“It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”

Have you ever tried to just clear your mind?

To be still, blank?

Go ahead…try it.  Try to not think of anything.  See…not so easy…even if the only thing you thought about was trying not to think about anything.

I’d be willing to bet that all those folks who meditate all the time are still thinking about things, too, like…

be still
breathe deep
proper posture

Now they’re thinking I’m either full of crap or that I’m right and they’ll never admit it…or both.

Just some pseudo-random nonsense that popped into my head as I tried to clear it to come up with something to write.

Four years gone

Maybe it seems a bit silly to some to remember a celebrity’s death each year, but each Christmas since George Michael’s untimely death, I’ve taken a moment to think about his passing.   Maybe it’s because he was my favorite solo artist and/or maybe it’s because it’s easy to remember since it happened on Christmas day.

As I sit here tonight, though, I think it’s a little of bit of those, but I think it’s also because I feel his life ended early because of his inner battles, his demons, and how he dealt with them.

His is a tragic story that played out magnificantly for the tabloids, like so many other celebrities, but there are many non-celebs that fight very similar battles everyday. Some have more sustained success in their struggles, but many succumb to them or deal poorly with them. Many have no support system in place.

I am very thankful that my demons are very few and fairly insignificant, and I am confidant that I have a strong system of support I could lean on, if necessary, and it has nothing to do with wealth or possessions. Those are obviously not necessarily key factors in positive mental and emotional health. George had plenty and bared his struggles in his music.  I wish those around him had been better able to help him.  I miss him. 

I challenge you all to be heroes. Learn how to better identify those struggling with these issues and be bold enough to help.

The Gunners…going green?

So, sometimes as a sports fan, your team gives you fits. You expect great things, they even may go well for a period, but there’s the inevitable slump…and some slumps last longer (so, so much longer) than others. As a #gooner4life, my fandom of Arsenal has certainly had a period that left a bit to be desired, but I am one of the fans who has faith that Mikel Arteta and the lads will get things squared away posthaste. Okay, maybe, eventually.

On another subject, though, it seems the club is at the forefront. That being environmentally sound and early adopters of the UN Sports for Climate Action framework. I’m generally not a fan of United Nations things. I think they are as corrupt and wasteful as any government out there, maybe even more so. We shall see how this one plays out.

In Arsenal’s case, it was fairly easy to jump on this, though. It seems our beloved club has been quietly implementing environmentally sound practices and partnerships in place for a number of years. Below is a snippet I copied from a news article on the Arsenal website.

In recent years, we have implemented a number of environmentally-friendly initiatives across the club.  

  • We became the UK’s first football club to install large-scale battery energy storage in 2018. The battery storage system can power Emirates Stadium for an entire match, or the equivalent of 2,700 homes for two hours  
  • Since 1999, more than 29,000 trees have been planted at our training centre in London Colney to create the Colney Wood
  • We have installed a water recycling system at our training centre to reuse water that comes from the pitch – in the last year, we have recycled more than 4.5 million litres of water   
  • Following the launch of the partnership with Octopus Energy in 2016, we were the first Premier League club to switch to 100 per cent green electricity   
  • In partnership with Camden Town Brewery, we were the first Premier League club to trial the reusable cup scheme during the 2018/19 season. This scheme became fully integrated at the start of the 2019/20 season, saving the use of approximately 20,000 single use plastic cups per game when Emirates Stadium is full
  • In October this year, we launched a partnership with global aluminum packaging company Ball Corporation designed to help the club and our millions of fans around the world reduce their impact on the environment
  • Our training centre is now 95 per cent single use plastic bottle-free
  • We have introduced more water dispensers across all sites – saving 150,000 single-use plastic water bottles per year  
  • We have reduced energy by installing automated LED lighting at all club sites 

So, while we may be on an overly long slump and have been out of the UEFA Champions League for a number of years, we’re top of the table in the fight against climate change.

50 Revolutions

50 revolutions.
50 trips around the sun.
50 years living on planet Earth.
50 birthdays.

What do I have to show for all these years? A home. A few used cars. Lots of books and music and photos, print and digital. A good job. A lot of other stuff. Possessions. If all of those things went away, I’d still have the most important thing to me: my family.

I have lived a lot of places in my life. Some more exciting or beautiful or exotic than others. Some I never wanted to leave. Some I didn’t appreciate until I’d left and could reflect back on. All of them helped me grow and learn and become who I am now.

I have met a lot of people in my life. All are/were different in the way they spoke or behaved or thought or looked. Some I thoroughly enjoyed having in my life, even if too briefly. Some I would like never to have met. But, again, all of them helped me grow and learn and become who I am now.

So, who am I now?
1. I’m a man who loves his family and friends dearly. I know that I define those differently than the dictionary and social media. If I count you in that list (you know who you are), you should know that I’m here for you. To quote Bon Jovi’s lyrics, “Through the years and miles between us, it’s been a long and lonely ride, but if I got a call in the dead of the night, I’d be right by your side.”
2. I have a strict moral and ethical code. Sometimes that causes stress on me, sometimes on others, and sometimes it doesn’t jive with “the rules”. Have I ever broken my code? Of course. There are rare times when you have to put your own sense of right and wrong aside.
3. I believe in a work-life balance. I believe in taking time off or adjusting schedules to make it to important events in the lives of my family and friends. What are important events? Soccer games, band concerts, birthdays, driving lessons, awards presentations, retirements, promotions, helping with moving, funerals, visiting friends and family in hospitals, vacations -long and short, or just coming home to spend time with my wife when she’s not having a great day. “Believe me, nothing is trivial.
4. I’ve learned to not worry so much about what other people think. If you have a job, it’s likely important that your leadership think highly of you. If you are on a team, it’s important that your mates know they can rely on you to pull your weight. It’s not important to worry about what the Internet trolls think or what every person you pass on the street thinks. It took me way too long to figure this out and I still struggle with it now and then, but I wish I’d figured this out decades earlier.

So, getting back to “what have I got to show” for my 50 years? I have many years of growing and learning, about the world and myself. I have a small core of friends and family that love and care for each other, that have each others’ backs. And I have lots of memories…of places lived, people met, vacations taken, and of many, many much more mundane events that have shaped me and helped me have a positive impact on the people I love. In the end, what more could I really need?

 

On a lighter note, here are some other things that describe who I’ve become over these 50 revolutions around the sun:  I try to appreciate all the beauty in nature…sunrise, sunset, flowers, trees, the animals, the sky, the views from mountains; I enjoy good wine, good bier, and good conversations with friends and the occasional stranger; telling dad jokes; I could listen to my records (yes, LPs) on a good turntable, my CDs, and digital tunes for hours on end; I enjoy watching movies and TV shows, esp. with my wife and kids.  I few t-shirts that I own that lend a hint to my personality read:  “I speak fluent movie quotes”, “That’s what I do: I drink and I know things,” “Save Ferris,”, “The lower the latitude, the better the attitude,” and “Hike more, worry less.”

 

This is probably rum mug Arsenal socks
Maybe? #Gunner4Life
#GoGunners
Welcome to Dublin My Adidas at sunrise
I didn’t want to return from this trip.
Hope to one day retire here.
Coffee, sunrise, and my Adidas.
Slow down and enjoy life!

Ah, Push It!

No, Salt-N-Pepa ain’t here, but sometimes you’ve got to just push it. Not necessarily real good, either.

Today, it’s the gym. I don’t know why, but the stairmaster was kickin’ my butt. I had to adjust the level up and down as the interval changed constantly…up when it dropped, down when it went high. Just couldn’t get a happy medium, but I didn’t quit. Now, I’m pedaling it out on the recumbent bike while I type. Working out is like that. Somedays it just doesn’t come easy, but you’ve got to be like Nike and Just Do It. #getyoursweaton

Of course, the gym’s not the only place you just have to bear down and push. Sometimes, it’s burying your head in the books and studying. Sometimes, it’s taking that first step across the room to talk to someone new. Sometimes, it’s pushing the stubby pencil across the paper or banging on those keys to crank out a story or poem or research paper. Hell, sometimes, it’s just swinging your legs out from under the covers, over the side of the bed, and getting up.

Sometimes, nothing comes easy, but you’ve got to push it, to break on through to the other side of whatever’s holding you back…even if there doesn’t seem to any reward other than knowing you beat that obstacle that time.

And then do it again the next time…and the next…and the next.

The problem with long weekends

Let’s just put this out there now: This post is going to be schmatltzy, mushy, etc.

Most folks I know make the joke about weekends and vacations not being long enough. I’ve said it many times, as well. There are memes-a-plenty about not looking forward to Mondays, about Tuesdays after holidays being ‘second Mondays’, etc.

Lots of people don’t like their jobs and it certainly leads to the Monday angst. I’m not one of those people. I like my job for the most part.

What I don’t like is having to be at work instead of at home with my wife…or wherever we find ourselves out and about. On short weeks after a holiday, it seems worse. It’s like the four days in between just interrupt “couple time.”

This is why I’m really looking forward to retiring as soon as possible. So I can spend more time with the love of my life…travelling, relaxing, eating good food, drinking great beverages, meeting interesting people, and enjoying nature, especially sunsets and sunrises (probably more of the sunsets).

Sappy, right? Well, you can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Hard to say goodbye

No, nobody died that I’m personally acquainted with or related to. And this isn’t a post about recent celebrity deaths or the death of anyone else.

It’s about selling a car. Yes, a car. Not a flashy car or one I built/rebuilt. Just a sporty little Mazda 3s that I mostly drove back and forth to work.

Specifically, it’s about fifteen years of having and driving that car. It’s passing thoughts about nursing it along as it slowly began to fail me these last few years: air conditioning that would work when it felt like it; oil burning off slowly (cleanly?) enough that it didn’t make smoke, but didn’t drip on the driveway; the driver’s side power window sometimes sticking like it wasn’t going to come back up; a sunroof that would popup, but no longer slide open; and a mysterious leak that would leave my floor mats soaked for days after a good rain.

More important, though, are the memories I have that involve my little zoom-zoom car: toddlers in car seats smiling and giggling and crying and puking and getting crumbs all over the back seat; driving my daughters to and from school and activities from elementary, middle and high school; hundreds of trips to ref soccer matches, dozens with my older daughter, and a handful with both daughters; eating my lunch while changing my wet socks with the heater going full blast between game sets reffing at a freezing and rainy soccer tournament; teaching both of the girls to drive; and opera nights and other date nights with my wife. It’s the car that I used to take to the vet both of the dogs we’ve had to put to sleep so they wouldn’t suffer any longer…and then wept in before I could compose myself to drive home.

Many, many hours spent behind the wheel and lots of memories over these past fifteen years. While it was time to get a new car and I’m happy with it so far, it was a bit sad saying goodbye to my little Mazda.

Back at it

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I simply decide I’m going to do things and do them. I’ve been planning to get back to two things, one of which lends itself to a third.
First, I’ve put on some weight over the last year. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough that I’m not happy with my appearance…and that’s really my impetus. I don’t look at the scale as other than a device that can provide a measurable metric. I base my goal on my appearance and whether I’m happy with myself. Right now, I’m not.
How’d I get here? Some is work interfering in my ability to get a full match of lunchtime soccer in regularly. Mostly, though, that’s just one of a number of excuses, along with needing to make sure my daughter got off to catch her ride to school in the morning, then making sure she got off in time to drive herself once she got her license, and making sure I was available if she called because something happened while she drove to school. So I had good reasons to not head to the gym before work, but they were still excuses. I could have tried to find time during the day or gone after work, so…an excuse.

Now, I’m back at it. I pack two sets of clothes on soccer days. If I don’t get in a full match, I can hit the gym after work and I’ve started going on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work. Worst case, I can always use the treadmill at home.

Second, the need, yes, need to write has been niggling at me again. I can’t recall the last time I wrote something not for work. I’ve had a few story ideas pop into my melon, one may have been from a dream. I’ve started laying them out in yWriter, but haven’t really tried writing any parts of them. I’m also fairly sure it’s been three years or so since I wrote a poem. Sad, I know. As I said, though, I’ve found an urge to write. Such an urge that during some goofy “game” around Christmas, I told my wife and the others that my goal (game term) for this year is to start writing again. I suppose this post will serve as my first step toward that goal. One post. It’s a start.
Which leads into the third: blogging. Much like my poetry writong, all of my blogs have been sorely neglected. I have no reason, again, other than excuses so I won’t waste my time trying to enumerate them. They’d just sound trite and overused.
So…here I am. No more excuses. It’s writing time. Fiction, poems, blog posts, and writing prompts. Hope you enjoy some of them. They are coming anyway.

Count your blessings…

I know you’ve all read or heard many times by many people what I’m about to say, but I’m feeling especially sentimental for some reason this year, so here goes…

I’ve felt very blessed this year as I’ve watched as the number of presents grow under the tree, especially since I know that my daughters have been contributing to them with their own money and time. As I sit here in a few moments of near-silence this Christmas morning, I can hear my family beginning to stir upstairs, and I’m feeling very blessed by those sounds, as well. I recognize that while we’re very far from rich, we are very fortunate. My daughters have grown up with both parents, most of their grandparents, and even many of their great grandparents. We’ve always had a house to call home with a strong, stable family, and have all enjoyed good health, for the most part. We’ve not had many years that we needed to “wipe the year away” as George Michael sang about in ‘December Song,’ but we do still dream of Christmas. I hope it will always be a time for our family to gather and enjoy our biggest blessing, the love we have for each other.

Peace to you all!

December Song: https://youtu.be/l-xzyD00_fI

Karōshi

Look it up. Don’t be a victim of it. Take time off, especially when ill. Spend time with family and/or friends and/or pets….or just get outside and spend time in nature. Don’t let the wheel geind you out. Live life. Enjoy life.

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