C.M. HalsteadC.M. Halstead

By C.M. Halstead

You are dying, dying to do something. Empower yourself.

I am disappointed in you, my fellow human beings. I mean really?

Are we such victims that we can’t even hold ourselves accountable to the simplest things?

You cross a solid yellow line while driving, get a ticket, beat it in court…. Somehow. Wait, you are telling me that the rules in place aren’t really in place? If I can convince through debate and argument that your rule isn’t really your rule, then it does not apply to me. Just everyone else.

Empower yourself: “Yes, your honor. I screwed up. I will improve.”

 

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Are we really that weak? That we can’t even admit when we succumb to the most basic of our instincts and habits, that we actually did it. Lets try the power stance instead.

Empower yourself: “I had sexual relations with that woman. I broke the commitment to my wife. It has nothing to do with whether or not I can lead this country. Now, fuck off. Its between me and my wife. It is adultery after all, not treason.”

 

Yes. Yes we came to what is now known as the continental United States, and pushed out of our way the human beings already living here, moved in and made it ours. Then, told the new owners to fuck off (Jolly Ole England) and slowly took over the place. Every since then, immigrants keep arriving, it is what keeps this country fresh and thriving. Keeps YOU from having to dig ditches if you don’t want to. Unless you are into that kind of thing, then by all means, dig away. Don’t worry, some immigrant will gladly work in that cube farm for you.

Empower yourself: STOP living as a victim!

It is only your fault if you are living where you don’t want to, it is only your fault if you are in a relationship you don’t want to be in, it is only your fault if you are unhappy with my life. It is NOT the fault of the far left, or the far right, or anyone in between. It is not the cops, it is not the government, it is not the person who abused you as a child, it is nobody but you…and your beliefs that keep YOU from being whom YOU want to be. Be. Don’t wait. Be.

Empower yourself: “I will change my life. I am going to (Insert statement here). I am not a victim, even if I once was. I forgive myself for living as a victim, it is not my fault. I didn’t deserve that.”

“You don’t deserve that.”

Fuck people. Really? Do you really believe that the government, your boss, your accountant, your parent (I’m talking to the adults on this one) has your power? Here is the fucker: only if you give it to them.

Instead try this:
“I’m a badass motherfucker. I got this.”

Now look in the mirror and say it. That thing you’ve been to afraid to say to the most important person in your life that influences who you are & who you aren’t: You.

Empower yourself.
Possible videos:

Retrain your mind (taking ownership and working the five second window)

Welcome to the grind (its about the ethos. “How bad do you want it.”)

Rise up/Wake up (Allowing yourself to be great, the grind.)

Life like a King or Queen (facing our demons and taking away our crutches)

By C.M. Halstead

Learn to live life as a champion!

Live life, not as a victim of it, live life as a champion of it.

I love the article in the link below. If I handed it to my wife to read, she would think I wrote it. I didn’t. I relate to the article because it is congruent with the way I live my life, I am in charge of my life, no-one else.

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of people that after hearing about a life change I was making, said to me, “Wow. I wish I could do that.” If you know me, my voice probably just said in your head, “Then do it.”, if a voice popped up in your head after and gave the reason(s) why you can’t…then this article is for you.

If a voice popped up in your head and said, “Yes!” or “I am doing it!” then put your arms in the air and say “Fuck yeah, I rock!” (The “I rock” part is optional.”

The article is written by Becca Martin; I love the no-punches-pulled aspect of the writing because I am a firm believer in not lying to myself.

Here is the link: You are the reason your life sucks

As always, you are in charge, so it is your choice. Now, later, or never.

Personally, my choice is, Don’t wait to live. Live. Now.

Love you guys,
C.M. Halstead

By C.M. Halstead

The Grand Canyon’s North Rim, a trip back in time.

Those adventurous enough to drive the additional 200 miles from the south rim of The Grand Canyon, located in Northern Arizona, to the North Rim of the same Grand Canyon, are gifted with a trip back in time.

Located just ten miles as-the-crow-flies from the south rim’s Grand Canyon National Park new Mather Point visitor center, the Northern side of the Grand Canyon takes us to what we would’ve experienced on the south rim if we were able to 100 years ago. Yes, we will still travel there in our modern cars and SUV’s cooled by air conditioning, although once you arrive at the 8,000-foot elevation of Jacob Lake, you will no longer need the AC and may want to consider opening the window and partaking in some cool fresh air. We will drive through giant ponderosa, aspen groves, a vast burn reminiscent of an unmanaged forest fire, finally reaching the meadows and the buffalo herd frequently found there in.

Only one Ranger hut guarding the entrance, worked by Rangers that still walk up to the car window, instead of impersonally working a booth, happily take their time with you, knowing there will never be more than a few cars waiting.

There is enough parking for the vehicles that arrive, a few cabins located on the edge of the rim, plus a few more and a camping area located back in the pines. The majestic Main Lodge, grandiose in its design and view of the canyon whose edge it perches upon provides shelter and food to those seeking it. Outside of the lodge is where it is at! The reason for the season! The  View into the Grand Canyon and across to the South Rim of the canyon. Most days, we can see the volcanic peaks of Humpries located just north of Flagstaff, AZ.

Most are content with the rural energy the developed area of the North Rim village provides; others need to level-up the adventure. These people jump into a 4×4 and travel out to the outer reaches of the park, there, at spots like Point Sublime and Timp point we generally have the view all to ourselves. The best sunset I’ve ever experienced was at Point Sublime! Shh, don’t tell, just go and experience it.

The trails that go down below the rim of the Grand Canyon are another level of adventure. The trails descending from the North Rim are less maintained and less traveled, even the main artery, the  North Kaibab Trail sees significantly less travel than its southern counterpart.

Although the North Rim sees a fraction of the visitors that the South Rim does, it is still a good idea to plan ahead. Both campsites and cabins are limited.

To plan your North Rim adventure, start here: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/north-rim.htm

If you desire to disperse camp in the Kaibab National Forest outside of the park, here is a link with some valuable information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kaibab/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=11697&actid=34

Oh, I almost forgot, there is next to no cell phone reception on the north rim or in the northern Kaibab N.F. Just go with it, embrace the journey back in time and do what they did, look at the views, and smell the clean air. And if you are a parent, watch the awe in your children, it will appear, maybe not until day three, when they are used to looking up instead of into a device. It is worth it!

Enjoy the adventure!

By C.M. Halstead

It’s a frosty morning on the Colorado Plateau

It’s a frosty morning on the Colorado Plateau. It is almost time for us to head towards lower elevation for the winter. Life between 50 & 90 degrees is the goal and frost is a significant indicator of temperatures below that mark.

My mission up here is mostly accomplished for this year, ‘The Mongers’ is released to the world. (I hope you read it. It is a distinct path that the United States may be on. History agrees!) a few readers have said it is “almost prophetic”. Which is why it has the possibility to be banned…. Read and review it on Amazon.

In the meantime, as you are coming to learn about me, I have already moved on to finishing up the next story. In this case, ‘Earned Innocence’ a misnomer if there ever was one. Although if anyone has earned the right to regain their innocence in my mind, it is those that have sacrificed themselves in some way for the greater good. Did/Do you have the cojones for that?
I am ecstatic about finishing up this cathartic military fiction novel just in time for this year’s NaNoWriMo!

Last year during national novel writing month, I wrote the rough draft of my first phycological thriller and I am looking forward to roughing out book two of that three book series. This is a storyline that will make you go, “holy shit” on more than one occasion.

Many of you at this point are thinking, “That’s cool, but what about book three of The Tripper Series?” I wrote 25,000 words of that book over the summer while traveling. The storyline is strong already, and I also already know one of my beta readers is going to be angry ;) But, the story goes, where the story goes, and who am I to derail that. Book three is slated for release in the spring of 2017.

As I write this, I wonder if I will ever catch up on my stories. Part of me hopes not. Although I do look forward to a point where I can afford to pay someone to do the rough editing, final editing and content editing so I can focus just on getting the stories out of me. They are arguing to be next, and keep me up at night talking to me. I once had someone ask me if I hear voices, my response was, “Not in the way that you are thinking.” :)

So, as I dive into the final stages of ‘Earned Innocence’ I ask you to go onto Amazon and Goodreads to rate and review the stories of mine that you have read. The more ratings I have, the more likely a stranger is going to read one of my works, it is on after that. It is easy to tell I am doing what I was put on this planet to do. I feel congruent and it shows!

Thanks for all your support,

C.M. Halstead

By C.M. Halstead

It is time to Know or Die.

The contents below are an excerpt from ‘Earned Innocence’, a cathartic military fiction novel I plan to release this winter, in the year of 2016.

‘Earned Innocence’ is written in first person. My intention is to put the reader in the boots of the person transitioning from youth into a warrior, and then afterwards, having to muster the strength to face the demons that dwell in their brain.

It is my belief that we all have demons we have to face. Here is an excerpt from a character that is facing one that has developed into a living entity:

 

“I awaken from the light sleep … I smell him coming. The wind wafts his scent in my direction, just a taste on the wind. He is good, he is always good, this time, the wind betrays him just enough to alert me to his presence.
The rotten smells of vegetation stewing in stagnation mixed with the sweat of ages of betrayed warriors, blood, urine, shit, stale cigarettes, failure and defeat intertwined with death alert my nostrils to his presence. Just a slight scent wafted in by the breeze. The demon had stopped the wind with his powers yet the times are changing, so the earth sneaks off a breeze to help this human sleeping in its playground.
I go back to sleep on the surface; my insides are humming. Focusing the energy, I calm it a bit. He stopped his approach. Perhaps he feels something is not right?

The demon approaches the man it has been torturing; he is ready to be finished off. His will broken and bent he will be served as a snack for all that are present when the demon returns to its asylum.
A hard wind is blowing as it approaches; pausing, the demon waves its hand, the air goes completely still. He can’t have it giving him away so close to his victory.
Slithering its way along the cliff-face, it drags itself along the crease between the greenery and the sandstone, a tight squeeze, the demon morphs its body to the contours, absorbing and discharging objects as it moves restoring them to their previous shapes, now tainted with the demon’s essence.
The demon stops, something isn’t right. Is the man awake? Is he not there? The demon’s hackles are up, it pauses there and waits for an eternity. The man feels different, is he really asleep? Is it too late, have I played with him for too long?
Taking two quick sniffs at the air the demon smells the delicious scent of fear it was missing a moment ago, perhaps it was the stagnation of the wind that prevented the scent for obtaining his nose hairs attention.

I lay there willing myself to feel asleep to the demon, yet he stands there and waits. I can feel him. Waiting around the corner he does, his hackles are up. I can smell his fear.
That’s it!
Closing my eyes tight I focus on things that scare me. That damn Jaws movie…nope, not working. Halloween movies, Blair Witch, nope. I think next of boot camp, and then to the pool at Recon school, any and all of my military scary moments, damn, still not working. Nothing I can think of is bringing up the fear that the demon is used to smelling from me.
I am doomed. If I don’t get this fucker, I’m screwed. Then I get real, suddenly the possibility that I may play-out the rest of my life out here, alone enters my mind. No love, no one to care about, no one to care about me. Even me.

The demon resumes its progress, the fear scent primary in the air, his confidence returns. This will be the final night with this broken warrior. The demon and its compadres will taste him tonight. The death and destruction that the man carries will be honey on their tongues, the souls of the dead that he carries will fill our bellies with nutrition. His defeated soul swells with the goodness that demon bodies desire. He will be a feast of feasts, fit for the kings of the demon’s world.

I lay there shivering with fear, the realization that my sanctuary has become my coffin. I will not live the night; the demon will defeat and eat me tonight. I can feel it.
The darkness looms. The slight breeze bringing awareness dies an evil death. The demon smites its lackluster energy, stagnant the air exudes decay, death and the farts of eaten fear. The demon swells in anticipation of the energy it is about to consume.

My eyes still closed I feel nothing but the demon swelling above me.
The time is now.
I awaken and scream in primal fear, the sounds of attacking mountain lions, pterodactyls, and frightened little boys intermingle in my throat. I let them gather for a moment before unleashing them again. Looking away from the demon I scream into the alcoves center, the sounds gather in the vortex of the cavern and expels itself out into the canyon to echo to infinity the sounds of desperation and surrender.
I feel the demon inhale the power of the scream, hear its lips part, drool hits the ground with a plop, and his skin creaks at the effort of the rare smile.

A battle rages inside the demon, this happiness it feels whenever it is on the verge of victory causes a paradox of confusion every time. Happiness is its enemy, joy the death of it. Even the demon feels it for a moment before consuming the joy with its evil.
The demon scours its forehead into a mass of hatred. The eyes close until they are slits. Its drool and snot hang intermingled, the two cannot quite let go of their tenacious grip on their host.

I lay there quivering, my back to the demon, I smell the scents of CS gas and gunpowder. Briefly, very briefly, I thought I felt joy coming from him. It felt like the alcove brightened and the air lifted, just for a moment.
He thinks he’s won!

Swelling to all its size and might the demon prepares to attack for the final time. The demon’s presence fills the alcove until it is lifting the roof, pressing the stone back and away from him. The entire rock butte creaks from the pressure of his might.
Delighted at this victory, it reaches for the sleeping man. The man’s whole essence quivers in defeat. Pausing for one second more, the demon marvels at its work. Breaking this man was entirely too easy, all he had to do was show him one act of evil and wait, time and the man’s own brain did the rest.
Moving its head back and forth the demon cracks its neck, the sounds of pine trees breaking soars enthusiastically throughout the canyon. Ready to eat now, the demon inhales deeply, dirt, soot and filth enter his lungs, they savor the breath.
Standing tall the demon puffs out its chest and rears its hand back, talons at the ready, the remains of other victims under his nails, cloth from their clothes and gray matter from their brains, cake the underside of its nails. Delightfully fungus and disease grow there. Willing its claws sharp, the demon moves in for the kill. Swiftly.
Squeezing itself into the alcove, it rages towards the sleeping man, the human’s back is the target of teeth, his balls the right hand’s goal and the delightful brains the lefts hand’s target.
The man turns!

Turning, I raise a sharpened wooden spear towards the impending demon and brace the hilt against the back wall of the alcove. I hold the six-foot spear with my entire body, tilting it towards the demon in a hurry for a kill.
Unable to stop, the demon impales itself onto the first five feet of the spear before it can cease its forward motion. Angry the demon arches its back and rages its lungs empty of pain. WHAT happened? This man smelled done!” The demon rages sending spittle far off the cliff with its outrage.
Looking down, the demon smacks the end of the spear with its hand, sending it flying out its back and off the cliff.
It sniffs and readies itself once more. The demon charges again.

I kneel with my back to the demon, waiting. When the demon reaches maximum speed, I spin around. Pulling another spear from its buried position in the sand, I brace it against the back wall. The pocket I slowly carved into the stone, holds the giant spear’s hilt at a perfect angle. Hopefully, the stone will be robust enough to hold under impact. I put my arm over the shaft of the spear, grabbing on with both hands I brace with all my might. I aim the spear at a primary angle, aiming the tip at where a heart would be if a demon has one.
The demon hits the spear oblivious to its existence. For a moment I fear the demon will just drive its way thru the spear and crush me with its elephant-sized body. Every time I see this fucker it gets bigger and bigger, the time to defeat him is now!
Finally, just as it seems the spear will prove ineffective, I see the demons eyes go wide. The pain extravagant enough that even a demon cannot deny its existence. The demon slows its forward motion, perhaps too late. I am pushed against the back wall, the spear moves slightly, pinning me behind it. Unable to breathe I fight panic as my chest cavity is forced into the shapes around me. I wait for the all familiar sounds of breaking bones. Damn, I was so close, I almost won!
Closing my eyes I feel myself lifted forward, the spear deeply embedded in the demon’s chest, my upper body entwined with the spear, holding on with all my might, we both are brought out of the tight corner. I leave skin and hair behind. Earth, rock, and dirt come with me.
The demon roars in fear. I hear a multitude of animals fleeing the area; they run full speed through the forest in the darkness of the night. Sleeping birds awaken and squawk their displeasure as the sound of their wings frantically beat the stagnant air, trying to get a purchase on something that will remove them from the scene. Large four-legged animals scurry, leap and beat feet or hooves from the area, bushes and limbs are pushed, broken and forcibly removed from their path. Terror creates a super strength; all flee the evil escaping the demon lips.
Shaking its arms and body in a multitude of directions, the demon tries to dislodge its victim’s impediment from its chest. Forgetting to use its hands due to rage, the demon swings about recklessly.

Choosing my moment I wait for the demon to turn in the direction of my desired flight. I hold on with all my might as my ears whimper from the sound escaping from the demon’s lips, the force of the sound nearly pushing me off the spear with its rush of violence. Instead, I cling to it while the rage pushes, and the demon’s body thrashes back and forth. I swing between the open air and the cliff face. Alternately feeling the air beneath me and the brutality of the sandstone each time I bash against it.
With the next swing, I let go of the spear. Choosing the open air off the cliff, over being bashed against the rock face one more time. I fly through the air. Willing my body to come around and assume a chest forward, arms back position, I do my best-flying squirrel imitation; a cross between a controlled fall and all out desperation. I am flung off the cliff.
Knowing it is coming, I wait for it. The impact with the trees that is. The demon has flung me in the perfect direction. I feel the trees coming quickly and brace my body for the impact. Arms and legs outstretched, ready to grab anything upon contact.
There is no time like the present. In fact now is the only time.
BAMM
I fold on impact.
Grasping for anything I leave fingernails, blood, and skin all the way down, my goal is not to stop myself.
Attempting to slow my decent I race the demon for the gravity of the ground. Knowing he will be behind me, I urge the gravity to hurry up. Not knowing what speed of impact is livable, I give it all I got anyway.
Thank the gods for training; the balls of my feet hit the ground and I instantly tuck my chin and roll off to the side. Avoidance of the knees is paramount to my survival.
The force, speed, and the dark almost got me as I roll to the right. Hitting a scrub oak, I bust out the other side, running like a motherfucker on fire, I haul ass out from under my alcove area. Heading deeper into the canyon, I run with all my might, using night vision and knowledge of my backyard, arched slightly forward, head down between the shoulders and eyes up, I move as if it is daylight. The booby traps are left and right, bullets try to go through my brain as I dodge the agave, prickly pear, and the great meat slicer known as Manzanita. The pine and juniper attempt to impale my head with sticks and take out my eyes as a bonus.
I smile and run faster.
I move through the terrain; it goes from high desert to high jungle to the lowlands of a couple of coastlines. The earth turns beneath me as I make my way to my last stand. I look forward to this battle. It is time to know or die.”

By C.M. Halstead

Grow As The World Shrinks

Can’t we all just get along? No seriously, can’t we? I mean, the clique phrase from the hippies of the 1960’s does have some value to it.
Is this version of survival of the fittest that we have been living under the guise of actually an outdated piece of evolution? How about the fear-based belief system the movie ‘The Croods’ does a great job providing us an example of showing this to us? The father figure’s fear based, survival driven, lifestyle almost ended the family. If it weren’t for a newer more adaptable type of thought system, they would’ve perished. When do we know when it is time to adapt a new way of being, a new way of thinking?
The world is smaller than it was 50 years ago, 100 years ago, an infinitely smaller than 200 years ago. (If you are into The Tripper Series, you may notice this background theme) In this shrinking of the world, due to the increase in technology, it is possible to share resources and information instantly. It also makes it unnecessary for the world sharing of resources. Sure, those in North America still have to trade for bananas if they want them. But due to technological advances we no longer “need” to go to the middle east for oil, although we still chose to do so!
We have other types of technology that can do the job of the one created 100 years ago, yet we still choose to use this outdated combustion engine due to a fear of change, and a failure to adapt. This inability to grow and change is the leading cause of failure in many of the words elite organizations, including Kodak, the City of Detroit, and any recruit in Marine Corps basic training. Kodak was so engrained in film that they lost the race when the rest of the world switched to digital technology for their day-to-day camera use, Detroit’s auto industry grew into a monster that became so influential they refused to change with the changing world and did themselves in, and any recruit in MCRD who does not adapt their thinking to a do all, take all, mission-first attitude will not grow to be a Marine.
So what is it as a species that prevents us from moving on, and continue living in past belief systems? Is the obesity of America due to the great depression, where food was so scarce that you “must eat everything on your plate because you don’t know where more food will come from”?
I think one of the few smartest adaptions us humans have had in the last 50 years or so was the “Cold War” as it is known in the USA. The USA and Russia had the thought, “Hey we can blow all of you up, and you can blow all of us up, so let us just do our own things and mostly leave each other alone.” This “Cold War” was one of the best uses of technology to date! Instead of killing off thousands of each other in a costly war, we threatened each other a lot and killed off a few spies here and there. Can you imagine if the two “super powers” went at it with all their money, resources, and human lives?
If you look at human history and either side of any conflict, you will see that humans have been killing each other off for survival and competition reasons for as long as we have existed. We have exploited each other and killed each other to survive.
Well, I think instead of just surviving, it is time for us to excel. How about you? Are you ready to step forward from an old way of thinking and into a new one?
Perhaps if we were to work together to build a sustainable country and maybe even world, we could slowly unlearn or adapt our minds to their basic forms, slowly turn the earliest adaptations of our brains (the part some call the reptilian brain) from fight/flight/freeze to excel/grow/adapt.
What? OMG? Did he say that! How dare he… if you are thinking this, which thought process are you using?
Are you ready to work together to build a sustainable country that utilizes all of its internal resources to grow your nation or do you believe you need something that only can be found elsewhere?
Are you prepared to use solar power in the southwest, and hydropower in the Northwest. Instead of having one way of producing energy, have the ones that are sustainable in each area being the primary producers! We are headed that way in some areas. Solar and wind farms are cropping up in the more progressive areas of the U.S.
In other areas of the U.S., they are actually outlawing progressive and sustainable technology! What part of the reptilian brain is active here? Why are they afraid to adapt to a new way of being and thinking and instead forcing others to live a destructive lifestyle. . .how does this make logical sense?
So lets pull this in a little closer to home, from a country level, to a personal level.
How do I as an individual switch my thought processes from survival mode (fight/flight/freeze) to a mode that will allow me to excel? How do I build a sustainable lifestyle for me on my level? Proper diet and exercise instead of sugar and couch? Hanging out with people that build me up instead of tear me down? Do what I love for a living, instead of what I do for money? All three are great examples of things that are self-destructive instead of self-sustaining. It is wired in our old brain to sabotage ourselves for some crazy reason. Just about every human I have ever met (including the one writing this) has some form of self-destructive behavior. It is up to me, the individual to look at myself with no-filter in order to step through this destructive behavior. Although first, I must step through the self-destructive part of denial. The part that keeps me down and doesn’t not allow me to adapt, overcome and excel. That which I truly and utterly deserve.
So it appears that I must first learn to get along with myself before I can learn to get along with others. A great question to ask yourself and others is: What is hurting in you that makes you need to hurt me? A question to be said to anyone who is exhibiting behavior to cause you harm, a thief, a bully, the person in the mirror. Ask the question, you will be surprised at the reaction, especially with the one you look at in the mirror.

By C.M. Halstead

Honor them through fun

There was a time I would get mad about people having fun on Memorial weekend. I resented the fact that they were out having fun! I mean it is the holiday to remember those that have died so that others may live. Why are they out having fun instead of standing in cemeteries crying? Don’t they know?

I think they don’t know, yet they do at the same time.

Let me explain my perspective. The worst thing I can do is stop living because others have died. Especially if others have died with the belief that they did it to protect my way of life. How dishonorable would it be if I “passed away” along with them?

Choosing to die along with those that have, does not serve either of us.

When I was a little boy of single digits in age, I saw the worse thing imaginable.

Travel: At the time I was not aware of how significant two road trips were to my life. The two road trips I am referring to are a move from Plattsburg NY to Anchorage Ak. A great distance. And a return trip four and half years later, Anchorage, AK to Palmyra, NY.

My entire family was contained in a giant dark blue station wagon. The kind that now looks like a land yacht or alien space vehicle. The only part of that entire journey I remember was waking up one day in the middle of a snow field; my mom had lost control of the giant station wagon due to the snowy road conditions and we ended up about 30 yards into a field full of several feet of snow. The vehicles being what they were back then (solid tank like entities), the only damage was to the exhaust system of the station wagon.

I remember my sister and I waiting in a running motorhome while the adults got the station wagon back on the road. In those days, especially in the great white north (snow, not the color of people you snots) many people would stop and help each other out! For some reason, my older brother was in another vehicle for warmth. I hope he was more successful that we were because I remember how frozen my feet felt!

The thing my sister most remembers about that incident is how I got car sick later from the exhaust fumes coming into the vehicle and puked on a sleeping bag. I bet you to this day, if the identical sleeping bags we traveled with were laid out in front of us, she would know which one I had thrown up on. Uncanny ability to identify she has.

Four and a half years later, we made the return journey from Alaska back across Canada to the lower 48, this time in a different station wagon, driven by a different dad.

You see while stationed in Alaska our family experienced what many families experience, tragedy. Lucky me, I got to watch it.

I know you may be thinking that something happened to my biological father, but that is not true. While my older brother and I were out riding near identical bicycles one day, my brother was hit by a contractor looking for a house number. The image of the bicycle and my brother rolling around the rear truck tire is an image I will never forget. It is also one of the oldest memories I have. The trauma having blocked just about ever memory before that.

The death of my seven and a half-year-old brother, my elder by a year and a half, affected me deeply. My parents too, in fact, it is what ended their marriage. I can only image what the loss of a son will do to someone, and I hope I never have to find out.

The death of my older brother, my protector, playmate, and co-conspirator is something  I did experience. I will also never forget how just minutes before I had negotiated with him to switch bikes with me. You see, our bikes, although near identical, were not. His had a cool BMX type seat, and mine was a cheesier banana seat. That was the only difference between the two.

I coveted his so much that I talked him out of it that day, and was smiling with joy and victory when I watched him ride in front of me, per usual, but riding my bike.

The next few memories are contained in a few images. I already told you the first traumatic image. The second is a still picture in my mind of me bursting into the bathroom after running home, and seeing mom and my sister playing with hair curlers, one of her running down the street in a bathrobe and curlers, and finally an image of the driver of the truck sitting on the curb bent over so far his hands were on his back…and that is it.

For a long time,  I died.

Some time ago, some 30 years after the incident, I finally came back to life.

Now, at 44, I am living the life I always wanted. I am doing my brother’s memory justice by living the life that feels congruent to me. The life of a creative, the entrepreneur, the life of someone who has freed themselves from the deaths of the past and is honoring the memories of those that have died by living my life to its fullest. Survivor’s guilt is a mother fucker.

Survivor’s guilt is a mother fucker; I’ve worked through it a few times now. Besides my brother’s death, I’ve moved on from the deaths of friends, fellow Marines, and strangers whose deaths I had the misfortune of witnessing. I have accepted the worst thing I can do is die along with all those people by living in guilt and shame. Not living is a disservice and is dishonoring to those that have passed. Think about it. If you have died and are checking in on an old friend, family member, military buddy, etc. Would you like to see them miserable, lost in a drug habit or deep in depression, or would you rather see them eating a second round of BBQ, playing catch with their son, and smiling?

Don’t wait to live. Live. Now.

I am surprised that this blog ended up being about my brother, not the military personnel I knew that died, or about veteran friends of mine that also deal with survivors guilt. (Or something along those lines.)

Regardless, here’s to an awesome Memorial Weekend full of BBQ’s, fun, and living.

It is worth repeating:

Don’t wait to live. Live. Now.

By C.M. Halstead

Human denial, the underrated Super Hero

What keeps us sane, keeps us moving forward; for me, that is alone-time in nature. Still, I withhold it, withholding our grounding objects is self-sabotage. yet, I know I do it frequently and often! Am I the only one? Doubtful. Can all admit to themselves that this is something they do to themselves? Also doubtful.

This denial is both our best survival tool and our biggest crutch. Denial that something is insurmountable is why some have summitted Everest or endured a cross-country bicycle race while dying of a unsurvivable disease (see an awesome documentary called “The Ataxian”: ).

Denial is also why we stay in abusive relationships longer than is healthy or we don’t leave a job that is crushing our soul.

Do we need to define “we” now? Human beings, that is “we”.

Who here is in denial enough to say they don’t self-sabotage?

For although we can work on ourselves, it is work. Work that can be forgotten allowing us to fall into the old pattern. It is consciousness of that denial quickly, being aware of that shadow of self-sabotage that enables us to stop lying to ourselves and choose to do the opposite.

The more we are aware of our own denial and self-sabotage, the easier it is to see in others, and for some, the less tolerant we become of it.

My wife and I recently had an experience with a landlord, that although they did not fix the electricity for nine months, and then chose to keep our security deposits when we chose to leave, they somehow presented themselves as the victims. “Why did you not fix it?”, “There was an old broom missing from the garage”, “We had to, we could not rent the place because you…(insert random made up comment here)”. Not only are they in denial of their lack of action, we were in denial in our expectation that they would become people of integrity and return our security deposits when we chose to leave after we had given up on them.

Two forms of denial there, ours that they would suddenly step up, and their’s that we were the perpetrators.

The gift in all this to me is we chose to do the right thing by our moral systems and therefore, are in integrity with ourselves. I am in integrity with myself. The question is, are they in integrity with their moral selves, or are they as they appear, angry and victims in their denial.

What does any of this have to do with my alone time in nature?

It is out in nature that my brain gets its time to banter through what is troubling it, what is keeping it up at night. It is where I allow myself the time that I know I need to come to realizations such as the ones above. Yet, I don’t always allow it.

I know that meditating on nights that I lay down to sleep and my brain won’t shut-off helps me to sleep. There is many a night where I just lie there anyway, letting my brain turn circles around itself, instead of taking the action that I know will help. Self-sabotage? Denial? both perhaps….

Am I alone in this? Doubtful. Are you? Who is in denial of their denial and is that a question that can be answered when you look into your eyes in the mirror?

If you can’t look into your eyes in the mirror, that may be your answer.

How about denial “in a good way”? When on an insurmountable self-appointed task, the voice that says “keep going, don’t quit”, when other parts of you are screaming to stop.

When climbing the tallest mountain, enduring the body pain and agony, negative oxygen entering your system enforcing eight breaths=one step, and then taking the next step up anyway.

When an entrepreneur and the world around you sees you as an anomaly, when your being wants to quit the struggle and reenter the workforce and your accountant agrees, and you keep moving forward anyway.

When life as you know it has ended, you are alone in the universe, and that part of you is screaming fuck it, and yet you put a smile on your face and wish everyone a good morning anyway.

Is this also denial?

To me, this is the part of perseverance that keeps us going. The positive part of our bodies ability to deny “the reality of a situation” and keep moving forward. It is how those at war live after throwing themselves on a grenade, how unknown entrepreneurs become legends like Steve Jobs, how children survive lost in the woods for days with no training.

The brain’s ability to survive at all costs, at times, takes denial that the evidence being presented to its reality. Instead, it chooses to live and thrive in spite of what the brain’s active message is telling it, knowing the story is message is b.s. and all is ok. The choice to live and thrive in spite of itself is all that is needed.

How’s that for a closing statement.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below!

By C.M. Halstead

The Broccoli Incident

The woman enters the diner, a predacious manner about her. Scanning the room, she seeks the object of her desire. Not finding anyone to seat her in an instant, she makes a move for a booth.
A waitress exits the kitchen, “Hello!” she greets the woman.
The woman halfway to her chosen booth glances at the waitress and points at it while taking the last few steps and plopping herself down.
The waitress obliges.
“Hello.” The waitress says, handing the woman a menu, “Welcome, can I get you something to drink?”
“Just water.” The woman says, never looking up. She opens the menu and leans into it, scanning robotically she peruses the options, as the waitress saunters away.
A busker comes by and drops off the water; she is unfazed and continues scanning the single flip menu, encased in its protective covering it protests each flip, clinging to her suction cup fingers every time. Insistent in its incessant persistence, Fffft, Fffft, Fffft. Not once is it flipped without the sound, Fffft, Fffft. . .Fffft.
The waitress reappears.
“Are you ready to order?” she asks
“Yes. I’d like to order a side of broccoli, I need a pound and a half of it, so better make it four orders. And it needs to be deep fried, but not too deep fried, only two minutes, you don’t want to overcook it. I also want, what are your steamed veggies today?”
“Carrots, squash and cauliflower.” The waitress says.
“Ok, I’ll take three, no better make it four, orders of that as well. I need a pound and a half of vegetables. But don’t deep fry the carrots, squash and cauliflower.”
“Bring all of it together, make sure it is a pound and a half, I need a pound and a half of vegetables, but don’t overcook the broccoli, deep fry it, but only for two minutes. You don’t want to overcook it.” The woman says. Matter-a-fact and as if she has done this before, she gives her order to a T, knowing it will be carried out.
A few minutes later the waitress walks by, two plates heavy in her hands, one piled high with deep-fried broccoli, the other with steamed vegetables. There has to be about five pounds of cooked vegetables headed the woman’s way!
The woman sits up, leans back and makes room for the waitress to put the heavy plates down in front of her.
“That looks about right.” she says.
“Anything else?” the waitress asks.
A slight nod of the woman’s head. She is already engrossed in her vegetables. She turns her head to look at the piled plate of broccoli from every angle. She repeats the process with the pile of steamed veggies.
Leaning in she takes a big sniff of her treasure, the smell of deep fried broccoli fills the diner, its essence creeps into everywhere, yet she still has to lean in, in order to breathe deep into it. Everyone else’s noses turn up in disgust, the smell of deep fried green turns their stomachs hungry for meat. It is all you can eat rib night after all.
Satisfied, the visual and olfactory inspections over, the woman picks up a fork. Stabbing the broccoli like a determined frogger, the split fork pronging the object of desire as if life depends on it.
Long before the stench leaves the air, the woman has completed her mission, devouring the vegetables on her plate. When the waitress returns to her table exactly two minutes after dropping off the veggies, she is surprised to see them all gone.
“Wow, you were hungry!” Amazed at how quickly this customer consumed one and a half pounds of fiber, the part of waitress’s brain that remembers high school math calculates to itself the average consumption rate and is impressed.
The woman is becoming more and more efficient every day.

By C.M. Halstead

Why question abundance?

A while back, on a wintery weekend afternoon, a  desire for a jeep ride managed to bring me out of my nest and into Dirty Girl (aka the #jeep) for a country drive, in the blowing and still falling snow.

There is nothing like the contrast of red rocks and white snow, to entice me out of my warm nest and into the great outdoors. To be honest, I enjoy stormy weather days outside more than 80 and sunny days. There is nothing more boring weather-wise, than 80 and sunny. Whilst the ever changing views and elements of a blustery winter day, bring out the desire to hike or ride around in my Jeep, while smoking a cigar.

On this day the jeep (aka #dirtygirl) and the cigar win the competition.

As I did back then, I swung through a fast food restaurant to prepare sustenance for the drive. Pulling through the drive-thru, I notice they have a two for two dollar special on their name to fame, the big-mac. “Cool.” I think to myself, “I can get one at half price!”

“Pulling up to the depressing black drive-thru order box, I am greeted cheerfully, “Good afternoon, what can I make for you today?”

“I see you have a two for two dollar special on the big-mac.”

“Yes we do, would you like us to make you two big-macs today?”

“No, actually I only want one. Can I still get a deal?”

“No, if you order one, I will have to charge you full price, and that will be more than buying two for two.” the cheerful voice coming from the big plastic box says.

“For REALS? If I buy one, I have to pay full price! Can I pay for two and just take one?”

“No sir.” the not as cheery voice coming from the black box says, “You have to take both.”

 

Long pause by me, while I express the voices in my head, but keep them in my head.

 

“I guess, I’ll take two then.” I say out loud.

“Great. Thank you sir. Would you like anything else?”

“Yes,  a small diet coke and medium french fries please.”

Voice from the box, “Would you like a large drink, they are all the same price.”

“…sure why not.” conversation saving answer.

 

Pulling around, I think to myself, “There has got to be a reason; are they really that corporate, that they don’t allow their people to think? Or, perhaps it is an inventory thing. They need to sell product before it goes bad, and its cheaper to sell it at a loss, than to dispose of it or… “Here you go sir, enjoy. Thank you.” The voice now having a face, a twenty-something with dedication without knowledge as to why.

“Thank you; you too.” Pulling away, before turning out onto the road, again I ponder what I am going to do with the extra big-mac. I mean, I could probably eat two, but even I didn’t need to ingest that many calories while merely driving around sifting in the views.

Before I know it, the fries, one big-mac and most of the giant diet coke even, are gone. Easing my way through the forest and countryside, I admire the snow glazed wind, and the crisp February air, the crunch under my tires intermixing with the sounds of slush in the wettest spots. The sandstone takes on an illustrious orange hue when the shine shines bright, melting the snow recently attached to it. I come to another crunchy area as a motion is caught in my periphery to the right.

A coyote with legs minus one the usual amount, comes a trotting from my right, heading towards the road ahead of me. He scopes about the drifting snow, hoping for something, casting his trained eye across the horizon. Looking for food more than shelter, perhaps.

I think to myself, “How could I not..?”

Slipping Dirty Girl into neutral, I apply the brake and open her door. Grabbing the still warm, all beef patties, special sauce, extra cheese, lettuce, pickles, on a sesame seed bun while hopping out of the jeep, walking firmly, my head slightly down as to come across non-threatening, I walk out in front of dirty girl.

As I bend down, I open the box. Placing it on the glazed snow, I glance up at the coyote. The coyote has stopped moving and is staring at me, head still at scanning level.

I backpedal my way back and sideways into Dirty Girl, closing the door gently I sit and watch the three legged coyote watch me.

Nothing else exists, the snow blows through without notice, the earth turns, but who notices, clouds are moving and life is continuing for all else, in that moment he looks at me. Then moves forward with purpose, his nose a detecting whatever scents it can pick up in the perpendicular wind.  The coyote reaches the wax coated, pliable, two millimeter thick box. The container flaps its top lid, attracting the coyote to the free meal inside.

His eyes move from the contents to watch me inside my metal shell; snatching the prize, he gulps twice and it is gone.

 

Perhaps I could have saved him some fries.

1 2
You are dying, dying to do something. Empower yourself.
Learn to live life as a champion!
The Grand Canyon’s North Rim, a trip back in time.
It’s a frosty morning on the Colorado Plateau
It is time to Know or Die.
Grow As The World Shrinks
Honor them through fun
Human denial, the underrated Super Hero
The Broccoli Incident
Why question abundance?