Sunday, December 09, 2012
(If you are looking for warm and fuzzy, soft, uplifting and encouraging this day please stop reading. This blog is designed to make you (and me) very uncomfortable, introspective and finally moved to take some sort of action. I warned ya.)
It’s not about us.
It’s not about the Spark points, the fitness minutes or the consistency awards. It’s not how many times are angelic mugs are held up as examples of health. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have, blogs you write or weight you’ve lost. A family living in an abandoned vehicle will never know or much less care.
What matters is how much hope you find within yourself and how much of that hope you share with others.
We’re a selfish group aren’t we, so immersed in personal achievement, so justified in our journey and our many goals and we fail to look to either side and see those who haven’t quite put it together as of yet. Our role, our goal is to bring hope. The larger picture, the fiscal cliffs, the malaise and despair in our world dictates that you and I give and give and give. Instead we smugly take. We “deserve” laud, honor and praise for putting both feet on the ground each day and breathing. At least that’s what we say to ourselves.
Please, please don’t respond to this blog by telling me, chapter and verse, of all the great things you do for yourself and others. I’ll counter with a tome larger than War and Peace of my perceived greatness, love and giving. It is not now and never will be enough. We were placed on this plane of existence to give to each other, not doubt, be skeptical and withhold. If we gave enough hope to the person beside us then the world would look, taste and smell just like the greeting cards.
Yeah, you’ve worked long and hard. Go look in the mirror, smile, doff your cap, take a bow, do whatever. Yeah, you are special, acknowledge your gifts and talents and the light you bring to this world and please and very kindly get over it. Go find someone sweating quietly, overcoming insurmountable obstacles each and every day simply to exist and survive. Look for someone who was abandoned, lost and has given up. Go find them!!!
Bring them hope, and be that hope
Thursday, December 06, 2012
We all have our morning rituals. Mine involves a bit of prayer, a bit of meditation and then I read from the revised and expanded “Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia” by Rob Brezsny. It’s one of those books you can sit on your lap, and page through in a leisurely fashion. There’s no chronological order, you skim through the chapters and glean something that’ll start your day in the right way. If you get an opportunity, pick up copy. Pronoia, by the way, is the positive practice of ridding our universe of paranoia. Be warned it involves smiling and laughing and actually reaching out to other people, some of whom you may not even know ----- Yet. That brings me to this morning’s story.
Elaine works at McDonald’s. She works from midnight until eight in the morning. Most of the time, she works the drive-through window. If you are a fortuitous student of my previous blogs you are aware that each morning I get Joan a cup of coffee and myself a glass of unsweetened tea to begin our day. We’ve gotten to know Elaine well. So well, in fact, that when I pull up to the drive-through all I need to say is “The usual.” Elaine has a rough job. She stands in a window all night with little to no human contact and sometimes I believe, that wears you out as much as hard labor. Elaine is a little older than I am, her kids have all left town and with her quirky sense of humor once told me that her husband left long before the kids did. This morning, as with every morning, Elaine and I exchanged our obligatory greeting and as I handed her the money I notice she was grinning wide. “Why are you in such a good mood?” I asked, “It’s really been a beautiful day.” She responded. “I got to spend yesterday with two of my favorite nieces and we went to the animal shelter and I came home with not only one, but two kittens. I let them sleep with me yesterday afternoon. It was a good day off.”
Her smile was so serene, so content and soul full of Pronoia. I drove away happy, humming a little tune knowing my day started in an amazing way. As we hustle and bustle through this time a year it’s good to know there are people in this world like Elaine who take some positive and simple joy from curling up with two kittens and then share that joy with the rest of us.
I warned you. Pronoia involves smiling and laughing and actually reaching out to other people, some of whom you may not even know ----- Yet.
Monday, December 03, 2012
It all started when I made the decision switch from peanut butter to cream cheese on my whole grain, low fat waffle. I made the move because, after all, cream cheese has less calories and peanut butter. A day later, I noticed a weird rash developing around my elbows on the back of my knees. At first, I wrote it off to being heat rash from running in and out of the gym and not being very dry. However, the rash persisted, and it was driving me crazy.
My doctor told me she was 90% sure that I had some sort of reaction to what I was eating. She sent me, to an allergist. Let me say right off, that I really appreciated the allergist’s common sense approach to dealing with this issue. He told me that I had two options: I could go through a series of painful tests that would determine what foods I might have sensitivities or allergies to or I could begin a food elimination diet. He gave me some literature to read and suggested a hierarchy of food sensitivities in the order they most occur. They are as follows: dairy, red meat, sugar, and gluten. He suggested I begin by eliminating dairy from my diet and monitoring the reactions. I walked out of his office thinking “No problem!” That, I found out, was easier said than done. I was not aware of how many things that went in my mouth actually contained a dairy product and to add to my pain and suffering I never realized just how much I would miss cheese! I am originally from the state of Wisconsin, you know, “the Dairy State.” I had this image of the state fathers driving me to the state line in pointing towards Illinois banishing me and allowing me never to return. I would no longer be a Cheese Head.
I have been at this elimination diet for a week now, and the rashes have disappeared and a pleasant byproduct is that I feel significantly better. I will tell you, however, that it’s been a bit of an adventure finding things I can eat that won’t produce a negative reaction. Saturday evening I took a bite of a piece of peanut butter pie Katie had made and was itching all over in about 15 minutes. So a new and exciting journey begins and I really hope it’s dairy, LOL, because I don’t want to have to get rid of anything else.
Monday, November 26, 2012
It all started when Tim walked in the door Thursday morning. “You cut your hair!!” Katie exclaimed. “And you trimmed your beard.” “I’m seeing someone on Saturday,” he responded. “You have a date?” I asked. They all looked at me like I’d said something wrong. Back in the day, Joan and I met, we dated, we got engaged and then we got married. I realize I’ve compressed a time line. Katie, Maggie, my nieces and a nephew sat down and began to explain this phenomenon to me in that tone you use when you are trying to potty train a two year old.
Apparently people don’t just date anymore. First they “talk to one another.” I’m not sure how long talking lasts but if everything goes right they start to “see each other.” This conjured a vision of people walking around with blindfolds on until the right moment. My insecurities led me to wonder what would happen if they didn’t like what they saw? After you see one another for a prescribed period of time (No one could tell me how long this period of time was. They said “You just know.”) you begin to “date.” Dating leads to that wonderful Facebook status called “Being In A Relationship.” I’ve never been sure what to say or do when I get someone’s status update saying they are “In a relationship.” Do I send a gift? Should I get my suit cleaned? (Do they even wear suits anymore?) Thank goodness for the little thumbs-up-like-icon. I just hit that and wish them well. Being In A Relationship is sort of tricky. It can go on and on or it can end, which means you are single once again and everyone sends you sad, yet supportive messages or it can evolve into becoming “significant others.” I figure if you reach this point the term is redundant. I mean, if you invested that much of yourself shouldn’t it be significant? Does the world need to know the distinction? By this point my head was throbbing. We were only getting started.
We went into the subsets. Once you were a significant other you could tack on “partner” or “domestic partner,” Domestic partners shared a residence and the chores and duties and all the other exciting stuff that goes along with managing a household. “Partners,” maintained their own residence or not because some people don’t like the term “domestic.” During this stage of a relationship you can announce on Facebook that you are “engaged” or single depending how the partnership works out or you can just remain partners.
You can also decide you don’t really want to commit totally to a relationship but you still enjoy certain aspects of one another’s company. That’s when you become “friends with benefits.” It means that you “hook up” on occasion simple to enjoy certain pleasures without any real commitment other than showering afterwards. (Didn’t I put that diplomatically?) You are allowed to have more than one “friends with benefits.” Usually you don’t put this on Facebook because some people look at it as being a bit tawdry. While you can introduce someone as a partner, a significant other or a fiancé it is bad form to introduce someone as being a “friend with benefits.”
Sometime when I wake up in the middle of the night and play with my regrets I wish I was young again. After this discussion on Thanksgiving I’m glad I’m where I’m at. I’d need a score card to keep track of my life and mostly I learned next time, not to ask.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Watching someone die is not romantic. Paint all the portraits of angels and Jesus welcoming you home with outstretched arms and a glowing smile you want, I've never met anyone who raised their hand and said "I'll give up my seat here on good old planet earth, no problem." No matter how prepared we are, no matter what our notion of an after life is when the moment presents itself we are hard wired to survive. I watched my father go through that process for three days as he struggled to stay alive. The day before he died he reached up, removed his oxygen mask and pulled me towards him.
We were never close. Some of it had to do with geography and the rest of it with the notion that I was the antithesis of everything he believed in. I never fell into line with his other three children. He wasnt around when I was growing up. He was working three jobs. I was led to believe we were barley surviving. When he died he left my mother slightly over seven figures to live on. He told my youngest sister that he had to work so hard so he'd have money to retire with. He was 87 at the time. My dad never hugged me. My dad never told me he loved me. I cant tell you I loved my dad. I respected him. I never knew him or why he was so distant. A number of people told me its because he grew up during the Depression. I dont buy it. I had friends whose parents came from the same genreration and were warm and affectionate. Mostly, I was told what I didnt do right.
He reached up and pulled me close to him. Its the first time he touched me that I could remember. "I've led a good life, but God it's went by so fast." In his eyes I saw fear and regret and believe it or not I was at a loss for words.
The next few days saw me standing in a corner watching him die and trying somewhere inside of me to find something to latch on to. I couldnt. I just stared.
My brother Joe looked up and said. "He's not breathing." It was over, just like that. They'd sedated him a few hours earlier. He slipped away and left me with so many unanswered questions. They are all holding hands and praying and I'm just staring. I didnt know the man.
Where the happy ending?
I have lived my life believing that something good and positive can come out of anything if you look long enough and hard enough. I'm not sure how much time remains for me in. I do know that it wont be wasted. I call my kids at least once a week just to chat. Periodically they get emails simply saying its been awhile since I told you I loved you. They grin and ask Joan if I'm terminally ill. We've gone to see Rogewr Waters, baseball games and plays together. In February we get to see The Who.
Life is a lot of "Monkey see monkey do." I'm my dad in many ways. I'm not real comfortable sharing my feelings with the kids all the time. I'll find myself tearing up. My youngest calls me "Emo Boy." There is stuff I wish I'd done different. So when I get a chance, I share part of me. I accept them for where they are in their lives and as much as possible encourage them. I want them to know they are loved In many ways I'm haunted by that look of sadness in my dads eyes and for that I am most grateful and thankful for this day and all the others that remain for me.
This blog didnt start out this way, LOL. It just sorta went there.
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