awareness, challenges

Jail Time Revisited

Recently I had the opportunity to experience a county jail with an added twist. I’ve written about visiting the jail before as a contractor recounting an inside view. I visited the exterior as part of a jail run a few years back that included running the officer obstacle training course (so much fun) and the campus which bordered the barbed wire fences and guard towers. Both experiences were memorable and offered different views of the same place.

Over the past week I had yet another view. An unexpected view. I needed to try to visit an inmate. What started out as a simple endeavor ended up extremely complex. So many things I didn’t know, didn’t expect or just couldn’t wrap my arms around.
The first big blow is no in-person visitors which is the exact opposite of the county website, which states visitation Mon-Fri and Sat/Sun for under 18. I guess they are still under COVID protocols even though most other places are not. This was funny in itself as you don’t  need a mask to enter the jail but you can’t visit. The next option is a fee-based video visit, but figuring this option out almost requires an IT degree and a lot of patience.

That’s right. Get the app. Download the app. Set up a user ID. Add funds. Upload identification documents to prove who you are. Now wait. Wait until somebody in an office somewhere approves you. This took three days in my case. Once you have access, you can schedule a call. I almost forgot you need to deposit more money for the call and pay more service fees. Just when you think you are at the finish line you have to be patient again. It seems the schedule is not the same day. That means you wait longer and the person inside has no idea how hard you are trying to make contact. Big sigh.

What’s the other option? Send a letter. I was told happy mail is very uplifting. Okay, what’s the address? Well the address you mail to is far away. It has to be sorted to make sure there is no contraband. Well over the holiday, mail delays, etc. would lead me to believe this would be another dead end.

How about a phone call? Can the person make a call? Only if they have money they tell me. How do they get money? Glad you asked. There is a jail ATM. Never seen one of those before. You have to upload your picture, your social security number, address and so much more. Then you can pay money and exorbitant fees. Again, it’s not instant. It takes a day to process and the funds need to be deposited by 8am. That means if you put money in the ATM on Sunday at 4pm the inmate won’t see it until Tuesday after 8am. Delays galore.

Four days it takes to get any form of contact. This provides so much insight into what folks deal with when they are immersed in the jail system. I can’t even imagine if my parent was in jail, how a young adult could handle all the chaos associated with saying hi to somebody who probably needs some extra support during their incarceration.
This experience has taught me I for sure don’t ever want to spend time in jail. I also don’t want to have to visit anyone I know in jail. I like my freedom too much. I like to choose what I do and when I do it. I thought visiting somebody in an assisted living facility was hard in the heart of the pandemic however I would definitely say visiting a jail is 1000x harder current day. 

With mental health issues challenging society today, it is bothersome to me that inmates lose not only their freedom but their ability to get compassionate care. I define compassion to include communication with willing visitors vs. starving them of hope and friendly faces.

in summary, I’d always tell somebody think carefully about actions or inactions that can land one in jail. It’s not a place I’d recommend at all.

challenges

Decisions, Decisions

This year end has me faced with many decisions. Many things I really don’t want to deal with but have to because I’m a responsible adult.

Decision one involves updating the will and other legal documents for the family. I’m pretty sure this was on a to-do list before the pandemic so scratching it off the list is a good accomplishment. However the process of it is still a bit morbid as you are planning for what happens after you are gone and I’m not really ready to go anywhere so to speak. Just all around blah but a necessary step.

Round two gets more complicated. Of course anything involving people can be messy. Add negative environmental conditions and the plot thickens. I need to define my parameters for supporting a person rebuilding their life. I know what I should do but then emotions come in to play. I also can’t ignore the background noise of those who cast opinions on me.  It’s almost seems like I’m doomed no matter which path or decision I make on this one which is probably why I don’t want to deal with it! I also want to not look like an ATM machine while feeling like a doormat.

Next up is the birthday bash plan. Do I stay local? Do go regionally? Do I head off into the sunset for a grand adventure? I’ve been on the road a lot making travel seem meh at best but it’s a milestone birthday which has me leaning towards go big. Decisions. Decisions. I have just a short window to decide and I don’t want to rush my thoughts on this one. 

I also have many little decisions to make as well. Each decision is small in size yet intertwined with other little tidbits of life magnifying the complexity of the choice. My head is like a flowchart, decision tree, or maze thinking about the impact of each decision. I know I’m not alone in this arena but decisions are on my mind thus I wrote about the topic.

Hoping you had a great holiday season no matter how you chose to celebrate. Keeping it real in 2022 on this blog.

challenges, perspective

A Life Cut Short

Recently, someone in my daughter’s close friend group experienced a great loss. A tragic accident. A death, completely unexpected. Not his fault. A shock out of the blue.

I had met this young man a couple of times. I have photos of him, since he was in the group for my daughter’s high school dances. I had been introduced to him once. Still, such a sudden loss makes every parent in the community shudder.

My kids laugh at them when I tell them to be safe. Don’t drink (and if you do, don’t drive). Don’t do drugs. Stay alert. Make good choices. Check in when you get there. Leave early. Slow down. Assume everyone else is drunk or not paying attention. This young man probably followed every single one of these rules and still, he is gone.

In most cases, you may not know the last words you’ll say to a person. A loved one. A friend. Every time they leave you, every time you hang up, every time you text it could be the last time. Stop and think of the people who mean the most to you. How have you left it with them? Yes, right now. Today. Sure, saying “I love you” to a friend all the time may seem foolish. Maybe you just aren’t that way. But how can you leave things so that you’d be content with those being your last words with them? Think about it. Do they know how you feel? Do they know what they mean to you?

Memento Mori. One of the tenets of stoicism. Remember your death. To some this might seem morbid. Too heavy. Honestly, it is useful for me. It means pay attention to what matters. Keep your shit in order. Don’t drown in the trifling details. Don’t waste time on petty arguments or people who are just not meant for you. Invest in what is meaningful. All you have is now. Don’t waste it.

I watched the beautiful slide show for this 20 year old young man. I saw his smiles. His family vacations. Trips to the university his family loved. The dinners with friends. The light in his eyes when he looked at my daughter’s friend. I wept for him and what everyone who loved him lost. All the dreams that would go unfulfilled. The awful anniversaries that would come over and over and over again. I wept for the life cut short.

Do the important things now. Make a list. Start checking it off. Do them with the people who matter to you. Time is ticking and we don’t get it back. Not fun to think about. But let that motivate you to embrace life NOW. Not next year. Not when you have more time. NOW. Live big. Love well. Embrace life.

Now.

challenges, change

Letting Go

It’s hard to let go of something or someone you have invested so much time, money, mental energy on. A job. A significant other. A sport. A car. A pet. A treasured keepsake.

Unfortunately we all have to let go of people, things or even places for one reason or another. It can be hard. It will be hard. It is hard. Time doesn’t stop but healing of sorts begins. When you let go, there is a release. A release of pain, tears, anger amongst other emotions or feelings.

I am in a letting go phase of sorts. Letting go of things I don’t control. Letting go of things that consume my mental energy. Letting go of stress. Letting go of people who suck the joy out of me. Letting go of places with not so good memories.

Letting go is part of life. Writing for me helps with the letting go process. Sometimes it’s a journal entry. Sometimes it’s a calendar note. It could even be a blog post or a book chapter. As 2022 approaches I am focusing on mindset challenges in blocks of time in which I measure my progress. Some examples are below:

100 days of fitness

50 days of meditation 

25 days of travel

25 days of positive praise

22 days of generosity 

Now I haven’t decided if I am taking up all 365 days or if I’m putting a 2022 spin on my number or if I’m choosing the number 50 as that’s how old I will be in 2022. Or maybe I will do some combination thereof.

Either way I am focusing on me. My progress. My ability to tune out the people, the places, the obstacles of life that are weighing me down or stealing my joy. I’m letting go or cleansing in 2022.

challenges

Problem Solving

Scenario 1: it’s 7am. You have an hour drive. You need to be on time for practice. You realize your bag is in your friend’s car. No time to retrieve it. Nobody is awake. Your team is expecting you.

Do you panic?

Do you curl up in a ball and cry?

Do you go back to sleep and say fuck it?

Do you expect somebody to resolve the conflict for you?

None of these options actually solve the problem. They just allow for self pity and postponement of the let down.

Scenario 2: It’s Sunday. You have the house to yourself. Football is on the TV. You have a chores list to do. You need to meal prep for the week and do the laundry.  You might even need to pay some bills or do some paperwork.

Do you lounge around all day?

Do you try to manage a little fun with your chores?

Do you do anything or just let the TV suck you in?

Do you expect others to pick up your slack when they return? What would you expect if your responsibility was to do the above? In today’s world many expect others to do for them. An entitlement of sorts.

What these folks don’t see is their inability to self motivate. The personal drive or push it takes when things are hard. Only a strong mind is capable of such. The weaker crumble. 

Do you see yourself as capable of self motivation? How do you manage your mind?

Scenario 3: You have a softball game midweek (Wednesday).

You have a work product due Thursday.

You have a formal event Friday and a party Saturday. A full schedule except Monday and Tuesday. A busy week. No time for error.

Do you screw around Monday and Tuesday because nothing is on your schedule?

Do you not turn in work project because you stayed out too late at softball?

Do you lack the foresight to plan ahead?

Can you see consequences down the road for poor planning?

I can see all of the bad that can happen in the scenarios above. I can see the shit storm ahead of time. Some can’t. Some live for today and seriously lack foresight. Those same people tend to lack problem solving skills which create an irony. 

I can avoid issues because I have foresight. I can also problem solve in a pinch. This seems to be both a blessing and a curse as some days I wish I had no accountability.
Those who struggle with foresight normally end up in sticky situations. A need for problem solving is right in front of them. It’s almost like a mountain of poop. A mountain one just stares at. Should I start scooping the poop? Can I even get to the end of the pile? Should I even try? If one can’t see the finish line it’s hard to muster up the courage and strength to push forward. The finish line is the reward. The triumph.

I just spring into action to resolve conflicts in my path. Those who struggle in this area hide or hit pause. They can’t leap forward without guidance or if they do move it’s normally in the wrong direction.

Is this genetics?

Is it laziness?

Is it the person has been spoiled and lacks independence?

I see the lack of foresight on the home front, the work front, the consulting front. It’s never ending. I often think of the root issues but in the end I just move on because one can never change another but one can lead by example. 

I always hope my lead inspires others. Maybe not everyone but some. For today I end this thought post with one word: goals.

I’ve never met a person with a goal of being lazy.

I’ve never met a person who who had a goal to intentionally let others down.

For those reasons I say some may need help with problem solving. If you have the skill set to help others see the finish line, show them the way. They might need to feel that success to move past the fear of rejection, failure, disappointment or whatever is stopping one from seeing the bright light of the finish line.

Remember a goal for this post is to help others get to their finish line. Help another solve their insoluble problem.