Life Turns On A Dime

Just what does that even mean – “Life turns on a dime?” A quick Google search will offer up some explanations for folks unfamiliar with the phrase:

Since a dime is the smallest U.S. coin, the ability to “turn on it” is a figure of speech meaning you can change direction very quickly in a very small space. In this case, it means that life can change course very quickly. Depending on the circumstances, it can be either good or bad, but either way it will be rapid.

To “turn on a dime” means turning sharply and/or suddenly. To say that “life can turn on a dime” means that a person’s life can change radically in an instant (or very quickly). It’s more often used to mean someone going from a “good place” to a not-so-good place, but it can also mean suddenly taking a turn for the better.

Turn on a dime is an English idiom meaning change dramatically, suddenly and without warning or coming out of the blue unexpectedly. It usually results from a single event that dramatically alters the course of events either as a negative or a positive.

Stephen King uses that quote quite a bit in his time travel book 11.22.63. It is almost like a theme throughout it. One thing can change history (as in the case of the book) in the blink of an eye. I guess another way of explaining it is that life can change just like that (imagine a finger snap here.)

I had totally prepared to work on my article for the next round of Turntable Talk today, but some things have been tossed into our path that has led to this one instead. I write this as a reminder to you and myself to take nothing for granted. I write this as a reminder to live each day to it’s fullest. I write this as a reminder that life is a fragile thing.

In the baseball game of life, we are thrown many curveballs. Some of those we see coming and some brush us off the plate. Some of those we get ahold of and can knock them out of the park, while many of them we swing at – and miss.

Enjoy every moment. Never miss an opportunity to say “I love you.” Life is too short to hold grudges. These are all things that I have said in one way, shape or form in previous blogs.

It has been hard for me to scroll Facebook lately. So many of my friends are hurting because of sickness, death, grief, or struggle. I pray for each of them daily. Sure, there are plenty of happy moments shared on social media, but in amongst those things are people I care about – hurting. Life turned on a dime for them. Factor in some other news that we’ve been made aware of over the past few weeks and we see life turning on a dime again, this time closer to home.

The storm is off the coast. It is clear as day on the radar. Heading toward us. We will watch it’s course and the skies. We will prepare the best we can. We will do our best to be ready for it. In the meantime, we will enjoy the moments and savor each one.

Thoughts on The Measure

A week or so ago, I mentioned that I had started reading The Measure by Nikki Erlick. In case you missed it, here is the Goodreads “tease” about the book:

Here is the summary from Goodreads:

Eight ordinary people. One extraordinary choice.

It seems like any other day. You wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and head out.

But today, when you open your front door, waiting for you is a small wooden box. This box holds your fate inside: the answer to the exact number of years you will live.

From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise?

As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?

The Measure charts the dawn of this new world through an unforgettable cast of characters whose decisions and fates interweave with one another: best friends whose dreams are forever entwined, pen pals finding refuge in the unknown, a couple who thought they didn’t have to rush, a doctor who cannot save himself, and a politician whose box becomes the powder keg that ultimately changes everything. 

My Thoughts

All in all, I found the book to be very good. I found it to be thought provoking and almost scary in regard to just how much of it I could relate to the world today.

There is so much division in the world today. Those divisions can be religious, racial, political, sexual and many other subdivisions. In the book, those divisions are based on the length of the string a person had. In the story, long strings mean a long life and short strings mean a short life. Throughout the story, we see the way “short stringers” are treated by “long stringers.” You could easily substitute “White, Straight, or Christian” for “long stringers” and “Black, Gay, and Atheist” for “Short stringers” and kind of apply the book to today.

In the story, there is a “short stringer” running for President. People are up in arms about voting for someone that they know could very well die in office. Lincoln, Kennedy, FDR, and a few others died in office and many would think that they were good Presidents. If people knew they were going to die, would they have been elected? If not, think of the possible alternate historical outcomes.

While the strings are the underlying theme of the book, as well as the thing that brings everything together, it is really about the 8 main characters and how they react to them. I found them to be believable and I really enjoyed how the lives of these characters all intersected and came together. I questioned a few things about a couple of the characters and then realized that the way they were written was something that was needed to compare with the strings.

There was a couple twists toward the end of the story that were unexpected. Some reviews I read said that the book left them in tears. I didn’t cry, but it certainly made an impact on me and I thought about it for a few days.

Would You Open Your Box?

There are characters in the book who do not open their box. They chose to live life without the knowledge of when they are going to die. They chose not to feel the burden of knowing they only have a short while, or relax knowing that they have a long life ahead of them.

As for the ones who know the length of their strings, we are shown the various feelings that go along with that. Husbands with long strings and their wives with short strings. How do you prepare for that? What if you were let go from your job, or not hired for one, because of the length of your string?

The book made me think about a lot. I would certainly recommend it.

Closing thoughts

I have said before that one of my “life quotes” was something I read in 1988: “Live every day as if it were your last. Some day, you’ll be right.” In the book, I read where someone had a sign or a t-shirt that read, “Live like a short stringer” or something to that effect. Same kind of thing.

Now that I am in my 50’s, I think often about wanting to be sure that I get the most out of the rest of my years. I want to experience all the joys of my marriage and make memories with my wife. I have 4 children – two of them under 3 years old. I want to witness all the things they do. I want to see graduations, weddings, and grandchildren. I want to experience daddy/daughter picnics and dances and once again coach t-ball and teach them how to throw a baseball.

Once you reach 50, life sort of begins the downward slope. I am eating right and losing weight because I want to be around for a long time. I don’t want to leave my family alone. I want to be there to offer the right advice. I want to be there to comfort any sadness. I want to be there to give praise and encouragement. I want to be there to share the happiness and sadness of life’s ups and downs.

I don’t have a string to tell me how long I’ll be here, but I plan on living each day to its fullest.

Fill in the Blank?

I really have every reason in the world to be happy. I am married to my soul mate. I have 4 wonderful children. I am saved by grace. I am alive. I am employed. I have food on the table and a roof over my head. The list goes on and on. However, I have fallen back into a funk and I am trying to remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life in an attempt to break free from it.

I used to see the above picture at a therapist’s office. There are more feelings on it than the ones seen above: enraged, ashamed, cautious, smug, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeful, lonely, lovestruck, jealous, bored, surprised, anxious, shocked, and shy. I’m sure there are many others that I am forgetting. I remember looking at the poster and wondering just where I fit in on that particular day – even though it was not my appointment!

I wish I could sort it out. I HATE being in this place! I HATE not being able to figure out just what is going on in my head. Just what the heck am I feeling?! I wish I could figure it out. When I get this way, I feel like everything everyone says to be puts me on the offensive. I feel attacked. I feel pushed. I feel like I have no control over what is going on in my life. I feel that way, but that probably really isn’t the case.

When I feel like I have lost control, I kinda go off on a tangent. I go from “0 to 100” as my wife has told me on occasion. I react. I don’t think before I open my mouth. Is it stress? Maybe. Is it lack of sleep? Maybe. Am I overwhelmed? Maybe? I just can’t seem to figure out what the deal is.

Am I happy? Yes! Am I happy with myself? Not always. Sometimes I feel like I let the people in my life who need me down. There are so many things that I need to be doing as a husband and a father, but I am just exhausted and feel like my brain isn’t able to really understand what I need to do.

Perhaps it is the fact that we’ve been living as hermits? In two years, we have pretty much lived a life of isolation. No big birthday parties for my kids. Limited exposure to everyone and everything. Life consists of work and home. Anything “fun” seems to have been put on hold. I just don’t feel comfortable yet. When will I feel that way again? Will I EVER feel that way again?

Perhaps it is the thought of change? I don’t like change. That is no secret. I have blogged about that many times. Fear of the unknown has been a fear of mine since I was a kid. This is so unwarranted. Many times I have taken a leap of faith and it turned out ok. It is bad enough when you have a fork in the road with two options, anything more than that can really take the stress and fear of the unknown up a few notches!

This is one of those situations where I wish my mom was around. I could always count on her to listen and offer her thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, I have people I can talk to about things, and I appreciate their opinions, but they are not mom. Really, if I am being honest with myself, we are all going through some tough stuff right now. Are my friends really going to want to hear about my silly BS when they are dealing with their own? Probably not.

So here I am. Trying to sort through every possible emotion and feeling known to man to try and figure out what is going on. What do I do with those things in front of me? Do I just shut down and shut up? Do I just keep on keeping on? How much more can I look at all of this and scratch my head? What EXACTLY is the BEST outcome/scenario/choice?

This is going to sound silly, but sometimes I wish there was a fast forward button for life, so you could see what would happen based on decisions. Don’t like the outcome, rewind and try another option. Just rereading that I realize what a stupid thought that is. There is no such thing. There are no do overs. You make a choice and you live with the choice. If the outcome wasn’t good, you make a change.

I’ve made thousands of changes in my life. Those changes have brought me to the point where I am now. The point where I need to reassure myself of all the things in my life that make me happy.

If I have done something recently to annoy you, upset you, make you angry, or anything along those lines – I am sorry. I wish I could sit down and say, “I am feeling _______ and I’ll get through it!” I just need to fill in the blank. I’m just not sure how long it’s going to take to figure it out …

Holiday Grief

The song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but for some, it isn’t. Some are dealing with grief and the loss of a loved one and I tend to think that the holidays make that grief a bit more difficult than it already is.

I have written about death and grief before. In reflecting on events of the past few days and past few months, I was moved to revisit an old blog and write again on the subjects.

Back in August, a classmate passed away from Covid-19. This week, one of my dearest friend’s brother passed away. Both were under 55.

In a previous blog, I wrote: I understand that death is a part of life.  I am reminded of a quote from my psychology class that said, “The hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them – always having to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go.”  This is so true.  Leo Buscaglia said, “Death is a challenge.  It tells us not to waste time.”  Also true.  Bruce Lee, who died at the young age of 32, said, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” 

That blog was written after another friend of mine passed away unexpectedly at 47. I talk about how precious time is and how death and time often tie together. I mention in that blog that “life” also ties in with time and death. “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.” That quote was written on the band room announcement grease board some 33 years ago by our band director, Tom Shaner and it will always remain with me.

Every year, I would look forward to the Shaner’s Christmas card. They often would share photos and a yearly recap. Tom would always scribble a little note off to the side of the card to me and sign it “TRoy.” Tom passed away a couple days before Christmas last year. Today, the Shaner Christmas letter arrived, this time with a hand written note from his wife. She continues to grieve, as do the rest of his family.

At the end of her letter, she included a quote that I have never seen before, but found to be absolutely perfect. I wanted to share it here because I know many others who are grieving this holiday season. The quote reads: “When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love they left behind.” (Unknown)

That quote is SO VERY TRUE! It can apply to someone who you have lost recently or many years ago. It also ties in with the last quote I used in my previous blog about life, death, and time. The blog reads: The late author Terry Pratchett says this: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”  

Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or friend who has passed away recently, or a long time ago – every time you think of them there are ripples. Every story you tell, there are ripples. Every smile they bring to your face, there are ripples. They live on and their love lives on – and the ripples continue….

Blog # 300!!

Another Milestone

Well, here it is – my 300th blog post. To be completely honest, I have a few more than 300, but some were kept private. So this is my 300th “published” blog. Over the past few blogs, I knew this milestone blog was coming, and wondered just how a blogger celebrates this kind of achievement. I found that most look back and reflect on stats.

I don’t know about doing that. Does it matter that the most popular day my blog is viewed is Thursday? Are you impressed that in the first 299 blogs I have written 64,488 words? Does it thrill you to know that each blog averages about 921 words? I highly doubt that means anything to you.

A Short Reflection

300 blogs. It is amazing to actually look back and see the wide variety of content that I covered since beginning this blog:

  • The blog is full of many posts about music – some about specific tunes (Tune Tuesday) and some filled with many songs.
  • There have been many blogs about television – whether it be actual shows or just theme songs.
  • I have also written many blogs about movies – some as part of blogathons hosted by other bloggers and some of my personal favorites.
  • There have been blogs about holidays from throughout the year – some contain specific memories and some are just general thoughts.
  • I have written special blogs to family and friends – my mom, my dad, my grandparents, my godfather, my kids, my wife, and my lifelong friends.
  • There have been no shortage of radio stories about listeners and coworkers.
  • Some blogs were just full of random thoughts and observations.
  • There were blogs about celebrities – some funny, some musical, some just for the hell of it.
  • I shared the love story of my wife and me.
  • I shared with family and friends the news on our miracle baby and blogged about the days that led up to her arrival.
  • Of course, after she was born, there have been many wonderful stories and things to share about her as she continues to grow up.
  • I was honored to have my brother write a guest blog for me (and hope to have more in the future).
  • I opened up about many personal things – my divorce, thoughts on suicide, the changes in my personal life, reflections on life and death, my faith, and so many other topics I kept to myself.
  • There have been some “Question and Answer” blogs that contained things asked of me by friends and family.

Looking back, I am impressed with myself. Who knew I had it in me?

New Connections

If you have a Facebook, you know that they will occasionally give you friend suggestions. They will offer up “People You May Know.” Many of those suggestions stem from mutual friends. There are people that pop up and I have 65 mutual friends with them because we went to the same high school together, or we both have the same radio friends, etc…

With this blog, we don’t have that feature. However, through searching things for things like movies, TV, music, and such, I have found many bloggers that share my interests. I follow quite a few blogs and continue to add more to my “read” list. Some of those bloggers offer up personal stuff like I do on occasion. Some respond with personal stories to my personal blogs. Through that, I feel like I know many of them.

Max is a good example of this. He has blogged about things I remember and vice versa. We also share many of the same musical tastes. He actually helped me set up the index on the side of the blog. Since doing that, more of my older blogs are being read than before. We swapped e-mails and eventually phone numbers. When I called him to talk about the index and creating some pages, it was like talking to someone I had known for years. How cool is that?

Lessons Learned

After 300 blogs, I think it is important to note some of the things I have learned since the beginning. If you are a new blogger, maybe some of my observations can be useful to you.

Even with spellcheck, I make mistakes. I found going back through some older blogs that there are some typos. Some are spelling mistakes, some are grammatical. My one radio buddy, who also works for a newspaper, told me I need an editor. He then proceeded to tell me I couldn’t afford him! I need to be better at proofreading.

There really is no way to know which blogs will be popular. I have written blogs that I think will get a great response, only to see that is not the case. At the same time, I have written blogs that I feel are just “ok” topics, and had a ton of hits on it. You never really know. It hurts your ego a bit when a blog you think is great is barely read, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Keywords matter. I try to include as many “tags” as I can with each blog. I have found that this will ultimately lead to more followers and readers. My most read blog? It is about a scammer. I got an e-mail saying that someone noticed I spelled a word wrong and said I should download some app. With research, I found the app is actually something you want to avoid. The keyword “Scam” or “Scammer” has lead to many reading that blog and some even commenting saying that they got the same type of e-mail.

The personal blogs I wrote about suicide, divorce, staying positive, dealing with a narcissist, and depression led to many new people following this blog. Some went as far as to reach out and share their own stories about those things. You know, sometimes, it helps to know you aren’t the only one dealing with those issues.

Each blog represents a moment in time. It represents what I felt at a certain moment in time. Early on in my therapy, I was angered easily. I didn’t realize how certain things by certain people triggered it. I was not a pleasant person. Over time, I have learned to not let those things trigger anger. I have learned coping skills. I am a different person than who I was.

Think about your favorite TV show. Did you like it immediately? The first time I watched Seinfeld or Cheers, I was not impressed. Over time, I came to enjoy the shows more. At one moment in time, you may feel one way, and over time you can feel another way.

Many of my blogs are memories that I want to preserve for the future. Other blogs are about things I have observed. At the time, I felt a certain way about things – over time, my thoughts or feelings might change. It helps to keep that in perspective.

Write about what you are passionate about! Chances are if you are passionate about it, a reader will find it interesting. This same principle was suggested to me when I worked in radio. Share things that “make you feel!” Some readers love my musical blogs while some prefer my more personal ones. I am passionate about everything I write, however, not all things will appeal to everyone. Anyone who comes to this blog will see my love for all things entertainment, but also see my love for my family and my children!

Another principle from radio that translated to writing a blog is to simply “observe life.” Look around and take notice. A successful stand up comedian is one who observes little things, talks about it, and the audience says “Oh yeah! I have noticed that too!” George Carlin was a master observer! Take those things that you observe and relay them. You know the whole “which way should the toilet paper roll go on” thing was simply something that someone wondered about, right!?

I always loved the above Far Side Cartoon. It points out another lesson I have learned. Be yourself. You don’t have to agree with everything I write. That’s ok. You have a right to disagree with me. However, when I write, I’m going to be myself.

While it can sometimes feel like work, I find blogging to be fun. I enjoy writing. I also enjoy hearing from readers who comment on my blog. That’s as much fun as writing them.

There are some blogs that I just sit and write. Others (most of them), it takes time to plan out. Either way, I try to give myself time to think it through and get the flow. It takes time and sometimes, you have to MAKE time to write.

So there you have it ….

Blog #300. As a follower, I need to say thank you. I am truly glad that you are here. I always welcome your suggestions. How can I make this blog more enjoyable for you? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Please feel free to let me know. What do you like? What don’t you like? Feel free to suggest other blogs I might be interested in. Feel free to share this one with others.

Thank you so much for reading. Here is to the next 300 ….

Time. Life. Death. Ripples.

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The longest song I ever played on the air was Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie which is just over 18 minutes long.  We played this on the classic rock station (and sometimes on the oldies station) every Thanksgiving.  To those who love the song, it was the perfect length.  To those who hated the song, it went on too long.  Their feelings about the song depended on their perception of time.  (Incidentally, the shortest song I ever played on the radio was Her Majesty by the Beatles.  I think it clocks in at just over 20 seconds long.)

Time. I have found myself thinking a lot about time over the past month or so. I have had the word “time” written on my list of blog topics for a while, but have never felt that I am ready to blog about it.  In all honesty, I am still not ready, but I had to write something to clear my head.

There is no shortage of great quotes about time:

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst” – William Penn

“Time isn’t the main thing.  It’s the only thing” – Miles Davis

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted” – John Lennon

“Lost time is never found again” – Benjamin Franklin

Time is one of those things that is constantly moving.  It moves second by second.  Hour by hour.  Day by day.  Year by year. The truth of the matter is that time is constant.  3 minutes is 3 minutes.  How one perceives that 3 minutes depends on the situation.  In some cases, 3 minutes can feel like 10 minutes. In others it can feel like just 1 minute.  Think of an 8 hour work day and compare it to 8 hours on vacation.  Vacation time is flying by while the clock at work moves slowly.

Earlier this month, Facebook was flooded with “First Day of School” pictures.  My friends posted pictures with captions that read: “Where did the time go?”, “Wasn’t she just in kindergarten?”, “How did he grow up so fast?”, and “Last First Day of School”.  I can relate to that last one as my oldest son started his Senior year this year.  My Facebook “Memories” feed has been full of my own kid’s “first day of school” pictures, and I, too, have wondered those same questions.

So why am I rambling about time??

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In my 49 years on this planet, I have lost many people close to me, many at a young age.  Some of them, I have blogged about: my mom (who was only 58),  my grandpa (mom’s dad, also 58), my radio buddy, Rob (only 56), and my Uncle Tom (just 68).  This week, I found out a good friend passed away unexpectedly at only 47 and another friend was basically told her days are numbered – she is 48.  I can’t imagine how time will proceed for her.

I understand that death is a part of life.  I am reminded of a quote from my psychology class that said, “The hardest part of losing someone isn’t having to say goodbye, but rather learning to live without them – always having to fill the void, the emptiness that’s left inside your heart when they go.”  This is so true.  Leo Buscaglia said, “Death is a challenge.  It tells us not to waste time.”  Also true.  Bruce Lee, who died at the young age of 32, said, “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” 

I sit here staring at this computer screen and my thoughts are all over the place.  Is this blog about Time or Death?  I don’t know.  I guess they both tie together somehow in my mind.  I guess Life also ties in with them.  “Live every day as if it were your last. Someday, you’ll be right.” That quote, which I read on the band room announcement grease board 31 years ago, will always remain with me.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that those three things (life, death, and time) do all go together.  Looking back at the people I have quoted, they have all passed away, yet their words are still here making an impact.  I guess this proves the quote of another person who is no longer here.  The late author Terry Pratchett says this: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”  

I still talk about my mom – ripples.

I still tell stories about my Uncle Tom – ripples.

I still laugh along with Rob when I listen to our old shows – ripples.

Thinking of my buddy Rob, I remember ad-libbing a poem on the air about an upcoming station event.  He looked at me and his Elvis character voice he said to me, “Man! You’re a real Carl Sandburg today.”  It’s probably a coincidence that I have a Carl Sandburg quote about time to share:

“Time is the coin of your life.  It’s the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

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As I re-read this blog, I realize that it is a jumbled mess of thoughts.  For that I apologize to anyone who has ever read my blog and said “You’re a good writer.”  Usually my blogs have a point to them, I am not sure this one does.  Hell, I don’t even have a title yet!  I really wish I had planned this out a little better.  Tell you what, for now, let’s say this blog is a “tease” to the “real” blog about “time” to come at a future date.  And as far as the point, or moral, or lesson?  Uh….how bout this….

Make good use of your time and live your life so that you will be forever causing ripples.

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