“Hello Again, Hello …”

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Long time … no blog

Hello, my friend.  Sorry I have been away for a bit.  My last blog led to many friends on Facebook reaching out to see if I was okay.  I wasn’t.  When I wrote that blog, I obviously was a bit frazzled, but had yet to reach my breaking point.  That only took an extra few days.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, but I finally cracked.  Emotionally.  Mentally.  Physically.  The stresses alluded to in my previous blog, and the stress of everything that is going on eventually led to this.  During a visit with my physician, she stated that she was very concerned about me.  She decided it was best for me and my health to be off work for a few weeks.  I am hoping she is right.

Quarantine 

Since the doctor visit, I have been home.  I have only ventured out in the car a couple times – to pick up groceries we ordered online and once with Sam (more on that in later).  Many think I am crazy, but after the things I heard and seen at the hospital, the first thing I did when I brought the groceries home was set them on the porch.  With gloves on, I went bag by bag and wiped everything down with bleach wipes.  How do I know who touched the things we bought?

Remember the blog I wrote about things to do while at home?  Yeah, despite the sudden abundance of extra time, I haven’t really had a chance to do much of what was on that list.  The stack of unread books remains unread – for now.  Exercise – I took a walk or two and put leaves in bags (does that count?).  Plenty of movies I have yet to watch.  Clear coat on the wall in the kitchen – can’t do any home improvements.  Organizing digital music and folders and radio stuff – you would think I’d be on the computer more than I have been, but I am not. Clean the basement – I did this partially.  So many things on my list that I just haven’t done.  Sigh.  How damn sad is this?  I finally have the time, but just can’t put myself in the right frame of mind to do them.

Hand writing So Many Things in To Do List, business concept

Social Media

While I am trying to limit my time on social media, I admit, I still get on Facebook more than I should.  It’s not that I don’t like it, it is just that it is flooded with so many things I am trying to avoid.

  • Political Bullshit.  Blaming Republicans and Democrats for everything.  Trump bashing.  Trump Praising.  Governor bashing.  Governor praising.  Polarizing stuff.  The world is full of division and it shows on Facebook.  You have your right to your opinion and to post what you want, however, I have programmed myself to scroll by this stuff.
  • Corona Virus  – Covid 19 stuff.  Being in the hospital setting, I know the numbers.  I know the severity of it.  The various theories and conspiracies and people re-posting every article they find to “prove their point” is NOT what I need to see.  The only things I pay attention to are the things posted by the CDC and World Health Organization.
  • Sad stories.  There are PLENTY of them.  Emotionally, I know they are out there, I just can’t handle them.

I have a page I update called Celebrity Passings.  When a celebrity dies, I post a picture and farewell.  There have been more than I can count lately – some Covid 19 related, some not.  My heart is just not in it right now.

One thing I am enjoying are some of the Facebook “games” that are out there.  One of the ones I am doing right now was a challenge to post an album that influenced your musical taste for 10 days.  In support of the 2020 seniors, some are posting their own high school senior pictures (I need to do that).  Another one that was fun was to zoom in on a picture of an album cover, or a scene from a TV show or movie and post the zoomed in part to see if people can guess what it is.  I zoomed in on Doc Brown’s eyes from Back to the Future – LOL!  Great Scott!

Family Time

The one thing that I have been able to do is spend time with my family – at least most of my family.  It has been very nice to spend time with my wife and daughter. This certainly has been a wonderful way to de-stress.  Ella is getting so big, and it is amazing how her features seem to change every day!

I have been feeding the baby more lately.  She often will fall asleep while eating.  When this happens, I usually let her sleep in my arms.  I may have mentioned this before, but one thing that I love is when she smiles in her sleep.  It is just so cute.

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She is actually smiling a whole lot more.  She has a little floor mat with toys that hang down from it.  She loves lying on her back and looking at the toys.  She’s also been able to hold her head up for longer periods of time. She has a “Bumbo” chair, and she loves sitting in it.

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Ain’t it cute how she is giving us a “thumbs up” in that picture?

When the weather cooperates, we’ve been trying to get out and walk the neighborhood.  The other day it was 70 degrees.  The following day we had temps in the 30’s and 40’s with rain, snow, wind, thunder, and some sunshine!  Only in Michigan!  I had the chance to do a daddy/daughter walk through the neighborhood.  It was very relaxing and she enjoyed the time in the fresh air.

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This will be Ella’s first Easter.  We had hoped to have some professional pictures done, maybe one with the Easter Bunny.  Obviously, with the current situation and social distancing, that can’t happen.  So we’ve been trying to get some pictures here at home.  We’ll post them on Facebook for Easter.  During today’s shoot – I had to laugh.  In one picture, she curled her lip up like Elvis!  Just typing this makes me laugh.  Here she is channeling her “inner Elvis.”

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Her hair continues to baffle us.  Some days it looks brown.  Some days it looks blonde.  Some days it looks red!  A red-headed Italian?!  Oh boy, am I in trouble!!??

Missing My Boys

As I stated above, I have had the chance to spend time with almost all of my family.  My sons are with their mom as this quarantine continues.  I haven’t seen them in almost a month, maybe more (all the days are running together).  I have video chatted with them a few times, but I miss them.  When we do talk, I always have the feeling that their mom is looming over them and they aren’t free to talk.

One call from my oldest made me especially sad.  The 4th was my mom’s birthday.  She would have been 72.  Every year, my sons and I visit her grave at the cemetery.  I was planning on going, but that day, I took a new medication that was prescribed by my doc and the side effects hit me pretty hard.  I was dizzy, lightheaded, and felt sick.  I took a nap and when I woke up my sons had called.  I called them from bed to tell them I was staying home.  They video chatted with me from the cemetery.  It was sad that I wasn’t they with them.  They were both in tears.  My oldest was upset because he was close to her.  My youngest was upset because he never had the chance to meet her and it still bothers him.  I told them that when this was all over, we’d go and visit.

It has just been awful not seeing them.  I miss them terribly.  My oldest video chatted yesterday and was showing me that he is growing his beard.  He turns 18 tomorrow.  I won’t even be able to hug him!  I have a gift for him.  I plan on wrapping it and driving it to his house and leaving it on his porch for him.  I told him I bought a cake and will make it and celebrate when we get the chance to be together.

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Special Trip

Outside of going to the grocery store, I have only left the house one time.  Actually, it was me, Sam, and the baby.  I was feeling down.  Sam said we were going somewhere.  She said she had wanted to do this for a few weeks.  It obviously wasn’t a restaurant or anything, so I had no idea what she had in mind.  We all got in the car and she drove.  She drove to the cemetery.  She knew I was upset that I didn’t get to go with the boys, but she also wanted to take Ella.  She said it she wanted Ella to see one of the Pamela’s she was named after.

As you can imagine, it was emotional for me.  Sam brought a blanket and Ella and I laid on it by my mom’s grave.  My mom always hoped for a granddaughter.  I know she would have spoiled her big time! Just like with my youngest son, it makes me very sad that she never got to meet her grandma.  Sam’s grandpa is also buried at the same cemetery, so we took Ella to see her great grandpa, too!

It was a very special trip.

No Moe

One of the changes that happened recently is that we had to find a new home for one of our cats.  We had two.  Moe was our first.  Then we got Maizey.  Moe was huge.  He ate so much!  When we brought Ella home, we worried.  How were they going to react?  They both did well, so we didn’t think we were going to have issues.  We didn’t, until one night we found Moe in Ella’s bassinet.  He was laying on her, and we knew this was dangerous.

We didn’t know what to do.  By a stroke of luck, my sister-in-law’s ex’s parent’s cat had died recently.  They were looking for a cat!  They took him and treat him like a king!  We heard he has eggs for breakfast – at the table!!  He has his own heating pad on the couch.  He is living it up.  I miss him, but am happy he found a good home.

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As for Maizey, well, when Moe was here, she was moving.  She never laid by you.  She never let you hold her.  She never purred.  Well, that has all changed.  She loves being by us now.  She meows and likes her tummy rubbed.  She always seems to be by me now.  She loves to be petted and now purrs like nobody’s business.

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Happy Easter

We’ll be staying home for Easter, obviously.  We’re not even sure what we are doing for Easter dinner.  But we plan on dressing up and enjoying our day as a family. We have an Easter basket for Ella and a very cute Easter outfit.  I am sure there will be many pictures!

Faith

I’m not one to push religion on anyone.  I understand that everyone believes what they want to believe.  I realized how far from my faith I have been through this whole situation.  Over the past two weeks, I began watching messages from pastor friends of mine, and got back into reading my bible.  A friend asked me some questions about the Antichrist and it was fun to re-study that topic and chat with her.  Bottom line, my faith is important to me.  It is a key element in my coming out of this in a better frame of mind.  I plan on spending a bit more time focused on that (and Him) in the future.

A friend of mine took this picture in Grand Blanc this week (about 30 minutes south of here).  It was such a beautiful picture, I want to share it here.  Enjoy your holiday.  Happy Easter.  Count your blessings.

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I appreciate you reading.  Sorry to have been away for so long.  I’ll get through this.  It just may take some time.

I hope to be back to my normal blogging self, soon.

Be safe.  Be well.

Keith

 

 

 

 

Four Things You Can’t Recover …

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My last blog was 7 days ago.  I had hoped to write for Tune Tuesday, I wanted to write a birthday blog for my wife, do a Top 10 song list for Dean Martin’s birthday and post a couple blogs as well, but I am a procrastinator.  I was asked to speak at the annual sleep conference at the Greektown Casino last week.  I had known my topic and the basic points I wanted to make since April.  I compiled the list of goals and gave an overview of the talk and sent it to the folks who asked me to speak, but I procrastinated until the week of the talk to put it together.  So, the past week has been spent outlining, planning, and editing my speech as well as creating the PowerPoint that was to accompany it.

During my radio career, I have stood in front of audiences of hundreds and thousands of people and introduced performers.  It was nothing to do this.  For this talk, which was to be in front of about 100-150 people, I was really nervous.  I know why – I was speaking to a group of peers.  I was going to get up and present a talk to people who have been doing what I do for many more years than me.  I kept asking myself, “Who am I to be the one up here talking?!  There are people in this audience who are WAY smarter than me!”  Every one kept telling me I’d be fine, yet, I still worried – until I got there.

Once I walked in, I ran into friends from college, friends who I worked with at another sleep lab, co-workers and friends from my current sleep lab, vendors who I have known for some time, and many familiar faces.  With each interaction with these people, the anxiety and nervousness faded quickly.  Once I was introduced, and I had the microphone, it was easy as pie!  It went very well, and many people who I had never met even came up to compliment me.  It was a very cool day.

There was one thing that happened after the conference that is really the point of this blog.  I’ll explain in a second.  Something came up in my Facebook “memory” feed that I could apply to what happened, and also makes for a good blog post.  So, here it is:

Four Things That Can Never Be Recovered

I won’t lie, I stole this from a friend who had posted it originally.  I find this to be very powerful and thought provoking.  So what are the four things?  “The stone after the throw, the word after it’s spoken, the occasion after it’s missed, and the time after it’s gone.”  I found myself reading this more than once, and thinking about each of these things.  I wasn’t going to blog about it, but the more I thought about it, the more it kept telling me to write on it.

The Stone After The Throw / The Word After It’s Spoken

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These two things go kind of hand in hand.  When you hit someone with a stone it hurts (physically).  When you say something out of anger, or without thinking how it might be taken by the person you are talking to it also hurts (emotionally).

Now, most of us are not out throwing stones at each other.  However, we frequently act without thinking.  We are prone to act or speak based on emotions. In many of those instances, we act or speak without really thinking about it.  Words or actions happen before the possible consequences are even considered.  All too often, we regret having said or done something knowing (after the fact) that it was hurtful.

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This relates to the instance that happened to me after the conference.  It didn’t involve anyone at the conference.  I won’t go into much detail, but it was after an interaction I had with someone.  I had texted that person prior to my arrival, so this may have been how the “stone” wound up being thrown at me.  As I left that person, my phone “dinged”.  It was a text message, from the person I had just left not 60 seconds earlier.  I will spare you the profanity that was in it, and let you fill in the blanks.  It read, “Keith is such a M___ F____ P___ A___ D____ B___!”

So, me being the guy I am, I responded with “Yes, but how do you really feel?”  For just a minute, put yourself in their shoes.  I don’t know what they felt, perhaps panic at first, knowing that they totally meant it for someone else to read?  Maybe they felt stupid?  Maybe they felt regret?  Maybe they didn’t feel anything.  I don’t know.  It took a few minutes for them to respond back.

Their response basically said “Sorry” and that it “was meant for someone else.”  It went on to say not to “take it seriously” and to have a good rest of the weekend.  I did not respond to this.  After a while later, another text came to me saying how wrong it was to text me that or “anyone for that matter.”  The person said that they “were trying to be funny” and admitted that it was “a mean thing to do.”  They said it was “weighing on” their conscience and that they were “really embarrassed and sorry.”  They also said how it was not very “Christian-like.”

I chose not to respond to this either.  I certainly could have, but I didn’t.  I was reminded of a Bible verse that I heard a pastor teach on at church one Sunday.  The verse is James 1:19 which reads, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

The point of the entire message that week was basically this:  when we listen to one another,  when we stop and think about what we are going to say, when we are slow to respond, and slow to anger – less “stones are thrown” and less hurtful “words are spoken”.  Imagine how much easier things would be if we not only thought about the words we want to say, but how those words will be taken by the other person!

My best friend, sent me this today.  It fits:

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The Occasion After It’s Missed / The Time After It’s Gone

I had a friend who was a big Prince fan.  He loved his music, but never seemed to find the time to see him in concert.  He talked about it all the time and would often say, “I’ll get tickets the next time he is in town.” When Prince died in 2016, he was shocked and to this day says he regrets not buying tickets to his show.  “I never thought he’d not be around!  He was so young.  I should have had more chances to see him!”  The occasion came and went (a few times) and he missed it.

I have many regrets about occasions I have missed.  Not just concerts, but other things.  I regret not seeing my grandmother more because I was afraid to see her with cancer.  I regret not calling my friend, only to find out he had passed away.  I regret things that I may have said to friends while loaded up with medications. I regret many occasions that came, and I missed them.

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There are hundreds of songs about time.  I could probably fill an entire blog about songs that reflect on the fact that “time flies”.  This is an easy thing to see – in hind sight.  It’s never so easy to see in real time.  It seems like yesterday that my oldest son was born, yet next year he is a Senior in high school!  “Where did the time go?” we ask ourselves.  Kenny Chesney’s song says, “Don’t Blink.”  Isn’t that the truth?!  One minute your child is  a baby and the next thing you know, they’re graduating.  It’s eye opening – and emotional!

In life, and I have certainly been guilty of this, we often fail to prioritize what really is important.  Finding a balance between your work and home life is a huge challenge for many, but it is extremely important.  As I look back, I can think of many times work took priority over other things.  Because of that, I missed out on some pretty big things.

Employers are to blame as well, as many of them claim to be an environment where an employee’s family life is important, but their actions say otherwise.  I am always overjoyed to read of a place of employment that allows a new father to have some time off with their new baby and spouse.  It’s a rare thing, though.  I have seen people be denied vacation requests, despite the fact that they have the time to take.  They are told that too many other have that time off, or some other form of office politics.  Some people don’t even get to take their vacations, and if they do, they are working during it.  How sad is this?!

Time waits for no one!   It continues second by second.  Hour by hour.  Year by year.  Sometimes it seems to drag, but most of the time, it seems to fly by.  Use it wisely.

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Time management should be something that encompasses the balance of your life daily.  “I don’t have time to exercise,” “I can’t find a way to fit that in to my schedule,” or “I should have made time for that” are all things that we hear people say daily.  Guess what?  YOU have control over your time and what you do with it.  Manage it and make time for the important things.

Yes, you still have to work, but you can chose to work only when working.  Give your all when you are at work.  Do your job.  Do it well.  Manage your time so you get everything done when it needs to be done.  Don’t bring your work home with you.  You aren’t on the clock at home.  One of the best things I did was to disconnect my work e-mail from my phone.  I check it when I am at work.  Why would I want to think about work, when I am home with my wife?  Why would I sit on my e-mail when I could listen to my youngest tell me about how much fun he had on a field trip?  No, I leave my work at work. (By doing this, I am actually more productive at work, and less stressed at home!)

Outside of work, make time for family and friends.  Do what you enjoy doing.  De-stress.  Live life.  Do things that make you happy.  “Life was meant to be lived” someone once told me.  It’s true.  Up until recently, I often found myself wishing I had done things.  I found myself regretting not doing something.  I also regret doing some things that took away from the important things.  This has to stop.

With all the things that have changed over the past few years, it is time to make sure I do not look back with regrets.  I want to be able to look back and smile at all the things I accomplished.  I want to remember all the good things and people in my life.  I want to say that I lived life where I am not ashamed of wasting time on things that were unimportant.  I want to “waste” time doing things I love.  John Lennon once said, “Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted.”

Make time for the moments in life that you don’t want to miss!  Time cannot be recovered once it is gone.

If you get anything out of this blog today, I hope it is this:  Life has many moments to offer us, no matter how old we are.  So, moving forward consider your actions, think before you speak, enjoy life’s occasions, and utilize your time to the fullest.

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Oh, and here is an occasion NOT missed – a great shot of the sunset at the fair I took my sons to this weekend.  Beautiful!!!

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Do these things stress you out??

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While prepping for the radio show, I came across a list of the “Ten Most Stressful-Modern Day Scenarios” that were compiled by the South West News Service in England. I thought it would be fun to share the list and see if you agree with their list.  I also encourage you to share your “stress” that may not have made their list.

The study found that 58% of people are feeling more stress than ever before.  Because of that stress, we are losing close to six hours of sleep a week (about 12 days a year).  As a Sleep Technologist who knows the importance of a good night’s sleep, this is indeed disturbing.  What are folks stressed about?  Here are the Top 10 things:

10. Forgetting your phone charger.  I can totally understand this one.  I have an hour drive to and from work, so if my phone isn’t charged, I get freaked out a bit.  I think this stress is a bit more stressful if you forgot to pack it on a trip.

9. Credit card fraud. With all of the scams and identity thieves out there, I really thought this would be higher up on the list.  Let me tell you – I have had someone get ahold of my credit card because of a skimmer or something at the gas pump.  There is nothing scarier than getting that call from the bank saying someone is spending all your money overseas!  What a big headache!  We had to wait for new cards and for the bank to put our money back.  It was awful.

8. Not being able to remember a password.  This happens to me more times than I care to admit!  I work at three jobs and at each one of them, I have to do the “mandatory” password changes.  I cannot even begin to tell you how stressful it is to try to remember them.  At some places I have a computer login, an email login, and a login for the time clock.  Yeah, I know, “write it down”. But isn’t that what they tell you NOT to do?!  Then you have the passwords that need a symbol, but you can’t use “!”, “?”, or “$” (or any of the ones you’d be likely to remember).

7. Your phone battery going dead.  To me this goes hand in hand with #10 and I don’t know why it is a separate item on the list.  I do, however, understand the stress of it!  How many times have you been expecting an important call and you see your battery life is 20%?  Mine gives you the “red” warning when it gets to 15%.  That only makes it more stressful!

6. A slow internet connection.  I remember the days of dial-up and DSL.  There was no such thing as speedy internet.  We are spoiled today and even the smallest slow down can get us angry and stressed out.  We do so much that needs internet today, and you can totally relate to the stress that happens when it is slow or down.  I am gearing up for online classes for a college degree.  There is a big fear when you begin a test, quiz, or big project that the internet might go out.  This is a huge stress!

5. Being late for work.  When I was in high school, my band director instilled in us one simple rule:  “If you’re on time – you’re late!”  I am early for everything.  I am almost always at work 30 minutes early on a daily basis.  It gives me time to prepare for the day and relax a minute before the day begins.  If there is ever an accident that closes the freeway, icy roads, or something that puts me behind – yes, I stress!

4. Losing your phone.  I think this is one of my biggest stressors.  There are times I have totally freaked out when I misplace it.  Our phones are our “connection” to life!  God forbid I ever have to call my wife without my phone – I don’t know her number!  I don’t know anyone’s number!  My calendar is on my phone.  I wouldn’t know what I have going on from day-to-day.  I have apps for my bank on there, as well as my social media, and more.  The many pictures I have taken of family are priceless.  I would be lost without my phone.

3. Sitting in traffic. YES!  While I am better about keeping my anger in check, it is difficult with so many idiot drivers on the road!  Weed was just legalized here in Michigan.  I just read an article that the majority of people pulled over for being suspected of driving under the influence were high, not intoxicated.  Driving in general (not just sitting in traffic) can be a HUGE stress and the amount of road rage incidents we hear about is proof of that!

2. Arguing with your significant other.  I am very lucky in regard to this now.  My wife and I don’t always agree on things, but one thing we do is discuss things.  Communication is a key!  We talk.  Yelling is kept to a minimum.  This was not always the case for me in the past.  It seemed like arguing was a daily thing and a lot of “I did not – You did too” kind of crap.  People knew how to push my buttons and get me to react in anger.  Nothing good comes from that.  What does come from that is stress.  I would imagine this is true for many people.

So what topped the list?

1.  Losing your wallet or credit card.  This is worse than credit card fraud I think.  I have so many things in my wallet, credit cards, pictures, my SS card, notes, and more.  I can only imagine the stress of losing it.  Sometimes, you don’t even need a pin number to use the credit card.  The stress level of losing one or both of these things is incredibly high!

What item stresses you out the most?  Did they miss something?  Should something on their list be higher?  I would love to hear your thoughts.