an illegal activity?

You mean other than underage drinking, out of season hunting, hunting without a license, fishing without a license, driving without a license, car races, pulling people down the road on a sled made from a car hood in the winter, minors having sex, stealing apples or watermelons, syphoning gas from farm vehicles or the occasional marijuana usage… then no.

#13 – What color were the eyes of your first date?

Brown. If I may steal some words from Bob Segar, “A beauty with big dark eyes and points all her own sitting way up high…way up firm and high.”

#14 – Do you tan easily or do you burn instead?

Growing up in a farming community, shirts were optional and usually left at home or in the car. Cut off blue jeans shorts was the preferred attire. So I usually remained tan throughout the year. But as I grew older, society and my sagging belly dictated that I keep my body under the cover of several layers of garments. These days my achromatic skin begins to turn pink at the mere mention of sun.

#15 – When did your family get their first color television set? Do you remember the first show that you watched on it?

I don’t remember when my family got color, but I do remember the first show I ever saw in color. It was ‘The Flintstones’. I was 13 and it was my next door neighbor’s TV.

#16 – Was your hometown a “backwards” place or do you feel it was progressive?

Backwards, backwoods, sideways, reverse, behind, retrograde, regressive, inverse…

#17 – Was your hometown an economically advantaged or disadvantaged area?

Other than farming, there were two grain elevators, a store and a gas station that hired exactly 13 people. There were 5 school bus driver routes, a post office that had one employee and the road maintenance that also consisted of a crew of one. As a child, I walked beans, hauled hay, searched the ditches for discarded bottles to turn in for the deposit and shucked corn.

#18 – Did you like your childhood home? What did you like or not like about it.

With a family the size of mine, there was never any place you could call yours. The house was always filled with so many voices screaming to be heard. It was easy to get lost among the crowd.

#19 – Did you have any pets in your childhood home?

Besides my dead frog named Pete, one of my teachers gave me a black lab named George F Bungle dog. Turns out it should have been called Georgette F Bungle Dog. That dog was so dumb it could barely walk in a straight line without tripping over her own legs. But we were great friends. But as far as having pets in the house, my parents believed that animals belonged outside. With all of us already inside, who could blame them.

#20 – Did you have a neighborhood park/playground? Did you play there?

We had the playground at the school with the standard playground equipment including a baseball field. But we had an entire county to call our playground. There were many days that we would walk for ten miles or more just to go fishing or swimming. We climbed trees, build tree houses and forts. We had the entire town to play war games with each other. We would choose up sides and use rotten tomatoes for hand grenades.

#21 – Were there any flowers growing in your yard?

My mother had indoor plants everywhere; Ferns, Ivy, Philodendron, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Begonias and Chinese evergreen. But outside was where her green thumb glowed. She grew all the standard vegetables that she canned for winter. But she loved flowers of all kinds. Marigolds, Caladiums, Elephant ear, Hostas, Rhododendrons and morning glories. But my favorite was the peony bushes by the back fence. When I was really tiny, they were big enough that I could hide between them and the fence to pretend I was invisible.

#22 – Did you have chores?

No set chores. That’s one of the advantages of being the next to the youngest. There is always someone to do it. Or to at least share it with. The chore I hated most was doing dishes. Of course, I had no idea what a dishwasher was. We did it all by hand. Flatware was the absolute worst. So many pieces that it took forever and killed your back. I must admit though, I would rather dry than wash.(or as we say in Missouri…warsh.)

#23 – Are you ever homesick for your hometown?

While it was there for me to return to, I would have said no. Now that it is gone, I miss it every day.

#24 – Does your hometown have a website?

Since the town does not exist, there is no official website. However, there is a Facebook group at Wakenda Alumni. It’s just a place for a bunch of us ‘shitkickers’ to gather and lie to each other about those good ole days.

Just Another Poor Man

It don’t make no difference

Who sits in the office at the top

The poor will still get beaten down

And that ain’t never going to stop


The game is fixed so that the rich get rich

While the poor man is doomed to fail

Don’t even think to try to better yourself

Or they might throw your ass in jail


Or they can send you off to a foreign war

Started by those that never have to fight

The poor ass bastards are the ones they always call

Because dying is our only right


So why the hell do we make a fuss

If we think the wrong one got elected

If a good man ever tried to enter the game

You know he sure as hell would be rejected


So we, the poor, don’t stand a chance

Our ship will never come in

Because it sank out in the harbor

Another hole drilled in it by the rich men


So don’t think that you got choices

And someday your time will come

Because you’re just one of the billions of voices

Living underneath their thumb


So scream your screams and cry your tears

If you think that it will make it right

Lay down your head at the end of the day

And pray they will let you make it through the night