Hell of a Guy
You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life - Albert Camus

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Mantra…


A “mantra,” simply stated is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation”.  I adopted one in 2004.

It was in the fall of that year I attended a series of personal development workshops in Dallas, Texas.  The Nancy had done these in the summer of that year, and did them at the suggestion of my eldest daughter.  The overall affect these had on The Nancy caused me to want some of what she had.  It was there with in a very short time I found a rule for my life that is easy for me to follow and cherish.

During the first or second session of the five-day workshop a poster with this statement was hung on a wall.  It said: “I am fully responsible for what happens to me in my life.”  I could not stop looking at it.  I read it over and over.

Say what?

I, one super Hell of a Guy, am fully responsible for my circumstances?  All the stuff I assume to be, or has been, in my life is “my” fault?  I don’t get to blame someone else for the time I got fired for breaking the rules, for my not going to college or the time I was involved in an auto accident?  The answer to my questions is a very affirmative “yes” and knew I owed a bunch of people an apology. 

Actually, I have adopted and live by two mantras, if that is allowed.  The first is that I am fully responsible for what happens to me in my life.  I am the source of my happiness or my misery.  The second mantra is one my wife and I learned from our youngest granddaughter when she was just five years old.  To explain it best I copied a portion from remarks my wife as MC made on at the opening day program for her school district in 2009:

“You know how it is said that we learn everything we’ll ever need to know in kindergarten…well I’d like to share a little story with you this morning of a valuable lesson I learned from a kindergartner….

“My granddaughter, Vivienne, was to turn five in a few days so her parents hosted a little party with about a dozen other five year-olds at a pizza restaurant …well you can imagine what a wonderful time it was and so as she was settling into bed that night she said to her mom…”This has been the best day of my whole life!!!!”…

“The next day brought a trip to her grandmother’s farm where she got to go swimming and pet the goats and donkeys….and as you can guess, at bedtime she once again declared…”Mom, this has been the best day ever”…

“The next day dawned as a merely normal late summer day…no special plans… no thoughts of any visits or visitors.  But as fate would have it before the day was out another milestone would pass in the form of her losing her first tooth.  So with anticipation of a visit from the tooth fairy…Miss Vivienne surmised that in fact, TODAY had been the best day ever!!!

“So from the innocent mindset of a child it can be learned that no matter what…each of us has the power to create for ourselves “THE BEST DAY EVER” attitude…one that can’t help but influence all those around us, our co-workers, the students, our own friends and families … but instead of declaring it after the fact…you can begin EACH DAY with these words…”

As my wife indicated it could, “The Best Day Ever” sets the tone for my day.  Taking full responsibility for what happens to me in my life allows me the freedom to be me.  I don’t get to blame anyone but me for my problems or my issues.  Accepting it has made my life more fulfilling and me happier than I could have ever expected to be.

And at night before I fall asleep as I lay my bed with my head resting against my pillow I get to acknowledge “This has been The Best Day Ever.”

And that is all I have to say about that…

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Bucket List


As you may know, I began a Bucket List on November 19, 2012, which just so happened to be my first official day of retirement.  Up until today the only writing on the pad was printed in large letters at the top of the page, and it merely says “Bucket List.”  Today, after a huge amount of deliberation, I will add my first wish.

As a master at the art of procrastination I realize I have put this off way too long.  The time has come to step up and get this list started.  I could say I have been too busy with “make work” projects like taking naps in the middle of the afternoon or figuring the number of cubic yards of snow along the half-mile driveway between our home and the hard-surfaced road, but that is just a procrastinator’s excuse, and God knows I am good with excuses.  Last Friday as The Nancy and I were enjoying the film “Les Miserables,” my mind wondered away from the story and to my Bucket List just at the point in the film where Jean Valjean rescues Cosette from the Thenardiers.  It was here I decided what my first Bucket List entry would be.

The Nancy and I are blessed with six grandchildren between our two families – ages 18 to 6.  While I often make stupid comments about what a pain-in-the-ass grandchildren are, be it known from this day forward I would lay down my life for any of them – ours or someone else’s.  I get a kick out of children, and have often said I could be very happy to be in a pile of two-year olds.  I love kids.

In “Les Miserables” the character Cosette makes her debut at about age six.  The film then jumps to a time in her life when she is perhaps 18 or 19 and falling in love.  I got to thinking about our aging grandchildren and what lay ahead for them; where will they be in ten to twenty years.  As I am about to celebrate having been inhaling and exhaling on this planet for 69 years, I also had to wonder how much longer I might have this opportunity, and I had to wonder how much of what lay in front of them I might get to enjoy.  And at that point, as I mulled over all of this choking back some emotion, I decided what would be the first entry on my list.

1. I want to live long enough to hold of grandchildren’s babies.

So, with that done I can now move onto number two for the list, and at my current pace I should come up with something in the late spring of 2014.

And that is all I have to say about that…

Sunday, January 13, 2013



As I lay snuggled under the warm covers of my bed early this January morning in one of those “half-awake, half asleep” modes, I got to enjoy a Technicolor flashback to 1978.

The 70’s was a scary, almost weird decade for this boy.  Except for my Air Force enlistment days I had lived in Baltimore, Maryland all of my life where I was employed by a small oil company and took a transfer to Richmond, Virginia in 1971.  Crown Petroleum provided me with an adequate income, a jerk for a boss (more a nuisance than a jerk) and all in a not-so-glorious job as boredom and monotony were regular features of my daily routine. During my time there I got to work with a number of people in real estate, and all of them seemed to be happier in their profession than I was in mine, and all fomented the impression they were almost effortlessly making loads of mulla.  I made the move to real estate in 1973, and I will have to say next to my decision to enlist in the Air Force in 1963, it may have been the dumbest move I ever made, and I soon realized the majority of real estate agents I had emulated drove nice cars they could not afford and while talking a good game really did not make a lot of money or live a life any better than my own.  I sold real estate for seven years and regretted the move to that “storied” profession for at least six and a half of them.  My best days in the real estate business were my first day and my last day. 

In 1978, with my income in more than a serious decline, it became critically evident I had to do something ASAP to pay my bills.  A house in a nearby neighborhood came on the market.  Slightly larger than the one I owned at the time, with a payment twice what I was paying, but with an assumable VA loan for a mere $2000, so I talked my wife into the move and bought it.  The house I sold offered up enough money to pay off a lot of my bills, got me and my family in the new house and provided a little extra cash for living…it didn’t last long, nor did I in that crazy business.

The flashback I had this morning was me and my family getting ready to move into the new house.  In vivid color I went back to that time and to that house to do some cleaning and painting and prepare the house for our move-in.  It was mid-summer and it was sticky hot.  The house had one air conditioner and it hardly cooled the house to 80 degrees.  In my dream I got to enjoy (not) painting the walls in the living room of the house off-white and the trim in a soft Williamsburg antique gold and putting wall paper up in the dining room, all over again.  It seemed so real.  I even had the smell of fresh paint and wallpaper paste in my nostrils.

I have read about quantum physicists saying time is vertical and not horizontal.  In other words, the past, present and future are all happening now, and that often times when we have dreams such as this one, we are merely skipping from one dimension to another – time travel.  Whether this is what happened or not, I enjoyed the trip but not so much the memory.  It was a tough time in my life, but as I have often said, if I could go back and start all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat and live every moment just as it occurred without changing a darn thing – the good, the bad, the ugly.  Whether this was time travel or merely a really good mid-winter night’s dream, I had a great time.

It’s kind of funny how the past comes back to visit us every once in a while.  I am just really glad to be here and able to take the trip.

And that is all I to say about that…

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I Resolve…


In the past there have been numerous years where I made resolutions and years where I have resolved not to make any.  This year I am not wavering one iota on which direction to take.

Most of us make them year after year, I think with good intent, but the “I resolve to” doesn’t stick for long.  It probably takes more time to make the resolution then we actually resolve to do it.  Therefore, I ain’t about to make any promises to do anything.  This way, I am off the proverbial hook and won’t suffer the immense guilt of having lied to myself yet again.

So this year I will not resolve to lose weight, get in shape, read more or get off my ass to attack my Project List that has been is sitting undisturbed on the desktop of this contraption I am typing on for many months.  I won’t be a better husband; dad, brother or friend, and I won’t make any plans for the future or add any items to my Bucket List (which at present doesn’t have anything on it anyway). I won’t clean out the garage or the basement and make trips to the dump with any of the tons of useless crap The Nancy and I have accumulated and held on to for the past dozen years. The paint I purchased two years ago for the basement floor will remain sealed and I won’t tackle any of the rooms I have thought about repainting for at least that long. I will continue to procrastinate at every opportunity, and any thought I have given to be more detail oriented will be totally and absolutely ignored.

Well, I don’t know about you, but this definitely makes me feel better than I ever had about the prospects for success in this New Year.  With no goals and no expectations, I think 2013 may well end up being The Best Year Ever.

And that is all I have to say about that…