Archive for February, 2016

Stuck In The Middle With You
February 23, 2016

 

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It’s been awhile since I talked of my walk to 199. It’s been a very slow walk.

Last year this time, my numbers were awful. Sugar up, cholesterol up, liver function not good. I then proceeded to walk most of the summer, lost weight (I was 276, I think), dropped to 264 (I think). Got lazy at the end of summer (which was gorgeous, beautiful walking weather through December), and didn’t do much.

I ate horrible again, went for easy instead of nutritious. Weight remained steady, but found that I have little energy. Picked up walking again in January, as it’s been mild, but not at the pace I used to walk. Didn’t change eating, and here I am. Sugar is way up, liver number is up, and getting screened for prostate cancer, as I had a bad urinary infection and they want to check it all out.

Ever walk down the street and catch your reflection in the window or mirror and immediately become shocked? I did. Shocking isn’t the word. Devastated. From looking at my body from my view (head looking down), it’s not George Clooneyish, but it’s not that bad. But when I see it from the side, it’s pretty revealing.

Well, we know the battlefield is in the mind, and my mind is sort of there. Ok, if it’s a battlefield, then picture you’re in a fox hole with a gun, but not sure if you want to put in ammo to fight. Yeah, that’s about it.

With me, I go through periods of doing real well and then periods of real  bad. My cousin John put it best, “All diets work if you stay on them”. I’m not into dieting (obviously) but do need to better watch what I’m eating. The Fast metabolism diet worked, but if I didn’t stay on it, I blew up like the Hindenburg. (Too soon?).

My mother was a diabetic. I am so like her. She would eat a donut, then increase her insulin shot. I’m the same way (without the shot!). Her answer to everything was “Eat. You’re too skinny anyways”. Sweets! My motto has always been, “I’d rather eat cake than steak”.

So this blog isn’t to tell you, “I’ve got this. I’m going to do better. I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to, as Seinfeld says, “yada yada yada”. I’m just telling you this is where I’m at.

My frame of mind is good (well, come on, as good as it could get), and I’m not anxious or depressed. Just want to fill you in on what’s been going on. I’m not going to continually tell you my weight, but I will with my struggles, as it may be helpful to someone. So if I come to mind, please pray for me. God is so good.

So thanks for your faithfulness. Still planning on Walking to 199, but not sure if I may have to pick up the pace or not.

 

 

 

Distractions
February 19, 2016

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I’ve noticed that throughout most of my life, I become easily distracted. Either by a thought, a sight, sound, or even a smell. I feel like a sheep that spots a butterfly and follows it, forgetting totally what I was doing.

Morning prayer doesn’t come easy. My stomach keeps saying, “You need breakfast. You will not be able to focus if you don’t eat. You might even die” I start to write a blog and my phone “dings”, telling me that either the Yankees made a move or that someone likes my picture on Instagram. I have to check it out because, after all, I AM that important.

I read in my office, and hear the TV downstairs. “Is that Seinfeld? I don’t think I’ve seen that episode. Wow, Kramer is funny. Did I see that show or was that on Monday. Oh, Monday, boy did it snow. Oh, I have to finish shoveling out the front sidewalk.” It goes on and on. Next think I know I put the book down and begin to shovel the snow.

Has this ever happened to you? You start a project, let’s say, patching holes in the wall so you can paint. I go downstairs to get the putty, and notice that the work area is a mess. So, I start to straighten it out and find an empty jar that is perfect for the small nails I have. So I begin to gather the small nails and put them in the jar.

The shelf that I want to put the nails on is covered with sandpaper and paint supplies. I move those to the bottom shelf and see all the extension cords are not tied up together. So, I look for the twine to tie them together and realize that I left it upstairs. Going upstairs I see a couple dirty dishes in the sink, and decide to be a nice fella and put them in the dishwasher.

The dishwasher has clean dishes so I have to put them away. So I put the dishes away, and as I begin to load the dishwasher, I see that we’re out of dishwasher soap. So I head downstairs, and remember that I wanted to get the twine in the junk drawer upstairs. As I get the dishwasher soap, I notice that there are clothes that are dry and need brought upstairs.

I grab the clothes and take them to my office, forgetting the dish soap or even the twine, and put my clothes away, and notice that my one brown dress shoe is missing. I look in the office and can’t find it, but remember I kicked them off in the bedroom and must have brought only one into the office. I go in the bedroom, and notice the dog has messed up the bed. I straighten out the bed and head downstairs, noticing that I need to patch the wall in the stairwell before I can paint it. But it’s late. Maybe tomorrow.

Bonnie asks what I did all day. “Nothing”.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me?

 

Give Peace A Chance
February 12, 2016

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Why is everyone so angry? When I watch TV, they say, “America is angry”. The debates are angry, the moderators are angry, and apparently, the voters are angry. Why so much anger?

When I was a young lad, let’s go back 50 years, it was 1966. We were in the midst of a horrible war in Cambodia and Viet Nam. There were racial tensions, there were gang fights, there were fears. Today the racial tensions are more severe, the gangs are REAL gangs, and there are fears.

Fear of not having a job, fear of ISIS, fear of “the other guy”, fear of being taken advantage of, fear of the unknown. I remember people protesting the war.  JFK was killed, fear of Russia dropping nukes on us. I remember in grade school having “tests” where an air raid siren would go off, and we’d hide under our desks. Fear.

They gave us dog tags in school so that if there was an attack, they would be able to identify us when our bodies were charred like overcooked burgers. Want to talk about PTSD? Fear.

Everyone is angry because they are scared. Those on one side say that the presidential race will determine if we go to socialism which will lead to communism. They say that “those people” don’t like the United States. They made deals with Iran and they will nuke us when they make their atomic bombs.

The other side says we’re in the midst of global warming. Everything will melt, we’ll all die. They say that “those people” hate everyone different than them. They want the rich to succeed and the poor to stay poor. They want you to remain quiet and they hate minorities.

Fear. Nothing divides us more than fear. Nothing makes us angry more than fear.

The 12th of this month (today in some parts of the world) is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. I remember he used to be a hero. We had the day off of school, that and the 22nd for George Washington. They now combine all the presidents into one, this year celebrated on the 15th.

Lincoln used to be a hero. So did Washington. Jefferson. Columbus. Franklin. But because of fear, which produces anger, people start slamming these men, stating they were either murderers, rapists, or slave owners.  There’s a great divide in this country. We have a separation. Just like “those in charge” want it.

Can we decide not to be fearful? Not to be angry? Can we choose to love people? Maybe I’m just an old hippie, but can’t we look past the differences and look for what we all have in common.

My dear friend Rich is my former boss. He’s liberal, I’m conservative. He’s Jewish, I’m Christian. He’s a Steeler fan, I’m a Browns fan. There are only three things we have in common. The Yankees, the Beatles (he saw them at Shea Stadium), and a common respect.

I just talked with him tonight as he lives on the other side of Pennsylvania. He’s a good man with a lovely family. We continue to laugh and love on each other, with a genuine concern for each other and their family. We talked tonight about how great it would be to go on the road together and to maybe bring a little peace into the world. It’s a nice thought.

Are we ready for peace? Are we ready to not get angry? Are we ready to forgive and come to the point where we feel we are owed nothing? If we are, then we are ready to give up fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

How about I start. If you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, atheist, transgender, male, female, tall, short, skinny, tall, then I choose to love you. We will have differences and that’s ok. But how about we do what John Lennon said. “All we are saying is give peace a chance”.

Hello (Not Adele)
February 7, 2016

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This winter has been extremely mild, probably the mildest I ever remember for western Pennsylvania (the five winters in Florida don’t count, for obvious reasons).

Bonnie and I have been pretty faithful in our walking at Buhl Park, our favorite place to walk. Today, for example, it was sunny and 39 degrees, a bit brisk but if dressed properly, very doable. The coldest I’ve walked in was 12 degrees, but I wasn’t dressed properly.

Sometimes we walk in the morning, which is preferable unless bitter cold, and sometimes in the afternoon. We walked this afternoon, and Bonnie and I talked about the differences between morning walkers and afternoon ones.

Morning walkers seem to be more pleasant and friendly. They spot you from 15 yards away and begin their eye contact. As they approach, brief conversations occur. “Good morning, great day isn’t it?”. “Yes, unbelievable warm winter”. “Best I can remember”. “Hope it stays that way till spring”. “Have a good day”. “You too”.

Pleasant, friendly, and engaging. One of the things I like about small town living. You get to know people and people aren’t afraid to talk to each other.

Unless you’re an afternoon walker. They seem to be a little more “uptight”. Maybe it’s because they’re in a hurry or they’re on a break from work or maybe they think they’re better than you.

They spot you from 15 yards away and immediately lower their eyes. They move towards you but further to the side away from you. I like to force them to ignore me. I stare at them until they make eye contact, and if they don’t, I say, “Good afternoon” or “hey”. Sometimes they respond politely, but mostly they ignore or pretend they don’t hear. These are the ones not wearing headphones. The ones with headphones don’t acknowledge anything.

The girl yesterday was beyond ridiculous. We hit the 15 yard mark and she was wearing headphones. She wouldn’t make contact, not even a glance. And THEN as she is within 10 feet of me, she turns in the opposite direction of me and looks into the sky! I’m thinking, “Lady, I’m 260, what the heck is bigger that you’re looking at in the sky?”

And there’s no shame. I feel they go home and write in their diary, “Dear diary, I walked in the Park today and talked with no one. Oh, one or two tried to engage me with a “hello”, but I stared off into space as if I had spotted the Second Coming. Well done, diary, a good day”.

My wife Bonnie is the nicest person I know. She is ridiculously nice. I think I caught my diabetes from her sweetness. She has held the door for so many people when we’re shopping, I could get a burger and a haircut and she’d still be holding the door. She has a sign in our house that says, “Because Nice Matters”. People make fun of her, but I tell you, when people start to complain or judge, she gives them the right advice always and says afterwards, “And why do we do that?”. And the person she is talking to says “Because nice matters.” They know her.

Why is it that people refuse to be nice? A simple “hello”, a heartfelt “How are you?”, must be too taxing for people to say. It would require caring, interest, and possibly, oh no, love? When did we become a world of tin men? Trying to go to the Wizard to get a heart. How have we become so cold?

It reminds me of Matthew 24:12- “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold”.  Is that where we’re at? Have we chosen to build walls around us so not to get hurt? Can anyone break those walls?

The walls, my friends, come down from our side. We have to choose to trust, to engage, to “be bothered with other people”, and even to love. It’s as simple as a “hello”. Yet that appears to be, at least in the afternoon, the hardest word to say.

 

Surprise!
February 2, 2016

It was a rough week last week. After I wrote my blog, I was sick all night Tuesday. Had the worst case of the “chills” I have ever had. I could not get warm. Up every half hour trying to urinate, having difficulty, but strong urges to go. So I went to the doctor on Weds. and he told me I had a urinary infection and put me on an anti-biotic. Kinda painful, plus I was running a 101 fever.

Wednesday night I had a bad night sleeping. I was gasping for air all night, and I got two hours sleep by sitting up in a chair. Not comfortable, and my back caused me not to sleep. As I got up, and for the next hour, whether I was sitting or standing or laying, I’m gasping for air. The doctor’s office said go to the ER.

Bonnie came home from work and she took me to the ER. The insurance is a mess, long story short, my doctors are covered but the local hospital (about a quarter mile from my house) was not covered. So off to their competitors I go.

In the meantime, Bonnie had been experiencing severe back pain so the poor thing had to take me, sit and wait, then deal with her pain and her worry for me. I go to the ER to check in, the lady checking me in says, “There is a line in front of you, so if you remain unable to breathe, let us know.” I think maybe if I pass out on the floor, it might be a clue. Here’s your sign.

They did x-rays, CT Scan, and ultra sounds. They were looking for blood clots. Meanwhile I’m still running a fever. At the end, they found nothing more than my blood work showed a probability of blood clots, but no clots were found, thank you Jesus. The doc said it could be a sign of a heart attack, but the EKG looked good. He asked if I wanted to go home. I thought, “Isn’t that part of HIS job?”, but said I felt ready to go.

Now, not quite fully recovered but better, I thought, “Lord, I want that week back. OK, not that specific week, but maybe add a week toward the end of my life.” That brings me to another story.

Today is February 1. Today, it was 55 degrees. This is western Pennsylvania. Bonnie and I took a walk in the Park, and it was gorgeous. Did I mention it’s February 1st?

This past week has been in the fifties, and it will be in the fifties at least until Wednesday. I haven’t had to shovel snow this year. This is February 1. My grass is green. I look at the neighborhood and the park, and it’s green. On February 1st. What a pleasant surprise.

What do these two stories have to do with each other. Little else than this.

When I was picking insurance, I had to figure out if I felt I would be going to the hospital this year and pick an insurance that would benefit that if I was, or if I felt I wouldn’t be going to the hospital this year I’d pick an insurance that would benefit that. I chose the one thinking that I wouldn’t go to the hospital this year (as I didn’t go last year), and here we go, by the end of January, I’m visiting the ER. Surprise!

Then this winter has been such a blessing, never expecting to have weather like this and to save on the heating. Both of these events were “surprises”.

You can count on getting surprises in your life, some good and some bad. You can’t stop them. Whether it’s illness, losses of loved ones, financial, mental, whatever, your boat can get rocked, and whether it sinks or remains afloat, is up to you.

If you’re a Christian, this does not make you immune to surprises. On the contrary, it should make you more aware that surprises happen and to pre-empt them with prayer. While an atheist or “casual” believer will be more “que sera sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera”.  Basically, “life happens”.

As a Christian, our boat may get rocked, but it shouldn’t sink. If we know the Captain of our ship, we realize He and He alone gets you through the storm because He knows what the storm will do. The atheist or casual believer has no such assurance of getting through the storm, as he is his own captain. And he doesn’t know what the storm will do.

Are you ready for surprises, good or bad? I don’t know if I am, but I know my Captain is.