Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A Year of Living Painfully

I haven’t written in a while.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I haven’t written for my blog in a while would be way more accurate.  I’ve been reluctant to admit that I’ve been knee deep in a year long project to improve myself in a variety of ways. 

Here’s the deal.  I’ve spent the last year working on myself in a lot of different ways and the end goal was to document my results as I went, good bad or indifferent.  I’ve looked at my health both physically and mentally, my relationships, my career and anything else that could lead a person to be happy or unhappy. It’s been a year of ups and downs.  I’ve accomplished a lot and fell on my face a number of times.  So, you may ask, why am I telling you all of this?

One word.  Accountability.

I have a few constants in my personality, and I’ve found ways to make some of them work to my advantage. For example, I am cheaper than I am lazy.  Now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “it seems like your conceding that you’re both cheap and lazy.  How can you make that work for you?”.  I’m glad you asked.  I find that I can sign up for a race, any race, and because I’ve paid the entry fee, I’ve committed myself to the race.  Case in point.  Last year, I was talked into a miserable experience simply called “The Rattler”.  The Rattler is a fifteen-mile race in the hills of Colorado Springs, through snow and mud, because of course there would be snow and mud.  I knew in the days leading up to the race and even day of that the weather was going to be an issue.  That the mud was going to be an issue.  That fifteen miles of running up and down mountains was going to be an issue! But I payed the hundred bucks, so I was committed.  Why?  Because I’m cheaper than I am lazy and letting the entry fee go to waste just isn’t my style. 

So how does that pertain to today’s post.  I’m also prouder than I am lazy.  That means, if I tell my little corner of the world that I have this book writing project that I want to get myself through, then pure embarrassment will get me to put pen to paper, or finger to keypad as it were. 

I’ll say, if you are inclined to read the book when finished, that it isn’t all wins. It isn’t all losses either, but it’s certainly not a Tom Brady style victory lap. It was a struggle.  It was a struggle on day one and on day 365.  Hell, it all started with the struggle of looking in the mirror a year ago October and not liking the person looking back.

It’ll be funny and poignant and hopefully motivational to people who the years have flown by unmonitored for a bit too long. 

The lesson here girlies?  We’ll see on this one.  Perhaps the lesson is that you need to find ways to motivate yourself when motivation is hard to come by.  Maybe it’s the opposite, that I should be finding motivation intrinsically.  Maybe its that peer pressure is the best pressure.  Scratch that last one.  Maybe it’s just to point out that a year of hard work is a year of hard work.  Regardless of the lesson, here is what’s next.  I’ll get it written and good lord willing I’ll get it published. 

In the meantime, you aren’t going to like this year quite as much.  This year the focus is on…..drumroll please… guys, but that’s next year’s book.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

If You Can't Trust Saint Nick...

Santa dropped the ball this year.  More specifically, Santa dropped the ball, popped it and threw it in a lake.

SPOILER ALERT: Anyone under the age of 12 should stop reading this immediately or risk growing up too fast.

I’ll pause for a moment.

That should clear out the stragglers. 

So, this year, as we do every other year, we spent Christmas with my in-laws.  My in-laws live in a small mountain town that exemplifies a country Christmas and is as enjoyable as it is picturesque.  While lovely, it is important to this story to understand that spending Christmas in a small town requires a sacrifice here and there.  The biggest of such sacrifices is the fact that you had better be fully prepared for Christmas before you arrive.  Because of its size there is no mall, no box stores no place to do last minute shopping.  It is also remote enough that you cannot rely on shipping from the Amazons of the world. By the time we arrived it was already too late to ship anything.  This is key to the story.

What is also key to this story is I set extremely lofty goals for myself for 2019 and am falling short.  That fact has led to a Chris that has been less than gung-ho about this particular holiday season.  In this, I probably haven’t been as helpful to my wife this Christmas as I have been in year’s past. 

The culmination of all of this is the fact that a single gift was left behind.  Four hours from home and an important gift to my middle child, Macy.  It was the single thing that she asked Santa for ( a mistake I will not make again).

Macy is a sweet child but often has a personality that believes that the world is conspiring against her.  In the rare event that her soccer team loses, there is always a reason; it was the officiating, or the other team played cheaply.  If she does poorly on a test its that it wasn’t taught well enough. 

Not a chance she would take the missing gift well.  Damn it, Santa.

Here’s the rub.  The girls are allowed to wake us up on Christmas morning at 7:00 a.m.  We discovered the missing gift at about midnight Christmas eve.  My house is four hours away.  The quick math said that I had eight hours of driving that I needed to make over the course of seven hours.  I was willing to try.  I made a cup of coffee and made my way outside.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered a couple of inches of snow on the ground.  The seven-hour drive would be impossible, as would eight hours. 

We were done for.

We began to form a plan and landed on a poem, written by Santa, that explained that the gift had fallen from the sleigh, but he would have them at our house for when we got home.  We also had another gift that she hadn’t asked for to take its place thanks to my mother in law.  Macy believed it and was proudly showing her little Santa note to everyone.  I played along, all the time feeling guilty knowing my role in the missing gift.  It turned out to be a very nice Christmas despite my mistake.

The lesson here, little ladies?  Its tough.  As much as Mommy and Daddy want to be all in on every holiday and every birthday and every class performance and soccer game and anything else you are a part of, its not always possible.  I’ve been under a weird amount of pressure and maybe a little depression and consequently took my eye off of the ball a little.  I’m always sorry when that happens and am willing to take any proverbial seven-hour car ride to make it right.  Here’s the catch, sometimes a car ride can’t fix the issue.  Sometimes a Santa note can’t do it either.  Sometimes, people just fail and need to apologize.  That’s when it is up to you to realize that most of us would do anything not to let someone else down and that their apology is their last resort. 

For Macy, had the note not worked, my gift would have been a heartfelt apology.  I would have hoped she would have accepted it. 

I suppose that’s the lesson.  Realize that a heartfelt apology is often the worst-case scenario for the person giving it.  You should probably do your best to accept it, even if its a careless Saint Nick.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Baldilocks : No Photo Available...On Purpose

My birthday has just come and gone and for one reason or another, this one was a bit tough on me.  It wasn’t the birthday as much as it was the year.  I really applied myself to physical fitness this past 360ish days and didn’t quite see the results I was aiming for.  I’ve worked harder on my person this year than I have in the last two decades and I don’t have quite enough to show for it.  I’m thinking age might have something to do with it.  Something came up recently that hammered the point home.

Here’s the thing, I’m not generally a prideful guy, but I did something that kicked me square in the shame button.  I’m generally the opposite of prideful.  If I go to a high-end restaurant or hotel, I feel out of place, like an imposter waiting to be sniffed out. 

I have spent years trying to change that a little bit.  Trying to not mind being pampered a little, but thus far, I have failed completely. 

My ability to accept being pampered isn’t the point here.  We are here to talk about my shame. 

A little back story.  I was not a popular kid.  I lacked fashion sense and probably should have mixed in more salads than I did.  That may be true, but what I lacked in hygiene, and style and svelteness, I made up for with really good hair. 

I’m talking “Flock of Seagulls” good.  Perhaps is wasn’t that flamboyant, it was rock solid.  Jason Priestley would have looked at my hair and said, “damn, that fat kid has great hair!”

But all of that has changed.

With great hesitation it was time to take action.

I have shaved my head.

To some, that probably isn’t a big deal.  To me, earthshattering.

I used clippers set to #1.  I knew that I would regret it instantly, so I decided to go as short as possible on the first run.  I started by shaving in a mohawk.  Little did I know that my balding had made it wo my mohawk in profile looked more like Morse Code than teen angst.  As the last strip of hair left the top fell into the sink a few things dawned on me.  The first is that my head, although fairly round, is a touch off putting by sure size.  I’ve always known that I had a large head, having it shaved really put on full display how bulbus it really is. The second, perhaps less obvious to outsiders, is that I have a few “Klingon Wrinkles” on the back of my head.  If a bulbus head is slightly off putting, alien lines are just awful. 

Truth be told, I didn’t hate it, not exactly, it was more that the person looking me back in the mirror didn’t resemble me very much. 

Here’s the rub.  I don’t know that keeping my head shaved is something I want to keep doing, but I also know that Mother Nature is an angry lady and isn’t going to let me keep what I have now.  It’s a follicle Catch-22 and there is no way out that doesn’t involve toupees and hair plugs, so I guess this is me now.

The lesson here ladies?  For starters, I hope male pattern baldness isn’t a problem you’ll have to face in life.  I truly do, but there’s something else.  Its pride.  There’s a funny balance between having personal pride and being prideful.  Its great to have personal pride.  It keeps you studying hard and staying fit and keeping things clean.  Being prideful is a different animal altogether.  It can rear its head in a few ways.  For some it’s a feeling of superiority.  Like others are beneath you.  For others, its unrealistic expectations.  For me?  It was being unhappy about something “surface” that I couldn’t do a darn thing about.  It was being completely unable to see the silver lining.  Interesting choice of words considering my head now actually has a silver lining of grey hair.  Bit realistically, there are bright sides.  I’ll never have to pay for a haircut again and my shampoo budget just got cut by 90%.  I don’t have to worry about my hair on a windy day or after I step off my mid-life crisis motorcycle, I may need to pick up some day. 

But more than that, I’m surrounded by people who couldn’t care less about how thin my hair or my waistline are.  They apricate the work I’ve put in this year despite the lingering results, and I suppose that lesson is a good enough one to end on.

So, happy birthday to me, ya old, creaky, bald dummy! Go get yourself some cake!