Day 111 – Just Can’t Keep Up

Beautiful flowers keep blooming through all sorts of weather.
Beautiful flowers keep blooming through all sorts of weather.

Today was a day in which all the hard work, all the extra effort and all the emotion and stress of the past few weeks finally caught up with me.  I crashed.

I went to work at the normal time and did the normal work but before it was one o’clock, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I drank extra water.  I stretched my legs.  I spoke with colleagues.  Nothing helped.  Before I fell asleep at my desk, I decided to pack my things and head for the door.

Once home, I helped my daughter change the dead battery in her car and went to my neighbor’s home to check on things while they are away on vacation.  I sat on their back porch…and fell asleep.  My wife’s phone call an hour later is what woke me from my slumber.

It was then that I realized that I need a day, a week, a month.  I need a break.

When the patient called me at 10:00 pm last night to ask about their CPAP machine and how they need to change the settings, I determined that tomorrow would be my day to catch up.  Tomorrow would be my day to take some time and relax.  But then I remembered that I have a sleep study tomorrow night and I won’t get home again until 9:30 or 10:00 pm.

I guess my day will have to wait.

Day 85 – Fooled Again

My portrait for Friday, May 17, 2013.

I learned this morning that the performances I so enjoyed are not over.  Early in the morning, while my coffee was still hot, he called to inform me that the Jazz Choir has one final concert on Monday night and he’s making little pies for the event.

Two things: First, what the hell are little pies?  Second, ANOTHER concert?  Didn’t the last concert last for three-and-a-half hours?  Didn’t the Jazz Choir sing twice?  Aren’t all the kids in Jazz Choir also in Singers or New Dimension and didn’t they already perform?  Do we really need another night at the school?

All that said, I have a conflict on this night and cannot attend.  For this scheduling snafu, I’m truly sad.  Ben is a performer and I wish I could see him one more time.  The up-side to this is that my wife was traveling for work this past week and wasn’t able to enjoy the Thursday night concert.  Now she can go and enjoy the best of Cole Porter and Nate King Cole.  I think they only sing songs written by people who have Cole in their name.

As for my Journey?  Oh, of course.  I mowed my yard and worked in garden, giving me a walk of nearly three miles and a very good work out.  I did eat spinach, mushroom and egg for breakfast, my daughter’s macaroni and cheese with tuna and peas for lunch, and a vege pizza for supper.  Add to the fact that I worked in our garden for a while and I can honestly report that was closer to vegetables than I’ve been in a long time.

And I’m down four pounds.  Perhaps there’s something to this hard work, full sun, and a plate of spinach from time to time.  Who knew?

Day 60 – Monday, Monday, Monday

2013.04.22Some days are very productive.

This wasn’t one of those days.  But that doesn’t mean the day was bad.  It just wasn’t perfect.  In fact, when I think about it, the day was better than good.  The day was GREAT!

It started slow with our monthly meeting with our financial adviser who helped us learn about all the money we don’t have.  Next, I went to my first home visit where the patient decided he didn’t want a visit after all.  I suspected my day might be one of THOSE Mondays.

Thankfully, the day got better.  I had a great lunch with my friends/co-workers, got some good file work done and completed another home visit later in the evening.

At 7:30 I was on my way north and enjoying the fantastic weather.

Now I’m ready for bed.  But first, being true to my Journey, I willl drink three glasses of water, do 10 sit ups, 10 push ups and get in a good 15 minutes of meditation before I hit the hay.  That’s a good way to end a great day!

Day 56 – A Lost Soul

2013.04.18The hospital where I work is making some changes to the halls.  There is a new coat of paint and fresh colors in every direction.  They are also updating many of the signs.  As such, new directional signs and safety warnings are posted about.

But the signs aren’t all complete.  For example, this picture to the left.

Despite this sign’s intent, I am unaware of where I am and I have no idea where I’m going.  I do not feel reassured about my odds of surviving an emergency.

In the first 56 days of my Journey to 50, I’ve felt like this from time to time.  I’ve wanted to know where I am and where I’m going.  I need to know how to navigate my way out of the fat and fatigue that endangers my life.  I want to move from the emergency and into safe territory.

You can’t get to a better place if you don’t truly know from where you are starting.  And so, today I will re-evaluate my “starting place”.  I’m not going to look back to February because things have changed since then.  The landscape is different.  The Journey has taken me to a different place.  Instead, I’ll look at where I am today and where I need to go to be in the best mental, physical and spiritual place I can be.

Day 53 – Tax Day

2013.04.15Despite the fact that today is Tax Day, I’ve had a very good day.

At 4:30 this morning, I drove my wife to the airport for her business trip.

I was at work by 6:30 and had a very productive day.

I left the office by 3:00 and had very little traffic.

Once home, I boned the chicken I roasted last night and made a pork roast for tomorrow.

A glass of red wine with dinner and a Corona on the back porch as I watched the setting sun were a perfect way to end a perfect day.

Then my daughter came home and we finished her taxes with minutes to spare….The only tense part of my day.

Not too bad for 19 hours of fun.

Day 52 – Shoe Shopping

2013.04.14This was a very odd day.  Because we went to church last night, we had the morning to ourselves.

We knew that a trip to my in-laws was in the plan but I had no idea that we would spend so long in a shoe store, looking for some black flats for my wife.

I needed a pair of new black shoes as well so we divided when we entered DSW; I made my way to the one aisle of men’s shoes and she went to the 32 aisles of women’s.

Three minutes later, I had the box of new shoes under my arm and went over to check on my wife’s progress.  Or, I should say, lack of progress.

One hour later, we were at the checkout line, everyone completely satisfied.

It’s a metaphor of life, I suppose.  Men have fewer options and desire fewer choices.  I need shoes.  Black or brown?  Business or casual?  Size?  Here.  Done.

Women require more selection because they have more variables:  Purpose of shoe.  Possible locations they might be worn.  Number of outfits that might match said shoes.  Do they need to be flats, pumps, heals or stilts?  Will the bangles, bows, sparkles and buckles add to the look or detract?  Colors?  We’re still creating new ones to meet your individual requirements…And on, and on, and on it goes.

The same is true with weight loss.  I want to lose weight.  Done.  My wife is certainly concerned about a few remaining pounds but she wants to be fit.  She wants to have tone.  She wants to be a certain shape.  I just want it gone…Just like I want my shoes.

Day 49 – Enjoying the Sky

2013.04.11I spend much of my life looking to the sky.  There is nothing that means more to me than a beautiful sunrise or sunset.  Cloud formations bring me to a stop.  Constellations get my attention.  Formations of geese, ducks or crane give me pause.

I love looking up.

But this can often result in awkward moments.  Like when I fall over a crack in the sidewalk because my eyes were gazing to the sky, instead of watching the journey of my feet.

That’s really what this Journey to 50 is about, right?  I can’t dream that my body will have a different shape.  I have to pay attention to each step along the way.  I have to concentrate on the path before me, rather than liking the idea and allowing my feet to wander where the prettiest sky might be.

While I’ve stumbled a bit…I still have maintained my weight.  Over the past few months of 2012, my size slowly increased.  A pound was added here, an inch there.  But for the past 6 weeks, I’ve lost and maintained my weight!  I am moving more and eating less and pretty soon, my Journey will be headed in the right direction!

Day 48 – Man’s Best Friend

2013.04.10My dog gives me joy.  She doesn’t care if I’m overweight.  She doesn’t flinch when I’m grouchy.  She doesn’t judge when I make the wrong decisions.

My dog loves me for who I am.

She’s been a part of my life for four years now and finally, and very thankfully, she is able to sit quietly at my feet without crazy-making.  She licks less and loves more.  She twitches when she sleeps.  She desires nothing more than to be with me, whether dreaming or awake.

I’m trying to take a lesson from her.  My life should be one of loyalty to others, without judgement.

My life should reflect the very best of others.

But most of all, I thinks she’s teaching me that I should nap more…Yes.  That’s it.  A nap is the perfect lesson.

Now where is my floor pillow?

Day 46 – Walking with Swag

2013.04.08Here’s the truth about my life.  I am too old to swagger.  I have too many years behind me, too many bad choices, too many stupid decisions and too many pounds added to strut.

I might be proud but no longer can I be cocky.

I might boast but will never strut.

I have no Hawaiian shirts or checked shorts.

I live a vanilla life.  And I’m okay with that.

I drive a simple car, live in a simple neighborhood, wear muted colors and work a quiet job.  And life is good.

Sure, years ago, before I gained some experience with life, I could puff up my chest and swagger through a crowd.  Today, I sit in a corner and quietly drink my punch, content to talk to one or two people.

The point of all this?  We change.  We grow.  Hopefully, we grow up.  We see the world through lenses of experience and filters of wisdom.  Our journey, made up of the successes and failures, leads us to who we are today.

The starting point is not who we are.  The finish line is not who we were.  This race is all about the course we take and what we learn along the way.

Day 45 – Starting….NOW!

2013.04.07Okay, I’ll be honest.  My Journey to 50 has fallen off the track just a bit.  I’m eight weeks into this process of changing my life and I’m just as fat as I was 45 days ago.  In fact, I’m actually one pound heavier.  Weighing in after vacation, I’m now at 211 pounds.

Oh, sure, I’ve grown as a person.  I’ve learned more about art and positivity.  I’ve read books and taken nature walks.  I’ve experienced life and all its many wonderful colors and flavors.

But vacation ended yesterday.  TODAY it is back to the real world.  NOW…and I mean NOW!  everything changes.  NOW I start moving.  NOW I start exercising.  NOW I start eating like a rabbit six days a week and enjoying life’s bounty on the seventh.  NOW I’m on my complete journey.  Mind, Spirit, Soul AND Body.  I’m going to move until I sweat.  I’m going to do Yoga, Power 90 and Kickboxing (well, maybe not all three at the same time).  NOW is the time to start.


Day 43 – Quite Woods Walking

Turtles line up in the sun, trying to warm themselves in the picture-perfect day.
Turtles line up in the sun, trying to warm themselves in the picture-perfect day.

I was left to myself on my last full day in Houston.  The boys slept in late and then walked to Waffle House to eat their lunch.  When they returned, they played some games in the hotel lobby and then I dropped them off to spend the rest of the day with their friends.

I decided it was my last chance to enjoy the beauty of Texas and so I found Memorial Park.

Several years of severe drought has devastated what must have been a magnificent park.  The forest floor is littered with fallen trees, now dead and cut into sections.  Towering pines stand withering and bare and will join their brothers on the forest floor in months to come.  It was shocking to see the impact of the weather dry conditions over time.

The bright spot in the journey was the one butterfly that allowed me to capture it’s beauty.  I’ve seen many butterflies around the Houston area, both in and out of the parks I’ve visited.  This blaze of color was the first to sit still long enough to get it’s image captured for posterity.

I’ve been reading the book, Positivity during my vacation.  It’s primary premise is that a person who flourishes will have a positive to negative ratio of 3:1 or greater.  On a day when I was challenged by loneliness, home-sickness, frustration at the Houston traffic, and sadness concerning the terrible destroyed forest, the butterfly reminded me to stop looking at the forest but to examine the trees.  Or in this case, the bugs on the trees.

It turned out to be a very good day!

Day 39 – Birding Brilliance

A fantastic Black-crown Night Heron on the banks of a Brazos Bend State Park waterway.

One of my life-long loves has been viewing birds.  I’ve carried my binoculars to outlying states and foreign countries.  I’ve purchased birding books covering multiple continents.  I’m constantly on the lookout for another new bird, another clear song, another flash of color in a thicket.

So the opportunity to visit the Edith L. Moore Audubon park this morning and the  Brazos Bend State Park in the afternoon were opportunities that I could not pass up.  In one day I experienced the thrill of viewing nineteen birds I’ve never seen before.

The amazing assortment off alligators, ibis, and moorhens provided a fantastic birding experience.  This experience is the highlight of my trip to Houston.

Wouldn’t it be great if each week I could have the opportunity to experience something new like this?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if every moment was a new discovery?  A new view of the world?

That was my day today:  A new and exciting view of the world.

Day 38 – We Haven’t Changed A Bit

Lynn and I enjoy time together before Easter lunch.
Enjoying Easter with Lynn and Wendy.

We had a great day today.  Easter worship in Katy, Texas.  Lunch with my old friends, Lynn and Wendy.  Fun the boys and a super night’s sleep.

This trip is already shaping up to be a great experience.  Lynn and I worked together for a few years beginning in 1987.  We enjoyed one another 26 years ago and after only a few hours together this weekend, I realized why.

Lynn is brilliant, funny, and loving.  He might have more gray hair and a few extra wrinkles but he’s the same wonderful person today as he was nearly three decades ago.

Another wonderful day spent with my boys and my friends.  The journey can’t get any better.

Day 36 – Ready to Travel

The bags are packed.

We’re heading out the door for a Spring Break journey.  I love to travel because it provides new experiences and discoveries and this trip promises to offer so much and more!

But traveling poses a difficult problem: I can’t take everything I might need for my journey.

I’ve made my list and checked it twice but believe there are at least 30 more items that need to come along.  Unfortunately, I can’t fit them all into my bags and they must stay home.

Sure, I have my camera.  Of course I have my laptop.  But I would benefit from a walking stick and my seven seasons of West Wing.  I would love to bring a bottle opener and family pictures.  No meal is complete without my home-made tomato jelly.  We buy only the best toilet paper…but sadly these things must stay home.

It give new meaning to the phrase, you can’t take it with you.

And so I ask, if you could only pack one bag, what would YOU bring along?  What are the items that you have to have and can’t live without?  What are the things that must be on your packing list?

The answer, of course, is that some things matter.  Some things don’t.  Some things we must have and others are desirable but not required.

Life is a journey and it’s time to surround ourselves with the things that matter and let go of the things that simply slow down our travel.

Day 35 – We’re All A Little Different

2013.03.28This morning we started a little test at work.  Someone wrote an “8” on the white board in the kitchen.  And based on the opinion of everyone in the room, they did it wrong.  They started on the right and pulled their pen down and around.

The next person picked up the pen to show how they drew the “8”.  It was started the other direction and wrapped around itself.

The third person drew two circles.

The fourth had an entirely different angle and path to their numeral.

Before we were done, seven employees drew their “8’s” and each and every one, without exception, was different from the one before.

It’s the reality of life, isn’t it?  A favorite diet book suggests that every person eat the same thing and they will benefit from the plan.  We drive similar cars.  We wear similar clothes.  We use similar toothpaste.  But in the end, we all do things differently.  Our food is cooked with more or less oil, salt or flavor.  Our driving pattern is faster, slower, safer or more dangerous.  Our shirts are wrinkled or ironed, tucked in or hanging out.

Each one of us is unique.  And that’s a good thing.  The secret is not to worry about confirming to an expected norm.  The secret is to be who we are created to be and be the best possible person within our power.

Your eight might not fit the standard numeral system…but then again, there might not even be a standard system.

That idea could change everything.

Day 33 – The Lunch Hour

Lunch time with co-workers is the favorite part of my job.
Lunch time with co-workers is the favorite part of my job.

I’m a hard worker.  I think my record is pretty clear on this point.

I show up on time and work late into the night.  I earn my keep and the respect of my co-workers.  However, if we were to take a poll of all the workers in our department, asking what the best part of the work day might be, I suspect that the results would be skewed toward two high points:

1.  Leaving at the end of the day.

2.  Lunch with co-workers.

I know it doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m convinced that this time, this mid-day break, this little pause from the routine makes all the difference in our journey through the eight-hour grind.

Several of the folks in our area choose to eat at their desks, away from the others isolated from their co-workers.  I’ve never understood this.  Why wouldn’t you want to break?  Why wouldn’t you desire the opportunity to laugh about things that don’t matter but make a difference?

I can’t imagine life without lunch with my friends and co-workers?

Day 30 – Another Day, Another Shoot

2013.03.23This was a fun day.  Long, but fun.

Up early (3:00 am), I delivered my son to the high school for his show choir performance.  He had to be on the bus, ready to travel at 4:00 am.

After a quick drive there and back, I took a short nap and ran my lines for later in the day.

My day was filled with another film shoot on location in Greenfield.  This was my fourth film in the last year and the second movie in which I’m the lead character.  I did a great job on a couple scenes but struggled with a few.  I’m excited to see the final product.

In my life-time, I’ve been an artist, a musician, a farmer, a fast-food worker, a paralegal and a researcher.  This newest venture doesn’t pay my electric bill but it does expand my creative opportunities.

I have 11 months remaining in my Journey to 50 and have been successful in my first 30 days in several ways.  I’ve found new ways of expression, new focus and increased joy in the presence of my family and friends.  It’s been a good year so far and I’m excited about what tomorrow brings!

Day 26 – Oh, To Be Young Again

2013.03.19My son and his singing group were honored tonight by the school board.  They received a gold at the state choral ensemble competition and they earned the praise.  It really was quite an accomplishment, especially since this was their first year as a group.

My son’s outfit was the perfect choice for the award.  It was also appropriate for the Madrigal singing group, of which he is a part.  He loved the outfit and even said that he was sad to have to turn it in.  You could tell, it fit his youthful mindset and his inner personality.

But watching him strut around in the velour robe and high-top boots reminded me of something I’ve forgotten over the years:  Sometimes it’s good to swagger.

After all, we were born to be Kings and Queens.

But somewhere along the way, life becomes burdensome, our memories become hazy, and our royal demeanor diminishes.

Over the decades we allow mortgages, car loans, countless hours of work, home repairs, and medical bills to distract us from our true calling.  We carry responsibilities that are too heavy and mundane and in the process, our shoulders sag under the weight.

But in truth, we were made to live larger.  We were designed to rule our lives, rather than allowing our lives to rule us.

Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten to wear the cape.  We’ve failed to lace up the gauntlets.  We no longer think to tighten the belt another notch and move forward with purpose.  We’ve forgotten that we are royalty; rulers of our own land and throne.  We have abdicated our position to the cares of this world and the search for riches and treasure.  We have failed to pursue the grand adventure that awaits us all.  We’ve forgotten that we must throw off the shackles that bind us and rush forth as one with authority and power.

After watching my son tonight, I desired nothing more than to lay aside my burdens and walk with pride and purpose, as is my royal privilege.  And, by Jove, I intend to do so!

Now, where did I put my crown and sword?

Day 23 – Staying Connected

2013.03.16Our friendship is long-standing.  In fact, my friendship with Dave is one of the longest-standing friendships of my life.

We first met in Seminary (circa 1988) and have been tried and true friends ever since.

Distance has always been a barrier.  Dave’s lived in norther Indiana for the past decade.  We’ve lived in the Indy area longer than that.  To get together, we have to commit a significant amount of time if we ever want to get together.  At one point we tried meeting half way.  Unfortunately, it still required half a day just to meet for breakfast.

But we’ve found that technology provides the answer.  For the past 6 weeks, we’ve connected on Saturday mornings, for an hour or more, via Google Hang Out.  In those 60-90 minute sessions we cover everything from the state of the church, the state of the family, computer technology and life dreams.

These weekly video chats are powerful.  They lift my spirit.  They support my immune system.  They encourage my soul.  They energize me for the day.  In a year in which I hope to grow as a person, reach beyond my day-to-day mundane life, become better…These discussions help in in that journey.  These connection points are just the boost I need to face another day, take another step and stay on the path that leads to my end goal.

These 365 days are not just about my intake of food and my output of energy.  They are about my spirit, my heart, my true self.

I’m so thankful that Dave helps me along that exposition.

Day 22 – Growing on the Inside, Shriking on the Out

Some of my artwork is on display at the office. It is a good reminder to foster my creative side.

As I journey through my 49th year, I am striving to accomplish a few goals.  One if to decrease in my body mass.  Get smaller, lose weight.  Tone my tummy.  You get the idea.

Another goal is to increase the things that matter.  Read more.  Learn more.  Be more creative.  Try more new things.  Increase my intellect.  Build my brain.  Train my talent.

To that end, I’ve started eating less and walking more. I’ve put down the pizza and picked up a pen.

I’ve focused in on my photography.  I’ve found time with friends. I’ve listened to the birds.  I’ve stopped to smell the crocus (the only flower out right now). I’ve sketched my ideas and drafted my proposals.  I’ve laughed at my animals and laughed with my family.

In short, I’ve started living life in a way that brings me joy.  My goal is to learn to live in a way that brings me to a place of peace.  And so far, even on day 22, I’m finding success with that!  Who knows what I will accomplish in the remaining 343 days of this year!