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Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing:

The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer (s) and should not taken as official policy of ANY organization with which I am associated. Reading or sharing any post from this site shall be taken as an indication that you have read this disclaimer and understand it.

Monday, December 31, 2012

What would my life look like if there were no boundaries on my success, on my potential, on my dreams?

[This year’s version of New Year’s Resolutions…]

·         I would own my own home.  Two stories, with a porch, a kitchen I could enjoy cooking in and space enough to have friends and family over and enjoy a holiday or just a random Sunday afternoon.

·         I would improve my physical health: 160 pounds; better numbers—and regular physical exercise.

·         I would have a dog or two, probably miniature schnauzers.

·         I would have gone back to get either my 2nd Masters or my PhD and be teaching on the side.  Perhaps social studies in a community college; or courses related to Public Safety Leadership.  Part of this would involve speaking at conferences and other events—sharing the experiences that I have had so far in my life and hopefully opening some hearts and minds in the process. 

·         I would have more interaction with friends and family—my community would be less individualistic, and, well, more of a community.  This includes finding a church were not only do I feel welcomed and inspired—but where the leaders of the church know me—and I can have a more significant impact on the church and its community. 

·         I would volunteer more of my time to help those in need, in whatever way I might be able.

·         I would pay off all of my debt to permit me greater freedom to travel; invest; and increase my financial security—as well as to be able to donate more. 

·         I would develop a relationship with someone who will value me for me—and I for them. Someone who can communicate, who isn’t afraid, and who supports my growth while allowing me to support theirs.  I don’t want someone I have to be careful what I say to—but rather someone to be honest with, in every since of the word.  A person I find attractive in every way—and who will make me better by knowing them.

·         I would use my God-Given talents more:  More writing; more photography; doing voice overs; serving as a volunteer counselor—sharing of myself those parts of me that are meant to be shared. 

·         I would be the director of a small or medium sized 911 Center; an EMA Director; or Public Safety Director.  The key is to work in place where I can put into practice what I have learned from education and experience—and I would be able to empower those I work with to do great things. 

·         And I would stop being afraid that these things will not come to pass.  I would let go of the doubt that sometimes creeps in on those dark and lonely nights when its seems as though everything is always such a battle such a struggle.  In those places—instead of clinging—I would learn to just let go.  To let things work out the way they always do—for the best. 

·         I would know faith.

 The simple question I must ask of every action I take in the New Year: 
 Does what I am doing bring me closer to the life I have just described—or further away. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Road Signs

There is a very interesting paradox found in one of those spots that people in American Geography like to visit.  On a banyan lined street, under an almost eternal sun, can be found the Island of Key West.  Mecca for alcohol craving Midwestern tourists and sexually compulsive gay men alike—Key West seems a monument to the polar opposites of our nature.  A few steps from Sloppy Joes Bar sits an amazingly beautiful Episcopal Church—in a city surrounded by water that had to rely (until 1942) on the rains to provide its drinking water—the drops filling the cisterns with freshwater just steps from an ocean  who’s salt makes it about as healthy to drink as gasoline. 
This penultimate expression of the yin and yang; the Roosevelt and Reagan; the Yankees and the Red Sox—well, it exists on a street sign.  Not just any street sign—but THE street sign.  The beginning of US 1—one of America’s greatest roads.  A strip of Seven-Eleven Hot-dogs; pawn shops; Sonic drive ins; cookie-cutter gas stations and traffic lights that snakes along two thousand miles of pavement from this very spot all the way to the Maine-Canada border. 

The idea is simple—NORTH.  Forever, permanent, towards something better.  A higher place.  NORTH.  Explore, Grow, Expand—NORTH.   In another time, the same idea was expressed by a different road—one that would lead settlers and Okies and dreamers through the middle west and the desert to the land of Southern California.  Route 66 and US-1 occupy a place in some distant dream of getting from where we are (not so good) to someplace different, and thereby better. 
The entire American premise was built on this concept.  Except there were no roadside petting zoos, or mini-golf, or Waffle Houses on the first version of this journey.  It was made on rickety ships, across an ocean of fierce waves—and towards the same place.  Even if it didn’t have exactly the same coordinates on a map.  Or even if that map was largely yet undrawn. 

Standing here, while the Conch Train tourists ride by and the sound of distant Jimmy Buffet Songs flows across humid breezes—you come to learn that North is really, well, it is SOUTH.  Quite clearly, where US 1 begins its journey, the street goes for several blocks in quite the opposite direction. 
I suppose this should come as no great shock.  That on this narrow hard-ground land of alcohol and sex and ticket takers willing to mock you for travelling alone everything is subject to revision upon further review.  And such is the same with our beloved highway—and our lives.  That in order to go North—in order to follow our history—our dreams—our destiny—we must first travel south, if not also east, west, up down and all spots in between.  No matter our love for Maps or the placid tones of our GPS, even their directions can only hint at the real journey.  At the real way forward.  The compass constantly spinning, we end up having to focus on the one place in all the travel that does not move—ourselves.

For generations we have sought out fertile fields, freedom, and countless other things—at the end of some road.  Or on the other side of an ocean.  In the arms of that one person who will give to us our missing piece; in the style of a new high-priced car; or the high-powered weapon that will provide the security you so desperately seek—but that still proves elusive. 
But in the end, we come back to the same place.  South is north, or north is south—or better is really just more of the same.  And any idea of success being—over there—or with that special thing—well, it is proved fleeting at best and, mostly, if not entirely, a myth.  At that moment we are at last forced to visit the place we were really trying to escape all along. 

In the quiet of this Christmas Season, I encourage you to follow along on your own map and see where it leads.  Possibly learn to trace the line back inside, into the places where things are better than you thought—were  you are loved more than you realized- and can love more than you have ever known.  After you have reflected on that, please take the time to share that part of you with those around you—provide to them what you have to offer.  Not judgment, or even well intentioned advice—but simply words of encouragement and acceptance—and love. 
For it seems to be that in this world of roads where even the famous signs don’t really point the right way—only to the confusion of our souls and purpose reflected by our highways—that we could all use just a little guidance and support for we are simply travelers and we do not know where will be our journey’s end.  But, while on our road, it is always good to help someone else on the road—even if we don’t know our south from our north.