Strong


strong

“She made broken look beautiful
and strong look invincible.
She walked with the Universe
on her shoulders and made it
look like a pair of wings.”
― Ariana Dancu

“She’s an old soul with young eyes, a vintage heart, and a beautiful mind.”
― Nicole Lyons

“You can love her with everything you have and she still wont belong to you. She will run wild with you, beside you with everystep but let me tell you something about women who run with wolves, their fierce hearts dont settle between walls and their instinct is stronger than upbringing. Love her wild or leave her there.”
― Nikki Rowe

“I walked up to Griz and poked him in the chest. “Let me make this perfectly clear to you. Though some might seek to make it appear otherwise, I am not a bride to be bartered away to another kingdom, not a prize of war, not a mouthpiece for your Komizar. I am not a chip in a card game to be mindlessly tossed into the center of the pot, nor one to be kept in the tight fist of a greedy opponent. I am a player seated at the table alongside everyone else, and from this day forward, I will play my own hand as I see fit. Do you understand me? Because the consequences could be ugly if someone thought otherwise.”
― Mary E. Pearson, The Heart of Betrayal

“Balsa seemed invincible, endowed with powers no other warrior could match, but in her profile he could glimpse the shadow of a young girl, hurt and buffeted by a cruel and hopeless fate. If he had never experienced what it was like to be at the mercy of fate himself, he would not have noticed, but now he could see it with unbearable, heartrending clarity.”
― Nahoko Uehashi, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”
― Roman Payne

3 days – 3 years


As you begin to realize that every different type of music, everybody’s individual music, has its own rhythm, life, language and heritage, you realize how life changes, and you learn how to be more open and adaptive to what is around us.

-Yo-Yo Ma

I am 3 days from the end of my 3 year tour in Lagos, Nigeria.  It has been as amazing as I have expected it to be and as good as any other place I have had the pleasure of living and working.  The people are magic and the country is unfound gold.  Yes, there were ups and downs.. good people with bad….like every where.  Unlike everywhere, there were electrical outages, random housing alarms, floods, bacterial and parasitical infections, needing to leave 10 hours ahead of a flight to ensure you get to the airport in time to fly out, and of course chaotic traffic issues.

However, if you open your eyes, heart and mind to what is around you, you can find the smiles and the warmth that exist beyond the frustration, image or object that is directly in front of you.  When you can do that, you will find that as different as everything is around you, at the core of it all, it is still very much the same of who and what you are.. just people in a random part of the world trying to make a living and a life.   You will find that you have become a part of a life that at times had seemed incomprehensible and that life has now become a part of you.

When I arrived in Nigeria, I was considered a tough manager who was too hard on the people I was managing.  My expectations were too high and I did not cut anyone any slack.  A year into my position, I held an awards dinner for my staff because not only did they meet my bar but they surpassed my expectations for achieving a cohesive and high-functioning team.  Before I could even present my award to my team, they stopped me and actually gave me a speech at how much I positively affected their lives and their work.  The team lead started out by saying, “My oga (big boss), when you arrived it was like a hurricane…” another team member shouted out, “MORE LIKE A TSUNAMI!!!” This brought chuckles but also earned me the affectionate nickname “Tsunami Sam”

On Friday they gave me a shirt and told me that on Monday, my very last day of work here, we would all wear this shirt.  I am proud of my team and proud of myself for breaking down walls, changing hearts (mine as well).. and leaving Nigeria on a super positive note.  I will miss Nigeria with a passion.  I basically say this at the end of every tour.. and I basically mean what I say.  Nigeria I will miss you!!

IMG_0585

One of the girls even drew a pencil sketch of me.. amazing…

IMG_0584

I will end with some photos of my last few walks.  I will miss … not miss … some of the hazards of walking on the sidewalks.. not really sidewalks of Lagos.  I hope you have enjoyed my visions of Nigeria as much as I have enjoyed sharing some of my experiences here.

And off I go!!

Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.   – Steven Wright

I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.   – Olivia Newton-John

Reset


Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it.  –Clint Eastwood

To be clear, I do not think I am old.  I also do not think I am “getting” old.  Age happens and everyone does it.  This is why I struggle with some of the things people say to me when they hear I have grandkids or when they hear how old I am.  Things like, “WOW!! You have grandkids, you do not look like you could.”  “Hey, you are 50!!! No way!!” “You do not seem to act your age.” “Incredible, I would not have thought you were older than (give any age younger than what I am)”  They say it like it’s a shame that I am so old. Or like I must be depressed about my end years.  I mean.. seriously, these days my age (51 now) is barely middle age.

Yeah.. yeah… yeah… my joints sometimes hurt, I am sometimes shocked when I think about my oldest child being 27 and my youngest being 25, and sometimes I forget that I am not the exact same age as everyone I am standing around.  However, I am not really old. Or at least I do not feel it.  I’m sure I felt the same way about the older generation when I was part of the newer generation.

My dad put it best about 20 years ago when we were sitting in a local dive.  He said to me, “Sami, you see that guy that just walked in here?  How old do you think he is?”  I looked over and nodded and said, “Well, he’s at least 21.”  Dad said, “Yeah, yeah, but how old do you think he is?”  I looked at him and the scraggly group he was with and said, “Well, he looks to be about 24-26 years old.”  Dad said, “Exactly… and that’s how old I think I am in my head!!! Then I walk by a mirror and I am absolutely shocked.  I can only think to myself, who is that old bastard staring back at me!!”

Well, I am now the age my father was then.  Even though I got it at the time, I really get it now.  I don’t give age a whole lot of thought usually.  But every once in awhile it sort of just hits me.  Lines around my face, grey hair coming in, the above mentioned joints giving out on me when I least expect it, and the amount of time I spend thinking BAAACCCCKKKKK on the follies of my youth.

About a year and a half ago, my younger sister was talking to me and indicated she was going to let her hair go natural and that I might want to join her.  I had been dying my hair since I was about 18.. just for the heck of it.  I no longer had any idea of what the actual color of my hair was but knew that over the past few years, I was starting to see some grey roots. I thought to myself, why not.  I was actually tired of dying my hair.  Further, living overseas it is often hard to find a quality product to use and it can get very expensive to go into a salon and pay someone every few weeks to dye your hair.

I’ve never been a patient person so I did the most natural thing for someone like myself and just bleached my hair white.  I really, really, really thought that it would grow out completely grey.  That is exactly what did not happen.  So for an entire year I looked..uh.. fresh.. recognizable.. kind of cool… and it WAS pretty cool for about 2 months.

Apparently I was not as old/grey as I thought I was and that unless I did something drastic, I would be bleaching my hair every 2-3 weeks for the rest of my life.  My hair was really being destroyed and the chemicals were actually doing more damage than any normal dye.  UGH.. what to do?  Well, not wanting to deal with the grow out and realizing that my hair was completely destroyed at this point anyways, I did the most natural thing for someone like myself… I had a friend shave me bald to reset this entire mad process and for the first time in over 30 years, I saw the true and natural color of my hair.

I’m not going to lie.  For the first 20 minutes it was shocking to see myself in the mirror.  After that, it was liberating.  I LOVED it.  Not always how I looked but how I felt.  I had several women say to me, “Wow.  You look amazing!!”  “At least you have a nicely shaped head.” “I could never do that, I sort of hide behind my hair.” “You will have to start wearing some bold makeup now.. or at least makeup, otherwise you will look like a boy.” Yeah, sometimes women can be harder on women then men.. but I understood the sentiment.

Well, it grew on me.  The look and yes, even my hair. It was a complete reset with my mentality, my awareness of self, and how much I had used my hair as an impetus for how I felt about myself.  Though I didn’t feel old, I guess I was sort of trying to hold back the years from the top down to the bottom.  The reset really worked.  I had not planned on a reset.  Didn’t even know I was doing it when I was doing it.  But I did it and I felt it.

Now, nearly a year later, my hair has actually grown back.  I was slightly concerned at times.  As liberating as it was, it was also a bit intimidating.  At this time, I mostly do not feel any different than I did before the bleach and the cut.  I sometimes miss having no hair.  I have not dyed my hair again and LOVE the look and feel and, to be quite honest, the cost and time saving experience of just being au natural.

I still do not feel like I am that old, despite my half century on the planet, but I accept that I am closer to a century than to zero.  I also feel the words my dad said to me nearly 20 years ago in a more profound kind of way.  Who is that ol’ lady staring back at me … and how in the hell did she become so… amazing… !!!

OK.. OK… sometimes I do end that thought with the word “old”.

I hope you enjoyed the read and the memories…

“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.”  ― Jules Renard

“Your face is marked with lines of life, put there by love and laughter, suffering and tears. It’s beautiful.”   ― Lynsay Sands

Peace out – age gracefully – live long and prosper! – lil ‘ol me and Spock

IMG_1372

Other places to view aging gracefully

The first silver strands, As birthdays go, Beauty of aging, accepting, seniors in the garden, never too old, change, transiliencechange the conversation, Let your wrinkles be your roadmap, fifty and vanity, self loathing to self love, Connected, graceful aging, change, blessings, come dance with me, reinventing ourselves

 

Don’t be a dick about it…doctrines


I’m going to start out talking a little bit about who I am and how I am before I go into how I decided on the title of this particular blog.

“When there are too many assholes around,
I feel like its my duty to be a dick.”
― Hazar Emiral

It’s been a frustrating and exciting 8 years in this job and I can hardly believe how much time has passed and how quickly it has passed.  I am currently preparing to leave my current location and move on to the next.  At the same time, I have to study Spanish, write evaluations and a variety of other reports, think about what training I need, pack out my current house, meet and greet new people, think about the new requirements I will be facing in my new position … AND… continue staying up to pace on my current work. This adds additional pressure on maintaining my positive attitude and not breaking down or getting angry about things that are out of my control.

This is my third country and I love it and will miss it when I leave.  I pretty much say that about every place I have ever been.  This country though is super special to me (I probably say that about every country as well).  The people in particular are super special to me (yes, I say that as well).

I think the country and its people like me as well.  One of the things I really like about it is the people who live and work here very easily express their anger, their joy, their frustrations and their absolute happiness and faith.  I love that because that is really how I am as well.  Not everyone loves that about me and not everyone “gets” that about me.  I do not hide much of what I am feeling and people pretty much know exactly how I feel as I am feeling it.

I am admittedly not a clear speaker.  I talk in circles and “use too many words”.  I can easily be led off topic (but do not believe for a second I have forgotten the original theme of the conversation).  I’m often wrongly accused of being mad, frustrated, unhappy and way too abrupt…. but really I’m just trying to talk.  The irony is, the people who do not feel that I am all of those negative things really see me as super happy, flakey, funny, light-hearted, and spontaneous person.  I have been working on trying to meld the two versions of me into one package but seriously, when I lose it it is usually only after trying to be all of the positive forms of myself to obtain a positive result from a variety of people and no one is hearing me and the ones that do hear me do not understand how much effort it is taking to be so nice for so long.

Dalton: All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary. And three, be nice. – Roadhouse

Yes, I am sarcastic and some take that as being snide.  Yes, I am abrupt and some take that as being rude.  Yes, I am often too honest and some take that as being offensive.  I swear I am really trying to tone that down as this personality type does not play out well in my current job.  I’d like to think I’m not a dick.. but even I feel bad after I chastise myself and I have been doing that to me for over 50 years. I can only imagine how it might make someone else… who has not spent as much time with me as I have… feel bad when I try to make my instructions or advice heard and understood.

So as the pressure has been building and I have become increasingly frustrated about all that is currently on my plate, I have had to remind myself nearly every day to just chill.. (did I mention I am also doing a construction project on my house in the U.S. while being overseas.. so..yeah.. )

So there I was.  Just minding my own business.  Trying to get through the one thing that would lead to the next thing.  Story of my life.  Story of every person’s life I suppose.  Sometimes trying to slow down and other times trying to just step it up a notch.  But just trying to chill.. just chill.. and I look on the floor of my bedroom and see a worn out, folded over, dirty, typed document.IMG_0919

To be clear, this is not mine.  I live alone.  Where did it come from?  Timely yes… but who knew that i was needing this message right now.. in my home.. seriously the universe must be keying into my breakdown.  So basically because I probably have been being a bit of a dick lately and I am guessing this is a world wide phenom these days.. I thought I would share with the world what the universe shared with me.  It’s good stuff.. it really is… so here goes.

IMG_0926

Pretty good right?  Still not sure where it came from.  But obviously great advice.   I am who I am (Sam I am) and have grown to be how I am from my many emotional stances.  I am not always the nicest in my expressions but I want to always be nice in my intent.

I could do nice, but it’s just not as much fun. Being nice isn’t my biggest goal in life. I’m trying to be honest about who I am, and that’s not always nice. I’m not always the world’s cheerleader.  Sharon Stone

The only difference between me and others is that they think they can change something with cute little poems, nice cards or embracing trees and being nice to little lapdogs. Henry Rollins

It’s no good being nice and young and naive. There’s no good in that at all. You’ve got to do it all yourself, and you’ve gotta learn quick. And you can’t look for sympathy either. John Lydon

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Philo

It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even – or rather, especially – when we’d prefer not to be. Josh Radnor

Be kind, don’t judge, and have respect for others. If we can all do this, the world would be a better place. The point is to teach this to the next generation. Jasmine Guinness