Tag Archives: Thoughts

The Lives We Live

When I was young, and even as I grew older, I believed we had one life to live. I suppose, in a literal sense, that’s still true, but I’ve come to understand that there is a difference between life, and the lives we live within that life.

The transitions are so gradual that we don’t always know they’re happening. But one day, when we choose to stop for more than a few moments and look back at the different phases our lives have visited , we realize the person in that photo may not think or act the same; may not believe what he or she once did when they were innocently smiling at the camera.

When we’re young we live a life of innocent freedoms. Days that never end, summers that last forever, years that we trust will always be there. School is a double decade that gradually introduces us to less freedom, some stress and relationships with family and friends that have the power to shape and influence our lives forever. We were born into these first twenty years and when the transition into “adulthood” happens, we head into it as a continuation of what we know, combined with changes to our daily life and schedules, but never really looking back. Well, maybe when loss rears its ugly head, when we find that we have to navigate the future without someone we always thought would be there for us. We may take a moment to look back then. To remember what was.

But there are things to do. A life to live. Or at least this part of our life. We have jobs, sometimes marry, sometimes begin families and for the next twenty or so years, become that person. We live that life of advancing our careers or attempting to keep our jobs. If we’re married and have children, we run as if the next event, game, concert, field trip, party, sleepover or dance is life altering.  Until it abruptly stops, and children go to college or find a job and hopefully move out.

And we transition again.

Sometimes this change is a little more noticeable. Sometimes we pause a little longer. Our families grow smaller before they get bigger. Family celebrations are different because some of the people at the center of those celebrations are no longer with us. So we sometimes move to other homes and begin different traditions. Our mornings are a little more quiet, our evenings require less running and we find more time for ourselves to enjoy this part of our lives. If we’re fortunate, our working lives begin to wind down and we find time to appreciate time.

If we’re lucky.

These lives we live change us in different ways. Our centers become different or altered at times. Our judgments, mindsets, and beliefs all find different ways or equations to the answers in front of us. Hopefully our core values remain the same but that’s never a given. We may want to believe we are the same person today as we were twenty or thirty years ago, but we aren’t. In truth, how can we be? We’ve lived and lost too much. We’ve gained new experiences, travelled, developed new friendships, learned new ways and came to appreciate the lives we live now, more than ever.

I look back at old photos now and wonder what that boy or young man was thinking of at the time, what his day was like and what he was looking forward to tomorrow. I wonder if he had a plan or dream that day. I wonder what was making him laugh in that moment, why he chose to buy that ugly shirt and when he was going to finally get a haircut.  I wonder if he would change anything if he knew everything.

Personally, I believe he wouldn’t change a thing.

P.S. I’ll be back soon.

 

 

On 45 Million Diets

I read an article recently which stated that 45 million people begin a diet each year.

Now, I have to tell you up front that I don’t use the word hate very often but I hate the word diet. I’ve always believed that if you’re comfortable with who you are and in good health then the word diet shouldn’t necessarily be a consideration. Unfortunately, poor eating habits over a period of time can lead to health issues so I guess  it’s a catch 22. Pay me now or pay me later.

I’ve gone through a number of diets over the years, including the ones listed above, which is why I don’t like the word. I was always a big kid. I think I was 6’2″ in grammar school but I was always very active. I played ball year round which kept my weight down to around 190 through high school. My parent owned a grocery store and we lived behind the store so the words, kid in a candy shop, applied to me. All the wrong stuff was easy for me to have. When I stopped playing ball and didn’t alter my eating habits, the weight started coming. By the time I was in my middle 20’s I was up to 270. I didn’t feel bad but my blood pressure was high and the doctor said, very directly, either lose weight or die early.

So he put me on a 1500 calorie diet, which I still have nightmares about. I tried every new diet fad over the years, including the dreaded cabbage soup diet. But I found that every diet would reverse itself after I stopped and the weight would come back. I also realized that I didn’t gain this weight overnight and I wasn’t going to lose it overnight. So I started doing things differently. I began altering my eating habits. Nothing drastic, just being more cognizant of what I was eating. I also began exercising, not in the way people do today, because gyms weren’t as popular in 70’s and 80’s as they are now. Plus, I never liked solitary exercise, like running or weightlifting. I enjoyed sports. So I began playing racquetball, something I never tried before. I played for several years, 2-3 times a week, two hours each session. It’s a great workout and during those years, I slowly lost some weight, dropping down to around 235. It wasn’t quick, but it was permanent.

Through the following years, I would plateau at certain weights, then lose 5-10 pounds over a couple of months before maintaining my weight for a while. Long story short, I now weigh what I did in high school, around 192. I would set certain goals for myself but those goals would sometimes be months or years apart. Losing all that weight at one time was just too hard and depressing for me but knowing I was moving in that direction and not going back was important to me. The thing I was most excited about was getting below 200 pounds, something I didn’t do until 6-7 years ago,. I had been playing around at 202-205 for years and could never break that barrier but when I did, I took a photo of the scale. It was fun.

So as someone who has been there and struggled with weight for many years, here’s what I learned.

Losing weight is something YOU have to want to do, You can’t lose it for anyone else but yourself and while having someone be your support through the process is helpful, it can’t be an excuse. Just like being happy is up to you, so is weight loss.

When you’re out of a clothes size and begin to buy new clothes, get rid of those bigger sizes immediately. Don’t have anything in your closet you can fall back on. Putting on a few pounds  and having to squeeze into clothes that are getting too tight, is a great motivator.

Exercise. It doesn’t have to be a gym or some expensive equipment. Going for a good paced walk is helpful on so many levels but mainly it’s good for your body and your mind. It’s easy to say you don’t have the time but that’s just an excuse. You don’t have to go every day but it should be something you do 4-5 times. week.

Moderation,moderation, moderation. You can eat anything as long as you do it smartly.  Going out to eat is not that difficult, There are healthy items everywhere now but even if you wanted to eat something decadent, eat half of it and take the other half home. You’ll thank yourself the next day when those leftovers are lunch or dinner. Everything in smaller portions. It’s something that Weight Watchers preaches. Portion control. It’s why I think they’re the smartest weight loss organization out there. Eat anything you want, just do it in moderation and with a plan.

Use the old adage….eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner (preferably before 6:00) like a pauper. I can’t tell you how much that has helped. Also, smaller meals rather than larger ones. I found that grazing during the day worked best for me, which is why my family calls me the nibbler.

Finally, and most importantly, never go back. When I began losing weight, I told myself that I would never put back what I lost. But long weekend parties and vacations sometimes alter those plans. So if I ever put on 2-3 pounds I made sure I took it off immediately. I never went beyond that, no matter what the situation, because 2-3 becomes 5-7, which becomes 10-12 in a heartbeat, and then it’s mountain instead of a hill.

Dieting is a tough and touchy subject, 45 million tough and touchy. But if it’s something you have to do for health reasons or just because you want to, then understand it can’t/shouldn’t  be done overnight. But it can be done. Everyone’s body is different so what works for me might not work for you. I developed a lot of little habits that I found helped me, but there’s not enough time for that today…:)

Everyone’s motivation is different. But the end result is the same.

Just don’t use the word diet. Its depressing.  Tell yourself that you’re going to adjust your eating habits and make small changes, because that’s really what you’re doing.

If you’re one of the 45 million…good luck.

 

 

Signs Of The Times

We were walking in a park the other day and came across this sign. Normally I wouldn’t be surprised except this particular park was wide open. It has a long walking track, playground, lots of athletic fields,  a dog park, even a water park for kids in the summer. What it doesn’t have is trees. Or wooded areas. Or anywhere to do what the sign prohibits except in the open. So as I looked around I wondered where this lawbreaking activity actually took place. Could it be that men made believe they were checking the tires on a car and women spent more than the usual amount of time squatting down to get  something from under the baby stroller, out in the open? Really? I’ll have to visit more often to check out this situation. Oh yeah, those facilities near the concession stand? They’re closed until April 1st. So is it still against the law if the facilities you advertise for use are closed? Just asking.

So this is another park I was walking in last week on a trail that’s not paved. Still, I’ve never seen a sign that prohibits texting while walking. There were other signs that prohibited cell phone use, horseplay and running. I’m sure the exposed tree roots had something to do with this and I’m sure safety was a concern. Probably not as much of a concern as potential liability on the part of the township but tha’s just me being cynical. So, rule breaker that I am, I decided to jog a bit while texting and making a phone call. I tried to horseplay but I was alone and my other personalities didn’t want to play with me. Go figure.

I thought this one was interesting. The free trip portion was an attention grabber, though anyone familiar with the Catholic Church, as I am, understands that free usually comes with a price tag. Still, I thought it was clever. It reminded me of a line I heard many years ago, “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” Such a conundrum.

Who would have thought one would find such a profound/meaningful statement in a mall pizza joint. But here it is. Think about it. Then go hug the people you love.

Till next time….

Ramblings

I’ve been away for a bit but my mind hasn’t completely shut down. There are all these little thoughts that my brain manufactures, or things I’ve seen, and I’ve missed getting over here to write them and interact with you. So I’m going to make an effort, starting with this post, to write when I can and hope some of it makes sense. So here it goes….

I read several days ago that a private practice nutritionist suggested that having pizza for breakfast was a better option than cereal. Where, in God’s name, has she been all my life? I have to believe her private practice is going to blow up in her favor. Anyone who favors pizza over cereal for breakfast must have some other unique nutritional value suggestions we’ve been waiting for all these years. Finally, someone who speaks our language.

On the flip side of the pizza hunt for red October, I watched a documentary on Netflix recently, called Forks Over Knives. It’s essentially a suggestion that a plant-based food diet can help to eliminate any number of health related issues we may be having, including but not limited to heart, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. The studies they conducted and the results that were shown by individuals were pretty interesting. I’m not sure I can give up bread and chocolate but a halfway point might be considered. Anyway, if you have 90 minutes to spare one day, its worth exploring.

Finally, one last food topic. Some weeks ago riots spread out across France when supermarkets offered steep discounts on Nutella. France is one of the best trips we’ve ever taken and even though it’s been quite a few years since we’ve been there, I’d book a flight tomorrow if they ever pulled that Nutella trick again. Nutella is crazy good and my impression of the French people, while already high, moved up several more meters on the good crazy scale.

Our Ninety year old Aunt, who still drives, doesn’t take a single medication, has never been to a doctor and has all her facilities, received a one thousand piece puzzle as a gift recently. Of course she has no use for a puzzle that size so she decided to give it to us. Except she placed the pieces in a plastic bag and threw out the box it came in. She didn’t think anyone needed the box, or the picture on the front cover. I’m not a fan of puzzles anyway so it worked out in my favor.

We saw the movie  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, last month. One of the better acted movies I’ve seen in some time. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it.

On the television front, binge watched Stranger Things, on Netflix. I’m not a big sci-fi fan but I really enjoyed this show. We also watch The Amazing Mrs Maizel on Amazon. Very funny and well acted. Set in the late 1950/ early 60’s. Recommend both if you have the services.

We went out for a late lunch the other day and were seated near a table of nine older women who were just finishing up. I heard the waiter apologize as he was giving them their individual bills because he only had seven pens. When they left and he came over to us I was teasing him about having to write-up nine bills but he just laughed it off. I asked him if that was normal for both men and women and if it varied by age. His answer surprised me. He said the two categories for separate bills, in his experience, are older women and younger men. The older women didn’t surprise me but the younger men did. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to lunch or dinner with anyone where we just didn’t split the bill, even if I thought I ordered less. But everyone is different. I just didn’t think younger men would fall into that category.

Fact…..if you’re painting a room and cover everything completely, a drop of paint will find the tiny little crevice that became separated between drop cloths. It just will.

I enjoy going shopping with my wife and I consider myself to be a pretty patient person. However, I think I’m more patient when there are a couple of chairs strategically placed in clothing stores. It doesn’t have to be fancy or especially comfortable. It just has to have four legs and a seat. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s hard to believe  that retailers can’t figure out that when a women is shopping with their significant other, a place to sit goes a long way in the length of their visit, the mood they might be in, and more importantly, the direct correlation in how much they end up spending. I just don’t get it.

A few weeks ago I read that a woman from Concord, New Hampshire won 559 million dollars in the lottery but has yet to claim it because she doesn’t want anyone knowing who she is. Apparently, if she would have set up a trust before she signed the back of the ticket, the person in charge of the trust could have signed their name and she could have remained anonymous. Now I understand wanting to remain behind the curtain, but you just won life changing money and you knew the rules going into the game. She may yet win her case but at the end of the day that’s a whole lot of money. I’m not sure I’d want her problem, but I’m not sure I’d turn away from it either.

Sorry this is so long, but if you stayed till the end, ice cream is on me tonight. Whatever flavor you would like.

 

 

If You Make One Resolution This Year…..

Some of you may have noticed that I have been absent from our blogging world since the end of November. Then again, some may have not noticed at all…) I understand either way…) Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way and prevents us from following our normal routines or pleasures. In this case, the reason is breast cancer.

My wife was given the diagnosis in early December, had surgery a few days before Christmas and will begin treatment shortly. The good news is that the tumor was small and we caught it early. The not so good news is that chemo and radiation is ahead of us, but the outlook is very promising.

My purpose in writing this post is not so much for us, though prayers and good wishes are always welcome. My purpose is to let you know that this cancer was caught very early through a yearly mammogram. Because it was so small and deep, it could not be felt through self-examination or by a doctor, only through a  mammography.

Her decision to be tested yearly probably saved her life. My hope is that my words here may encourage someone out there to go for a test they may have put off for too long. Whether it’s a mammogram, colonoscopy, yearly physical, blood work, dermatologist visit or whatever else you should be checking, please take the time to take care of yourself.

I don’t know if anyone dislikes going to a doctor or for tests more than me. It’s unnerving, stressful and easy to convince yourself that you’re feeling fine and don’t need to rock the boat when the waters are calm. But we recognize, in time, that waters don’t always stay calm.
I also recognize that some people don’t believe in tests as a preventative tool and I’ll be the first to admit that not all tests are necessary. So let’s get that excuse out-of-the-way and focus instead on those tests that may save your life. You know what they are.

If you don’t want to do it for yourself, then do it for those who care about you. Do it so you have no regrets. No what ifs. Do it so you have the joy of living life to its fullest, even if that means a test reveals a detour that takes time away from the things you planned. Do it so you have many more days to make plans. Do it because you understand that while time is a depreciating asset and we can’t control everything in life, there are things we can do that just might help us, help ourselves.

I recognize this is not an uplifting post and it’s a topic we sometimes shy away from. But I’m hoping these words encourage just one person to make a phone call and do what you’ve been putting off. Making the appointment is the hardest part. Don’t wait.

Do it for those you love.

Silent No More

“In practice, the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of a women’s experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.”
                                                                     Judith Lewis Herman

It seems I can’t listen to a news broadcast or read a newspaper the last couple of months with seeing another article or story relating to a powerful non-female harassing or abusing women. (Sorry, but I refuse to use the word man when referring to these individuals). Almost everyday there is another woman, or group of women, describing, in detail, the degradation they endured while working or attempting to find employment in the field where these sub humans wielded the power to destroy a career or make their lives so miserable they would suffer humiliation and fear rather than speak up. Children were also part of this disgusting behavior, as evidenced by the more than 100 children, (now women), who were abused during their gymnastics careers by a renowned team physician. Producers, actors, doctors, clergy, journalists, politicians, CEO’s, studio heads; the list of those individuals abusing power for their own satisfaction is endless.

In many cases years have gone by since these incidents took place and yet I don’t question a woman’s reasons for not coming forward sooner. Unless any one of us is in that position, how can we ever try to understand their thought process. Fear and intimidation are powerful weapons being used by powerful people. Circumstance is not ours to judge, especially in a society that continues to view women differently than non-females. A society that has failed to mature and grow up to the standards each of us deserves.

In these cases, the more powerful the abuser is, the greater his ability to define and arrange his arguments. Power is always wielded against the most vulnerable amongst us.

What angers me as much as the abusers are all those who knew about the actions of these individuals and did nothing about it. They share equal responsibility. They swept the complaints under the carpet, created non disclosure agreements, ignored the repeated problems that continued to be voiced and generally maintained the good old boys club be kept intact. They turned away. All these powerful and outwardly respectable sub humans didn’t think the voices that were raised were worth the words that were spoken.

How sad is that?

My guess is we’re in the infancy stage of this story, though I do question whether the press will ever reveal the true extent. Too many friends in high places, too much money to be lost by revealing the truth. But we’ll see,
Equally important is what happens now. How we move forward from this. There are more layers to this problem than what’s been revealed. While where we’ve been should never be forgotten, where were go from here is a question each of us must answer in his or her own way.

The responsibility is ours.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 
                                                                                              Abraham LIncoln

Double Edged Laughter

Interesting headline, don’t you think? So what was the first thought that came into your head when you read it? Come on, be honest. How about the second thought?

The real story behind this sports headline from several years ago was that Alex Rodriquez (A-Rod) hit a homer, (goes deep) and the Yankees pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, (Wang) was injured running the bases in the same game. Did the newspaper intentionally print a suggestive double entendre headline? I’m sure they did. Did they accurately report the facts? Absolutely.

But here’s the thing. There were people who read that headline, like me, and laughed at the creativity and fun you can have with language, while others rolled their eyes, found it distasteful and hid it from the kids. I sometimes wonder what leads us to our individual reactions.

Personally, I can trace mine back to my mother. She wasn’t exactly June Cleaver. (Sorry, some of you may not remember this all American mother from the 50’s). She was different, someone who wasn’t afraid to say what she was thinking, even if those thoughts made some people blush. My mother didn’t really swear. She’d occasionally use the word hell or ass in a funny way but not in general language and nothing beyond that. Instead, she preferred using the double meaning of words in a humorous way. Sort of like the headline above.
She was funny. She loved to laugh and she loved seeing others laugh, which is why there were always people around her at a party. She loved hearing a good joke as much as telling one and if it was a bit racy, that was fine with her. She taught me about the power of humor early on, how it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, how it can bring people together, the broad scope of it and how to play with the language in a fun and sometimes irreverent way. She had few boundaries and didn’t worry about who might be in the room. If someone was offended, she’d laugh and say they had “delicate ears.”

I was young when we started sharing jokes. If I heard a good one, I couldn’t wait to come home and tell her. I would watch as she made people laugh by twisting words into different meanings. My mother was Italian but father’s side of the family was very English and more conservative.  I can still see my very conservative Aunt Lydia blush at a story my mother was telling and laugh so hard her face turned red and her eyes watered. I can see my Aunt Sadie, whose lips never came near a curse word in her life, laugh so hard she couldn’t catch her breath, which in turn made me laugh just as hard. It was suggestive,  harmless fun.

Would all these relatives and friends be better people/christians/parents/spouses/aunts/uncles/cousins,  if they turned away from her suggestive humor and questioned her parenting abilities? Would my brother and I be better human beings if we never heard those jokes? Would we have been kicked out of Catholic school, the church and  not allowed to be altar boys for as long as we were if , God forbid, the priest and nuns knew of this “sinful” humor? Seems to me we grew up pretty well, married great ladies and raised terrific children. I don’t think anyone was scarred by her brand of humor and the jokes we heard or she told us.

As far as I know, laughter that wasn’t mean or hurtful never scarred anyone.

I just know that when I think of her, I smile. When I remember the irreverence of her stories and language, I laugh. Humor had few boundaries for her. She was a good person who enjoyed laughter and loved  sharing that laughter with others.

I would say that’s a life pretty well lived.