Two Heroes

Blog life comes and goes.  There are days when I can’t get enough of looking, reading, learning, meeting new bloggers…  Sharing the thoughts I have with the unknown world.  Sharing thoughts I have with others that may be going through similar situations or experiences.

Then there are days that I am full.  Days that my “regular” life is happy.  Days that I don’t need to share because I can share with loved ones personally.

There is a happy medium that I must find.  That we all must find.  Where is this medium?

Life on March 13, 2015 is one of ups and downs.  Refer to the post about this being the first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first New Years Eve without my ex-wife.  Well, as some of you may recall, I am an educator.  Being an educator means I have spring break off from work.  This is my first spring break without my ex-wife.

A blessing and a curse.  I only left town for a few days with my father to attempt a 3-day golf excursion with my uncle (father’s brother).  It snowed.  It rained, it froze.  Golf was not played.  But what was played were the memories shared between two 70-ish something brothers.  One fought in the Korean War and then raised a family by working for a major oil company.  The other was a First Lieutenant going off to Vietnam in 1968 but was miraculously called to Germany for the duration of the war.  He then came back and raised a family by working for a different major oil company.  Both men are modern day warriors.  Both men are Heroes. Both men are role models of the last of the Great Generation.  They believe in God… They believe in what is fundamentally right… They believe in conservative values… They believe in helping those that can not help themselves…  They both believe in love.  They believe in integrity.

I followed behind them most of the trip.  I took pictures from the background.  These two fine gentleman sharing their stories, drinking Bourbon and wine, eating fine food, and enjoying the life they have created.

Each one has experienced tragedy.  Each man has lived.  Each man passes their knowledge to a 44 year old educator who struggles to follow in their footsteps.  I try and pick up any morsel of wisdom that drops from their lips.  It comes in the image of a joke, a thought, a statement, or a question.

I will remember Spring Break of 2015 for the rest of my life.  I walked with giants.

God give me strength to become at least half of the man these two brothers are before I lay my head down for the final time.

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When I could I gave it my all.

Very inspirational story on E60 the other day.  This poor kid has been diagnosed with MS.  She was a former select soccer player (like my girls) and started to lose feeling in her toes, feet and then legs.  After tests she was discovered to have MS.

So what does she do?  Of course, she decided to become a distance runner throughout high school.  Truly amazing.

So next time I am feeling sad, feeling like I can’t “go” anymore.  I just need to watch this video.

All I can say is… wow

American Sniper

American Sniper

I enjoy movies.  I have seen a lot of movies in my 44 years.  I have never experienced what I experienced this afternoon at the end of American Sniper.

The movie ended (I won’t spoil it for you) and a few hands clapped but then a wave of silence spread across the theatre.  This was a crowded theatre.  I was alone towards the middle top.  The entire theatre emptied in a slow, orderly fashion and you could of heard a pen drop.  It was deathly silent.

Plain and simple; Clint Eastwood is a genius.

Circa 1978-1980 I was in early elementary school.  My teacher gave us an assignment to write a letter to an influential figure in our lives.  The idea was that they would write us back.  Hopefully, create a pen-pal type of situation.  We get to practice our handwriting and learn how to address an envelope with the correct headings and addresses.  We may even get a little extra something in return.

My influential figure was Clint Eastwood.  I have no idea why.  I was only 8-9 years old.  I wasn’t allowed to watch any of his R-rated movies.  I was watching, Any Which Way You Can and Everywhich Way But Loose.  I guess?

I was enthralled by this actor.  He was such the ALPHA Male to me.  I wanted to be like him.

3-4 weeks after I mailed my letter to Mr. Eastwood, I received a package in the mail.  It was a glossy 8×10 photo of Clint himself in a white cowboy hat!  He signed the bottom

Chris, Thanks for being a fan!

  • Clint Eastwood

I wish I still had that photo.  A long lost memory.  It cemented in my psyche that Clint Eastwood was and is the greatest Hollywood celebrity there is.  I could talk about him for days…

What impresses me the most today is how Mr. Eastwood can write a story… How he can produce and direct a movie that will pull at your heartstrings.  Shake me to my core.

  • Unforgiven
  • A Perfect World
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Invictus
  • Gran Torino
  • And now American Sniper

I realize that Mr. Eastwood has done so much more.  But these are some of my latest favorites.  The ending music of Gran Torino with Clint singing is haunting.  The ability to infuse sports into Nelson Mandela’s life in Invictus.  The relationship story of A Perfect World and Million Dollar Baby.  Wow… when Hillary Swank breaks her neck in Million Dollar Baby I was rattled.  The gunfight in Unforgiven… The acting he is able to do as well…  I can’t get enough of Clint Eastwood.

 

Bradley Cooper deserves whatever awards that the liberals in Hollywood can muster.  This man is solid.  He nailed this part.  Eastwood was able to cast the best possible actor for this role.

The story is truly inspirational.  My daughter, R, and I went to the grocery this afternoon after I had seen the movie.  She watched it yesterday.  She was asking me.  How could Chris Kyle not “freak out” like the other soldiers.  Why was he able to heal?  I started to go over the beginning of the movie.  Back to his childhood.

Kyle was raised by a very strict father.  He explained that there are three types of people in this world.

  • Sheep
  • Wolves
  • Sheep dogs

Most people are sheep and the rest are wolves preying on the sheep.  The sheep dogs are rare and they are the ones that protect their own.

Kyle jumped in on a schoolyard fight when his little brother was getting his butt beat.  Kyle took down the bully.  His father said at the dinner table something along the lines, “I ain’t raising no sheep!”  He then pulls out his belt and slams it on the table saying, “If you’re a wolf get ready!”  referring to the belt.  So the only other thing you could be in Kyle’s life was a sheepdog.  His dad asked, “Did you finish it?”  referring to beating down the bully.

That explains all you need to know about Chris Kyle.  He viewed his fellow soldiers as “his own”.  He was a sheep dog and was killing the bad guys just to protect his own.  He never thought too deep about the politics, the reasons of war, is it morally correct, etc…. He was simply a sheep dog protecting his own.

R then tells me…

“You know how you are always telling me that most people are sheep?”

I answer, “yes…”  (I have always taught the girls that most people are sheep that need herding. Just because they are sheep doesn’t mean they need to be slaughtered.  Help guide them along the right path.).

R says, “Well I said that most people are sheep or something along those line the other day at school.  Some girl got really mad at me and said that was the worst thing she has ever heard me say.”  R pauses with me looking at her… “I guess she is a sheep.”

We both laugh…. We have a screwed up sense of humor.

Go see American Sniper

Learning from those around me

Learning from those around me

Yesterday an old high school buddy of mine (divorced too) and I went out on what would best be described as a “Pup Crawl”.  This adventure started at 10:30 AM and continued until about 8 PM.  This was to be an all-day jaunt around the area.  My buddy invited some others to join us along the way. But each of those individuals were like characters in my new chapter of life.

In the past I would go out in order to laugh, to act foolish, to have a good time.  Lately I am not as interested at this.  It is not that I didn’t have fun… Everyone knows I laughed and even acted foolish at times.  My focus has just shifted.

I was watching people and observing how they interact with those around us.  I want to learn why people do what they do.  I tried to learn why things happen the way they do.  The people I interacted with I truly wanted to know their story.  I asked questions that would make people pause.  The frankness the openness and honesty that I approached them was unique.  I think I am living life differently because I want to learn what is next for me in the second half of my life?

It might just be as simple as I care more about the people around me.

I say this but then I remember what my buddy at work always says.  “Name someone other than a family member that you actually like.”  He probably knows me more than anyone at work.  We talk about everything together.  He is completely different than me in his race, religion, politics, economic level, etc… But he knows me well.  He is correct in the fact that for the first 3 years we knew each other I was married.  I did not allow people to get close to me.  I have always been friendly but aloof.  Why bother?  I had everything I needed.  Everyone thinks I like them because I act like I do.  I just was not really interested in their true being.

I can’t hold this against my buddy.  He sees me only at work.  I am the “boss” so I have a belief system that you do not mix play with work.  So, I purposely put a wall up between myself and everyone.

But lately I have been wondering if my buddy is correct.  Maybe I do this outside of work too?

That leads us back to the ‘Pup Crawl’

Late in the afternoon the owner of the last pub we visit brings an older gentleman into the sitting area we had taken over.  I instantly become interested in learning everything I can about this gentleman.  I will call him Bob for simplicity sake.

Bob and I hit it off splendidly.  I start to learn about Bob’s life, job, belief systems, etc…  Bob is a “seaman”.  He has a home base in Houston and one in Prog, Czechoslovakia.   He has been divorced for over 30 years.  He was married for almost as many.  His kids are grown and older than me.  Bob is 72 years old.

I do digress in the story a moment and start to think about that country song, People are Crazy by Billy Currington.

It fit exactly what was happening with Bob and I.  I was waiting for Bob to give me a great nugget of wisdom like Currington sang, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

What I did learn is that Bob highly recommended a few books.  One is Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up, by James Hollis.  Bob said this book will put everything I am seeking into perspective.

So maybe my “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy” has yet to be found?  Maybe I will find it in the words of Hollis?

I have a feeling that Hollis will not have as large of an impact on me as Bob the seaman did.

A few other nuggets Bob passed on to me:

  • Create a budget and look at it daily. Keep every receipt and know exactly to the penny what you have at all times. (I have this one covered)
  • Be selfish. Don’t be so American. Take care of you first. Imagine your drowning in the water along with another. If you don’t save yourself first you can’t save the others. (I think I’m good here)
  • Embrace being alone. Solitude is good (Im learning)
  • Write (I have been doing this)
  • Create two homes in different parts of the world. This will allow you to flip your perspective (need to think about this. Maybe North Dakota? Lol)
  • Don’t get remarried (disagree)
  • Buy a sports car for fun and a regular car for daily activity. (ok, I’ll start working on this)
  • Think before you talk. Pause and slow down. (Need to work on this)

What was interesting to learn, is that talking to an older guy drew the interests of a few ladies.  The table next to us was a lady in her 40s and another in her early 30s/late 20s.  The younger one kept smiling at me the entire time.  I can see the desperation in those eyes.  The loneliness, self doubt, and hurt… a longing for happiness.   She was a very pretty girl that finds herself eating cake on her birthday at a bar.   I had to walk past her table once to go to the restroom.  Really, cake??  Like the nice guy I am I paused and asked, “Is it your birthday?”  She laughed and offered me a bite.  I declined (cake and beer have never been a good mix for me…. Just saying).  But here I am more interested in talking to my new friend Bob than any one night stand.  I have changed…  As I leave the bar with Bob, I see the sadness in her dark circled eyes as I walk past telling her to order ice cream too.  I’m not here to fix the sadness in those around me.  Poor girl.  I’m sure she is waking up in some strangers bed right now (as I type this blog entry) hoping that he will call her in the next day or two knowing he will not.  Amazing how much hurt is in the world.

Bob also gave me his email and asked me to keep in contact with him once I read the book by Hollis.  I will and then I will give Bob the link to this post.

Bob….If you are reading this… I was honored to meet you.  Safe journeys my friend.

Courage is needed.

Feeling poetic this morning.

Two poems that I have learned to love and try to live through…  I felt were important for this day, D-Day…

Kipling has always inspired me when looking on how to live my life.

If

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

And the old favorite from Thomas… I woke up chanting this at 5:30 AM this morning.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Motivational Words

Motivational Words

I find myself searching through YouTube lately.   It started when I started blogging again.  I look for good music, interesting videos, and mostly motivational videos.  You see, my youngest daughter B, is always asking me about old famous athletes and how they thought and prepared, etc…

B heard me talking to R about her playing style.  I was talking about a post I had on this blog a few days ago…  I often have compared R’s style of play to Craig Biggio.  Her uniform is always dirty, always going 100%, always throwing her body infront of the opponents.

B said, who do I play like Dad?  I said your mind is similar to Michael Jordan.   Jordan had to be perfect.  He needed to compete.  He had to compete.  She often watches his videos.  She once told me, “When I watch these videos I feel like I foul too much and hurt too many of the opponents.  I play like I am going to take off their heads.”

 …

I on the other hand, am having fun finding other types of motivation.  I ran across an old Navy Seal that gave a graduation speech at the University of Texas last year.  It was impressive.

Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, stood up at the podium in his Navy Dress Whites and expertly just nailed a speech that I want to be able to live by.

He outlines 10 lessons:

  1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
  2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.  Find others that will help. You can’t do this alone.
  3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.  Judge everyone by their heart not their skin color, race, religion, or size.
  4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.  You will almost always make mistakes. Accept that and still work anyway.
  5. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.  You will fail.  You will likely fail often.  It will be painful.  It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core
  6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
  7. So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
  8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
  9. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.  The power of hope helps all of us.
  10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.  Don’t ever quit trying.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.

Isolation

Writing this blog has me thinking again.  This is usually when I get into the most trouble with life.

We are a couple weeks away from the court date that finalizes the end of our 21 year marriage.  January 13, 2015 to be exact.  No arguments, no fights, no drama.  I already turned in the divorce decree, took the parenting class (mandatory in our county), and paid the court fees (not to mention my attorney fees to write the decree).  All I need to do is go to court and the judge will electronically sign the decree and I can purchase a certified copy from the courts for $1.00 a page.  (41 pages total)   Oh joy!

This is it?

I keep watching tv shows and there is a lot of dysfunctional couples that always fight harder to win the girl back, etc…. Did I fight hard enough?  Who is supposed to tell me this?  But I really don’t want it back. Or do I?

I kinda like my isolation.  My gut tells me to move on.  I try and listen to my gut.  It keeps me going forward, usually.  These thoughts and emotions are raw.  Exposed, isolated, but mostly just raw.

How does one know?  What if I am making a mistake?  Life is just a crap shoot.  Roll the dice, smile along the way.

The girls went back to their mothers today.  I am alone all day.  No work, no responsibilities (other than taking Fred, adopted dog, out to take care of his business)… Nothing.  NO noise

I miss the noise.  But then again I don’t.

What stage of grief is this?

Let me go back to my life motto.  You may have heard it before.

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

I honestly don’t think that if T walked to my door with her emotions exposed and begging to return to what we had before that I would take it.  I don’t think the juice would be worth the squeeze.

I saw the movie, The Girl Next Door, many years ago.  I watched this scene and I thought of my relationship with T at the time.  I remember having to convince myself that the juice was worth the squeeze…. Then I just shook it off to everyone has small doubts.  Or do they?