Year End Message

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more…” The Raven – Edgar Allen Poe

As this year comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s been reading my ramblings. Inspiration can come from anywhere. The secret is to act like a computer, absorb and analyze everything that comes your way. Discard the garbage and keep everything that seems useful, for one day it may come in handy.

Never close your mind to other possibilities. If you aren’t willing to bend, to adapt to what’s around you, chances are you’ll break and everyone else will pass you by.

If you have a dream, go after it. Make a plan on how you will achieve your dream, and then follow through. Having a dream alone will turn you into a sad old person.

Never put your fate in the hands of someone else. They will take you along with them only while it helps them achieve their goals. No one, aside from truly close blood and friends will look out for you. Putting your complete fate in someone else’s hands will almost always result in broken dreams and promises.

Always remember, if it is to be, it is up to me! You have to make it happen. If you’re dreaming, it means you’re not out there doing. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It is by failing over and over again that we learn and grow and one day reach our dreams.

So, for 2013, rather than make a new years resolution, make an action plan on how you can reach your goal. The time to do it is now, not later when someone else comes along to do it for you. Your life will really start once your begin your plan. Struggle now, so that you can take it easy for the rest of your life.

December is the worse time to be alone, make it easy to handle

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”  A.A. Milne

Those are words every parent should say to every one of their children, not just once but over and over again. Your children need to hear these words from you, not just on special occasions, or when something tragic happens, or when you thought the world was ending, but constantly.

But it should not stop there.

Brothers and sisters should say those words to each other. When the parents are gone, the ones they leave behind may have no one else to look out for them, or to turn to, aside from each other.

Over time when the parents, and the brothers, and sisters are apart, those words may become forgotten. Hearing those words makes a person feel warm inside, it makes a person feel wanted and loved. Saying them only on special occasions makes it seem they are being said out of courtesy. People are supposed to be loving and nice on holidays and special occasions. Hearing those words only during the holidays, when everyone is supposed to be nice, leaves the person hearing them empty.

Never assume your children, your brothers, and your sisters know that you feel this way. The only way to be absolutely sure they know it, is by saying it to them over and over again, just as you should always tell them you love them.

Why does it matter?

There will be times when someone will be alone. One or all of your children may be alone, either by choice or circumstance. The holidays, especially in December when so many people are observing their own holiday, are a difficult time for someone who’s alone. More people get depressed around this time than any other time of the year. Knowing there is someone far away who loves them and will always be there for them, will carry someone who is alone through what may be a difficult time for them. Hearing those words before the holiday comes gives them meaning, so that when they are heard during the holiday, it is known they are given from the heart.

I’d like to wish everyone a wonderful Holiday and a New Year full of love and happiness.

Omar Kiam

Parents are responsible for how their children turn out

“Blame or credit, does not belong to the child alone. Parents, those who raised the child, must be given equal credit, or blame. That does not change, when the child is one, twenty or ninety years old.” Omar Kiam

How a person develops as an adult is directly tied to how that person is raised. It is not enough to simply give birth, feed and clothe a child. What a parent does and says have a direct impact on how a child develops, just as much as what is not said or done.

Studies have shown that children who are not held and shown love within the first two years after birth never fully develop the parts of the brain that control emotions.

Once the damage is done, a parent can’t simply walk away from that child. A parent can’t be held blameless for how a child turns out. The law does not find someone innocent whose defense is ignorance of the law. The same is true with raising children. It is the parents responsibility to provide a loving and nurturing environment for their children. For all of their children and not to their favorites. It is the parents responsibility to learn what is required to properly raise a child.

I can speak this way because I grew up in an environment where children were seen as objects. Children were a means for parents to better themselves. More children increased their chances for being taken care of in their old age. Attention was given to the children who showed the most promise.

It is difficult for a anyone to grow up normal in this type of environment. For children who require special care due to mental illness, this type of environment is dangerous.

As an adult, I have walked away from those who gave birth to me and raised me, no longer acknowledging their existence. They are not blameless, nor should they be.

Writing my biography caused me to question if it was time for forgiveness. It is not. Maybe if this was done to me alone I might, but they had ten children, most of whom carry scars to this day.

For those who care to learn more, you can read my story in Coming to Astoria: An Immigrants Tale. If after reading it you think it was a mistake to call myself parent-less, while one of them is still living, I would grateful if you share your thoughts with me.

Too often the parents are looked at as victims, when it is they who should be held accountable.

The Great Wall of Milford

“Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” Theodore Isaac Rubin

Every once in a while we are confronted with a difficult task. Some people are constantly drawn to these and overcome them each and every time, making the impossible seem easy. Others avoid difficult tasks like the plague, never taking on anything beyond their current capabilities.

We bought a house in Milford that had a stone retaining wall that was falling apart. We used every last bit of money we had for the down payment and as a result, had nothing left to pay anyone for work which the house needed.

I had never built a retaining wall, or even seen one being built. Yet, I felt fully confident that I could replace the failing wall myself. In my mind I examined what needed to be done and seeing nothing that was beyond the abilities of a normal person, decided to take on the task.

My first step was to research the process of building a retaining wall. Within a week, using the internet, I was able to put together each of the steps that needed to be done, and a list of the materials required.

The materials were ordered, a backhoe was rented, and the old stone wall was taken down. I gave the old stone to a local contractor in town, my son’s friend’s dad, who came and picked them up as I took them down.

It took me three months, working weekends and evenings after work, to complete the retaining wall. For the following month after the wall was done, one of my neighbors brought everyone who came to visit her over to look at the wall. At Home Depot, the worker in the garden section would point me out, saying “that’s the guy that built that wall”, every time we came.

The wall is eighty feet long, with a 90 degree curve in the middle, six feet high on one side, going down to 1 ½ feet high on the other side. 1,200 70 pound retaining wall blocks were used to build the wall. About 10 tons of dirt were taken out, and dumped a block away, and replaced with 20 tons of crushed rocks and gravel. The dirt was actually hard clay and had to be dug out using a rented backhoe. The rest was moved by shovel and 5 gallon plastic containers. 99% of the work was done by me. On weekends I would begin working on the wall at 7:00 in the morning and wouldn’t stop until nightfall.

The wall demanded not only hard work, but careful planning as well. Drain lines needed to be placed in the right position, the right amount of gravel had to be placed beneath and behind the blocks for water to flow properly.

Breaking it down into steps, simple achievable goals, made it into a realistic endeavor. Rather than looking at the total amount of work required, I looked at the first step – create a list of required materials. Next step, take down existing wall and so on.

Breaking the job down into basic steps made it seem a lot less difficult than it actually was.

Rather than looking at an impossible task and walking away, break it down into steps. Each step will appear difficult, but not impossible. Each difficult step will require hard work and dedication, but when you’re done, you would have accomplished the impossible.

After finishing the great wall of Milford, my afterglow lasted for many years. Do the impossible and you too will experience the same afterglow.

How many of you have virtue that can withstand the highest bidder?

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” George Washington

It is unfortunate that there are very few people who can’t be bought. It is simply a matter of human nature. There are things people consider more valuable than their virtue. The bidding price might be very high, but there is a price that people believe will outweigh the loss of virtue.

People manage to find a way to justify doing something against their principles in exchange for position, money, power, sex or any other thing they consider of value. They need to feed their family. It is an emergency and they are in dire need of money. They are doing it to keep the family in the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. They are not selling their virtue but doing what’s needed. And so on.

The person who can withstand temptation, who would not forsake virtue for the highest bidder, is most likely a poor person. The family of that person lives a simple un-extravagant lifestyle.

The people who would forsake the highest bidder to keep their virtue intact, might be poor, but are very content. They are comfortable with themselves. They can look in the mirror without feeling the need to justify their actions.

They are in the minority though. In a day where basic necessities require more than what a poor person has, no one can afford to be virtuous.

In this day and age, unfortunate as it is, everyone finds it very easy to justify selling their virtue to the highest bidder.

Those of us who are not for sale to any bidder, and we are out there, are a minority. We may not have fancy cars and houses, but we have peace of mind, and that is something you can’t put a price on.