Tag Archives: Road

Mike – Confidence and Faith

22 Aug

Church where I met Mike

I met Mike at a church in Mesilla, New Mexico.  He lives just down the road in Las Cruces.  In the 1980’s Mike and his father opened an air conditioning and heating company.  They spent 28 years growing the business which eventually employed 60 people. The company’s main business involved new residential properties and Mike was working 6 days a week.  He didn’t mind as he loved his work and took pride in the company’s success.  Mike’s wife worked for a mortgage company leading others through the mortgage process in order to buy their home.  They had worked hard and proudly built their own dream home.

Then the housing bubble burst.  “Nobody could qualify for a mortgage,” he says.  Suddenly the orders for new air conditioning units slowed.  Mike had to start laying people off.  Finally Mike had to close down the business that he and his father had worked so hard to build.  His wife was laid-off from her mortgage company job.  Within a year and a half Mike and his wife lost their home.  Then, after knowing each other for eight years, and being married for two, the stress was too much.  Mike and his wife separated three years ago.

Mike’s wife has since worked various jobs trying to survive.  She has worked for a bank and an advertising agency doing radio station promotions.  Both paid less than she used to make, and both soon ended.  When applying for positions she was often told she was over-qualified.  She was recently working for a state agency which builds low-income housing.  Last Friday she was laid-off from that.  She is currently living with an adult son from a previous marriage.  They help each other hang on, as he was laid-off from his job over three months ago.

Mike does his best to help out financially.  He has found a job installing air conditioning units for commercial institutions such as prisons and schools.  If only it were closer to home.  Mike now spends four days a week living out of a hotel room 200 miles away.  He’s grateful for the job but finds it difficult on his relationships with his adult children.  He says his kids are happy that he now has a job, but they’re not as close as they once were because he’s just not there.  Still he says, “If this is what we have to do to keep our economy going, then that’s what we do.”

Mike is used to overcoming the odds.  He is a recovering alcoholic who has been clean for 11 years.  “I have confidence and faith,” he says.  “The mental state cannot be shocked anymore.”

Mike is working hard to catch up on outstanding debts including state and federal taxes.  He is trying to help out his wife, and hoping to find a job closer to home.  “It’s been difficult,” he says, “but it’s built more character.”


For Goodness Sake

9 Aug

I read an article saying that the average human being only uses a small percentage of their lung capacity.  I read another saying that we also only use a small percentage of our brain capacity.  I believe we only use a small percentage of our capacity for goodness.

I was talking to a friend today about this and, in an attempt to be supportive (always appreciated), she made an off-hand remark that doing good was not that hard.  I beg to differ.  For instance, you can do aerobic exercise to increase lung capacity (really folks, I’m not a doctor so, no medical advice here).  You can take classes and do word puzzles to increase your brain capacity.  Both of these take effort and commitment.  Improving your “goodness capacity” also takes effort and commitment.

Regarding the effort – well, here I am on vacation after working five months straight.  I worked every day, 70-80 hours per week.  I’m heading back to work at the end of the month, yet I have taken on this project.  It is not simply about writing. It involves developing the website (thanks for reading, subscribing and sharing), planning my route across the U.S. and meeting the people who will be profiled (investigating job fairs, food banks, etc.).  There’s been some time spent getting out the word about the project to individuals and media (yes, there will be some coverage).  Of course there will be the drive across the U.S (2181.82 miles and 32 hours and 13 minutes according to MapQuest).  And finally, the writing part. That’s a lot of effort.

In regards to the commitment, well that’s a bit of the inspiration for this project.  When things were really tough for me, I was surprised by both the people who were there for me and those that weren’t.  This project is to honor those who were.  You see, every time I said a heartfelt thank you I was told, “Just pay it forward.”  This term came into common usage following the release of the movie of the same name in 2000.  Most have said it, few have done it.  When things get better, we tend to get so involved with our everyday life that we forget these promises.  One thing my dad taught me is never to break a promise.

I woke up this morning and had a flashback to where I was two years ago.  I was living in Phoenix, Arizona, my air conditioning had broken and I had no money to fix it.  It was 106 degrees in my kitchen (according to my meat thermometer) and I lived that way for a month and a half.  It’s hard for me to forget the promises I made.

I’ve received incredible support for this project. Some have talked about karma – “Oh, you will have such good karma from this,” they say.  The thing is, if we do things with the expectation of good karma coming back at us, it seems a bit selfish.  While I do believe in karma (to a point), I’m not sure that this should be our primary reason for doing not only what is right, but maybe going above and beyond.  Perhaps we should do it simply to work on improving our “goodness capacity.”

Just as the more you exercise the easier it becomes and the better you feel, the more work you do to contribute to the world in a positive way, the easier it becomes and the better you feel.

So, while one reason for starting this project is to keep promises, the other reason is simply – For Goodness Sake.

Note: The Rebel-With-A-Cause Road Trip begins in approximately 10 days. Feel free to spread the word. Oh, and follow me on Twitter @rblcause.

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