I have a new way of blogging now that will hopefully be beneficial for myself as well as for any others (that means, you) that may stumble on my site in the future.

My new, primary blog will be at Happiness Inculcate. I still plan to write posts at My Dirty Little Secret whenever I feel I have something worth saying. But, my posts at MDLS will be of a very low frequency.

Hope to see you Happiness Inculcate where I hope you'll find some inspiration whereby you can cultivate and nurture your happiness.

 *****END OF FILE*****



For the longest, I have been searching for the most important things about life that I should concentrate on. In my searching, I ran across a website that listed the top five regrets from people in hospice care. Ironically, I ran across a Ted Talk shortly after that which listed those exact same regreets-- but also gave a suggestion on how to avoid them!

You don't just watch this video-- you do it, too!

So, if you happen to read this-- whoever you might be-- do yourself a favor and do this video! You may just add some years to your life!



In some of my previous writings, I purposely employed the use of a lower-case "i" as my personal pronoun in order to express a sense of inadequacy or smallness. You can find examples of this in previous posts on this blog.

Today-- that practice ends.

I feel empowered in such a way that I shall never reference myself with a lower-case "i" again. Yesterday, illumination flooded my mind as I beheld the liberating consequence of empowerment.

Proving competence to yourself authorizes you to control your destiny.

For me, the term "self-esteem" had evolved into a muted truth buried in cliché. But now . . . that buried truth bursts forth as I prove to myself-- my most brutal critic-- that I am capable. I am able. I can. And-- I get high from just realizing that. When I prove to myself that I can solve my own problems by reaching beyond myself, I become empowered-- and I crave more of it.

I do not claim total self-sufficiency; Interdependence is inevitable. I know that I cannot solve every challenge single handedly. But, confidence inspires that very same substance out of others; eventually, multiple hands appear-- assisting you with lifting daunting challenges out of the way.

Today, I am empowered. Hereafter, I will succeed.



Yesterday, I got a letter which labeled me as "Valued customer since 1999". Regardless, the letter proceeded to say:

Please know that your policy will expire as of 12:01 a.m. on August 3, 2013. Unfortunately, you will not receive an offer to renew . . .

Valued customer, my ass . . .



It's 00:43 right now. I'm wide awake. At 22:30 on June 24th, I had server maintenance. I didn't leave until 07:00 the next day. I went grocery shopping for my mom, got home in time to see my wife head off to work. My mom kept my kids, so I crashed at 09:30. Keep in mind-- that's AM.

I fell asleep so fast, I think maybe I blacked-out rather than the usual drifting off to sleep.

I was surprised to wake up with my son standing over me. I had no idea how that happened at the time. I knew he wasn't supposed to be home, so how in the hell was he standing over me, waking me up?! I though in that moment that perhaps I had slept so long that my wife had come home from her night class. So, that would mean it was 22:00 at least. Talk about Rip Van Winkle. Turns out his maternal grandmother brought him by to get something from the house and then took him back to my mom's house.

I blacked-out again.

I finally started my day at 19:00 and went to the hardware store and bought a new fill valve for my toilet. My bedroom toilet had been hissing after being flushed, and it wouldn't fill up properly. This had been going on for too long now, and I had to finally do something. I didn't know if it would work, but I had to try something. Things were starting to get nasty in the bathroom and I can't stand for that. Toilets can really give you grief when they fail to do their jobs properly. They are quite easy to take for granted.

I stopped off for some coffee after purchasing my flush valve. I think the only reason why I woke up is because my coffee withdrawal jarred me out of my sleep. I went through the drive-thu and chuckled at the sign propped up at the window which read, "Congratulations, you made it out of bed today!"

Boy, they have no idea . . . or do they?

I fixed the toilet when I got home with the kids (so far as I can tell). It behaves correctly now. I feel empowered.

Just because I worked late the other day doesn't mean I'm not expected to be at work at 08:00 hours today. But, I'm wide awake *now*. To me, the day has just gotten started. I can't make it from now to 17:00 without needing some sleep along the way. But I probably won't get sleepy until 09:00 today.

Welcome to the world of system administration, delayed sleep phase syndrome and coffee addition-- Bad, bad bedfellows, indeed!




it's the word that describes how you feel when you want to grow more, but can't seem to climb any higher than the plateau on which you already stand.

stuck is the word to describe that feeling of doubt as to whether you're really being the best parent to your children. am i really a good father? will my kids think back on things i've told them and be thankful, or will they be left with a sense that they were cheated somehow? am i really giving them my best? am i really helping them become their best selves?

stuck is the word to use to describe that feeling you have when you ask yourself, "what are the most important things in life"? but you don't really have an answer. you think you know what's important, but deep down, you don't know if you really know or not. and worse-- are you even doing those important things, if you even know what they are?!

stuck is the feeling you get when you want to be closer to your mate, but life gets in the way.

stuck if the word for when you want to live your dream, but you don't even know what it is yet and time is probably running out.

stuck is when you want to go somewhere else, but you don't feel capable or able to venture elsewhere.

stuck is when you want to be truly alone-- just for a short moment-- but there is no private place to go.

stuck is when you know you're tired and need sleep, but the mind refuses to rest.

stuck is when you want to say more, but you don't know what else to say.



It's 04:00 and I'm prying myself out of bed. My wife is frantically getting the kids up because we've got a long day ahead. Our nephew is graduating and my sister-in-law really, really wants us to be there-- but the drive to the college is long and we're already a bit behind schedule.

We meet my sister-in-law at a nearby gas station by 05:30. Then, we hit the road; We're headed to Oxford, MS. My nephew is graduating from the University of Mississippi-- better known as Ole Miss.

As far as places go, Ole Miss is not one of my favorites.

By 07:30, we reached a McDonald's in a small town called Batesville, just outside of Oxford. We zip through the drive through to grab breakfast. I was trying to just drink green tea for the next few weeks, but I would be lying to myself if I thought I could make it through this long, grueling day without some coffee. So I order some along with my bacon & egg sandwich. Oooo . . . so good. I needed that coffee badly.

By 08:30, we're sitting at a campus apartment complex waiting on my nephew and his girlfriend to come out. We're also waiting on other relatives to show up as well. Once we're finally gathered, we all tailgate deeper into the campus and park near a few frat houses. Then we walk. It's a long walk, and crowds of people are streaming in the same direction on campus as we-- to the Grove, which is the central location for anything important on the Ole Miss campus. The Grove is a beautiful outdoors area at the heart of the campus. At each home football game, at least a thousand people pack themselves into this area and throw a massive tailgate party hours before the game starts. Then, the football team leaves the athletics complex and parades through the Grove to reach the football stadium as the crowd cheers them on. Then, fans file into the stadium from the Grove to watch the game.

But today, instead of having a tailgate party, they are having their commencement ceremony.

Graduates gather in their black gowns, waiting for their signal to start marching to their seats. In the meanwhile, my family and I look for a seats of our own.

Great. It had been raining earlier. So, all the seats are wet and the Grove, despite it's overall beauty, is a muddy mess underfoot. I see people attempting to use their program booklets to dry their seats. Some people were prepared enough to have paper towels. My wife's solution was fairly clever-- at least I though so. She dug into her purse and pulled out a few tampons (unused, of course). She opened the packs of each and then tore the napkin portion apart from the plastic. She dried off about ten seats, since more family members would be coming along. To her, it was a no-brainer; but she received a few objections. "They're absorbent", she reasoned to her detractors. Using the tampons certainly worked better than sitting on the program booklets!

As we were shuffling around in the sitting area (hardly anyone was sitting as most were trying to solve the problem of wet seats), I overheard a couple as they passed. Their accent was not that of the Southern drawl, so I assumed they were from "up north". I presumed the woman was speaking with her husband as they passed. She said, "Oh look, the speaker is Medgar Evers' widow. Do you know who he was? He was a civil rights activist that was killed by the KKK." Their voices faded as they kept walking.

At that moment, I wondered if we Southerners were some sort of spectacle to any visiting outsiders-- a Southern school with a reputation for bigotry, in a Southern state with a reputation for bigotry, having a commencement speaker who is the widow of a slain civil rights activist as well as a victim of bigotry's hate.

Mind boggling.

We listened to Pomp and Circumstance loop for a long, solid 40 minutes while we watched hundreds and hundreds of graduates shuffle in from multiple directions. The wind started to blow, causing water droplets to fall like rain from the already wet tree leaves. But, I checked my smartphone . . . only 10% chance of rain despite the ominous clouds. We should be good. Right?

The graduates finally took their seats. Then, we, the audience  finally sat down. For better or for worse-- whether wet or whether dry-- we all took our seats; then, long speeches ensued.

Finally, the key-note speaker, Myrlie Evers-Williams, began to give her address. She didn't pretend that the moment was awkward-free, either. She was very clear that she and Ole Miss had a very bad relationship with each other over the years. She talked of how her husband wanted to know why he couldn't attend Ole Miss like anybody else who attended. She told of how he wanted to go so badly that he was actually going to try. He knew his chances were slim, but he also knew that he had to bear the burden of effecting change for upcoming generations.

And he knew he was putting a target on his back, too.

She hinted of how people at Ole Miss gave her a very hard time over the years. Apparently, key members of the school's administration gave her grief before and after her husband's assassination.

She didn't hide from the fact that her presence begged the question "Why did they invite you to speak"? I know I was thinking it. As she spoke, she even stated that she received that question all morning.

She candidly reveled to us her answer:

 "I do not know why they asked me to speak".

But then, she pointed out that the reason didn't matter. She spoke on how she noticed the diversity of the 2013 class. She noted that she could tell they had fun here. She could tell that Ole Miss may one day become something different than what it was in the past-- something better. She spoke of the hope that one day people can come from Mississippi and not feel ashamed to say so. She then challenged the graduating class to change the face of the school and the state.

By then, it's 10:40. We're trekking across campus again (away from our cars) towards the second phase of the graduation ceremony. Now we find ourselves inside an athletic building so we can actually sit through hearing each name called. My wife and I finally gave up sitting through the long roll call after our nephew was announced. We stayed a very short while longer, then we walked back to our car and waited for the rest of our family to leave the ceremony.

Now it's approaching 14:00. It's getting hot and muggy. The humidity is high because rain only threatened to happen. Now, moisture just seems trapped in the air, making it thick and wet-- inviting mosquitoes to come out and bite. We finally make it back to the apartment and we wait for our nephew to return from the ceremony. We're supposed to go out to eat together as a family. We sit and wait. Everyone has come back but him; His return is overdue. I guess saying last good-byes has held him up.

Parking was limited back at the campus apartment, so I parked in front of somebody else's front door. I didn't mean to be rude-- we just didn't have many other choices for parking at that moment. Besides, we were told that none of the spaces are reserved. So, no one has a right to complain if a stranger parks in front of your apartment. Just as soon as I turn my engine off, a head sticks out from behind the apartment door that I've parked in front of. Eyes glare at me and then the onlooker shakes his head with disappointment-- as though he had just witnessed something shameful.

The door closes abruptly.

A few minutes later, he comes out and goes digging in his truck for something. I couldn't help but think he was concerned that I'd steal whatever it was he dug out of his truck. He shakes his head again as he returns to his apartment door. He looked as though it was shameful that my kind was allowed to set foot on Ole Miss campus. I asked him if he wanted me to move. He seemed to ignore me; as if to suggest my existence shouldn't be dignified with a response. Perhaps he just didn't hear me. Either way, I started my vehicle and moved it many spaces over-- away from his front door.

He won't have to worry about me any more. I promise; the muddy earth of Ole Miss shall never soil the soles of my shoes again.

On the long drive home, I tried to process everything I had experience. The only other experience I had on the Oxford campus was a football game-- my nephew was on the team, as well. He really wanted us to see him in a game at least once.

I reflected upon how the Ole Miss mascot was a black bear. But, boy, that didn't seem to go over well because their original mascot is a fella known as Colonel Reb'.

Never heard of him? Picture KFC's Colonel Sanders, but thinner face, without glasses and a longer goatee. Now, picture him in a suite like Calvin Candy wears in the movie Django. Now make that suite red and white.

Don't forget the cane. There. You've just pictured Colonel Reb'.

Despite the dancing, gyrating black bear being their new and official mascot, you could quickly spot a man in the audience dressed up just like Ole Colonel Reb', shaking hands with the fans and taking pictures. He's even got a cane and red suite.

Colonel Reb' shows up as decals on cars and as an emblem on shirts. He's on hats and he's on mugs. This year, Ole Miss had their first ever African-American home coming queen. But, they don't ever pick a traditional "homecoming king". Instead, they elect the next Colonel Reb'.

He is in the alumni's blood and he puts the "Ole" in Ole Miss. He is the old way of the South. The plantation owner rich off of cotton and those who picked it for him. He is woven into Ole Miss heritage just like the Confederate flag is woven directly into the state flag of Mississippi.

This is why the new administration at Ole Miss changed the mascot. This is also why the student body was deeply divided over it and many alumni incensed by it.

But, I would be remiss to end my expressions about Ole Miss on a totally negative note. Despite all of my frustrations about Ole Miss, I have to say that there was a time in history that I wouldn't be able to set foot there. And now, my nephew has a college degree from there and is thinking about continuing there for his master's degree. Sixty years ago, a black person trying to attend Ole Miss was truly a life threatening endeavor. My nephew was popular among his peers (both black and white) as he was on the football team and played regularly this season.

Not long ago, I admitted to feeling betrayed whenever I heard an African-American say anything good about Ole Miss. But then I realize that students will feel endearment to their Alma Mater and parents will tend to support their child's endeavors  Black parents come out to cheer on their children at the games, or they drive hours across the highways just so they may cry tears of joy as they watch them receive their diploma on graduation day. These parents are proud that their children a part of Ole Miss because at one time they couldn't be, but now they can; Medgar Evers' death wasn't in vain after all. He bore the burden for the next generation and helped create the opportunity for African-Americans to join in the Ole Miss camaraderie.

And Ole Miss camaraderie is amazing; the atmosphere of Ole Miss is like a fraternity unto itself. One can't help but admire how at any moment a distant voice can yell across the crowded Grove:


Then in a united roar, everyone that has shared in the Ole Miss experience responds:

Hell, yeah! Damn Right!
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who the hell are we, Hey!
Flim Flam, Bim Bam

Rather than throwing their hats in the air on graduation day, the graduates cheered their school chant, in complete unison, without any prompting. Nobody even had to ask them if they were ready. They all knew it was time to say it and their voices were strong-- together. I doubt they even needed any practice. Why would they? The class of 2013 had at least four years of practice together already.

Both black and white people were in that graduating class sharing in that moment-- as well as many other minority groups.

And that's they way it should be. Despite my overall dislike for Ole Miss, I believe there is light at the end of the tunnel as far as their bad reputation concerning race relations is concerned.

Maybe one day I can feel good about that school after all.

One day.

I got home around 21:00, exhausted. But my brain couldn't stop churning over all the mixed feelings I had about Ole Miss. On one hand, I still felt had distaste towards the school. On the other, I felt an inkling of respect for the institution because I can see efforts towards diversity. Also, I was proud of my nephew for reaching a very important milestone in his life even if it was at a school that I personally dislike. Maybe I need to change, too, just like the leadership at Ole Miss is trying to do.

But first thing tomorrow, I'm cleaning that Ole Miss mud from my shoes. And if I ever have to go back to Oxford again, my revisit will probably be way too soon for my taste.