Monday, September 24, 2012

for something greater than self... ideas, hopes and dreams.

  What a past few years this has been.  well, really I guess I could say "life" as it's taken me this long to have even the smallest grasp of what this is all about and why people (including myself) do what they do...  The past couple weeks have really focused my thoughts and perspectives about so much of what's happened in the past.  It's made me look even deeper inside myself and given me a new stronger sense of purpose than before, and I've been feeling the need to share some of what I've seen and learned from all the ...  I'll call it: "stuff" I've been through.  OK, so this isn't a cake blog once again, but it is one about life, love, anger, understanding and looking into ones' self.

I don't need to go into the exact specifics of what has happened, or tell my life story to get my point across.  I wont share too much about what specifically has been happening in the past few weeks or the time leading up to now, as it isn't all my story to tell.  I will tell you what I've seen and what I've learned (or maybe just think I have ) about human nature...

It seems to me that we all are born with a need to prove ourselves.  From the beginning we seek the approval of our parents.  In my case that crusade really only recently became understood by me, and I've found many others who like me, are grown adults still trying to gain the respect and even just basic approval of their parents.  I've learned that my own need to satisfy or prove my value to someone has dominated a very large percentage of my life.  I'm not sure we ever really stop trying to please our parents, but I never realized how much of my life was modeled on that same subject.   It seems no matter how bad I feel or how unrelenting the fight, I will try sometimes in vain to accomplish the task.   For my own part, I never felt like I even came close to being who I was supposed to be for my parents.  I never seemed to measure up, as to often when I thought I was doing the best ever, I found that she was the least impressed, or even worse, offended by me. This all to familiar course found it's way into many other parts of my life, and soon much of my life seemed to be a hopeless quest for happiness, where the prize seemed so far out of reach that only anger and sorrow could be found. 

I don't mean for it to sound like I'm blaming anyone for making me feel like I did, as I know the need was my own, and the actions I took were made by no-one else but me.  But for a long while, I was angry...  I blamed the people I felt I couldn't please for my own problems and my own feelings of failure and low self esteem.  I hate to admit even just how angry, and at times it really got the best of me.  Only recently have I been able to look deep inside of myself and realize the value of both the good and the dark inside,  the value of the experiences and wisdom gained even from the darkest and most painful times. I've even made friends with my need to satisfy and even to impress the people around me.  I've learned that I can make a difference in my own and the people around mes' life, just by choosing to take on a positive energy instead of a negative.  Does this mean no more worries, no more struggle?  UHH,  no...  but I wish...  I'm new to it though so maybe in time? 

For now I spend my energy in the attempt to reconcile at least some of the past and plan for a brighter future... I've weighed and measured the pain and the anger I've experienced in the past, trying to understand it's root.  I've found that there really is no value to the anger at all,  anger and pain leads to fear and fear is rarely a valuable thing for me...   Fear of dis-approval, of failure and of never measuring up, has cost me far too much. It cost us all to much.  so why do it?  Easy to say, not so easy to live, but I'm trying.  We should all be trying harder to do that!

Much of the recent events have had me feeling rather down about humanity in general.  I've lived through some very trying family issues associated with my mother, and recently with people closer to me, and I've seen and felt so much sorrow and pain, followed up by anger and even hate.   I've been sickened by some of it so much that I can't stand to sit by and stay quiet.  It makes me wonder:
why are people so fast to cover pain with anger?   I'm sure there are biological reasons for some of this, but as I put more faith in a persons power to reason this only works to a degree for me.  Maybe the next step of human evolution isn't telepathy or super smarts...  maybe it's a simple ability to control our anger...  Why can't we recognize that " i love you...  yes we have issues, yes things end, maybe we shouldn't be together, but because I love you let's do the right thing. "  If there was ever love between people, why can't they see through it and realize that causing more pain on top of the existing pain has only the result of even more pain!  I do believe that certain people have traits that don't mesh, and that some people will just by accident cause others to feel lessened, or just that they don't live well together.  When that happens it is best to recognize it and move on, but does it have to be driven by anger and hate?  I don't think so.  but it happens most often.
Why do people have a need to hate in groups?  My own family was deeply divided when things came to a head here...  I watched as well planned divisions were enacted that I sadly doubt will be overcome.  When my mother and I quit working together I received so much anger and even hostility from so many of her "friends" and every time it made me wonder why?   How is it OK for a grown woman, especially those who end their hateful emails with religious signature lines, to write a friends own son and tell him how much you hope bad things happen to him?  I got everything from threats to boycott cakefest, to a nicely written email from a TV cake show host, in which she told me I needed to do some soul searching, and straighten up.  This long time friend of my mother"s who had always greeted me with a hug and a smile, decided her best cause of action was now hate me because of the gossip she had heard, to a point where when she saw me next in a crowd of people, she grimaced, turned her back from me and ignored me when I cam to say hello.  Why??  In all of my soul searching ( and I've been doing it veraciously) I have never found a reason to take that path, but I have sure as hell thought about it!

Talk the talk, walk the walk?  I don't claim to have it figured out, but I do think I'm coming to some sort of an understanding with it.  (I hope)  I've seen way to many people jump to conclusions, point blame and even hate on a moments notice.   For what?  Many claim to be religious, yet act with complete contempt for people that they previously had loved...  Why?  I'm struggling more and more to control my own anger directed at people that don't think to stifle theirs!  Why can't we all, even in the darkness of what ever negative event is occurring, realize that adding more negativity and anger to an already painful and trying task leads to nowhere but more pain.  More negativity and more issues to resolve later?  I think about the friends of my mother who were so quick to write me and to shun me.  Where are you left, if my mother and I settle our differences?  on that day, you're left holding a bag of hatred and regret for a man that you never really should have hated.  You shouldn't have hated him firstly because it was not your place to do so.  Secondly because as your friends son, you should support and love him, even though he has issues with his mother, your friend, and finally because  hating him is just plain wrong! 

This is just a thousandth degree of the things and situations that I've experienced lately.  None of it seems to make sense to me anymore.  It doesn't make sense to me because there is no sense to it!
Divorces end with families placing blame, former spouses locked in battle over nothing really, hating each other with vigor and friends taking sides.  Why?  relationships fail because of what ever reason, and instead of moving on and supporting the people you once loved, you place blame, you point fingers and you say, this is your fault, while the people around them suffer.  I've heard so many people say that their focus is on the good and positive role they can take, yet spend all their energy chasing the tail of hatred and revenge.  I just don't get it...

Like I said I don't really have any answers...  I have ideas, I have hopes and yes even a few dreams...  My idea is that people should stop, look and listen before they jump to conclusions, and open the door to anger and hate.  I struggle with it too, we all do, but I Hope that someday I  and the people around me, and even that you will see that life is so much better when we say no to hatred.  Say no to causing or furthering anger and pain and instead stand beside those we've stood beside before and  to realize that they need you as much as you need them.  My dream is that someday, all this will be behind me.  That I'll get a bit more figured out and maybe the ones I love, my friends and family and myself will find happiness.  I hope you find it too...

peace n love


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

a busy couple days and a life changing experience

My head is full of thoughts and ideas today so forgive me if i come off of point in this blog!  In the past couple of weeks I've had some amazing experiences, been through some very painful moments and learned so much about my self and  those I love and at the risk of sounding cliche, I really feel I've learned a lot about life in general. 

It's actually sort of funny that the instant I wrote the last line about "life in general" i realized that though I feel  like I've learned so much, I feel like gaining that knowledge comes at the expense of far more questions and even a bit of confusion!  Let's start by talking about where I've been and why...

August 30th 2012:  I find myself sitting on a plane being asked to turn my cell phone off.  It was a brutal moment for me as there were some serious personal issues at home that, short of walking off the plane, I was helpless to do anything about.  I turned off the phone with a whirlwind of things on my mind.  I was scared, angry and feeling very helpless, as I was facing a long flight from KC to Lisbon, Portugal, cut off from the situation and powerless to help resolve it.  I wont go into the specifics of what was going on, but it was hard to leave, and even harder to imagine being gone for over a week with a job to do, all while things at home seemed so unstable.

Upon arrival I was greeted warmly by Francisco and Nelson, who were very happy to see me, and soon we were on our way to Obidos, a city within a ancient castle, and site of the event I was to take part in.  I tried to forget the troubles at home and focus on the job i was expected to do and it became much easier with ever person I met.  Teresa H is the head of  the Association Nationale Cake Design, or as I think of it, the Portuguese version of Ices. There are some very big differences between the two, and I much prefer their version!  I was blown away by the spirit and friendship that was shared with me.  So many talented and excited people, all just wanting to learn and share their energy with me.  I guess I was guilty of  the typical American ideology, believing that we in the USA have a patent on cakes and creativity, but I quickly learned otherwise!  I was very impressed and humbled by the quality and creativity of the people there, but even more so by the fact that there didn't seem to be the politics, the exclusivity and limitations I've frequently experienced at home.  So often in the US, i meet people that believe they hold the keys to different techniques, styles or even believe they have the power to make or break others within our industry. ( and by industry I mean the general creative world of cakes)  Way to often I have found people who claim to want to advance our craft, really stand for themselves and the perverse power trip they get from being admired.  I've struggled at times with my own security issues, doubts and concerns about someone coming along and doing it better than me too, but I've never tried to convince anyone, nor believed that I knew "the way".  I've found that there will always be someone better, and someone who does it differently than me, and in Portugal they seem to embrace this!  Maybe it was the language barrier, but of all the people, things and emotions I came to love about Portugal, that was my favorite.  The freedom to do what feels right, even if it differs from the instructed techniques or accepted "way" and the willingness of the people to so openly welcome outside ideas, even to embrace the difference was very refreshing!  In my 8 days in Portugal I heard far more people refer to what we do as an art form, than I may ever have.  That is how they seem to live their life.  It's an art form, and as much as we seem to think we live to the fullest, I find myself wondering if we even come close to getting it right. 

I was everyday in awe by how friendly and open Teresa, her family and the Portuguese people were with me.  I had friends at every turn, and a drink in hand every chance they got!  It made the mess my life seemed to be at home, much easier to stomach, and I feel changed by it.  I feel bettered by it, and that's a hard thing to come by these days.

Sept 9th  Honor Flight Meet n Greet
    Having only been home a day Carey and I gathered all of the donated supplies and food for our first real event with Honor Flight.  The luncheon was designed to be a meeting for all the veterans who were going on the flight and their families, as well as format to share information with Vets, families and guardians about the upcoming flight.  We stayed pretty busy serving food, but afterward I got to chat with several of the vets about their experiences and their excitement about going on the next flight.  As you may know, we are working with Honor Flight Network KC, to produce a series of short documentaries about their work, the experiences of these deserving veterans and the flights themselves.  Most of the footage will be used to promote HFN, but some will be included in the TV pilot we are now in production of.  It was a very emotional day as these men shared their excitement and very often stories about their experiences in combat during WWII.
It made us want to download all of their stories, from memory so that we could share them all with the world. We loose on average 1000, of these veterans a day, imagine the stories of lives lived, lost forever...

Sept 11th, Patriots Day and the 11year anniversary of 9-11.
What a day!  Sitting aboard the plane with my new friend Jack and 50 more of the nations greatest heroes, I was excited!  We had arrived at the airport at 4 am and in spite of the early hour the energy level of these men and women was outstanding!  I'm so used to traveling with a younger crowd, I didn't know what to expect, but as we taxied out to the runway these veterans were full of energy, the youngest was 84, the oldest 94 years old!  every window was filled with the face of a deserving veteran, excited to see the world outside,  many were so enthralled by the world outside they seldom took pause to look away from the world below as we flew to DC.  As I said, I'm so used to the more common crowd of modern travelers,  most often the shade is drawn and very regularly the traveler never lifts the shade to see the world outside!  It was fun to see these men and women enjoying something so simple that so many take so for granted today.  We've become so accustomed to the modern age, we don't stop to think about what we're missing right outside our window...

The reception at the airport had me in tears...  As we neared the terminal, the US Airways ground crews were poised to welcome these heroes.  Fire trucks used their cannons to form an archway that the jet taxied under, while baggage handlers sped along side with their baggage carts covered with welcome signs and flags!  instead of the normal orange cones, ground handlers held American flags and everyone on the tarmac, stopped and waved at the plane, smiling, waving and some cheering for these men.  My new friend Jack had been on a Sherman Tank crew in the European Theater during WWII, and as tears filled his eyes he explained that he had seen nothing like this in his life.  I was proud to accompany him on this pilgrimage.

After reaching the Jetway, Jack was greeted by several active duty uniformed veterans, soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.  They greeted my friend Jack as only another veteran could.  Firm handshakes and solemn thank yous were presented, accompanied by some deeply meaningful salutes.  As we made our way up the Jetway, we found that US Airways crews had come from all over just to decorate and welcome them. 
The most moving moment was as we got nearer to the terminal, as we could hear music and people cheering!  My new friend grew several inches in his wheelchair as people shook his hand, cheered and thanked him for his service.  People hugged him, patted him on the back and a member of the Veterans guard, a group of motorcycle riders that dedicate themselves to protecting the rights of vets, stopped Jack, bent over and excitedly handed him a small US flag and exclaimed: " way to go sir,  way to show em!  you guys really kicked some ass over there!"  Jack burst into a sort of laugh, and tears filled his eyes.  I could barely stand to push him through the crowd, as I didn't want it to end for him!  We continued along as we were on a mission to meet our bus, but all the while people were stopping us, thanking him for his service and frequently giving him a well deserved and long overdue hug.  I was proud to be an American that day more than I think I have ever been.  Proud to be with so many deserving and sweet men and women, proud to have been allowed to share in the journey, proud to see the goodness and respect so many people showed to these veterans!  Throughout the day we visited the memorials dedicated to these men, and all of them seemed so full of youthful energy and zest that I couldn't believe their average age was more than twice that of mine!  many stories were shared and many memories brought back to the front of thought for these men and women.  In a word, amazing.

Finally after each veteran had received mail-call on the return flight, which consisted of letters from family, local school kids and even senators and fellow veterans  we landed in KC at nearly 10:00pm.  16 hours after we had embarked on our journey.  Most of the vets felt like it was over, but much like they had received in DC, the good hard working people of KC came to welcome them back.  I watched as once again the received cheers and handshakes, hugs and heartfelt thanks, and I couldn't help but notice the type of people who had taken the time to show these men the gratitude they so very much deserved.  There were no doctors, lawyers or men in suits.  Instead the halls were lined once again with even more of the veterans bikers groups each holding full sized flags, airport employees, and average everyday people.  It seems to me just as it was then that the greatness of this country does not and has never depended upon the upper class and wealthy.  It is founded on the everyday, hard working and sometimes down and dirty men and women, who often receive less of the "American dream", but seem to hold it closest to heart.  In 1941, our greatest generation gave up their lives, their families and their way of life to serve our nation and the world in it's hour of greatest despair and need.  Years spent from home under fire in strange lands, friends and family killed in action, lives changed forever and the freedom of the world preserved.  They gave up their "today" to ensure future generations "tomorrow"...  They have faded quietly into history.  Their stories lost, and forgotten.  The simple joy of looking out an airplane window, and a short trip to Washington DC their only real reward.  But never did I hear a single complaint.  These men and women know what price they paid, and the reward, though sometimes unseen, is the satisfaction they each share.  The knowledge of a job well done, a nation served, and a people saved.  WWII was won by the PFC.  not the general.  Most of the men on Honor Flight, were your everyday average "Joe"  average Joe's who shared a common trait; uncommon valor.

We can't wait to continue working with them and to hold Cakefest in their honor.  each flight is monumentally expensive, and even more important as time is now the enemy.  Since the previous flight 17 veterans passed.  17 veterans wont get to experience the gratitude so due to them. Join with us to help get as many of them as possible the respect and gratitude they have earned.
see you soon, at KC Cakefest...

peace n love