Speaking about wisdom… what do you think?

Days 12-17: Catching up on a week of missed prompts!

This is part of the UU Blogging Workshops’s Zero to Hero Series

The last week’s assignments: Write an inspired blog post, play with your blog roll, put up some graphics, create a writing prompt and leave some more comments…

Sorry friends… I’ve been lazy/absent/distracted over the last five days. However, here is my attempt at catching up!

quotes-wisdom3A few weeks ago, the director of religious education at my church asked me to give a short talk on “wisdom.” My first thought was that he obviously didn’t know me very well. What can a 37 year old say about wisdom? Probably more than some and not as much as most. I found the task a little daunting, but of course I said yes. If Fred felt confident in asking me, than I should be confident enough to accept.

Moving up to this last Sunday, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this. But like all great ideas, it came to me in the shower! I would reflect on some of my “not very wise” decisions, and then compare those with “perhaps a little more wise” decisions. Then figure out how they related to one another.

quotes-wisdom-inspirational-list-of-top-wisdom-quotes-3When I was younger, it was NOT very wise to tell my parents I didn’t eat all the fresh baked cookies my mother had just made. Especially since I was most likely covered in chocolate and cookies crumbs. I remember knowing it was wrong. I knew I would get caught. But I lied about it anyways, and felt horribly ashamed about it. This was not wisdom.

When I was in high school, I had an English class that demanded quite a bit of homework. Instead, I spent way too much time playing games on my computer. I knew I had to get the work done. I knew that I should study. I knew what would happen if I didn’t do it… but I procrastinated until the last minute and failed my class. Which meant that I had to take summer school to make up for the grade. This was the first time I had ever failed a class, and was definitely an example of “not wisdom.”

Audrey-Hepburn-Quotes-6When I was in my twenties, I had way too much to drink one night and decided to drive anyways. Luckily I made it home ok. I did hit a curb and ruined my car’s alignment and wheel well, which cost quite a bit to fix. I knew better; but obviously nobody makes great decisions when they’re drunk. That night could have ended much worse… I could have killed somebody, or killed myself.  THIS was not wisdom.

There are plenty other experiences I could write about. Each one an example of me knowing better but making a choice to do it anyways. This is called being a fool and I confess I’ve been a fool too many times than I’d like to admit.

100302-HighFallsCreek2But I have had some moments of wisdom! Making the decision to finally get my bachelor’s degree; that was a good life choice. Working hard to build a successful career in television was also a great decision. Realizing I had an amazing friend who loved me despite all my foolishness and having the courage to ask her to marry me was perhaps the wisest decision I’ve ever made.

Taking that leap of faith in giving up everything, my career and home and security, to serve with my wife in the Peace Corps because we would never have another time in our lives to do something so amazing and crazy and challenging: THAT was wisdom.

dont-follow-any-e1346764197672Having the courage to admit I needed to walk away from my Catholic faith and follow a new spiritual path, and then finding a Unitarian community of faith, passion, equality and freedom. THIS was wisdom.

So what is the difference between me playing the fool and making good life choices? I’ve come to identify that “wisdom” is taking what I know, and letting that knowledge be guided by my heart. However, it’s not just a one way street. It’s also taking the passions of my spirit, and running those intense feelings and emotions through my rational mind. In all the decisions I’ve made that have been positive and constructive, I had taken the time to let my mind and spirit have a conversation about my actions.

Perhaps wisdom is found in this conversation.

What do you think? Where have you found wisdom? I’d love to learn from you…

Why I (still) believe in miracles…

That's right... I married into a clan of Scots...
That’s right… I married into a clan of Scots…

I have two families. The one I was born into and the one I married into. I know plenty of people who don’t get along with their in-laws. I’m one of the lucky few who not only get along with them, but love them deeply. They’re genuinely kind, overwhelmingly generous and welcomed me into the Ferguson/Marty clans with open arms. When Heather and I married, I truly gained another Mother and Father.

Having two fathers is a blessing. Both are men of deep faith, conviction and kindness. Neither are perfect, but they don’t have to be. Whatever flaws they have, they overcome them with courage and forgiveness. Which is why my heart broke when, just after Thanksgiving, I learned that my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Doctors give him 6 months to 2 years to live.

Who else can get away with this? Not me!
Who else can get away with this? Not me!

Mr. Ferguson Andy has pretty much done everything right. He has a healthy prayer life, exercises regularly, doesn’t smoke and drinks only sparingly. He just recently retired with my mother-in-law after a lifetime of service to our national parks. He lives in his dream house in his dream community. He lived life in accordance to the laws of God and man. If anything can be called premature, horrible and utterly unfair, it’s this diagnosis.

His response has been shockingly simple: listen to the doctors, follow the treatments, continue living life with integrity and purpose, and most importantly “God’s will be done.” It almost sounds absurdly zen, especially for a man who would be justified in being confused, angry and in crying out:  “As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made my life bitter…” (Job 27:2) Yet this is who Andy is; “God’s will be done.”

Generosity abounds!
Generosity abounds!

As the son-in-law, my role in all of this is to be the supporter; the solid foundation for Heather. She’s the one losing her biological father. I’ve only been able to call Andy “father” for 7 years. Which has been much too short; but I’ll continue to take what I can get. So I smile and love as much as I possibly can for both of my families.

The truth is, I’m hurting inside. I’m barely holding my grief in check. Like a little boy, I want to be selfish and cry and tell life to get the hell away; to tell death to stay away from both my fathers. To cry out and say “THIS IS UNFAIR! I WANT MORE TIME!”

But I’m not a little boy. I’ve learned a few things from the men in my life. The strength I have right now comes from what my fathers have taught/shown me:

Listening to sage advise or talking about girls. Can't remember which...
Listening to sage advise or talking about girls. Can’t remember which…

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

I also know a little secret. I’ve experienced a certain amount of serendipity in my life and Andy has a track record of beating the odds overcoming obstacles. He was in a serious motorcycle accident years ago, was told he may never walk (much less run) again; he ran anyways. He has already beaten cancer twice while finding time to work on his house, never mind the chemo treatments. He is a man of no excuses. If ever a man can defy the odds through strength of character or will of God, it is my father-in-law.

I love you dad.
I love you dad.

Which is why I still believe in miracles. Just being part of this family; my being married to Heather; my privilege in having more than I deserve… they are all small miracles, and they exist. Therefore, there’s hope. Always hope…

(Rejecting) The Seven Year Itch

I could never forget that kiss...
I could never forget that kiss…

Today is Heather and my 7th wedding anniversary. It seems like we’ve been married much longer than that. It’s probably because we’ve done a lot of crazy things since 2006. Peace Corps, Europe, moving to Washington state, getting a dog, buying a house; we’ve stuffed quite a bit of experience into our relationship. There have been many more ups than downs (the ups being quite a bit higher than the downs have been deep). To show you how cheesy we can be, we waited until midnight to go to bed last night just so we could say “I love you” at the start of our day.

We’ve known each other since 1998 when we met at KLVX PBS 10. Fifteen years of experience, friendship and love. As I mentioned before, our relationship has mellowed over time. However, I feel just as passionate now as when we met. There was something about her; maybe it was the red hair, or her kindness, or that small glint of mischievousness in the corner of her eye. I still can’t put my finger on it, but there is a feeling you get when your heart attaches to another person. Through different relationships and jobs and life choices I can honestly say I was always in love with Heather.

Adventure!!!
Adventure!!!

And I got to marry the girl who got away.

So now people are asking me about the “7 year itch.” Apparently, this is supposed to mark a low period in the satisfaction of married life. Men and women are supposed to feel “itchy” to get out and renew romance and sexual adventure after becoming bored in the daily routine. I’ll have to ask Heather at dinner tonight, but I feel very satisfied in our marriage. Yes, it’s time to spice things up in the sex department. It’s also very healthy to reevaluate roles and behaviors in any relationship over a period of time. That’s what a relationship is. But I am not going to use some stupid phrase as an excuse to lapse on my commitment to my wife.

Romance!!!
Romance!!!

I recently learned through an NPR article about a website called ashleymadison.com; a networking website for married people looking for affairs. There are a number of studies about the reasons people cheat. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been a cheater in my past. I’ve also been cheated on. I have no good reason for why I did it; sometimes it was for the thrill of doing something forbidden, sometimes it was just plain opportunity. There is no good reason; I was a selfish, immature dick.

Selfies!
Selfies!

However, Heather inspires me to be a better man than that. She inspires me to want to be the best partner to her that I can be. I fail constantly; many times I put other things at a higher priority than her, whether it’s playing computer games or watching TV. Honestly, I get lazy. Whatever the cause, it’s stupidity on my part. On our anniversary today, I’m reminded that she is the most important relationship I have in my life. This comes with the responsibility to NOT take her for granted.

More years to come!
More years to come!

Heather has given me seven years of her life and it has been filled with amazing adventures. She is well worth the time and effort of my full attention, affection and love. All I can do today is ask her forgiveness for the times I have not been the best man I could be; to trust that I will continue to become a better partner with her; and to believe in a future, years from now, where we will look back on our 7 year anniversary and know that my promises were fulfilled.

The very good and the very (little) bad…

how did we ever live?!
how did we ever live?!

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and experience! It seems like the whole month of August went by in a hazy blur. Somebody must have clicked the fast forward button on the VCR. Go figure; time passes by quickly when you’re not paying attention. Now summer is almost at an end.

A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit. We hadn’t seen them for over a year. I try to call every week or so, though it usually ends up being every other week. I’m a bad son in that regard. I just lose track of time. However, seeing them was wonderful! Their visit reminded me of how much I really do miss (and love) them.

This is my father. He is the BEST man you will ever meet. Period.
This is my father. He is the BEST man you will ever meet. Period.

One of the hardest parts of moving away from Vegas was being separated from friends and family by thousands of miles. This is pretty normal for families in the United States; as soon as we’re able we’re encouraged to leave the nest. My experiences in Eastern Europe taught me that many parts of the world feel that moving far away from your family is an insane (and stupid) idea. I mean, who’s going to take care of the kids when you get pregnant?

Seriously. Run. for. your. life.
Seriously. Run. for. your. life.

Second, I ran my very first extreme 5k. “Run for Your Lives” is a zombie themed race meant to challenge you physically, mentally, and emotionally. The race organizers did a great job of making the zombies as realistic as possible. The race included obstacles, steep hills, off road terrain, ravenous zombies and plenty of ways to be electrically shocked. I made a video of the experience.

This is Maria. Destroyer of livers.
This is Maria. Destroyer of livers.

Then Heather’s and my friends from Vegas arrived for a few days. Maria was my roommate before Heather and I were married. Her and her husband Brock are some of the coolest people we know. They are into food and drink. Having them visit gave me an excuse to eat and drink my way around Puget Sound: chicken & waffles at Burgundian, pizza from Zeeks, ALL the beer at Red Hook Brewery, bacon cheese maple braised pork loin biscuit sandwich at The Commons, wine from Chateau Ste Michelle, whiskey & vodka from Woodinville Whiskey Company, grappa from Soft Tail Spirits, mead from Sky River Brewing, bacon tater tot poutine and shepherd pies from Pies and Pints, spicy chorizo quesadillas at the Ballard Farmers Market, ALL the beer from Reuben’s Brews, and finally chocolate from Theo’s.

I will need to exercise for 3 months to recover from this one weekend. Well done friends… well done.

This is Dominic Taylor. If you see him, please alert police. He is a little bitch.
This is Dominic Taylor. If you see him, please alert police. He is a little bitch.

Then the bad. Last Friday I got home from work to find our house was almost broken into. Which is much better than actually being broken into. Our front door had almost been knocked off its hinges and the doorframe cracked beyond repair. One of our front windows had been cut in a very similar fashion to how our home was broken into last May. Yes, I suspect Mr. Dominic Taylor had returned to our home to see what else he could steal from us.

After the first break in, we installed some extra lights around the home and yard. This time I broke down and bought a camera security system. It has 720p HD video, nightvision, motion-sensors and will email me anytime it’s activated. Hopefully this will be the last time our home is violated for quite a while. Because twice in three months is unacceptable. This transgression will not stand, man.

Chris says "Drink beer."
Chris says “Drink beer.”

Then more good. Today is my birthday! I have so far survived 37 solar rotations. I marked this achievement yesterday by spending 4 hours with friends at the LivingSocial Beer Fest at the Seattle Center. Then four more hours at Pies and Pints for more friends, whiskey, poutine and shepherd pies. Today Heather and I went to church, ate at Zaina for lunch (Mediterranean street food), I finished my latest book while lounging in our hammock, we took a walk around the neighborhood to visit our local Little Free Library and as I finish this blog post, Heather is finishing her famous homemade satay chicken pizza.

Friends, I learned something valuable today. Those who are not grateful in the truest sense of the word for everything they have in life are doomed for misery. For they will never get as much goodness as they think they deserve, and will always feel like they get more evil than they feel they are warranted. Today I am completely and utterly grateful for my life, good and the bad. Today I am breathing and I am immensely happy.