Four Days In…

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It’s now four days into the new year. Four days have already passed in this new year “full of promise and potential.” 

I feel a little overwhelmed already… I am reminded of the old Weight Watcher’s mantra, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Ugh.

There is a certain burden I feel whenever the year changes, a responsibility to “make this the BEST year ever.” It weighs heavily on me, this responsibility to be, oh, I don’t know – super human or significant or special. I am not sure what I am “supposed” to be in this big, bright virgin new year. Sigh. I am in my mid-fifties; you’d think I would have a handle on all this by now.

I remember from my expensive-but-now-largely-under-utilized Franklin-Covey training that most people are good at the “big rocks” but the little ones just get lost by the wayside. This year, I want to address both my big AND little rocks.

So, call them resolutions, call them goals, call them objectives – whatever! – I have a few things on my 2015 “list.” I have to admit, I was inspired to create this list in no small part by my beloved husband Martin, who went to the trouble to create a personal “pin board” of all his plans for 2015. (He inspires me in so many ways, that guy!) Anyhow, here is my short list – just five, in honor of five – a blog – for the remaining 361 days of 2015:

1. I want to be healthier; to that end, I WILL lose 50 pounds by the end of June. Health is the main goal, but weight loss also plays into my next objective.

2. I want to travel. I WILL go to Europe with my Sweetie this summer, spending one week in his native Poland, meeting his family (finally!) and experiencing where he comes from, then spend an additional week – just the two of us – exploring France or Germany or England – somewhere. Once I lose fifty pounds, I will look sexy as hell in a bathing suit on some European beach, am I right?

3.  I want to live in the moment. I WILL acknowledge the past but leave it there and not let it define me in the present. Listen, 2014 SUCKED for me, personally and professionally. Were it not for Martin, I would have probably off’d myself. (Just kidding, kinda’). But, point is, I will not dwell on my suck-y past year and, instead, embrace the coming year with hope and optimism.

4. I want to spend more time with people I love. I WILL engage with friends more, and let the people I love know how important they are to me. All too often I am happy just being with my Sweetie but have come to understand that this behavior is a bit of laziness on my part, coupled with a fear of “falling short” – maybe I can’t cook as well, or maybe I am not flush enough to go out to fancy restaurants or maybe our sofa is a bit faded. The truth I need to remember is that with true friends, one never falls short. Bringing in Chinese take-out with true friends is as wonderful as dinner out at a four-star joint.

5. I want to remember to always be grateful. I WILL cherish every great thing that happens to me, every day, whether that is just driving home and getting all “green lights” or finally (potentially?) winning the HGTV Two Million Dollar Dreamhouse (OMG, please!!!) I sometimes forget that my life – as imperfect as I think it might be – is probably envied by many. I have a reasonable job (granted, it could pay more), my Sweetie and I have a pretty great apartment, we have some kick-ass friends, I have my health and I have a man I adore that adores me back. I often need to remind myself of these realities…

So there you have it – my “short list” for the coming year. I feel confident I can make all these things happen. I will definitely keep you posted and you remind me, too, if you catch me falling short. In the mean time, have a GREAT new year and always remember this:

find time

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Poor poor me

Im Poor

I have never understood the seemingly discordant relationship between the amount of time it takes to MAKE money versus the amount of time it takes to SPEND money. For example, I need a new set of tires for our car, and suspect four new tires will cost between $600 – $800 dollars. It has taken me a bit of time to earn/save that money and yet, it will be spent in the blink of an eye. One debit card “swipe” and “POOF!” that money is out of my account. Gone. As though it never existed there.

That sucks, I think.

It seems like you should feel good about spending money for at least half as long as it took you to earn and/or save it. Another example: many of my friends save all year to go on a one week vacation. Saving? 358 days. Enjoying? 7 days.

That just isn’t fair. Plus, who gives a sh*t about new tires, I mean, none of our friends have ever invited us over for dinner and to “take a gander at their new tires.” Ugh. I hate being poor…

Universe? Could you possibly send me the winning Mega Millions numbers in a dream? I would be the kindest, most generous and most humble mega-rich person ever. Promise.

No, really… Give me $200 million dollars and just watch all the good that I will do. I am waiting…

How Do You Decide?

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It has now been over a week since my father passed away, I have been busying myself with “executor” duties almost every day. It is hard to imagine what one must do to “prove” that someone you loved has died until you are actually called upon to do it. Thanks to my awesome friends, sympathy cards continue to arrive. They are sweet and touching but also serve as daily, multi-color reminders that Pop-pop is gone. Sigh… Then there is tomorrow’s task.

Tomorrow I will be at my Dad’s house for two reasons:

1. Monday would have been his 85th birthday so I want to “visit” him and Mom at the cemetery and mark the day with a small celebration.

2. It is time for the purging to begin. To borrow a mantra from professional organizers (and hoarders), it is time to begin the process of “Keep. Throw Away. Donate.”

I am not looking forward to this endeavor.

My Dad lived in the same house for forty-two years and, while he was a tidy guy, he was also very frugal – meaning that few things ever got “thrown away.” This thing was saved for parts. That thing was here in case we “ever needed one.” And let’s be honest – a person just accumulates a LOT of stuff in the course of eighty-plus years of living.

I am going down alone, partly because I need some alone time at my parents’ house and partly because I simply do not know how productive the visit will be. Sure, some things are easy – old magazines and papers, well-worn bath towels and dozens of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” containers with the lids (my Mom always sent food home with us when she was alive). Some things are harder – my Dad’s clothes, some of my Mom’s remaining things that Dad could not bear to part with and pictures, lots of pictures. My senior picture, all the grand kids’ photos – heck, my parents’ fridge is one giant photo collage. Where does it all go? How do you decide what to keep?

I’ve decided to let my heart decide. During future visits I will have input from my sibs but this first “run down” it will just be me, alone in the house my parents loved, the house I grew up in, the place that holds many memories for me. Those are what I most plan on keeping – all the great, loving memories of growing up there, the “Hallmark Holidays” with my family (my goodness, my Mom never met a holiday guest towel or candle ring she didn’t love!), the tree I grew from a seed that is now like 35 feet tall in the back yard, the bent mailbox post (bent because I ran over it as I was learning to drive almost forty years ago…)

Some things will get tossed. Some things will get donated. But some things I will cherish forever.

I’ll Love You Forever…

I have just come home, having spent the past two days with my Dad (Pop-pop). It was a beautiful and heartbreaking visit, a time of learning new terms (urine output, barrier creme, vacant stare, resting comfortably) as well as leaning a whole new list of “non’s:” non-verbal, non-responsive, non-engaged, non-emotive.

My father is dying and, no matter how much I wish that weren’t the case, it is true. It sucks…

When I went home Sunday afternoon, Pop-pop could still talk. His eyes connected with mine – we had (brief) conversations. Over the course of Monday, conversation moved from simply “Yes” or “No” responses to a thousand words spoken only with a look, a glance. A question was asked and the response could be seen in my father’s gray-blue eyes. Those “conversations” were beautiful and perfect, simple and easily understood. Gone was all the BS pretense of father/son, parent/child, man-to-man, etc. Left behind was simply a beautiful exchange of pure love and affection, flowing wordlessly between the two of us. Something as simple as a sip of water became a massively-appreciated gesture, and was rewarded with a powerful, loving glance that I will never forget. The emotion was raw and unvarnished – again, pure in its essence, It was amazing.

I felt a bit guilty when I left today, telling my Pop-pop goodbye and that I would see him again soon. I think he knows I was lying as much as I know it, too… I suspect that, very soon, Pop-pop will be moving to the next step on his soul journey, a moment that will make me happy and very, very sad, all at the same time. It is a painful paradox, this transition. Leaving behind the finite, earthly life we all have and moving forward, ahead into the next step, the next evolution of the blossoming of one’s soul. Words fail me tonight (except all the non’s). Much like Pop-pop, I cannot communicate how I feel with words now.

I hope my Pop-pop knows how much I love and will miss him; I am sure he does but I suppose I wish I could hear him say it one more time. But then I remember “that” look, and I know my hope has already been fulfilled. Sleep well tonight, Pop-pop. Sleep well…

letting_go_byBTW, the title of this post comes from a beautiful poem-made-children’s book, named “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. You may read the entire poem here, and read the back story about the poem on the author’s website by clicking here. When you read the poem, please substitute Pop-pop for Mommy. Thanks.

A Few More Chats

My father’s health continues to deteriorate; today, hospice started Pop-pop on morphine.

He is a “rally-er,” my Pops, but I fear this may be the final leg in a long and arduous journey for him. I want my Dad to be pain-free. I want my Dad to not suffer. Most of all, I want Pop-pop to be free of it all.

Don’t get me wrong – the fact that this is happening tears me up inside. But – in an over-simplified analogy – it is sort of like when you are in fourth grade and it is the last day of your summer vacation. You know what is coming. You hate that it is, but it is inevitable. And so, you savor every single minute until that first class comes.

For me, I will savor every minute till that last breath comes…

When my Pop-pop crosses over, I imagine it will be in a place/setting that looks something like this:benchPop-pop has always loved the outdoors. He will open the door to a place green and beautiful, and my Mom will be there, waiting for him. I imagine my Mom seated on this bench, my Pop-pop walking up behind her, surprising her with a sweet kiss on the neck, and then they will embrace, look back for just a minute and walk off hand-in-hand down the path.

I will be happy and sad; happy that they are reunited and sad that they are both away from me. Selfish, I know, but honest.

And so we wait – my siblings and I here with Pop-pop now, and my Mom, waiting for him on the other side. Like I said, I will be sad when he makes the trip but happy for him, too. Till that time comes, I plan on talking a lot with my Dad (although it is hard for him to answer back), and telling him how much I love him/what a great Dad he always has been, how I will miss him and what to tell Mom for me (I actually “talk” with my Mom all the time but Daddy likes to always have something to do, so carrying my message to Mom will maybe make his journey easier).

I hope the grass is even greener than in this picture. I hope the air is sweet and there are birds singing (Pop-pop loves songbirds). I hope it is beautiful beyond my imagination. And I hope I can take comfort in knowing that Martin and I will have one more angel watching over us…

Hello September

I have always believed one sure sign that you are aging – other than reading road signs out loud in cars when others are driving (“Look, Martin, a Bob Evans…”) – is a discussion of time in relation to the seasons. You know, things like “Gosh, it is Fall already – where’d July disappear to?” or “Before you know it, September will be over and this rain will be turning into ice and snow.” See? You know what I am talking about, LOL!

That said, I would like to say “Hello, September!”

hello

I must admit – Summer did seem to fly by. But – honestly? I have been pretty busy lately, personally and professionally, so maybe (probably) it passed by at the standard pace; it just seemed too quick to me. I do, however, have several summertime “regrets:”

1. My Beloved and I have only been to the beach three times this summer. He loves it there, and I love being with him. I hope there are a few more “Indian Summer” weekends ahead.

2. Between me starting a new job, closing a division of my own business, my Sweetie being in Europe for five weeks in late June/early July, him starting a new job and all the other mundane “responsibilities of adulthood” (working, laundry, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc.) well, we haven’t seen our friends as much as we’d like. That sucks. 

3. My Dad’s health has been a bit of a roller coaster these past few months – I wish I had been able to spend more quality “do nothing” time with him, rather than just meeting him for doctor’s appointments and making sure he has groceries – I would just like to “hang out” with Pop-pop.

4. Speaking of hanging out, another school summer vacation has come and gone and I spent probably less than 24 hours total with our nieces and nephews. I love them all dearly so it should seem easy to make time to “do” things with them – but, alas, not so much.

5. I am still sans cell phone (my error – I drowned my iPhone). It has been about three weeks now and I frickin’ hate it! I would have never said I was someone attached to his cell but I guess I would have been a liar,

I’ll stop there with my regret list (plus that’s five – see the connection?) All I know is that, given the events of this past summer. I have come to cherish every moment I have with my Angel, and the other people I love in my life,

So, heck yeah, “Hello, September.” I plan on enjoying a kick-ass fall, so get ready…

 

A Dream Redefined

As a young gay boy growing up in the middle of nowhere (Shelby, Ohio), I always had a vision of what my “grown-up” life would be: I’d have a fabulous job, have fabulous friends, live in a fabulous city, wear fabulous clothes, take the train to work (I’d be too fabulous to drive) and – well, I think you get the picture. An experience-hungry gay teen in a town of, like, 8000 people (most of them my cousins), dreaming of a fantasy life in a major metropolitan area. I always thought my life would look like this:

Commuters on a TrainYeah, that handsome guy on the left would have been me (like I EVER looked like that), taking the train into “the city” to my job (no doubt in advertising or public relations), stealing a peek at the uptight lady-in-a-power-suit’s New York Times. These didn’t even exist when I was fifteen but I am SO sure I would have had a kale smoothie – with an energy boost – for breakfast, I would have “worked out” at lunch (maybe racquetball for 45 minutes?) and then I would have taken the train home to my handsome “boyfriend” in the tony suburb we lived in outside the city – I’m thinking it would have been like a 40 minute commute, each way. Once home, I would have popped some great-but-not-overly-pretentious wine and my love and I would have watched the shows we taped on the VCR the night before. Bliss.

Fast forward thirty years into reality…

I do have a job I enjoy – two jobs, really – but to be honest, I am making about the same dough I made when I was twenty-five. Instead of a smartly-cut suit, I wear a logo’d polo shirt and khakis to work every day, and my sleek attache case has been replaced with my brown bag lunch. I did make it to a “big city” – well, actually, I live in Cleveland, Ohio, the 45th largest city in America. I love smoothies, but the kind made with peanut butter, honey and bananas. Exercise? YUK! And I do not live with my boyfriend – I actually live with my legally-married HUSBAND (although we prefer the term spouse) and my commute from work is a seventeen minute bus ride to a mildly tony suburb of Cleveland. There is no wine; I quit drinking more than a decade ago. And the VHS has been replaced by On Demand/a VCR.rtabus

Is my life what I imagined/hoped it would be? No – it’s even better!

I have a man that completes me in every way, after a lifetime of false-starts and failed relationships. Today I left my job at one of our city’s most-revered public institutions, walked past our world-class art museum as well as the permanent home of our world famous orchestra, thru the campus of a prestigious private college and waited at the bus stop outside the campus cathedral. While I didn’t get to “steal” a Wall Street Journal or Times read, I sat next to a lovely lady that was chatty, obviously an immigrant and just super delightful and polite. No one did any break dancing on the bus, and no one gave me a card that said s/he was (insert disability here) and selling these cards to make a living. I stepped on the bus at 5:38P; at 6:05P, I was in my PJ’s, missing my Beloved (he works tonight 5-10P). I called a couple of friends and then made a cup of instant coffee with “fancy” flavored creamer. I am now waiting for my Beloved to get home from work. It’s been a great day.

Dreams are great but seldom turn out to be all we imagined them to be. If, like me, you get lucky – your life will be even better than you imagined! I had a rough draft for my life in my head, one which I thought was perfection. The reality is, my life is honestly more perfect now than I could have ever dreamed.

Would I like to “hit” The Powerball for $160 million dollars? You bet but, all in all, I am pretty blessed. Thanks, Universe! I appreciate it!