Day 222 – Deep Thoughts

2013.09.14Today a co-worker came into my office and sat to talk for a while.  It’s been a few weeks since I really had a chance to see her and it was wonderful catching up.

She talked about her kids, her husband, her work.  She mentioned her schedule and hectic life.  Our few short minutes together reminded me of something fundamental:  We really don’t know other people.

We see them only on a surface level.  We don’t really know them.  And that is a shame.  It’s only through truly knowing people that we can engage, encourage and love them.  And that is the kind of world I want to inhabit.  That is the type of world in which I wish to live.

Day 221 – Staying Connected

2013.09.24 TuesdayHere is the truth:  Staying connected to friends is critical to the success of my life.  I’m not a rich man, compared to many, but I have friends and they a the gold in my heart.

While I can meet with many of my favorite people face-to-face, I connect with some via video or phone.  Dave in North Judson, Dan in Denver, and Mac, Rick and Dave here locally…each one challenges me and helps me grow.

Who are you talking to?  Who are the people in your life that move you to greatness?  Perhaps you should take a moment, pick up the phone and reconnect.  It can change your life.

Day 85 – Fooled Again

2013.05.17
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 62 – Another Frosty Start

2013.04.24Every time I think about my Journey to 50 and my slow going, I simply remember my garden to re-assure myself.

Seeds and bulbs are planted.  New growth is beginning to show.  The green leaves and colorful flowers are peaking out.  It looks like it is almost time to bloom.

And then the frost hits.  Something cold and unplanned stunts their progress.  They don’t stop growing but they slow down their Journey to full bloom.

I’m getting there but I’m not there yet.  I’m walking.  I’m mowing.  I’m eating less and meditating more.  I’m finding positivity in all things and fretting less.  I’m reading pages and striding miles.

I won’t let a little cold air stop the journey.  Neither should you!

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 50 – No Picture For You!

This is weird, I know.  But for the first time in a VERY long time, I did not take a picture today.

I didn’t take a picture of my dog, my yard, my food, myself or the sky.

But you only have to know my week and this Friday, specifically, to understand.  This was a killer of a week at my work.  We were running 100 mph and I wasn’t even able to snap a shot with my cell phone.  I went from meeting to meeting, never stopping for a break.  I performed work-related tasks and data entry without a bite of lunch.  I went on to our small group and was out late into the evening…

And I never once thought about the camera, the picture, capturing a moment.

And this informed me.  A lack of picture also instructed me that I lacked direction today.  I allowed the day to control me, instead of me controlling the day.

I didn’t have purpose in my food.  I didn’t have purpose in my activity.  I didn’t have purpose in my movement.  I responded rather than planned.  I reacted rather than act.

That is now way to live.  I am the captain of this ship.  I am the master of my soul.  It is up to me to determine the course of my days…even the most hectic of days.

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.

NOW.

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 37 – My Traveling Buddies

2013.03.30Elliott and Ben will be with me for the next eight days as we travel to Texas and back.

We’re going to see things.  We’re going to do things.  We’re going to make the most of every moment; even if that means taking a nap in the middle of the day.

Spring break.  Senior year.  Finding friends.  Having fun.  Making the most of the journey.  Talking about girls, computers, video games.

I imagine I’ll cherish these moments with my youngest son and I hope he cherishes them, too.

A once in a lifetime trip.

Day 36 – Ready to Travel

2013.03.29
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 34 – Getting Ready for Taste

2013.03.27Our garden, though frozen solid, is doing quite well in the windows of our home.

My wife is planning ahead. She is taking the time to plant seeds, water the plants, and prepare for a bountiful harvest later this summer.

Do we have tilled soil now?  No.

Do we have red, ripe tomatoes now?  Of course not.

Do we enjoy fresh produce on our table in March?  I wish.

The point isn’t that we have it now.  The point is that we are preparing for the future.

I’m working on losing 1/2 pound a week to prepare for my future.  I want to be fit, not because it serves me right this minute but because I will reap the benefits for years to come.

My body will enjoy the benefits of the change but it will take time.  What I eat today prepares me for what I will be later.

How I move this morning will result in a change down the road.

We do things today and sometimes we enjoy the benefits immediately.  But more often than not, our actions today are preparing us for the future.

Some day this summer I’ll pick a red, ripe tomato from the vine.  But that day will never come if we don’t tend the garden today.

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 25 – Image Problems

2013.03.18My dog seems to have a problem with her image.  She’s been spending a little more time with her head in a corner.

Perhaps it has something to do with her recent weight gain or her non-stop licking.  Either way, I feel for her.

There are days when I’m not too proud of myself and wish I could join her in the 90 degree space.

For instance, I started my day with a healthy breakfast of Schwan’s chicken pot pie.  In the interest of full disclosure, I should report that I had two pot pies.

I know…I know…corner of shame.

But one just isn’t big enough and two are just right.  Who would have guessed that they totaled to 1300 calories!?

But the rest of the day I was pretty good and even though I’m 25 days into my year, this was only the second time that I was over my calorie target.  So it might be better to leave the dog in the corner by herself and go for a walk, with my head held high!

 

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 16 – Early Mornings are Killing Me

2013.03.09Can I just ask if anyone else has to get up at 3:30 in the morning on a Saturday to take their son to the school for a choir competition?

How am I suppose to exercise when I’m exhausted? How can I focus on my diet when I can’t even focus on the spoon in my hand?

And why does the school insist on torturing both parents and students with these events?

Day 15 – Cooked Goose

2013.03.08My game plan is to visit the grocery more often and pick up fresh food with each visit.

Rather than obtaining packaged items that live for days in the chill chest, I’ll pick up a fresh head of broccoli and some ripe peaches.

Instead of pre-sliced loaves of bread filled with preservatives, I’ll select a fresh loaf warm from the oven.

I’ll pass on the pre-packaged pasta and sauce and load up on whole wheat, goodness in so many other forms.

But the Goose guarding the Kroger entrance might be a little too fresh, even for this new plan of eating right.

Day 14 – Temptation, Thy Name is Chocolate

2013.03.07As my daughter unpacked her bag, she was kind enough to unload her massive, and ever-expanding stash of chocolates and crisps.  All laid out on the kitchen table, we were able to see the challenge before us.

I have three weaknesses:  Salty Foods, Sweet Foods, All Other Foods.

This evil pile of cocoa and sugar are simply another opportunity to review my plan and stand up to the challenge…Wait, are those chocolate covered cherries?

This might be harder than I originally thought!

Day 13 – Working the Plan

2013.03.06
Another early morning on the road for work.

A lot of my life is lived out of my car.  I arrive to work early and often work late into the night.  It isn’t the perfect way to live, especially when I’m trying to keep the quality of my food high as well as my activity level.

These are the days that heating a healthy lunch becomes impossible.

This is a growth area for me.  I really need some good ideas for food to eat while on the road.  Rather than stopping for a sandwich, I need to have some food to eat.

Any ideas?

Day 12 – New Moon Rising

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the bottom line…Here’s the truth.

This is a new life.  This is a new approach for me.  I’m not thinking short gains.  I’m not thinking quick loss.  I’m not worried about buying new outfits and getting my tan on.

I’m fat now and that won’t change too soon.  I know that.  I get it.

But my journey is just starting.  The plan isn’t to chop off massive pounds.  I’ll take off a little at a time.  I’ll lose a few pounds a month.

I’ve given up the fads and am changing my life…one day at a time.

Day 10 – The Real Deal

2013.03.03
A perfectly roasted chicken is better than frozen pizza every single time.

I have decided that the most important thing I can do during this next year is to eat right and eat less.

I will reduce my processed food intake and increase my whole food diet.

I will eat more greens and brightly colored fruits and vegetables and reduce my artificial flavorings and colorings.

Roasting my vegetables will win out over frying.

A perfectly cooked chicken will take center stage over a grilled cheese sandwich.

My diet.  My food.  My life.  Real, Not Processed.