Monday, August 29, 2016

Live your moments well...

Reading this post is a just a brief moment in your life, one I hope you'll enjoy before you turn to the next.

The older you get, the more you pay attention to these moments and how you enjoy or ignore them. You start caring if you're spending time well or wasting it.

In our youth we all just barrel ahead, soaking in everything, no matter how many times we bump up against time wasting efforts. Yes, youth is wasted on the young, but how else could it be? 

In our youth we embrace everything, ignore nothing and still somehow have time to waste on things we'll never remember. But that's what the young are good at. That's why we grow, physically and mentally. We have no filters, no barriers to trying everything. It's the right attitude. It makes us stronger, faster, smarter.

As we 'mature', we can experience things with our minds as well as directly. My experience reminds me that I don't enjoy movies by that director or eating that kind of food or working at that kind of job. So I spend less time trying them. Rather, I look for experiences that I believe will be fun and interesting. Like becoming an author and blogger.

I think we're more aware of the world than when we were younger as well. Maybe it's the filters we build up over years of experiences. Maybe we're less distracted by the bright and shiny things that are everywhere.

My moments are precious. Family moments. Friend moments. Work moments. And when I can, moments to just let the world spin without me.

Relax and enjoy your moments. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Thank you and God Bless you

On this day of remembrance I wanted to say a special thank you to all who have served and are serving their country.

It is a special kind of self sacrifice to give all you have for your fellow man.

I pray that someday soon we can find ways to make these sacrifices unnecessary. But until that wonderful day, I give my thanks to you and your families for all you do.

God Bless you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Simple things to make 2016 rock for you...

In 2016 I sincerely hope you will:
- wake up every morning and say 'I love life' out loud (OK, internally if it spooks your spouse ;-)
- mentally confront your life's petty fears and kick them out the back door
- continue to execute a realistic plan to deal with your real problems
- get help if you need it, people will amaze you
- say 'Hi' to most of the people you meet today
- make eye contact, it may be just the thing they need to  prove that someone does care about them
- tell someone when something good happens to you
- listen with a caring heart when someone is sharing their bad news with you
- ask at least one person how his/her day is going and truly listen
- strive to do your best at your job, it's infectious behavior and both you and they will benefit
- take a walk at 10, 12, and 2, even if it's only for 5 minutes, it will clear your head and it's great exercise
- be alert to the world around you, but don't let the world's problems paralyze you, help where you can and trust that others will do the same
- read more
- try a different literary genre, stretch your world a little, you'll be amazed I promise
- get a book on your country's naval history or space program or government or parks or highways, ANYTHING that is not fiction so you can open the door to something new to you
- join a glee club or band or group of local guitarist or theater group or script writers. or take a pottery class or painting class or sculpture class, something that will get your creative self energized
- meet or re-meet a neighbor
- don't kick yourself for your mistakes more than once, learn and move on
- help in a fund raiser for those in need, give to a charity you care about
- take care of your body, start today
- realize you need to eat correctly and walk for your health
- take care of your mind
- do crosswords, puzzles, play games with friends, memorize poems like the Jabberwocky or a Doctor Seuss rhyme, add to your repertoire whenever you can
- take at least two mental breaks during the day, just close your eyes try to hear your own heartbeat
- encourage others with your smile, your love and your heart
- you'll have setbacks and problems, we all do. deal with them as soon as possible, do not carry them like a chain around  your neck
- don't be afraid to laugh out loud, it is music for the soul

Be happy, my friends, you deserve it.

And don't forget to be cool! ;-)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Another part of my life passes by...

I have three amazing grand daughters. Each has her own view of life, her own world of wonderment that I'm fortunate to share in. Seeing this crazy Universe through their eyes gives me no end of pleasure. I would rather spend time talking to each of them about anything at all than to spend time with any celebrity or famous figure.

So it was very painful indeed when I realized that I would no longer be able to walk one of them to school anymore because she now rides the bus to a middle school a few miles away.

For her it's exciting. New friends, new teachers, a new school, riding the bus and another whole Universe of new ideas to learn. Worlds are opening their doors to her. It's an amazing time. I remember it well, even today, some fifty years later.

For the past few years I've walked the two blocks to her house and then walked her to school. Hand in hand, rain or shine. Her hands, so incredibly small and delicate. Her face bright and constantly looking around as we avoided puddles or mud from the recent rain.

"Hi, Grandpa!"

I looked forward to those words every morning. Even when I was anxious about work or something awry in my life, those words always brought my world back into focus. That moment of walking in the door to those words is the best heart medicine there is.

We had a routine of sorts. We would make sure she had all her school work. Check. Had snacks for the day. Check. Kiss mommy good bye. Check! I would tell her Grandma says 'Have a good day' and she would say, 'OK'. And then we were out the door.

On the way to school we discussed spelling words. Or maybe a problem in math or other subject. WE did math tables for a whole year. Like me, she struggled with math. Sometimes it was a school yard social disaster. But most of the time it was admiring the live oaks in the school yard, how their arms are so strong and beautiful.

Our favorite subject was creating animal schools. Squirrel School Elementary, Robin High and Stink Bug University. What subjects to Bunnies take? Carrot Cake baking or jumping rope. Kid stuff.

I still have wonderful talks with her, but the morning walks are gone. The joy of starting a new day with that beautiful, creative little mind have passed me by and I'm the poorer for it.

Pay attention to your children, parents. Bring out the world for them. Live in the moment with them. It all fades away much, much too soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Growing up in the Panhandle and Parenting

A huge part of growing up, for a boy at least, is where he gets his first bicycle and BB Gun. Oh wait, bicycles and BB Guns are no longer PC. A young boy might hurt himself on the bike and heaven forbid he might learn about weapons from his father. Better to learn from some moron down the street who steals his Dad's pistol for 'fun'. Sorry. I'll save that rant for another time.

This all has to do with these epiphanies I get on how lucky I was to grow up in the '50s and '60s. Even though I had poor, if any guidance from my father, I had a great childhood. We'll leave my father's story for another time as well. Suffice to say he worked too much and loved too little.

Looking back, growing up in the tiny Texas Panhandle town of Levelland was awesome. We had no extra money, lived in an old two story farm house outside of town and we played outside. All day. All summer long.

Mom would feed us oatmeal, made in a pressure cooker pot, that had the consistency of paste and tasted like cardboard. The saving grace was all the butter, sugar and milk you could snag. To this day I cannot eat oatmeal without a dab of milk, a pat of butter and spoon full of sugar. But. That meal filled our pudgy bellies for hours, until it was time for lunch.

Then Mom would say, "Get outside and play. Stay out of trouble and stay away from the barn."

So we promptly headed for the old barn and spent the morning playing Cowboys and Indians, tag, making paper airplanes, throwing clods at each other, setting up the bag of little green plastic soldiers in clod fortresses and then shooting them with the BB gun.

Brett, a boy my age who lived in the fancy house next door, would come over and we would throw around a Frisbee until our arms fell off. Then we would drag out the hose and lawn sprinkler and spend hours running back and forth, slipping and skinning knees, elbows and yes losing a tooth or two.

I know things are different, some things need to be different. You should know what your kids are doing and with whom. Mom's should talk to each other about their kids and keep an eye on them. Dads should take their sons and daughters fishing and teach them to ride a bike. Mom and Dad should share the responsibility of homework.

Do you?

You are NOT so busy that you can't spend time enjoying life with your children. You will have the blink of an eye to spend teaching your children the simple joys of life. The blink of an eye.

I grew up 'poor' but most of my friends did too. But I didn't feel poor. I remember being happy most of the time. I remember the dust and the heat and the endless summers.

Will your children remember the fun of youth? It's up to you. Come on. There is nothing better than the look on your child's face when you've showed him how to make his first paper airplane or they take their first solo ride on the bike.

Be a parent. Be a part of that amazing journey; childhood.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How do we deal with the day to day...

Day to day life is full of joy, boring repetition and sometimes moments of anguish or rage.

I've been trying to remember back to my childhood to find how I was taught to deal with life. Who told me how life was supposed to be? How to deal with this problem or that problem, big or small.

Sadly, I can't remember anyone. Not my parents, not the preachers or ministers, not my Boy Scout leader or school teacher. No one.

I know there were times where someone said something like, "It's ok, Gary. Things will work out. You're just having a bad day." or "I know this hurts, but this is the way life is."

The Bible has lots of lessons and parables. Other religious works give more precise directions. Some philosophical works just give vague riddles or commandments.

While I was growing up, other than "Act like a man" or "Life is hard, deal with it", I can't really remember any valid, usable, positive advice on how to live well.

Maybe it's just that my father was raised in such a sterile and unloving environment, so he had no idea how to help his own family. I think he tried, but he had no foundation to work from. My mother did her best as well, I'm sure. But again, she had a very hard childhood herself.

If you have family, take a moment and ask yourself how you might instill a positive, helpful attitude. Be open to talking about your problems and how you resolved them.

Show your family that you've made mistakes but you've tried. Talk to them when they have a problem and help them find the best, right answer.

They may never thank you. That's ok. You've made life a little better for them.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Give yourself a break...

Maybe it's just the way we're wired, but it's not until later in life (yes, older ;-) that we begin to realize what is truly important in day to day life.

Maybe this has allowed us to survive by keeping us focused on short term goals like food and shelter. Someday I'll have time to take some college courses and ask people much smarter than me about human evolution. But for now, I'll trust my instincts and experiences. Another trait I've only picked up in recent years.

Now that I"m getting close to retirement, the world seems both infinitely larger and yet somehow very small and close. Things that seemed so important before can just wait. It's too easy to get sucked into the abyss of information highway, politics, work drama.

The lawn will be there tomorrow, I'm going to sit on the patio and read. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it, ruining the enjoyment later. Yep, used to do that all the time. Now I don't have to try so hard to enjoy a few moments of solitude or playing cards with friends or watching 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' for the 100th time. (Yes, the original version is the best SciFi movie every made. ;-)

If I could pass along some advice to younger men it would include:
- your family is your responsibility, don't let them down
- your family needs you to work hard and then come home and relax, play some baseball and joke around
- the world will continue to spin just fine without you, so take breaks during the day and let it
- the world needs you to be a good man. it also needs you to enjoy life in order to be a good man
- plan for the future. check your plan once in while and adjust life/work if you need to. then go have some fun
- support your friends when they need it. pay attention to their lives and make sure they know you care

Give yourself a break.

To be happy, just relax a little more and enjoy being alive.