Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Making him proud

Chef Brad.
Artist: Yukari Bromfield
Detail from the recipe cards
she made for me.
You might remember from the recent post I wrote (you can get there from this link), that I was made aware of a possible position at a new restaurant that is suppose to open maybe a few months from now.

In my post, I asked if you guys could give me some feedback on how I'm thinking about all this. So first of all, I want to say thank you very much for all the different perspectives you offered. It was so incredibly helpful to me.

I still haven't decided what course of action I'm going to take, but right now I'm leaning toward seeing if the owners might be open to a proposal that will allow me get a little more kitchen duty (which Chef would be open to), and possibly negotiate some benefits like profit-sharing, etc.

I'm learning a lot from Chef and his style of teaching inspires me to be creative and develop my own approach. He's really taken me under his wings and lets me watch him in the kitchen. He takes time to explain things and even asks me what I would do in terms of different flavors and ways of preparing the food.

Well, the owners once told me he's never taken this kind of interest in a server who wanted to become a professional chef. Apparently there was one server before I started there who eventually went to culinary school, but they said Chef never took him under his wings.

Well, I think  I finally figured out one aspect of why he's taken to me. And I have to give Matty credit for bringing up this point.

I remember a long while back that I mentioned to Chef that my dad had never been supportive of me going to culinary school. This was before my dad and I began reconnecting and reconciling with each other. My dad is now behind me all the way.

But when I told Chef about my dad's attitude, he seemed puzzled but didn't pry into my personal life. But I could tell he was curious to know more, and I felt comfortable telling him a little background.

Chef never did criticize my dad because he's way too classy to do that. And he's very standoffish and professional anyway. But I could tell by his non-verbal reaction that my dad's attitude really bothered him. But I didn't think too much more about it at the time.

So I was discussing all this with Matty last week and he wondered if there might be two things going on to explain why Chef has extended himself to me like he has.

One reason is that he liked that I asked if I could watch him in the kitchen, and if he would be okay if I asked questions. I guess that was pretty bold on my part, but maybe Chef liked the initiative I took.

The second reason is that maybe Chef was really bothered by my dad's attitude of not being supportive of my decision to become a chef. And Matty thinks maybe Chef wanted to "balance" things out by being supportive of my decision, so he kind of took me under his wings.

Well, I tested this second reason out recently by telling Chef my dad and I had done a lot of talking and he's now very supportive of me becoming a chef. Like I say, Chef is a man of few words, but when I told him this, he looked straight at me, smiled, and just said, "Good. I'm glad he came around. You're going to make him proud." 

Wow! You should have seen the look on Chef's face. For just those few words it looked like he had stepped out of "Chef" role, and went into "Parent" role. And then he went back into his usual demeanor of Chef.

If you knew Chef, you would know how rare it is for him to relate in any way other than professional Chef. But when he said those words, "You're going to make him proud," I swear it came across with some sweet affection. The kind of affection a parent might say.

Maybe you can see why I'm leaning more toward staying were I am at least for now. Not grudgingly or out of any obligation, but because I feel like I can continue to learn a lot from him. And I feel confident he's genuinely interested in me advancing in this profession.

I'm still weighing the pros and cons of all this because I want to make sure I've thought it all the way through. But right now I'm feeling a lot more peaceful about this than I was a few weeks ago.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A day of remembrance

Also known as the start of the summer vacation period, we hope everyone remembers the true meaning of this important day. 

Unlike Veterans Day (which celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans), Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in our armed forces.

Since this is a federal holiday, we're not working today. We'll be spending time with our families and wish all of you a nice day.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Getting there

Hi every one! It's Sunday again and time for Sam-I-Am! Hope every one is doing well.

I really liked the pic and quote I am using today. I used it once before but I thought it would be just perfect for what I wanted to say today.

I had to put Brad to work to see if he could find the name of the person who sent this to me because I can't remember off the top of my head. And Brad thinks it was Cody Kennedy (Brad is going to put a link to Cody's blog here), but we don't know if Cody made this himself or found it some where on the internet, but I at least wanted to give him credit for sending it to me.

I really, really like this a lot! when I first say the pic of the guy, I had to do a double-take because the guy's hair looks very similar to mine! But what I liked most about this is the message. "LIFE IS ABOUT CREATING YOURSELF."

I think this is SO cool and I made a copy of this pic and took it to my counselor to show him, and I also showed it in the group I am a member of. Well, my counselor LOVED it and wants to make a big copy of it so he can put it on his wall! Can you believe that? Wow! That makes me so excited.

The reason that is a BIG DEAL to me is because I know some parents like to take things their kid makes and draws and they put it on their fridge to kind of show it off. Sort of like they are proud of it. And I can see how it would make the kid feel good.

Well, this will be the first time I have had some body like some thing I showed them and they wanted to put it on the wall! My counselor doesn't have a fridge in his office (HAHAHAHA!), so he's going to put it on his wall instead, which is even better to me because then other people can see it and maybe get some thing out of it.

I know I didn't draw the pic, but it still has extra special meaning to me and my counselor liked it a lot and I have a lot of respect for him and look up to him in a lot of ways because I trust him and he tries to help me out with big things in my life. And who know? Maybe it will help some one when they see it! That makes me feel good!

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I said I showed it to that group I am in and the counselor who runs the group really liked it and asked me if I would like to pass it around so every one could see it. And my answer was Yes, so I passed it around and then guess what happened? The counselor asked me what I got out of the pic. So I told them it meant that I have not had a lot of help in making sense of a lot of things in my life, except for my Grandma who really cared for me and gave me a lot of love and told me to remember that I mattered to her.

And that gave me a lot of courage to try to make her proud because she never let me down and I didn't want to let her down because I mattered to her. So it helped me feel better about my self and it helped me try to be the best person I could be. My Grandma had a wicked good sense of humor and she helped me laugh a lot and feel good about my self.

And she also had a very Serious Side, too. Like she would ask me questions about what I wanted to be when I grew up and what was my opinion about a lot of different things. Maybe that does not sound like a Big Deal, but to me it was a Very Big Deal because she seriously wanted to know what I thought.

It was like I really did matter to her and it was not just words you are suppose to say to a kid. I could tell she was totally serious about wanting to know because then she would ask me questions about my answers and she would listen very closely and THAT would make a big difference to me!

And some times after my Grandma would listen to my answers, she would give her opinion and THAT was like the icing on the cake, because then I got to get some new ideas just from listening to her opinions. I suppose she was the first person I trusted to help me out with things I was going through. And it was because I totally trusted her and I knew she would not lead me down the wrong path.
And so I think the pic means that it really helps to have people behind you who can encourage you and help you think about the kind of person you want to be. And I feel really lucky that she was in my life.

And now I have a bunch of people in my life who I can totally trust and they all help me "create myself," like it says in the pic. And I include all of you in this, too. You guys have helped me so much because I can tell you really mean things you say when you encourage me. Some time you guys point out things I had never thought of before and that make me think harder about my self and my life.

The quote up there says, "Life is about creating yourself," so I know I am responsible for my life. But man, it really does help when you have people behind you giving you encouragement and helping you think of things you have never thought of before. And all that helps me in trying to make my self the best person I can possibly be.

So I hope all of you have a really good day. RICK, my BOYFRIEND, asked me to say Hi to all of you. So from both of us, we wish you a GREAT day and a GREAT week! See you next Sunday!

Love & Hugs,

Friday, May 22, 2015

This and that

There are desks like this for home and school that are advertised at places like Sharper Image, Walmart, Amazon, and a bunch of other places. 

Man, I wish my school had these when I was little. I imagine I would have been way more productive. My teachers made some accommodations for my learning style and let me go on "walking breaks" when I couldn't sit still and needed to burn off some of my ADHD energy. I really love this desk. So much.

And since it's Friday and almost time for the weekend, a little fun:

       I LOVE trees. And would so very much want something like this in our bedroom.

This is EXACTLY something I would do!!

And this, too!!

Kids would LOVE this!! ("Or someone like you, Matty," says Brad.)

OMG, this will be me and our daughter (or son)!!

Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Healing together

One of the important things I was talking to my therapist about recently was how my family responded to the time in high school when I was attacked. Because I had some pretty significant head trauma, bits and pieces of that time period are still a bit sketchy. 

I do remember not wanting to leave my bedroom because it felt safe there. And I remember very clearly how concerned my parents were. I was very aware, not only of their deep concern and love for me, but also how angry they were that this had happened to me.

So I was telling my therapist that I wanted to talk to my parents about my therapy and bring them up to date on how helpful it's been. And to thank them for how incredibly supportive they were to me then -- and now. He thought that was a great idea.

So I was briefly chatting with our Mary about it before I went over there and she said this (I'm using this with her permission): 

"I think it's wonderful. And who knows, maybe it will go a long way to healing them, too. It didn't just happen to you. It happened to those who love you."

Well, that was a perspective I hadn't even thought about for some reason. I was mainly wanting to go there to tell them how helpful they had been, and how helpful my therapy is now. For some reason I had never asked them how they had dealt with it. They were so focused on comforting me and tending to my needs, I guess I just assumed they were okay.

Well, they opened up to me more than they ever have about what it was like for them. How scared and concerned they were because of my physical injuries -- how angry they were at the guys who ambushed and attacked me -- and some stories about how they dealt with the school, the police, the parents of the guys who did this to me.

Long story short, I said I was sorry I had never asked how all this affected them. I've been so completely focused on how I was dealing with it that I had missed how all of us were traumatized by this. 

They basically said it had never been my job at the time to worry about them. And I said now that I'm doing really good, I wanted us to be open with each other, because this was something all of us went through. And that I wanted to know how they were doing now.

They really appreciated me bringing this up and we all got teary and talked about how strong our family is. And they even shared just a tiny bit about how it affected my two brothers. They didn't go into a lot of detail about their reaction, but I told them I now wanted to talk to them about it. They said they thought Nick and Tony would really appreciate that. So I'm calling them to arrange a time when we can get together and talk.

So, thank  you, Mary, for your perspective on how this happened to every single one of us in the family. I think my parents and I did some healing last Sunday night, and I'm looking forward to talking to my brothers about this soon.

My physical wounds healed. The emotional wounds are taking a lot longer. But I'm so incredibly glad I decided to take this journey to fight for the life I deserve to have. 

And that my family and I are healing together. That's a huge gift.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Imagine that

I didn't have time to find them, but I remember a long while ago writing several posts about how shy I was in social situations. Shy in the sense of feeling extremely anxious and awkward when I had to spend time around people I didn't know and where there was some level of expectation that I interact.

Like going to a party and not knowing anybody. Or maybe knowing one or two people but also knowing total strangers might make some effort to chat. There was always this pressure I felt inside that I wouldn't know what to say or how to keep the conversation going and the fear was they would look at me and think I was stuck-up or weird or something.

I started thinking about how much I've changed over the past year or so because Matty and I got invited to this dinner party that's happening in a few weeks. My automatic response in the past to something like this was to immediately get highly anxious inside and start thinking of ways I could get out of it. 

But when Matty and I got an invitation from our new friends, Jim and David, I didn't freak out like I use to. And when they told us three other couples would be there, my anxiety shot up to about a 4 instead of a 9 or 10 like it use to. 

Jim and David are the couple Matty met this past winter after he helped shovel everybody's snow on our street and went exploring other streets for more snow to shovel. This was before the extreme cold weather, followed by back-to-back blizzards. 
Which finally froze his brain and he waved his white flag in surrender!Emoji
We've spent some time socially with Jim and David since we met them, but it's always been just the four of us. Now they want us to meet six of their friends (3 couples), and my anxiety feels fairly manageable. Like I said, maybe a 4 instead of 9 or 10 like it would have been in the past.

Imagine that!
So I've gone fromEmojito more likeEmoji
I think working as a server in the restaurant has helped a lot. But that's sorta in a controlled environment. The "interaction script" is pretty limited and you do it over and over and there's not a whole lot of room for deviation from that.

But I don't think that totally explains why I'm more comfortable socially. Maybe the restaurant has helped me get comfortable practicing interacting in a safe setting. But I have to give myself credit for the work I've done feeling more confident in my own skin. And seeing and accepting myself as someone who -- although still somewhat reticent -- has found his "comfort zone" and doesn't think that "comfort zone" makes me weird.

I'm starting to accept myself as somewhat introverted. I still hate the spotlight. So when we go to their dinner party, I have no desire to put myself out there and volunteer any major interaction. I'll hang back at first, see what the overall vibe is, and then might gradually join in if it's in my comfort zone. And I'm totally cool with that.

Matty even told me Jim said my shyness made me adorable. He said he meant "adorable" as in "sweet," so that convinced me I'm not seen as "weird," and I can handle that quite well. That's totally in my comfort zone and takes pressure off me.

In the meantime, I'm perfectly content with Matty enjoying being the social butterfly with me being his sweet sidekick.

I think working hard all this time to see myself as okay just the way I am, is paying off. I suspect I'll still be nervous at their party, but I'm pretty proud of myself for discovering and slowly relaxing in my own skin.
Imagine that.Emoji

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wait. Sir?

A brief update on how Carlos & I are doing. I really appreciate all the helpful suggestions everyone made yesterday. Your thoughtful concern means a lot to both of us.

I spent some quality time with him last night and it seemed to really help. His gas tank was only 1/4 below full, but to show good faith, I took him to his favorite gas station and got him a full tank. He really appreciated my gesture. The way he acted, you would have thought I'd taken him out for ice cream.

But... while there I was made aware of another issue I needed to deal with.

While I was at the service station getting Carlos a full tank of gas, there was this young guy at one of the other pumps getting gas for the car he was driving. 

I would estimate he was probably about 16 or 17, but he looked slightly younger. Probably a high school kid. I'm always pretty friendly in situations like this. We both were stuck there for a few minutes and when he looked over, he nodded slightly and I nodded back. Just a friendly gesture.

Then I said something like, "How's it going?"  He replied with just a standard answer since we were being friendly: "Good. Nice day, huh?"

We made a little chit chat like that, got our vehicles gassed up, and left the station at the same time. Before we got in our vehicles, I said to him, "You have a good day." And then it happened...

He very politely replied, "You, too, Sir."

OMG, I seriously think this is the first time I've ever been addressed as "Sir." I was so caught off guard by this I was speechless -- a rare thing indeed for me.

As Carlos and I were heading back home, I had a lot on my mind. And because Carlos and I are so in tune with each other, I could definitely sense his thoughts. "Sir, indeed." I could sense his smugness. And I stayed silent. I know what's good for me.

It feels odd at age 23 to say I feel a lot of hope for our younger generation. But I suppose my relationship with Carlos prompted me to start seeing life a little differently. 

And Carlos, my dear Sir, we will get closer again. I learn a lot from you. Your maturity impresses me. Sir.

Monday, May 18, 2015

We're getting couples therapy soon

We both decided it would be a good idea to see a couples therapist.

We had hoped it wouldn't get to this point. But it has and they say the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging you have one. So I'm being brave and trying to go into this with an open mind because this relationship means a lot to me. 

It took me a number of weeks to agree to this, but Carlos made it clear I had two strikes against me already. So I'm doing this because my relationship with Carlos is important.

It all reached a breaking point last week when I took Carlos (my pickup truck) to get a full tank of gas. He always gets very anxious when the fuel needle edges below the half mark. And I guess I can't really blame him. 

I've run out of gas twice and I try not to show my frustration to Carlos when it happens because I just know he's thinking, "I love you Matt. But, dude, I'm not an ADHD truck with an endless supply of energy." 

I just can't bear it when Carlos shames me like that. I know he's trying to impress on me how important a full tank of fuel is, but it pierces me through my heart every time.

I swear I try to remember to check the gauge each time Carlos and I take a spin. And I'm not making excuses, but it's just not prominently located on the dashboard. And when my eyes locate that gauge, I swear it's so tiny anybody would miss is.

The last time I let the needle plummet and we ran out of gas, I tried to reassure Carlos this would be the last time. You know, kind of reassure him I knew it bothered him and I took his concerns seriously. He didn't reply and I knew that meant, "Yeah, I've heard this before."

I even told him I'd go to the store and buy a magnifying glass to keep in the glove compartment so I can see that tiny needle. I hoped that would reassure him and restore his faith in me. I waited a few minutes to see if that helped his feelings. 

While waiting for him to share his feelings, I leaned in so I could memorize where the gauge is located on the dashboard. Not only to help me, but also as a gesture to him that I was indeed taking this seriously and cared about his feelings. 

When I leaned in, I accidentally put pressure on the horn and nearly slammed myself into the rear window. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

I've had Carlos for a while and know him pretty well. That was Truck Language for "Yeah, yeah. I'll believe it when I see it!" 

Having run out of gas twice, I know this is strike two. I feel like I'm on some kind of probation with Carlos, but I'm taking this issue seriously. And I will do whatever it takes to not only salvage our relationship, but hopefully make our bonds tighter.

Carlos is a Ford, so I'm contacting Ford's International Headquarters to see if they can recommend a local therapist who specializes in Human/Truck relationships. I'm hoping we're not the only ones with problems like this, because that would totally depress me.

Just in case we can't locate a qualified and fully-certified Human/Truck Couples Therapist, do any of you have any practical suggestions on how Carlos and I can work through this issue on our own?

Thanks in advance for helping out. We both really appreciate your concern.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sundays with Sam: I forget sometimes

Hello to every one out there! It's Sunday and time for Sam-I-Am! Hope every one is doing well. I have been a little sick this week. Nothing serious. I think it is several things that all happened at once.

The pollen here is really bad. Every single morning before I drive to work, I have to spray my windshield with Windex and it takes about two times before I get all the yellow stuff off. And breathing all this pollen makes me sneeze and my eyes water and stuff like that. Yuck. And we are not suppose to get rain any time soon, so we just have to live with it for a while. I am trying not to take any allergy pills if I don't have to, but it looks like I might have to just to stop sneezing.

And I have been having some trouble sleeping for some reason and this makes me tired during the day, so I have to be extra careful and pay attention to every single thing I do because I don't want to have any accidents. This might be connected to the allergies, but I am just not sure.

Well, enough of me complaining. I am sure you didn't get up today just to hear about all my aches and pains!

When I was thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I just decided to start writing with no particular plan in mind. This is some thing we do in my counseling program. We keep a Journal where we write down stuff we think about and feelings we have and it doesn't have to be organized in a particular way. We just write what ever we are thinking about and don't have to worry about spelling and grammar. It has really helped me in a lot of ways because it shows me I think about way more things than I even realized, and it always helps me feel better when I finish.

So today I just started writing this post in the same way I do in my Journal. You can see I started off writing about not feeling too good because of the pollen and how I am not sleeping that good. And then I realized I was complaining and started thinking I needed to stop because then this entire post would be totally boring and every body might end up wicked depressed, and that would bother me a lot.

But then I just kept writing to see where things would go. I figured I would go back and take some stuff out, and maybe switch from discussing negative stuff and try to make it more positive. But then some thing really interesting happened!

Have you guys ever heard that expression about how the light bulb goes off and all of a sudden you see some thing you hadn't even been thinking about and then it changes every thing? Well that is exactly what happened when I just forced my self to keep writing and not worry about how any thing sounded.

And a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that I always try really hard to do every thing in my life perfectly. And I realized that I am always thinking about what other people might think about me, so I try to keep every thing positive even if I don't feel that way inside all the time.

So the light bulb thing told me, "Sam, every body has some faults and you don't want to always go around and always show all your faults to every single person, but there is nothing wrong with having faults IF you try to be aware of them and work to improve those faults."

And then I came across that sign you see up at the top and a SECOND light bulb went off inside my head (HA HA. My brain all of a sudden became very bright with all these light bulbs going off! HA HA!) So the second light bulb that went off is this: "I still have a wonderful life finally, even if my life is not perfect."

Whoa. Get this. A THIRD light bulb then went off!! (Oh man, I am over loaded with bright lights inside my head!! I am going to have to get some sun glasses for my brain now!! HA! HA!). So the third light bulb told me: "No body is perfect in the whole world. I just have to try my best to be a good person and treat other people right and be kind and fair in every thing I do. That is the goal instead of trying to be perfect, because that is not even possible!

And then I started feeling way better than I was when I started writing this post. Having to put up with pollen, and also not sleeping the best, are NOT faults. Sure, they make me feel bad inside, but not "bad" like I am a bad person, but more like I am feeling bad because I am tired and sneezing my head off.

I know all this yucky pollen will go away (and I hope it is soon), and I will be able to start sleeping better. But none of that means I have a bad life. Like that sign at the top says, "Life does not have to be perfect to have a wonderful life."

And I have a bunch of things going on that help me have a wonderful life:

1. I have the best BOYFRIEND ever! I was going to say a BOYFRIEND who is perfect, but no body is Perfect (sorry, RICK!! HA! HA!), but he is PERFECT for me! And he says I am perfect for him, and that helps make my life wonderful.

2. I have plans to check out some courses at a Community College so I can get some better skills that will help me get a better job. I don't know what I want to take yet, but to use a word my Counselor says a lot, I am being "Pro-active" instead of just waiting around for some thing better to come along. I like that word "Pro-active" because it means I am making decisions about my life, and that helps me realize I can make things happen, and THAT helps me realize I can have an even more wonderful life if I am willing to do the work to make it happen.

3. I have some pretty awesome friends. Brad has been my friend from way back, and now I have Matty, and I have RICK'S family, and do you remember that girl I went to high school with named Amy? I saw her in the mall one day and we started talking and I came out to her! And then me and RICK went out on a double date with her and her boyfriend, Joe. And me and Amy have become closer friends than we were in high school. And I also like her boyfriend, Joe, too. And I am making friends with the other people in the counseling program. So all these friends mean I have a wonderful life. I always forever thought I would be extremely lonely all my life, but now I have wonderful friends!

Well, look how this post turned out, huh? I just started writing what was inside my head, and it started off complaining, and then THREE light bulbs started going off and my brain got so bright and I could see things in a better light (no pun intended!! HA! HA!).

Well, that is all my well-lit brain can come up with for this week! I need to turn a few of those light bulbs off and probably take a nap. But it's wicked awesome to truly realize that I don't have to be Perfect to have a Wonderful life!!

Thank you for reading this. And I sincerely hope each and every one of you have a Wonderful Day.

Love and Hugs,

Friday, May 15, 2015

A little inspiration

It's Friday (YAY!) and I wanted to end the week with a little inspiration.

I have my weekly therapy session each Friday, so that's where I'll be this afternoon. But last Friday was my birthday and I just didn't want to go in and risk having to deal with any heavy or painful emotions. I wanted it to be a fun and care-free day without worrying about coming home in a pensive and somber mood.

So I discussed this with my psychologist and we both agreed it made perfect sense. He did make me promise I'd continue practicing my daily grounding meditations as well as writing in my journal. I've followed through on both those agreements because I'm beginning to see how it's paying off. 

I'm sorta looking forward to going in this afternoon, which kind of surprises me in a way. The sessions can sometimes be pretty intense, but even when they are they always give me a lot to think about and work on. 

I also think part of me is looking forward to telling him how I did over the past two weeks. Maybe part of me hopes he'll be proud of me, but that kinda bothers me a little that I look for his validation. But I really do respect him and appreciate his genuine interest in me.

So I just wanted to share that little bit of inspiration you see up there. The picture and quote appear to be something related to the martial arts, and I really related to a couple things about it:

The peaceful look of the pose. That's how I picture me looking during one of my meditations. I know for sure it's how I feel inside afterwards. Very calm, centered, grounded, and peaceful.

The words. "I never lose... I either win, or I learn." I aspire to embrace the spirit of those words. I am determined to not let what happened to me in the past defeat me. I was outnumbered on the day I was attacked. And for the longest time I saw it as a "loss." Now I refuse to see what happened as a defeat.

I'm not exactly where I hope to be with all this. Yet. But I'm getting there. 

I will not give up. I will not lose. I will not be defeated.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Asking for your help

Not me, but what I wear to work.
Just a little excited today! And trying to approach this with my feet on the ground. Any thoughts you have will be greatly appreciated.

In the next couple of months, a new restaurant will be opening on the other side of the community where I work. Here's a little background summary.

One of the regular diners of my restaurant has a friend with some kind of connection to the owners of this new restaurant. This diner is a regular of mine and she's been known to call my restaurant to see if I'm working on a particular night when she wants to make reservations for her family or friends. She even told me about this and said she often rearranges her dining-night-out for when I'm working!

Well, she told me last week that one of her friends -- who's joined her a few times at her table -- has been extremely impressed with the service I've provided them. ("He's so  professional. I've never been to a restaurant where I didn't have to ask for the waiter when I needed something. How does he know to appear right when I need something? And he's always smiling.")

So this friend of my regular diner has already told the new restaurant owners about me! And they're interested in knowing if I might want to talk to them about working there when they open!

This new restaurant looks like it's going to be on the same scale as where I am now -- not on the level of 4 or 5 stars, but just a little below that league. We're sorta in the mid range where evening diners dress up, not necessarily in formal wear, but sometimes you see that if they're celebrating something special like an anniversary or extra special occasion.

If I decide to check it out and they offer me a position, it looks like it will probably be a lateral move. So on the face of it (at this point) there really might not be a whole lot of incentive for me to change. 

But I haven't decided yet whether to at least check it out and see what it's about. The woman who knows the owners says they're not at the point yet where they feel the need to start staffing, but she said she would connect me with them if I was interested.

Well, this is very exciting to me on so many levels. So I'm keeping my feet on the ground and approaching this from a rational perspective. I've been working on a Pros & Cons list, which is kind of hard to do at this point because I don't even know anything about the new restaurant, the owners, the Chef, what kind of deal they might make me if they're interested, hours, opportunities for growth, etc.

I love where I am and always enjoy going in to set up for the evening. The owners are great. All the managers are a pleasure to work for. I get along really great with all the other wait staff (except for one, but when one of the managers detected he was slacking during the evening shift, he got moved to the lunch shift where the Manager there is very strict). And you guys already know I LOVE the Chef. He's taken me under his wings and lets me watch, and at times lets me help him when things are slow. I've learned a lot from  him.

So at this point there's not any compelling reason for me to be looking elsewhere. But I want to at least be open to new opportunities that might allow me to grow professionally. I don't feel any great sense of urgency to make a move since I'm happy and so much is going my way right now.

Since the new restaurant hasn't opened yet, Matty was excited to offer some things he's learned in his Business program about (his words), "...evaluating the business viability of the new restaurant." He said that's important because a large percentage of new businesses don't make it the long term and end up closing. So guess what? I now have my very own personal Business Manager to help me look at this from another angle!

I'm not making any rash or impulsive decisions. I'm probably the least impulsive person you might ever meet, which has it's pros and cons. So right now I'm just mulling this over and mapping out a plan.

So far I have my own personal Business Manager. And now I'm wondering if you guys would like to be on my Advisory Board to help me think this through. Just looking for your thoughts and perspective as I think this through.

Does it seem like my thinking and reasoning so far makes sense?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wait. What?

On Monday I mentioned that sometimes when I have trouble sleeping, I get my telescope out and set it up on the back deck and spend time traveling to far-away constellations. That always helps slow my mind and gets me in a relaxed space.

I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but there's this thing called the "rebound effect" you get in the evening when your ADHD medication is wearing off. I'm in some online ADHD groups and this phenomenon is mentioned frequently, especially by parents who have kids who are looking for tips on how to help their kids settle down.

The rebound effect is what happens when the medication is leaving your system and you're sorta returning to what you're like off the med. Your brain starts having trouble focusing and, if you have ADHD, you start getting a little more fidgety and hyper. And young kids can go into a mood that involves irritability and aggression they don't have during the day.

Brad and I did a lot of talking when we first started living together because I would often not even realize I was rebounding, so we needed to talk about some ways he could help me be aware of how scattered or hyper I was becoming. 

The most effective thing he can do -- because this doesn't involve any shaming and I totally bought into it -- is to just casually work my full first name into the conversation. He always calls me Matt or Matty, so when he says something like, "Matthew, could you get me a glass of water, please?" that's my cue that I'm rebounding and I then consciously slow myself down (on my way to the kitchen to get his water, of course).

What does all this have to do with the pic I posted today? Well, when I was a little kid, my dad introduced me to astronomy as a way to help my rebounding. Learning about the different star constellations and planets was so interesting to me, and spending time with my dad in the evening was very special. But... he learned he had to do it a certain way or it would get me agitated.

He got out his astronomy books so I could learn what I was looking at through the telescope. For example, here's a pic of the Big Dipper as you might see it through the telescope, only the stars are overly highlighted:

Then he'd show me another pic with a straight line connecting the stars to form the Dipper:

Well, when you look through the telescope, the stars are not as prominent as the ones you see there, so for the longest time I was never able to see the actual Dipper formation. So he showed me the one with the straight lines connecting the stars. And, boy, did that ever confuse me. And it would make me so frustrated and irritable! The direct opposite effect he was hoping to achieve.

I kept saying, "I don't see the Dipper. Where is it? I don't see the lines like they have in the book." He patiently tried to explain that I wasn't going to see the straight lines when I looked through the telescope. They were just there to help you locate the stars and see how they made the Dipper.

Well, sometimes -- even to this day -- explanations like this confuse me if I'm rebounding at night. My mind is all over the place and what they call the "Executive Function" of the brain has trouble organizing even simple concepts. That's why I'm rarely able to study later in the evening.

My dad told me one night my frustration got the best of me and I planted my feet apart, and with arms akimbo, and a look of total incredulity on my face, said, "Wait! Are you trying to tell me books lie?!"

Oh man. My poor dad. It was so long ago I don't even remember how he responded to that, or how he helped me eventually see the Dipper.

So I guess the moral of this story is, yes, books do sometime lie in the interest of telling the truth. I get the complexity of that thought now as an adult, but try explaining that to a 7 or 8 year old kid who is rebounding off his meds.

And now as an adult, I can set up my telescope, get my bearings, make all the adjustments on it I need, and enjoy the Dipper and all the other constellations my telescope will let me travel to. And when I return to bed, I always, always, sleep a restful night.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Anatomy of Perception by AJ Rose

We normally don't discuss or review many books on our blog. I personally have a hard time writing up a formal review of books that touch my heart and mean something important to me. 

A.J. Rose's The Anatomy of Perception is one of just a handful of books (so far) that get a special place on my bookshelf as an Important Book. It took me almost three weeks to get through it because I consciously didn't want to rush myself. Sure, I desperately wanted to find out what happened and how things got worked out, but in some ways I wanted to make sure I was following everything going on inside the head of both MCs, because I could relate to many of the issues the characters were dealing with. 

Like most of us, I have a long list of favorite authors I go to when I want an entertaining story that helps me escape when I just don't want to think deeply. And I'm not talking shallow. I just mean a good story that will hold my attention and interest, that makes me want to keep reading to see what happens -- and why it happens the way it does. With characters to keep me company when I want a temporary reprieve from my real life. 

But this is not one of those stories. This particular story is one of those rare books that spoke to me on so many levels because it didn't take me away from my life, but brought me closer to it.

I finished AJ's book a few weeks ago. And it's been taking me days and days to process all the thoughts and feelings I've been having. Usually when I finish a book, I immediately select the next one I'm going to spend time with. But an interesting thing happened this time.

One part of me kept saying, "No! Don't start anything new. Deal with all the emotions you're having on this one. Then you can pick another one." 

Then another part of me said, "Just pick another book and maybe come back to AJ's later. Just keep moving."

I picked the second option and actually enjoyed discovering a couple of new authors I'd never read before. But afterwards my mind kept taking me back to AJ's story. 

I'm not good at summarizing plots, so here's a link to the blurb on Amazon. My bare bones  summary is this: One main character has PTSD. Another main character falls in love with him, but doesn't know about the PTSD. They develop an incredibly powerful love for each other. The guy with PTSD hasn't been able to deal with the trauma and it destroys their love. And he crashes and burns. The story is about his journey of recovery. And about forgiveness. And about reclaiming his life, and dealing honestly and authentically with the man he loved and still loves.

Look at this passage. Here AJ gives us a glimpse into Dane's mind (Dane is the guy with PTSD) and he's thinking about what Craig (his love) means to him:

"He gave me his passion, his openness. His eager and hopeful disposition burst from him, obliterated my cynicism, and lit the dark of my past. He showed me beauty and love in a world that before him had been bleak and harsh, like thorns that pierced and tore to whims I'd never understood or been able to predict, let alone avoid. Craig showed me to look a little farther up the stem, because above the thorns was the bloom, breathtaking and absolutely attainable if one just opened their eyes and reached higher. Before Craig, I'd been existing. He'd shown me how to live."

That kind of utterly powerful writing drew me in and left me with tears of love and compassion. The specific trauma Dane was dealing with is different from the trauma I am surviving. But some of the ways the repercussions played out in his life are very similar to the repercussions of my trauma.

This is an incredibly beautiful love story. There's not one single word of faux sentimentality in this entire book. No manipulation of our emotions. The emotions you have from reading this story of love and recovery come from being allowed to witness real life, in all it's glory and beauty, and in all it's messiness and deceptions. Every word rang true.

I'll be honest. I had to put it down many times because it touched something very deep inside me. At times I couldn't even process what I was feeling inside and needed to breathe and sit with it before coming back to it later.

But I'll tell you one thing. This book touched my heart. It wouldn't let me escape from life, but instead helped me discover things in my life I didn't know were there. And ultimately to feel alive, and strong, and brave, and fully capable of enduring any challenge thrown at me. 

I don't think you need to have actually experienced major trauma in your life to appreciate this story. This is a story about two people who confront all the realities of human love -- it's utter beauty and it's utter rawness. I was left wondering until the last pages how these two beautiful men would survive. But AJ shows us two men determined to deal honestly and authentically with the Spark of True Life inside them.

This, my friends, is a story about the true triumph of the human spirit. 5 major stars.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This and that

Brad has always been a good cook, but you can tell he's really moving into that zone of confidence and talent when I ask him what he put in some dish he's prepared. Instead of relying on the letter of the written menu, he's now saying things like, "Oh, I put some of this, and some of that..." 

So today I wanted to share a little of this and a little of that.

First, I wanted to say how much I appreciated all the birthday wishes. Not only here on the blog, but on Facebook and G+, as well as private email messages. It really meant a lot to me.

This past Christmas Brad had gotten me my very own telescope. And for my birthday he got me a more powerful lens and a few other add-ons that allow the telescope to do some really amazing things. I've always had a huge interest in astronomy, which comes from my dad. He had a very powerful telescope and when I was a kid, he and I would go outside at night and he would explain stars, planets, and constellations.

Whenever I have a bad night sleeping, sometimes I'll get my telescope and go on the back deck, set it up, and spend time traveling to far away constellations. It always relaxes me and afterwards I'm able to return to bed for a restful sleep.

We also had a nice Mother's Day celebration yesterday. First, Brad and I went to visit my folks to celebrate the Day with my mom. Then we went to Brad's folks to celebrate with his mom. AND THEN... Brad's parents had arranged for my parents to come over in the afternoon to celebrate my birthday, which meant a lot to me.

It's so nice to see my parents and his parents spending time together. They've even gone out together for dinner a few times. Just seeing them click like that is SO nice. And the really cool thing about this is they never spent this kind of time together until Brad and his dad worked through their issues and reconnected.

Expect to see a book review from me sometime later this week. Might have it up tomorrow if I can get the editing and re-write done. It's one of those powerful books that still haunts me even after finishing it a week ago. It's going to join a handful of books (so far) that get a special place on my bookshelf as an Important Book

My brother is just finishing up his degree in Pharmacy and he and his fiancée are in the final stages of preparing for their marriage next month. My dad will be his Best Man and my younger brother and I have been names Honorary Best Men.

And to close for today, just wanted to briefly share a wonderful short story I finished over the weekend. 

It's only about 45 print pages, so you can read it in one sitting. 

Jaycee Edward has written a wonderful story and I can't say enough good about it. Dragons is short, sweet, face-paced, and is written in that style you see in seasoned authors who can cover a lot of ground time-wise in just a limited number of pages. 

I plan to write a review of it as soon as I get the post written for the other book I mentioned earlier.

Okay, that's all of This and That for today. Have a nice one.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Simple things

Hi every one! It's time again for Sundays with Sam-I-Am! Hope every one is having a good day!

We got this assignment in the counseling program I go to and I thought I'd share it with all of you because it is helping me remember the small things in life instead of always having to deal with the big things.

For 30 days we are suppose to start keeping a list of "small" things that happen in our lives that we some times overlook because they seem like, well, just small things. And we don't always realize that those "small" things count as much as the positive big things that happen to us, except at the time we don't realize it. It has been so amazing to do this and I can't wait to see the complete list at the end of 30 days. Here are some of the things you'll find in my list of small things:

1. Having a squirt gun battle with with some of the little kids in RICK's family, and listening to every one laugh and giggle while they are getting wet.

2. Also, listening to the little kids laugh with glee when they squirt me with their water gun!

3. When RICK (my BOYFRIEND) runs his fingers through my hair when my head is on his lap.

4. Going to this pond not far from where I live to feed the ducks and hearing them quack their Thank You!

5. Waking up the next morning and seeing this written on the Dry Erase Board in our kitchen by one of my house mates : "Thanks for the spaghetti dinner last night Sam! Best ever!" And then two other house mates writing YES! underneath it!

6. Ordering some thing that comes in the mail that comes wrapped in Bubble Wrap and sitting down to pop every single last bubble! HA HA!!

7. While cuddling on the sofa watching a movie, RICK unwrapping those little Hershey Chocolate Kisses one by one and dropping them in my mouth and me watching him smile when I make those yummy moaning sounds!

8. When I was at the mall sitting down on a bench and a little kid walks over with an ice cream cone and says "Hi" and offers me a lick of his ice cream! (I smiled and thanked him but didn't take a lick. Instead I just asked him what flavor the ice cream was, and he seemed pleased I was interested in that.)

9. Lying on your back on the ground looking up at the clouds and seeing shapes that remind you of people's faces and different animals.

10. That feeling in get inside when people write some thing like, "I was smiling the whole time I was reading your post," or, "You're growing so much, Sam. Thank you for sharing your life with us. So proud of you." Those are simple words and sentences, but mean the world to me.

Would you care to share one or two 
simple things that have happened 
that mean some thing to you?

Have a great week. See you next Sunday!! 
Love & Hugs, Sam-I-AmEmoji