Month: November 2018

Motivation, Musings

The Mountain


No Comments

“Maybe I’m just like my mother. She’s never satisfied.”

I’ve been told that I’m extremely stubborn. I guess it’s true. It isn’t that I refuse to do what other’s want. Actually, I’ve got an uncontrollable need to please people. Let me explain.

If we were to hang out, and I wanted to go to the movies, but you wanted to go do something else, I’d happily decide to do whatever you wanted to do. The same goes for dinner. That’s why I feel like Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook” when asking my daughter and wife what they want for dinner.

what do you want.gif

I wouldn’t care if it were my birthday, in fact, as a child, I’ve given up birthday presents so that my brother could open up a gift too, because I felt bad that I was receiving toys and he wasn’t. Material possessions don’t mean much to me.

However, when it comes to something that I supposedly “have” to do, that’s where my stubborn self comes alive. I am a human being, equal to all other human beings around me. I don’t care if you’re the pope, king, president, or homeless; we all breathe the same air, and bleed the same blood. Therefore, no man or woman shall have domain over me. See, in the previous scenarios, I concede to other’s desires, but it is still my choice in the matter. When I am told, “You have to do this, or else.” Then my freedom of choice is being challenged, and I will usually go with the “or else” option.

I don’t know what it is. There is this feeling, deep in the pit of my stomach that just won’t allow me to give in to the power of someone else, unless it will harm an innocent person. For example, the time I walked in on a robbery, I was surprised to learn in that moment that I didn’t fear death. I was more disappointed that I was bested, like losing a game of chess. I was outnumbered, and unarmed, but my mind was still looking for a last ditch effort to fight. However, I was not alone. There were 10 innocent lives behind me, and one wrong move could have put them in danger, and so I decided to do nothing. It is a moment that I will wrestle with for the rest of my life as to whether or not that was the best course of action, even though we all ended up walking away unharmed (relatively, one guy did get pistol whipped when they first arrived), I also wonder, what if they weren’t going to let us live? And I did nothing. But I digress.

When I was in the military, where you have absolutely no rights. I still somehow maintained some respect. When I would get yelled at by a superior, and if I didn’t deserve it (sometimes I made mistakes, in which case I accepted the verbal lashing), but when they were just being jerks because of my rank, I always stood up for myself. I’d usually say something like, “Look, I know you outrank me, and I know how this works, so I will do whatever you’re asking me to do, but you don’t have to yell at me, just tell me what needs to get done and I’ll do it.” And to my surprise, and if we were alone, it worked. Only if they had fellow superiors around them would they dig their heels in and act worse, but I completely understand that.

I’ve learned to praise publicly, criticize in private. So, later, when I felt disrespected, I would bite my tongue, and find them later, alone, and talk to them about it. Again, it usually worked. Most of the time, they’d make a conscious effort to speak to me better. Now, when I say better, I don’t mean that they’d not make commands. They still outrank me, and it is still the military. I mean the added nonsense. The name calling, or family insults. So, instead of, “Harrigan, go fucking clean that mess over there you inbred piece of shit!” They would begin to say, “Harrigan, I need that mess cleaned.” and I’d say, “Roger that” and get to it.

Moving on, when it comes to jobs, outside of the military, I understand that I have a boss and my position in the company. However, like the military, I won’t be told what to do. When I worked at Walgreens, before the Navy, I had tickets to a Celtics game. I told my boss, a month in advance, that I would need that day off because of the game. He said it shouldn’t be a problem. The day before, near the end of my shift, he approached me and said,
“I couldn’t find anyone to cover your shift, so you have to come in tomorrow.”
“Umm, I told you that I had tickets to the Celtics a month ago. Why would you even schedule me to work that shift?”
“That’s usually the shift you work. It isn’t my responsibility to find someone to cover your shift, it’s yours. You didn’t find someone to cover your shift, so you have to work. Plain and simple.”
“No, you said that you were going to find someone to cover my shift. If you told me to find someone, I would have. You said that it shouldn’t be a problem. I already bought the tickets.”
“You’re scheduled to work tomorrow, if you don’t come in, then you’re a no call no show and you’ll be fired.”
“Ok.”

The next day, I went to the game. I was fired. I regret nothing.

Shortly after, I left for boot camp and my life has been exponentially better since. I might not have had the guts to go to boot camp if I still had that job. The lack of options played a pivotal role in my motivation.

Perhaps these are just examples of me being a stubborn brat. I don’t know. What I do know is that when it feels like someone is flexing power of me, I don’t budge. When I was a teen, and wrestled with my friends, they’d have to literally choke me unconscious for me to stop. I would rather be put out than to give in to someone saying, “You give up?” while they clamp down on my neck. However, that same will is what drives me to succeed. It is the reason that I was able to stop drinking without help. Once I realized that people around me saw me as the “sure thing” when they wanted a drinking buddy, I decided that I wasn’t going to be their sure thing any more. In a weird way, it felt like a power they held over me. All they had to do was say something like, “Who wants a beer? Harrigan, I know you want one” as they’d toss me a can. Like they are the gracious beer kings throwing a bone to the lowly peasant. Not I. The moment I had that realization, I cracked open that last beer and just stared at it. I watched it for probably an hour before standing up, putting on my jacket, and leaving the party. I said, “I gotta go.” And I haven’t looked back. Those friends faded from my life, with no ill feelings, I still value them and wish them well, but I started walking a different path that they just wouldn’t fully understand without walking it with me. I still don’t drink, but because I choose not to. If I drink again someday, It will be because I choose to, not because I feel I have to.

That stubborn will is what made me go back as an adult to the Tae Kwon Do school I had quit as a teenager. I had always regretted not getting my black belt and it haunted me that I gave up on something I loved. I felt like the people in my past who said I wouldn’t amount to anything were right. So, during one of the hardest semesters of my life, taking 4 classes, 3 of them being at the graduate level, I decided to go back to Tae Kwon Do. Same school, same teacher. And you know what?

20181109_090204.jpg

That same stubbornness has driven me to achieve my bachelor’s and master’s degree. I thought of all the teachers I’ve had that didn’t think I would do anything. I thought of the few that believed in me. I push myself hard because I never want to be “less than.” I’ve lived too long in my life believing that I was nothing. A nobody. Because of my past, because of my financial status growing up, and because of circumstances that were out of my control, I felt like a complete waste of human life. I would never show that on the outside. Nope. I doubled down. I trained hard. I practiced everything that I did, whether it was athletics, video games, or rapping; anything that I could compete in with my peers, I became the best or the top contender. I would not let someone say that they are better than me at anything. I will not be looked down at. And when I am on top, I will not look down at anyone else. I demand eye level contact, and I promise the same.

I know that there is always someone better at something. I have grown to understand that I don’t need to be the best at anything to be treated equally. I used to believe in my youth, that those at the top had the privilege to look down at those below, because they’ve earned it, but I now understand that there is no top. There is no below. There is one level that we all exist on, and only when zooming in real close, on specific subjects, does one appear to have elevation. But we appear higher and lower depending on what we are looking at. I might be “better” at athletics, but my brother can draw like you wouldn’t believe. Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player of all time, but I wonder how well he can write a poem? Or if he sews? Does he bake? Or fix cars? Possibly, but the point is, there is something Michael Jordan isn’t “The Michael Jordan” of.

This expands my understanding of equality. And it strengthens my stubbornness ten-fold. If you dare look down at me, or demand something from me, while we stand on the same ground, breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, then you better believe that I stand firm, like a mountain

mulan

Motivation

Don’t be Yourself


No Comments

Unless, of course, you’re perfect!

People always say, “Just be yourself” as if it is a positive message. Don’t get me wrong, the intention is good, but really what they should be saying is, “Be who you want to be”

If I were to be myself, then I’d be a bad person. I have a good heart, but my mind has been warped by my childhood. To be blunt, I’ve seen some shit. Those experience have shaped my thoughts, and my tolerance for wrong doing is pretty high. It took work, and continues to take work, to strive to be a better person. How do I do it? I try to be more like people that I want to be like.

It doesn’t have to be the entirety of a person, nor does it have to be a real one. I see qualities in characters that I admire. It can be a phrase, a look, a walk, a tone, or a genuine sincerity. My self had always been shy, meek, not confident, ashamed, angry, wanting to lash out at others for a life I couldn’t understand. I hated myself, every fiber of my being.

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned how to work on me. I started small, with one new quality that I wanted to have. It started with the word “well.”

I worked at Walgreens, in the photo department, and I rarely spoke to customers. This was before the electronic kiosks and digital printers, so I was developing the film in this closet of a “dark room” we had. It only had space for my head and arms to fit, the rest of my body stood outside of it. I remember reading a quote somewhere that said something along of lines of, “When I ask ‘how are you?’ and you say “good” I cringe. Superman does good, you are well.”

I thought about that for days. Then I looked up the use of the word “well,” and sure enough, when asking someone “How are you?” it is in reference to health. So, back in the day, people would respond with how they are feeling, their overall health being well. Responding with “Good” would be appropriate if I were asking you which team you were on in the battle between Good and Evil. Obviously, things change over time and “Good” is a completely acceptable answer today, but I wanted to be different.

Whenever I would have to fill in for a cashier, I would practice on the customers. I slipped many times and said, “Good” but I kept my eye on the prize. Eventually, it became habit, and “well” was my automatic response. I couldn’t believe how many people noticed. Most people didn’t, or didn’t acknowledge it, but many people did. They’d say, “You don’t hear that often, it is usually just ‘good.'”

I would give them a brief explanation of what I learned about “How are you” meaning your health, and some would say that they’d like to practice that response too. I felt genuinely uplifted every time after one of these short exchanges. That was something new about me that I liked. It was one of the only things I liked about myself at that time. But it was something to build off of.

That was nearly a decade ago, and I have been adding new qualities that I want to my character ever since. Today, I am a person that I like being. I have learned to love the things that I can’t change, like some of my physical features, but I’ve become in control of the things that I can. Every day I practice being a better version of me. I’m not perfect, and I’ll never be perfect, but I strive for it each day.

I am not the same person I was 10 years ago, and I’ll be damned if I am the same person 10 years from now. Being yourself is stagnant. We should be in a constant state of growth. Sometimes that means taking a step back to move forward. Like a tree shedding its leaves in the winter so that it can bloom in the spring.

So, the next time someone tells you to just be yourself, call them a hater and shine right passed them! You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

I’m here to tell you, don’t be you

Be better.

Fiction

My Fiction Project


No Comments

I didn’t expect to open my eyes. Not after I felt the barrel push slightly harder into the back of my skull as the gunman pulled the trigger. I sprung up in my bed, gasping while frantically reaching for the spot where the bullet entered. Nothing…again.
“It’s happening more often.” A muffled voice came from beside me. I looked, still rubbing my head, to see Carla, eyes closed, face half in her pillow. “You need to talk to someone.”
“You know how I feel about therapy.”
“And you know how I feel about sleep.”
“Alright, alright. If it happens again, I’ll consider it, but for now, let me figure it out.”
“Fine, but you go make us coffee.” She looked at me with the eye that wasn’t buried in her pillow. I chuckled.
“Ok, that’s fair.” I leaned over to kiss her head when I felt her hand slide up my inner thigh until she reached the top, where she gave me a gentle, playful squeeze. “Yeah?” I began kissing her neck, but she flinched and moved her hand off me, then said,
“If it happens again, I’ll consider it, but for now, coffee.”

I had just about finished my cup when Carla walked in.
“You know, a gal could starve waiting on you.”
I knew I messed up. I looked over, coffee mug still pressed to my lips, to see her leaning against the doorway, wearing her favorite of my dress shirts. It was my favorite too, and part of me wanted it back, but I have to admit it looks better on her. I swallowed the last sip.

“Hey babe, I was just about to brin-”
“Mmhm, save it, my mug is still in the cabinet.”
“Ok, you got me. I’m sorry love, I was caught up in my thoughts.”
“Yet you managed to get a cup for you. Egoista.”
I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out.
“That’s what I thought.” She said with a victorious grin. She walked over and wrapped her arms around me.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve you love.” I said, hugging her tight.
“It certainly wasn’t your barista skills.” She could always make me laugh.

Musings

As Above, so Below


No Comments

“The grass is always greener” they say. It could always be better; it could always be worse. I have broken bread with those whom truly appreciated the bread, and I’ve broken it with those who dip it in oil while waiting for their 5 star meal. You know what I’ve learned? They envy each other.

Growing up, I’ve lived exclusively among the needy. We were one of them. I never noticed what we didn’t have beyond the material things the boys in school would show off. I knew I didn’t have the newest, name brand sneakers. I knew that my clothes were often my brother’s hand-me-downs. These things I noticed, but I don’t recall feeling sad about it, just aware. However, I didn’t notice the lack of food options in the house, or that it was cereal for dinner again. I didn’t notice the  electricity being shut off again. We just found ways of entertaining ourselves. My mom kept her sense of humor through it all. I remember laughing a lot. My brother and I would rough house, and my neighborhood friends would be bragging about whose electricity had been shut off the longest. We wore our misfortunes like a badge of honor, and somebody always had it worse. We didn’t feel bad for them, we’d tease each other, and we’d all end in laughter.

After the ball busting, we would all take care of each other. That usually meant by sharing our candy or cupcakes. Junk food was easier to come by, but the point is, we were a community. Friendships don’t get much deeper than the ones made in poverty.

We’d all dream of what it would be like to be rich. The younger we were, the sillier the expenses we’d want. Mansions full of candy and toys eventually became mansions full of women and booze. You know what didn’t change though? We always said that we’d take care of our mothers and get them out of the projects. We’d promise to bring our friends to the good life with us because a life without them wasn’t worth the money. When I was in my teens, I began imagining the good I could do with all that money. The mansion dream faded, and I just wanted a house. The multiple cars became one car, maybe a second truck for the winter. The women became woman. A good one that loved me before the money. And the leftover money became ideas to help other families living in poverty escape. Whether it was supplementing their income to a livable salary. Or investing in business ideas of people in the hood that couldn’t get a bank loan, or didn’t believe in themselves enough to try. Idea after idea of creating a system of communities helping each other.

When I got out of poverty, and into the mythical middle class, I met a new host of people. Some had parents that were ri-ri-riiiich. I could put on my cleanest clothes and speak with proper grammar to blend in, but of course they’d somehow know I wasn’t really one of them. Nevertheless, I was generally met with kindness, faux or not. You know what many rich people talk about? The poor. The conversation spans from feeling sorry for us, to blaming us for our own self-sabotage, and eventually, when the wine and champagne kicked in and the emotions rose to the surface, some would mention what they envy about us. That unbreakable bond; honor amongst thieves; our unwavering loyalty to each other. The rich don’t have that security. Everyone they know wants a piece of their money and they’d stab em’ in the back in a second to get it. I’ve even heard someone say they’d sometimes dream of giving it all away and living a modest life, someplace quiet (because even in this rich person’s ‘poor fantasy’ they wouldn’t live in the hood).

This whole time, we have been dreaming of riches, and they have been dreaming of the qualities most found in the poor. I don’t think I would ever want to have been born into a rich family. I struggled my whole life, but I love the person I am because of it. I care about the well being of others. I may not always be the most social guy, but if your house is on fire and I’m walking by, I’ll run in there without hesitation to make sure you’re okay (true story).

If I were born rich, I would probably have the mentality of “This is mine and i’ll protect it with everything I’ve got.” Never trusting my neighbors, or living in constant competition with them. It might sound like a trivial problem to have, and to the ‘have-nots’ it is down right absurd. But “First world problems” are still problems to those who experience them. If you don’t know any other life, then your wifi being down and having to explain to your ‘friend’ who is coming over that your internet is out, knowing they’ll tell their parents who will judge your parents, is an anxiety attack that I wouldn’t want to deal with.

Poor folk, ever wonder why the rich kids in school invite you over? Why they like your music and imitate your lifestyle? It’s exciting to them. Your normal life, that you don’t notice anything special about, is exotic and dangerous to them. They envy you, but wouldn’t really switch places. It’s like playing Call of Duty. You want the Iraq experience without having to actually go. It’s mutual though right? You want to go hang out at their house, play the newest game, eat good food, and sit on comfortable furniture. You envy them, but when you meet their parents, or find out that they don’t even speak to their parents, you wouldn’t trade places with them either. Both sides have the Yin to the others Yang.

The key is, be born poor, get rich, live modestly, and give back. Easier said than done!

Motivation, Uncategorized

Build Mental Toughness by Showering


No Comments

I enjoy the hot water even more now that I know it will end with ice. The moment after I finish washing up, I take a few minutes to just let the water warm every part of my body and head before I take a few deep breaths and crank the spigot to as cold as it can get without turning off.

That first second literally takes your breath away.

I tense up, letting the ice cold water soak my hair. It takes every bit of will that I have, but I manage to calm myself and relax, turning my face up into the rushing falls, and slowly rotate, making sure every part of me has to suffer a few seconds.

When I finally turn the spigot off, I always shout out loud. Either, “Woo!” like Rick Flair, or “Damn that feels good!” And you know what? It really does. My body tingles, and some parts are almost numb. I warm up much quicker than if I step out of a hot shower into the room temperature. But, most of all, I feel mentally stronger.

It takes a certain mind set to endure. It takes a stronger one to endure when there is an easy way out. I don’t have to turn the faucet to cold, but I do, after every shower, no matter what.

This tactic is something that I’ve picked up from listening to some bad ass people speak on Joe Rogan’s Podcast. I decided to give it a try and I tell you what, it makes a huge difference in my life. I have been able to keep myself going when I normally would give up, and ice cold showers are one of the main reasons why I can do it.

Give it a try, the next time you are in the shower, finish it on cold and see how long you can endure. Each time that I do it, I can do it a little bit longer than before. Also, after it’s over, I’m smiling because I made it through and uplifted that I can do it. It’s a natural pick-me-up. Let me know if you do this or if you try it and how it goes!

Musings, News and Updates

I Tried “No Poo” for 2 Months, Here’s why I stopped.


2 Comments

For those that don’t know, “No Poo” is a method of not using shampoo in your hair. I am an adult and that sounds silly so I wrote it in the title to get your attention, but I will be referring to it as “shampoo” from here on.

A few months ago, I was surfing the web, as I often do, and ended up going down a rabbit hole of nonsense. Somehow, I ended up on an article that was praising the movement of not using shampoo anymore. It was actually convincing because it stated that other animals produce natural oils to keep their hair clean and smooth, and that we do too, but using shampoo removes those oils and then we need conditioner to put it back in.

I have always used both shampoo and conditioner and never really considered why. Another rabbit hole ensued.

I read some articles that stated people aren’t supposed to wash their hair every day. It used to be that we were recommended to wash it once a month. Then, after the creation of mass produced shampoos, that number changed to once every two weeks, and then eventually, daily. As with everything else, it became about profit profit profit. I tend to be susceptible to claims that “It’s all a rues to get more money!”

So I thought, “This is bullshit, they are making a profit off of my beautiful hair?! Hell No!”

I decided to stop using shampoo AND conditioner.

Just like everyone else’s story that I read, or watched on YouTube, the first week was rough. My hair didn’t know what to do with itself. It was oily and felt like I had gel or glue in it. It actually held in place like I had product in it, which was kind of cool for a while because I normally would style my hair with products and now I didn’t have to.

I enjoyed not using shampoo in my hair, for the most part. I think my hair looks and feels great! I would just shower every few days and use just water to wash my hair, scritching my scalp with my fingernails, and then massaging it with my fingertips. However, after a few weeks, I began to have severe dandruff.

I read that it would be part of the “healing” process, while your hair re-balanced itself. So, I decided to wait it out. Another week and some change and it was only getting worse. So I looked into alternative methods. I got some of that apple cider vinegar and mixed it with a little water and boy does that stuff smell terrible. I  showered and used it in my hair a few times, but the dandruff just wouldn’t go away.

This bothered me mostly because I enjoy the thought of being all natural and truly human. I liked how my hair looked and felt without using any products, but I just couldn’t stand the dandruff. So, after two months, I caved.

What I did though, was spend a little extra money on some high quality shampoo and conditioner. I got No Parabens, all natural, top o’ the line products.

That first shower reusing shampoo was A-MAZING! I didn’t want to get out of it. I took my time massaging my scalp and scratched all of the itchy, dry parts with my nails. My conditioner smells fantastic and I put some in my hair and let it marinate for 5-10 minutes before gently washing it out. A few showers later and I am back to being dandruff free!

I no longer use shampoo with each shower, that is what I’ve taken away from this, and I paid attention to the quality of product that I am putting into my hair. I am currently growing my hair out and right now it looks and feels awesome!

I am pro “No Shampoo” but I recommend finding a way to counter-act the dandruff, and if you figure out something better than the apple cider vinegar, because that stuff is smelly ass in a bottle, please let me know and perhaps i’ll give it another go!