Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Why Page Eighty5?

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On my journey through life, I feel that I am around page eighty-five of a good book. Sure there have been some things that have happened and there have been great and defining moments but really the story is just beginning. We have taken the time to form the foundation, characters/setting/background, but I am only just beginning to see what it is that is going to define me, what my purpose may be.

Page Eighty5 is a random page, as it should be because this number could be different for everyone. This project is shaped by creativity and with creativity, it is important not to ask too many questions!

My Struggle with the Five Stages of Grief

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Today is a new beginning. I feel much better after expressing my true feelings. I believe that it was a very important step in the process of moving forward. Christina and the boys returned yesterday after a week at the beach. I think that their absence gave me the opportunity to reflect upon what it is that I am missing in my life as well as what it is I already have in which I should be extremely grateful. It is only today that I realize that over the past 8 or 9 months I have been going through the 5 stages of grief. I believe that at some point upon my families return I finally entered into acceptance.

As I look back at the past 8 months I realize that I have been cycling through the first 4 stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, and bargaining. At first, I thought that I just went through them out of order but as I really started to dig down into it I realized that I could never quite get to acceptance and would start back at the beginning. You may think it strange that I would enter into these stages of grief over a move from one place to another but to me it symbolized the death of my way of life.

Denial

Even leading up to our move I was in extreme denial. I told myself that my life would be better once we moved. I told myself, and everyone else for that matter, that I hated Florida. I said that I couldn’t live there another minute. I focused on every frustrating aspect of life in Florida. This may be a different way of seeing denial as I was not in denial about moving, I was in denial of the effect the move would have on me. I was in denial that this place that I had called home had embedded itself anywhere inside of my heart and that I might possibly need that in my life.

Anger

This along with depression have been where I have sat for a majority of the 8 months. It would works itself in with denial often as I would get angry at anyone who still lived in Florida, anyone who was visiting Florida, anyone who talked about Florida, etc. I had anger issues that would flare up at any time. Once I would get angry for no reason this would lead to the next stage quite easily.

Depression

Man have I been depressed. Sometimes it is hard to even get out of bed in the morning. I have a certain amount of drive that has carried me through but not to the best me. Only to the me that can function at an elementary level. Oddly enough anger would sometimes give me the jumpstart that I needed during the depression. That is why I mentioned that the two most often coexisted. I would get angry and because of this become depressed. I would then become angry that I was depressed and at those that I thought were causing it. It was a vicious cycle.

Bargaining

I would often enter bargaining, I would tell myself that there were ways to avoid this. I could have made better decisions that would not have led to this drastic move. I should have had the foresight to realize that this would be the reality if we moved back to Ohio. Usually, this is where I would go right back into denial. I would tell myself that there were very good reasons for moving away from Florida and back I would go in the let’s trash everything about Florida stage. I could not quite get to the last stage.

Acceptance

I believe that the post that I shared yesterday allowed me to finally see the light. I think that getting all of this off of my chest and finally truly being honest with myself and everyone else allowed it to be ok. It allowed me to stop going into denial. It allowed me to understand that while I can still be a bit angry about my circumstances I have no right to be angry at others. I have finally accepted that this is reality and now we need to look to the future and do what we see necessary to either move on and truly embrace our new life in Ohio or we do what is necessary to make our way back to Florida. Either way, I have accepted the death of that chapter of my life.

In some way, I believe that I went through each stage in a short amount of time yesterday. Maybe that is what led me to acceptance. Maybe it is only possible to see the other stages once you reach acceptance. Maybe that is when our minds are not completely clouded. I want to thank everyone who has been patient with me along the way. I want to apologize to any that I have hurt along the way. I’m hoping to now rebuild my life and to rebuild the relationships that I put on hold due to the struggles within myself.

Those who may have been distancing themselves due to my unpredictable behavior or crappy attitude I invite you to reach back out to me. I am going to need each and every one of you to truly regain the person that I was and to continue working on being that better person. I will be reaching out myself but don’t wait for me.

 

What Were We Thinking?

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Is it really fair to feel this way? After going through all of the effort and time and energy and emotional preparedness, is it ok to feel disappointed? Is it ok to look back and realize that there was so much put into following through with a decision that appears to have been a huge mistake? If so, what do you do? What is the next step? The huge effort, time and energy that it took to make this happen pales in comparison to the amount that would be needed to reverse it. We are not only dealing with minor details here, we are dealing with completely life-changing events for not just us but everyone around us as well. What am I talking about? If you know us well enough you may have figured out that I am referring to our decision to move from Florida back to Ohio.

While living in Florida there were a myriad of things that we could point to that led us to the decision to move back to Ohio. We were living in a house that we did not own and did not have the finances to keep up. We asked a lot from my mother and step-father who owned the house to step in and help us financially when this became an issue with the upkeep of the home. With every passing day, we found this more and more unfair as we were also depriving them of time with their grandchildren by continuing to live in Florida. This was the main reason for the move back, so we told ourselves.

We also argued that we missed time with family. My family had weekly dinners that I would always seem to call during and realize that I was not really an active member of the family. It has become a joke now upon returning that when at these family dinners and the phone rings everyone shouts “There’s Michael!” I really enjoy helping my parents and while living in Florida that help normally came in the form of long, interesting phone conversations trying to walk them through some sort of technical issue. My wife also missed her family dearly. There would be the occasional visit from her parents to Florida but other than that we only saw family through video chat. We have nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts, and uncles that we would like to visit with as well. Here is the interesting thing about this argument. Even though we are able to attend weekly dinners and very much enjoy them, we find that we may have still enjoyed more “quality” time with family by being able to focus all of our attention to visiting when we would travel to Ohio about 4 times a year. There was no distraction. There was no hurrying back out of the door to go get something done for work or prepare for the next day. And as for time with extended family, I have only seen select aunts and uncles a few times since moving back in January. I am pretty sure we spent more time visiting with them when we lived in Florida. Time with family was more deliberate then and we really came to appreciate that time and look forward to it. Now it has become a part of the daily grind and just another appointment to keep.

Interestingly enough this is one of the other arguments we used when leaving Florida when speaking about our time at Walt Disney World. We argued that it had just become a part of our everyday life and was no longer special or “magical.” Looking back we could not have been more wrong in this assumption. Now that we have been away from Florida for over six months I can say that our time at Disney parks and resorts was a very important, and crucial part of our lives. We tried to lash out against Disney. We tried our best to make ourselves believe that we had just fallen out of love with it and maybe by moving away we could regain that love. Well, we were right about that! A little more than we expected.

Another reason for our decision to move back was my inability to find a job where I fit in and that would work with my wife’s schedule and the boys both being in virtual school. Ironically the jobs that I ended up getting up here in Ohio would have worked perfectly down there. What I didn’t take into account was that the boys were getting older. Jordan is almost 15 years old and is very capable of babysitting an almost 6-year-old child for short amounts of time. These two partnered together would have made it very easy for me to do the jobs that I now do while Christina continued her career. We could have made it worked but again had convinced ourselves that by moving back to Ohio we would have the opportunity to have more help from family if needed and we could both have amazing jobs that would provide the type of income that we needed to live comfortably. That is not the case as Christina still hasn’t been able to find a job, which ironically is one of the huge reasons for moving to Florida in the first place. We have basically reversed the roles as I go to work and Christina stays home and worries about getting a job. The only difference is about $20,000 or more a year. That’s all. (Yeah we were better off financially living the life we loved, go figure.)

Now it is time for the biggest reason that we decided to move back in my opinion. We can look at all of these other issues but this, to me, is the real reason. We felt guilted into moving back. Not as you would think by my mother and step-father who had sacrificed so much and given us more than they should have to allow us to follow our dreams. Not by our close friends that understand that we took a leap and seemed to be somehow keeping our head above water while we were living the life that we wanted. We were guilted by our own conscience to move back to Ohio. We felt as if we were robbing our children the chance to have a relationship with their grandparents and extended family. We felt that we should be there for birthday parties for our nieces and nephews and other special events. We constantly felt guilty because we were able to have incredible experiences almost on a daily basis living in Florida. Our days would consist of work and school during the day and Disney parks and concerts and ice cream at resorts and the list goes on. We were living the life that we wanted and we didn’t feel like we deserved it. What was the only thing to do? Punish ourselves and move back to Ohio.

I’m not trying to sound harsh. It isn’t an all or nothing proposition here. There are good and bad things that come with living in either location. For example, we just went through a hurricane that shook us to our very core last year. This is going to be the case anywhere that you live. The issue is whether or not you are living your life for you and your immediate family or if you are living your life to be the people that you think others want you to be. We are struggling here and tears are rolling down my face as I write this. We are struggling to make life work in the world that we feel everyone wants us to live in. The world where we can’t make ends meet, a world where we struggle to be able to do anything fun. That’s perfect for everyone looking at our lives because that’s the way it should be right? We shouldn’t be able to go to Disney all the time if we have debt or bills that may go a month late. We shouldn’t be able to go to the beach AGAIN because we don’t have two jobs and stress ourselves out. Our kids shouldn’t be in virtual school so that they can actually enjoy their lives as they grow up. That’s not going to teach them anything but being lazy and expect life to be unicorns and rainbows.

I declare bull-shit (excuse the language). I am so tired of people sitting on their high horse telling me how I should live my life. Telling me that certain decisions that I have made were wrong. They may have been wrong for YOU but they were not wrong for me. The only decisions that have drastically altered my life in a bad way have been decisions that I made based on the opinions and advice of others. I am not a stupid person and more importantly, I know what makes me tick. I know what makes me happy and I know the dynamic of my family and what works best for us. Moving forward that is what will fuel these decisions and if everyone wants to sit and judge and get upset then so be it. They are doing it, even now, and our lives are miserable. Might as well have a little fun and enjoy life.

I want to share one last story before I wrap this up. The other day I was at a store doing my job and I overhear a woman complaining about kids getting handed everything these days and how she saw a young man driving a BMW. She got all upset and said that he did not deserve that car. Why? Did he not deserve the car because YOU didn’t have a nice car? Did he not deserve the car because he was young? Maybe he paid for the car himself with revenue he received from his YouTube Channel that he has been working 10 hours a day on since he was fifteen. We don’t think of that. We don’t look at this boy driving a nice car and think good for him. I’m happy for this young man that he is driving a nice car. Nope! We pity ourselves and act like the victim and try to put him down because he has something we don’t. I’m sick of it personally!

Here is a call out to anyone who may have an issue with any decision that my family and I make moving forward. I don’t care. I really don’t. I’m not going to allow your unfounded, selfish attitude cause me to make one more bad decision. I can make those just fine on my own but at least if I make them myself I can justify them. I cannot justify what I have done to my family by moving back to Ohio. We should have come up with alternative solutions that may have been a bit more difficult for us but that would have allowed us to continue living the life that we loved. Although moving all of our things 1000 miles seems more difficult, it really wasn’t because it was what everyone else wanted us to do. We originally thought it was to have us closer but in the end, I’m pretty sure to the ones who really shouldn’t matter so much it was about making sure that they never had to feel bad about themselves while watching us have fun.

 

 

Project Skyscraper July, 26 2018

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To say that we are having a difficult time adjusting to our move away from Florida and back to Ohio is an understatement. We really have not found our way since moving back home and this has been going on for quite some time. Here is something that I had written in April of this year.

Waking up this morning and seeing the dusting of snow on the ground and all of the cars in our apartment complex seemed strange but oddly familiar. We had spent the past 6 years of our lives where snow was only seen when visiting family and was not something that can be seen just by waking up in the morning from our own bed. We are no strangers to this having lived in Ohio for a majority of our lives, but somehow, now it seemed foreign. It was another reminder that our lives have taken a strange turn. In our attempt to come home and find happiness, family, and familiarity we have found only awkwardness and uneasy feelings. The snow this morning represented the overall blanket of emotions that I have been feeling since moving back to Ohio.

To make matters worse the D-Team had been covering the much-anticipated opening of Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World which prompted me to delete all social media apps from my phone for a week. Enough was enough. These people are good at what they do. They are good at distracting us from more important things in life by showing us videos of Slinky Dog Roller Coasters and new food options. The issue with this audience is that I know what they are doing and let’s face it a large part of me was still missing being a part of it all. The last thing to really open was Pandora: The World of Avatar and we were able to go to the Passholder Preview and enjoy the new addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom without all of the crowds. We are no longer locals. We are no longer special.

Now let’s cover some CI for a bit. I have explained that there are many distraction teams and that the D-Team is but one very powerful and influential team. They approach things from a fun angle, an entertaining angle if you will. This team hits people in the heart with nostalgia and family fun. Not all teams operate under this innocent umbrella as you can imagine. One such team that does not have the best reputation is the P-Team. This is the Politics Team. They will use any trick in the book to make the public change direction. They will resort to anything to pit one against another. They can tear apart families and lifelong friendships. The P-Team is able to reach into peoples emotions in a way that only one other team has come close to achieving. I will give you an example of something that I know the P-Team was responsible for just a few days ago. I almost fell victim to the lie and made a few enemies along the way.

There was a post on Facebook where a gentleman claims that a neighbor put a note on his door instructing him to take down his American Flag. He goes on with a diatribe about how American he is and has a right to fly his flag and the typical rambling. This gets the far right of this country all up at arms(which they have a right too, 2nd Ammendment and all) and they share and share and share. This video gets so much attention and makes the owner of the video and the Facebook page sharing the video a lot of attention and more than likely profits. Not only do they profit but they do what they had set out to do which was to distract us all and pit half of us against the other. Chances are that the note was written by the person doing the video. Chances are that there was no neighbor or if there was he was also in on it. Do we ever stop to think that could be a possibility? No, because they make it look so real and they hit us in the very reactionary part of our brain. The ultimate irony would be if they were liberals and they used all of the exposure and profits to fund further projects to spread their agenda on the left. I almost fell victim as I said by challenging the validity of the post on a share by a family member. All that would have done was to feed into the hysteria and started friction between me and family members that I care about and who I believe to be great people. They, in my opinion, had been misled but it was not my place to mention it and they would not have believed me. That is why I don’t have much fear in this blog being shut down. THEY know that no one will believe this nonsense that I am spewing. The lies are often times easier to believe than the truth.

I will leave you with this bit of advice. Be careful what you believe. Be careful what you react to because it get’s down to our very core to start messing with our political beliefs. We may bend on many things but not on politics. That is why the P-Team is very effective. You have to be pretty intense to be a part of that team and I just don’t have the stomach for it. My blood pressure shoots sky high and I try my best to avoid it like the plague. Next time we will cover the other team that can give the P-Team a run for their money in the reaction and distraction department. I’m pretty sure you can already guess who that may be. I will give you a hint: The R-Team.

Project Skyscraper July 25, 2018

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While I am concerned about being found out, you should understand that it is not enough to keep me from trying. Plus, I have been doing what I do for quite a while and have really been pushing the boundary for a little over 3 years. It saddens me to say, but I am not very successful. Maybe it is because there is a subconscious part of me that understands that what I am doing is wrong. Maybe on some level, I am doing things to sabotage the success of my project. At any rate, I don’t think anyone will find this information and even if found, wouldn’t find it any more of a threat than a child writing nonsense in a diary.

For the past 3 years or so I have been a part of the D-Team (Distraction Team) focusing on theme parks. I am basically a wing of the specialty D-Team focusing on Walt Disney World and the Disney company as a whole. The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest and most influential divisions. It has become increasingly important as the years go by and their ability to get the job done has allowed them to take over other very important projects like Star Wars, Marvel, and most recently 21st Century Fox. These acquisitions gave the appearance of buyouts but in all actuality, the PTB (Powers that Be) had lost confidence in the individuals in charge of running these projects. I had researched for years which project I would like to undergo and I knew that covering such an important project in the overall plan would more than likely mean job security.

It has been a rough road because I was certainly not the only one to choose this path. The competition is fierce in the Disney branch of the D-Team. It is completely saturated! Everyone with a smartphone and a YouTube account is out there trying to do the same thing. Many times I have had to seek out part-time jobs to help supplement what I receive from this project. As I am writing this I see notifications from people who are succeeding in their projects. They have found a way to succeed and for that success are rewarded by The Disney Company and the PTB. They are given special passes to events, preferential treatment, and a heads up on any upcoming news. This is a huge advantage in our business. It is frustrating for those starting off like myself but we also understand that they have earned it.

A little about my little project. It is called Theme Park Brothers and consists of a YouTube Channel and website as well as the necessary social media pages and accounts through Facebook, Twitter, etc. It began as a way to contribute to The Plan by documenting our journeys (my wife and two boys) as we lived our life in Central Florida. I figured that we could have these memories later in life and that maybe people would enjoy watching them to the point that my project would be a success. We have grown slowly, and I have learned how to make the episodes more watchable. I still have a long way to go and we are still trying to find a way to connect with our audience. It has been a lot of fun doing the channel but also has been extremely frustrating. We will have plenty of time to get into these specifics.

I know that today seemed a little light. Not much in the overall dangerous conspiracy side of things but this is the way it needs to be. We need to build the foundation. We need to get your overall knowledge up to where many of the more nefarious deeds are more easily grasped and understood. This foundation will be the key to our success.

 

What I Learned from Cornbread

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I want to tell you a story about cornbread. I know what you are all thinking, “not another story about cornbread?!” The other day I receive a text from my wife asking if we were out of eggs. I knew this was somewhat of a rhetorical question as she was at home in front of the refrigerator and I was not. I turned to my oldest son, who typically uses the last of something without letting anyone know, and asked if we were out of eggs. He answered in the affirmative. I then let my wife know an answer to the question that she already knew. She had begun to prepare cornbread and had poured the mixture into the bowl only to find out that there were no eggs. She then simply leaves the bowl and goes about a quest for something else for dinner. I know this story is not very exciting, but I swear there is a point.

The next day I went to the grocery store and while there I picked up some eggs thinking that I would go ahead and fix the cornbread to go alongside the chili I was preparing for dinner. What a fantastic way not to waste 62 cents. The plan was brilliant, and I was very proud of myself for thinking of it. I arrive home and put away the groceries and set out to get the cornbread into the oven. I reach for the milk and, you guessed it, there was no milk. Insert expletive here as I realize, I too, had been foiled by lack of one of the four ingredients I needed to make this cornbread. What to do? Oh, I’m making this cornbread now! I got back into the van and drove back to the store.

I need to back up a bit. When I was at the grocery store I noticed an older lady in a motorized wheelchair passing by my car with her groceries hung all around and walking with a child who may have been around eleven or twelve. I said hello and smiled, and they went on past. I assumed they were going to their vehicle. As I was returning to the grocery I passed the lady and young girl walking down the road between the grocery and our home. They had walked to the grocery store and in the time it took me to drive home, unpack the groceries, start the cornbread, realize I was missing an ingredient, get completely bent out of shape at all the bad luck that I had, drive back to the store, buy the milk, and as it turns out return home from the store, they still had not made it back to their home. Reality check number one.

When driving to get the milk I was not going to go back on the main road to the grocery store. Oh no, I had been too inconvenienced by all this nonsense and I was going to just go to the corner drugstore by our house and get the milk. It is maybe a 30 second difference in time but that is not the point. I have been inconvenienced! When I walk into the drugstore that I had no business even going to for milk I was immediately greeted by an overly friendly hello! Oh great, someone who is having a much better day than I wants to spew their happiness all over me. My initial reaction was one of contempt and wishing that there was another register open so I could go through their line. Maybe someone not so chipper. In the time it took me to get to the milk cooler and back to the checkout his enthusiasm and happiness became infectious. I heard him interact with other customers and his attitude really did start to change my mood. I asked him how he could keep up such a positive outlook on life and he began to tell me a short story about his life and previous jobs and the trauma that came with one of them. He said, “This, I could do all day long!” And I was complaining about ingredients for cornbread. Reality check number two. (There are actually so many takeaways form this interaction such as positive attitude and behavior having effect on others but we are talking about cornbread here and I am a bit longwinded as it is.)

I know that you are all wondering if this cornbread was baked. I can tell that you are at the edge of your seats. We will get to that. As I drove the few minutes back to the house after this interaction I once again pass the lady and child walking with their groceries and I lose it. I mean I broke down into tears and felt like one of the most horrible people on the face of the earth. I was complaining so much about this cornbread and my circumstances that I was having trouble seeing that there were others that had it worse. I’m not sure if you believe in God or a supreme being of some sort. Maybe just a force that guides us through this world. I am convinced that there was a force out there that was going to make sure I picked up on these lessons along the way. I pulled myself together and went back inside to prepare dinner and, yes, the cornbread. Cornbread was baked and there were no further hiccups with this 62 cent box of cornbread. I know, a little anticlimactic huh?

The Lessons

Sometimes we get so frustrated about the issues that we are facing in life that we don’t stop to think that others may have it way worse. We were lacking ingredients to make cornbread. Big deal, at least we had the ability to quickly run to the store to grab what we needed and problem solved. Some would have had to take a few hours out of their day to make that happen. Some would not have had the money to go buy the milk. A lot of times I hear extremely wealthy people get upset about someone taking an extra $10,000 in taxes from their millions of dollars and they act like it is the end of the world. They blame lower income people for their lot in life and refuse to appreciate what they have and understand that there may be people who would laugh at their “problem” as I’m sure people would laugh at my cornbread issue. Perspective may be the key here. No problem being upset about an issue that faces us but maybe have a little bit of perspective.

The situation that the gentleman at the drug store explained to me is one that no one should have to experience and live with the rest of their lives. I’m not sure how he would not be cynical and upset and bitter for the rest of his life. He had made an effort to move on and see the blessings that he now has. He remembers his struggles to help him appreciate what he has, but does not focus and dwell on them to the point that they negatively affect his life.

The last lesson I learned was how much effort, emotion, time, and focus can be wasted on something as simple as cornbread. Think about everything that was a result of preparing this cornbread. The amount of frustration, texts, driving, cursing, and epiphanies that came from overcoming the obstacles that lead to the preparation of the cornbread. I feel that it is a metaphor for life. This cornbread represented what we all go through in life. We try so hard to accomplish a goal and it seems obstacles are always in our way. We become hyper focused at accomplishing the goal at all costs. We persevere and we do what is necessary and finally we hit the summit and the goal is accomplished. So, keep fighting, keep learning lessons along the way. Keep baking that cornbread because the lessons learned through the cornbread will be there the next time there is something much more important.

Another lesson was learned days later when only one piece of this cornbread was enjoyed by the family. As I scraped most of the cornbread out of the pan and into the trash I chuckled to myself and wondered if it was even worth all of the effort. The answer was yes! That cornbread taught me so much.

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