Monday, December 22, 2014

4 Years...

I'm going to be blunt. I have been struggling with depression since I was 16. Four years.

How's that for blunt? I think I did the word justice.

Moving on. Some of you are like "I've definitely seen you happy before." People with depression can be happy. Some people with depression can be very happy, and I won't deny that there are an uncountable number of instances in my life where I have been happy.

Depression is scary. It is your own thoughts tormenting you and telling you that everything you are terrified of is real. It is drowning while everyone else around you is breathing. It's that crazy ex-girlfriend (or boyfriend if you bat for the other team) that you think is gone and then drops in on your life at the most random and inconvenient times.

I have had to deal with the crazy ex-girlfriend named depression for four years, and I can't say that I've always dealt with it in healthy ways. Four years may not seem like a long time, and in all honesty it isn't. But it feels like it.

Depression does a really awesome job of making you focus on all the things about yourself that you hate. It makes you nit-pick all of your flaws and see all of your insecurities with 20/20 vision. And it sucks. It is a truly shitty feeling.

But I'm not writing about all of my flaws and insecurities today. Today I want to talk about the parts of me that I do like. I want to announce the parts of me that I like to the world (so... Facebook friends and Twitter followers). I am going to force myself to see the positive side of things. What's the worst thing that could happen?

I like having musical ability. TV shows like American Idol and The Voice (guilty pleasures) have taught me that not everyone does (yet sometimes those people end up winning). I complain about my music classes a lot but deep deep deep deep deep way deep down I would miss them if they weren't part of my daily life. AND I passed music history this semester. That was a serious concern. But I did it. I prevailed.

I like that I am an empathetic person. Despite my tendency to argue with some people a lot, I value my ability to see the views of other people. It allows me to appreciate the struggles of other people. And it reminds me that I never struggle alone.

I value my leadership skills, because apparently I have those. I love helping other people realize their potential and then use that potential to achieve whatever their heart desires.

I love that I can be bluntly honest. Lying doesn't accomplish shit. Unless you're a politician, then it gets you a job. You don't want to hear a hurtful truth? Don't ask me a question that might lead to one.

I like that I go to a school I love in a city I love and have a job that I love. Zip lining and climbing things is the shit. And really great stress relief. So if your group of 8 or more people is really stressed you should come to Venture Out and blow off some steam. I don't care if that was a shameless plug. It's my blog and I'll plug if I want to.

I like that I am a fiercely loyal friend. There are a select few people that could commit murder and I would gladly help them hide the body and then deny everything in court. Straight up lie on stand and to the faces of a jury. I wouldn't even bat an eye. I really really hope I never have to prove it, though. So please don't take this as a challenge, anyone.

I LOVE the fact that I have friends that I care about enough to help them hide a body if they were to commit murder (thought I'd strongly suggest they not do that). I love that I have friends who will so willingly talk me off of a ledge or go through the effort of brightening my day. I love that I have friends that don't judge me or treat me like I'm an oddity because of who I am or what I've been through. I love that some of them pull me out of a dark place without even realizing they did it. I love that I can laugh so effortlessly around them and just let all of my fears melt away for a while. I would not be where I am now without them.

So yeah. These are some of the things I just really really like about my life. Cool!

Have a happy holidays, valued reader.

-- Tyler

Today I found on Tumblr:

I'm aware of how inappropriate this is. That's why I picked it. Also because the witty reply was by "Tyelr" and that's really close to "Tyler" and "Tyler" is my name so it's almost like I said it and that's something I would say.

I'm going to shut up now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We Are All Different...

I like being different. I like it. And at times I don't like it much at all.

You see we live in a society that claims to encourage diversity. Where we are encouraged to express our differences.

Unless those differences are religion, sexuality, race, political ideation, etc.

We can be different. But we can only be different in ways that are deemed acceptable.

We are ALL different. And for some reason so many people view that as an obstacle. I'm not trying to point fingers (Congress, I'm looking at you) but it seems like people think differences should clash and not go well together.

Let's look at magnets. Which sides stick together? I'll give you a hint: North and north do not go together. North and south go together.

Let's look at an example that compares two living creatures.

My best friend and I are two very very different people. Yes we have some things in common. But for every thing we have in common there is an uncountable number of differences between us. But we do not treat those differences as obstacles. We do not try and make the other person change to fit the mould in which we fit.

So why is that so hard for others? Why do people have it in their mind that there is only one way to live life? Why do people think there is only one correct religion, one correct sexuality, one superior race?

Who are we to play God or to be the judge?

Who are we to say that one lifestyle that does not bring harm to others is wrong or less than another lifestyle?

This is the 21st century. We have pre-sliced bread, Netflix, and phones so smart they can do anything except wipe your ass (but that could be next, I don't know, technology is crazy). But we can't accept some differences that make people who they are.

It is not our place to tell someone who they should or should not be. That is part of the journey of life and it is a journey that can only be experienced by the person on which it is bestowed.

And everyone deserves to be comfortable on their journey. Everyone should be able to live the life that they want to live without someone pointing their fingers and saying "Wrong."

Everyone should live their life and be happy with who they are.

Today I found on Tumblr:

I need this in my life.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I Am and I Am Not...

College is weird.
Old people say that these are supposed to be the greatest years of your life. But how could this be better than high school?
Totally kidding. High school was, and always will be, a shit show.

But there are some things that don't change when you transition from high school to college. Yes, you might live on your own. Yes, you actually have to pay tuition. No, you don't have to ask to go to the bathroom in class (a real perk, considering I had to ask permission to go pee in high school when I was a legal adult).

None of these things change the fact that, to some degree, people in college expect you to be something and that you will be labeled. You will be labeled based on what you're involved in, what your major is, who you hang out with, and a million other things.

You might be thinking "Tyler you go to a school with a huge population. How can all of those people label you?" They don't. The people that know you label you. They do it without even knowing it. They label you based on what you are and what you are not. Everything that you do defines you in one way or another. Everything you don't do defines you. What you are and what you are not in some way dictates how people look at you.

I am not the guy that adheres to the "frat" way of dressing (they don't like cargo shorts and I'm not in a frat so I never understood why this was ever an issue).
I am not the guy who goes out and gets shit face wasted because it's "fun" (throwing up is not fun).
I am not the guy who gets invited to go out and party on the weekends (I'm usually at work).
Not the guy that someone would make their first choice to ask to formal (it's probably because I wear cargo shorts).
Not the best looking.
Not the nicest.
Not the funniest.
Not the most fun to be around
Not the smartest.
Not the most talented.
For sure not the most athletic (not even close).
Not the first person to get invited somewhere to do something.
Not the one that adheres to the status quo.
Not the one who has their life together.
Not the one that gets noticed.

I will always be the guy that has to work to pay his own way (it's character building).
I will always be the guy that has a major with course work that is under-appreciated.
I am the guy that says honest things that can come off as harsh.
I am the guy that sits in his room and ignores the world.
I will always be the depressed guy.
I will always be the guy that needs people.
I will always be the guy who has friends that are way better than he is.
I will always be the guy that is not afraid to speak his mind.
I will always be the guy that works pretty damn hard to be successful.
I will always be the guy that stands up for his friends.
I will always be the guy that remains loyal to the people that don't necessarily deserve it.
I will always be the guy that people can come to when they need help, even if they don't come. They can.
I will always be the guy that can forget about his problems when someone else has problems to deal with. Even if their problems dwarf in comparison to mine.
I will always be that guy.

And I couldn't tell you what made me that way. I don't know if it's genetic or if society molded me into it or if I molded myself. I don't know. I doubt I'll ever know.

The fact of the matter is that this is how I am perceived by some of the people that know me and it doesn't matter if that's how I want it to be or not. It is.

It simply is.

Today I found on tumblr:

Okay, Kurt Vonnegut (whoever the hell you are). I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Comprehensive Guide On How To Be Friends With the Socially Selective...

I have not written in a long time (mostly because free time is a myth now and that kinda sucks). So please enjoy the bumpy road that will be this piece of writing and try not to hold it against me. Cool thanks.

So this morning I read an article on the website Thought Catalog (a website I like to spend a lot of class time on) title "14 Signs You're Selectively Social."

You can read it here:

Needless to say they hit the nail on the head and I fit all 14 characteristics and now I can confidently define myself as selectively social. I feel so special and I'm not going to refer to this group of people by using the pack plural ("we") because it's a sign of my affiliation.

I'm sure that my friends can tell that getting along with the socially selective can be trying at times (or all the time). We're a little unpredictable and can be hard to read. When we turn your plans down sometimes we don't have a reason at all besides the fact that we probably just don't want to deal with people. So I figured I would do the world a favor (you're welcome, everyone) and compose a list of tips on how to handle being friends with someone who is socially selective. I love lists.

1. Our social skills run on a battery. Interacting with people we don't know drains that battery faster than your favorite app kills your iPhone battery. We have to recharge our battery, and our charging station is usually at home in our room. Alone. We aren't hiding because we hate you or because we're upset (well sometimes we are). We are hiding because our social battery is on 1%. If you want to know if we're mad or if our battery is low just ask.

2. We heavily depend on the people that don't drain our batteries. I know I have a small number of people (I'd estimate 3 or 4) that for one reason or another don't exhaust me when I'm around them. These people are magical human beings and when they're around I become a stage 5 clinger. It's like the Titanic. They're the door and I'm Rose. Screw Jack. He was a battery drainer.

3. Even though we don't like going out all the time we still get offended if you don't invite us. We might say no. We'll probably say no. But that doesn't mean we don't like feeling included. If you ask us to go with you and we say no just remember: Our time spent alone will be much more enjoyable because we know that we still matter despite the fact that we're about as exciting as reading the dictionary.

4. When we say "I just got your text!" we really mean "I'm replying now because I think I've waited long enough that I can avoid face-to-face interaction at this point." It's not you. It's us.

5. If we agree on plans don't change any aspect of them without asking well in advance. Don't invite more people without asking first. That causes us all kinds of anxiety. We were mentally preparing for a certain scenario and now you've sprung another variable on us. That's not cool. We were prepared to impress persons 1, 2, and 3. We were not prepared to make a good impression on the additional two people that you sprung on us last minute. Now we're considering not going and it's all your fault. You have just broken a very important unwritten rule.

6. Sometimes we like to be alone. We're not angry or upset or anything. Being alone is just peaceful. If you're not sure why we're being seclusive just ask. It prevents a whole lot of awkward further down the road.

There you go. I just provided you with what could be the most useful cheat sheet you've ever seen.

Use it wisely.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Time Is Passing By and I'm So Flipping Excited...

So we're almost halfway through September (where does the time even go?) and that's kinda cool / weird but mostly weird. But I'm sitting here in my roommates room (I was lonely and the living room is way too far away) trying to think of ways to avoid doing my homework and it hit me: I haven't blogged in a very long time.

So I'm going to use this post to talk about me because it's my blog and I can do that if I want.

For those of you that don't know: I started my sophomore year of college about a month ago. So far it's going very well! I haven't had very many emotional breakdowns (though there was one time I ran out of pizza in the freezer and it was a very emotional time in my life) and I haven't felt the need to punch or kill anyone yet so that's good!

Actually compared to last semester I'm sitting on top of cloud nine right now.

So yeah, a very eventful few weeks I've had since I've moved back to Columbia.

First off I MOVED INTO AN APARTMENT. Which means I do adult things like pay rent and make my own food so that's not really very fun but my roommates are pretty awesome and it's a lot of fun and a million times better than the dorms (shoutout to Wolpers and Respect for scarring me emotionally a couple of times). I really like where I live and the people are pretty nice. I even went to the gym here once or twice. So I've done my physical activity for the semester too!

I also turned 20 almost two weeks ago. So I'm not technically a teenager anymore. No worries though, Spongebob is still my favorite TV show and I still play Pokemon on a regular basis. Some things just don't change. I got to go out and get dinner with some really awesome people and then some of us came back to my place and I'm going to stop describing my birthday now because my mom and grandmother both read this. Long story short: Best birthday I've ever had because my friends are awesome and I didn't go to bed until around 4 AM (and I might have skipped class but if you ask me no questions I shall tell you no lies).

I've been taking shifts at Venture Out a lot. I still think (know) I have the greatest job at the University of Missouri. Actually I might just have the best job in Missouri. There's nothing more gratifying to me than watching a group of people come in and overcome obstacles and become closer as a group. And I love getting to be a part of it with so many people. The experience is rewarding and the paycheck is mandated by federal law I think. It's a win-win situation for me. I also got a job at Sam's Club but that's boring and I'm going to skip over that detail.

My music is going well. I've made a lot of progress over the last few weeks and I think I'm starting to understand who I am as an artist now. The act of music-making doesn't stress me out anymore, really. The piece I played last year was ridiculously challenging for me, so I figure if I can pull that off I can do just about anything if I put the work into it. Music theory still makes me want to die a painful death but the class itself is pretty fun.

I'm still involved with the Center for Leadership and Service and I've done some stuff with them like leading a site for a volunteer day for the incoming first year students and I'm facilitating an Emerging Leaders Program that I'm very very excited about.

So yeah, that's my life right now. I'm done tooting my own horn.

Today I found on Tumblr:


Friday, August 8, 2014

When I Was 18...

My list of talents isn't lengthy. I excel in a few areas, average in more, and am mediocre in most (see sports, cooking, and playing well with strangers).

That being said, I am rather good at being an insufferable know-it-all. Sorry about that. Well... kind of. I'm actually not sorry at all (I'm also really good at being abrasive and honest).

That being said I also have a decent memory and I remember quite well what I was experiencing a year ago. I was getting ready to move out of my parent's house and into a dorm room in Columbia so I could start my journey as a Tiger at the University of Missouri (which was a good decision so HA mom).

So for all of you freaking out because you're about to start college, I would like to tell you something: STOP. I have a few things I would like to tell you that I was not informed of when I was about to start the next chapter of my life.

1. A high school diploma is not a ticket that magically tells you what the rest of your life will look like. That's the beauty of life. Nothing is set in stone. Part of it is terrifying. You have absolutely no idea what will happen to you tomorrow. Or the next day. There are too many variables in life that could change what will/should happen. Here's the good news: YOU are one of those variables and YOU have the power to change things in your life that you aren't happy with.

2. Corollary to above: You don't have to have a huge plan for your life if you don't want to. There's nothing wrong with just going with the flow and letting life take you wherever it is you go. This is not an excuse to avoid responsibility though.

3. There's a solid chance you and of your high school friends aren't going to talk to each other daily. Mostly because you won't go to school with all of them and see them almost everyday anymore.  That is okay. Do not go to a school because your friend is going there. I kind of sort of did that a little bit and by some miracle ended up thriving at my school regardless. You need to go to a school that is good for you. If your high school friends mean that much to you then you will stay in touch with each other. I promise.

4. There is no rush to find your future spouse at all. Fate has a weird way of bringing the people you need to you when you need them. That applies to significant others, best friends, etc. DO NOT freak out if you don't find the love of your life on move-in day or any time after that. Make friends and educate yourself. You have years ahead of you.

5. Karma is real. It has ways of rewarding your morality and kick your ass when you forget about morality. This does not mean that karma should mean your motivation behind being a good person. Be a good person because it betters you and the world around you.

6. Don't let freshmen 15 prevention get in the way of you improving your mental and emotional being. Being physically healthy is important, I won't deny it. It doesn't have to interfere with your mental health though. Free time in college can be scarce and you can easily give up the luxuries of reading. Read things that don't have to do with your school work. Don't forget to expand your mind.

7. Adults are smart because they have experience and experience is one hell of a teacher.

8. You're not invincible. I can't stress this enough. Stupid decisions can have permanent repercussions. College is a time to be a little crazy but you have to be smart about it. Don't let the best days of your life ruin the rest of your life.

9. Selfish people suck. Live a life that betters the lives of other people. It's very gratifying.

10. Your parents are smart people but you know you better than anyone else. If I had listened to my parents at one point (and they had my best interests in mind) I would have ended up at a school studying something I wasn't completely in love with. You know what is best for you.

11. Trust your gut. If something seems sketchy that's because it is sketchy.

12. It's so easy to only live in the moment. Despite the fact that you don't have to have a plan mapped out for your life you should think about the future when making decisions.

13. Pride is a supreme bitch. Don't let it knock you down and keep you there. "Modest is hottest." That may not apply here.

14. Never take for granted the friend that goes out of their way to brighten your day or help you. Selfless friends are so hard to come by and often times they won't be walked over. If you forget about them until you need them they will move on and the only person that will be hurt by it is you.

15. The meaning of life is different for everyone. To find it you need to do what gives you meaning.

College is fun. Life after high school is fruitful if you take the necessary steps to nurture it.

Today I found on Tumblr:


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Handful of Things That Could Make Your Freshman Year Easier...

So a lot of y'all are about to start college in a month.

That's exciting. So in honor of the occasion I thought I'd write a little somethin' for you guys. So I present to you a handful of things I wish I had known during my freshman year of college that would have made it way easier.

1. All you can eat in a dining hall doesn't mean you should eat it all. The Freshman 15 (Mizzou 22) is real and it's harder to get rid of than a crazy stalker / ex-girlfriend (arguably synonymous).

2. Nap time is a gift from Jesus Himself and shall not be ignored.

3. All nighters are never a good idea no matter how little you have studied. A lot of memory retention is done while you sleep.

4. Coming back to your room being really drunk and loud is going to piss off your roommate.

5. So apologize when you inevitably do it.

6. Drink orange juice or some other vitamin C rich thingy. Dorm rooms are cesspools.

7. If you don't wear flip flops in the shower you're an idiot. Those things are gross.

8. Puff puff pass.

9. Just kidding.

10. Don't do drugs they are bad.

11. You're in college now and professors don't hand out passes like your high school teachers did.

12. Your high school teachers tried really hard to make you pass for the sake of your job.

13. Professors in a lecture hall really don't care if you pass.

14. Lecture hall classes suck.

15. Go to office hours. Professors are more likely to give you a little boost if they know you and like you.

16. Bring a mattress pad. There's no way your mattress is going to be comfortable without aid.

17. Caffeine is fantastic.

18. Ibuprofen and duct tape can fix anything.

19. You're gonna lose contact with some of your high school friends.

20. You're gonna make some really awesome friends.

21. You and your roommate are either going to be great friends or hate each other by the time the year is over.

22. You're not there to get married. You're there to get educated. Being single is OKAY. Say it with me. OOOOOOOOKAAAAAAAYYYYYYY.

23. Alcohol is okay. Being blackout drunk is not okay. Being hungover sucks.

24. Talk to your givers of life (parents). They worry about you and all the stupid decisions you're probably making.

25. Your mom is not going to just magically be unsad when she leaves after helping you move in. That takes months. Buy tissues in bulk.

26. Study. For the love of God you actually have to study in college. Learn how to study or you'll metaphorically die.

27. Most everyone changes their major. It happens.

28. Upper class-men are valuable friends and allies. They just know, man. So feed them with your meal swipes. Mutualistic relationships are great.

29. Unless you plan on going to grad school your GPA isn't a huge deal. If you plan on going to grad school your GPA is a big freaking deal. Plan accordingly.

30. Sweat pants are okay. Love them. Wear them.

31. Know when you need to dress up and know how to dress up.

32. If something makes you unhappy cut it out of your life.

33. Ditching class is super easy. Especially if the teacher doesn't take attendance. Know when it's the right time and the wrong time.

34. A lecture on a topic you know really well is the "right time."

35. Exam day is the "wrong time."

36. Life begins when you step out of your comfort zone. So step out of it and start living.

37. Anything that starts with "Hey everyone! Watch this!" is followed by a stupid decision. So if you hear it get your phone out and start filming.

Today I found on Tumblr:


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Power Is My Own...

I'm a very luck guy. I have to consistently remind myself of this opinion (fact?) because I am inherently a realist (some call it a "pessimist" but to each his or her own). To quote a song title from my favorite band, "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic." Ha. Moving on.

I've spent the better part of a month debating on whether or not I should write this post because, despite the fact that I try to keep what I write to be as "real world" as possible some things are just a little too real.

Don't go jumping to conclusions, my life is still on the mediocre side of lucrative when it comes to excitement.

My life has always been rather stressful. One time during my senior year of high school I took a "stress test" (whatever the hell that is) and the test stated that any score over 150 was considered "unhealthy."

I scored (scored is actually a rather disgustingly ironic word in this instance because it definitely didn't lead to any victories) over 450. Why I've never been found in the fetal position on my bed rambling incoherent words at some point in the last few years is beyond me.

Stress sucks. I'm assuming everyone can attest to that (granted I can't actually speak for everyone, hence the assumption). Sometimes you don't always handle your stress in the best ways.

Sometimes stress builds and builds and keeps building until it towers over you and surrounds you. It buries you and it suffocates you. It knocks you down and keeps you there with no intention of letting you get back up. Stress can be overwhelming and debilitating.

I have to admit that in my earlier years of high school I didn't cope with stress well. I was sick a lot and missed a lot of school and just really wasn't happy at all. For a time it made me sad, and then I became depressed, and then after a while I was just numb. Numb to the world and to the people around me and to all the things that I loved. How I dealt with that period of my life is now a non-issue. I've finally told the people I trust about it and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

That ended my depression and numbness for a time. I was generally pretty happy. From the summer before my senior year all the way to the end of my first semester of college I was a pretty happy dude. Nothing to complain about really (except for student loans and homework of course). After a while I thought I was pretty much invincible.

Nobody is invincible.

I'm going to quote somebody that said something really wise: "Just because someone with depression has a better day doesn't mean that person got better. The day is still grey but without any rain."

Guess who said that wise piece. Go ahead and guess.

Your answer was wrong if you didn't guess Miley Cyrus. Crazy, right? She's not just a wrecking ball riding, sledge hammer swinging, tongue sticker-outer, singer that at one point was the icon of many childhoods.

Once my second semester started I had a lot of grey days and way too many rainy days. Thankfully I got to throw a handful of blue days and sunshine in there.

I couldn't possibly tell you what the cause of this second bout of non-happiness. But it was real and it sucked. I'm still not 100% sure that I'm over it yet. There have been some days this summer where I just feel low.

In contrast there have been some days this summer where I feel like I'm standing on top of the world. I've recently been going through one of my "on top of the world" phases and while the top of that mountain has been reached I'm still up high and feeling good.

It was during this expedition that I had an epiphany: Stress comes in two types. There is the stress that you can control and there is the stress that you can't control.

They have one thing in common: Both only affect you in a way that you let them. If you let either type of stress beat the crap out of you then you're going to get the crap beat out of you. If you do something to alleviate stress in a positive way then you're going to be much happier.

The power to deal with my stress is my own. I can work to prevent the stress that I can control and deal with the things I can't prevent in a positive way. I can choose to react to stress out of my control in a positive way.

Recently I've been trying to improve my physical health and I've noticed that physical health goes a long way in bettering your mental and emotional well being. While I have no aspirations to look like The Incredible Hulk (if my skin turns green I'll most definitely be going to see a doctor) I think I'm starting to agree with the "look good feel good philosophy."

Another thing I've been doing is just trying to make every day feel like some form of progress. I want to live every day so that when I go to bed at night I can reflect on my day and be satisfied with what I've accomplished since I work up that morning.

Your view on life really can make an impact on how you live your life.

The idea that I have the power to handle my stress how I want is great. I like being in control of myself (and, admittedly, the world around me when possible). I have a lot of work to do and a long ways to go, but I'm proud of my progress so far.

Today I found on Tumblr:

Well that explains a lot.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sun of Ink...

I hate pain in all forms. Emotional (The Fault in Our Stars), mental (doing math homework), physical (doing any kind of exercise) and any combination of the three (getting out of bed).

So why people get tattoos has been a mystery that I've contemplated for a long time. A long time being how long it took me to decide to write this post.

Sure some of them look cool.

Some of them look really stupid (pray for this person hard before you go to bed).

Some of them are just really disgusting.

My apologies for that one. I couldn't resist.

Now I've been 18 for almost two years (ha), which means I can do what I want (as long as my mom says it's okay because I live under her roof right now) and I could go out and get tatted up from the top of my head all the way down to the floor if I so desired. That's what credit cards and student loan money is used for (double ha), but I don't really see the point.

I'm a man of symbolism and in some ways getting something permanently stabbed into your body for the whole world to see (although if you're that last one you should probably wear high-waisted pants and long shirts from now until the end of time) might be considered one of the ultimate acts of symbolism.

And for that I respect tattoo bearers (and I respect their pain tolerance because there is no chance in hell that I'm letting a stranger stab me repeatedly so I can have something drawn onto my body; I would much rather prefer to just draw it on myself with a ballpoint pen).

If I had to get a tattoo though I think I'd get a tattoo of a sun. There's so much symbolism in the sun. It's a source of life and radiance. I too want to be a source of life and radiance for those around me. If the sun was a symbol of sarcasm I think I'd go out to a tattoo parlor right now and just get it all over my whole body, so let's thank our lucky stars (pun completely intended) that this isn't the case.

The sun is a wonderful thing. Without it we'd all probably die and it's a huge ball of fire. That's pretty cool.

The sun provides light, without which we can't see. The sun is clarity. To me it represents clarity of thought and a clear sense of morality. It is a constant reminder for me to do what is right.

The sun is a constant reminder to be happy and look at the bright side of life, because no matter how bad your day was today the sun is still going to rise tomorrow. Even if it's overcast or storming and you can't see it the sun is there, kind of life the weight I gained from college.

I like the idea of keeping that symbol with me wherever I go.

The idea just resonates in me.

So I guess I'll go find my ballpoint pen.

This is what I found on Tumblr today!

I can relate to this so much. I remember EVERYTHING. That conversation where told me your blood type in passing and then we completely changed the subject?

I remember.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Slow Blinks...

This is a completely 100% whimsical post that serves next to no purpose in society at all. Bar none.

So I just watched this video... about slow blinking. I don't know if you know what in God's name I'm talking about.

Slow blinking: That thing you do when someone says something really dumb or annoying and you just kind of give them a look that resembles this:
 photo http---makeagifcom--media-6-26-2014-UndaMc_zpsf585c819.gif

It has come to my attention that I do this ALL THE TIME. And I'm not sure if it's because of my lower tolerance for people or people's low capacity for basic functioning.

It has also come to my attention that the above GIF (pronounced either gif or jif I'm not sure at all) is mildly creepy and/or awkward. Sorry.

There's a lot of things that can spark this reaction:

Trips to Wal-Mart
90% of the people in my geometry class my sophomore year of high school (I was asked how to find the perimeter of a square... insert slow blink)
Customers at work
Most walks through Mizzou's Greek Town on a Friday night
My current algebra teacher
High school in general
Liberty traffic between the times of 4:30 PM and 6:15 PM
Gas prices
Jayhawks (sorry dad)
Really bad musicians
Jazz music
Celine Dion
My college tuition

The list goes on.

Here's the thing that growing up has made me realize: I can't change the people / things I slow blink at. They are going to do what they do no matter how I decide to react. Does that mean I shouldn't get angry? No. Does that mean I should never be annoyed? No.

I once read a quote that said "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Some people say Buddha said it. Some people say Buddha didn't say it. I don't know what to believe anymore.

Anger is a perfectly natural emotion that everybody experiences. Holding onto it is unhealthy. As a very famous Disney movie song once said "Let it go."

So yeah... that's kind of all I wanted to write about. It's my new initiative for myself and it can be an initiative for you too if you want. Or you can be cranky and bitter. It's whatever floats your boat, really.

Oh! I'm also going to start adding something new to every one of my posts. At the end of each post I'm going to post something that I read on the blogging website "Tumblr." If you're under the age of 30 I'm sure you've heard of it. There's not necessarily a theme involved. It can just be something I read that I found cool or funny. Or disgusting. Whatever I want, really. This is my blog.

So yeah.

Today I read on Tumblr:

I slow blinked at this.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The End of a Chapter...

Yesterday I got to go to my home away from home and spend a night with my second family dancing in the streets for one last time.

Fulton. The name holds a special place in my heart because a lot of the person I am today was formed on the campus of William Woods University.

If my life was a novel, my time with MASC would be a very very long chapter. Probably one of the really thick chapters in the middle of the book.

The part of the book where you meet the most pivotal characters and witness the largest amount of character development.

I owe the people of MASC a lot. I went to camp as a camper in 2012. A junior counselor in 2013. And now, most recently, a visiting alum in 2014. In the scheme of things, it may seem that two years is a very short amount of time.

But if you change perspective you can see that two years is 730 days. It's also 17,520 hours. A lot can happen in an hour. A person can learn a lot about themselves in a day.

By the grace of fate I have gotten to spend a vast number of days amongst many very influential people that have played some type of role in shaping me into the person I am today.

I don't think any groups have played a bigger part in my personal growth than 2012 Kouncil K (no, it's spelled correctly actually), 2013 Council E and the 2013 Junior Counselors.

From Kouncil K I learned that life truly beings when you break out of your comfort zone. During the week I got to spend with Kouncil K I was a cheerleader, chant maker, song writer, speech writer, speech giver, peace keeper, problem solver, leader, and follower... among a plethora of other things. I had to complete tasks that required various amounts of physical activity (something I detest) while working with people that I had known for literally less than 48 hours. It was magical. In Kouncil K I found friends and family. I found a life coach, a best friend, future classmates, and a system of never ending support.

From Council E I learned a very important lesson: Life is wasted if you don't spend your time having fun. These kids never fought... EVER. They were always smiling, laughing, and having a blast. I can tell you right now that when I was in middle school I was not a bundle of laughters and smiles. Middle school was awkward and weird and just not a good time. So I don't know how these dudes are approaching life... but they seem to have the right idea. At first I thought it was kind of odd... I was supposed to be teaching this kids about leadership and Student Council. But I'm 99.99999999% sure I learned more about life from them than they did from me. Keep on rockin' on Council E. You guys are the future movers and shakers of the world.

The 2013 JCs... I'm not super sure where to start. My letter telling me I was selected to be a JC was more than just a ticket to spending another week at the greatest place on planet Earth. It was a ticket to becoming a part of a group of people that make you life until you cry and cry until you laugh and make you feel every emotion possible. That letter was the key to gaining 53 of the goofiest, loudest, greatest, and most supportive friends a dude could ever have. To this day I can still tell you where I was and what I was doing when I figured out I was going to be a part of this family. It will forever be one of the best days of my life. These people have helped me through my lowest of lows and celebrated with me when I was sitting on my highest highs. They taught me that there is nothing in the world that feels better than having a true friend, and I'm lucky enough to have 53 of them.

The MASC of my chapter is ultimately over. For that I'm sad. The good news is that a lot of the people I've met are hopefully going to be recurring characters in my life. For that I'm grateful. I truly don't think there are better people in the world than the friends I've made through student council. So, while this chapter is over, I think a new one is beginning. And I'm sure there are going to be a lot of familiar faces.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Times Have Changed and We've Grown Up...

So my finals week starts Monday, which means I have two written exams and two performance based exams standing between me and Summer 2014.

That's weird. I'm almost a quarter of the way done with my undergraduate studies.

What's worse is I still have no freaking clue what I'm going to do with my life, and apparently marry rich and/or win the lottery isn't a viable option... so... yeah.

Growing up is a strange experience. I'm in college and I'm expected to make all of these life decisions when a year ago I had to ask an adult for permission to use the bathroom. So society expects you to to mature pretty damn quick, to say the least.

Reflecting back on my freshman year of college I'd say I was rather successful areas and my performance in others was exceptionally mediocre. Grades were decent... first semester. I have an incredible job that brings me absolute joy and that I look forward to going to. I've made some awesome friends that will be around hopefully the rest of my life. Musically I've improved leaps and bounds too. But of course behind every success is failure. However there are parts of college that still confuse me.

I don't understand the allure behind getting plastered. All of my bouts of intoxication (don't act like you're shocked, I go to a state school) end with me hugging people and dancing on tables. From what I can deduce my soul is 17% white girl (the other 83% is taken up by "overly protective / jealous friend, sarcastic asshole, and mild - moderately pretentious musician), which is weird because usually when I interact with your stereotypical white girl I have to suppress an instinctual reaction to roll my eyes and vomit blood... wait no that's my instinctual reaction to dealing with people in general.  

Okay, maybe that last bit was a little harsh, but it's finals week come Monday and I'm stressed. Where was I?

Right. Digressing.

Growing up is weird, and I think I skipped the stage where I am a rebellious college student who sticks it to the man and has no regard for the rules of the system. For example: I spent my Friday night playing Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64. Yeah. Epitome of bad-assery. But in all seriousness I think I've blossomed into the role of "sarcastic yet concerned caretaker / parental role" rather swimmingly.

The point I'm trying to make is that there's apparently no set stages to growing up. You don't go from apathetic high school student to alcoholic college student to anal adult. Some of us skip the college phase and try to be anal adults in college (we're a dying breed, and if I could graph how many people snickered internally at my use of the word "anal" I would prove it to you). So freshmen year is almost over and for some people it already is.

I come back to Liberty for the summer. Not sure if I'm excited about that because I burned quite a few bridges when I moved to Columbia. Do I regret it? No. They were bridges that never should have been built in the first place. But it goes without saying that when your friends live across the state from you having a social life is difficult at best. Thankfully I have a few road trips scheduled to go see those people throughout the oncoming season on top of hopefully working a lot and making a decent amount of money (or as decent as a college student's savings account can get). And then what happens next?

I move back to Columbia and live in an apartment year round for however long. The future is not defined and I'm mildly paranoid about it. Rent is expensive. Food is expensive. Being alive is expensive.

And that's the harsh reality. Times change. People grow up. People grow apart. I can't say I'm as close to my high school friends now as I was in high school (actually I'm still only mildly close to one of them). And that's okay. People come in and out of your life. The ones that were meant to stick around will stick around. The ones that don't will find their way out the door without you expediting the process. I just hope the people I want to keep around are the ones that are meant to.

Nobody really ever asks to be thrown into the harsh world of adulthood. It just sort of happens. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to live life as a tree. Very little stress. The worst thing that could happen is you get chopped down and turned into a Justin Bieber spiral bound notebook. So even after you're cut down some pre-teen girl is still going to love you.

But I wasn't born as a tree. I was born as a living, breathing, sarcastic human being with a great head of hair. And I'm going to live the life I was given because I only have one (since I wasn't born as a cat). Growing up can suck, but it can be mildly rewarding too.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Time Is Limited...

Put your hand in front of your mouth. Inhale. Exhale.

Do you feel the stuff going through your nose and mouth?

That's life.

Put one hand over your heart.

Do you feel that?

That's purpose.

If there's a clock nearby please look at it. That's time. And it's ticking.

The fact of the matter is that everybody is mortal and everybody's days are numbered. It's mildly frightening that I don't know how much time I have to pack the equivalent of one lifetime into, because a lifetime isn't measurable. One person may pack a lifetime into twenty years and somebody else might spread a lifetime out across seventy.

There's no control. And that's terrifying for me because I like to be in control.

I could walk across the street on the way to class tomorrow and be plowed over by an old lady in a car (probably because I was checking Twitter and not paying a lick of attention). So then I have to pose the question to myself: Am I happy with my life so far?

It's a loaded question that is multi-faceted. I have to look at almost two decades of living. And to some that may seem like a lot and to others that may seem like the blink of an eye. However I'd like to think I've packed more life into almost 20 years than most other people my age.

Between school, friends, my music, my leadership activities, my personality, my individuality, and my thriving self-sufficiency I think I've got a lot going for me. And there's no telling how far that it'll take me. But I know that I'm going to take it as far as I possibly can, because that's the best I can hope to do.

I firmly believe that everyone was put on this planet for a reason. And for that reason I think it's imperative that everybody make the most of the time they're given no matter how long or short that period of time is. Because as long as your heart is beating and your lungs are breathing you have the chance to change the world into something incredible.

So get out there. Move the world and shake things up. There's not enough time in the world for anyone to take anything for granted.

Time is limited.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Puzzle Can Build Itself...

I do an awful job of just going with the flow. It's pretty much the reason why my aspirations to drop out of high school and be a hippie fell through. That and I like being... clean. And I'm way too introverted.

Yeah. Never a pragmatic idea in retrospect. Oh well. I digress.

I'm a man (boy... guy... dude... male) that likes to be in control of his life at all times. So I'm usually pretty disappointed because outside of my own actions I have control over diddly squat. Yes, it is very frustrating, thanks for asking.

I learn a lot in college (and the learning is very heavy on the musical side), but I pride myself in what I learn outside of lectures, rehearsals, and lessons. The things that I learn about myself as a person just by living day to day. And my latest epiphany is that sometimes you just have to let go of the reigns and let life take you where it intends to take you.

Like I said, I'm a control freak. This lesson has been hard for me to come to terms with. I don't trust easily and fate is definitely not excluded from that. I still am not 100% comfortable with the idea of just letting things go. I've used a puzzle as an analogy before on a post about how great it feels to fit in without having to force the pieces to fit together.

Now I want to use a puzzle again in a different way. If my life is a puzzle maybe sometimes it's healthy for me to not even try and put it together. The purpose of a puzzle is to put the pieces together so that they make a picture that's printed on the box the puzzle came in. What if my life doesn't have a box? What if the pieces were just dumped out in front of me? No picture conveniently printed on a box for me to look at. No corner or edge pieces to set up a framework with. Just a jumble of pieces that may or may not turn into some vivid beautiful picture.

I'm not a visual artist. I can't draw or sculpt or any of that cool stuff. Not even my handwriting is aesthetically pleasing. So what if I just don't build the puzzle? What if, instead of siting down and stressing over what piece goes where, I just let the hustle and bustle of life shift the pieces around for however long I walk the planet?

Unorthodox? Undeniably so. Impractical? Maybe. But I study music and psychology. I'm the definition of impractical.

So why sit down and worry about things that might be outside of my realm of control?

Why not let the puzzle build itself?

Maybe it's okay to not always be in control.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Can't Outlaw Fedoras...

I should just warn a lot of you now: If you are a highly religious individual that lives their life strictly by some religious doctrine and also happen to be a way right leaning conservative this post is likely to upset you and I'm not going to apologize.

I'm not a highly religious person. Tried going to church for about a year and a half. Didn't really feel exactly what I felt they expected me to. Not their fault, not mine either. To each his or her own.

I have nothing against religion (for the most part) and a large number of the moral codes that it stands for.

The 10 Commandments? Great. You shouldn't murder or steal. Coveting is bad for your emotional stability. Honor your mother and father? Yeah, do it. They put you on this planet, dammit, and they probably have plotted how to take you off (okay maybe that's just my mother).

Here's the thing though. Gandhi once said "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." I agree, somewhat. I like the Christian's idea of who Christ was and, historically speaking (at least to my limited knowledge), his non-supernatural acts seem to have been legitimate. If he walked on water great. If he healed a blind man and turned water into wine even better. Those things hold no relevance to the point I'm trying to get across. 

I disagree with Gandhi on his second sentence, "I do not like your Christians." Most (all?) of my closest friends identify as Christian and they're the greatest people I have ever met ever. They're people that, in one way or another, I aspire to be like as a human being. Loving, loyal, humble, honest, selfless, and accepting. I can describe all of them with those words with 110% confidence and there is probably an innumerable number of Christian people who fit into this same category, and that's great. If there's one thing I took away from the time I spent in church it's that God is, ultimately, love. And this belief is supported by their belief that man is inherently sinful and imperfect so God sacrificed his only son (which was also Himself? I'm hazy on that part) so that we could, after life on Earth, have the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. 

The third sentence really resonates with me though. "They are so unlike your Christ." Wasn't Jesus the one who spent time amongst harlots and other sinners? The people that some of his followers are speak out against?

What I want to talk about is how people are using religion as a means to oppress the minority.

And yes, that is what some (not all) people are doing in the "name of God." I won't hear arguments against it. Westboro Baptist Church (just pointing out an extreme) is real and what they do is undeniable. 

Of course the  forefront of this issue is the legality of gay marriage (with abortion at an arguably close second). But I don't want to focus on abortion.

I haven't taken a government class since 2012 but last I checked the United States of America is not a theocracy and therefore, logically speaking, should not be passing laws that use religious scripture or ideology as a basis for its justification. 

If you don't like that? That's too damn bad. Go live in Iran or Vatican City. Their law making processes might adhere to your tastes more. 

So now I pose the simple question "Why?" Why is a book (or books, ideally) playing any part in the argumentation against whether or not someone can marry somebody of the same sex or something else that a person practicing a religion doesn't agree with? I think fedoras and Crocs are stupid and tacky. You don't see me trying to pass a law that outlaws fedoras and Crocs.  

People call it unnatural. So is an almost-20-year-old man's love for Spongebob Squarepants and Power Rangers. Sorry, you can't do anything to change that. Spongebob is the man, man.

Some people say that gay marriage ruins the sanctity of marriage, but I would argue that Rush Limbaugh's four very heterosexual marriages have single handedly ruined the sanctity of marriage (with Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian getting the assist) without needing any assistance from the gay population, but I don't hear anybody bitching about him.

The fact of the matter is that your religious beliefs shouldn't affect how somebody else lives their life. Don't like gay marriage? Don't get married to someone that's the same sex as you. Problem solved.

But please don't use a religious book as your arguments against other people doing it. Marriage came around before your religion as a means of obtaining social status and no religion is supposed to play a part in the governing of this country ("supposed to" being the key part of that phrase. But hey, I can dream). 

Again, this isn't me "hating" or "preaching against" Christianity. There's a lot of things I think Christians support and exemplify that, if practiced by society as a whole, would better the world.  Hate me if you want, but if what I wrote changes your opinion of me I think that speaks more for your character than it does for mine.

Have a great day everyone!

-- Tyler

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Wall With Glass on the Inside...

This post is dedicated three ways to three very special people. They know who they are.

Carrying on!

You can tell a lot about a person by their face.

A smile indicates happiness. A frown indicates something that probably isn't happiness. An ugly face where you contort your jaw to make many chins indicates a Snapchat.

You can really tell a lot about a person by what they're doing with their body. If my arms are crossed and I'm looking down it means I'm shy. If I have my teeth clenched and my mouth shut tight it means I'm mad. If I have my teeth clenched, my mouth shut tight, and I'm holding a gun it means I'm really mad.

All funny jokes aside (and they were funny, thank you) I think we take too much at face value.

We assume that the person that is smiling is always happy, and not just happy in that specific moment. We don't think that maybe they're sad more often than they are happy.

We assume that the person that is frowning is sad, but maybe they aren't always. Maybe they just stubbed their toe.

We assume that a person who is sarcastic and always has a snarky one-liner ready to deliver and also works pretty damn hard at his/her craft and likes to smile a lot has always been sarcastic and talented and happy. Maybe they're sarcastic because they had to find a way to counteract the timidness that often got them picked on when they were younger. And maybe they smile a lot because they figure that smiling on the outside and hurting a little bit on the inside is better than hurting on both sides. And maybe they slave away at their craft because they were never good at what society expected them to be good at (sports, if you're a dude).

The people always surrounded by their friends? Maybe they push themselves onto their friends because when their alone they become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.

Maybe what you see and hear isn't a reality at all, but just a very strong facade put on by someone who has become very talented at fooling those who watch and listen to them. A strong wall that is the result of many years solid mental work that surrounds their whole mind and is so tall that you can't fathom where the top of it might even end.

And why do people build walls these walls? Because we trick ourselves into thinking we don't want anything to do with the outside world. But that's not what we really want.

We want to find someone who will knock that son of a bitch down. We want to find someone who will look past our face value and see us for what we're really worth. We want someone to invade our mental kingdom and take over and see us for more than just the show we put on.

If the outside of the wall is brick then the inside surely must be glass. Smooth and polished glass that acts just like a mirror. So one thought reflects off the wall and back to another side and keeps ricochetting off of the barrier until God knows when. So if the thought is a negative one you're stuck until it loses its momentum.

Talk about shit out of luck.

In my almost 2 decades of life (I round up) I've found maybe three people that have even taken a gander to see behind my walls (in a non-creepy way), and I kind of like that number. If you ask School House Rock, three is a magic number. Not too many and not too few.

I can't let everyone behind the wall though. There's not enough room and I don't have the patience to be hosting a party in my head all the time, there's enough going on as it is (damn you, music school).

There's nothing quite as satisfying as meeting those people that pick up the hammer and start swinging. In some weird way, the damage is liberating. The wall doesn't just keep people out it also keeps you in, isolated from a world of possibility and endless opportunity.

Who knows where'd you be if someone didn't care enough to start tearing your wall down?

Brick by brick, until you finally can see what's on the other side.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

More Than Worth Every Mile...

I'm suffering from withdrawal.

Maybe I should back up and explain. My name is Tyler Hannsz and, unless you count gummy vitamins and ibuprofen, I do not do drugs. 

I'm having emotional withdrawal, because I just spent an incredibly wonderful weekend with wonderful people (MASC people, in case you couldn't guess) and now I'm back at Mizzou.

I love Mizzou, make no mistake. I love everything about this school (except for the price), but the people I spent my weekend with are people you just can't compare to or live up to.

I like to think that when it comes to people in the state of Missouri that are my age I am somewhat decently networked. I know a variety of people from a variety of places that went to a variety of schools and participated in a variety of things. And that's great.

However that means that a large majority of my favorite people in the world don't live in the same area as me. 

For example: My best friend lives on the eastern side of the state. I spend my time living either in the middle of the state or on the extreme western side of the state. That means that on any given day we're anywhere from 120-250 miles apart (approximately). People always assume that being a good hundred or two hundred miles away from my favorite people in the world is emotionally painful or something.

I don't think I'd agree. The distance isn't painful. In fact I think the distance often times acts as a stimulant. The time I spend with these people is a million times more valuable and we don't take any of it for granted. The trip to wherever it is we're meeting is exciting and charged with energy. Every mile brings you closer to what you know is going to be a great time. It's like going a really long time without eating your favorite food. The next time you eat it it tastes like it came out of God's personal super market. 

In the case of my friends there's six simple steps to our get togethers, and we follow these steps almost every time, without really meaning to.

Step 1. The journey to. This part's kind of agonizing. The driving time ranges from 2-5 hours depending on where we're meeting and where we're coming from. But the closer you get the more excited you get. You start to anticipate all the fun you're going to have and think about all the fun you had last time. This step is significantly fun if you're not the only one in the car.

Step 2. Arrival. You arrive at your destination and everyone freaks out because you haven't seen each other in however many months and you just can't handle how happy you are and you think your heart will explode because of all the bliss you're feeling.

Step 3. Experience. This is the longest stage. You're experiencing new things (and reliving old things) and creating new memories and you're just so happy to be in everyone's presence, but you're accustomed to the company now and you're not jumping up and down like a manic rabbit anymore. You create inside jokes (and to all of my lovely friends I'm just going to say the words "midget" and "orange" and let you fill in the blanks) and have a wonderful time. You're too immersed in the moment to care about anything but the here and now.

Step 4. Denial. The night before your departure back to reality (and reality is incredibly dull in comparison) everyone still has that smile on their face and everyone is still laughing so hard that they're going to cry / throw up / pee themselves or any combination of the three. But everyone also knows that we'll have to say our goodbyes in the morning and that's never a fun time. 
Step 5. Departure and depression. The hard part about living so far away from your favorite people is when it's time to leave. When you have to willingly put those hundreds of miles between you and those incredible people again. You make promises to see each other again soon (April can't come fast enough at this point) and then make that quiet and slightly depressing car ride home. Every mile you put between you and the people you love hurts a little bit. 

Step 6. Epiphany. But then you start to reminisce and reflect on that one stupid thing that somebody did that made everyone laugh and the epiphany hits you like a train: What you have is incredible. Almost too incredible for you to be able to fathom. 
It gives you something to look forward to.
It gives you memories to reflect on when life becomes a little hellish.
People to text or call when you have good news.
People to text or call when you need support.
A reason to wake up every day and take on the world with a smile on your face and a skip in your step.

Because you appreciate the journey you've made with those people. The short amount of time you get to spend with them is what gets you through the days without them.

And the miles you travel to see them for that weekend?

It's more than worth it.

After all, the only thing between you and your friends now is time.

And you've waited before. 

They're the kind of friends worth waiting for.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dog Years...

If I had to list the top five things I miss the most about not living at home the top of the list would easily be my dog, May Belle (we call her May).

She's sweet, she's funny, she's care-free, and she's awkward. If she was a human being close to my age I would marry her. Is that weird?


Dogs are incredible creatures. Like us they come in all shapes and sizes with a wide array of personalities.

I think, though, that they sometimes have a better method of living life than we do. Dogs have a long list positive character traits that we, as humans, could learn from and use to benefit the world.

For example:

1. Dogs are loyal. Loyalty nowadays is so hard to find in a person. With a world full of people looking out for themselves first there's a lot of back stabbing (hey, high school, I'm looking at you). People will do anything and step on anyone to end up on top. Dogs don't do that. Dogs sit when they're asked (if they're trained well). My dog does this thing where she knows when you're sick. So if someone in our house isn't feeling well (usually it's me) she comes into your room and she won't leave as long as you're in there. And when you leave she leaves. My dog literally tries to follow me into my bathroom. No, puppy, that's my personal tinkle time. And then when I'm done doing whatever I needed to do outside of my room (usually taking Ibuprofen or Dayquil) she obediently follows me back into my room and assumes her place on my bed (usually the spot I try to lay on) and keeps me warm (even if it's the middle of the afternoon in July).

2. Dogs love their humans unconditionally. I think I could tell May that I kick puppies and she'd still love me (of course she would, she can't speak human). My point is that no matter what day (month, now actually) I've been through and how pissed at the world I am when I walk into my house 99% of the time the first person to greet me is my dog, and she's certainly always the most enthusiastic. She doesn't care what kind of day you've had or what you've been through. She just wants to be with you and lick your face and sit on you. And fart, probably. She's usually pretty gassy.

3. Dogs are care free. As far as I can tell, a worry seldom crosses their mind. They live in the moment and are taking part in life simply to enjoy it and get as many tummy rubs as they possibly can. I remember reading a tweet once that said "maybe dogs live such shorter lives than humans because they know what they know how to live a lifetime faster and simpler than we do." Scientifically speaking I don't think that's quite true, but it's still a nice thought. Dogs, it would seem, simply are better at being happier than us. They don't worry about things like we do. My dog's kinda dumb, but she doesn't care. She happily barks at her reflection and bites her own leg and she'll keep doing it thank you very much. She just wants to be happy. Keep on doing you, pooch.

4. Dogs are happy to be who they are. You don't see them trying to change the way they look or act. A dog doesn't go and get its coat groomed because they dog next door has shinier hair than her. Hell, my dog likes to roll in dirt and eat her own poop. She doesn't care that it's gross and makes you want to vomit. She's still gonna try and cuddle with you and lick your face (she licked me on the mouth once and I literally threw up).

I don't know why it's so hard for people to grasp these concepts, especially if we're the most intelligent form of life (though college has made me question this claim). Dogs are so much more happier than humans and their happiness is infectious.

Maybe we should take a leaf (bone?) out of their book and view the world in a simpler light.

The world might actually be a happier place if we all lived in dog years, ya know?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Your Expectations vs. Who I Am...

Expectations. The belief that something will happen.

We're all surrounded by them. We're expected to abide by the law. We're expected to arrive at work or school (and expected to be there on time).

And that's great. It creates structure, and I'm a huge fan of structure.

But where do we draw the line on expectations?

Do we let people create expectations on who we are and who we will be?

Do we let those expectations play any role in defining who we are and who we will be?

That's up to the individual, I believe. But like I said, everyone has expectations set upon them. I'm expected to be a musician. I'm a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, and a million other things. I'm a tall, white, caucasian male with green eyes and brown hair.

I'm expected to be sassy, quirky, sarcastic, blunt, funny, a little pessimistic, a realist, empathetic, a musician, a leader, and a friend.

And that's great, because I revel in being all of those things. But there's a difference between the first and second list.

I am all of those things in the first list because I was born. I had no control over it. Could I stop being any of those things? No. I could cut myself off from my family (but I won't), I could dye my hair (but I've learned to enjoy being called JewFro), and I could get contacts (but I'm poor and, incidentally, I think the color of my eyes is lovely).

The second list are all things I could change. Maybe not easily, but it's possible that I could stop being sassy. I could forgo my use of sarcasm and quit being funny. I could detach myself from my rather strong sense of empathy and walk around with my head in the clouds with a sense of reality that is far from real.

I could stop being a musician, I could lock away my viola in its case and never touch it again, I could never run my hands over piano keys again (not that I'm an accomplished pianist in the slightest), and I could never let a musical note come out of my mouth ever again. I could eventually silence the music in my head that literally never stops playing (currently I'm running through Brahm's second symphony, which is where we get his famous lullaby. Feel free to take a listen: ). That sounds really cool, right? It's like I have the Spotify app in my brain, and it never stops playing music. WRONG. It's annoying and distracting.

I could stop being a leader. I could stop encouraging others to expand on their leadership potential, because that's what a leader does. A leader makes more leaders.

And I could stop being a friend. I could stop interacting with people that I share common interests and emotional bonds with.

So what keeps me from doing all those things?

Am I sassy because it's expected of me? Am I a musician because of the expectations of others? Am I a friend because my friends expect me to be a friend?


I am these things out of my own volition. I think that there's a large number of people who are what they are and do what they are because of expectations (Cough cough congress cough cough) and because society seems to be so hellbent on kissing the butts of others.

Eventually the expectations that the world places on you are going to clash, and if you let expectations dictate your actions and let them influence who you grow up to be you are going to run into conflict.

So don't let them shape you. If your life is clay then you, and only you, should be the potter.

So let me make this one final thing clear: who somebody expects me to be plays the most minuscule of roles in who I am. I am metamorphosing into what I want to be because it's what I want, not what others expect.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ban the R-Word...

I was at Walgreens today (technically yesterday, I guess) to pick up some photos and I heard a lady with her daughter walking by me on her way out say something. I didn't catch the full sentence but I heard the words "He is just so retarded."

I've never been so disgusted by a stranger. And while I'll admit that Liberty isn't the classiest town (and there's no use in denying it, we've got like 12 banks) and that some of the "kids" in this town aren't the most mature, but I was incredibly dumb founded that a middle-aged woman, in front of an impressionable child, say a word in such a demeaning and ignorant context.

Sometimes you slip up. We're human. Everyone makes mistakes, I get it. I'm guilty of slipping up too. But it's the fact that people throw the word around like it doesn't mean anything that gets my blood boiling.

If there's anything MASC taught me, it's that you should respect and love everyone no matter their cognitive level, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.

Not tolerate. I hate that word. Tolerance. Saying you "tolerate" someone implies that they are beneath you, but you'll let them continue their mediocre way of living. You tolerate a bad attitude. You tolerate body odor. You don't tolerate someone being something they didn't ask for.

Because I won't deny that a mental handicap is something that most people wouldn't want. You don't sit in your mother's womb and say "Yeah. I think I'll be handicapped."

Some people will argue that the R-word is a valid medical term, and I can't deny that at one point it was.

However, the fifth (and most recent) edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states has since replaced the phrase "mental retardation" with the term "intellectual disability disorder."

And for good reason.

The website campaigns and asks for people to pledge that they will eliminate the R-word from their vocabulary, and here's a few reasons why (that I totally stole off of their site and I hope they don't mind because I can't word it any better than they did):

The R-word is EXCLUSIVE“What’s wrong with "retard"? I can only tell you what it means to me and people like me when we hear it. It means that the rest of you are excluding us from your group. We are something that is not like you and something that none of you would ever want to be. We are something outside the "in" group. We are someone that is not your kind. I want you to know that it hurts to be left out here, alone.” – Joseph Franklin Stephens, Special Olympics Virginia athlete and Global Messenger 
The R-word IGNORES INDIVIDUALITY“Words matter. People don't need to scoff at others to make a point. Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” – Tim Shriver, CEO of Special Olympics
The R-word equates intellectual disability with being DUMB OR STUPIDWhen saying the R-word, “What we mean is that he is as stupid as someone who is mentally handicapped, and we mean that in the most derogatory sense. The implication is that the only characteristic of mentally handicapped individuals is their stupidity.” – Crystal, Stanford, CA  
The R-word spreads HURT“It is wrong to pain people with your language. Especially, when you have already been made aware of your oral transgression's impact. Make no mistake about it: WORDS DO HURT! And when you pepper your speak with "retard" and "retarded," you are spreading hurt.” – John C. McGinley, actor and star of the hit TV show “Scrubs”
The R-word is OFFENSIVE“The word retard is considered hate speech because it offends people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the people that care for and support them. It alienates and excludes them. It also emphasizes the negative stereotypes surrounding people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; the common belief that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be segregated, hidden away from society, which, in my opinion, is really old fashioned.” – Karleigh Jones, Special Olympics New Zealand athlete  
The R-word is INCORRECT“When you say the "R" word it makes people feel bad and it hurts my feelings and I don't want to hear you guys say it. Instead, you can call me a leader, a hero, or a human being, but please don't call me the "R" word.” – Dony Knight, Special Olympics Oregon athlete
The R-word is DEROGATORY“Because the word has become a casual description of anything negative or flawed, ‘retarded’ is no longer considered an appropriate way to describe people with intellectual disabilities. And any use of the word, even when used as slang and not intended to be offensive, is hurtful - because it will always be associated with people who have disabilities.” – Sara Mitton, Board Member, Treasure Valley Down Syndrome Association
The R-word fosters LONELINESS“It hurts and scares me when I am the only person with intellectual disabilities on the bus and young people start making “retard” jokes or references. Please put yourself on that bus and fill the bus with people who are different from you. Imagine that they start making jokes using a term that describes you. It hurts and it is scary.” – Joseph Franklin Stephens, Special Olympics Virginia athlete and Global Messenger  
The R-word is HATE SPEECH“I don’t think you understand how much you hurt others when you hate.  And maybe you don’t realize that you hate.  But that’s what it is; your pre-emptive dismissal of them [people with intellectual disabilities], your dehumanization of them, your mockery of them, it’s nothing but another form of hate.  It’s more hateful than racism, more hateful than sexism, more hateful than anything.” – Soeren Palumbo, student, advocate, brother to a sister with an intellectual disability.  
The word hurts, and is surely not to be used as a way of inflicting harm. Because even if it isn't directed at someone with an intellectual disability, calling someone or something retarded is assuming that they group you're comparing them to is intellectually inferior. 
They're smart like you and me. They have feelings like you and me. They have dreams like you and me. But most importantly they too are human like you and me.
And nobody has the right to make anyone feel like they aren't human. 
I really hope I managed to get a point across with this post. It's a topic that means a great deal to me and a lot of my friends. 
If you would like to learn about spreading the word to end the word, or take the pledge to eliminate the r-word from your vocabulary (which would be the coolest thing you could do and takes so little time) you can find everything you need at the link I put at the bottom of this post.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope all of you have a wonderful day/evening/night/ whatever time of day this piece found you!
Love always,
And, as promised, the link!