Friday, December 31, 2010

#85 - Out With the Old, In With the New

As I write this, there are roughly three hours left in 2010. It has been an eventful year in a lot of ways. It was a good year for reuniting with old friends, making new friends, and getting together with family.

For me, the year was a continuation of the journey I began in 2008 to come to grips with my own past and finally begin to let go of the things that have kept me from living life to its fullest. I still have some distance to travel, but I can say I am happier than I have ever been. I am becoming more content with who I am, even as I work to become the person I can be.

In the past, I had a habit of making ten New Year's resolution every year. And every year, I was lucky if I kept a single resolution. This year, I'm keeping it simple and only making a single resolution. That resolution is to continue my journey of inner acceptance and growth. If I can do that, I can then make a greater effort to be a better friend, a better husband, a better father, and a better person.

I hope your journeys in 2011 take you to some wonderful places. With any luck, perhaps our paths will cross and we can visit some of those places together. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

#84 - A Brief Christmas Wish

Before we each get caught up in the million last-minute things that seem to need doing in the final hours before Christmas, I want to take a moment to wish each and everyone of you a very joyful Christmas.

My wish and my hope is that you find yourself in a happy, peaceful place this Christmas, even if it is only for the day. The last two years of my life have been a bit of a roller coaster ride as I have begun to wrestle with and perhaps finally get the upper hand on the demons which have plagued me since childhood. I have come from the edge of the abyss to a place where, if I am not exactly standing in the light, I can at least see it.

I also hope at Christmas that each of you can find or grab a moment to step back from the rush of activity we all get caught up in and simply breathe. Find the calm that will allow you to truly experience and enjoy the spirit of the season, one of joy and of peace. The challenge for each of us is to carry that spirit into the coming year. If we can do that, then 2011 will be a wonderful year, no matter what challenges it brings.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#83 - Christmas Giffts, Big and Small

The clock is ticking. Christmas is almost here. Do you have all of your shopping done yet? Aside from perhaps a few stocking stuffers, I do. For the most part, I can now relax and watch the world go mad around me. Of course, it helps when you only have to buy for two people.

I don't know what surprises and mysteries await me under the tree this year. I think I've been pretty good, but you'd have to ask Santa (and Teresa) for a more unbiased assessment. However, even if there is nothing under the tree with my name on it, I have already received some wonderful gifts this Christmas season.

The most recent of these gifts was received yesterday. I had a friend at work tell me about her first time back on the ski slopes since suffering a knee injury last year. The joy and expression of pure glee on her face was almost child-like and is something I hope all of us can experience at least once in our adult lives.

A second gift received this week was the glimpse of a white-tailed deer crossing the road while I was driving into work. It helped remind me that there is great beauty in nature, even when it is cold outside.

The third gift came from my son, Christopher, who is trying this year to take a Christmas tradition in a slightly more healthy direction. He wanted to show his concern for Santa's health by making sure we have low-fat milk on hand to put out with Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve.

The fourth gift is one I have enjoyed off-and-on throughout 2010. It's the used fifth-wheel trailer we bought last year (took delivery on my birthday, so it has been two presents in one). It has allowed me and my family to get out to places near and far year-round and relax while also enjoying the sights and scenes around us. We didn't quite make a trip every month this year, but we came pretty close and will have something to shoot for in 2011.

The fifth gift I have received this year is my growing list of friends on Facebook. It has been great to connect with people from my past and stay in touch with people who have been a part of my life. It has also helped me to reconnect with my family, which has been a wonderful thing.

The final gift I have enjoyed this year and for 17 previous Christmases is the love and support of my extremely patient wife, Teresa. She has stood by me and walked with me as I have slowly tried to rid myself of baggage from my past and tried to learn to embrace the possibilities of the present and future. I'm not there yet, but it isn't for lack of support and encouragement.

It isn't quite enough gifts to fill the 12 days of Christmas, but it's a pretty nice haul just the same. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas, filled with joy and laughter and, most of all, with love. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

#82 Looking In My Rear View Mirror

"You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt."
Sixteen Tons - Tennessee Ernie Ford
"Glory days, well, they'll pass you by. Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye. Glory days, glory days."
Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen

I am, thankfully, not deeper in debt, and I'm not sure I ever really had any glory days, but I suppose these songs reflect a portion of the mindset I've sometimes had whenever another birthday comes around.

I am now another year older, and perhaps most of whatever promise I had when I was younger has now slipped past and is irretrievably lost. I am at a stage of my where I have more past than future.

As Paul Anka wrote and Frank Sinatra sang, "Regrets - I've had a few." There were many things I wanted to do in my life and likely never will. For instance, write a best-selling novel. The ideas are there; I think some writing ability is there. What is missing is the drive and the discipline. 

I suppose the same holds true with regard to writing a hit song. I've written lyrics most of my life, some of them pretty good, I think, but I never had the courage or the drive to put myself or to put them out there.

At the same time, there are things I've done that I never thought I would. I never thought I would be responsible for producing a local television station's coverage of a papal visit. After I left college the first time, I never though I'd finish my degree, let alone go on to graduate school. And, once I reached my late 20s, I never thought I would marry, let alone become a father.

Then there are things I still hope to do. Some of these revolve around travel. I've always had a desire to see Scotland and Ireland. Although not as strong as it once was, that desire still lives. That desire has been supplanted to a large degree by a desire to one day live full-time in a motor home or fifth-wheel trailer and travel around the country.

Two other things I still hope to do in my life: be a better husband and a better father. I did not have very good role models in either area, so both have been continuous on the job training. But I'll keep trying and keep dreaming.

As long as I have a dream to work toward, simple or elaborate, I won't mind continuing to get older. When I, when we no longer have dreams, that's when getting older no longer beats the alternative. So keep dreaming. I intend to.