Try Something New

It is the first day of September, 2020, and I am feeling low. In order to feel better I have decided to set some new goals for myself. There is nothing better to motivate me than some new and exciting goals. I can fathom new, but exciting doesn’t always happen.

This is the first year in sixteen that my Lions Club is not working hard to sell two thousand raffle tickets. COVID-19 has caused our state governor to rigidly follow the National guidelines for keeping the virus at bay. We as a club reluctantly decided that in the interest of public safety we would not hold our raffle. What that means to the club is a huge loss of funds which fuel our projects within the community. My club is not alone on this matter, every Lions Club in the world is dealing with similar issues.

Without money our club is severely handicapped as we are what is known as a check writing club. We raise money once a year in a giant fund raiser and then dispense the money toward worthwhile causes within our community. Our entire reason for being is in jeopardy this year. We struggle with how to cope.

My every week social group has disbanded. We are a small group of friends who met every Tuesday at the Stray Bar for drinks , and who have not seen each other for twelve weeks.

So, with these social set backs I am going to try something new to brighten my day and to give life some meaning. Here is a list of some of the things I will do:

  1. I will visit a new blog every day, and comment on the blogger’s post.
  2. I will write a new blog post every day. This means having something meaningful to write about.
  3. I will structure my day in a rigid pattern of activity to ward off boredom and to minimize my daily screen time.
  4. I will read one new book per week.
  5. I will call a friend everyday so I won’t be so lonely for human contact and voice. I never thought I would be affected by such loneliness as I have in the past months. There are a couple of reasons for that, one, because I still miss my partner Peggy, and two, because I truly don’t like living by myself.
  6. I’ll cook one new recipe every week.
  7. I’ll walk five thousand steps every day.
  8. I’ll write at least four letters this month.
  9. I’ll take the initiative to lead one new service project every month.
  10. I will accept invitations to do things which I would normally turn down.
  11. I will faithfully pray for all the people on my prayer list daily.

I will measure progress toward these goals throughout September and report back to this BLOG with results.

GOOD LUCK JOE!

Day 35-Quarantine-Pay Attention to the Hummm

Shhh, Listen To the Hummn

Today I watched a TED video by Shonda Rhimes. I have linked it to this post. As most TED talks do this one amazed me. Shonda spoke for fifteen minutes non-stop, barely taking a nano-second to breath and made rational sense the whole time. Her talk is inspiring.

After she finished I hesitated for a second before leaving the TED website looking for her name, and the next thing I knew I was watching another woman giving a TED talk on creativity. She also spoke non-stop and made great sense the entire time. Both of them are writers. Yet, they spoke about the work of writing rather than the creativity involved in it.

A Fast Talking Writer Discusses Creativity

I am doomed from the start, I cannot speak as fast as, nor as articulately as either of these successful authors. So what is the point of me slugging through a writing project as huge as writing a novel? I will do it because I want to, and because I want to be able to craft a story that people will read and like. That is my goal.

I don’t profess to be a writer, my friends keep telling me that I like to write, and then assign me the task of drafting something for our Lions Club. My futile attempts to write blog posts have turned me into a writer. NOT! Even though I am striving to get something published I have not been very successful. I even had to self-publish my children’s stories, but it forced me to learn how to bind books, and to make professional looking covers that give the stories an air of professionalism. I didn’t make any money, but I had a lot of fun writing, illustrating with my hand drawn cartoons, and making books. All on a desk top with non-professional computers, printers, and software programs. I spent too much time making my printer work the way I visualized the book. I also spent way too much time learning how to get page sequences correct when printing on two sides.

What does any of this have to do with COVID-19, nothing, but COVID-19 guidelines have driven me to look for productive projects to spend my time on. I picked up the manuscript of a novel I began writing in 2013, and read all one hundred pages of it and decided it is best if I begin all over again, if at all. I made a resolution after binge watching eight seasons of a documentary-drama called Homeland, a story about a young woman CIA agent and her attempts to save the USA. All told the eight seasons have a total of ninety-six episodes each between 47 to 57 minutes without commercials. I spent eighty-three hours over a time span of six weeks watching very stress laden stories which wound up giving me nightmares. I pledged not to spend any more time watching another series. Instead, I will spend evenings re-writing my novel. Thank you COVID-19. If I succeed, and I will, you will have done something positive, and if I don’t you will have one more death to add to your record, i.e. that of my novel.

 

Lies, Lies, Lies

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In following politics I have a problem with how people from both sides use the word lie to push their agenda. To me it signals that the American public reacts to liars. We don’t like them. Consequently, we like to dub politicians as liars. The problem I have with this phenomenon is that most of the time when I hear about someone telling a lie it is far from the truth. Because of this I hold the person telling us someone is a liar as the liar.

Politicians make promises to get votes. Some of them are telling outright lies with no intention of keeping those promises after elected. Many others make the promises and set goals to achieve them, but do not succeed. For example, Trump campaigned on the promise that the first thing he would do is to repeal and replace Obama Care. When sworn in, and actually seeing the agenda before him he was most likely overwhelmed. Repealing Obama Care was not the number one thing on his agenda for a couple of reasons. One of them being that he couldn’t do the repeal, it is the job of Congress to repeal laws. That took the promise out of his control. Yet, I have some dingbat liberal friends who call him a liar because he didn’t repeal and replace. It took him a few weeks longer to make it happen, but he is branded forever as a liar because he didn’t deliver exactly as promised.

I can make a list of promises made, and then failed that are fueling the liar myth, but I won’t bore you with it, I think my analogy above makes my point. The problem is that making a big deal about these situations stamps the title of “LIAR” across a person’s forehead, and liar is one trait that liberals love to use as much as the word racist. I had a talk with a forty something young man recently who I know voted for Trump. He was beginning to question Trump’s veracity as leader. I asked him why, and he stated that he was concerned that Trump lies a lot. That is why I have stopped watching network news and cable news. The fair and balanced channel is also guilty of promoting the lie word. The media war against Trump is having an effect on the gullible.

I totally support Trump’s battle against the fake news media. Yes, the news has a First Amendment right to write what it likes, but it puts a huge onus on We the People to separate the truth from the real lies. The moral of this story is don’t believe everything you hear from the media sources, the pundits, or the opposing politicians without first researching the truth.

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“You Own This”

When I began this blog my intended goal was to preach the benefits of human potential, or the power of positive thinking. I still preach allot but not much on positive thinking. In fact, I find myself struggling to stay positive in a transformative government. You see, I don’t want the country transformed. What I see coming is something everyone will hate, even the notorious millennium generation. They are just too young and idyllic to understand now.

I received an e-mail from my young son living in Texas. He isn’t so young anymore, but he is my baby. Mike, it turns out, is a better writer and a better motivator than his dad will ever dream of being.  Mike has three kids, all are gems.(This is where I preach about how great my grand kids are. I do so only because they are). Mike’s three kids are all swimmers. I mean swimmers who get up at 5:00 am to go to the pool to workout before school, and then they go to the pool after school to work out, They spend their weekends at swim meets, they live for swimming, academics, and music. I spoke to Mike last week and he told me that he was taking his daughter Abbey to a swim meet at Texas A&M. His wife Lisa was taking Danny to a swim meet closer to home.

This morning I told myself that I will have to call and get details of how they did. As I sat waiting for Peg’s foot to soak after a surgery I found his e-mail. I read it and tears of joy streamed down my face. Here is Mike’s account of  Abbey’s swim meet at Texas A&M last Saturday.

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1650 meters.  

5413.39 feet.
Just over 1 mile.
For swimmers, the 1650 is the ultimate endurance and conditioning race….66 laps.
 
 
Your grand daughter Abbey competed in her first 1650 meter free style event this weekend at Texas A&M University Champions Swim Meet.  Her coach told her that she would experience several emotions during this race: pain, anguish, quitting, crying, asking “why am I doing this?”  He also told her that she would experience physical signs, burning legs, burning arms, burning lungs, thumbing heart.  He was telling her what she didn’t want to hear, the truth.  I was lucky enough to be on deck timing for this event for Abbey.  I know better than to interrupt per pre-swim ritual and concentration, so I sat there watching her psych herself up for the pain.  Before getting on the block, she looked at me, and I told her: “You own this”.  She proceeded to get on the block, and prepare for the start.
 
The horn sounded, and she was off.  She looked very strong, and very consistent with her breathing.  Every 4 strokes of her arms, I’d see her head turn and come up for air.  Her split times were very consistent, almost to the tenth of a second.  She looked like a finely tuned engine in the water.  After 20 laps, she was still keeping her splits.  Her breathing pattern was not as consistent, sometimes going four strokes, sometimes 2, sometimes 3.  It’s obvious the burn had started.  
 
After 40 laps, her splits were amazingly consistent with the start of the race.  Her breathing was not as in synch, but she looked strong.  After 60 laps, her pace was still on.  By this point, I think I was feeling more emotions than she was.  She had told me she had 2 goals for this race, the first, to finish, the second, to finish in under 20 minutes.  As the last few laps were counted, down, she still maintained her initial pace.  
 
After the 66th lap, she came in strong, touched the wall, and I hit the button on the stop watch.  I looked down to see Abbey needed any help getting out of the pool.  She stayed in the water for a moment, so I gazed down at the stop watch.  She finished the race in 18:53:33!!!  That is an AA time for this event.  My mouth dropped open. I looked up and saw her drying off.  She wanted to see the time, so I showed it to her.  She looked at me and smiled, then went off to get her post-race talk with Coach Trent.  
 
I asked her if she had gone through those waves of emotions like her coach mentioned, and she said “not really”.  Then she told me “it wasn’t that bad”.
 
Here is a picture of the facility at Texas A&M, as well as her “reloading” on a nice big chocolate brownie after lunch.  You can still see how red she is in the picture.  This was at least 30 minutes after the event.  She actually went back into the warm down pool and swam a bit to cool down after the 1650!!
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Working In The Garden

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France

Monet garden in Giverny, Eure, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I have used other people’s work on this blog. My time in the garden takes its toll on me and the result is a lack of energy left to write. My Lions Club work suffers also. Here it is the third day of summer, and I am still planting annuals in the 2013 Monet Vision. Hopefully, the plants will have enough daylight to survive and thrive before the first killing frost.

Spring came late for me because I spent most of it in Arizona. When I finally did arrive home, the temperatures in Illinois were much the same as what I had in February. The temperature reached 100 on the day we left. After spending three months in tee shirts and shorts, I suddenly found myself looking for warmth. Another delay occurred because my sister-in-law suffered a stroke shortly after we returned. We spent a good bit of time visiting with her and were at her bedside when she passed. Before I knew it, June had arrived and established itself before I pulled a single weed, bought flowers and even considered getting into the garden.

All of that stuff is over now, and I attack the Monet Vision daily with vigor, which runs out in a few short hours. So when I read a news articles like a Zombie, and it appeals to me, I re-blog or link with a minimum of personal expression. Hopefully, I select topics that appeal to my followers.

Being in the garden gives me time to think and to set goals. My list suddenly becomes almost impossibly long, but I will  take the goals baby step, by baby step and get the important things done. The Monet Vision is at the top of the list, next is blogging, third is work on my novel, and forth is the workshop. Oh, I completely forgot, Peggy fits in there too, and I also have to squeeze in a few moments for physical fitness like walking and bike riding. No, wait, I need to find time to spend with family and friends too. I can’t neglect personal relationships for mundane things like the workshop, blogging, and physical fitness. After all, imbibing Winking Owl with my old fart buddies takes precedence over everything else including Peggy(please don’t rat on me by telling Peggy I said that), and the Monet Vision.

Yesterday, it rained and I watched a Wabbit under the eaves eating bird seed dropped from the feeder. He looked familiar to me, but larger than the last time I saw him. Yes, it is the same Wabbit, it is Aga Bambi, last seen eating Petunias from the 2012 Monet Vision. Not a problem anymore, I’ll call the IRS and ask them to send a FBI drone over to keep the garden under surveillance. If the drones spot any signs of terrorist activity, they can tell me to take positive action.

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