Sunday, January 31, 2010

One Year.....And Counting?

I have been quite busy the last few weeks.  Work Work Work has all but drowned out the rest of my life.  Of course, when you live in the Midwest in winter, is there really much else TO do?  I suppose the cross country skiers might enjoy the cold and the snow.  Maybe the snowmobilers too, but after all, you have to have snow for those activities.  For me, its more the knees than anything else that take the utter pounding from the cold.  Then there is the "precipitation" and I use that word painfully.  Ice, snow, sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle we have gotten much more than our share of the precip this year.  At one point about a week ago we had just about every form of precip falling from the sky except cats and dogs!  I finally had to stop one night and ask God to stop the insanity.

Its been exactly one year.  Seems like a small thing to some, but I have been stone cold bone jarring head turning crazy like a fox SOBER for exactly one year.  And counting!!!  Yes I guess I am bragging a little, but considering how I did it and why just dumbfounds even the most hardheaded folks around these parts that know me best.  The last drink I had was during the 2009 Super Bowl.  I had tried to quit before during the Christmas Holiday in 2008, but a friend of ours showed up before the big game, and I just had to have a couple of drinks that night.  As luck would have it, though, once I started in ernest, I found I craved alcohol less and less, and it became easier to go longer without a drink.  Then, of course, as the weather got better, I was on my Harley a lot, and I just could not see myself drinking a couple of beers at some far away watering hole, and then hopping on the Harley to try to get home.  What is most interesting is I can go into just about any bar tavern watering hole what have you, and I still do not have the thirst any more.  I still have moments of weakness, such as the night a friend "suggested" we go to a local Irish pub and have a pint or two of Guinness.  Over the last ten years or so I have had a bad weakness for darker stout beers, and Guinness is one of my all time favorites, but as luck would have it, I was able to stay away from the Guinness and keep my sobriety.

All this sobriety has given me newfound freedom and wisdom.  I am losing much of the weight I have carried around for many years.  I have taken to avoid fast food wherever I can.  I am also becoming a bit of a tea addict, as if thats a bad thing.  Tea and water are my only drinks now.  Even pop is losing its grip on me.  I used to love the Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, root beer, and such.  I am more patient as well, and maybe even more realistic.  Unfortunately as with things like this, it has come with somewhat of a cost.  Folks I thought were friends now shy away when I tell them I don't drink.  Where I would once enjoy the friendship of a trusted friend I have found there is now some measure of rejection.  It makes me wonder if these folks were worth friendship if they cannot respect my effort at sobriety.  I will never forget, however, my father telling me how proud he was that I chose to stick to my guns during Thanksgiving (Thanks POP!) and also the compliments of other family members and close friends who have urged me on in this pursuit.

As the New Year began I had all the hopes for a great year, however, it isn't always the best of times.  The suicide of a friend has served to remind me of how fragile life is.  Cancer has also claimed the life of another friend and former coworker.  My sister too, has suffered loss of a trusted friend Cheyenne.  Life can be a bitter pill at times, but death is part of life, and at some point I will learn from those lessons.  Its how we deal with these trials that is the measure of our character.


Monday, January 18, 2010

We Interrupt This Marriage...

Its another January evening sitting on the frozen Iowa tundra, and I do mean frozen.  Up until a few short days ago, temperatures here fought just to make it above the zero mark.  Sometimes its fun to enjoy a bitter nip in the air, and then there are those little reminders that your body sends you that cold weather hurts!  The knees have taken a real beating this winter, as has Mary's back.  Not to fret - racing season is almost here, and thats my signal that spring will be here shortly.  As my wife says - we interrupt this marriage to bring you the racing season.

Christmas has since past on, and its been a difficult couple of weeks getting decorations put back in their places, getting back into the swing of a 5 day work week, and preparing for that most dreaded of events - tax season.  We all go thru those stresses differently.  I tend to think that as long as you have saved your stuff, and kept at least some manageable records, there is no reason to sweat bullets over nothing.  When we purchased our home in 2008, we were still on the red side, and owing Uncle Sam is never fun.  Inheriting bills and funeral costs really took a toll on our finances, and it took forever to get all those things worked out, but now we actually look forward to filing because that nice little refund check is something we have missed out on the last few years. While we arent really raking in money at least we know we aren't going to have the wolves howling at our doorstep.

The last few weeks I have been taking a few minutes every morning to look up.  The sky has been crisp and cold, and the morning colors have been exceptionally beautiful this time of year.  The hard part is my camera is still resting comfortably on my desk in the man cave, but the assault on the senses has been welcome.  As the temperatures drop, the atmospheric conditions become better for making such observations.  Colors I do not ordinarily see have been ablossom in our morning sky.  Greens, aquas, blues and reds have filled our sky with plumes of color. Constellations are just barely visible at twilight, however, Orion has always been a favorite constellation, and the great star Betelguese has been keeping its vigil perched on Orion's shoulder peering down as I make my way to work every morning.  You do not always need a telescope to see the real beauty of the heavens.  Just look up!

Music continues to be a source of joy and this last month I have found several artists that seem to have caught my fancy.  One that I am particularly intrigued by is Dame Evelyn Glennie, a brilliant percussionist and artist from Great Britain.  As it turns out she is deaf, yet has worked with some of the great orchestras of today and commissioned by such artists as Sting, Bobby McFerrin, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  She published a video which I took particular note of how she feels music instead of hearing it.  For her having the disability of being deaf has only been a small inconvenience, but as she recalled, after auditioning for a part in one orchestra, they were forced to change policies on auditions from those with disabilities because, as she recalled, "they simply weren't prepared for music that was meant to be felt by a deaf".  For those interested check her out at .

As I watched the local morning news I noted with a particular interest a story about a high school student who was given an assignment to write about someone or something which may inspire them.  This student, who attends Independence High School here in Iowa, developed a video memorializing the late Coach Ed Thomas, a football coach and teacher who was ruthlessly gunned down last summer in the community of Parkersburg, Iowa.  I wrote about the loss of Coach Thomas noting that his tuteledge as coach reminded me of my own struggles in high school and how another teacher, Joyce May, helped me to succeed not only in her class but in life.  This blog is but a small testament to her and the motivation she has given me in my life.  Parents, especially teaching parents such as mine, also have helped inspire and direct my talents.  I can only be thankful for the tools that my parents gave me in my life. The video that this student produced drew from a song by Rascall Flatts entitled "Stand" which was very successful.  Inspiration can occur in many forms, but this student drew inspiration from the life of Coach Thomas and how he taught his players and students to stand up, lead by example, follow your beliefs, and be strong in everything you do.  Joyce May gave me that same inspiration as well, and I sincerely hope that the effort this student made can be published for all to see.  It will stand as a tribute to life of a teacher who made a difference in the lives of his students and his community.

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand