Me + My Friends = 100%

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My friends. Most of the time, I don’t know what to say about them or to them about how I feel about them. Grateful. Thankful. In love. Anything within that spectrum really.

I’ve had a long run at trying to figure out this happiness thing. At first it was the search for it and now it’s trying to just be. Sometimes I feel that I am in search of it and sometimes I recognize that I am happy and I do have it. There are times when I’m in it and there are times when I’m not in it.

Most of my friends and all of my close friends know that I feel depressed often. I am fortunate enough to have those in my life that are there for me and help me through it. The other day I realized that those moments are going to come regardless in life, but they are also going to go regardless in life. Emotions come and they go. The idea of suicide is still very present in me and it pops up every once in awhile. This blog post is an idea I’ve had for years but never felt right to write; until now.

The thing about suicide is that for a lot of people, they feel that within them, they are at a level of 0%. For me, I feel that way more often then I want to. But while I get out of that rut, I try to tell myself that I am not and will never be at 0%. The closest I will ever get to is 1%. There will always be someone or some persons that represent the other 99% that make up who I am. You see, we all forget about the good things we have in the people with us. No matter how low I go, I will always have one or more persons who can make me feel whole again. To make me feel 100% again.

I can especially say that I am never 100% without the people in my life. The most I can feel complete within me is 99% because there is always someone or rather some people who make up that last 1%. I can be as self accomplished, assured, confident in me as I can, but I am not here alone. I didn’t get here alone. It was with the unconditional love from those who don’t have a reason to care; they just care. 

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We had 6 weeks of class together and hung out 5 times. I might not ever see him again because he’s from a different country than me. But in our goodbyes, on my birthday, he told me that I changed his world and he sees himself differently now in the mirror. This is what it’s all about folks. Going on adventures and making people’s lives better.

My Tattoo is My Gift

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I have a gift. People who know me well have told me I have a gift. Someone once told me this after meeting them for less than 10 minutes. “I really do have a gift” is what I would tell myself after that. I tried to say it enough so that eventually I wouldn’t have to say it. I would know it.

Now I really know it. I have a gift with people. I have met and been welcomed into the corners of people’s lives everywhere I go. It just happens to me really. I told myself years ago that I can make the world a better place just by a handshake and dammit I’ve been doing just that. Taking time to enjoy my time and to be away from everything I know has allowed me to live with and rely on that. What I mean by the corners of people’s lives is that people tend to take their walls down and unarm themselves when they’re with me. I have learned the darkest secrets of people’s lives by sitting and nodding my head.

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Hagia Sophia of Istanbul

www.Amsterdon.com

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul

I most certainly have done a lot in the past 9 months. More importantly, I am starting to like myself a lot.

As I lose two phones in the span of two months, I also lost a bunch of my photos. Here are a random collection of ones I’ve managed to save.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Vivan Greene

At moments it’s a leap forward, then a couple of steps back, but then I realize it’s not really a step back but a dance move I’ve invented

Holla from Holland

A Firefighter’s 9/11 Away From Home

My first 9/11 away from the US. How evermore chilling it is to understand what global the effects were. How not only Americans, but Europeons dropped what they were doing in complete disarray of what they witnessed.

When I wear my fire department t-shirt around Europe, people sometimes ask me about it. It’s interesting to get the same praise from people who have never stepped foot on American soil. When I asked my Dutch girlfriend why she thinks American Firefighters receive so much recognition from non-Americans, she tells me that it’s because of 9/11.

I recently moved into a neighborhood in Amsterdam with a Muslim majority population. My neighbor genuinely started conversation with me when I arrived and continues to do so with much enthusiasm and warmth. He tells me he thinks America is so cool and wishes to visit. My girlfriend tells me that it’s common for Muslims here in Holland to have a liking for the US. It’s been quite an experience so far.

With that said, I too remember 9/11 and the craziness that went down. Today I again wear my fire department shirt because of the 343 uniformed men and women who went down with those towers as well as the countless un-uniformed and uncounted for. This year I’m more proud of the fire service in a different way. Because we don’t ever forget.