Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mostly Sunny with Scattered Clouds

I am a lucky man.  I have great friends, two in particular, both good-looking women; both visited me this summer.  Visiting, of course, implies that they don’t live where I live, which is the case.  One visit happened last month, the other ended this morning.

So right now I am happy and a little blue at the same time.  I’ve got a nice emotional buzz going as I replay details of the most recent visit.  We shared many things that mean something to me … music, people, unique adventures, conversation, laughter, wine.

Visits always end, however.  It’s a ‘seeya later’ end, not a ‘goodbye’ end, but it is still the end of a few days of good times and that always leave me a little sad.  That is probably a normal reaction.  I know it will happen in advance but it still surprises me a little when I feel it. 

These two women are two of my closest friends.  I’ve known one for most of my life and the other for four years.  Neither is a girlfriend and it is unlikely that either ever will be in the future, but I have strong feelings for both.  Each has played a large role in my self-discovery journey and this summer I was able to share the results of that journey with both.

Although there was a bit of cloudy sadness as I dropped each off at the airport, memories of our little adventures keep my emotions sunny.  And I already have tentative plans to see each of them again before the end of the year.  That’s a pretty good forecast.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Statement

I like this.  Wish I had written it myself ...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Wise Words

I am not religious but I am spiritual.  One source of wisdom and truth that I usually find inspiring comes from Native American cultures.  This might or might not be an actual quote from a native tribe, but I believe it to be wise anyway.

Monday, July 22, 2013

In Between This and That

I’m busy and lazy at the same time tonight.  Had a pretty good workout at the gym followed by a healthy meal and now I’m settling in for the night.  I want to write but my brain got a serious workout today too (ten hours at work, most of it filled with brain-challenging stuff) so I don’t have much thinking power left.

So here is just a little of this and a little of that.

The second of my two awesome friend visitations is happening this week.  A cool friend from North Carolina will spend a few days hanging out in my new life.  She is a major Dave Matthews fan, so that concert this weekend is on the agenda.  She will also sample my new guest room futon and let me know if it was worth getting.

I began my plan to become a regular at a neighborhood wine and beer bar.  I’ve been there just enough times now that some of the staff knows I’ve been there before and soon they might remember my name.  I remember all of their names, partly because I’m keeping a list on my iPhone.  Stop laughing.

I just discovered there is a word for taking pictures of yourself with a smart phone.  Selfie.  So here’s a selfie from my neighborhood walk Saturday.  I wonder how long it will take for that word to be added to the dictionary.

My favorite curse word this week is micro-managing.  I realize that’s not usually a curse word but in the context of my day today it has become one.

So I’ve been hanging out with a somewhat new female friend.  By ‘been hanging out with’ I mean we have socialized twice.  Is that dating?  No.  It does have some of the same characteristics, such as going out for dinner, drinks, music, a movie and having long ‘get to know you’ conversations, which in this case are ‘get to know you better’ chats because she used to work where I work and we’ve known each other for several years.  I just didn’t know till we happened to be at the same event at the same time a few weeks ago that she is single.  But it does not have some typical dating characteristics like hand-holding, good night kissing, etc.  Her kids will be back from a summer with Dad soon, which means she’ll be pretty busy.  Not sure if I’ll be hanging out with them or not.  We’ll see.  Don’t read anything into this; just two friends hanging out.

I have more cleaning to do in the apartment before Friday but I just don’t feel like doing anything tonight.

My gym workout was good but sometimes there are ‘jocks’ dominating the weight machines, even though this particular place discourages that.  But the machines area can’t be seen from the front desk and the front desk staff spends most of their time either hanging out with each other or trying to sell new memberships.

I want a new car.  The one I have has a lot of miles and it’s now eight years old.  And absolutely nothing is wrong with it.  And I’ve had no car payments for a year.  I’d be crazy to buy another ride right now.  But I want an SUV again.  Must wait another year.  Must wait another year.  Must wait another year.

OK, that’s enough for this random rambling post.  Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Because I Can

Do you have a bucket list?  That’s a list of things you want to do or accomplish before you ‘kick the bucket’ (die).  Many baby boomers have such a list.  Younger and older people too, probably.

Items on a bucket list often include outlandish, exciting, thrilling and dangerous activities like skydiving or wrestling an alligator.  Less adventurous people might list travel destinations or people they want to meet.

I’ve been thinking about my bucket list a lot lately.  My new-found life alone has opened up opportunities that used to have limitations.  I believe I will live a long time, and therefore I have plenty of time to check off items on my list.  But life can end or become debilitating in the blink of an eye, so why should I wait for some uncertain tomorrow to do things I want to do?

The items on my list might seem odd but some are on there just because I want to challenge myself.  There are things I want to do and places I want to see.  Although I might explain my strategy here, I do not have to explain this to anybody.  These are things I want to simply because I can – or I believe I can.

A small sampling:

- Interview a U.S. President.  I’ve interviewed mayors, Senators and Representatives, so why not a President?

- Learn to speak Italian.

- Visit Tuscany and have a conversation with a local, in Italian.

- Build up my chest and arm muscles to the point where I get noticed.  I’ll never be a body-builder but I like the attention sometimes.  And I’d like to think age shouldn’t limit me.  My occasional lack of motivation might limit me but age will not.

- I’d like to have … wait, I can’t say that one here.  Sorry.  Moving on …

- Ride a shift in a hurricane hunter airplane.  OK, this might be the only thing on my list that is dangerous enough that I’d have to sign a release.  And I might actually be scared.  But I want to do it.

- Write a book, publish it and sell enough copies to cover my costs.  As I’m writing this, I recall that I’ve blogged about some of this before.   Hmmm, I guess this post is a bit of an update.

- Learn to play a musical instrument with enough precision to confidently perform a little bit in front of an audience.  I have played trombone and bass guitar in public but was not very good with either and never did a solo.  I also studied saxophone for a few months.  I am actually shopping for an acoustic guitar and contacted a neighborhood music school about lessons.

- Get a college degree.  It is difficult for me to admit that I stopped going to college in my third year and changed majors so many times that I never progressed to any advanced classes.  I started again just a few years ago but stopped.  I will start again.

- See a tornado.  I actually did see one a few months ago, but it wasn’t a well-formed one.  I want to see one of those ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’ tornadoes … from a safe distance.

- Have a birthday party on my 100th birthday.  Wow, what will our lives be like in another forty or fifty years?  I want to blog about that when I get there.  And give a speech about it to whoever is there.  And play a song on my guitar.  Because I can.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Picture It, pt 2

Another thing I have visualized is becoming a regular at a local bar/restaurant.  I’m not really a barfly, but I do like my nightly glass of wine and I specifically want my local version of “Cheer”’, where everybody knows my name.

I identified the specific place last summer, six months before moving into this neighborhood.  Tonight I decided to begin the specific plan.  I have been a customer at this place several times, but tonight I sat at the bar, had conversations with both bartenders, traded names, had an extended conversation with another customer and a short chat with another customer.
This could become my ‘joint’.  I’ll keep you updated.  Cheers.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Picture It

The self-discovery journey I’ve been blogging about for the past few years turned a corner eight months ago when I finally took the steps I had contemplated for such a long time.  My new life and patterns were rocky at first, not at all the celebratory release I had expected.  My idealism is a little unrealistic sometimes.

That was December.  Now it’s the middle of July and I’m settling into my new life.  And celebrating it every day.
One of the many people I have to give credit to in helping me along the way is my consultant friend Mary.  She does radio interviews for me and each January does one about the New Year and her ‘word of the year’.  She chooses one word to attach her key goal or plan for the coming year. I have done the same since I first heard her theory several years ago, although I was in the middle of changing my life at the beginning of this year so I’m a little late in adopting a word for 2013.  But it hit me today what that word should be, at least for the rest of the year.

Balance, focus and simplify are keywords I’ve used in recent years and I continue to let those words guide me.  But visualize is something I have done for years with very positive results and it seems to be an appropriate mantra for directing the next part of my self-discovery journey.

I pictured myself in the place where I now live, saw the life I wanted, the people I wanted to hang with, the things I wanted to do on a monthly, weekly or daily basis.  I wasn’t always aware I was visualizing those things, but I now know I was.
Seeing oneself in a future setting is only a start, however.  Eventually a person must act on the vision.  I have met with incredible success so far with the pictures and the resulting actions.  I pictured an apartment and the furniture and wall art placements and that is exactly where I am at this very moment.  I visualized a walkable neighborhood with mostly local businesses, especially restaurants and bars, and that is where I now live.  I saw myself walking to various parts of this area such as a summer time weekly farmer’s market, local wine stores, local live music performances, etc. and those things are now part of my regular routine.

I imagined in my head the people I already knew and the new ones I would encounter, as well as the interactions I would have with them.  I talk up this neighborhood a lot and last night and tonight met friends from other areas here and showed it off.  Good times had by all.
Another thing I am visualizing is making new friends or expanding on current ones.  One of my closest out-of-town friends visited a few weeks ago and it was very cool spending a whole week with her.  Another close visitor is coming in a few weeks and I visualize the same kind of relaxing, friendship-building time with her.  Neither are dates; both are good friends for mostly different reasons.  Tonight I spent time further developing a few local friendships, last night involved developing a newer friendship with a former co-worker.  I have also visualized having more guy friends and a few weeks ago my neighborhood was the setting for developing one of those friendships. 

Future pictures in my head: playing guitar, speaking Italian, cooking for friends in my apartment.  All three of those visualizations are in some stage of development.
I also picture myself convincing some of my less-than-positive friends that this process always has positive, sometimes life-changing results.  This is NOT some kind of ‘everything will be ok’ kinds of things; sometimes things are not ok.  But trying usually improves things.  I want people who are close to me to be happy or at least to move in that direction.  I will do what I can to enable that.  I often picture myself toasting them and their successes.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When In Doubt, Borrow

Work has used up all my creative talent for the week, so this post and the next one are borrowed.  Saw them both on friends' facebook pages.  Borrowing other people's words of wisdom.  I'll provide my own again in a few days.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A New Photo Blog

In case I didn't mention it before, I started yet another blog.  This one is mostly photographs and observations about the Kentlands and Lakelands neighborhoods in Gaithersburg MD.  Visit some time.  The plan is for a new photo daily.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Morning

Hot, humid, with an occasional cool breeze.  Eighty, sunny, blue sky, sipping hot coffee on a bench outside, people watching in the ‘town square’.  Couples and singles walking dogs and pushing strollers with babies, one was pushing a stroller with a dog inside.

Note to self: Sunday morning before 9am would be a great time to ride my bike … little traffic, few people.  My balance sucks but I love riding bikes so I must fix this balance problem.
The neighborhood tiki bar featured a blues band on Friday.  Stayed for most of their performance.  More music and people Saturday as I watched the Nationals eek past the Padres then stayed for a post-game show starring country band Thompson Square.  Met them before their show then joined some friends in the band’s box for the rest of the game and the show.  Free beer and catering.  Is this how the rich live?  Many attractive young women at this party.  Mmmm.

Meeting a female friend for drinks and food at a waterfront place this afternoon, then maybe another place with a band.  Women, music and the great outdoors … I could get used to this.  Ego loves it.  None of these encounters with females are ‘dates’ but it’s the next best thing … socializing with nice looking women.
Love Sunday mornings!  Sunday is my recharge day.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Don’t Want My Life to Be Normal

I’ve been called many things in my life: odd, shy, asshole, weird, patient, emotional, quirky, romantic, cold, smart, a good friend, sensitive, insensitive, curious, stubborn, a tight ass, cool, a fool, selfish, giving, husband, a good lover, average, boring, judgmental, open and tolerant, secure, insecure, stable, unusual.  All of those descriptors have been accurate at various points in my life, but the one that has impacted me the most was only spoken (written, actually) once and not until 2009 and by someone who did not know me very well yet: a free spirit.  Me?  A free spirit?

For much of my life, my self-impression was that of a shy, sensitive, odd, quirky man who is sensitive yet insensitive, curious, average and quiet, a fairly boring person living a fairly interesting but abnormal life.  I always felt I was living on other people’s agendas and up to or down to their expectations.  In other words, anything but a free spirit.  Yet after hearing that from a new and fairly observant friend, I started to wonder if I’ve had more control on my life and attitudes than I gave myself credit for.
All these thoughts swam in my head as I walked three blocks to my neighborhood Starbucks to get a cup of coffee this morning.  I replayed the past few weeks and realized that my life is anything but boring.  ‘Normal’ people don’t usually get to do or allow themselves to do some of the things that are almost routine in my life.

I spent a lot of my life trying to conform to a norm of some sort but when viewed as a whole, my life has been anything but normal so far.  I talk, write and edit audio for a living.  Normal?  I’ve lived at twenty six addresses in six metropolitan areas in five states.  Normal?  I’ve been married three times, engaged two other times and had at least two additional serious relationships with women.  Normal?  I like blues, country, rock, big band swing and classical.  Art museums and NASCAR.  Old Bogart movies and the Weather Channel.  Oceans, lakes and rivers but I can’t swim.  I’ve given speeches, introduced bands and narrated sky-diving shows in front of crowds ranging from a few hundred to 40,000 but am sometimes nervous speaking in a conference room with ten people.  Normal?
Yet everything I just described is completely normal for me.  I choose to do those things, choose to like what I like and dislike what I dislike, pick my friends carefully and my close friends even more carefully.  Sometimes I adopt behaviors, hobbies and interests of friends and acquaintances, making it seem like I’m trying to impress them or appear like I don’t have my own interests; but what I am doing is trying new things.  Some I will continue and some I won’t.  That all seems to make me a free spirit.  Dig deep enough into my psyche and you discover that I am a man who does chart my own path.  A free spirit.

I’ll try new things and get out of my comfort zone, but I have limits.  Sometimes it seems like I have no boundaries but if that’s how you view me then you are in my inner circle, because most people see me as a living, walking fence.  I see myself as a small boat afloat in choppy waters, moving here and there but always tethered to a sturdy anchor.  The further along I get in my self-discovery journey the longer the tether; but the tether is always there.
Being on my own for the first time in eighteen years is in itself an example of a free spirit demanding and getting his freedom.  I don’t really have to answer to anyone when it comes to doing what I want to do.  That part of me never went away but it was so controlled for nearly two decades that I barely remembered it existed.  I did do my own quirky things during that time but I often had to explain or justify or feel embarrassed about my choices.  I love to share but I do not want to be controlled.

A free spirit needs to be free.  I am free and will continue to be free, on as many levels as I can.  And I will help my friends to do the same.  I especially thank the friend whose two-word observation pointed out something to me about me that I had not realized before.  It nearly changed my life.
I do not want my life to be normal by anyone else’s definition of normal.  I have my own normal and I’m just fine with that.