Tag Archives: Lifelessons

Regardless of what happens before or after this moment…

…”Right now” is the one that matters and has the potential to be the point of creation of good memory that will last a lifetime.

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Feeding America: I didn’t do it. You did. And I’m grateful.

Nos venit. Nos donata. Nos esurientes alebat.

The fundraising goal of $1,000 has officially been reached. This is a fact that fills me with an immeasurable sense of pride. As a matter of fact, we surpassed the goal by $33.00. Although I have expressed my gratitude repeatedly both here and on social media platforms, I would be remiss to not say, “Thank you,” one more time.

I am proud to know that there are people out there who recognize the need to help their fellow man (and woman and child). Moreover, I am humbled that of the 41 people who donated, 24 people donated despite never having actually met me in person. Granted, the donations go directly to the charity, via a secure website, but still, joining in the quest of a person whom you’ve never met by donating your hard-earned dollars and spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook say a lot about the character and benevolence of those 24 people.

Of course, my thanks go out to the entire group of 41. The best part is that the donations can keep coming in through race day, August 26, 2012. That means the potential to help more people exists. Whether one donated before or after the goal was achieved is unimportant. Every dollar counts toward helping the lives of Americans around the country. I am also grateful to the people who, despite being in a position in which they could not donate, helped out greatly by simply spreading the word via social media. Their efforts were integral to “our” (no, not “my”) success.

The Latin phrase above translates to: “We came. We donated. We fed the hungry.” Indeed, we did. That means I can now settle in and begin to focus on mentally preparing myself for the longest run of my life to date. I’ll do so with the peace of mind that people helped other people by believing in and sponsoring me. On August 26th, I will, of course, be running the race for my personal satisfaction and pride, but I’ll also be running for every person that chose to give of themselves and, ultimately, helped feed America.

You did it. Thank you again!

Clint Eastwood and Chrysler are right

The best Super Bowl commercial wasn’t about chips, dogs, tablets or shoes. It was about great people and a great country who have faced various forms of adversity over two centuries and, invariably, overcome it to become even greater people and an even greater country. It’s not a commercial. It’s a wake-up call to stop complaining about the direction in which we’re going and start doing your part to steer it in the right direction.

Whether your country is the United States or one of the many others around the world is unimportant. Embrace it. Sustain the good. Change the bad. Do your part each and every day. Ultimately, making your piece of the world a better place plays an important part in collectively making the world a better place.

Running away from the old-man-me

Recently, I went on a diet. Over the years, gravity and donuts had taken their toll. It wasn’t too painful, except for the fact that it prohibited the consumption of Krispy Kreme donuts, regular Coca-Cola, cake, cupcakes, and pretty much all other things tasty. I won’t lie. I’m a Food Pr0n guy. I love good food. I stuck to it, though. Luckily, I lost a few pounds. Then, I decided it would probably help if I started running…again.

I say ‘again’ because I used to run. I ran a lot and far. Most of my running was between 1989 and 1994. I wasn’t the fastest runner, but I wasn’t the slowest either. This and the fact that I enjoyed it motivated me to keep running. There was a bit of running from 1995 to 2000, but it was much less frequent and much shorter distances.

Then in 2001, I stopped. I didn’t run…at all…for a decade. This was a mistake. Why do I say this? It’s because by stopping running, I rapidly accelerated the rate at which the old man inside of me (aka old-man-me) was able to catch up to me.

 

 

A few weeks ago, old-man-me made his presence known again, when the Wii Fit told me that I was 50 years old. That’s right. My Mii character looked at me from the television and straight into my eye. Then, he expanded sideways. Yes, my Mii got fat before my eyes. All that was missing was an evil cackle. Though horribly offended, I knew my Mii was right. The old man me was standing right over my shoulder and breathing (albeit in a labored manner) into my ear.

Instead of wallowing in my old-man-me misery and turning off the Wii, though, I took it as a challenge. I needed to put old-man-me back in his place. As additional motivation, I registered for a 10K scheduled for February 2012.  I decided that, come hell or high water, I would be ready to run it.

Then, about a week into my renewed running effort, I had a moment of clarity. In mid-stride, I remembered from where the old-man-me concept had come. I had seen the idea in a Nike ad many (many, many) years before.

Being an internet archeologist, I decided to find that ad. I wanted a digital copy of it. I was certain some kind soul had to have scanned and uploaded it to the interwebz. I searched, and I searched. Then, I searched some more. I found references to the text of the ad. I also found a couple of poorly photographed versions of it. Finally, though, I found the virtual X that marked the spot. Where did I find it? Ebay.

Yes, some dedicated Ebayer had a perfectly preserved, original specimen. Why did they have it? Where did they get it? I didn’t know, and, frankly, I didn’t care. I placed my bid, and a few days later, I was elated to learn that it was mine. (This is probably because there aren’t too many mid-30’s runners who had moments of clarity during the month of November.)

So, I forked over the $15 dollars it cost. The day it arrived, I remembered exactly what I thought, when I saw it in 1990. Teenage-me (who was lucky enough to never meet met old-man-me) thought it was funny. That ad is for old people. That will never be me.

Nearly two decades later, I found myself looking at it and realizing, it was me. Over the distant echoes of teenage-me laughing at mid-30s-me, I also realized that it didn’t have to be this way. Now, I’m running not just towards the goal of finishing my first 10K in nearly 17 years. I’m running away from old-man-me…one mile at a time. Don’t get me wrong. He seems like a nice guy, but it’s not time for us to become BFFs, yet.

Of course, since this gem of an artifact didn’t exist on the interwebz, I took it upon myself to scan and post it here. If it helped me fend off my old-man-me, it might help someone else fend off their old-man/lady-me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go run. Old-man-me is somewhere behind me waddling toward me, with a donut in his hand.

 

A friendly reminder from Torchwood about life…

They say television will rot your brain. That may be true for the most part, but once in a great while, it actually reminds us of something important about life. Torchwood did that for me today.

I’ve been trying to catch up on the first few seasons that I missed and made it up through Season 1, Episode 9 (Random Shoes). The episode was interesting, as usual, with the twists and turns one expects from a typical Torchwood episode.

It wasn’t until the very end, though, that I realized what the whole episode was about. Actually, I should say that it wasn’t until the very end that the episode’s character, Eugene, grasped me firmly by both sides of the head, looked into my eyes and literally spoke these words to me:

The average life is full of near misses and absolute hits. Of great love and small disasters. It’s made up of banana milkshakes, loft insulation and random shoes. It’s dead ordinary and truly, truly amazing. What you’ve got to realize is, it’s all here, now. So breathe deep and swallow it whole. Because take it from me: life just whizzes by, and then, all of a sudden, it’s—

I know there was a writer behind the script that formed the foundation for that episode. I am grateful to him or her. I have no idea if they were hoping to be the catalyst for a Zen moment, but they were.

I’m still replaying the message in my head, and I have no doubt it will still be lingering there when I return home this evening. Thanks to Torchwood’s friendly reminder, I’ll hug my wife and kids a little tighter than usual and remind them how much I love them because life does just whiz by and then…


 

(Apparently, I wasn’t the only person impressed by the scene. Someone was kind enough to upload the clip to YouTube, so we can appreciate the full auditory and visual richness of the moment.)

Don’t sweat the small stuff…

I saw a movie tonight where a character said, “Stop waiting for something to happen.” It was a really simple line meant only to serve as a bridge between scenes. The movie moved on, but my mind didn’t.

To me, it really made sense. We spend a lot of time waiting for the next holiday, milestone, event…or in some cases, for life to get better than it currently is. As a result, we often overlook the fact that, while we wait, life continues to happen all around us. We are so focused on what’s next or what’s wrong with eight now that we fail to appreciate what’s happening in the moment or the fact that we even got that moment at all.

So, what is the lesson herein from which we can all benefit? Stop sweating the small stuff and just live. That’s all there is to it. Go on. Go now. Live.

(See? I can write short, sweet and to the point…occasionally.)

Kiss and Gene Simmons: The Hottest Show on Earth…led by a great husband and dad

I’m proud to say I’m old enough to remember Kiss from as far back as the early 1980’s, when they first hit the music scene. Granted, I was very young and had yet to learn how to write in cursive letters. For that matter, when they first went on tour in 1974, I was -2 years old. No, I wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind at that point.

My first recallable memory of them is from back when I was about five years old. Their music obviously fit the times, but, like many, I was captivated by their makeup and antics. As I grew older and developed actual musical likes and dislikes, they continued to grow on me. Yes, I was born a rocker, grew up a rocker, and, to this day, am still a rocker.

I can’t say that I’ve ever dressed up (or even had the urge to dress up) like Gene Simmons. I didn’t have dreams of being a rock star. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even own a Kiss t-shirt. No, I just like Kiss. I like their style. I like their music. As a man in his mid-thirties, I now like them for their sheer tenacity to remain relevant. Unlike so many other bands, Kiss has forged on. They never gave up their dreams. They may have had some hiccups along the way, but, like any family (be it a DNA-based or musical one), they kept on going.

[Kiss “Rock ‘N’ Roll All Nite”, San Juan, PR, March 12, 2011]

In the past several years, we’ve been fortunate enough to see another side of Gene Simmons, via A&E’s “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels”. Like Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons let the cameras into his home to see how he lives on a day-to-day basis, how he interacts with his family, and how really is a pretty wacky guy. Yet, we also learned of a Gene Simmons who is a business genius. He took a dreamt up identity and cultivated into a multi-million dollar business. Through it all, he still seems to be a fairly normal guy, complete with weird quirks and a penchant for getting into some odd situations. Some of my favorite clips in the television series are the old home videos showing him with his common-law wife, Shannon Tweed, and their, then, two young children. It gave me the chance to see him in another, much more gentle light.

Instead of fans seeing “Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels” and feeling betrayed at the fact that he’s not in make-up and rocking 24/7, the opposite has happened. This is true for me, at least. When I first saw Kiss in concert back in 1999, I was impressed, of course, by a concert that doubled as a full-fledged show, complete with pyrotechnics, seizure-inducing lights, and a lot of fire. This time around, though, as I watched Simmons perform, I couldn’t help but think (just as I did when seeing Ozzy Osbourne in concert a few weeks ago) about the man behind the makeup.

This time, I felt more than musical respect for Kiss, and specifically Gene Simmons. I felt a kinship. No, I’m not rich or famous. I am a dad, though. I couldn’t help but wonder if, when the show was over, would he hurriedly take off the makeup and rush back to his hotel, to join Tweed or the kids for a late-night meal. Would they wake up him up at sunrise to make him go tour El Yunque (aka Caribbean National Rainforest)? Would they all go to the beach and, undoubtedly, tease him mercilessly for wearing SPF-110 sunblock and a huge hat? Of course, they may not have been with him at all, which means he quite likely would go back to his hotel room, call to say goodnight, and wish he was at home with them.

Yes, I may have ruined the image of the Hottest Show on Earth for some. For others, though, they’ll get the same feeling that I have. Kiss is more than just a great rock band that has endured for more than three decades. They’re people who managed to achieve oft-ruinous fame and fortune, yet forge a legacy that is much more important…that of a loving family man.

So today, I say, “Thank you, Gene. Thank you, Kiss.” You’ve given us a great music. You’ve given us a great show. You’ve created head thrashing memories that we’ll hold onto forever. Most importantly, though, you showed us that, above all, being a good husband and dad is what makes the whole show worth doing.

(Note: The above video is obviously not posted with the intention of stealing revenue from Kiss, especially since the video and audio quality are definitely not good enough for that. Moreover, it’s posted in tribute to a great man, great husband, and great father. That said, please don’t sue me, Gene.)

Just spell a damn word, already…please

Proof of concept…Words with Friends:

In this game, I don’t have the best opportunities. I want to use the “Z” in combination with a double or triple letter or word space. I want at least 15 points as a result of this move. So, if I can’t use the “Z,” do I pass? Do I trade in letters? Do I call President Obama for help? Do I blame everyone but myself for not figuring it out?

No…

I look at the letters.

I look at the tiles on the board…

I identify the best possible combinations…

…and I spell a damn word, already…

(You’re welcome and your turn, @michaelwpg.)