Tag Archives: health

Thanksgiving Theory

This one is a no brainer. On Thanksgiving we write about the things we are thankful for. And this year I have a long, long list. But I’m not gonna go into all of that for you, dear reader, because that’s not what you came here to read. Instead, I’ll just hit a few highlights, and a few concepts on things I’m thankful for.

This year, I’ve come to see things in a new light. I’m thankful for my mediocre health. It’s better than it could be. I’m thankful for being retired. Going out on disability wasn’t how I envisioned it, and I’d rather be working to tell you the truth, but my career has always taken it’s own twists and turns. It’s better than it could be.

I’m always thankful for my family. And how well they are doing. Not as well as some I know, but better than it could be all around. They are happy. And so am I.

I have a new house this year. New to me anyway. And I’m thankful that it is one story, and that I live in the country now. After a long stint in the suburbs, it’s better than it could be.

But mostly I’m thankful for a new way of looking at things. I’ve found a new way of thinking about the way the universe works. You can call it what you want, but it works for me. In this new vision, great spirits and ancestors inhabit the world around me, and if I ask for their wisdom, they will share it. The wisdom of centuries of being.

I don’t ask for money or power or objects. What I am searching for, and asking for help with, is finding my happiness. I’ve opened my ears and my soul to listening for the wisdom that is out there. Wisdom on how to find what makes me happy, to surround my self with people who make me happy, and to know when I’ve found the right path to that happiness. I’ve also asked that I have a kind thought for myself. Forget the negative thoughts of the past and concentrate on the possibilities of the future.

Life is too short to be miserable. I live with physical pain. And I’m still working to shake off many great mental burdens. But I’ve opened myself to hearing new wisdom, and I’m finding that with the right mindset, I hear the voices of the wise. Happy to share.

There is a lot to be thankful for. And with an open heart, I find more and more.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Which Boat For Me?

What a delightful dilemma! In planning for my financial future one of the exercises I undertook was an attempt to lay out major expenses I anticipate for the future. My kids have graduated for college so that’s out of the way. My house is nearly paid for. There will be a need for at least two new cars over the course of my remaining life. And I want to travel. A lot.

Then there is that one other thing that I have always longed for. A boat. The financial plan only looks at numbers. It doesn’t care what the numbers represent. The plan doesn’t say things like why the hell do you want to go to Pago Pago? Or, a boat is a lousy idea. But family and trusted advisors do say things like that. Then again, there are some who say follow your dreams, listen to your heart. Buy the boat. So I allocated a very small sum toward a boat. At some point in the future. Hopefully before I am too old and feeble to enjoy it.

With the modest budget I have set, and I mean not much more than a fancy bicycle, I have no choice but a used boat. Which is really what I want anyway. A fixer upper project. There are thousands of them out there. The choice I have to make is between three types of boat.

With my love for all things mid-century, I am fascinated by small speedboats from the late 1950’s to the late 1960’s. They are known as runabouts. What I love is the curved, single piece windshield. And the sleek lines. Something measuring fourteen to eighteen feet would be nice. The wooden Chris-Crafts are beautiful, but my budget is more along the lines of a fiberglass hull. Besides, I’d be afraid to scratch a Chris-Craft! Runabout boats have a certain look, and you know it as soon as you see it. They are getting harder to find, and even one requiring some work would be near the top of the budget. The positives are that they are beautiful. They zip about with style and grace. They attract attention. And they are fun. The drawback is that you have to step in and out and small engines require maintenance.

On the other hand, a pontoon boat has a lot of potential. Great for lakes. Perfect for parties. Easy to get in and out of. Get a bunch of friends together, load her up and have a blast. Engine still needs maintenance. But the aluminum body is easy to care for. And I can find a number of these within my budget.

And then there is the sailboat. The romance of the seas has always captured my heart. Call me Ishmael. And I’ve actually owned two small sailboats before. One was so small I couldn’t even fit into it. That was a fixer upper project and when I finished it I sold it. Without ever sailing it. The other was a sixteen foot Snipe. My wife hated it because in a calm wind it didn’t move very fast. Becalmed on the water in July in Georgia makes for a pretty hot day. I sold that one too.

I’m not a good sailor. Need more practice. But I love the idea. And I loved the reno project and would gladly take on another. Small fixer upper sailboats are easy to find. And within my budget.

So, that delightful dilemma remains unsolved. The romance of sailing the seas. The exhilaration of the zippy runabout. Or the party on the pontoon. In a perfect world I would buy all three. I have no idea how I will decide. But when I get the boat, I’ll let you know.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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A Moving Idea

Sometimes an idea will simmer in your mind for a long time before you get the details worked out. Or even begin to take it seriously. Then some sort of trigger gets pulled and you feel compelled to act. Even obsessed with bringing this idea to fruition.

When I was a child my father’s employer transferred his job to another city. Another state. He loved his job, so he was going. And so were we. He was moving from the sprawl of Northern New Jersey to a manufacturing town in Pennsylvania. Not far from the Amish Country. He wanted to live in a rural area.

He and my mother looked at houses to make their new home. One of them was a farmhouse on a large hunk of acreage. In the middle of nowhere as farmhouses with vast expanses of land tend to be. He liked it. My mom, not so much. She was afraid that she would be isolated from the rest of humanity. And that her two young children would be stranded far from friends. Eventually they built a house in an upcoming new subdivision. Close to town, and shopping. The best schools in the state. A one-quarter acre lot.

This particular area was still considered to be in the country, and there were vast cornfields behind the house. And across the street, in the still undeveloped portion of the neighborhood, there were open fields. Up the road was the farmhouse and red barn to which all of this land had once belonged. So my father got a little of what he wanted, and my mother got everything she wanted.

That’s where I grew up. From age five until I graduated from high school. The day after I graduated, my parents moved out. They had bought my father’s dream home. An old stone farmhouse on ten acres of land. With a barn. They lived there for the next thirty-eight years and although I had grown up in suburbia, I have ever since considered this second home, Shadowlawn Farm, to be my real home. Like my father, I too loved the country life.

Fast forward to twenty years ago. My life takes many turns similar to my fathers. My wife and I had started a family and were living in an urban subdivision. The schools were failing and we wanted more for our children. We started to look in the neighboring county. Which happened to have the best schools in the state.

We looked at existing subdivision homes. We looked in the country. Every Sunday we would drive out to the country and ride around looking. One neighborhood had particular appeal to my wife. Best one in the county. We had always heard that you should buy the worst house in the best neighborhood you could afford. That was her plan. I was still holding out for the farm.

Finally it was my father-in-law who caused me to take action. He shamed me into it. What he said to me one day was that my kids needed to move. They needed to be near other kids. And I should get off my wallet and do right by my family. Of course I was going to take care of my family, but I didn’t have to do it at the expense of my life. But I did.

Time was passing and a new school year was approaching. If we bought a new house, or piece of property in the next county we could enroll the girls in the best schools available. There was a vacant lot for sale in that best neighborhood. So I bought it. And my wife and I got together with a builder and proceeded to construct a new house. It was exciting, but a story for another time and blog post.

Fast forward once again. This time to 2016. For the past twenty years I have been poring over real estate books looking at houses. Moving has never been a consideration. The kids were still in school. Then college. My wife was content. I was antsy. Then my back failed. Two surgeries later and I was having real difficulty with the stairs in our three story house. And walking. Moving suddenly became a consideration. But where?

To be continued…

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?




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My cousin died this morning. He’d been very sick. Esophageal cancer. At the end he was in hospice care. Death never calls without leaving grief in its wake, but this was not unexpected. The man was a few years older than me. Maybe seven or eight. I never did know how old he was. He had a big laugh that I always enjoyed. A voice tempered by many years of cigarette smoking. I hadn’t seen him in thirty years. It was thanksgiving of 1984. I was a student at the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Over the holiday I made the short drive to New Bedford, Massachusetts to visit him and his wife. He’d always smoked. And enjoyed a beer on occasion. And loved a good hamburger with fries. A McDonald’s man. Even after his first heart attack. The ironic thing is that his mother has always smoked too. Yes, she’s still alive. She is ninety-seven years old. She’s the oldest of my grandfather’s four children. They are all still alive. And all over eighty years of age. Good genes. My uncle, my cousin’s father, didn’t have such good genes. He died in his late fifties I believe. He was always sick with something. No one ever told me what. I never knew him to go to work a single day but I know he worked at some point. After the war. He stayed home. Smoked and drank. And went to an early grave. Could be genes. Could be lifestyle. Could be circumstances beyond his control. He was always nice to me as I recall. So here is my cousin, his mother with strong genes, and his father with less hardy genes. I guess he got his father’s genes. They looked similar. But maybe if he’d taken better care of himself his mother’s genes might have dominated more, Both of my parents have good genes. Both still alive and kickin well into their eighties. I have my fingers crossed. You never know what rogue gene might pop up. Or how lifestyle choices might outweigh genetics. But I’m trying harder to take care of myself. May my cousin rest in peace. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? Www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Sick Sucks

Sick sucks.  Yes, I’ll say it again.  Being sick really sucks.  I have some long-term health issues that I have learned to pretty much deal with, but for the last two weeks I’ve had some new ailment that is kicking my tail. 

After two weeks of two different anti-biotics, steroids, cough syrup, two types of inhaler and various forms of decongestants, I am still battling a cough and some respiratory issues.  I even spent seven days at home, lying on the couch.  Doing my best to sleep and rest.  Turns out I was pretty good at that, but it didn’t help a whole lot.  But when I went back to work, my boss at least thought my color was better.  The blue tint was gone, and so was the uber paleness.  They fluctuated.  I felt awful, and do feel a little better, but …  Well, I’m glad to be getting better, even if it is a slow process.

When I was young I had pneumonia twice, and every winter I would get bronchitis.  I’m sure that’s what this is.  The doctor kept listening to my lungs and said they were clear.  He did say something about staving off another bout with pneumonia.  I had a flu shot in October, and he ruled that out by sticking something up my nose.  That was a bit uncomfortable.

The worst part, other than feeling lousy, was not being able to do anything.  You’d think a couple of days off from work might be nice, but man, all I could do was lay on the couch.  Couldn’t go out to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.  Missed the Christmas parade.  And the choir cantata.  Great way to spend the holiday season.

It occurs tome, on a reasonably frequent basis, that if this were the olden days I wouldn’t have made it very long.  You pick the time period; I just wouldn’t have made it.  Need glasses to see the wooly mammoth and sabre toothed tiger attacking you.  Broken down body would have kept me from being a Roman soldier, or a feudal serf.  The respiratory issues would have put me down as late as the mid twentieth century.  I’m glad I live in an age of modern medicine.

I don’t like being sick.  You might have guessed.  And I try really hard to fight whatever I might be suffering from.  Part of it’s because I just don’t want to give in to the darn thing.  And part of it’s because I know that there are other people who are a lot worse off than me.  And I see myself as fortunate. 

To those of you who are suffering from serious illness I offer my prayers for your healing.  And a suggestion that works for me:  Keep fighting!  Sick sucks.  That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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