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What Defines A True Friend?

By life, rants

One year: With certain things, it seems like an eternity, and with others, it seems the blink of an eye. A year ago this month, I was finishing out my last days of high school. It seems like forever ago. I’ve changed and grown so much in so many different ways over the past year since I left Deep Run. More than anything, I’ve gained a true sense of identity for the first time in my life. I know who I am and am on the fast track to determining my purpose in life.

One of the biggest things I’ve discovered is what defines a true friend. Looking back on my high school days, I had many people in my life who kept me around simply because I was always there and someone to use as a backup plan for everything. I was always someone who was at everyone’s beckon call. I was way too available and never too busy to give anyone some time. I guess I’ve just always been a nice guy. Too nice. I was played like a fiddle.

I was always the one who someone would call when there was nothing better to do, and I was always fun to be around until someone better came along. I was the victim of one-sided friendships in which I put in all the effort and made all the plans. Now that’s not to say I didn’t have a group of real friends, because I always have. However, there were many people in my life who completely took advantage of me.

In recent months, I’ve kind of segued into a new core group of friends. They’re some of the most caring, compassionate, genuine, and sincere group of people I’ve ever met. It seems a lot of the people I put myself around in the past, and even some who are still friends to this very day, are just complete downers, are negative, or just hold me back in general. I find more and more after being around this positive, spiritual, forward thinking group I have now that some of the other people in my life are just dragging me down.

A true friend is someone who is genuinely interested in what’s on your mind and in your heart. They’re excited for you when you’re excited. They’re there for you when you’re down. They support your endeavors and dreams and build you up. That’s what I’ve found in this amazing group.

However, this has also given me great hindsight to see all the things true friends aren’t and to see all the negative influences that I’ve had in my life. They’re not just someone who sits impatiently as you’re speaking, thinking about what they’re going to say as you talk. They’re not someone who cares only about themselves or what you can do for them when they do nothing for you (oh I could write a book of stories on this one). They don’t get mad over things that don’t make sense and then choose not to talk to you when you make a genuine effort to resolve the so-called problem and even understand what silly thing they’re upset over in the first place (that’s immaturity if I’ve ever seen it). They don’t just expect you to be around at times of their choosing and then aren’t ever available themselves when you want to hang out. They don’t belittle you, constantly mock you, or talk behind your back. These are actual examples of some of the people who have been pulling me down in recent days. This post is just the beginning, too. I have some stories, going back to fifth grade, that I’d like to share with you in the near future that will really give you some insight into what happened that year that shaped me into the person I am today. Simply put, it was moving to Wyndham that year. Oh, the stories I have to share.

I have big dreams, goals, and plans for my life that I’m actually coming to the realization of. One long-time dream of mine is already coming true. It’s amazing to see it in reality. I guess you could say I’ve just started to realize what matters (and what really doesn’t) in life. It started a few months ago and I really feel I’ve entered a new chapter in my life. I’m so happy to have found friends who fit the new productive, goal-oriented lifestyle I’ve chosen to live and who build me up, not tear me down like so many people have in the past.

I’d say it’s time to weed out the garden, so to speak, in terms of who matches up with what I want my life to be and who just drags me through the mud. Sorry, those of you who I’m speaking to have done it long enough, and I refuse to live my life that way and be such a blatant fool any longer. I’m finally truely happy with where and what I am in life, and man it feels good to be in that place for once, after being beat down and defeated so many times in the past.

 

Tornado Outbreak: Suffolk Devastation & Colonial Heights Déjà Vu

By news, Uncategorized, weather

Fifteen years ago, in 1993, a strong F4 (winds of up to 260 MPH) tornado touched down in Colonial Heights, destroying the Wal-Mart store and killing three people, before tearing through Petersburg’s historic district. Well today, history seems to have repeated itself. A moderate tornado touched down in the exact same shopping center (Dimmock Square, near Southpark Mall). Is that eerie or what? I was only five years old the first time it happened, but (strangely) vaguely remember seeing it on TV. The Dress Barn and Target stores suffered blown out windows and minor roof damage, but for the most part there was no extreme structural damage.

It was a different story in Suffolk this evening. The same line of storms marched eastward (and strengthened considerably as they did so) and proceeded to completely flatten a portion Suffolk’s historic district, then went through a golf course community and completely wiped large, substantial homes clean off their foundations to the point where all that was left was a concrete slab beneath. This part was especially eerie to me because the neighborhood looked very similar to mine (Wyndham) from the aerial shot.

Suffolk is completely devastated. It looks like an atomic bomb went off the way the homes literally exploded with the extreme winds. At the time I’m writing this, there has only been one person confirmed dead, but unfortunately, it would be miraculous if the death toll didn’t rise, by the looks of the flattened neighborhoods. Hopefully it won’t, though. Virginia is no stranger to tornadoes, but usually experiences much weaker ones than this. This was extremely rare. Keep your thoughts and prayers with the Hampton Roads community during the aftermath of this immense, widespread natural disaster.

I find all of this very interesting since most of you know how much I like weather and storms. I flipped through the local news channels and hooked up my Comcast digital box to my Mac to record everything as it happened. Here are some screenshots from the live broadcasts I recorded from NBC 12 (WWBT), 8 NEWS (WRIC), CBS 6 (WTVR), and WAVY 10 (WAVY) (NBC affiliate in Norfolk, via live streaming on-air web simulcast).

1993 archive video footage of the destruction of the Southpark Wal-Mart (WRIC)

Meteorologist Jim Duncan advises citizens to take shelter during a tornado warning (WWBT)

Aerial image of Dimmock Square Shopping Center (perimeter highlighted in yellow) and the adjacent Wal-Mart store (now a Sam’s Club) that were both hit by tornadoes that followed the exact same paths in 1993 and 2008 (Blackwood Development Corporation)

Cars were tossed like toys in the Dimmock Square Shopping Center parking lot, in front of Target (WWBT)

A house suffers extreme damage in Suffolk (WTVR)

A Suffolk antiques shop is cut in half with almost no visible damage from the front or rear façades, but obviously the historic building is a complete loss (WAVY)

 The owner of a car dealership snaps a picture through the front windows of his business as a huge tornado barrels through Suffolk (WAVY)

Isn’t Life Funny?

By life

Have you ever stopped to think about how you got to where you are? I’m a firm believer that there are no coincidences in life whatsoever. The people we meet, the things that happen to us, the experiences we have, they all happen for a reason. They’re all part of God’s plan for our lives. But do you ever think about how many small things could have lead to big things in your life?

Most people never think about this, but the thought struck me today. Suppose you’re going down the road. You reach a stop sign. You can go left or right. Think about all of the different implications that could have. I’m just fabricating scenarios here, but if you turn left, you could end up going to a gas station and meet your future spouse. If you turn right, you might be in a car accident and die. It’s just so interesting how the smallest decisions that we don’t even process as even being decisive things can end up changing so much.

The decision to open your mouth and say something before you think could end up costing you your good name and reputation. Choosing to exchange small talk with the person behind you at Starbucks could lead to making a new friend, which in turn could lead to meeting other people, new opportunities, or even a different lifestyle.

Once again these are just random scenarios, but you get the idea. It’s just so amazing how the smallest of small decisions can change your life in such dramatic ways. Isn’t life funny?

Recent Questions, Ponderings, Discoveries, & Thoughts

By life

I’ve been doing a whole lot of deep thinking lately, especially yesterday. I could write a full-fledged post on each topic, and I might do that with some of these at a later date, but I just wanted to share what’s been running through my head over the past week or so. These are all randomly-ordered questions, ponderings, discoveries, and thoughts I’ve had.

– You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself and be a positive example for others to follow.

– When you put God at the center of your life, everything else just falls into place exactly the way it’s supposed to.

– If you try to do too many things at once you won’t get anything done at all. Focusing on one thing will get you a lot farther.

– Why is it that practically everyone I know is in a relationship now, and all over the course of the past month?

– I’ll be getting to that point in a few years when everyone I know is starting to get married, and man, that seems unreal. When did I get to this age?

– I’ll be twenty in July? Twenty? Two decades down. Wow.

– I finally know exactly what I want and that I am once again ready to be in a relationship.

– Am I only good enough to talk to or does she (come on you didn’t think you were actually gonna get a name, did you?) actually want something more with me?

– Why am I always second best, and how do I change that?

– Sushi from the VCU Commons is great at the beginning of the week, but practically a biohazard by Friday.

– I need to nail down what I’m doing this Summer job-wise, and really soon.

– I need to decide on my major for sure by next Fall. Graphic Design, Mass Communications, Film, or Business?

– The old saying is absolutely right: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

– Running is a great stress reliever.

– Change is constant and life is fluid.

– There are two options: Get in the game or be left behind.

– I need to spend less money on eating out, and that would also help me with my goal of getting in shape.

– I’ve got an incredible group of friends who are more supportive, caring, and genuine than anyone else I’ve ever been around in my life.

– I need to stop making this list and go get ready to head to VCU for my second-to-the-last day of classes.

Glad I got all that out. I feel a lot better now! Comment and share your thoughts.

Leap Year Birthdays

By Uncategorized

What if you were born on February 29, a day like today that only comes around once every four years? Do you age four times slower, or do you just have less fun because you only get to party it up every four years? I’ve always wondered how that would go. Here’s one woman’s story. (Oh, and Happy Leap Day!)

Tillie Iverson is observing her 24th birthday Friday — at the age of 96.
Family members from as far away as Florida, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina are helping her celebrate her Leap Year birthday. Iverson was born in 1912 on Feb. 29, a date that only comes around every four years. Like others born on that date, she has sometimes marked her birthday on Feb. 28 and sometimes on March 1.
“It depended on what day of the week it was and what fit the best,” Iverson said. “Someone might have been too busy one day, so we’d do it another day.”

But she still feels a little cheated as a Leap Day baby. “I didn’t enjoy it at all,” she said. “The day before, that’s not my birthday. And the day after, that’s not my birthday either. I’ve been shorted on birthdays.” Iverson, whose husband died in 1993, helped deliver 42 babies over the years as a midwife. She kept a scrapbook with information on the infants. “We’d get up in the morning and she’d be boiling her instruments on the kitchen stove, and she’d tell us about the baby she had delivered,” said Evelyn Maloney, one of four surviving siblings. Two others have died.
Iverson lives in an apartment in Chippewa Falls where she still handles many of the daily chores of life, with help from Maloney, who visits often.