Day #92 – “Wheeeez…”

I sometimes seriously believe that I have asthma.  The heaviness in my chest, difficulty breathing, and the sound of rattling when I breathe out all seem to slightly suggest that maybe, perhaps, could-be I have some sort of respertory condition…possibly.  

I’ve also been dealing with a chest cold for the last week, so…maybe not.  

Six of one – half-a-dozen of the other.  

(I hate that term.  Bad Lee!!)

Day #88 – “Evil is as Evil does”

Evil – true evil – exists.  I’ve seen it repeatedly throughout my lifetime. 

And there are people who are Evil – I’ve met many. 

The scariest thing about evil people (and yes, these people are scary) is their tendency to believe to their bones that THEY are the righteous ones.  The lies they tell are for a righteous purpose, and their evil deeds are justified because they are used/performed to attack their enemies…the unrighteous.  

Others have an ability to hear and see things in twisted ways: acts of kindness by others must have alterior motives; words of love become exclamations of hate; simple becomes extremely complex. 

These people are not human beings; they in no way positively contribute to humanity; they should have no place in civilized society.  They cannot be reformed; they will not change for the better; they can never EVER be trusted. 

Period. 

Day #87 – “Big Smile!”

Two days ago, I was walking around with family, visiting friends and acquaintances, and popping in and out of shops in Carmel.  Near the end of the day, I went into a restroom; and when I was washing my hands I looked into the mirror.  Only then did I notice a big black smudge across the bridge of my nose. 

How long had it been there?

How many people noticed it and chose not to say anything to me?

I’m at an age where that type of thing doesn’t really bother me anymore, but it did spark curiosity and a question in my mind: what keeps people from communicating this type of thing to each other?

Whether it’s a smudge on the face or a chive visibly stuck in our teen or our fly being down, what social anomaly exists that restrains people from bringing these issues to our attention, quietly, simply?

Part of me thinks it’s an “American Thing”.  When I was in Germany and Korea and Japan, this was never an issue, especially in Asia.  There’s a Group mentality and priority there.  While in America, we foster an individualistic, each-for-ourselves mindset. 

This might be worth deeper study. 

Day #86 – “A mystery wrapped an enigma…”

Many of life’s toughest challenges have no easy, clear cut solutions.  There is no visible light at the end of the tunnel.  All we can do is the best we can, day-to-day, sometimes minute-to-minute, and keep moving forward.   Often, when we think we’re at the end of our ability, the faintest light appears in the distance.  That’s when we discover our ability to be extraordinary. 

Day #85 – “Starry Starry Night…”

  A friend of mine showed me this Van Gogh painting a very long time ago. It captured my attention and sparked my imagination immediately.  More than two decades have passed and I still get lost in the swirls and details and shadows, dreaming dreams of peaceful nights or mischievous thieves or ominous spires or muffled cries.  
Van Gogh was a tortured artist, but did those voices subside during his creative sprees?  Or did they get louder?

Part of me wants to know firsthand – part of me prays I never do. 

Day #84 – “Forever the darkness…”

Okay – that was one of the longest nights of my life. 

We’re staying at a place in Cali that has no A/C and very poor circulation in the room so the nice cool air outside can’t get inside.   Oh – and there is a fan, but it’s teeny.  

I listened to 6 podcasts, back-to-back in an attempt to take my mind off of the cloying discomfort and finally fell asleep around 5 or 5:30am — only to wake up at 7am. 

Shake it off!  That’s what Taylor says, right?

Today is a gorgeous new day. Gonna spend an amazing day with family in beautiful California.  Gonna eat great food.  Gonna play with my granddaughter.  Gonna enjoy time with my son and daughter.  

Miss you, though, Donday.  Just sayin.   

The darkness is gone.  Embracing the light. 

Day #83 – “Norm!”

Ever have a place – a restaurant, club, park, etc. – that is “Your Place”?  A place you go to for the best eggs or fried rice; the place “…where everybody knows your name”; a place where saying “I’ll have my usual” actually means something?

We’re visiting our daughter and granddaughter in Monterey this week and we have that place here – Tommy’s. 

Best fried rice ever!

Day #82 – “If you believe…”

I’m a big believer in believing.  Firm conviction is the best defense against negativity that I know. 

When you wake and tell yourself that it’s going to be a productive day – and mean it! – it is. 

When you tell yourself “I’m going to enjoy this party”, you do. 

When I choose to smile and be pleasant around others, no matter what I’m really feeling inside at the start, I almost always become inside the way I’m being outside. 

I lived far too much of my life wearing my emotions on my sleeve.  Eventually I realized that it cost too much in time, effort and energy exposing or justifying what I was portaging.  

But no one needs to explain a smile.  It’s readily accepted everywhere and everyday.  

Don’t leave home without it. 

Day #80 – “Get in my belly!”

Two things:

1) Feeling very fat and out of shape today.  Spent most of the day moving furniture – a LOT of furmiture, did about 6 loads of laundry, ran a bunch of errands, and up late getting stuff ready for our trip to Cali tomorrow.  I shouldn’t be this tired, but I am.  Sad. 

2). It’s almost midnight – I still have two loads of laundry left – and I’m watching “Aliens” (that’s with an “s”, meaning the second and best of the series).   I never get tired of watching this movie and I’ve seen it (no exaggeration) at least 30 times.  

Bonus – My daughter just got home and she showed me her new Selfie Stick.  Very cool. I want one. 

Day #79 – “Good is Bad…”

Why do most of the yummiest foods have to be so bad for you?  Pie, a hamburger with all the fixin’s, pizza, candy, fried chicken, fried anything!   The fat, the cholesterol, the salt, the gluten, etc.   You feel wonderful when you’re eating them, then you feel horrible for hours afterward – or, it ends up on the gut or the butt. 

Just when you think you’ve wrestled up the strength to say “No!” to all of the good stuff, some evil person drizzles caramel over something or mixes chocolate in it or figures out how to fry it.. and then I’m back on the fire. 

Yes – I know – fresh veggies and lean proteins and seasonal fruits are the perfect way to a healthier me.   But then you start weighing the differing benefits of living healthy versus living happy.  

Must they be mutually exclusive?

 If you could truly be healthy AND happy eating just “…what’s good for you”, wouldn’t we have far less obese people?

Never black and white. 

Day #78 – “No means No !”

I’ve long struggled with identifying that missing ingredient or mindset or paradigm that stands in the way of me attaining my health goals. 

Then last night I was watching an interview of Matt Damon; they asked him about the challenges of getting back into great shape for the upcoming Bourne 5 movie.  His response caused bells to go off in my head:

“It’s a lot of work.  You know what somebody said to me? They said, ‘It’s a lot of no’s and not one yes.'”

He then went on to say that it’s al for work and he had to keep that in mind.  It’s temporary and it’s for a purpose. 

For me, just getting there has been the challenge.  This is a great mantra to focus on.   “A lot of no’s – no yes.   A lot of no’s – no yes. “

Day #77 – “Once you go digital…”

I LOVE paper books.  

I LOVE vinyl records. 

I LOVE movies on DVD and BluRay.  

But I’m at a stage in my life – that Minimalist Phase – where I want to both keep what I have, but I also want to reduce and simplify.   On the surface, it seems that going digital, at least in part, suits this direction. 

But how much is too much?

Do I ditch all of my bulky vinyl and get all my music on iTunes?

So I give away my entire library and opt for Kindle versions of my new and favorite novels?

And what about movies?  Is Amazon Prime or iTunes movies better?

I know – Your saying, “Do a mixture of physical and virtual media.  But how much is too much?

I’ve been trying for decades to get my wife to reduce and simplify, and she’s now totally onboard.  I feel guilty not leading by example.  

Wait?  Is this the Mid-life Crisis I’ve been warned about for so long?

They’re right. This IS hell. 

Day #76 – “Be it ever so humble…”

What is “Home”?

Can you have more than one?

If you have two or more, are they the same?

For me, right now, Home is the place I live.  But, the ingredients of Home have changed many times over the years. 

Without going too far back…

The first iteration of Home with my wife was just her and I, figuring it out.   Then our son came along and Home changed a Lot!  As he grew older and as my marriage evolved, so did Home.  Then came a daughter and a move to a different state and a change in jobs and a rediscovery of my marriage and the addition of in-laws, and each time, the hue and tone and timber of Home evolved.  

Then a loss of my father-in-law…and my son moving out, and back, and out again.  

Then came the addition of a daughter – and then a granddaughter – and even though they didn’t live with us, Home still changed to include their spirit and presence and our love for them. 

Then the loss of my mother-in-law last year, which caused a form of limbo to materialize until we could reconfigure Home enough to allow us to move forward again. 

Now, for a while, my son is home again and my daughter is engaged and I’ll soon have another son; and my marriage continues to evolve.  

Home never repeats itself, even if the basic ingredients are the same.  The proportions, the flavor and spices are constantly changing; almost like my chili recipe: the same, but never exactly the same. 

Verbally and consciously, I’ve always thought I wanted Home to remain the same, not only for me, but for my kids – and for their kids.  But now I realize that this isn’t necessary.  As long as the main component, the main ingredient is unchanged – that being Unconditional Love – then it will always be Home, for us and for those we love.  

Day #74 – “Are you a Husker fan?”

someone recently asked me if I was looking forward to “The Game”.  The look on the lady’s face when I answered, “What game?” was akin to her screaming “Are you stupid?”  Then she said rather sadly and firmly, “You’re not from around here, are you.”  Not a question – a statement. 

It’s true – when I’m by myself, I will almost always watch ANYTHING but football.  But here’s the weird part — If I’m with someone (or a group) that wants to watch “The Game”, I suddenly turn enthusiastic and verbally involved, commenting on every play, chiding every obvious mistake, and displaying all of the other classic armchair quarterback traits. 

Josh and I are, right now, watching The Cornhuskers beat Southern Alabama 24 – 0 at the half, and throughout the first two quarters I’m actively asking myself, “Are you a Husker fan?”  And the answer is…

Right now – yes I am. 

Day #73 – “I hate heat…”

I really do hate hot weather.  There is absolutely nothing about it that I like.  Even on a beach, I don’t need to be sizzling.  Sunny days are great, but if the temp goes about 85, I’m done.  And even worse are hot days with high humidity.  From what I hear, inland Florida would be hell for me. 

I have friends and acquaintances who flocked to Arizona and Florida and Nevada.   I will likely never see them again cause I’m definitely not going to visit them. 

But I love saunas.   

Hmm – What does that say about me?

Day #72 – “It’s a madhouse!  A madhouse!!”

I sometimes liken the craziness of today’s world to that of the original Planet of the Apes – the one with Charlton Heston.  Great movie!

In it, the terms logical and commonplace are turned on their ear as “normal” is now defined by the apes.  Human Rights are non-existent, and those in power have no qualms about changing the rules at a moments notice to conform to the need of the day.  Even amongst the apes, there is no true equality.  Rather, it is those with the most might – in this case, the gorillas – who have the final say, and even as they are marching into the abyss, they feel justified by their instinctual aggression and narrow mindedness. 

Then I see someone like Trump on TV or online, calling his political opponents ugly and stupid, or calling fellow Americans other creative epithets, and it becomes very easy to see the many similarities between Trump and General Ursus. 

It’s truly a madhouse.  A maaadhoooouse!!

Day #71 – “In a Nutshell…”

This candor speaks to me. For me, it applies to SO many things in my life. Of all the quotes I’ve written down, posted, memorized, etc, this one pretty much says it all.
“In the end, you either have the cojones to write and keep writing, or you don’t. No amount of good advice will make a damn bit of difference. It’s like exercise. There are health experts everywhere who will tell you what you need to do, but unless you have the discipline to make yourself sweat, it doesn’t matter in the least.”

MARK JENKINS ~ Author

Day #70 – “Hiccup!”

Okay, it happened, I missed a blog entry yesterday.  My perfect record is tarnished.  It kinda reminds me of the initial effort we put into keeping our brand new car scratch-free. Then it happens: a key, a belt buckle, a grocery cart, or something else causes that first scratch.  After that, you release the breathe you didn’t know you were holding and actually begin living life again. 

I still plan on doing my best to blog daily, but now that perfection is no longer possible, I can begin breathing again without the fear of that first scratch on the paint job. 

Whew!

Day #69 – “Too much truth…”

Is there such a ‘thing’ as Too Much Truth?

I’m not necessarily referring to ‘over-sharing’, which can be monotonous and tiresome.  I’m talking about knowing too many facts about a person or situation or thing. 

Do I really want to know everything that’s in the hot dog I’m enjoying? 

Do I really need to know every thought that a close has about me?

Is it wise to know exactly how every cent of my charitable donations are being used?

Some things are easy.  For example: I don’t want to know how he did the magic trick; I really do not care for a laundry list of lies all of our politicians are telling (that is, unless there’s actually something I can do about it); and I don’t give one single damn about who’s talking about me behind my back. 

So, I guess I answered my own question, huh?

It depends on the Truth being told. 

Hmm. 

Day #68 – “Redundant…again.”

After decades of attending (and eventually facilitating) meetings, there’s one universal truth that applies: If the information you’re displaying isn’t intended to spark specific action, don’t share it; you’re wasting time.  Plodding through spreadsheets and graphs and charts that mean nothing to your audience = futility and, again, wasted time. 

I sat through another one of those meetings today.  Of the 72 minutes, about an hour of it was mind-numbingly useless.  Only the last 12 minutes had concrete value. 

I miss my time in the military where it was completely acceptable – even expected – for those in attendance to challenge the validity of the data presented.  This possibility served as ample incentive to avoid including pretty charts and graphs that say nothing.  

Ah.  The old days. 

Day #67 – “This old guitar…”

Why does my passion for playing guitar surge and ebb?  When I was young – in my teens and 20’s – hardly a day would pass without me playing my guitar for at least a few minutes.  Back then, far more often than not, I’d play till my fingers were too sore to continue. 

But for the last 10 years or so, I play like crazy for a month, then I won’t touch it for a year. 

Hmm. 

Day #66 – “Legacy…”

Other than DNA, what of us is passed on to our children?  We want them to learn from our mistakes, but do they?  Did I possess some un-noticed prejudices that my children adopted and kept?

When my son speaks or laughs, I hear “me”, but does he also have some of my fears?

Many of my daughter’s hobbies and interests strongly mirror my own.  Does she also get caught up in a circle of self-reflection (analysis paralysis) like I do?

Before we become parents, we all have a laundry list of ‘things’ we want to teach our children – intentionally.  But it is the unintentional legacy that I think of now. 

Hmm. 

Day #65 – “The coin with two faces…”

Have I ever told you how much I hate politics?   Or how much I loathe politicians?  No?  Well, here are a few quotes to give you a hint. 

“politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even when there is no river. “.   Nikita Khrushchev. 

“A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.”  Texas Guinan. 

“In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.”  Charles de Gaulle

And one of my favorites – “Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president but they don’t want them to become politicians in the process.”

Despite what Webster asserts, politics – in this day and age – is the craft of lying, creating policies to facilitate lies, and a process of self-induced amnesia for those who may have once been morale.  Politicians, first and foremost, place 99% of their effort and attention toward their own personal needs and use their skills in politics to make us believe otherwise. 

For decades, I’ve listened to politicians make the exact same promises with varying degrees of believability, and we still have the same basic issues we had when I was a boy. 

The final nail in the coffin occurred when I heard a sitting president debate the many possible meanings of the word “is” in an energetic attempt to avoid culpability in a personal scandal.  And, as a testament to the power of politics, that president, overall, had the highest approval rating ever.  And now, his wife has her eyes on the same chair, and she’s using the same duplicity on her road to the White House.

Will we ever learn?

Day #64 – “What is Retirement?”

Retirement – a concept I had no spare time to ponder for the vast majority of my life.  Now at the age of 55, it’s quite suddenly important. 

What is “retirement” in this day and age?  Is it even feasible to expect to retire when I hit 60 or 65 or… whatever?

Money concerns aside, would I be happy as a retired person?  Sometimes a lot of time on your hands is too much time.  Even now, I get antsy after a few days of vacation, eager to get back to work and be productive.  I know I’ve hit my limit when I actually start to dream about work. 

When you retire, you’re supposed to travel and garden and do wood-working and take up new hobbies like playing spades with other retired folk. 

Or…maybe I simply need to redefine what “retired” means to me.  Retool the state of “retirement “, as it were.

Hmm.  Planning. I like planning. 

Time to whip out the pencil and paper and write my unique retirement story.