Friday, August 23, 2013

Perfect Storm?

After two weeks of school, working out five days a week, coordinating transportation, trying to maintain a reasonable diet, I can say that I'm rather tired.  But I've lost 15 pounds, got through an automobile crisis, managed to get everyone where they needed to be, and have taken five quizzes, scoring A's on all of them.

Right now, my life can be best described as a fishing boat, fighting through a storm, getting over one huge wave with an even bigger one coming up on the horizon.

I don't know much about fishing, but I would imagine that the captain of that boat would breathe a sigh of relief after getting over that wave, take a quick break to get his senses together and to pray that whatever it is that he needs to get over the next wave at that moment in time is there when he needs it...

Times like this cause me to reflect on the words of a song that I first heard a long time ago...

The anchor holds, though the ship is battered
The anchor holds, though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees, as I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds, In spite of the storm

And it's in these moments that my Anchor holds...

Go me...


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hopin' Change

My last nine weeks have been a whirlwind of change.  Getting consistent at exercise, watching my diet, learning once again to rise before the worms, and now topping it off by starting back to college has been challenging, to say the least.

I did see a man in a dress yesterday at school, which signifies how much things have changed, but that wasn't what I was looking for.  His/her nails were nice though. 

So I have all this, in addition to all the other fun stuff we have as a family, such as playing the old favorite, “Now What?” 

Murphy's Middle Name Is Aloysius?

With Mr. Edward A. Murphy laughing from up above as we prove his Law to be indisputable on a daily basis, it just so happened on the Sunday evening before the first day of school, I noticed a pool of water on my driveway as I took off for the gym.  I didn’t really think much of it because it’s a hundred and sun degrees in Fresno in the middle of August, so I merely dismissed the water as condensation from the air conditioner on the truck.  On my way to the gym, I stopped at a minimart to grab a Zone bar to eat before working out and was in and out quickly.  I jumped back into my truck, started it up.  Right away, I noticed a strange sound coming out of the engine compartment, which not a new sound.  It made me nervous, but the truck seemed to run okay, so I kept on to the gym. 

One hour later I finished my workout and walked (staggered) back out to the truck and started it up.  The noise was still there; not very assuring in the least.  As I drove home, I noticed that the noise was getting louder and I was getting more concerned. 

Then I got home.  The spot of water that was on the ground was still there, which was odd since it was a 95-100 degree day.  If it was water, it’d be gone.  My first thought was “oh, no.” 

I was right…it wasn’t just water; it had oil in it.  I then started to breathe harder than I did when I was killing myself on the treadmill an hour before.  I had no clue as to what it could be, but it didn’t look good.  So far, it wasn’t a big pool of oil/water/blood, so I thought that it could wait until the following day. 

I was able to put it out of my mind until after I went to bed.  I had difficulty sleeping.  I don’t know if it was because of the next day or if it was the big cup of coffee that I had earlier in the evening.  I got up about 1:30 in the morning, and with all the anxiety of school upon me and having read about a meteor shower taking place that night, I decided to go outside and take a look underneath the chassis for a leak and maybe see a meteor while I was outside. 

No meteors.  Big leak, though. 

In fact, it was a massive leak underneath the engine, flowing halfway down the driveway, like blood from a Dexter Morgan murder scene.  If my truck were a human it’d be the crime of the century. 

I went back to bed and got into the fetal position, cried, and sucked my thumb, writhing back and forth waiting for someone to call an exorcist.  Fortunately, the beer that I drank kicked in and I was able to go to sleep.  

Three hours later, I woke up at 5:00 am to start my day...I wasn't looking forward to it.  In the mirror I looked like a mix between a basset hound and Walter Mondale the day after he lost the presidential election to Ronald Reagan.  Pretty scary.

Monday, The First Day...Only 18 Weeks To Go

After arranging for a backup vehicle in the event that I couldn’t get my truck running that day, and texting a couple of friends for favors, and after having one friend take my wife to work and my daughter to school, all this before 6:00 am, and then limping in the truck to the mechanic and have him drop me off at school, and sitting through six hours of school, and having my daughter’s boyfriend give me a ride back to the shop to pick up my truck after giving her a ride to practice, and asking my dad to cover the bill for me until I get some extra cash, I could finally call it a day. 

Change is good, unless it’s all you have in your pocket. 

What's Up With Hope And Change?

President Obama coined the change thing when he used “hope and change” as his mantra for the 2008 presidential election campaign, and many people “drank the Kool-Aid” of his hope and change message.  For those with an “R” beside your name, don’t be shouting “YES” at my comments.  The R’s use the same hope and change message to sway their constituents to get to the polls for their own job security and drink a different flavored Kool-Aid. 

The reason President Obama did so well in his bid to become President was that his message was comprised of something that really crosses all boundaries, whether it be socioeconomic, cultural/racial, male/female, or even political. 

Being young, energetic and black was also a good chemistry for change as well.  It was time for something new, and while I didn’t vote for him and don’t agree with his politics, I believe it was a good day for this country when he was sworn in because he took away all the excuses of how hard it is to succeed in this country. 

Now anyone who thinks that one man in Washington is going to change your world overnight is sadly mistaken.  I think that lady in Florida who said she won’t have to worry about her car payment or her rent is still waiting by the mailbox for something to come through. 

It’s a good thing that most people believe in the hope and change message more than they believe in the messenger.  That’s the way it should be, because it’s just not possible for anyone who has little to no vested interested in our personal success can do anything for us.  All they can do is pass on the message and hope that we do the best we can with what we receive. 

Hope and change is a powerful motivator; it’s also ear-tickling if all you want to do is feel warm and tingly by hearing those warm and fuzzy speeches.  Hearing but not doing always leads to the same result, or worse. 

That’s because hope can’t be developed unless there is change.  And that takes hard work. 

The message becomes magic when we put the effort behind it. 

Change Through Hard Work - What A Concept!

I saw a Facebook post from someone of a YouTube video of Ashton Kutcher, who gave a speech a few nights ago when he won a Teen Choice Award for something – I don’t know what it was – he said it was for being an old guy, but he said something that was quite profound and it changed my attitude about him for the better, although I’ve always enjoyed watching him on television. 

He touched on three things which resonated with me:  Opportunity, being sexy, and building a life. 

(By the way, it should be noted that his speech is going viral in the midst of Oscar talk for his portrayal of Steve Jobs in the latest biopic.  His choices moved him to the top of his game, while at the same time, the choices of one of his co-stars from "That 70's Show" led to her being found dead yesterday at a drug treatment center.  Everyone knows his name; few people remember Robin Kelly's name.)


Opportunity looks like a lot of hard work.  When he was 13, he had his first job helping his roofer dad carry shingles up to the roof.  He then had a job washing dishes at a restaurant, followed by a job at a grocery store deli, and then by a job at a Cheerio’s factory, sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground.  No job was ever beneath him, and he always considered himself lucky to have a job.  Each job was stepping stone to the next job, and he never quit any job until he had another job lined up, and we all know what happened to him by his repetition of that pattern. 

For me...the opportunity is college and exercise. 

I took the opportunity to go back to school because of a few bad breaks that I’ve had the past couple of years.  Certain things fell into place which enabled me to do this and I’m taking advantage.  This opportunity is hard work.  I have about a hundred pages to read by next Monday to be on top of my game if I want to get an “A.” I’m not in it to just pass. 

As I mentioned earlier in earlier posts, I also have a friend who is willing to commit herself to my well-being and walk alongside me as I work toward changing my health for the better.  To say that that opportunity is not hard work has not met Coachzilla. Trying to slide an excuse past her is not just hard's mission impossible.  I should benefit from this "opportunity," right? 

I also regard my ability to walk as an opportunity to take advantage of exercise and improving my overall sense of well-being.  I made a commitment when I was last laid up in bed that I would do something about my health when I was able to walk once again. 

Being Sexy

Kutcher said that the sexiest thing in the world is being really smart, thoughtful and generous. Everything else is crap that people try to sell us to feel less valuable than we really are. 

Well, I’m pushing for “A’s” so if that makes me sexy, so much the better.  I’d rather lose the weight and try for that, too.  By the way, I’m 65 pounds down and on my way down. 

Building A Life

As young people, we are told that the world is the way it is and that our goal in life should be to try to live inside that world created for us.  We’re told to stay out of trouble, get an education, find a good job, start a family, and live life according to way things are.  The truth is that we live life in a world that was designed by people who are no smarter than us.  Sometimes the biggest battle is between our ears, a result of the input that we received from well-meaning friends and relatives who think they know your inadequacies better than you do.

Change is subtle, either good or bad, depending on what it is that you do.  I tell my daughter most fortunes are lost a dollar at a time, especially when she makes a trip to Taco Bell because she doesn’t want to eat what’s in the refrigerator.  Stuff like television and surfing the internet takes me away from studying, and I’ve already battled the Seinfeld “Summer of George” syndrome, when it’s easy to watch television instead of read.  And, the same thing applies when potato chips are brought into the house, when I’m trying to stay away from that junk.  Every pound I fail to lose is a delay in reaching my fortune.  Good health is priceless, and much more than any monetary fortune is worth.  It would do me some good to look at potato chips as lost opportunities in a bag. 

I think a good strategy for most people would be to save your money, eat right, and go to school and get smart, and then you can be rich and sexy too. 

A dollar at a time, a minute at a time, or a chip at a doesn’t matter.  It all adds up a little bit at a time, for good or bad, for good or better, or bad to worse.  It’s our choice.  Change takes place a little bit at a time, and before you know it, you have hope.

Go me...


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Five Days a Weenie

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been focused on upping the challenge (that is, having it upped for me) of getting in a daily ritual with me any my treadmill. My workout partner Christina (or "Coachzilla," which is my term of endearment for her) has been keeping me on track and making sure that I only don't push myself beyond code blue. As a macho remnant, I do tend to want to do more than I should at times, to which I get a stern "no" from "Christina."  
Unfortunately, it doesn't work the other way around. If I say "no" then it's "too bad" from "Coachzilla."

I'm up to five times a week now but my speed isn't anything to brag about. Usain Bolt runs a 100 meter dash in the time it takes me to walk ten steps, but that's okay. Sometimes I get up to 2.0 MPH for 2-3 minutes, but for the most part, it's 1.0 MPH for 60 minutes...60 minutes which I wasn't able to do earlier this summer.

My knees still feel like they have knives sticking in them when I bend them, but that's bound to improve with time and strengthening...and ice.

Now that I have all this going, with the fall semester of college approaching, I have this time dilemma now, which involves juggling one vehicle between three people, in three different directions, since our hooptie car is down for the count. After our Monday midday workout, I lamented to Christina about my situation and she asked me what I thought about going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning. According to her, my eyes glazed over and I looked like I was in a state of shock, and I stammered some type of excuse about 5:30 in the morning being of the devil or something like that. Coachzilla kicked in and the battle was over.

By the way, Coachzilla is a play on two words - Coach and Godzilla - for those who need the explanation. In the movies, Godzilla crushed Tokyo. In real life, Coachzilla crushes excuses. The excuses are like Tokyo - they can be pretty big, but they don't stand in the way for long.

I'll spare the gory details, but somehow she managed to get me thinking that I could do this, and would meet me at 5:30 the following morning.

That night, I felt like I did when I took a statistics final in college 35 years ago. I felt totally unprepared for it, and all I could do was stress about it, and when I finally got to sleep, it was all I could do to stay asleep. Then I woke up at 3:30 the following morning, and after being up for an hour, I felt great...distress. To add insult to injury, I had another hour before I had to be at the gym.

I failed to mention one more thing...if I didn't do this, Coachzilla said that she would make it her mission in life to tell the world what a weenie I am if I didn't do this. She would even learn to blog to accomplish this.

I don't want people to know I'm a weenie.  I'm already a weenie, but I'd rather keep that to myself.

When I failed my statistics final, my professor said to me, "You do better luck next times," in his incredibly thick Chinese accent. He didn't call me a weenie.  

We got out to the treadmills and Christina made it easy on me, only working me for 40 minutes instead of an hour.  I was okay with that. Coachzilla was taking the day off, knowing it was a stretch for me to be there.

When the week was over, I managed to make it to the gym every morning that week, and I even added an extra day on Saturday, as I needed to get some calories burned for a wedding that evening; I heard they were serving barbecue, and I'm glad I did the extra day. Physically, I had a tough time at the wedding because I'm still overcoming a lot of pain. I would have loved to line dance, but the knees wouldn't allow it. I did get my barbecue and cake pop, though.

One thought: The best thing about last night was how I was able to witness the miracle of God in the way He brings two wonderful young people together to start a new life as a couple. When I think back about all that He did to bring my wife and I together 33 years ago, from opposite ends of this's mind blowing to think what events had to happen in order for that that happen.

If He can do that, He can grant me the grace needed to get over this weight thing...

Speaking of the weight thing:  I wish I could say the weight falling off like crazy, but it's steady, and as long as it's steady I'm good...I'll know more tomorrow morning, when I weigh in. Christina will be happy with the result or Coachzilla will be having a weenie roast. Time will tell.

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.