Using Boundaries

Could you imagine driving the day our government lifted all traffic laws? It would be a great start to get on the open road and put the pedal to the metal without the worry of getting pulled over by the police. Most likely, you wouldn’t make it to the open road. The chaos of multitudes of drivers driving every which way would make your journey treacherous to say the least.

Traffic laws were put in place to save us from ourselves. Do you know where I am going with this? We pay attention to the lines in the street. Just like the painted white lines in this highway keep the drivers and their passengers safe while enroute to a destination, so do the universal boundaries that govern the areas of our life: our health, money, career, and our family. I believe that God put them in our lives to bring benefits to our lives not hamper them. People have tested boundaries from the beginning of time. I can tell you that gravity does not exist, but the moment jump off the roof it doesn’t matter what I believe. I will be going down in a hurry and injury and pain will be the result. These boundaries exist.

Take this perspective and apply it to your parenting. Use the boundaries to guide your children to keep them on the road to well being.

Make the boundaries clear and consistent. I recently drove through the local mountains in a thick fog. Visibility was very poor. In some stretches of the mountain road I had to rely solely on the reflective center line to navigate through the fog. Make the boundaries clear for your children. Write them down. Put them on the refrigerator or the bathroom mirror. Tell your children. Have your children repeat it back to you what the boundaries are. Don’t be wishy-washy. Don’t change the boundaries based on your feelings or your convenience. By doing these things you are making boundaries clear and keeping them clear.

Follow though. I have been in of countries that had traffic laws but didn’t have the traffic officers to enforce the laws. I remember in one city street, the drivers made 8 lanes out of 4 marked lanes. It was nuts. Men got out of there cars to handle their disputes that turned into fist fights, meanwhile bringing traffic to a halt. The chaos and violence were a direct result of a lack of follow through. Whatever you decide as the correction part keep it consistent. It isn’t based on your temperment. It should be based on your children’s development. The purpose is to get your children to think about their actions and attitudes.

You might be familiar these words that start off Psalm 27, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” King David, the writer likened himself to a sheep and God as his shepherd. David stated that the shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.” Isn’t it interesting that the “sheep” said that it was the instrument of correction that brought him comfort. That is because the rod isn’t just for correcting. It is more than that. The rod is used to protect. David himself was a shepherd and killed a lion who preyed on the sheep. The staff he used to prod and correct the sheep was also used to eliminate danger as well.

The point of discipline is to help your children create those boundaries in their hearts to guide them when you aren’t around. Your discipline of your children should go beyond telling them, “No,” and correcting them just because you are at your wit’s end. Help your children establish the boundaries for themselves. Who’s old enough to have taught your teenager how to drive a car? I am sure that you didn’t decide to permanently stay in the passenger seat to teach your child how to drive. It was a much shorter process than that. You intended for your teenager to know the rules of the road for him/her to operate the car without you. Shouldn’t we have the same intentional process with our children?

What are your thoughts? Your input is appreciated.

Single Parent Success

Being single and not wanting to be single can be a frustrating and lonely experience. Being single and being a parent is very challenging. Now mix the two. Being single and a parent who doesn’t want to be single takes to another level of challenging. I was divorced and had custodial custody of my son for a number of years. Just like many seasons in life, I wish I could have done some things differently as a single person. In retrospect, it is all about the perspective and approach you take towards life as a single parent. Be honest with yourself. Where is your heart and head? Getting a few things figured out  will help you become a healthy individual which will help your children in their development as well.

Learning Contentment vs. The Pursuit of Happiness. It’s not about making yourself happy. “Wait, I can’t be happy?” Of course you can. Learning to be content with your current marital status is the key. Take the saying, “I’m happily married” and apply it to your situation, “I’m happily single.” If you want to married, don’t rush to get to that marital status. Maximize your opportunities while you are still single. Going on trips, pursuing a hobby, taking an online class, starting a business while making friendships are some of the things you can do now that take on different dynamics when you are married. What can you do while you are single?

Being Alone vs. Being Lonely. I remember being in a house party during the holidays almost 2 decades ago. The house was full of people, yet I felt lonely. I looked at my couples-friends. There were about 6 married couples that I can remember. I focused on what they had and what I didn’t have. I didn’t have a spouse. I didn’t have a mate. It is all about how you see things. Is it not? I should have jumped in a time machine and traveled to 2016 and saw that out of the 6 married couples only 3 of the couples were still married. Learn to appreciate the value of being alone. Albert Einstein said, “I live in that solitude which is painful at youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”

RomCom vs. Reality. It is not a good idea to base your life on the romantic movies we all know and love. The lonely protagonist in the movie overcomes her lonely state with an amazing and tear-jerking good ending, but it is how she got to the good ending that is not realistic. We set ourselves up when we then think we are the exception to the rule of building healthy relationships just like our romcom actor. It only took her 90 minutes to attain the love-life of love-lives! Let’s be real here. Many of the leading ladies and men of these romantic movies we watch have horrible relationships. That’s not the standard you want to set up in your life. Focus on being healthy instead of being happy. 

If you are a single mother or father, one of the greatest things you can provide your child is stability. You are their rock. The last thing they need to see is their parent going from one relationship to another. Is that an easy thing to do? Many times, no. Is it the best thing to do. Yes, it is. Maximize this season of being single to focus on yourself. Nobody wants your emotional baggage. You don’t want your baggage. When you are a healthy individual without the baggage, then you won’t settle to be in a relationship with someone who has baggage. Maximize this season of singleness to focus on your children. You are setting them up for success. You want them to be emotionally healthy as well. If you are choosing to re-marry, then the dynamics change to a step-family and mixed-family situation. If you and your children are not healthy, then what? Getting married doesn’t heal broken individuals. 

If you think this will help a friend please share it. If you have a thought you would like to add, then be part of the conversation and comment below. 

Remembering John

His real name is John Donnelley. A sunrise conversation a few of us had with John in the parking lot about surfing inspired me to write a poem about a fictional (kinda sorta) character titled “Surfer John.” This well known Seal Beach local drove through the parking lot frequently in his weathered Toyota Camry stuffed with piles of items with just enough room for him, a passenger, and surfboards on top. I did not get a chance to have another chat with with John since this day I took his picture as he studied the surf. 

Unfortunately, John was allegedly murdered in his home by arson a few days ago. I don’t know to what depths a man’s heart goes to make him take another man’s life, but instead of going there, this poem is in memory of “Surfer John.”

I met this surfer man at dawn
who introduced himself as John.
Hoping for waves but most were gone, 
so he kept chatting looking to bond. 

I studied where he parked his old ride. 
His car was filled with older things inside. 

I wondered if his belongings could share their pride. 
What tales they’d tell and secrets they’d confide. 
John said that he lived down the street 
I gather he’s says that to all those he meets. 

He’s really a millionaire being discreet. 
Looking for someone to sit in his passenger seat. 
To take on adventures up and down the coast
Taking surf safaris that only few can boast

My theory is that he’s got pockets deeper than most
searching for someone he could trust and host. 
Then again, he could be this guy named John who wanted to surf, and I let my imagination get away to share on this post. 

Read the Steller version below and if you find yourself enjoying my content, please tap the FaceBook Like button and Subscribe button to get your content delivered to your inbox. Thanks! 

1-Minute Monday Story “Shipwrecked”

Or should I say Jenny-wrecked? Jenny was the name of Ben’s tiny boat. Ben drove Jenny out to the harbor on calm days to have a few beers with either Phil or Stan. They both have said on many occasions that they would end up steering the boat back to the marina after Ben had one too many.

But this night, Phil was out of town and Stan’s wife said that Stan was “unavailable.” So this night, Ben decided this was the perfect night to spend with Jenny, a stack of CD’s he bought at a garage sale, and a case of beer. It felt like he would have the serene harbor all to himself.

Somewhere past 6th beer, Ben saw that Jenny was wandering out of the harbor and into the open sea. Then he thought that it was simply a dream. “I’ll just keep napping for a little bit, then I’ll wake up and take Jenny back home,” Ben told himself.

Ben woke up to blinding daylight and the thunderous blast of a water crushing the side of Jenny. In one motion of panic and bewilderment, Ben leaped off the boat onto the beach and ran towards small crowd that had gathered to watch the beached boat.

I don’t know how Ben managed to escape without a scratch and pull Jenny out of shorebreak, but he did. To this day, Jenny sits on a trailer in Ben’s driveway. Ben shares his story with anyone willing to listen: a story about his night with Jenny, a stack of CD’s, and a case of beer.

Notes: Thanks for reading. I plan on sharing a 1-minute story every Monday. I appreciate your feedback. Do you like my fictional stories more than the poetry? Do you prefer the fiction over the articles with words of encouragement? Thanks again!

Thoughts Over Coffee

For the past few years, on every weekday morning, he sat by his apartment window to drink and think over his carefully prepared coffee. However, for many weeks he pondered life outside his urban maze. This day, in his quiet sanctuary on the 2nd floor he heard rural whispers as an image appeared on the surface inside his cup. 

He stared into his cup, picked up his phone, and called the office. He notified that he wouldn’t return for another week. “I’m not OK, but I will be,” is how he ended the conversation. Instead of heading to the office, he began to pack his backpack for his unplanned trip beyond the city’s boundaries to find the place he saw in a cup of coffee.

Thanks for reading my 1-minute fictional story. I wrote it a couple of years ago on and breathing new life to it on my blog. Please comment below and share your thoughts on this story. I appreciate your feedback.

Knowledge is good. Wisdom is better.

I think I know more now at almost a half-century of life than I did a couple of decades ago. I foolishly thought that I knew it all when I was out of college at 24, but the more I know now, the more I realize I don’t know much. There is a Jewish proverb that says that wisdom is better than gold.

Wisdom is not the amount of knowledge you have but applying the knowledge you have. You can know how to make money, but the wisdom is in how you use that money. You can be an expert at driving, but if you are constantly getting traffic tickets then that knowledge is not being maximized to your own benefit; let alone any good for anyone else.
Wisdom is a heart thing; not a head thing. Many times, wisdom is making the tough decisions 90% of people are not willing to make. Wisdom is selectively choosing relationships and endeavors that may not seem popular. Wisdom is the voice that keeps you from repeating that same mistake over and over. Many times, wisdom requires courage to see it in action. Wisdom requires courage because the decisions you make influence others linked to you.

The sign in the picture says, “You know more than you think you do,” and let me add that the greater challenge is to apply what you already know to benefit yourself and those connected to you.


Quotes by El Gran Queso

The 3 latest quotes from El Gran Queso:

“The only thing you are entitled to is a headlock. “

“I am going to get food truck and sell knuckle sandwiches.”

“The only place it’s ok for a dude to wear tight pants is in the ring.”

How a day-off becomes a creative day

  My days off usually have a simple agenda. If I can get some surf time in and work on a project at home, the day off is complete success. If my wife has a floral event that day then my normal day off agenda is replaced with whatever Shelley needs help with. This day, she provided florals, as one of the preferred vendors at a new wedding venue at the historic Speakeasy on State in Redlands, California.

The new owner of the venue shared a little history about the place. In the 1920’s the Speakeasy was a night club, which sold alcohol illegally during the Prohibition. The Prohibition was a nationwide ban in the U.S. on the sale and production of alcohol from the 1920’s into the 1930’s. Knowing this, you would think that the one item I should take a picture of would be the sliding door that had a peephole to screen would-be patrons and another hole about waist high for a pistol to fit through to weed out the others. Yes, I forgot to take a pic. I was sober too, so no excuse.

My normal day-off routine was put off for a another day, but helping my wife set up her florals this day included sneaking in a few pictures, meeting people, and listening to their stories. I got to see Shelley do what she loves to do, and I got to fill-up my creative tank. That makes an excellent day off.

The Buddy System. 2>1

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

I believe in the buddy system. I copied this verse from I think it explains the buddy system better than I could. As much time as I like spending alone, I know I need friends. Some friends are more faithful than others, and who you choose to link and trust your life with makes all the difference in the world. I know that I need to be a better friend to those who call me “friend.”

Friendships can be complex. Some can be roller coasters. Then again, some are lifesaving. My favorite number sentence is 2>1.

Your feedback is important. Comment below, especially if you have a thought or insight on friendships.

Be Content. Don’t Be Complacent. 

 When I think about being content, I look at what I have and focus on that instead of spending my time and energy on what I don’t have. The more I do that, the more I realize how rich I am.

I think complacency is more about not maximizing time and resources. I believe the reason why we can be complacent is because trying to achieve more requires work. It involves the risk of failure. However, all of us have people’s lives attached to us is some way. When we overcome complacency and succeed in the marketplace or at home, somehow those others attached to us benefit from the win.

Be content. Don’t be complacent. And what does this picture of the VW bus have to do with being content? Nothing.  It’s a cool bus and I took a picture of it to share with you.