Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The need for self-compassion

I've always tended to be a self-centered person. In truth, I think all humans are self-centered to some degree. I mean, some sort of self-awareness is crucial to survival, but I'm talking more about the putting one's own needs--emotionally, physically--before the needs of others on a regular basis.

The problem I've found with my own focus is that I'm more keenly aware of my faults and shortcomings than I am with those things I do well. Self-centeredness that looks only for what's wrong is not a good thing. It's caused me to be negative, critical, judgmental and pessimistic. It really is a self-defeating mode of operation. It causes me to sabotage myself, my relationships and my goals.

I've worked on having a more positive attitude, but it takes real effort. As my partner of 19 years once pointed out, "You wake up in the morning just waiting for something to make you happy." She was right. I was a grumpy person first thing in the morning, especially before coffee, and if nothing good or promising presented itself, I kinda stayed that way throughout the day. So I attempted to change that by waking up in the morning with a thankful attitude. It worked occassionally well, but didn't really get to the heart of the matter.

As a critical, self-centered person, I needed to become more mindful of the way I speak to myself. That only became evident when I picked up a book at the library, titled "tthe mindful path to self-compassion," written by Dr. Christopher K. Germer. He explains that our self-speak should be just as compassionate as it would be for anyone else who is hurting, struggling or deflated.

What a concept! Show myself the same compassion as I would show unto others.

I had never considered it. But it makes perfect sense. When I was most down on myself, I'd usually turn to others for compassion and a "pep talk." It only dawned on me after reading the introduction and opening chapter of the book that I could be doing this for myself. Instead of judging, criticizing or chastising myself, I could be more affirming, affectionate and kind. And instead of beating myself up all the time, I could show more grace and love.

To some, this may seem like a no-brainer, but for the self-defeating pessimist, this is a real eye-opener.

My aunt, a therapist, has spoken to me before about mindfulness and I've put it into practice on occasion. It usually involves me taking in my surroundings, appreciating the beauty of the environment and living totally in the moment. In the book, Dr. Germer gives some exercises in mindful meditation that take it even further. His meditative practices encourage you to focus on your senses, your physical and emotional responses to your environment.

I haven't taken all of that to heart nor put it into practice, yet. The idea of meditation is still somewhat foreign to me. I have a hard time shutting off my brain to the multitude of distractions that lie in my subconscious, but I do see the benefits to it.

Still, the mere concept of self-compassion has me rethinking how I deal with myself. I know that I can be kinder and gentler to myself. As a life-long, worst critic, I believe that I can change that and become my biggest fan. It will take a lot of effort, but I am committed to living the second act of my life differently than the first. The first step in that direction is self-compassion.

Am I self-centered? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No, not necessarily. The important lesson I'm learning is how to speak to myself with more love, understanding and compassion. And I do believe that this, in turn, will help me to love and understand others better, as well.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Comfort Music

Sitting in a quiet cafe this morning, nearly lulled to sleep by the hum of the overhead flourescent lights, I put in a 70's music CD I had made several years ago. The soft rock music instantly changed the atmosphere in the cafe and improved my mood, wiping away the cobwebs from my mind. It dawned on me that this music from my childhood is as good as comfort food. Hence, I donned the term "comfort music."

Just like it's edible counterpart, the style of music depends on the individual. For me, it is the music that played on the car stereo, the transistor radio/Walkman or the intercomm system at our house while I was growing up. Yes, our house had a built-in intercomm system with an AM/FM radio tuner that we managed to break the first or second year we lived there. Still, that music, which ran the gamut from Motown to Folk to Rock, that provided the soundtrack to my adolescence is what I would call my "comfort music."

This morning it was "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Croft, "Listen To What The Man Says" by McCartney and "Old Days" by Chicago, just to name a few. Like I said, it was a homemade CD of 70's tunes that I either plucked from another CD of mine or from an MP3 download site. It is full of tunes, like the ones mentioned above, that take me back in time and make me feel at home. When played on a great sound system, they wrap me up like a warm, wooly blanket on a cold Indiana day. Some of them remind me of childhood trips to our cabin in Sullivan, IN. Others remind me of driving through downtown Indy on the way to Pee-Wee Football practice at Riverside Park, or through Broad Ripple and past the mansions on Meridian Street. Those are great memories and the radio hits of the 70's were my personal soundtrack.

Okay, before I start to sound like a late night Time-Life Music Collection infomercial, let me switch gears. I also love Smooth Jazz. That upbeat, modern "elevator music" serves as a great backdrop to any number of things from chores to making babies (not that I've ever actually helped in making one). The syncopated and groovy rhythms sometimes get me motivated or make me want to jump behind a drum kit. But when I'm really looking for inspiration, to do chores, projects or workout (not that I work out that often), I switch into what I call 99X gear, mixing up classic rock from the 70's-90's with some edgier, newer alternative rock. See, I'm a complex music lover. But back to my point, and the informercial, I find comfort in the music of my youth. Back in my days of innocence, it was Paul McCartney and Wings, Stevie Wonder. the Doobie Brothers and James Taylor who provided the soundtrack. I think what that music does today, besides transport me back in time, it reminds me of when life was a lot less complicated and anxiety-ridden. That's why I call it "comfort music."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Toy Drive Article and My Memory

Call it old age, fading memory, failing synapses...I don't know why, but I have been absent minded lately. My friend, Janine, calls me forgetful because I only retain bits and pieces of her stories. Well, I haven't posted any of my news articles lately because I haven't had access to a scanner. DUH! I could have been taking photos, like the one below, the whole time. Now, I have quite a backlog to post. I'll get right on that (note my sarcasm)!

Pertaining to the news article, below, that appeared in today's Island Sand Paper, my father recently attended his high school reunion, where he learned that one of his classmates co-owns The Beach Pub right here on Fort Myers Beach. Talk about your small world coincidences. My father grew up in a small town that is just a spot on Old U.S. 41 in Southwest Indiana. His classmate, Tim Miller, is mentioned in the article. I interviewed co-owner Lou Caleca for the article, never remembering that Miller was Dad's classmate until my father called and reminded me Wednesday night, mere hours after the article had been submitted to my editor.

I'm such a dolt sometimes! Anyway, you can click on the image below to get a full-sized version of the article to read. I hope to get down to The Beach Pub this weekend to introduce myself to Mr. Miller...if I don't forget all about it before then.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Positivity, please.

Been awhile. Been busy...preoccupied. Have been journaling regularly and thought I'd share a portion of today's entry. I was taking some personal inventory and here is what I expressed:

...one thing of which I'm certain, my attitude helps shape my destiny. Positive thoughts always seem to breed positivity...attracts it even. I am determined to control my attitude and conquer the negativity to which I am prone and which dominated a large part of my life.

I've seen Joel Osteen on the morning shows and news programs promoting his new book, and while I don't subscribe to Osteen or his brand of religion, I do have to agree that affirming words help to shape our outlook on ourselves and life, in general. If we want to set a course for success, we definitely need to steer clear of negativity and affirm ourselves at every chance we get. Osteen offers 31 affirming words, one for every day of the month, and while they are probably laced with fundamental Christian ideas, it is the principle of affirming oneself with which I am aligning myself.

So today, I declare that I am a good person. Intrinsically, I want what's best for myself and for others. I seek out goodness for my life and I deserve good things to happen to me.

I am an honest person. I've been accused by others of being too nice and too honest. Well, I make no apologies, as those are character traits of which I am proud. I strive for honesty and despise deceit. I don't want to be lied to or about. I deserve honesty. I will continue to be an honest person and strive for truth. I will not hide behind falseness, lies and half-truths.

I will also strive for positivity. Positive thoughts are going to dominate me today.

Peace, love and happiness to you.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Stellar people, great friends

Okay, so my blog sat dormant for the majority of the summer. Part of the reason was personal and the other part was not having access to a scanner to keep my news articles posted. So here we are, approaching middle August and I feel the need to post something positive about two of the people in my life.

Here is a photo of their awesome family from about two years ago...

Shawn and Sherri Critser live on Fort Myers Beach and pastor the First Baptist Church--www.beachbaptist.org. They moved here from Henderson, Kentucky, near the area of Indiana where I was born and where my roots are. Needless to say, we hit it off right away.

I met their two daughters, first, at soccer practice at Bay Oaks Recreation Campus last August, nearly a year ago to the date. Their youngest played on my youngest daughter's team and their oldest daughter was goalie extrordinaire for my oldest daughter's soccer team. It wasn't until the season actually started that I met their family and all of the folks they usually brought with them.

To say that Shawn and Sherri are very vocal at sporting events, especially when their children are participating, is a HUGE understatement. It drew me to them right away. I tend to get very loud in support of my girls, as well. When I found out they were "old home folks," I immediately bonded with them and felt like family. It took some time for us to find space to interact and build on that "I've known you my whole life" kinda feeling, but it eventually worked out.

Now, I find myself living on their property in an RV they are letting me use...because they are just that kind of people--loving, kind, considerate and compassionate folks (though don't tell Shawn he's compassionate)!

To give an example of what I'm talking about, I asked Sherri if I could wash my first load of laundry in her house. She's basically said what is theirs is mine and to help myself to anything. Well, she not only said that I could, she offered to wash and fold my clothes for me. In fact, she insisted on it. That's the kind of friend you want in your life.

Beyond that, they have shown their true colors to me in many other ways. They are what I would call authentic people--genuine, forthright and honest--and "true" Christians. They have loved and supported me through the most difficult summer of my life, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. Nor would I trade Friday breakfasts with Shawn at the Heavenly Biscuit for all the money in the world.

I adore their children, their extended family and the good-hearted people at their church. It's been a pleasure getting to know them and become part of that circle of trust (i.e. their wolfpack of many). Well, that's all I had to say. It's good to have friends like that in your life.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Man I'll Never Be

This song has always resonated with me...the lyrics, the melancholy in brad's voice that must have come from that deep, dark place where his demons were hidden...it's a shame that he's gone, but his memory lives on.

(Lyrics written by Tom Scholz)

If I said what's on my mind
You'd turn and walk away
Disappearing way back in your dreams
It's so hard to be unkind
So easy just to say
That everything is just the way it seems

You look up at me
And somewhere in your mind you see
A man I'll never be

If only I could find a way
I'd feel like I'm the man you believe I am
It's getting harder every day for me
To hide behind this dream you see
A man I'll never be

I can't get any stronger
I can't climb any higher
You'll never know just how hard I've tried
Cry a little longer
And hold a little tighter
Emotions can't be satisfied

You look up at me
And somewhere in your mind you still see
A man I'll never be

If only I could find a way
I'd feel like I'm the man you believe I am
And it gets harder every day for me
To hide behind this dream you see.........

I can't get any stronger
I can't climb any higher
You'll never know just how hard I've tried
Cry a little longer
And hold a little tighter
Emotions can't be satisfied

You look up at me
And somewhere in your mind you still see
A man I'll never be

If only I could find a way
I'd feel like I'm the man you believe I am
And it gets harder every day for me
I can't keep hidin this feeling

Thank you Tom Scholz for the great melody and rhyme, but thank you Brad Delp for pouring your heart and soul into the vocal performance! I feel you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Game, Set, Match!

Here is my latest article from the May18th Island Sand Paper...it is about the Beach Volleyball League...happy reading!!!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Beach PTO Teeing off for Education


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Loving the homeless

I just read an article about a homeless Naples man who was arrested on FELONY charges for "stealing" a cup of soda at a local McDonald's. REALLY??? This only highlights a growing trend of calousness towards the homeless here in Southwest Florida. I guess we've just gotten a little too hoity-toity down here with our gated communities sheltering us from the real world "out there."

Currently, there is a group of citizens in Bonita Springs who are fighting a homeless shelter that they don't want "in their backyard."

The Lee County Sheriff's Deputies are consistently harassing and tracking drifters on Fort Myers Beach. In fact, I was visiting a restaurant the other day (which shall remain nameless) and while I was visiting with the owner, a homeless drifter came up and asked to use the bathroom. Apparently, he did this every week and the owner didn't mind. But a deputy who'd been following the man approached us and asked the owner if he could arrest the drifter for trespassing. The owner said no and that he had no desire to press charges. After a little persuasion, the owner acquiesced and the homeless man was taken out to a waiting patrol car. One of the wait staff informed me that the owner was "too nice" and would never turn the guy away. All he wanted to do was clean up a bit, as he had spent the previous night on the beach.

Need I remind people that it is our job, as human beings, part of a global community of love, to help our fellow humankind? It's really not that difficult to give a guy your hand and help him to his feet, nor even to wash them.

Copyright All rights reserved by Kevin D. Hendricks

Monday, April 23, 2012

Here is my article on Earth Day activities from the Friday, April 20th, edition of the Island Sand Paper...


Monday, April 16, 2012

Drinking on Fort Myers Beach

After attending my second Town Hall Meeting on Fort Myers Beach, I just have to vent. There's an issue before our Town Council that has every tea-toteler and prude on the island up in arms. They are perplexed why our municipal government would even CONSIDER allowing beach businesses to expand the sale and consumption of alcohol onto the beach. At tonight's public hearing on the proposed ordinance, I heard a lot of moralistic grandstanding with terms like "family beach" and "family-friendly island" thrown around as if they were absolute truths with only one possible meaning.

Thankfully, the mayor's wife got up to give an alternate definition to "family time" on the beach. I take my family on the beach all the time and I'd love to enjoy a cocktail or two while out there. Does that somehow make me "family UNfriendly?"

Some of the naysayers lost all grasp of rational thought and began talking about our beach in terms of spring break gone wild, with topless girls splashing into the surf. I've yet to see that happen at the height of spring break and I certainly cannot see how the consumption of alcohol at a beach bar on the beach is going to lead to rampant luciviousness.

What those who throw terms around like "family values" fail to recognize is how many working families on this little island rely on the sale of alcohol at such establishments to make ends meet. That's right, old folks who no longer HAVE to work to make a living, there are families who would actually BENEFIT from expanded alcohol sales on our beach! Families making a living, feeding their children and buying them adequate clothing, those are family values that we should all be able to agree upon.

A patron who takes his/her beverage a few feet onto our sandy shores is not going to be the next star of a Girls Gone Wild video. They might be a mom, dad or even granddad, who is enjoying a tasty beverage with their family at sunset. And there is something morally reprehensible about that??? I just don't get it!

And it's not just working families who will ultimately benefit. Anyone with a vested interest on this island will benefit from increased spending by tourists who come to partake at the establishments who are granted the ability to serve on the beach. Since when is making an honest buck a non-Republican, anti-family value?

I sincerely hope our Town Council puts an end to this madness and votes to approve the new ordinance. The beach businesses deserve to play on a level playing field...tea-totelers be damned!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tax Evasion leads off Sunday Morning...REALLY?!?! CBS!

This morning, CBS Sunday Morning led off with a story about tax evasion and people cheating on their taxes. Okay, I understand it is April 15th, but I've had my tax return for months now, so why is this a story. The 100th Anniversary of the Titanic disaster is much more compelling to me than the end of tax season and how people "cheat" Uncle Sam. I mean, I didn't hear them talk ONE TIME about all the loopholes that billionaires and corporations use to cheat the system. Instead, they focused on hardworking individuals and questioned their moral character. REALLY???

Look at it from an everyday Joe's perspective. Let's say your Uncle Sam was a financial mess who bummed money off you every year to the tune of thousands. The last you heard about your frivolous uncle was that he was driving down Wall Street just throwing handfulls of one dollar bills out the window of his gas-guzzling H2. Tell me how you'd feel about loaning him an extra $100 next week. Do you think your moral compass would guide you toward your wallet? Or would you tell a white lie that you just didn't have it this week?

Is that really cheating him? Even if the government told you that you HAD to give him the money, I wouldn't think twice if you fudged your way out of it. Now, let's get onto something more interesting CBS. Who's vetting these stories anyway?!?! Where are the feel-good stories that drew us into your program years ago?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Jack Mascola, 93, Renaissance Man of FMB!

The photo of Jack Mascola, below, graced the front page of today's Island Sand Paper, a weekly newspaper serving Fort Myers Beach, Florida. It served as a teaser for a personal interest story I wrote this week. The story is linked below.

...be sure to click on images for a large print version...

Monday, March 26, 2012

The New Deck at Surf Club

I had the pleasure of meeting Surf Club owner Bruce Cermak last Tuesday for the first time. Nice guy, loves what he does and loves where he lives. I have to say, it's not a bad gig...and neither is writing for the Island Sand Paper on Fort Myers Beach. Love it here! (click on the image, below, for a large-print version of the article)

This island is full of Midwesterners!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Latest Sand Paper Articles!

I'm a little behind on posting my articles. Here's the latest one on some helpful spring breakers who came not to party on our beach, but to help clean it up! This one ran last Friday, March 16, in the Island Sand Paper:

(click on images for larger, readable version)

This is my article on the Beach Elementary's production of Peter Pan, which ran in the February 17th edition of the Island Sand Paper (I replaced the photo of school kids with a black-and-white of the logo designed by their art teacher for the play):

NOTE: My daughter played one of the mermaids! She performed perfectly!!! (says the proud Dad).

Friday, February 03, 2012

Blue Marlin Tag Frames Creator, Jon Cudzik

My latest submission to the Sand Paper appears on page 20 of today's edition...

(click on image for large print version)

Friday, January 20, 2012

7-Year-Old Blog: A Retrospective, Part 1

My blog will be seven years old in April of this year! As a way to celebrate my commitment to writing, I'm taking a few months to look back over the seven years of intermittent blogging. I haven't always submitted my best work to the Great Blogosphere of the Ethernet, so I hope the gods will forgive, but at least I've been a loyal subject and beat the six-month average lifespan of most blogs. Maybe the blog is a dying art in the world of tweets and status updates, but it is more of a long-form tweet for me. Note, I don't even have a Twitter account. Enough with the prefacing, and onto the looking back! First, have a look back at the last six months, which is laden with posts about my freelance work at the Island Sand Paper here on Fort Myers Beach.

I am grateful for the chance to earn a little dough doing the thing I love--writing--and also for the chance to display some of my photography in newsprint. I wish to say thank you to Missy and Bob Layfield and Keri Hendry for the chance to work in journalism. Now to the writing samples...Enjoy! (NOTE: When you click the links, this blog post still shows at the top spot, so SCROLL DOWN!)

Holy Vettes, Batman!!!

Here is my latest offering from the Island Sand Paper, a Fort Myers Beach weekly. Page 12 features my article about the Corvette Cruise-in at Parrot Key Caribbean Grill...

sorry my scanner couldn't handle this one very well...be sure to click on the image above for a full-sized view, easier to read!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Salty Dog and CRAB articles

I have TWO articles in this week's Island Sand Paper. Check them out, below, but don't strain your eyes. You can click on either image to get the large print version...Enjoy!

(when the jpeg loads in your browser, be sure to click on it for full-sized viewing)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blog Birthday in April

Hard to believe, but in April this blog will be seven years old.

I know I haven't been a consistent blogger. As you'll notice in the timeline on the lower right, there are missing months where I did not blog at all. No apologies. Life just gets in the way of writing sometimes.

But this has always been a great place for me to vent, to get creative, to share personal feelings, failures and accomplishments. All told, I'm pretty proud that I've stuck with it this long, since the average shelf life of most blogs is less than six months.

Over the next few months, leading up to that anniversary, I plan to do some looking back and share some of my favorite blog posts. This space serves as sort of a road map of my spiritual journey the last seven years. The road I began travelling back in 2004-05, down the path of rediscovery and emerging spirituality, led me far away from my Catholic and Pentacostal roots. Well, maybe not THAT far away, but certainly in a new direction.

For anyone who has followed my ramblings, thanks. I appreciate your interest and longevity. For anyone who has just stumbled upon this blog, welcome. Pull up a chair and click through some of the posts from 2005-2011. You might chuckle, maybe you'll even stop to ponder, but whatever you do, leave a comment. Blogs are not for stalkers. They're for conversation. You don't have to be a blogger yourself to leave a comment. Anyone can do so, even anonymously.

Thanks, again, for taking a minute to read. Ciao!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Gulf Coast Living is for me!

In 2006, I was ready to leave Tallahassee for a home in either the panhandle beaches or Indiana...talk about your polar opposites. I decided that with the cost of real estate on the coast and the lack of a support network there it would be best to move north. So we set out in December with a contract for the sale of our house pending and moved to Fishers, Indiana. It turned out to be one of the snowiest, coldest Decembers central Indiana had seen in a long time.

We endured four of those blustery winters before packing up and heading back south. Fortunately for us, Aunt Sarah had a vacant condo ready to take us in, so we found our way 1,100 miles from Fishers to Fort Myers Beach. It was a long, two-day trip with our two girls, two dogs and everything we could cram into a small Volvo sedan. We made it to Manatee Beach near Anna Maria Island by sunset the second day. It was a glorious sunset to welcome us back to the Gulf Coast!

Our original intent was to settle in the Bradenton area, just inland from Manatee Beach. We actually hunted for jobs and houses up there until school began in early August. By then, we were falling head-over-heels in love with Fort Myers Beach and it's small town charm. We quickly shifted our focus to finding a reasonably-priced rental on the island and jobs that would help us afford it. Best decision we've made in a LONG time...and only about 5 years overdue.

I was just looking over this blog, and it was May 15, 2006, when I stated that " I will live at the beach one day." What a crazy prophecy that came true this last year!

All of the descriptions of Destin and Panama City in that May 2006 blog are perfectly applicable to where I live now, except I think the white gulf sands down this way are finer and softer to the touch. I call our beaches "baby powder" because that's what it feels like under your feet in the coolness of a December morning. It's not the scratchy, golden, Atlantic Coast sand that feels like sandpaper between your cheeks. I think the baby powder sand is how a beach just to our south got its name--Barefoot Beach...but watch out for shells. This is a great place to find them, and when you walk closer to the shoreline, you'll crunch them under your barefeet.

The reasons I am so partial to the Gulf are the calm, warm waters and the absolutely glorious sunsets. The only other place I could ever see myself is in the Florida Keys. I think that once I get bored with the sunsets here, I'll make that move further south. Then, one day, you'll read my blog about how that self-fulfilling prophecy came true.

To say that I have adapted to island life is an understatement. I think that I was predestined to live here. My blood pressure has always been on the lower end of normal and I seem to move fluidly to the rhythm of island life. It's a slower pace that I intend to maintain for another 40+ years.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Hoboken Frank, the other...

click on images for larger, original versions