Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just feeling better and better these days

Got a minute?

It isn't always easy to explain why we feel the way we feel, but sometimes it doesn't matter. Sometimes we feel so good that all we can really do is ride those feelings and enjoy them for as long as they last.

I'm not sure exactly why I'm feeling so good -- I suppose a lot of it is that our move to Georgia is getting closer and closer -- but I have been feeling lately as if I'm a battery that is just charging and charging.

The time since July 18, when I returned from Texas, has felt like a sort of interlude to me. Everything I have been doing since then has felt either like spinning my wheels or getting ready for the next phase of my life. But now that we have settled on a mover and a moving date, now that we know we will be in our new home in Georgia when October ends, all of a sudden everything feels great.

And the only piece of advice I would give anyone is that when everything feels great, you don't ask why. You just enjoy it.

Thanks for the minute.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Being oblivious isn't a good habit to have

Got a minute?

If there's one thing that is really difficult at times, it's understanding that in a relationship, doing things the way you want to do them isn't always the way your partner would prefer.

My wife understands me pretty well, and one thing that disappoints her is that I'm not particularly observant. In fact, if I didn't know it as a fact, I probably wouldn't even be aware that her eyes are blue.

Nicole last Christmas with Ryan, Maddie and Pauline.
She asked me to pick up some energy drinks for her the other day, and I grabbed an assortment of various flavors.

"After 18 years, don't you know yet that I don't like lemonade?" she asked.

Actually, I didn't.

If we're going to retire to Georgia together and spend a lot more time together than we do now, I definitely have to become more observant.

Thanks for the minute.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Big jobs get easier when we break them down

Got a minute?

Some big jobs seem almost overwhelming, but if you break them down into single steps, they become conceivable -- and doable.

The destination
We're in the process right now of getting ready to move all the way across the country next month, from our apartment in Southern California to a house in North Georgia. It seems like a really big deal, although Nicole has been preparing for the move for months by packing things into boxes and putting them in our living room. I've never known anyone better at getting things accomplished, and in being organized at it, than my wife.

I moved every year or two through the 1980s. Heck, I lived in Virginia, both Carolinas, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada during that misbegotten decade. And since I was single, I always moved myself, including loading and driving the U-Haul.

We'll be using a professional mover, so the biggest part of the job for me is getting estimates so that we can pick the right company.

I ought to be able to do something that simple, right?

I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for the minute.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

One of life's great pleasures -- beach music

Got a minute?

William Congreve probably never heard of Carolina beach music, but he still came up with one of the most famous quotes ever about the value of music when he said, "Music has charms to soothe the savage breast."

Big Bill Congreve
He's often misquoted, because a lot of folks think he said "savage beast," but he didn't. The music of his time (the early 18th century) wasn't that powerful.

Still, if any of those savage beasts -- or breasts -- had stopped in on a summer evening in Myrtle Beach, S.C., or at any of hundreds of fraternity houses at Southeastern universities, they might have felt very soothed by the likes of General Johnson and the Chairmen or the Tams.

Or they might have been inspired by the song chosen as the greatest beach music song of all time, "Sixty Minute Man," by the Dominoes.

I grew up on groups like the Showmen ("39-21-46," "It Will Stand") or Virginia Beach's own Bill Deal and the Rhondells ("I've Been Hurt," "May I").

In case you don't get it, beach music has very little to do with surfing. It's basically R&B songs of a certain type, with a beat made for dancing the Shag and drinking beer out of Dixie cups.

And it is wonderful.

Thanks for that minute.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Succeeding at anything just a matter of willpower

Got a minute?

I'm here to tell you that you can do amazing things, whether you believe it right now or not.

I have never considered myself a person of particularly strong will, but simply by putting one foot ahead of another and simply dieting one day at a time, I have lost 102 pounds in less than five months.

178 pounds
How did I do it? I didn't take diet pills, or wear a lap band, or get my stomach stapled. Liposuction was not involved.

Starting at the beginning of May, I awakened each morning with two decisions -- one positive, one negative. I made the decision each day that I was going to walk, usually 5-6 miles, and that I was not going to eat more than 1,500 calories during the next 24 hours.

Since I weighed 280 pounds when I started, any thought of not being overweight was a long way off. I just tried to crack the 270 barrier, then the 260, and so on.

I started with a Body Mass Index of 39.0, and since anything over 30 is considered obese, I had big problems.

But the weight came off, and I got stronger and stronger in my resolve to succeed. This morning I weighed 178 pounds, and my BMI is 24.8, which is at the high end of the range for normal weight. For the first time in about 20 years, I'm not even one pound overweight.

Now I believe I can do anything.

And so can you. All you have to do is believe in yourself.

Thanks for that minute.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

With a little effort, it's easier to stay calm

Got a minute?

You've doubtless heard the expression, "Don't sweat the small stuff." It's certainly good advice, but it isn't always easy to follow. Sometimes things build up and the littlest things drive us absolutely nuts.

But only if we let them.

There are too many times we underestimate our own abilities and don't protect ourselves from ourselves. This may not always be true -- particularly when someone else's actions actually affect us -- but we really ought to be able to slough it off when people around us just do things the way we don't want them to do.

Last Sunday morning, Nicole said she wanted us to go to Mass. So I got up, had breakfast, showered and dressed and then awakened her. She said she was tired and didn't want to go.

In the past, I would have let that bother me. Heck, I could have slept more myself.

This time, though, I just let her sleep and went to church by myself.

I felt great.

Thanks for that minute.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time to look to the future, not to the past

Got a minute?

Of course today is Sept. 11th, which makes it the anniversary of the attacks on New York and Washington nine years ago.

To be honest, I'm not sure why we're making such a big deal out of them. It disturbs me that we have become a nation that spends so much time obsessing on the past.

But we sure do, don't we?

We have millions of people in this country for whom history stopped nine years ago today, and everything that has happened in the world since then has been in reaction to those attacks.

I'm not talking about the families who lost loved ones.

I'm talking about the folks for whom 911 and Islamophobia fits perfectly into their world view, and I don't have much use for those people.

We used to be a country that looked ahead.

We need to start doing that again.

Thanks for that minute.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

If you want to be happy, turn off your television

Got a minute?

If you do, I'm going to tell you the absolutely healthiest, smartest thing you can do in your own life, and I can do it in three words.

Stop ... watching ... television.

Pretty simple, huh?

Let's leave out the fact that programming is incredibly inane. We can even leave out the fact that advertising on TV is designed to get you to spend money you don't have on things you don't need.

Watching television -- especially watching lots of television -- makes you more passive. And over a long period of time, it changes your brain waves. It makes you less likely to stand up for yourself, more willing to accept the status quo and of course less well-informed.

It's the perfect pacifier, and it's the primary reason that people are essentially so docile (except when someone on television tries to stir them up).

Ever wonder why despite the fact that something like 70 percent of the people in this country say they are (at best) just getting by, there's really little talk of changing the system?


John Prine said it first:

"Blow up your TV ..."

Thanks for that minute.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Politics is the art of the scummy and the undoable

Got a minute?

I grew up fascinated by politics, and there were certainly times in my youth that I dreamed of a political career.

I never saw myself as president. Even my ego wouldn't reach that far, but I did see myself as a senator from whatever state I ended up in.

Well, politics wound up being something I never tried. The last time I stood for election was in 1980, when I ran for president of my fraternity. I won that election, but I have never run for anything since.

The problem with politics is the type of people it attracts and the compromises they have to make to be elected. No matter who runs and who wins, we seem always to end up voting for the lesser of two evils.

And the lesser of two evils is still evil.

I go back to that old saying -- "Put not your trust in princes" -- and suggest that anyone looking for politicians to change their life, whether it's an Obama or a Reagan or a Palin, is going to be disappointed time and time again.

Work in your own community.

Work to make your life and the lives of those around you better. You'll accomplish more than any 10 politicians.

Thanks for the minute.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A new house, maybe the last one for me

Got a minute?

When I was in my 30s, I moved a lot. In fact, I lived at 11 different addresses in six different states between my 30th and 40th birthdays. Most of those were career moves -- I was single at the last 10 of those 11 addresses -- and I never had any idea when I might settle down.

If all goes well, my last home
I lived at three different addresses in my first two years in Southern California, but then I settled down at our beautiful home in La Canada for nearly 16 years.

In two months or so, if all goes well, Nicole and I will settle into the last place we will ever live -- our lovely new home in Georgia.

I have lived in brand-new houses three times before, twice in Ohio and once in Virginia, but my parents owned those houses. My mother has lived in the third of those homes for 48 years now.

There's something special about a new house, one no one else has ever occupied.

We intend to fill ours with love.

Thanks for that minute.