Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy reNew Year


A friend and regular participant in my community affairs radio programs has a New Year’s strategy that resonates with me. Each December she chooses a single word that represents her main goal for the coming year. I have tried this for the past few years with a fairly good degree of success. My life was a little unfocused for the past two years but the keyword concept did help me.

So as I write this on New Year’s Eve 2012 my keyword for 2013 is very clear to me … ‘renew’.

As the year ended, I finally succeeded in starting the next chapter in my life. The self-discovery journey I’ve written about for three or four years reached a major destination. Less than five hours from the moment I hit ‘publish’ on this post the first minutes of the next leg of my journey begin.

I am alone tonight by choice, but I am not really lonely. I am in touch with my real friends and my Facebook friends (some of whom are real friends too). I know I’ll be trading texts with at least two close friends. I’ll watch Ryan Seacrest as he hosts the first New York ball drop without Dick Clark. I’ll channel surf through a few other celebrations. I’ll toast myself with what is left of the tasty red win I am drinking as I write this.

And I have made a mental list of what I want in 2013.

The coming year will be a time for me to ‘renew’ my life, personality, identity and career. I will make a few general goals and a few very specific plans for moving forward. I can share a few of them:

- More in-person time with selected friends locally and across the country

- More volunteer work with local non-profit organizations; specifically I will be the volunteer photographer for some of them and I plan to participate in some of their fund-raising walks.

- Increased networking within my career field.

- Learn to be more spontaneous.

- Do more things I want to do just because I want to do them. I don’t need a reason for the goatee, for example; I just wanted to grow it. I’ll start my Italian lessons again, start college classes again, learn ballroom, swing and salsa dancing, try new recipes.

- Find a spiritual home.

- Reconnect on a deeper level with people I haven’t been in touch with much.

- Grow my closest friendships to a deeper level.

- I might even take a shot at dating again.

The point is this … 2013 is the year I renew my life and my spirit. “Renew” will be the keyword that reminds me of my goal.

So what’s on your mind for the coming year?

Happy New Year!! May all your dreams come true.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Turn the Page


Well, I did it. I have turned the page to the next chapter in my life. After several years of inching toward this goal, I have now reached it … I am now on my own.

So how does it feel? Bittersweet. If you expect me to be dancing in the streets in celebration then you don’t know me very well. This is the next step toward the end of my third marriage. When looking at it through that filter, there is nothing to be happy about. Marriage is supposed to be a ‘forever’ thing, as unrealistic as that may be. I can name five people I know who lived that ideal … my parents and four of my best high school friends. My parents celebrated a 50th anniversary and three of those four high school friends have past their 30th. Two of those three are happily married and the third tolerates problems because of the security even a troubled marriage can provide.

My first two marriages lasted less than two years each. The first ended entirely because of my immaturity. The second ended mostly because of hers. This one lasted sixteen years but was in trouble for at least the past ten. I won’t go into details here, but let’s just say I saw the issues a long time ago and chose to ignore them. People sometimes think they can change people to conform to their expectation, but my belief is that they cannot.

Although I blame her for most of our issues, I admit that I allowed myself to lose much of my identity in this relationship. I was so ready to compromise and to avoid conflict that I didn’t stand up for my own wishes nearly enough.

A few years ago I blogged about my ’20 things’ theory of relationships. Each person has several characteristics, beliefs and personality traits that make them who they are; let’s say there are twenty of those. People initially connect on two or three. Because each wants the other to like them, they reveal a few more things that are similar to the first two or three. They start a relationship, fall in love, learn a few more things about each other that they might not like but they assume there are more positive compatibility factors that will offset the negatives. Then they wake up one day many years later and realize that the only ‘things’ they truly connect on are the original two or three. That is what happened to me. And there were huge disconnects, some that hit the very core of who I am … or who I was before I lost so much of my identity.

My choice was to continue down that path or to regain my identity. I tried a few times to be the real ‘me’ but realized that would never happen as long as I stayed in that relationship. That realization is frustrating and depressing. I tried many times several years ago to convince her that we needed counseling, but she refused. Only when it became obvious three years ago that I was serious about our broken marriage did she accept that we needed professional help. For me it was too late. Emotionally I was already done with this.

For a variety of financial and legal reasons, it took from then till now to finally make the break. I am happy to be on my own but also sad that things could not work out. I gave up a lot to get to this point. I second-guessed my actions many times, as recently as a few weeks ago. I cried my ass off the day I finally moved. I got what I wanted but this is not at all how I wanted my life to turn out.

I am a confident man in most aspects of my life and I know that I am moving forward to a better life. I also know that this next chapter is not the destination but is merely another few miles of the journey.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Closer Still

The biggest obstacle has been overcome.  Now it's time for the move.  I hate moving, I hate packing, I never expected to be doing this again, yet I am.  The good news is that this really is the final page of the current chapter and I am almost surprised I reached it.

More soon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Closer


As I inch closer to a new chapter in my life, I wake up this morning with a churning stomach, partly due to the lingering effects of a bad cold and partly because of an incredible amount of stress. Movers arrive in two days, signaling what should be a day of celebration for me, but I continue to face roadblocks in my attempts to move on with my life. At this moment I trust almost no one, and seriously doubt my own ability to judge character. Yesterday afternoon I thought I had overcome the major obstacles to moving forward but last night saw there are more.

In my twenties my personality was largely negative. Decades ago I turned that around and became the model of optimism. Right now it is all I can do to believe that my normally positive outlook still exists and that it will carry me through the end of the week. A voice very deep in the recesses of my mind is trying to tell me I can survive this with my personality intact, but a louder voice is shouting messages to the contrary. Seeing the possibility that this Friday will be a better day than today is a true sign of my faith in myself, but that faith is faltering.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twenty six and Two


At 9:30 on a sunny Friday morning in small-town Connecticut, a teacher heard a sequence of unfamiliar sounds … pop, pop, pop. Fireworks? Gunshots? Both were unlikely noises coming from a classroom down the hall. But it was indeed gunfire. That teacher and her students survived, but minutes later twenty six people lay dead; twenty of them were children. The school principal and the school psychologist were among the dead adults.

How does something like this happen? Mass shootings are hard enough to understand, but it is even worse when children are targeted. Schools in Columbine and at Virginia Tech, a movie theatre, a hospital, a shopping mall … none of it makes sense. Yet we try to process and explain. If the school psychologist wasn’t a victim in yesterday’s massacre, he or she would be analyzing the shooter.

What leads a 20-year-old male (I refuse to call him a man) to kill his mother, then go to a classroom and kill twenty elementary school children? And don’t give me that “God’s will” crap – even on a bad day, God is not a psychopathic killer. Can we learn something from this? Usually I would say yes, but the only lesson I see here is the need for increased disaster planning in schools.

I grew up thinking school was a safe place. I can’t imagine how I would feel now as a student … or a parent. And one of my initial thoughts related to the teachers. My sister and one of my best friends and my neighbor across the street and many other people I know are teachers. I am almost afraid to ask for their reaction to the latest school shootings. Are they ever afraid to enter their classrooms after an incident like this?

The pro gun and anti gun people are already shouting out, rekindling two sides of the gun control debate. My usual conundrum … I can see both sides. The ‘guns don’t kill, people do’ argument is flawed. While it is true that a determined psycho will find a way to kill even if guns aren’t available, our culture accepts guns, so acquiring them is easy. Guns DO kill people. On the other side of the debate … the guns used yesterday were legally obtained and registered. In fact, they were owned by the shooter’s mother. Gun control laws would not have stopped this one. Would less acceptance of guns in our culture have helped? Who knows?

At 9:45 on a sunny Friday morning in small-town Connecticut parents learn there has been a mass shooting incident at their kid’s school. They drop everything and rush there to find their children. Anxious eyes scan the crowd looking for familiar little faces. “Mommy!” Whew! But for some it’s more like “we need you to come with us to identify ….”



Sunday, December 9, 2012

What a Week


Every time I think I’ve had the craziest week of my life, another one pops up. The coming week will likely land in my top 10 list. This week at the office I have to work ahead for the following two weeks that I am on vacation. My home week includes finally resolving the next big step in an ongoing personal matter, packing boxes and signing papers.

AND I’m fighting the onset of a nasty cold. This should be interesting.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Understanding Women Randomness


I used to think I understood women. I didn’t. And I don’t. Generalizing about an entire category of people is usually not my style but in this case I can lump together several seemingly common female personality characteristics that amuse and confuse me. Here are a few random observations, in no particular order.

Many women want men to be mind-readers. They claim they are individuals and say they want things to be a certain way, but then when men go along with that it turns out the women didn’t really mean that at all and what something completely different. And we men are assumed to be able to figure that out and act accordingly. A scene from the movie Tootsie comes to mind. Dustin Hoffman plays an actor who stumbles into a role as a woman, which he is then compelled to continue off screen as part of an unintended deception. An actress he likes confides in ‘her’ that she wants a decisive, aggressive manly man to come on to her in a specific way. In a later scene he is at a party as himself, approaches her; she doesn’t recognize him as anything other than a complete stranger, he comes on to her using the exact words she told Tootsie and she slaps him. I don’t understand.

Gender roles can be confusing. In my parents’ day men were men, with that ‘cave man’ attitude about providing and protecting. During the 1980s the ‘sensitive’ man image became popular and because the real me leans in that direction anyway, I was popular with women. I don’t know how else to say this: being sensitive got me laid a lot. I guess that means I was sensitive yet a ‘typical’ horny man too. But many of those women eventually left me for the exact man they claimed to not want … fake macho, insensitive bad boy. I was their sensitive break from their normal jerks. Kind of goes back to the mind-reading, doesn’t it? And I am a proven stable, provider/protector man but that doesn’t seem to be enough.

There is also a school of thought that says some younger women are attracted to older men. As I get older and realize I am attracted to younger women, I acknowledge two things. First, I am normal. Second, I don’t really believe women want older men, at least not more than a few years older. I would like to think that when I am single again I could eventually attract a younger woman, but if you read this blog a lot you know I am not really dealing well with aging. I am confident about growing older but simultaneously beginning to feel some of the inevitable loss of youth.

And that all brings me to the reason this is on my mind tonight: I am growing a goatee. I had a full beard in the early 1980s so displaying my facial hair is nothing new to me; however nobody I currently hang out with has ever seen this. My reason for the goatee … I feel like it. And I wanted to see how gray it is. It is at least 50% gray. That is no surprise but the shocker is that I have received rave reviews for it from at least eight women in the past week. Eight younger women like my goatee! And when I kid about it coming out half gray, they say that is what they like about it. I do not get it! These women range in age from 34 to 48. They are all attractive co-workers. They are also all married so that doesn’t lead to the first thought my non-sensitive side conjures up with all this positive attention. It does, however, provide additional evidence to support my claim that I do not understand women.

My closest friends are women, so I should understand this. But I don’t. I guess one good thing about aging is that I don’t care all that much. I am who I am and the older I get the more confident I become about being myself. People can like me or not; I do not control their feelings. But I do wish I understood women better.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Control

I admire and respect people who seem to have complete control of their lives, the ones who seem to always do things their way, play by their own rules, chart their own path. 'Seem' is the key word in that observation. Those people probably do exert a greater amount of control than most of us, though, and we can learn from them and adopt some of their methods.

My job is primarily one of reaction. Although I report to one person, in reality I have to please four or five different people with every piece of audio I write and produce. Some of those people are executives in my company, some are clients and ultimately every element I create should engage listeners of the radio stations where these things play.

So I am pulled in many competing directions several times a day and I subject myself to this torture willingly because it is usually fun and they pay me well.

Basically what all that means is that I only have partial control of what I do every day. That is normal for most people but it is a challenge for a control-freak like me.

On the personal side, I have alluded to a personal issue that keeps dragging on. Lawyers with varying and sometimes incompatible communication styles are involved and nothing is happening on my timetable. The resolution to the next hurdle should be simple but it isn't and my entire life is being guided by things I can't control. This makes me CRAZY!!!

There are some things I can control, like what I eat, which music I listen to in my car, what I photograph … what I post on this blog. I live for those little things I can control because there is so much in my life that is out of control right now.

I seem to be someone who has charted my own path in life, and in many ways that is an accurate assessment. At this exact moment in time, however, the ink on the chart is running. My control will return but I am getting tired of waiting.