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Friday, September 22, 2017

Getting off the Merry Go Round

Getting off the Merry Go Round

Definition of merry-go-round for English Language Learners
  • : a large round platform that turns around in a circle and has seats and figures of animals (such as horses) on which children sit for a ride
  • : a set or series of repeated activities that are quick, confusing, or difficult to leave ~Merriam-Webster
One of the best aspects of my life and possibly the best part, is that while I am organized I still like the element of surprise (wonderment) almost every day.  I don’t embrace change for change sake but I enjoy controlled (planned) change.
Imagine that you love a food so much that you have been known to say that you could eat it every day for the rest of your life.  You most likely don’t mean that but in a moment of excitement it was the thing to say to express your appreciation for the food item.  A similar amount of restraint need to be used in everything that comes as part of your life.

Almost always, there are circumstances where getting on the proverbial merry go round is required.  Examples: to succeed in business or a career, hopping on the corporate merry go round is required.  You can succeed without full and total commitment to the corporate game plan, but the odds are against you.  Getting off the merry go round in any circumstance requires knowing in advance what your destination should be.

The merry go round of life is all inclusive. Other examples are: the commitment to marriage and raising a family.  However, getting off that merry go round can be painful and costly.  You can successfully get off that merry go round by completing your commitment to raising the kids and supporting your spouse, along the way as the family evolves.  Most importantly, let’s not forget that the arrival of the children should only be a temporary interruption to what started as a romance between two people.  After the children leave the nest, the original relationship should be strong and able to pick up where the romance was, when lovingly interrupted. 

Caution:  If you try to get off the merry go round while it’s moving fast, you most likely will end up on your face.  The best is yet to come…..

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Life Goes On

You can say 'Life goes on' after mentioning something very sad to indicate that, although people are very upset or affected by it, they have to carry on living normally. ~ Collins Dictionary

The realization that someday we will leave this life and life will go on.  As important of a role that we play within our intricate lives, hopefully all our loved ones will find a way to continue to move forward.

This year has been the worst in my life for loss of loved ones.  Losing just one loved one in any one year is bad enough, but the year is barely at the half way mark and I’ve already had 3 losses that I am aware of.

I was told and do subscribe to the idea that, the older we get the more friends and relatives we will lose because everyone is getting older.  This year losses, however, have nothing to do with aging.  I am grateful that those that are directly under my oversight (wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are safe and healthy).

I don’t like to write about my most personal gains and losses in life, but I feel that this post will help to move on from this very life shattering event.

My family is made up of seven brothers and sisters, life normally dictates that the oldest in the pecking order should go first (expire – die).  Just before the end of June our family lost our youngest member.  My little brother was only 45 and if I had to pick the one member that was most popular and loved, of all seven he would be the one.  He would literally take the shirt off his back to give to someone in need.

The last time that he and I hung out was the year before.  We normally didn’t move in the same social circles because of our age difference.  I do know, and he told me every time he had a chance, that he loved me extra because of all the male children I looked the most like our father.

I am being selfish and writing this post strictly for my own ability to move on.  I just returned from a five day stay in southern California where we attended services and celebrated his too short life.  Because my little brother was such a life of the party in life, His Celebration of Life was very upbeat.  Over 250 people attended his loving goodbye. 

Since we believe that we will see each other again we all have reason to move forward.  So, in fact “Life Goes On,” and because of that, the best is yet to come…….

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned
10 Shocking Statistics About Elderly Falls
·        When an elderly person falls, their hospital stays are almost twice longer than those of     elderly patients who are admitted for any other reason.
·        The risk of falling increases with age and is greater for women than men.
·        Annually, falls are reported by one-third of all people over the age of 65.
·        Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months.
·        Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older.
·        Approximately 9,500 deaths in older Americans are associated with falls each year.
·        More than half of all fatal falls involve people 75 or over.
·        Among people aged 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture. That number increases to one out of every 10 for those aged 85 and older.
·        One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury.
·        The most profound effect of falling is the loss of functioning associated with independent living.  ~ by Shell Point Retirement Community

CAUTION!  Don’t try this at home.  At some point, we all reach and cross the line where we are old enough to know better.  That line can be reached through personal experience, common sense, or by someone else’s example.  However, you do reach it, we all must reach it.  I love learning from other’s mistakes because it saves me a lot of pain and suffering.  Not to mention that it makes me look mature and smart.

As I get older, I’ve noticed that every so often I catch myself pushing the envelope.  I am not sure that I am trying to prove that “I still got it,” or perhaps trying to save time.  Since I am retired, I can’t blame my corner cutting on time constraint. 

Just a short list:  I have survived the following unhurt, almost got electrocuted running electrical wire for an addition to our home; survived a rear collision on a vehicle wreck where my car was standing still and the other driver was traveling at approximately 50 mph (should have killed me but it only resulted in a broken back) (I know, I make it sound like a piece of cake).  I almost drowned while swimming with friends in a river at age 11 (I actually went under for the count); I was painting the trim on the exterior of my house while standing on the very top rung of an 8-foot ladder (a wind gust came up and I almost lost my balance), I quickly came to my senses and I called a professional to finish the job.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Well, my wife and I have spent perhaps thousands of dollars over the years in an effort to stay healthy through exercise (gym memberships).  My most recent effort is to transform our large garage into a gym.  We purchased 5 professional workout pieces of equipment, and a hot sauna to complete the ideal workout place.  And now the rest of the story:  No work out place is complete without a descent size screen television to take your mind away from the pain and suffering of a healthy workout.  I was trying to place the tv on top of the sauna but it was about a half inch too big to fit. From on top of the ladder about 4 feet high, I was holding the tv and tried to place it on top a shelf about 30 inches away.  Bottom line is I lost my balance and went backwards from the ladder while still holding the television.  I protected the investment on the tv set keeping it at arm’s length as I went down backwards.  Fortunately, on the way down my elbow knocked over a stack of walk-in carpets that miraculously landed under me and cushioned my fall.

All’s well that ends well, but once again, someone was looking out after me, and I came out unhurt.  I surveyed the area where I landed it, and still don’t know how those carpets ended up under me.  I came within inches of hitting my head on at least three very sharp corners, any of which could have killed me.

I beg you to be very careful in your own personal lives.  If you believe that you can’t afford to have a professional handle your project, ask yourself if you can afford time in the hospital and the medical bills or worst.  I hereby promise to draw on my experience, and the mistakes of others to keep myself safe for my family and friends.  The best is yet to come……..

Friday, July 21, 2017

An Eye for Beauty

Miss Gracie
David Hume's Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, include:
·        "Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.
·        "The person who is widely credited with coining the saying in its current form is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton), who wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of 'The Duchess'. In Molly Bawn, 1878, there's the line "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", which is the earliest citation that I can find in print.
I could say guilty as charged.  There are many things in my life for which I fell in love at first sight as example my beautiful wife, each one of my children when they were born, followed by my grandchildren.  I’m sure you are beginning to get the picture. 

Until recently, I have not had to pay the price for my indulgence.  To be sure the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” applies to objects as well as individuals, and almost anything of beauty, such as, a clear sky, or a moonlit night.

Three years ago (June 2014) I was having what I consider and average day, and as such I drove my favorite four-legged partner to the groomer.  The day was progressing in such a way that it was not likely to stand out as a special day in a week down the road, let alone for the rest of my life.

When it came time to pick up Theo (toy poodle) from the groomer, I walked in and the first thing I saw was this beautiful little snowball of a puppy.  I remembered asking the groomer, who is this beautiful creation you are working on.  She mentioned that the puppy was a Bichon (breed) being groomed to make her more adoptable by the Animal Shelter.

Without even calling my wife for approval, I said, tell me who the point of contact is for the adoption.  After all the paperwork was properly processed “Gracie” arrived at her new home.  Gracie’s name is derived from my youngest granddaughter’s middle name (Grace) the intended recipient.

The rest of the story is where regrettably, I pay the consequence for falling in love with Gracie the first time I saw her.  Within a year and half, she lost the sight on her right eye (something internally caused it). Even beyond that devastating occurrence she acted normal and continued to be playful and loving.  We spared no expense and took her to the Veterinary and was referred to a dog Ophthalmologist.  I personally declared myself Gracie’s Service Person.

A year later Gracie’s vision on her good eye began to fade and within two months totally failed.  After many more tests including brain scan it was determined that she had one or more brain tumors that would not end well.  My little Gracie eventually passed away (May 23, 2017), from her many illnesses that included diabetes. 

Occasionally, I still shed a tear for the little girl that so affected my life in just a too short span of 3 years.  We all know that life isn’t fair but what did that little beautiful loving dog ever do to deserve her painful short life.  I’ve said it before, “if doggies don’t go to heaven, I want to go where they go.”  It has taken me almost two full months before I could get myself to write about Miss Gracie.  I am only writing about Gracie to place her solidly in my recorded writings.  I can only hope, the best is yet to come…….

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Paranoid or Careful

Paranoid or Careful

For as long as I can remember, I have used the following saying: “Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not out to get you!”  I probably take it more seriously than I should, but my other favorite saying is “Better Safe Than Sorry!”

Every day that passes by and with every news story on mainstream news, we are given proof that we are not as private as we would like to think we are or used to be.  I’d like to think that I spend an adequate amount of money to keep up with the advancing technology, and yet, I constantly am surprised at how some third world country resident is trying to get my personal information, or worst yet the banking institution’s data bank information.

On the plus side, it’s good to know that I will never be homeless.  I know you are wondering where my optimism comes from, well at least 4 or 5 times a year an extremely wealthy Prince of widow of a Prince reaches out to me.  Yes, you guessed it, they want to leave me their fortune and they are trying to figure out how to send it to me.

So far, I haven’t responded, because I’m still trying to get over the terrible head ache.  What headache you ask?  The one I got after I fell off of the turnip truck!

To make things worse, my wife keeps asking me to turn off some of my modern technology.  She hates the way Amazon Echo Unit (Alexa) keeps waking us up from the middle of a sound sleep in the early morning hours to ask what we meant because she didn’t understand the command.  Imagine being paranoid about that!

I already cover the camera lens on my computers, just in case someone is checking up on us, like everyone’s favorite uncle.  You know the one, Uncle Sam or one of his Minions. 
Everyone once in a while, I’ll be in town and notice that my cell phone is telling me that I am only 6 minutes away from home, the traffic is good and the weather is 54 degrees, and rain showers will stop in 26 minutes.  That information means that someone or something knows where I am at and what environment I’m in.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I long for the days when the only way to guess that it might rain, was because you could see the dark clouds in the distance coming your way!  Hang in there, the best is yet to come……

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It Is What It Is

It Is What It Is

Have you ever heard the popular saying: “it is what it is.”
It is what it is:

  • A cliché, popular within the circles of coaches, business execs, and those of us who just want to say "It's happened. 'I'm going to forget about it. I'm going to move on. There is nothing that can be done about it." 
There are so many things in our families and personal lives that we can change or minimally influence, and then there are some things that try as you may, you just have to let go of, and move on.

Those things that we can’t change we must come to terms with and live with.  One thing in particular that I can think of in my life is the following.  Life takes us all through various stages (examples): graduating from school and attending friends and relative’s celebrations, Attending friends and relatives’ weddings, etc., etc.  However, as we get older and start getting invitations to retirements, it seems that our social calendar also starts filling up with invitations to memorial and celebration of life services.

One of my friends soon notice my apparent deliberate absence from friend and coworker memorial services, and pulled me aside about 10 years ago.  Because I loved and respected this friend, I embraced the question and his input.  When asked, the why, I honestly answered that I never knew what to say to people that were grieving the loss of a loved one.

My friend explained that people were not expecting soothing words from me and that my presence alone would be lending the support they needed. I have attended many services since then, and have gained as much as I have given by my presence.  Facing up to this one thing that was causing me discomfort has definitely turned into a blessing.

One other “it is what it is,” situation for many people it's either their appearance or even voice or both.  Your voice will always sound different recorded or amplified compared to what you think you sound like.  With regard to appearance some people hate participating in photo opportunities because they don’t like how they come out.  Here definitely, it is what it is!  As I like to say, “What you see is what you get.”  What you see that you don’t like in photos is what everyone else sees day in and day out.  Your recorded or amplified voice is what others hear every day.  Just roll with the punches and enjoy life.  The best is yet to come……

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses and Minuses

I still remember like if it was yesterday, how incredibly nice and empowering it is (was) to be young and have things going your way.  I was in my early twenties starting a family studying and held a job in mid management.  Among my passions, I lived for driving my muscle cars which I upgraded on average every 18 months.

In today’s socio-economic environment I feel bad for my children that they didn’t get to have the kind of easy going life that people my age enjoyed.  Yet, I am so proud of their accomplishment, and ability to handle the challenges that come their way on a daily basis. 

One parent got to stay home and guide the children through their formative years. There was abundant work to be done (no exaggeration here) The only way you didn’t make a living is if you were ill or were otherwise plain lazy.  You didn’t have to pay gym membership because there was plenty of physical activity to be involved in, you drove into town and parked your car and walked to every store to shop or pay bills.  Family activities were almost always outdoors: biking, hiking, baseball, game of tag, and so much more.

We didn’t have the internet, or the electronics (iPads, iPods, cell phones).  Our knowledge was still there to be gained, just at a slower pace (encyclopedia vs Google).  You always had to have coins in your pocket in case you had to use a payphone while in town.  Dating was so much less risky back then. Today you could end up dead if you hook up with the wrong person (illness).  Today a college degree doesn’t guarantee you a job or better yet a career.  In the old days even without a high school diploma, as long as you had a strong back you could support a family.

That is just the surface of the Pluses and Minuses, if you are willing to give it some thought you can come up with so much more.  Today I constantly get an earful about how fast food service doesn’t pay enough to support a family; DUH, it was never meant to!  With higher pay will come higher cost fast food, can you imagine McDonald’s selling value meals at gourmet priced hamburgers?

That job was meant for people transitioning between, high school and college or perhaps transitioning between living at home in mom and dad’s basement and sharing an apartment with a friend.  Bottom line:  it’s a vicious circle, if you raise the pay to make it a livable wage, better qualified people will apply and compete for the fast food jobs, you will also have to compete with robotics (if for no other reason), because they don’t complain about long hours and or better pay.  The best is yet to come……………

Saturday, April 22, 2017

First Time I Did It

First Time I Did It

When the family gathered all its belongings and moved to Washington State from Texas I was an innocent young pre-teen.  You could say I was sheltered beyond normal. I am not embarrassed to admit that my brother and I were mama’s boys.  That used to happen a lot to young boys when they are raised by the stay at home mothers.  Add to that, the fact that you are raised strongly in the Catholic faith and don’t dare do anything out of the ordinary without considering that you will be in church on Sunday and participating in the Confession process.

All justifications aside, I loved and respected my mother and would have no consideration for being raised differently.  Our life style was very repetitious but never boring.  Mother was a wonderful cook and while we were typical of the families of the time, the dinner options were restricted to two:  Take it or Leave it! 

Being of the Mexican culture, Corn and flour tortillas were always part of the lunch and dinner meal.  Bread was not a staple that we were too familiar with.  I don’t recall ever hearing of hamburgers, or hot dogs before we moved from Texas.  I do know for a fact that McDonald’s was already in business in 1954 so for at least 5 years prior to moving to Washington State (1959) I had never even heard the word hamburger.

After that lengthy introduction, I need to get back to the subject at hand.  The first time I did was at the drive-in theater.  There were two movies playing but I still remember the main attraction: Hercules Unchained starring Steve Reeves.

I remember that my older step-brother and his wife went to the snack bar (just before intermission to avoid the crowd) to buy popcorn, soda and candy.  When they returned, they brought back something that smelled especially tempting and delicious.  I asked what it was and she told me but I had no clue what she was talking about.  So she allowed me to take a bite and I was hooked to this day.  That is the first time I heard of it and had my first ever taste of pizza (Saturday, October 1959).  Since the first time I did it, I’ve never said no to an offer of a slice of delicious pizza.  The best is yet to come……

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lost Art

Lost Art
I’m willing to bet that many people in my age group remember working diligently to learn cursive handwriting in the classroom from the earliest school grades.  I actually mastered it early on, similarly succeeded with the futuristic skill of keyboarding in high school.  That’s right, I was the only boy in a class of 21 young lady students taking a typewriting class.  I signed up on a dare but the challenge to improve my speed kicked in and I was off and running.

The beautiful young ladies I was surrounded with were a definite inspiration, and in the beginning, I do remember Ms. Burkholder telling me to stop dropping my papers on the floor.  My instructor suspected that I was doing it for purpose to try to sneak a look from closer to the floor level.  Couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Once the challenge of increasing my speed surfaced, I stopped messing around and the papers stopped dropping on the floor from my desk.  I actually overheard my instructor brag about how well I was doing and how they should actively recruit more of the young men to enroll.  The following year after I broke ground (at my school anyway) 6 guys enrolled in typing class.

The whole reason for this post is that once again, I took on the challenge of writing a whole letter in cursive writing, and it took me longer than I thought it would.  Guess what?  It’s not like riding a bike!  By the middle of the third paragraph my hand was cramping.  The quality was not anything to be proud of.

We need to encourage cursive writing in the classroom as a subject.  In the future, if we get away from it, cursive writing will become like a different language altogether.  Many historic documents are written in cursive and many of our young children are growing up writing in text shorthand (OMG, LOL, LMAO, etc.).

As usual, I don’t expect a response by everyone that agrees or disagrees with me.  Food for thought is all I intended to do.  The more we think about our future (youth) the more we need to stay involved in their development, and the educational system.  The best is yet to come…….

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wake Up Call

Frequent and timely health checkups

·       Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” ~ Bill Keane
How often do we hear this quote and for most of us, it goes in one ear and out the other (at least I know it used to for me)?

As our families mature (our children) the family extends because of the friendships that they develop and eventually the marriages that follow.  With the extended families come a whole complete set of new family ties.  This includes: an equal partner, in-laws (spouse’s parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces, nephews), including extended friendships.  In essence a total and complete new social unit (nuclear family).

Up until recently, I thought of myself as slightly removed from that extended unit, simply because I felt like it would affect my child who marries into that family, and not me directly.  However, if you truly love your child (which I know that I do without a doubt), anything that affects him or her (especially emotionally) affects us, his or her parents.

As usual I won’t mention any names or get into too much detail to maintain a level of privacy.  At the end of last year, just before the Christmas Holidays, a mother in-law to one of my children fell and hurt herself, she was not known for frequenting doctors’ offices or clinics with aches and pains.  She loved her church and had a great big faith in prayer, which she heavily relied on for her ailments.

After a few days of lying in bed for he bad back pain, one of her children practically forced her to go to the emergency room to be checked out.  Approximately 9 days later she passed away from advanced (terminal cancer). I am still in shock that life can be that way.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are two professionals that we must communicate with, probably the most important is your physician.  The other professional deals with finances (feds).

I implore you, that if you have any personal pains that persist or that you can’t explain, please have it checked.  If you have an elderly loved one or friend that has a condition that hasn’t been checked out, please convince them to go to the doctor.  If you can’t influence them to do it, talk to other family members and gang up on them to take action.

We all deserve every day that we can extend our life with our loved ones.  Because I have had this wake up call, I feel that the best is yet to come………….. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Surprise At Every Turn

Surprise At Every Turn

Do you remember a time when you felt in control of most aspects of your life?  Perhaps I am unique and no one else ever felt that way.  A possibility but doubtful.  Even if raised in poverty I believe it's human nature to be optimistic.  I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but thanks to the love and nurturing of my parents, I had all my needs and many wants.

Special treatment growing up didn't set me up for false expectations, but did encourage me to strive for attainable realistic successes (goal outcomes).
Two key words so far are "optimistic and realistic."

  • someone who is optimistic is hopeful about the future and tends to expect that good things will happen
  • optimistic about: She said that she was optimistic about the future of the company.
  • be/remain optimistic that: I remain optimistic that a peaceful settlement of the dispute can be achieved.
Synonyms and related words
  • Feeling hopeful and optimistic: the glass is half full (empty), hopeful, optimistic...

  • The definition of realistic is someone who has a good grip on the reality of a situation and understands what can and cannot be done, something that is a practical, achievable idea, or something that resembles the actual truth about life.
  • An example of realistic is a person who knows his own limitations and isn't going to expect to be an amazing opera singer when he can't even carry a tune.
  • An example of realistic is having a steady job that pays a monthly amount and realizing that you have to keep your budget within the constraints of your pay.  In other words, don't plan on a 30-day vacation at a 5-star resort if you budget can't handle the expense.

Because of my love for my country I am optimistic that we will survive the political turmoil that we find ourselves in, evidenced by the 100s of thousands of demonstrators in our country and around the world.

I won't admit to what side I stand on, but it doesn't matter.  Even a blind person can see that we are a country with its citizens divided.  One side sees the country in need of being saved from self-destruction to include carnage.  The other side sees a country in need of improvement from within and by the people themselves.

I am optimistic enough to know that we have survived times in our history worse than what we are going through right now, three examples are: 1) two world wars plus other undeclared wars possibly worse, 2) The Great Depression of the 1920s. 3) the assassinations of presidents.  Believe me when I say that many books can be written about all the bad times that our country has survived.

I am realistic enough to know that the ship won't right itself, we will need to roll-up our sleeves and put our shoulder to the wheel.  I consider what's happening in our country a wakeup call.  Many of us have become complacent, and confident that our country will continue to be great on Auto-Pilot, not so my friends.  You can interpret this post anyway you want, just don’t take your eye off of the desired outcomes.  The best is yet to come……….

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Caught in the Middle

Caught in the Middle

I’ve served my time at getting caught between, being there for my gracefully aging parents while meeting the demands of my own children growing up.  Well, it has now been more than a dozen years since my parents went to be with the lord.  I’ve enjoyed the relief that comes with knowing that that they are free of their aches and pains and in a better place all together.

Now enough time has gone by and it pains me to see my children begin to struggle with the realities of aging in-laws.  Our children are fortunate that their parents (us/we) are healthy and enjoying life to the fullest with minimal discomfort.  As with most people when young couples meet and marry they have no way of foreseeing what awaits at the end of the line.
One rule of thumb that I strongly believe in and promote is:  get to know the family before you get married, especially the older family members (particularly) the parents, because what you see is what you get.  Many times children have a way of mirroring their parents.  There are many exceptions to be sure, many children turn out great despite their parents and upbringing.  Can’t move on without mentioning that some relationships will be great, just because the people involved are so special to each other.

This writing comes to be because I am seeing one of my children struggle with the emotions of dealing with an in-law that is struggling with serious (possibly terminal) health issues.  I wish I could be more helpful, but every situation is different and I am not close enough to the developing situation to know what to say.  I do offer my support and understanding as much as I am allowed without intruding.

I am willing to bet that I am not the only one and that this situation is not unique.  This scenario must play out time and again all over the world.  It just hurts to witness it affecting people that I love.

Life is not discriminating when it comes to love and suffering, sooner or later we all come to that intersection of life.  The best is yet to come……