A Positive Post

A friend of mine saw a recent post and sent me a private message to say that she hoped everything was ok. I figured it was time to share a positive post.

My Boys

I’m excited for this weekend. My youngest son will be with me Saturday and part of Sunday. He’s been going through some rough times and he has chosen to stay with his mom a lot recently. I am hoping that I get to spend some quality time with him and connect.

My oldest son calls me 2 to 3 times a week, usually while he is working and when I am driving into work. I look forward to those calls. He is 19 now and he delivers pizzas. He is often on a delivery when he calls. Sometimes we only get to chat for 5-10 minutes, while other times we talk for 30. Sometimes he talks about really deep stuff, while other times it is light hearted and goofy stuff.

The other day he called to tell me he was sad about Norm MacDonald passing away. We used to watch the Celebrity Jeopardy clips on YouTube and laugh a lot at him as Burt Reynolds. He also told me that he received his acceptance letter to the community college in town. I couldn’t be more happy for him and more proud! He has come a long way!!

Today he called and we talked about history and how everyone seems to want to erase it (deep stuff). We talked about Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman and other historical figures and why it was so important to know history so we could learn from it. It’s funny because I remember the first “deep” talk I had with my dad and how much more I connected with him. He obviously feels the same way because after he hung up I received a text that said:

“That was a great talk today. Having these discussions with you means a lot to me. No matter when we have a conversation and no matter what the topic is, I’m always happy about the outcome of it all. I love you and hope to see you tomorrow.” (He is hoping to be the one to drop his brother off to me.)

All I could respond with was the truth. I told him he had no idea how important those conversations are to me, too!

Getting In “Touch” With Me

One of the things I have been working on is trying to “connect” with myself. Lately, I have been kind of disconnected and in my own world. That world has been full of stress and worry (as noted in previous blogs). I not only feel disconnected from myself, but at times from everyone. This has not been fair to the people in my life. So in discussing things with my therapist and my doctor. I am trying to take moments throughout the day to reconnect.

I need to be aware that I am “present.” Walking barefoot on the grass and doing things that really connect with my senses is important. They say that these things will help me be more present and aware. At first, I thought they were suggesting me doing meditation. I would find it very difficult to find 15-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to do that.

My therapist said that it doesn’t have to be that long at all, and it doesn’t have to be anything more than just taking 2 minutes. So my “homework” has been to take 2 minutes and count 4-3-2-1. I need to notice 4 things I see, 3 things I hear, 2 things I smell, and 1 thing I feel. So far, when I have done it, it has been helpful. Let me share one of these instances:

Before work one day this week, I was going to grab subs for Sam and I. So I got in the car, rolled the window down and drove down the street. It was at that time I decided to do one of these “sessions.” The 4 things I saw: The new family in the neighborhood walking together on the sidewalk, the city policeman in his familiar place looking for speeders, a classic car driving presumably to the car show north of us, and an elderly couple sitting on a bench under the gazebo in town. The three things I heard: the loud bass from a teenager’s car blasting, the sirens from an ambulance, and a Jackie Wilson song on the radio. The two things I smelled: gasoline from the huge semi truck filling the tanks at the gas station, and the smell of burgers from Burger King as I passed it to get to the sub place. Finally, the one thing I felt: The breeze coming into the car while driving with the window down. Oh the feeling of the wind on my scalp! LOL

The last thing is the one that really got me. It seems that when I get in the car, I just tend to crank the AC or Heat and drive. I can’t tell you how long it has been since I had drove with the window down. I guess I really need to do it more often, because it really was quite an awesome feeling.

Here’s to hoping that these little exercises continue to help me “reconnect.”

Hindsight Really is 2020 – A Recap

The saying goes, “Hindsight is 2020,” and many of us are rejoicing that 2020 is really truly behind us! I often wonder if you were to make a list of positives and negatives of the past year, would one outweigh the other? What about 10-15 years ago? Was that just as bad, but we only choose to remember the good things from that year? I don’t know the answers to those questions.

In talking with my youngest son this weekend, he was talking about the last year and listing all of the bad things from it. I told him that is really is easy to see the bad things, the negatives, or the sadness we experienced. I challenged him to try to find some positives among the negatives. As we drove back to my house, we were able to do that. I told him it isn’t always easy to find those positives, and sometimes there may not be any, but to always look for them.

December 31, 2019

As the world awaited 2020’s arrival there was great excitement. Many said, “This is going to be MY YEAR!” Others looked at the new year as a clean slate from 2019 (which they wanted to be over). I recalled the quote from country singer Brad Paisley, who said, “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book, write a good one.” We looked at 2020 as a year of happiness, recovery, new opportunities, new adventures, and so much more! 2020 had other plans.

2020

Looking back at 2020, the absolute high point was the birth of our daughter, Ella. NOTHING tops this moment! The blog announcing her birth was one of the most read of the year.

My first daughter. Daddy’s little girl. My wife, Sam, was just amazing throughout the delivery. It was the first time I had witnessed natural child birth and I was in awe of everything. My heart was overflowing with happiness. What a day!

This month, Sam and I were talking about what to do for her first birthday. With Covid, there is not a whole lot we can do. We are probably not going to throw the big party we wanted to, but we are working out plans for something special to mark the occasion.

Covid-19

I can’t even imagine if Ella had been born a few weeks later. By the time March arrived, the whole world was talking about Corona virus and Covid-19. Everything started to shut down in an attempt to “flatten the curve.” Our sleep labs closed and we were deployed to the hospital Labor Pool. During my time there, I heard stories and witnessed things I will sadly never forget. With a new baby at home, my constant worry was that I would bring it home to her. I eventually snapped. The doctor called it Acute Stress Disorder and she took me off work. I was out on FMLA for 6 weeks.

Finding the positive in a negative – I got to spend 6 weeks with my daughter. There are countries that allow both parents to stay home with their newborn child for a year when they are born. I wish the United Stated allowed that. There are so many wonderful moments that happen in that first year. It is a shame that we have to go back to work while our babies are still so young.

Another positive: As the curve flattened, I officiated my first wedding for my friend, Theresa from high school. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but all went well and I didn’t mess anything up too bad. It was nice to see other friends from high school at the wedding, too. It was a bit weird, as there were many masks in the crowd, but that had kind of become the “norm.”

Division and hate

2020 brought more division and more hate. There has always been division in politics, but it seems that both parties hatred for each other was over the top. I’ve heard a lot of mudslinging in ads, but the stuff being said was brutal. The politicians seem to have forgotten who they are supposed to be representing and working for – the people of the country!

Everyone was offended by everything in 2020. Social media was full of arguments, name calling, and much more. Really, the media just continued to “feed” the public and make everyone more angry than they were to begin with. Jim Morrison of the Doors once said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” Noam Chomsky takes it a little further:

I had to finally stop watching the news, and scroll past so many posts from friends. I couldn’t take it. It is totally ok for you to be passionate about your beliefs and your political stance. If it is different than my stance or beliefs, that’s ok, too. You and I can agree to disagree. I was saddened that so many friendships were broken because of the difference of opinion. Friendships that have lasted 30+ years ended because of this, and that breaks my heart. If only more people thought like Thomas Jefferson:

Blog Milestones and Hits and Misses

In 2020, I celebrated two years of blogging. I wrote my 300th blog. I still wrote many movie blogs and music blogs. The music blogs slowed as I started to neglect Tune Tuesday. I tried something new with Friday Movie Quotes, but that didn’t seem to go over too well, so I stopped. Most of my blogs were ramblings about my life and of course, my daughter.

The other blog that got a lot of views was my recent blog about the loss of my friend, and high school band director, Tom Shaner. I posted a link to this on my Facebook, and his daughter also shared it, so many people I didn’t even know read it. I received a private message from his brother who told me that he really appreciated my blog and how it enlightened him on the impact he had on his students. When I finished writing that blog, I didn’t think it did him any justice, but that private message proved otherwise.

Conclusion

As I look back on 2020, I see life’s “circle.” The high point of the year was the birth of my daughter, while the low point of the year was the passing of my friend, Tom. Life and death. A new life enters the world, while an old one leaves the world. Happiness and sadness. As life moves on, the circle continues. We see new births and new deaths.

A pastor once told me that birth is the beginning of death. You begin to die the moment you are born. There is truth to that. So as we look on the new “book” that is 2021, and we begin to write on the blank pages, let’s try to remember the words of actor Michael Landon:

Here’s to a Happy New Year for all of us!