11 October 2014

I roam

I am destined to roam

A weapon at my side

What home can I find here?

17 June 2014

Alaska Airlines 1st rate service and employees

To whom it may concern,
During a recent flight from Billings to Portland, I had an opportunity to experience something rare these days. Excellent customer service.
Your team members Salvatore and Melanie in the cabin crew were exceptional. From the start of our boarding process and safety briefing, Salvatore brought gentle humor and a very human approach to his briefing. It was refreshing to hear it given in the same tone as you would normally talk with someone rather than a chore or reading a dusty script.
Furthermore, while our flight was in route, we encountered rough air on several occasions. On one such bump, a passenger toward the rear of the aircraft made use of your air sick bags, or rather, should have, but didn’t. Both Salvatore and Melanie reacted professionally and with the utmost care. They cleaned things up, and made sure the passenger was OK.
As the rough air continued, so did their professionalism. They did have two very short opportunities to make quick runs through the cabin with the beverage cart. They were quick, clear, and managed to take care of the group prior to the seatbelt sign coming back on.
As the flight drew to a close we were again treated to a rendition of your Alaska Airlines Visa card pitch as only Salvatore could give it. I would attempt to regale you with it, but it would pail in comparison. Had I not already been carrying my own Alaska Airlines card, I would have grabbed an application forthright.
This cabin crew reflects great credit upon your company as a whole, their respective teams, and your training team. Thank you, and please do pass along my thanks to both Salvatore and Melanie!

04 May 2014

Relationships as windows

The other day I grew a year older, and someone who I am connected to through a loss we both felt in very different ways sent me a nice message. It made me stop, yet again and think of the great person we both shared a loss for.

I thought of this and wanted to share it here...

Relationships are windows in our life and heart.
I see a large white open room, big like your schools gym when you were little.
But all white, and quiet and clean.
It's impossibly tall, and has windows all over it. As we look around the room we see that the windows all have different views of out them.
It's incongrous and disorienting, but not unpleasant just the same.
As we look at each window we know, just know that each of them is a relationship we have with someone in our life.
Some are closed and locked against the storm, others are just dusty and rusty with lack of use.
Some are near, and opened, and we see that one in perticular makes us feel for the one we lost.
We recall that in the last this window was full of sun, and joy, and we could hear... no... actually feel joy coming through it.
But now it's differnet, it has been since he was lost.
Initally, some of us closed that window, against the storm and rain and cold.
She couldn't, she had opened that window and hapily given up the ability to close it years ago.
She kept it opened through the storms, and rain, because she knew that there would always be sun, and joy eventually.
She stood at this window happily for years.
Now since he has gone, she still keeps it opened.
She stood there in the rain and cold that chilled her to the bone over the last year and more.
She wouldn't leave... she needed to feel the loss, the pain.
And from time to time, the sun would come out, and the warm wind would blow the curtans in that loveley lazy way a summer breeze does.
She lives for these times.
As time went on, the sun stayed longer, and the breeze kept it's warmpth through the nights.
It was getting better.
She did notice that while the storms had passed, that now too, even the sun began to seem somehow hazy, and distant... but not in a painfull or sad way, rather in a comfortable and reassuring way.
It was many months before she relized she was no longer standing directly at the window, but was beginning to look at, and indeed through others again.
Her children could be heard through some of them, and close friends through others.
She looked back, frightend for just a moment that the window of her love would be gone, or closed, or something terrible.
But it was there, as she rememberd it, opened, with a warm sunny breeze.
She had weatherd the worst, and could now feel free again to walk around the room, knowing that she could always come back when she wanted... or needed to.

We all have these windows,
we choose which ones to open, and when. Some open to sun, and others to storm and rain. Sometimes we do what others call silly or even morose, and stand there with the rain coming in the window, and we just let it come in. We stand in the puddle, getting chilled to the bone, just as she had, but still we can't leave. We won't leave. Then sometimes the storm lifts, and we see sun, and beauty, and a warm breeze moves the curtains lazily, and we bask in this joy.

When we loose someone dear to us, I imagine we walk close to the window initally uppon hearing the news and gaze at it in a new way, seeing the small bits of paint missing, and the notes we have stuck to it in the past, or in some cases the cobwebs across it,  All in a new light. the light of loss.
It starts as a cold blue light, but over time can become warm again.

Opening these windows is taking a chance, so some of us keep them locked up, closed, we hope it protects us, but really we just isolate ourselves.
I urge us all to open them, and try it out.
See just what adventures await us.
It won't always be sun, but remember,
It can't rain all the time.

25 April 2014

It drives me

I'm going to add this personal post to a mostly vanilla web-page. Funny as I type this, I'm thinking it's a good analogy for what I'm about to discuss.

Some songs I keep around be cause they make me happy, some because they make me remember. The one I'll share with you today does something I'm going to try to explain, but I may fail miserably. Wish me luck.

First I'll try to explain it, then I may share along with the lyrics what is going on in my head as I listen to the song.

The two very different sounds during the song play at picking the edges of a scab I don't think is ready to come off. Sometimes I really do wonder if all of this is real. What do I mean by this? Well... During my deployments I knew in no uncertain terms that it was VERY real. there were zero layers of bullshit. War, is as real as life can be. Here, and now, as I listen to this song while running on a treadmill at a hotel in Rawlins, WY I get goosebumps across my sweating body as I really wonder just what the hell I'm doing here. As the song progresses, there are two very opposing sounds. Chaos, and metallic tones of something dirty, gritty, and raw. While in the refrain a silky soft melody settles in as we ask ourselves if this is real...
Now, all that being said, there is a silver lining. There are a few, OK, three people who know either some of the real me, or in the case of one, all of me.
This is new
This is real
I have never been able to be this honest with someone in my past.
This has given me hope that the scab I mention may some day fall away on it's own
This has given me hope that even if it doesn't, that's OK, and I'm OK.

So it's a tough song to listen to. I only listen while running, and it drives me. I'm not sure why, but it does. I choose to keep it on my playlist for the same reason we tongue a sore tooth. It hurts, but for some reason, we like that, even crave it once in a while.

So as I ran on that treadmill, I thought, I wonder if this would be helpful for anyone. Or perhaps helpful for me to share. Hell I dunno, but why not.

Something I read the other day just popped into my head as I'm finishing this up, something like this:
If you act like you, then you will meet and be with people who like YOU. Not a fake idea of you, or some image of you, but actually YOU.
Great advice I think, and for some reason in today's world hard advice to follow.

01 December 2013

A chapter closes

I have lived mostly in WI for my entire life. Don't get me wrong, I travel a lot, and have been overseas, but I always wound up back in WI.

Tomorrow that changes. I will wake up early, unplug my RV, hitch up my car, and drive out of Wisconsin. I'm headed to Montana, my new job, new area, new challenges, new fun, and all new adventures.

I hesitate to say home. As I have for several years. I do have hope though. Hope that I'm getting closer to whatever it is I'm looking for. I do have some fear, a move, this far, at this time of year, can be daunting. Particularly when your driving your home there. However I also have help. That's a great feeling. So it is with a bitter sweet excitement on my mind that I write this note.

One chapter closes, a new one begins, unwritten, with no boundary as of yet. No telling what may happen, or what hilarity will ensue. I like that. I like to feel the tangible excitement, even adrenalin. I know as I shift into drive tomorrow morning... my heart will be pounding in my ears with the recognition of what's happening. The gravity of it all... and I'm glad.

I will never look back and say, I wish I had given that a try.


16 August 2013

A new windshield... a fresh look

This Blog has taken several turns through the years.

First It was about my 2nd Deployment to Iraq. Where it was from my windshield in convoys and during missions.
Eventually when I came home it moved on to being about my job and the travels that it took me on. Still a windshield of sorts.
A 3rd deployment saw my blog shut down for safety due to our mission. The windshield went dark.
After I came home again I used it again as mostly a place to talk about my travels at work... interspersed with some of my personal feelings and thoughts.
Now a new chapter is beginning, and yet again the title is quite appropriate.
I've been struggling with not feeling like anything or anywhere is home since I left Taji, Iraq.

I can see that now... but still not very clearly.
More on the why's and pluming the depths later... for now:
I'm moving from my comfortable 2BR condo on a golf course into a 34 ft class A motor home.

Life through my windshield... here it comes.

This chapter is a change, a fresh turn. It's an adventure, I need to take it while I can, and I do need it. I"m not fully aware of the why's yet, but I"m hoping that becomes clear along the way.

More to follow... for now this should serve as a "header" if you will, a post that turns the page... 
Here we go...

19 March 2013

This World is Only Illusion... Trying to Change You

This World is Only Illusion... Trying to Change You

I know some folks it has managed to change. It sometimes looks like a good thing, some times it feels so right... but in the end the illusion is swept away and only the reality of the decisions they made are left.

This is one such story.

I met a man. I didn't want to meet him. He was going to be in my way you see. I had just returned from my third tour in Iraq. I was dealing in a world without layers of bullshit, without layers of illusion. I was transitioning back into my civilian job where I knew all of these layers existed in spades. I had previously not had a direct supervisor. I had reported directly to a distant but amazing manager. I was happy. This guy was going to get in my way. Just one more layer of control and confusion I would have to deal with.

Initially upon meeting him, I was sure I had been correct to worry. He was so formal. He re-iterated the simplest of points over and over again.  Belaboring a point so simple as dress code to death. I was really worried this was going to make my job unbearable.

As time went on (not much really) I started to notice something... This "guy" was actually pretty damn smart. He was quick, attentive, and dare I say real? This was strange. He didn't deal in layers. He wanted, no actually expected the reality of it all. He was a layer of protection from the corporate mess, not an addition to it.

As we worked more closely together I began to find that I could learn a lot from him. Some simple things, organization items, plan of action, simple type stuff, but also some pretty amazing big picture items. He knew how to actually lead, not manage. I was taken aback... this kind of leadership belonged in the military, but I was highly unaccustomed to it in the civilian world.

Before long I found myself thinking of this "middle man" as a mentor, I looked up to him. I trusted his decisions, I would seek out his thoughts and input in my own career decisions. I also realized something else. He cared. Not the typical paper-thin caring you get from stuffed shirts with no backing or feeling. Rather a true, honest, and tough caring. I was AMAZED. At one point we both laughed as we discussed our first meeting, and how serious it seemed at the time, versus how laughable it was now.

Eventually he moved on in his path, and I in mine, but we kept in touch. I continued to learn from this man well after we no longer worked for the same company.
While he was a supervisor, colleague, and mentor, he was also much more.

He was a friend.

In case you didn't catch it, this is not a word I toss about with the greatest of ease. I have hundreds of acquaintances  co-workers, and business partners, but my number of friends can be counted on one hand. Literally.

Something happened to this man. The illusion... it got to him... maybe he let it in... maybe he fought long and hard to fight it.. he didn't know how to ask for help... it won.

This man deserved so much more. He should have had someone who he could go to. Someone who knew how much he was in pain. He didn't think he could... and that was the illusion.

He couldn't see through the layers of pain and confusion clouding his vision. It was so thick he couldn't make out his family. His wife, his wonderful children. They were all so far away. Blurry in the distance. Unmoving, and worse yet, unmoved.
He couldn't make out those of us who cared back. While he responded with smiles, jokes, and jovial quips, all the while he was hiding his pain. The world had pulled him into a dark corner... alone... and without hope.

In the illusion he could only see one way out... one clearing... one end.

He took this path, this illusion of peace, but could not see what it would do, nor who it would hurt.

Now all that is left is the void. The consequences of a decision made in the fog of this damn cold world.

You, sir, deserved better.

I'm sorry I wasn't louder or closer than the fog.
I'm sorry for your family who will live without you now.
I'm sorry for others who feel this loss as well.

I choose to remember you before the illusion took hold of you.
While you were a bright light in the world.
Smiling that smile, and helping those you met in any way you could.
While you knocked down layers of bullshit to have a very REAL life with all who you touched.
You are missed... and will always be.

In memory of KP, a traveler, now on the eternal road.