Thursday, April 27, 2017

I know I know You.


Brad,  I read this quote today and thought of you…

We recognize what is lovely because we have seen it somewhere else, and as we walk through the world, we are constantly on the watch for it with a kind of nostalgia, so that when we see an object or a person that pleases us, it is like recognizing an old friend; it hits us in the solar plexus, and we need no measuring or lecturing to tell us that it is indeed quite perfect. It is something we have long been looking for, something we have seen in another world, memories of how things should be.  ~“Goods of First and Second Intent,” Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9:528

You are an old friend, something I have long been looking for and have seen in another world.

Love you!

Mark

When my friend sent this to me I knew I had to blog about it.  It is a perfect discription of how I feel.

Have you ever had that feeling of meeting someone and knowing that you know them.  Feeling so comfortable that you don't have to even work on the friendship.  Instant attraction, instant friendship, with no work.  Just that comfortable feeling of knowing someone.

I love that feeling and when it happens I have learned to act.  Meaning don't let the moment pass without acting.  Over the years my best friendships have happened when I respond to that familiar comfortable nostalgic friendship feeling.

It can happen to anyone,  any age, any sex, any time.  It started with me when I was a young man.  I would meet someone and feel instantly connected.  At first I was so confused and actually thought I was weird or something.  It was unsettling to feel so strong about someone.  One of the things that was hard for me was I had never had friends when I was growing up.  I was abused so often that I closed my heart to connection.  I couldn't stand the hurt or rejection that comes with connections.

In the small town I grew up in I had those feelings of connection, but it was impossible to move forward or act on them.  When I did it turned into a painful hurtful expereince.  There was one boy my same age.  I adored him with all my heart.  He was everything I wanted to be. I tried to connect with him.  I remember how I would follow him around the playground at school.  I would even take the abuse from him because I wanted him to acknowledge me.

He would invite me to his birthday parties,  I later realized that his mother insisted.  I was a project for him.  Be nice to the Petersen boy.  So he would make the appearance of being nice in front of his mother.   I took the abuse because I was so neady for a friend.  As I moved into high school my social skills were lacking on account of my extremly low self esteem.   I had only a couple of friends and indeed they were not best friends.  When I had the opportunity to leave the small town I grew up in it was an interesting experience.  I would find I could make friends, but by the time I was comfortable and it was believable to me we would move back to the same town.  Back to the abuse from all sides.  Each year of high school we would move away for half the year and be back for the other half.  It was pure hell. A roller coster of highs and lows.  Away from the small town it was good,  I loved the experience of being liked and even admired.  But it was fleeting and never lasted long enough for me to heal my heart or to feel like a person of any value.

The only place I really found comfort was work.  I started working at 12 years old in a local coffee shop.  It was the one place where I was accepted.  The older women loved me and treated me well. At work all was good.  At home, school, church, and communtiy it was all bad.  My self esteem was horrible.

So when I felt the connection I would not act.  It was to difficult.  The fear of rejection was to great to connect.  When I finally was able to grow up and leave the community where I was raised things changed.  I started acting on the connection.  It was great.  I learned to follow the feelings.  The hard part was the overwhelming feelings of connection I felt.  It was so strong at times I really felt something must be wrong with me.  Those feelings of connection brought on guilt and shame.

Having grown up in a community where everyone assumed I was gay made it even more diffucult to trust my feelings.  I felt guilt and shame for the strong feelings I had,  especially when those feelings were for  a man.   I didn't have physical desires, but the feelings of love and connection were so strong.  I learned to follow through with the connection, but still battled over our cultural up bringing that feeling connected to someone like that was wrong.

As I have battled childhood scars and have learned to overcome years of mental abuse I have come to except and embrace those feelings of connections when they come.  I have learned to trust that inner voice and feeling when I meet someone and the voice yells out in my heart and head that this person will be a best friend.   It takes practice and pushing aside feelings of rejection.  But as I have learned to do that my life has been greatly blessed.  I have made friends with amazing people that have blessed my life.

Let me explain my core belief after experiencing this for years.   I have a strong feeling that some friendships started long before we came here.  In my faith we believe that we lived before coming here as spirit children together.  I believe we lived together for a really long time,  time enough to establish close personal friendships,  I feel that we had those that we were close with and when we meet someone here and have those strong feelings of connection, we are reconnecting.

That is my personal belief.  One that has helped me to understand the challenges I have faced and for me it has given me peace and understanding.   I have been able to move forward and develop great friendships without the worry of crossing lines or acting in an inappropriate way.  I have learned that I can love deeper and more then our culture lets us.   There are no limits on how many deep meaningful connections I can make and when I understand that I am reconnecting with perhaps old friends from another time and place it brings the friendship to a higher level of understanding and trust.   If before I came here I made promises to help and lift, why would I want to destroy the friendship by following the worlds standards on what a man to man connection should be.

I get the fact that we can love deeply,  the world would tell us that if we love deeply we should act  on it according to the standards of the world.  For example when two men love each other that deeply they should be able to express it any way they want.  From sex, to marriage, to what ever they feel is right.  I offer no judgement to those who do those things,  but for me I feel that there is no need to express that love according to the standards of the world.  I believe that men can love deeply and not cross the lines that their God, faith, or standards dictate.    There does not have to be a battle over those issues.  One can make the choice to follow God, faith, or standards and still have intense intimate close loving relationships with other men.

I know I know you,  do you remember me?


Please feel free to comment.  And share when you feel inspired or moved upon.  You can join to receive notification when a new post is posted on the side panel.  

Saturday, April 1, 2017

"Its not about who I want to be; it's about who I need to be."




"Its not about who I want to be; it's about who I need to be."

Think about that statement for a moment.  I was reading a book, actually a novel and that was a line in the novel.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  How often do I go through life thinking about what I want to be and what I want to do and what I want to accomplish.  I have come to realize that there is a far greater plan than what "I want to be".   The big picture really is about "Who I need to be."

I often ponder about having the faith to be content with what I have and constantly not be looking to the future for bigger and better.  Some times we need reminders that can take us down from our ladders of unnecessary climbing,  especially when we are climbing the wrong ladder.  That often happens to me.  I have often found myself absorbed with what I want to be and I keep pushing focused on the "me" way to much.   When that happens I find myself drowning in doubt and frustrations.

It is important to have goals and work towards things in life, but when we focus to much on the "me" we quickly lose track of the things that really matter in life.  We should have the desires for better things and we should have the drive to improve and progress.   But in all the moving forward there are a couple of things we need to remember and when I remember them life just seems to get better.

There are three things that I use to guide my life.  When I remember these three things I accomplish more and am at peace with who I am and what I am doing here.   If I focus on these three things I find a greater peace and direction in my life.

#1  God has a better plan.
This perhaps for the most part of my life has been the greatest challenge, and still is.  I have an agenda and am driven by that agenda.  I have in my mind where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go.  I was determined come hell or high water I was going to do it my way.  I was determined I knew what was best for me and I pushed and pushed to get it done.   I have to admit that I had years of frustration and anxiety over my jobs, where I lived, my career, what people thought of me, and family.   I went through financial, emotional, and spiritual disasters.  At one point after losing my business,  "my" dream,  and things that I held near and dear to me I realized that something was wrong with the picture.  I stepped back and realized that I had an agenda and was not really concerned at looking at what God had in store for me.  I was fighting against his plan for me and in the process I was unhappy.   One day,  I remember it well, I decided to step back and accept where I was and that perhaps God had a better plan for me.  My current plan was not working out to well.  My prayers became more focused on what could I do today to be where God wanted me to be.  It was amazing the changes that took place in all parts of my life.  And the amazing thing was a lot of things that I thought were important were not any more.  Things that had frustrated me in the past no longer frustrated me as much.  I actually said "Ok God,  My plan is not working to well,  what is your plan for me".   I stepped back and watched as he revealed his plan for me.   For me I decided that he sees so much more and knows what I need and where I need to be to serve his purposes.   I still have desires for greater things, but I am learning to just move forward and trust in a far greater plan and trust that God will lead me and inspire me to be where I need to be.  Life is richer and better.  Still filled with frustrations and hard things, but when I feel those I just remind myself who really is in control, and it's not me.

#2  Take the time to edify others.
After realizing that God has a better plan of me the next important thing I learned was our purpose in life is to edify those around us.  This is perhaps the most important part about "It's not about who I want to be, but who I need to be".  In the who I want to be part of life we are focused on the "me".  In all we do we are thinking about ourselves and for me I found when I am only focused on my needs they are not met and I am unhappy.  Constantly looking for something that I can never find.  Amazingly enough when we can learn to focus on others our lives become more complete.  A great part of Gods plan for us is to learn to serve others and edify those that come into our paths.  I have found when I am the most discouraged and unhappy,  when depression and frustration overcome me, if I start focusing on others life returns to normal and the experience is sweeter.  I believe to become all we are supposed to be can only happen as we learn to edify and serve others in a greater capacity.  When we lose our life, we find it.  When we learn to edify we others we are edified and we can start to see clearly who we need to be.

#3  Live in the moment 
The past is the past, we cannot to anything about tomorrow,  in fact tomorrow might not even come.  Today is the most important part of our lives.  What can I do to day.  This goes perfect with numbers 1 and 2.  God, what can I do today to make a difference.   Guide me today to the things that matter most and will be of greater value to me in my journey.   Who can I edify today.  Who needs me today.  Who can I lift, love, inspire, and bless today.   See the power in that.   Today matters the most.  I can live his plan for the day,  I can bless someone today.   When I live in the moment,  and make sure I am making the most of the day today things just seem to fall into place.  Tomorrow doesn't matter as much and I am able to let go of yesterday.   Often we carry the shame and frustrations of yesterday and don't allow the possibilities of tomorrow to happen because we don't live today.


Life is an amazing journey.  Life is a hard journey.  I am constantly battling, as most of us are, but in the midst of the battle I find comfort in knowing God has a perfect plan for me and as I edify and look to bless the lives of those around me I learn to live in the moment and enjoy the journey.

Greatest success to you as you trust in the plan, edify others, and live each day to the best of your ability.

Brad




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mankind Project~Fact or Fiction



As some of you might know,  I am involved in the Mankind Project.  I occasionally hear things about the Mankind Project from others.  Most of the comments are great, but there are as in all things that occasional remark or comment that is negative in nature.  Most often they come from those who have no clue what they are talking about and indeed have never attended one of the weekends.

In the spring of 2016 I actually attended my first weekend experience.   They call the weekend experience "The New Warrior Training Adventure".  To tell the truth I was filled with fear and a lot of anxiety over the what would happen.  Especially with the word warrior.  That word alone worried me.  I am not that ruff macho competitive type man and I really worried about failing and making a fool of myself in front of everyone.   For good reasons they tend to be closed mouth about what actually goes on during the weekend so as an initiate I really had no clue what to expect, and in truth even if I were told everything it would not have prepared me for the experience I had.

The weekend starts on Friday night and goes to Sunday afternoon. It is 48 hours of amazing transformation.  Each and every moment is used to help one grow up and understand his role as a man in our society.   I have to say it was hard, the truth is hard things help us grow and come to understand who we really are.

I am a man of faith and have practiced my faith for years.  Some have the concern that MKP is a substitute for faith.  That it is or could be a replacement for my faith.  In all truth MKP serves to strengthen any man in what ever faith he practises.  MKP has helped me appreciate my faith in ways that I did not understand and in the process I have a greater faith and closer relationship with my God.  Each man is on a different path and MKP teaches men to be the best in their family, community, faith, career, and circle of friends and be the best in their path whatever it might be.

It is coming up on one year since I went on my first MKP experience.  It has been one of the best years of my life.  MKP has helped me face my greatest fears.  MKP has helped me to see my value more and helped me to see what I have to add and give to my community.

I have to say the greatest thing I have gained from my MKP experience is a greater sense of community with men.  I have learned that most men, no matter where they are in the journey seek and want deeper friendships with other men. Not just the pat on the back how's the weather, but deeper meaningful transparent friendships that actually push you to become a better man.  Friendships that hold you accountable for who you are and what you can become.  In the past year I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the best men I have ever known.  I love that these men are not afraid to tell help me to be better and it is not done in a judgmental way or in any way to make me feel shame.   My friendship with these men has deepened my life experience in so many ways, from learning how to be a better friend to accepting who I am and for the first time understanding my role as a man in the community, my family, and faith.

I personally think that the Mankind Project has something to offer everyman.  I heard once that the mission of MKP is to help men grow up.  I agree.  It has a way of helping men see who they really are and tapping into that potential.   It helps marriages, family relationships, work, play, and most important it does help men grow up.

Most men I have learned are struggling with something in their lives.  It can range from addictions to relationships,  from shame to pride.  A lot of men struggle with developing and keeping friendships that are meaningful.  No matter where we are on the path, men need help from other men to move forward and progress.  Some have their faiths, good marriages, strong families, and other support in their lives.  But no matter where you are on the journey, MKP can add to and enhance your experience like nothing else.

As I have said,  I am a man of faith.  I love my faith and am devoted to it.  My experience this past year has deepened my faith and has added to what I have already enjoyed.  In fact I have learned to appreciate and enjoy what I had already in a deeper sense.  I feel that my experience with MKP has been one of the greatest blessings I have had.

I encourage all men to take a look at MKP.  If you are looking for a place to belong and grow  and become better, MKP is just the place for you.  My life is richer and I am enjoying sharing the journey with brothers from all faiths, races, and places in life.   My heart and soul has been opened to what my responsible as a man is and just how sweet the journey can be when we surround ourselves with like minded men.

I hope to see you sometime on a weekend.

Brad

PS.  If you want to learn more about Mankind Project go to www.mkp.org or you can contact me at www.chefbrad.com

PSS.  They have New Warrior Training Adventures all over the country.  The next one I am staffing at is in Prescott Arizona in May 2017   I invite to you take a look and perhaps join me on the weekend.  We are accepting applications now.  Hurry,  only 32 men are allowed to attend this one. You can see the schedule of events at www.mkp.org    See you there.









Monday, February 13, 2017

Am I Doing All I Can~Finding Peace






Recently as I have been studying the promise of having the Peace that the Savior gives.  This thought has come up time and time again lately, from listening to others to pondering my life I have given a lot of thought to Peace.    I have to say that often I struggle with having Peace in my life.  I struggle with not feeling that peace as much as I would like and often I am left wondering if I am doing all I can to obtain that peace that comes from being a follower of Christ.  Life has many challenges and as I face them I look for peace and perhaps I don't understand it well, but for me often times it seems fleeting.   There are those moments when I feel peace,  but underlying the peace I feel is most often followed by a feeling of frustration and anxiety over life and what is ahead.

I have friends of many faiths and I think it is a universal struggle with most of us to do all we can to have that peace, but for some reason it is not always there and is seems hard to find.  How do I know if I am doing all I can, especially when I feel I am, and my life is still devoid of peace?  Does peace only come when I have perfected my obedience and faith?

For me it seems that in our perfection driven society often times I am  lead to believe that until I reach perfection peace will not come.  So I beat myself up and pretend I am good, putting on my smiley face and going about pretending the world is great when in reality it's seems to be crumbling at my feet.

For me  each day begins when I wake up with feelings of defeat.  I have struggled with this my entire life and have come to understand that it will most likely will be part of my life until the end.  I understand part of this comes from still struggling with childhood abuse and the other part comes from living in a society and church culture that demands perfection and expects it.  That leaves me feeling inadequate and venerable to the challenges ahead.  With family, work, church, and all in-between I struggle to find peace and direction in what lies ahead.

One of my Favorite sayings is "Trust in the Lord in all Things".  I love that saying but have discovered it's so easy to say and actually one of the hardest things in life to do.  Trust that even though my life is not where I want it to be it's ok?  Trust that I am serving where I am supposed to be?  Trust that after all that I have done my children will be ok?  Trust that choices I make daily to do the right is the right thing to do?   Trust that I am where I should be in my career?  Trust that if I keep working on it my marriage will just get better?  Trust that I will have employment tomorrow? Trust that daily choices are the right ones?

In every single part of my life I have to trust and the biggest one is "Trust that I am Doing All I Can". Meaning to me am I doing my part so I can trust in the Lord In all Things.  Am I worthy to trust in him,  am I worthy enough to receive his guidance and direction in my life?   Am I worthy enough to find the PEACE that comes from trusting in Him?

In a recent book I was have been reading I read a line that struck me to the core.  Elder Bednar, an apostle in the LDS faith asked a question of someone he was interviewing who was looking to be healed from a sickness.  He asked "do you have the faith not to be healed"?  Wow it hit me.  The question that come to my mind was "Do I have the faith to be happy where I am right now"?  Knowing I am doing all I can.   I am far from perfect, but I am anxiously engaged in trying to be better.  I realized that is all that is required.  Hope turns to faith and faith brings peace.  

I have found greater peace as I realize perfection is not required to received peace.  We hope for it, move forward with faith believing and in measure peace comes into our hearts.  Yes it's fleeting at times, but it does come and as we cling to the fleeting moments of clarity and peace we can move forward and overcome lives obstacles.

Am I where I want to be right now in any area of my life?  Not exactly, but after much thought I have decided for some reason I am where I am supposed to be.  I don't get it often, but one thing for certain is that there is a God and he does have a perfect plan for each of us and as we trust,  sometimes thats just putting one foot in front of the next, and move forward peace does come and understanding will feel our hearts.  And we will come to know through our trials and struggles that there is a Savior that has carried us and will carry us.

Am I Doing All I Can?  Probably not, but I am doing the best I can and each day I will try to be better.  Hoping, moving forward with faith that peace will come.  Life is a journey, a hard one, but we have each other to lift and help.  We are not alone in the process of becoming better and even when peace is fleeting we have hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Have a great day filled with Peace and Joy
Brad


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Fear of Asking




We have all been there, wanting something but afraid of asking for fear of rejection or shame.  The shame comes from what we are asking for.  In our minds we feel stupid to have to ask, yet unless we ask the need or want goes without being met.  What we are asking for can be as simple as being heard,  being seen, talking, physical contact, validation, or a number of things we might need in our own personal lives.

The funny things is that those things we are needing and wanting are the same needs and wants of those around us.  I have learned, much to my surprise, that most of us are pretty much alike and desire the same things.  Often times we feel isolated from others feeling that we are weird and strange for the things we want.  And most often others are struggling with the same needs and wants and the same fear of asking.

I hear men often complain about not having that close connection with other men or people in general.  I hear often of men that just ache to be hugged and held once in awhile,  yet go through life aching and feeling miserable that the need is not being met.  Not only men, but women struggle from the same thing.  Lack of connection in life brought on by a multiplicity of fears.

Since this blog is about men,  I will direct my thoughts to men and the needs that men have, although is also applies to women.  Women do tend to have an easier time asking but not always.  I have discovered much to my amazement that pretty much all men want to connect in a deeper way with other men.  Men that struggle with SSA or SGA often think they are alone in the need to connect with other men.  The reason I bring this up is that most men want and crave a deeper connection with other men, beyond the casual pat on the back or how is the weather.   Perhaps not in exactly the same way, but I have a feeling that if truth were to be know that if one man approached another man that is a good friend and expressed the need it would be met.  There might be some discomfort to start, but I have found that it can happen and will if we take the step to ask.

Asking can be hard.  I will be transparent here for a moment.  I love hugs.  Even more than hugs I enjoy being held once in a while by a man.  Many say that it means someone is GAY, but I disagree.  I was raised in a home where there was absolutely no man to man contact.  I ached to be hugged by my dad.  I have a deep need to feel that connection with men.  I have many friends and have shared that with them and to my surprise I can get a good hug from most of them.

I hurts my heart so hear of men that have a need to connect in any way and it cannot be met.  It also brightens my day when I hear stories of  men that step outside of their comfort zone to feel the need of a friend in need or of a man that stepped outside his comfort zone and asked for what he needs.  I have heard stories of men that have asked and because of asking have had wonderful experiences in being blessed by other men.   A couple of my friends that really struggle with the need to be hugged actually have Bishops that will take the time to hug them and on occasion hold them.  Now that is the standard worth looking at.

We have to get over the homophobic and sexualized fear of touch, hugging, and holding.  Just because you might not understand the need of someone else, be careful how to judge and look at that person.  Just because a man wants to be held does not mean it is geared around sexual desires or thoughts.

As is have stated before,  I grew up in a home where it was devoid of touch.  I never really had  friends in school and the touch I did get was from being beat up or abused.  I craved the need to be hugged, held, and touched by others.   I am a touchy feely person and it was really hard not to be able to express myself in that way.    Now as a grown man I enjoy hugging and yes I will admit that I have held hands with friends.  Don't be shocked,  there was nothing sexual or inappropriate in the action, just a comfort level of being with someone I enjoy being with and a deeper sense of connection.

I also enjoy hugging men and being held.  It can be very healing and comforting to feel the strength of a good friend with his arms around me.

It did not just happen for me to get to the level where I am now.  It came from me learning how to ask and get over the fear of rejection.  Yes there have been uncomfortable experiences.  One in particular was a home teacher we had years ago.  He was visiting us and mentioned how men just don't hug men.  My wife was worried at that point.  She said she was thinking, "does he realize who he is talking to".    He got up to leave and I stood up and walked up to him and threw my arms around him and hugged him.  He immediately froze and stiffened and literally clinched his fist.  I really thought I had gone to far that time.  It took a moment, actually a few until he softened and said "I guess it's ok coming from you."  I am happy to report that to this day he not only hugs me, his hugs are embraces.   Sometime we just need to act and teach.   I think he was my home teacher to learn that from me.  I certainly learned a lot from him over the years and love him like a brother.

Asking is hard, but take in consideration that what you are asking for the other person wants or even needs, even if they don't know it.   We are all on the same journey in life.  Trying to fit in and be happy.  I have learned that the things I struggle with most often are the same exact things the person next to me is struggling with.  As we learn to be open and transparent  with others we not only get our needs fulfilled, but in the process we fill the needs of those around us.

My hope is that we can be more open to the needs of those around us and  be more open to asking what someone needs and not being afraid of filling the need, even when it is outside of our comfort zone.  It works both ways.   Those needing need to ask and those being asked need be sensitive to the needs of those asking.   And often times we really don't need to wait to be asked.  Ask first is there is anything as a friend we can do.   We can work on creating open transparent understanding relationships between each other and as we do this the fear of asking can dissolve into understanding and joy.


This blog has been a blessing and a trial.  It's hard to be transparent in our culture.  We get judged harshly and without understanding.  From my experiences I have learned to be more understanding and less judgmental.  My heart goes out to so many who struggle and it's my constant prayer that perhaps what I write will bless just one person.  
Feel free to comment below.  Sign up on the side bar and you will get automatic notices when I post a new blog.  Thank you for reading, understanding, and sharing.   And please feel free to share with others.  You never know who just might need encouragement.   Brad