Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perhaps You Can Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe once wrote, "And at the end of it [self-appraisal] he knew, and with the knowledge came the definite sense of new direction toward which he had long been groping, that the dark ancestral cave, the womb from which mankind emerged into the light, forever pulls one back--but that you can't go home again. . . . You can't go back to your family, back home to your childhood . . . ." For years, I suspect some part of me thought that was true, as I neglected or perhaps avoided returning home to where most of my family still lives.

Now, having returned from a Christmas visit to the Seattle area to see family, I think perhaps I can go home again, at least to visit. My first visit in eight years went in many ways much better than I expected. Aside from a few awkward silences with my sister, I felt comfortable and welcome amongst these people to whom I had once been so close and from whom I had drifted so far away.

There were times when I felt a bit of a stranger in a strange land, especially when I saw all of the children who had grown up in my absence and who now had children of their own. But there were many more times when I felt as if almost no time had passed since my last visit; the conversation and the laughter flowed easily.

I suppose there were a few minor disappointments. Circumstances and logistics did not allow for much in-depth or heartfelt conversation; there were just too many people to see and too little time in which to see them. On the other hand, I found new areas of common ground where I did not know it existed.

In the end, I think perhaps a new foundation was laid and connections hopefully renewed. I once again have family. Not that they ever doubted it. And I did go home again.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Prodigal Son

In the morning, the family and I will get in the car to begin the long journey to Western Washington for Christmas. It is a journey both of distance and of time. That is true not only in the most obvious sense of the hours spent in the car and the distance traveled. It is true on a number of other levels as well.

This will be our first visit back as a family in more than half a decade. In some ways, it seems as if no time at all has passed. In other ways, it seems as if a lifetime has gone by since I last saw some of my family.

Cousins and nephews and nieces who were children or teenagers when last I saw them are now adults, some of them with children of their own. Where did the years go?

To be honest, I'm a little nervous about the trip, simply because it has been so long. It should be a little easier because I have seen an aunt and an uncle, been reintroduced to them in a sense, in recent months. But because so much time has passed, I admit to feeling a little like a stranger in a strange land, unsure of how to act, how to fit in.

Still, I am looking forward to the trip. My therapist calls it a chance to reconnect, to reclaim my roots, something I may have unknowingly spent years running from, just as I was running from the demons of my past.

For years, I was never sure I belonged anywhere. I never seemed to fit. Now I know I don't have to. I just have to be me and let people take me as they will.

I'm sure some of the conversations will slip into familiar topics, but I hope we learn a little something about each other that maybe we didn't know before. Regardless of how it unfolds, I am looking forward to the journey back to my childhood home. Simply put, it's time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Even growing up in a single-parent family with a very limited income, I always looked forward to Christmas.

Sure, I liked the thought of receiving presents; I still do. More than that, though, I looked forward to Christmas dinner with the family: grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a human menagerie if you will.

This year, I come full circle in this respect as I bring my own family, wife and son, back to have Christmas dinner with my family for the first time. Teresa and I made the pilgrimage back for Christmas dinner once, in 1995. We took our son back for a visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas the following year, when he was just six months old. It was the only time his grandmother, my mother, would ever see her grandson. Now, we make the journey as a family.

I'm a little nervous because it has been seven and a half years since I have been back. But I'm looking forward to the trip as well. Because Christmas really is about family. The holiday itself evolved out of a very special birth in a very special family, so it makes perfect sense that family would be at the heart of this holiday more than any other.

With that in mind, I wrote a little something to mark the holiday, something I hope captures part of the essence of Christmas. Consider it my way of wishing all of my friends and family, near and far, a very Merry Christmas.

I'm Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Though many miles may lie between us
One thing still rings true
My wish that Christmas brings
A special joy to each of you

Hold fast to the spirit
And the promise this day holds
See it in the children's faces
As each gift unfolds

I'm wishing you a Merry Christmas
One filled with laughter and good cheer
May your heart reflect the joy
Of every girl and boy
And keep you smiling into the new year

I wish for you that special feeling
That comes from family and good friends
On this very special day
I hope good things come your way
And bring a feeling I hope never ends

Beneath the mistletoe
In the Christmas lights aglow
This season brings a joy
I hope that each of you will know
And may the memory of this season
Last throughout the year
To warm your heart each time
You gather loved ones near

And so, I hope this special season
Is filled with joy and laughter, too
On this very special day
There's just one thing left to say
Merry Christmas -
Merry Christmas -
Merry Christmas to you

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Search . . . . is over

On Monday, a deal for what could possibly have been our first fifth wheel trailer fell through. On Friday, we looked at another candidate, another 1998 model, a 35-foot Excel. The brand was a quality brand when it was around, and this trailer looked great on the inside. The outside, however, had a few too many problems for our liking and for the price being asked. So we decided to pass again.

Saturday, my birthday. A new day and yet another trailer to look at. This one was a little older, a 1995 model Kit Cordova. Because of the age, I didn't hold out a lot of hope, but I figured it was worth a look. After all, the price was right and we didn't have anything else planned.

We arrived at the dealer (a different one from the one we had been talking to before) and the salesman took us out to look at the trailer. Right from the start, we were pleasantly surprised. From the outside, it certainly did not look like a 14-year old trailer. We took a look inside. All of the cabinet doors were solid when they closed and none of them were coming loose. The couch, chair, and carpet looked to be in good shape. The stove looked almost new, and the refrigerator actually looked in great shape.

In the bedroom, the mattress looked new. There was plenty of interior storage. The shower enclosure might need some repair, but it looked usable. For an older unit, there also appeared to be a good deal of exterior storage, and there was a good amount of cargo carrying capacity. The roof also looked better than several other trailers we had looked at.

There was a little rust underneath but less than many newer units we looked at. Teresa and I talked about it and probably filtered our discussion through the many other units we had looked at and passed on. And, when it was all said and done, we decided to buy it.

So we now have a 33-foot fifth wheel, and we can't wait to start using it. We pick it up Friday and will probably have a shakedown cruise, as it were, that weekend. Then we'll be ready to do some four-season camping. I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Search

No, it's not the search for truth, the search for love, the search for knowledge, the search for fulfillment, or even the search for God. This search is for the perfect RV or at least perfect for us within our price range.

Since buying our tent trailer three-plus years ago, we have talked about one day moving up the RV food chain. At first, we thought that next RV might be a travel trailer and perhaps one day a fifth wheel trailer. Later, we thought we would skip the middle steps and move directly to a motorhome one day.

Our beagle Oliver has made us realize that a tent trailer is a little too small for a family of four (he is, after all, a member of the family). As a result, one day has become a lot sooner than we first envisioned. After our vacation to Utah, we thought perhaps in a couple of years. A few more camping trips later, the time frame became more like a couple of months.

The search for the perfect for us at this stage of our lives and current budget RV started in earnest about six weeks ago. We initially focused on finding a used motorhome, then decided the layouts of the motorhomes we could afford were not what we thought we wanted or needed.

After looking at a few motorhomes, we returned to the idea of a fifth wheel trailer. we had always liked the kitchen layouts of the fifth wheels we had seen, and since I like to cook when we are camping, the kitchen was in some ways the most important consideration of any RV layout.

Now that we had decided what type of RV to pursue, we needed a truck. We didn't want anything too big, but we knew we needed something big enough to pull a loaded fifth wheel. Because we wanted a particular type of truck without four-wheel drive (I wasn't sure they were sold in Idaho), we still were sure it would be several months before we decided on a unit and were ready to make a purchase.

But the search for the truck actually turned out to be the easiest part of this process as we found a 2006 Ford F-350 dual real wheels with Power Stroke diesel and without four-wheel drive. Once we signed the papers on the truck, the search for a fifth wheel seemed to become more serious.

We found one we really liked for a price we really liked only to find cracking in the fiberglass and some dents in one side. Then we found another one we liked at an even better price. We looked at it several times before we noticed the stress crack below the slide out. We looked at one where the bedroom seemed designed for midgets, another that seemed to have been made mostly of plastic, wood veneer, and glue, easy on the glue since trim was pulling apart everywhere.

We looked at several that seemed as if they had been parked in the ocean and others that we might one day aspire to before finding what we thought might be the one. It was a 1998 Alpenlite, 29-feet long. It was a little beat up on the inside and had originally been way overpriced before the dealer knocked several thousand dollars off the price. We had a few reservations but felt if we could get the right price, this would be worth buying.

The salesman kept playing games with us ("I have to talk to my manager" and "Someone is coming to look at it tomorrow and might buy it"). The more they did such things, the more inclined we were to dig in our heels and not budge on what we were willing to pay for the unit.

In the end, it turns out someone else did buy the unit for what the dealer was asking. (At least that's what the salesman says.) I hope they enjoy it, and I hope everything on the unit works. We never were sure.

It could have turned out to be a great trailer at a good price, but we'll never know. And I'm okay with that. Our dealings with the dealer (Camping World of Boise) and the salesman always left us a bit uneasy about the trailer and about what might be wrong with it.

We've always been convinced we would know the right unit for us when we saw it. We still believe that. In addition, we now know where we probably won't be buying it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Learning to Slow Down

"Life if the fast lane sure can make you lose your mind" - The Eagles

Since my last posting more than a month ago, I have been working on learning to slow down a bit, to enjoy the world around me, and to not let the little things in life get to me. I have not always succeeded, but I am getting better at it.

When my aunt told me the story about my father and the real reason behind the breakup of my parents' marriage, a huge weight that I had been carrying for more than 40 years began to lift. As it did, an inner sense of calm and of peace began to develop.

I find myself much more aware of little things: sunsets, cloud formations, the moon, even something as mundane as the fact that dishes need to be put into the dishwasher. With that awareness has also come the realization (always present, I think, but now more developed) that some things are not worth worrying about.

I worry a good deal less about making mistakes at work or about getting everything done on time. Not because I don't care, but because I realize that I can only do what I can do and no more. I have decided that I can only control what I can control and that the rest is not worth getting upset about. As a result, my stress level has diminished considerably.

I realize that my job is never going to be a dream job and also that I will likely never rise above my level, and I am okay with that. My job is what it is: food on the table, gas in the car, and a means toward an end goal of being able to one day retire, buy a motorhome, and travel a little bit.

I have had several people who know me say that I seem happier these days. And I am. Having some answers about my past allowed me to move out from under its shadow. I still have some work to do, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it is getting brighter. I am also no longer mistaking it for an oncoming train.

Don't get me wrong; little things still have the power to irritate me at times. A car pulling out in front of me or going around me only to slow down in order to make a turn or my son talking during a program I'm trying to watch or changing the subject when I ask him a question, these things all still irritate me. But the irritation does not seem to last as long and sometimes does not materialize at all.

I also find that I am no longer in such a hurry to get wherever I'm going. I thought about this the other day at work as I was watching people hurry past me in the halls. I thought to myself: what's the rush? That person will get where they're going 15 or 20 seconds sooner than I will reach the same spot. The work will still be there when I arrive, only I'll get there more relaxed and in a calmer state than the person in such a hurry. And there is a good deal to be said for that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Putting the Pieces Together

It has been a busy two weeks since my last entry. No sooner did I get through the end of the month rush at work before I had to jump back into the rush of another month with a short turnaround time for getting everything done.

In the interval, I had a great weekend of camping with the family and spent some time thinking about and trying to find out more about something an aunt told me about my father when she was here for a visit a month ado. Before I share what she said, a little background.

My mother and father separated when I was five - a long, long time ago (there were cars, but I'm not sure about color television.) - and divorced soon after. The way it has always played out in my mind is that one day he was there, the next he was gone. When I say gone, I mean gone completely - no visits on the weekends, no calls, no letters, nothing. It was as if he had never existed.

During the intervening years, through my mother's bad relationships and an even worse second marriage, I wondered what had happened to my father and what had happened to cause him to simply disappear. No one seemed to know, or at least no one was talking.

The only answer I ever got on the subject from my mother was that my father "couldn't handle the responsibility of a family." While I'm sure she did not mean it this way, inside I took that to mean it was my fault for the end of their marriage. I never included my sister in that blame equation; I suppose at some level I concluded that she was a second attempt to get it right. If I had turned out right or perhaps had never been born they would have stayed together and life would have been different.

I won't bore you with what my therapist has to say about this. Suffice to say that this episode of my childhood and the way I interpreted it caused all kinds of problems for me in terms of interpersonal relationships, emotional commitments, and simply living. Because the separation was so complete and so permanent, all of the pieces seemed to fit together to support the conclusion that I was somehow to blame for my parents' divorce.

That is because my mother's explanation was the only story I had - until a little more than a month ago. That was when an aunt came to town and gave me the initial piece of a new story, one that took me out of the blame equation, one that held the promise of a rational explanation - finally - if I could get some more details.

At that time, she told me that my mother had thrown my father out for some unnamed transgression and that he had possibly ended up in prison. Prison would have explained why he never came to visit and could have explained no letters and no telephone calls - for a time. But what could he have done to cause my mother not to want him around us ever again. I needed more information.

After talking about this revelation with my therapist, she encouraged me to contact my aunt to see if I could get more details about what had happened. So I e-mailed my aunt. E-mail seemed safer than a phone call in case my aunt couldn't or wouldn't say more. It also allowed me to be crystal clear in what I was asking for, and it allowed me to take emotion out of it, especially the potential for an angry outburst if no other information was available or forthcoming.

I sent the e-mail. And I waited. After eight days with no answer, my therapist encouraged me to call my aunt to see whether she had gotten my e-mail. Because of computer problems, she hadn't. So I waited some more. Another eight days passed. Finally, Wednesday morning before work, I checked my e-mail again, and there was the response I had been waiting for. I read it through and thought to myself, it all fits.

It seems my father had been guilty of infidelity, only with a criminal twist. The "other woman" turned out not to have been a woman after all but an underage girl. According to my aunt, it wasn't the first time, either. So my mother kicked him out and, as my aunt says, because she was afraid he might hurt one of us, my mother didn't want my father coming around.

After all these years, I now have a different story with different pieces, and they all seem to add up. They seem to explain the sudden breaking of contact and the subsequent years of silence on the part of my father. But deep inside, I still seem to need a bit more.

Perhaps it's the doubting Thomas in me or perhaps it's the spirit of the reporter I used to be, but there is part of me that now wants to know for sure whether he went to prison and for what. My aunt has taken the new story as far as she can. Now it is time for me to take it and flesh it out and perhaps craft the happy ending I never really thought was possible. Until now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The End of Civility

In following the ongoing debate over universal health care in America, I have been led to conclude that America is a divided country again.

We have been divided before: the Civil War, Vietnam, even the war in Iraq. It seems to me that each new division takes just a little longer to heal, and the time of relative unity in between grows a little bit shorter, if it exists at all.

I blame talk radio for a portion of this. It sounds silly to say that, but talk radio does seem to set the tone for what passes for discourse in this country. That tone has grown increasingly shrill in recent years. Nothing and no one can be trusted anymore, it seems. For a long-time idealist like me, that is a hard world in which to live.

Talk radio is likely not the cause of this loss of civility; rather, it is probably but a symptom. However, like a parasite, it continues to feed off of this social unease and distrust. Like an opportunist, it fuels those negative emotions rather than looking for or promoting solutions. Talk radio feeds on the fears of people concerned about how something might affect them individually without ever looking at how something might affect or even benefit us societally and without ever offering a rational alternative.

It has long been said that politics is dirty business and that people interested in a life in politics had to be willing to get down in the mud. For most of our existence, most of that mud was controlled and contained in back rooms and more often than not a middle ground was eventually found.

These days, the mud is slung freely and indiscriminately, hitting anyone and everyone in its path. As a result, the middle ground is lost to us because we cannot even see it, let alone reach it. Personally, I feel unclean.

Years ago, Rodney King asked the often-spoofed and ridiculed question: "Can we all get along?" The question appears to have been answered once and for all. Sadly, the answer appears to be no.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Crimes and Misdemeanors and Other Thoughts

I have been following, off and on, the increasingly raucous debate over whether the government should be involved in health care. Interestingly, I think, the loudest opposition comes from people who have no need of a public option for health care and from those who fear that such an option will kill their goose that laid the golden egg. Perhaps it should.

Frankly, I believe insurance company decisions regarding whether to pay benefits or not are based all too often on the impact to their bottom line or to the value of shareholders' stock instead of the impact on a person's life or even survival. My own feeling is that if insurance companies must exist, they should do so to provide supplemental insurance to cover more voluntary things such as plastic surgery.

Opponents on the Right complain that any government involvement in health care takes us another step down the road to socialism. I'm all for private enterprise - in areas that do not hold the potential of a life or death decision: buying a car, dining out, clothing stores, and the like. However, I also believe there are places where the for-profit economic model has no place, and health care is one of them.

Some have suggested that reform, such as a law to prevent denial of benefits for a preexisting condition is a better approach. At one time, I might have agreed. But no more. I no longer believe a piecemeal approach can work. Nor do I think the health insurance industry will sit still for such changes to their cash cow. If they can kill such a massive reform effort as the one currently underway, individual changes stand no chance of success.

I think it is a travesty, even a crime that the richest nation in the world ranks 33rd in the world in infant mortality rate, according to a 2006 United Nations report. (A 2007 report from the CDC puts that death rate even higher.) By the way, that is five spots worse than lowly and impoverished Cuba. (The U.S. ranks 34th in the rate of child deaths within the first five years of life. Cuba ranks 26th in that regard.) The 2009 estimates from the CIA World Factbook rank the United States even lower at 46th in the world. That bastion of wealth, Slovenia, ranks 19th, with two fewer infant deaths per 1,000 live births than the U.S.

Simply put, capitalism has no place in health care. Maybe, though, this debate can serve as a catalyst to review and rethink capitalism, not with the goal of replacing it but with the goal of restoring some balance. For instance, in 1970, a company CEO made, on average 25 times the salary on one of his workers. In 2009, that figure was by some estimates 700 times the average worker's income. Even as jobs are lost or shipped overseas, CEO salaries continue to rise. Perhaps this is what Reagan meant when he talked about trickle-down economics. The top tier skims off the cream and allows whatever is left to trickle down to the rest of us.

I work for a company that a few years back had a CEO who nearly ran the company into the ground. He managed to unload the company, saddling the new buyers with billions of dollars in debt in the process, then drove off into the sunset with his $150 million golden parachute. In the meantime, several hundred of the rank and file workers he left behind had their jobs eliminated or shipped overseas.

I don't think the original proponents of capitalism ever had this in mind. This is no longer your father's capitalism, where small businesses served as the backbone of the economy. That model has been replaced by an oligarchy in which CEOs hold most of the wealth and the power that comes with it.

Is this really what the Founding Fathers had in mind?

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Human Detour

Have you ever noticed how you may be headed in one direction but something happens to push you in a different direction, one you never expected or anticipated? It happens to all of us, I would venture to say, some of us more than once. With my son, Christopher, I experience small detours every day. Life is often lived at 90-degree angles with Christopher, who will suddenly and abruptly change the direction of a conversation without warning.

Tonight, a few minutes before 9:00, I informed Christopher that he needed to get ready for bed. After a moment or two, he left, only to return five minutes or so later to inform me that he was going to brush his teeth. What he did during the five or so minutes he was gone, I'm not even sure he knows. I do know that if anyone ever figures out a way to save "rollover" minutes in life the way a certain cellular phone company does, Christopher will be set into the next life.

Christopher left again. To the untrained observer, it would appear he went to brush his teeth, just as he said. As his father, I knew better. Ten minutes passed. Teresa opened the bathroom door to discover him simply standing there. I sat down on our bedroom floor to play with our dog and settled in for the long haul.

Another five or ten minutes passed, during which time Christopher presumably did brush his teeth. He walked into our bedroom and announced to the world, "I found a penny on the bus," to which I replied, "Yes, but can you find your pajamas?" Because, at this point, Christopher, clean teeth and all, was still fully dressed.

Tonight, it took Christopher roughly 20 minutes to get ready for bed and another five to actually get settled into bed. Tonight, he showed unusual speed. The week prior, there was one night it took Christopher almost 90-minutes to finally pronounce himself ready for bed.

I joke that Christopher has two speeds: slow and stop. Because of that, Teresa and I both suspect that he will have trouble in this hurry up and wait, hustle and bustle world in which we live.

Seeing Christopher's inability to do anything quickly has been frustrating to me more times than I can count. Tonight, though, I hit upon a thought that may make dealing with and accepting Christopher's lack of alacrity about anything a bit easier to accept. When we retire, Teresa and I hope to buy a motorhome to live in a travel around the country, and we are sometimes convinced that Christopher will have to accompany us on the road.

In the world of the full-time RVer, a world we one day hope to enter, time is much more relative. There are no schedules unless you choose to have them. You don't need to be somewhere on a certain day, by a certain time unless you choose to. In a sense, time is more of a choice.

In that world, life is lived more slowly. People take time to notice and appreciate their surroundings. Although there are fewer younger people in that world, it is one tailor-made for Christopher, for whom time is often fluid, aside from deadlines and schedules imposed and enforced on him by others.

Amongst full-time RVers, Christopher may well thrive, and it may be me who frustrates him. I can't wait.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Power of Language - to Confuse

As an erstwhile English major and former writer for a television newscast, I suppose I have always been somewhat fascinated by the power of the English language to inform, to console, to lift up, and yes, to confuse.

Here is a case in point. Every day, on my way home from work, I drive past my son's junior high school. At the exit from the school grounds there is a sign that reads as follows: Golf and Metal Detectors Prohibited on School Grounds. Initially, I wondered about the ban on metal detectors, but then it hit me. Why would anyone need a detector to determine whether people were playing golf on school grounds? And what would such a detector look like?

Silly? Probably. But such nuances of the language cause problems for native and non-native speakers alike. Often, the meaning depends on how a person reads the message: pronunciation, intonation, etc. In my case, a sometimes bored mind starts to read unintended meanings into things.

Take for instance the road sign: Slow Children at Play. This mind wants to know where the fast children play. And where are the slow children? I never see them playing. They must be too slow for the human eye to notice.

Here in Idaho we also have signs such as Watch For Stock. Am I allowed to gather up any shares of IBM or Microsoft I spot along the roadway?

The first time I came upon a Game Crossing sign I looked for Yahtzee and Monopoly but did not see them. I also wondered if I would then see a Do Not Pass Go sign. I didn't.

On that same drive home every day, I pass two side streets that appear in many respects to be similar to one another. The main difference is that the first side street has a sign that reads No Outlet while the second street has a sign that reads Dead End.

What is the difference? Does one street have access to electricity while the other one doesn't? Does it mean that once you take one of these streets you can never make your way back out? Or does it simply mean that there is no cheap shopping to be had on the street labeled No Outlet? Sometimes, the power of the language is all in how you look at it and in how you say it. Sometimes, it helps to be a little bit out in left field.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some Mental Decluttering

I don't really have anything specific on my mind, but it's been a while since my last post so I thought I ought to say something. So let me just unpack a few things rattling around my brain.

As I write this, it is closing in on 100-degrees here in Boise, and the neighbor and her daughter are sitting outside trying to hold a garage sale. They're sitting in the shade, but it has to be hot out there. What must make it worse is that I don't think a single person has stopped to look, let along buy anything.

That got me to thinking: what is it about us Americans and our need for stuff? Bigger stuff, better stuff, more expensive stuff, just more stuff. I've read that houses have gone from around 1100 or 1200 square feet in the 1950s to more than 2400 square feet a few years ago. I feel so below average in our 1,967 square feet. NOT! One day, we may even downsize into a 320 square foot motorhome, but we'll have to get rid of a lot more stuff first.

I recently found out I wasn't getting a promotion I didn't even know I was up for and didn't think I would want. I realized, though, that I was a little disappointed, even though the choice as made was to keep another, more experienced person with the company and not because of my qualifications or lack thereof.

Why is it that so many things that are good for you don't taste good while so many things that taste good are so bad for you? It just doesn't seem right. And will researchers ever make up their minds about coffee? First it's bad, then it's good, and now they say one cups of caffeinated coffee a day can help ward off dementia and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's. With as much as I drink, I should be in good shape until I'm at least 125.

While I'm in this decluttering mood, I should toss out some of the less pleasant memories of my life that have basically kept me from really enjoying life for all these years. I tried for so long to understand some of them that I forgot to live and make new memories. The process of reversing that began seven months ago. I wish I'd been ready sooner.

Along the way, I've been thinking about the people who have come into and gone out of my life. I wonder where they are these days, how they are, what they're doing, even what they look like. To all of you, I'm glad I knew you, even if only for a short time. I wish I'd been a better friend. Perhaps one day I'll be lucky enough to have a second chance at it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

It has been exactly one week since we returned from our nine-day excursion to south-central Utah. What a wonderful excursion it was! This may have been the most scenic and most relaxing vacation I have ever had.

Last year, we drove 11 hours to southwest Oregon and spent time seeing the Oregon and California coasts, Redwoods National Park, and Crater Lake National Park. Very beautiful but very exhausting. It felt like we did all three of those over consecutive days, even though I know we did not.

Compounding that was the fact that I was anticipating a possible new job, the offer for which came during our trip to Crater Lake. That meant an unplanned additional day's driver to find a Kinko's from which to fax back my acceptance of the job offer. Needless to say, when we returned I was exhausted and felt like I needed another vacation in order to recover.

Not so this time, even we did as much if not more sightseeing. Our campsite, in Fish Lake National Forest, was at 8800-feet, which led to cool, crisp nights and some great sleeping weather. The days were mostly cool and often wet, but we did not let that stop us from making road trips to three national parks, each perhaps more spectacular than the one before.

During our nine days, we made visits to, in order: Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Parks. We managed to put at least one day of rest in-between each park, which allowed us time to recharge our batteries. That spacing made each park more enjoyable and more picturesque, as evidenced by the fact that we took more than 500 pictures, and our son took nearly 200 additional pictures. (I promise to post some as soon as I get a chance to organize them.)

There are some wondrous sites to see in this country, and I hope to see more of them in the coming years. For now, just let me say that everyone should travel to see some of these wonderful places in Utah, and if you do go, be sure to try the buffalo burger at the Burger Bar in Roy, just north of Salt Lake City. Their shakes are fantastic as well.

And if you happen to be driving through Koosharem, a small town of fewer than 300 people seemingly in the middle of nowhere on Highway 62, 156 miles from Salt Lake City, be sure to stop by the Koosharem Cafe and have the Country Fried Steak meal. Very good food at a very good price.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Few Random Questions

Why is it that, as most men get older, their waistline expands even as their hairline recedes? Is it something to do with quantum physics? Perhaps in a parallel universe an alternate version of me is really thin.

Did you ever wonder why the louder you speak the harder of hearing your children seem to become? I can literally yell to ask Christopher to do something and he'll say he didn't hear me. But I could be on the other side of the house almost whispering, and he'll catch every single word - especially if none of them were meant for him to hear. Someone please explain that to me.

Do you think there might be a special place in Hell for people who race to pull out in front you even though there are blocks of empty space behind you and then proceed to drive well below the speed limit? I sure hope so.

Where is the reality in reality TV? Seriously, do you personally know anyone who does some of the stupid things these people do in some of these shows? I don't. With the exception of Survivor, of course. I mean, there is nothing contrived about putting 16 strangers on a deserted island or in the middle of the jungle and rewarding the person who does the best job of lying, cheating, and stabbing the other 15 contestants in the back. Oh wait, I'm confusing Survivor with climbing the corporate ladder.

Do you ever wonder why someone would take the time to write about what he thinks or feels when few if any people will read it and fewer still will comment on it? So do I, but I guess I'll keep doing so.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Camping Season

This year, my allergies are the worst they have been since moving to Idaho in 2003. I've spent a great deal of time sneezing, reaching for a tissue, or trying to gouge my eyes out to stop the itching. If it isn't one of those, then it's the problem of trying to stay awake and alert after doping myself beyond the recommended dosage in a futile quest for relief.

In spite of these miseries, I am as happy as I have been in several months. Why? Because it is camping season once again. We already have three trips under our belt this season, with our big trip coming in less than two weeks, an eight-day stay in Utah. I am really looking forward to it.

This year, despite the allergies, camping is in many ways more fun than in years past. One key reason is that I am finally coming to terms with some of my demons that have haunted me for years. Another key reason is the addition of Oliver, our beagle, to the family.

The addition of a dog has changed our camping experience for the better. Oliver is an instant four-legged icebreaker. On our last camping trip, one of the volunteer camp host couples pulled into our campsite, apologized for the intrusion, then told us how much they admired our beagle.

We've spoken to several other beagle owners about owning perhaps the most stubborn breed in the canine world. We've had other dog owners apologize for the behavior of their dogs even as we have been compelled to apologize for Oliver. As a lifelong introvert, the whole transformation caused in the amount we interact with other campers simply by adding a dog to our family has been incredible.

I have come to truly love camping, even the setting up. I enjoy cooking at nearly all times, but it is even more fun when camping, especially when I can surprise with whatever I create. The food almost always seems to taste better. The wine most certainly does. The sunsets seem more spectacular, the stars seem brighter, and the moon seems closer.

Teresa calculates that, based on the amount of nights we already have scheduled and reserved this season, we will top the 100-night mark in the tent trailer we bought in June, 2006. With a little luck and perhaps a fall outing or two, we might push that number closer to 110. Most of them have been truly wonderful. We've been to some really lovely settings, and we've only scratched the surface. One day, we hope to make such outings a full-time adventure. I can't wait!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

It's here at last, Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer. If you're like most people, you'll be doing one of two things: camping or getting together with friends and/or family to do a little grilling and perhaps a little more drinking.

I will actually be doing a bit of both. Teresa, Christopher and I will be camping in eastern Oregon this weekend. While we're in our home away from home, I expect we'll do a little drinking, especially some red wine with some grilled steaks on Saturday. I also plan to try my hand at making some apple cobbler in our dutch oven.

I hope each of you has a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. Whatever you'll be doing this weekend, I hope you will take a few moments to remember the real reason for Memorial Day.

Whether you agreed with the specific policies at the time or not (and I disagreed with many of them), take a moment to honor those who did their duty as it was given to them and in the end paid the ultimate price. Because we as people are sometimes unable or unwilling to understand, accept, or tolerate a point of view that does not agree with our own, others are asked to put themselves in harm's way

Perhaps one day, those we remember on Memorial Day will seem to have come from an almost mythical past, somewhat in the same sense that we now think about the medieval era (the legends of King Arthur, for example). Sadly, though, I feel we are destined to continue to try to resolve our differences on the battlefield and that there will be new names to remember on Memorial Days to come. Would that it were not so.

Monday, May 18, 2009


These days, it seems as if time is folding in upon itself. Since joining Facebook several weeks back I have been able to engage in an electronic form of time travel.

In the last few weeks, I have reconnected, albeit superficially perhaps, with two people I went to college with years ago (32 and 15 years, respectively), another handful of people I worked with in another lifetime when I was in television, a couple of friends I haven't seen or spoken to in more than a decade, and even a couple of family members I last spoke to seven years ago.

As a result of joining Facebook, my past has come careening into my present. Thanks to joining Facebook, I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend from my days living in Alabama, a visit that would not have occurred if not for Facebook.

Now that this time spiral has begun, there seems no end to the potential pieces of my past I might encounter again. Last night, I got a call from my cousin Vince, whom I had not spoken to in nearly seven years. It so happened he was going to be laying over in Boise and wondered if he could stay the night with us.

We had a nice, although short visit before he flew out for home this morning. I was struck by the fact that he sounded the same as he did the last time we talked but looked more like his dad than ever.

Although his visit was not directly connected to my having joined Facebook, it seems that act has set a whole chain of events into motion. I spent years running and hiding from large chunks of my past. Now it seems Facebook has become one of the tools (along with therapy) through I can stop the running and make peace with the more negative aspects of my past and embrace the good pieces that also got left behind. And that's a good thing.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Little Wordplay

I was coming out of my therapy session on Friday, and I noticed three or four EXIT signs in the space of what seemed like 20 feet. My mind, being twisted the way it is, started to play around with the word.

After seeing the third EXIT sign, I started to read it as "Ex-It," as in the flavor of the month celebrity. We are big believers in celebrity. The vast majority of us kneel at the altar of fame.

I suppose it's always been that way. In the 1920s, the world went wild for Charles Lindbergh after he flew across the Atlantic. These days, we have massive parades for every sports team that wins a championship in its respective league.

Of course, not everyone can be a famous aviator or athlete, but most of us want our moment in the sun, our time in the spotlight. Leave it to television to provide not one but several "solutions."

First, there was the good old game show. Some, like Jeopardy, require some ability or talent. Others, like Let's Make a Deal and The Gong Show, only seemed to require a willingness to throw all human restraint out the window.

Now, with shows like American Idol, people can combine their quest for fame or notoriety with their need for instant gratification, provided they fit the right age demographic and are prepared to fade from public view almost as far as they arrived.

Aside from Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, has any winner or finalist from American Idol shown any staying power? Ruben Studdard is now trying to make a living in touring companies of Broadway shows. What about Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks? Whither they?

Chances are, those who have fallen so fast will not be back. We live in a society searching so frantically for the Next Big Thing we have no time for "yesterday's news." While we say we like a good comeback story, we seldom allow it to happen.

One notable exception, for better or worse, appears to be Britney Spears. For several years starting in the late 1990s, Britney was definitely "it." Her face and voice (not to mention her lack of attire) were everywhere. Then she spiraled out of control and, if anything, became more famous, because if there is anything we like more than a successful celebrity it is one rushing headlong toward the inevitable train wreck.

Yet, just as things began to quiet down and Britney was moving toward "Ex-It" status, she managed to stage what so far has been a fairly successful comeback. Perhaps it is only a temporary reprieve from "Ex-It" status. If that is in fact the case, she will have plenty of company as an "Ex-It."

Isn't it funny the journey one's mind can take just from looking at a sign.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

As promised and without further ado

I did say I would put up a few writing samples, so here are three. The first is a poem; the remaining two are song lyrics. Don't be afraid to tell me what you think.


I am walking on a dark deserted road
With nothing to light my way
And no one to break the unbearable
Silence that engulfs me.
I trip, then stumble, reaching out
Into blackness to brace myself
Against thin air should I start to fall.
I cannot see far enough ahead
To know which direction I should turn
Which way leads to safety?
Which will put me in harm's way?
I expect no answer and am not disappointed.

As I walk, my mind's television
Replays past episodes in a non-stop marathon.
Even knowing how each one ends
They still have the power to shock, to hurt.
Now that's entertainment!

My trip through dusty mental corridors
Is interrupted when, in the distance,
I hear a young boy's voice call out for help.
I walk toward the sound
But it remains ever distant.
Can I close the distance
And reach the voice in time?

Running now, I try to reach him, to save him
From that imagined and unseen Fate
With such power to terrify. Still,
The voice keeps calling to me
But it is more faint, as if resigned
To that unknown which awaits it.

Running, I struggle to reach the voice
When suddenly, the sound is gone.
The voice is silent.
I am too late. The child is gone.
At once, there is awareness
As the all too powerful truth reveals itself.

In that instant, I realize
The child is me. And I am lost.


See the old man shuffle down the street
He turns his eyes from every face he meets
The things he's done, the pain he feels inside
No one can guess

In Vietnam, he won a Silver Star
But lost his wife because he'd gone too far
Now he locks it all down deep within
And does his best

Broken and beaten down
Patiently hoping things will turn around
But if you listen close, you'll hear the sound
Of uncried tears and unvoiced fears
Broken and bruised inside
Simply searching for a place to hide
From the memories of dreams that died
Lost long ago

See the young girl lying on the ground
Twelve stories later, peace she's finally found
What caused the break, what was the final straw
No one can know

Turned out on the street at 17
She tried to stay nice in a world turned mean
Until at 21, she'd seen enough
And let it go

Broken and beaten down
Finally gave up hope things would turn around
But in the final silence echoes sounds
Of uncried tears and unvoiced fears
Broken and bruised inside
Taking flight to find a place to hide
From the memories of dreams that died
Not long ago

Like a puzzle with a missing piece
A glass that's shattered on the ground
Something left them feeling incomplete
And what they sought was never found

The old man lives life in a private hell
Goes through the motions answering the bell
Searching for answers in a wishing well
They're buried deep

Broken and beaten down
Desparately hoping things will turn around
But if you listen close, you'll hear the sound
Of uncried tears and unvoiced fears
Broken and bruised inside
Simply searching for a place to hide
From the memories of dreams that died
Lost long ago

Memories of dreams down deep inside
He can't let go

Now, to end on a brighter note (think Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" crossed with Dr. John and a little Mardi Gras flavor):

With Arms Open Wide

I saw you standing in the corner -
I thought I'd take a closer look -
And when I got you on the dance floor
You know one dance is all it took -

I thought that this could be forever -
I felt that you could be the one -
But girl, now please don't let me rush you -
I know the fun has just begun -

But when I look into your eyes I see
Something I've never seen before
I see a window into someone else's heart
And right beside it there's an open door
I think I'll take a chance and walk on through
To see what's on the other side
I hope that I will find you waiting there for me
With arms open wide

I know it shouldn't be this simple -
I know that I should shop around -
But I know I'll find nothing better -
Than what I've already found -

(instrumental - horns)

But when I look into your eyes I see
Something I've never seen before
I see a window into someone else's heart
And right beside it there's an open door
I think I'll take a chance and walk on through
To see what's on the other side
I hope that I will find you waiting there for me
With arms open wide

I know it shouldn't be this simple -
I know that I should shop around -
But I know I'll find nothing better -
Than what I've already found -

(instrumental - horns out)

"Face" time

I recently joined the millions of people who are a part of the Facebook family. It is amazing to see so many familiar names already a part of this social network. Even more amazing to me is that Facebook allows me to time travel in a way.

When I first signed up for my Facebook account, I decided to search around and see if I could find some of the faces from my more distant past. To my amazement, I found someone I went to school with in the 1970s, someone I worked with 20 years ago, and someone I went to school with in the mid-1990s.

I'm not sure this is what Einstein had in mind with his theory of relativity and his idea that one could travel in time if they could go faster than the speed of light. But to me it is a form of time travel and on several levels.

First, there is for me the sense of traveling back in time as reconnect with people from my distant past. In this regard, I think there is also a sense of rewriting history as I am able to at least slightly alter the endings of these relationships.

There is also a sense of time standing still or at least a blurring between past and present (and perhaps future) as I move back and forth amongst the people from my past and those of my present. I find myself at times trying to remember what I was like in these other lives and balance that against and with the person I am today.

Conversely, there is also a sense of time rushing past at a rate faster than normal. Having only been a "Facebooker" for a few days, I already see the potential for spending and even losing hours at a time posting, commenting on others' posts, searching for new friends, and checking to see which friends are online.

There is a similar contradiction in the whole notion of the "friend" on Facebook. Facebook offers the promise of connection with others, but I can already see just how illusory that promise can be. If someone confirms you as a friend or you confirm someone else as a friend but there is no subsequent interaction, just how much of a connection is there?

That is the double-edged sword of Facebook. There can be connection to the point of over-saturation, perhaps even addiction. At the same time, there is also the danger of public isolation for all to see. I have already come across a number of people for whom, when I click on their names, Facebook says they have no friends.

At the other end of the spectrum are those who have hundreds of friends, maybe more. (As I write this, I have 12.) Just how connected can one person be with hundreds of others? And just how connected can any one of those hundreds of people feel?

Does having such a large network of "friends" diminish the meaning and the sense of either connection or friendship? Or is this merely the next step in multitasking the many facets of our lives: work, family, friends, leisure? I'll be watching and reading on Facebook to see if I can answer that question for myself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Warmer Weather and Other Random Thoughts

It's been a couple of months since my last post. So it is high time I updated this blog.

My last post had to do with our then new to the family Beagle, Oliver, and the impact he has had on me. That impact continues to grow, emotionally and, sadly, financially. This past week I had to take him back to the vet for another ear infections - $200, Ouch! My wife refers to Oliver as the "grand" dog because that's how much we have spent on him so far.

Now that the weather is starting to warm up around here we are dealing with another issue, shedding. So far, Oliver has left us enough hair to knit a fair-sized area rug.

On the plus side, the warmer weather is giving us a chance to find out how much fun camping with a dog can be. We made one trip out April 17-19 and hope to get out again soon, maybe this weekend. I think Oliver made the trip a much more memorable experience for all of us.

Since the last post, I hosted a dinner party for friends at our house. I think we ended up with ten or 11 people in all, and I know I had a great time cooking for everyone. I think they all had a good time eating as well. I hope to do something similar sometime in the fall. I love cooking for others and having the chance to get together with friends and hopefully get to know them better.

In the meantime, I continue the journey to know myself better. It has now been almost five months since I started seeing a therapist, and I feel I have come quite a ways although I am still most definitely a work in progress. I can say, though, that I feel like I am starting to cut away some of the scar tissue left by the events of my childhood.

I'm writing lyrics again, something I did quite frequently in my teens and 20s. I stopped when I got married because I thought I no longer needed to do that. These days, I find perhaps more than ever that writing lyrics allows me to get to some of the emotions long buried in me and to also express what for me are new emotions. Look for samples in future posts.

I could keep going, but I guess I'll save something for the next post. Until then, be well. Be happy.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Therapy of the four-legged variety

It's been a little more than a month since my last post. I hadn't realized how much time had passed. Time for an update.

I've now been in therapy for just over two months. A few things have changed. I feel myself now moving slowly in the right direction. I recognize the journey ahead is a long one, but I feel I am now at least moving.

One big change is the addition of a four-legged member to our family. Oliver is a four-year old Beagle, and he has brought me a great deal of joy since joining our family. Here's a shot of the newest member of the family:

As you can see, he is a real sweetheart. Even though he is four, there is still a little of the puppy in him.

Even after a bad or a hard day at work, Oliver has the ability to brighten my day as soon as I get in the door. Friends of mine with dogs are not surprised by this, but I have to admit I was amazed at just how much of an effect this little bundle of love and energy has on me.

While my therapist and I continue to work on life-ling issues that keep me from truly living my life, Oliver has the cure for what ails me on a day-to-day basis. I am so glad to have him in my life and in the family.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mixed Feelings and Thoughts on Eternal Life

Is it possible to feel both good and bad at the same time? If so, how does one balance the two emotions to keep from slipping into utter chaos? That is the challenge I wrestle with at the moment.

The good feeling stems from the fact that my wife was promoted last week, on her birthday no less. I am happy for her and proud of her. She certainly deserves it. We celebrated the events (promotion and birthday) by going to dinner with our son to a nice Italian restaurant. No one can say we aren't doing our part to stimulate the economy.

The bad feeling comes from the fact that my best friend lost her job last week. It was a job she took because her existing job had been moved to my location and to me.

When she called to tell me what had happened, she went out of her way to make sure I wasn't feeling guilty about the turn of events. As she rightly stated, her old job was going away whether I was the one who took it or not. I have, though, managed to feel guilty about that fact since she and I first met.

At the time of her call, however, I was not feeling guilty. I have since started to feel that way a little. Somewhere inside me is the notion that this latest job would have worked out if she had not had to divide her time between it and training me. In my head, I know there were other reasons for keeping the old job while beginning the new one, but my heart can't quite escape the guilty feeling.

Worse still, her day had started with her having to have her 13-year old dog put to sleep. For those like her who are able to form special bonds with their pets, having to put a pet down is like killing one of your children. It hurts like hell.

When I was a boy, my cat got into a fight with two dogs and lost. I sat with him for an hour or so until he died. Then I cried for him and for me and what had been lost. Last week, I cried for my friend and for her loss because I knew a little of what that loss felt like.

One thing I asked my friend to hold on to was the memories of the times she and her dog spent together. I told her and I believe that as long as we hold the memories in our hearts, that loved one, whether human or pet, is never really gone, never really dies. I am beginning to think that is part of what eternal life is, what it means to live forever.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Three Ages of Man

This is a topic I had considered writing about several weeks ago, prior to what could be termed my emotional meltdown. Somehow, with the onset of a new year and the reading I have been doing in the Conversations with God book series by Neale Donald Walsch, the time seems right to return to this notion and set down my thoughts.

First, let me say that I am not speaking of historical eras, such as the Industrial Age. No, the three ages of man that I am concerned with are internal components of each one of us. Those three ages are: emotional, intellectual, and physical. Together, the make up what could be termed our relative age.

In some respect, each of these ages are moving targets, and they are not always advancing upward, not even our physical age. For instance, how often have you heard someone say they feel like a kid again? Or, perhaps in the midst of an adrenaline rush, they are able to do something they had been unable to do for years.

For some of us, our physical age seems to advance exponentially rather than incrementally. I am 52, but there are days when I feel more like 72 due to occasional hip pain that extends into my knee. Stiffness in my back sometimes causes me to hobble around (at least until I am warmed up a bit) like someone much older.

With regard to intellectual age, how often have you said or heard someone else say "she's wise beyond her years" or "he has the mind of a child"? Then of course there is the child who is so brilliant mentally he or she is able to enter college at the age of 12 or 13. Physically and emotionally, this youngster is 12 or 13, but intellectually, he or she is 18 or 19 or even older.

Finally, there is the emotional age. Often, we hear about this age in a negative sense, such as when a parent admonishes a child for "acting like a two-year old." This age can also be impacted by trauma of some sort in the home, such as when a parent dies or when a child is excessively sheltered.

In my case, this is the age I have the most difficulty pinpointing. Because of my parent's divorce when I was five, followed by living in some fairly abusive relationships as a child accompanied by nearly complete withholding of human affection at times, my emotional age is nowhere near as advanced as my physical or intellectual age.

I often have trouble connecting with people or getting close to them for that matter. In fact, the closest friendship I currently have would likely have never developed if it had not been for e-mail. Face to face, I move much more slowly and defensively, to the point that most people don't take the time, and I don't blame them.

I also suspect that I can, at times, behave in a manner more befitting a 15-year old with a crush than a 52-year old adult. My emotional development has been stifled in some regards, so that it is sometimes difficult for me to know or to recognize when a line has been crossed and behavior begins to border on the inappropriate.

This is an issue I struggle with (as do many, I suspect) as I begin to get more accustomed to the simple idea of feeling and expressing feeling. The balance is not yet there, but with the help of friends, family, and professionals, it will come in time.

The Conversations with God books talk about the idea that there is really no such thing as time, that now is all there is. The implication in this is that each moment is made up of past, present, and future, and that they are in some ways interchangeable. When I think of the fluid nature of age when thought of in terms of the three ages I have discussed here, that whole notion seems to make much more sense.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Looking Forward to 2009

The new year is upon us, and what a year it promises to be. Global economic meltdown, war and unrest nearly everywhere you turn, in short, not much cause for celebration.

Yet that it what many people around the world did last night, and in my own quiet way, I was among them. On a macro scale, there may not be reason for optimism, but on a micro scale there is, for each new year brings another chance for renewal. This year, I intend to take it.

When I was younger and somewhat idealistic, I made New Year's resolutions, ten of them each year, systematically, right at midnight. As I got older and less idealistic, I stopped making resolutions because I found I was unable or unwilling to keep any of them.

This year, my 53rd on this planet, I have decided to make some resolutions again because I know in heart this year will not be like any other I have lived. For me, that will be a good thing.

The end of 2008 saw me begin therapy and begin a journey into myself. That journey will continue in 2009 as I work to tear down the inner walls that have kept me from achieving all that I am capable of, loving others more fully and more deeply, and truly being a part of the human condition.

I am lucky and blessed to have the love and support of a wonderful wife, Teresa, who has stuck by me through good and bad for 15 years. She has seen what was possible in me and waited patiently for me to see it too.

I am equally blessed to have the encouragement, support, and friendship of perhaps the best friend I have ever had. Heidi's encouragement and caring nature helped me to find the road back to myself and to begin the journey toward inner healing.

I am very lucky to have two truly special women in my life. For them and for the others who share a part of my journey, I want to make 2009 my year of change. I want to begin the work toward becoming the best me I can be. Toward that end, I have made six resolutions for the coming year:
  1. To be more open.

    This is a somewhat open-ended resolution, and it is meant to be. I hope to become more open to my feelings, to new experiences, and to those around me. I will work to not close myself off from others and make myself distant and unapproachable.

  2. To make new and more connections with others.

    I have had a number of wonderful people pass in and out of my life through the years, and I have managed to lose touch, lose connection with all of them. I am now fortunate to know some wonderful people, a few of whom I call friends, others whom I hope to be able to call friends in 2009. That will require me not closing off from others.

  3. To release the writer inside me and to make the time to write.

    For years, I have always said I wanted to be a writer, but outside of a few spurts here and there I did not write. I spent more than a decade in broadcasting because it gave me a writing outlet, but I never pursued much writing beyond that. Lately, I have begun writing lyrics and poetry again. This blog is also an extension of my rediscovered desire to write. In 2009, I intend to continue this blog and to extend into short stories and perhaps other fiction.

  4. To grow as a husband, as a father, and as a friend.

    These three areas represent my greatest shortcomings in the past, as I have not been all I could be in any of these areas. That will change in 2009, even as it began to change at the end of 2008. Teresa and Heidi have already given me opportunities to grow in two of those areas. My son will, no doubt, provide ample opportunity to grow in the remaining area.

  5. To open the door to my life and to be the change I seek.

    This resolution comes out of reading the Conversations with God series of books by Neale Donald Walsch, which I highly recommend. One of the themes that runs through these books is the idea of believing you already have whatever it is you seek and you will find that you have it.

  6. To take better care of myself and of the gifts I have been given.

    I have abilities I have never taken full advantage of or used to their fullest capability. 2009 is the year that starts to change. The care I speak of is three-fold: physical, mental, and emotional. I have begun the process toward taking better emotional care of myself, which will also help bring my mental side into better balance. As that occurs, I will then add in the physical component so that I can better enjoy the people and the things around me.
I hope 2009 also turns into a year of tremendous opportunity and growth for each of you.