New Weight-Loss Program

 

About a year ago, I wrote about my resolution to lose some weight this year, crediting global warming as my motivation. I simply don’t wish to spend any more blazing Texas summers carrying all this additional poundage on my aging, weakening body. I know it’s weakening; just pick up a 50-pound bag of anything and carry it with you everywhere for over 30 years, and see if it doesn’t wear you down a bit.

Well, friends, at this point, I can report only marginal success, but I’ll take it over nothin’. Not due to any change in diet or exercise habits, mind you, but to a new medication I take to lower my A1C level, (ask a diabetic) that also serves as something of an appetite suppressant. So, yay, I’m still losing weight without having to really do anything.

After a recent doctor visit, though, the need to exercise and make a few dietary changes has come into sharper focus, and I find I have to be more of an active participant in the improvement of my health, or face some rather harsh consequences.

Rats. I kept hoping that, by now, we would be medically advanced enough to have a pill that, when taken, would just melt the pounds right off and, when taken regularly, would keep ‘em off. Guess I can’t depend on science for everything. Oh, well…

 

I just read a post from a fellow blogger whose work I enjoy, and it reminded me that, as this year draws to a close and a new one rapidly approaches, I have some other weight to work on losing, as well.

I don’t like to brag, but I hold a tenth-degree Black Belt in the discipline of not letting go of my past. No, really.

Every time I’ve screwed up, every reprimand I received, every time I was ridiculed and laughed at…oh, I have a trophy room full of them, folks.

Now, that…is some excess weight. Along with the 50-pound bag, I’m dragging a ship’s anchor. It’s a wonder I can even walk.

Before you go thinking this is some “poor, poor me”, Gloomy Gus soliloquy, trust me; I know where the blame lies. The universe didn’t do this to me.

Well, mostly not. It did see fit to bless me with the precious gift of depression, the gift that certainly keeps on giving. And that adds a degree of difficulty to my Olympic routine, judges.

I have been seeing a therapist this year, but any progress I feel I’ve made can easily be erased in a single bad situation that reminds me I’m still a long way from better, like the hopeful skier having one disastrous run on the slope.

It occurs to me, I’m at a physical and mental crossroad, and I can really no longer afford to f*** around with either. Not anymore.

I’ve learned many things this year, to be sure, from my therapy and from the wisdom of some insightful, inspirational bloggers.

But, you know, anybody can learn $#!t. What matters is what they do with it.

So, now begins the hard part of doing. It’s gonna be tough, but worth it, I hope. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me success.

Happy New Year, everybody. Please celebrate responsibly. Come back and see me next year.

 

 

The Truth in Black and White

 
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

“Man in the Mirror”, Michael Jackson

Songwriters
SIEDAH GARRETT, GLEN BALLARD

Published By
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

 

This is for all my nonwhite readers out there.

 

I was never brought up to hate people of color. I was taught we were all God’s children. As kids in church, we learned that song with the line, “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” We’re all loved the same.

I’m aware of, and repulsed by, the atrocities committed against blacks throughout the long, bigoted history of this country, from slavery all the way to death by police shooting. I’m aware of the second-class treatment you receive in regards to such basic needs as housing, education and employment, and of the injustice of that.

I do not believe in a “superior” race, or class. I believe this whole “white supremacy” thing is bull$#!t. I believe in equality. You should have the same rights as me. You should have the same opportunities as me.

I believe in, and greatly admire, the nobility and courage of people like Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King, Jr. I think it’s great this country elected a black man for President of the United States. Twice.

And, yet…

I’ve been part of the problem.

I’ve told the jokes. I’ve attached the stereotypes. I’ve used the derogatory names. (Always, behind your back.)

I’ve looked at you at times with condescension, at other times with suspicion. Even fear.

I’ve actually tried to ingratiate myself to you by talking like you, imitating you. (Got called out for that once, too.)

In short, while being strongly against systematic, institutionalized racism, I myself have been the definition of a racist. Which is something I never wanted to be.

And, it probably won’t surprise you to learn, I’ve treated people of various other races in much the same way.

I actually thought it was, for the most part, harmless. Hey, us white folks get made fun of too, right?

Yeah, that’s really lame, I know.

So, for me to then speak in outrage against the injustice of racism, without first owning what is in my own heart, would be highly hypocritical.

So, I’m owning it. Whatever I’ve said, done, thought or felt toward any member of a race other than my own that was insulting, demeaning or judgmental.

I’ve been part of the problem far too long. I’m ready to be part of the solution.

So, I sincerely apologize for, and renounce, my old racist ways. Though I know changing my attitudes won’t be flick-of-the-switch easy, I’m going to stay with it until my old bad habits are gone and replaced with new good ones.

I’m sure some of you may be skeptical about this resolution of mine, and I don’t blame you. All I can say is, I’m just taking Michael’s advice.

I hope a lot of us do. Nobody is born racist. It’s learned. It can be unlearned.

Peace.

 

 

Looking With a Different Eye

 

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Okay, kids, here’s a fun little experiment for you to do:

Look at some object in the distance. Focus on it. Then, close one eye, hold up your thumb and position it so that it blocks your view of that object.

Got it? Great! Now, without moving the thumb, close that eye and open the other one.

Holy smokes! What just happened??

The object didn’t move, the thumb didn’t move, everything stayed the same. Only now, that object is right out there in plain view. Cool!

Yeah, I know, it’s nothing you didn’t already know, what else ya got, this was lame, yada, yada, yada…

But, really, how much of your time did that just take up, a few seconds?

And it’s a good reminder of how different the same picture can appear when viewed from a different eye.

 

One of the toughest things in the world to change is…an attitude. Especially the longer you cling to it, and the more comfortable you get with it. To change the way you look at something is risky, but oftentimes necessary.

One of the symptoms of depression, which I’ve had for years, is the tendency to get easily irritated by everyone and everything. All the time. Little things can just drive you nuts.

I’m around certain people, on a regular basis, who say things and do things that aggravate me to no end. Sometimes, I dread even being around them, for that very reason; I know I’m gonna get annoyed. 😠

Which is sad, considering they’re family.

I realize, I need to look at them with a different eye. They simply are what they are. The picture will not change; my view has to. Instead of resenting their idiosyncrasies, I need to accept them, to embrace them. I need to remember, these are people I love, that I’m glad I have them in my life, that it’s important to cherish the time we spend together, as long as we have it.

Besides, I know I’m definitely no day at the beach, either.

So, to whom it may concern:

Just a reminder, I love you all dearly. I’m glad you’re here. I will work on getting annoyed by you less and appreciating you more, because you are family, and family is priceless.

I’ll try to be less of a pain, too. Thanks for tolerating me, in the meantime.

Now, to the rest of you:

If you find yourself around some family members over the holidays who stir up the same emotions, try your best at looking through a different eye at them. I know, it’ll be tough. Remember, they didn’t get to pick you, either. Family is, or at least, should be, a refuge in the turbulent storms of life. We need each other, now more than ever.

Then maybe, we can summon up the courage to train that different eye on the rest of the world, and see something we never did before.

Who knows what can happen, then?

Oh, yeah…you can put your thumb down, now. 😏

 

The Road From Here

 

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I have thought long and hard about what to say regarding the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Let me begin with a sports analogy:

Many sports fans, I’ve noticed, are willing to overlook a certain player’s behavior for the sake of a few more wins for their team. I mean, so what if he beats women, or gets caught driving drunk, or is charged with possession, etc., as long as he performs when it’s game time.

Sounds a lot like what happened in this election.

 

I didn’t watch the results on Election Day as they happened; I went to bed that night having no idea whatsoever who our next President was. First thing the next morning, I got out of bed to see who won.

My wife would tell me later, she was a little surprised by how calmly I delivered the news to her. I replied, I wasn’t really calm, so much as I was numb.

In fact, I was in a state of utter shock. I could not believe or process what had occurred. How the hell could this happen? I couldn’t make any sense of it at all. Most of the morning, I was a zombie, just going through the motions of my job, but feeling dead on the inside.

Eventually, I experienced feelings of devastation, depression, worry, revulsion, white-hot anger, embarrassment, shame, betrayal, confusion and about every other negative feeling you can name.

I wanted to lash out at all the Trump voters, leaving no doubt about exactly what I thought of them. I wanted them to know what a monumental mistake they made. I felt like calling them some creative names, along with some of the old favorites.

But I didn’t see that serving any useful purpose. Pretty sure those folks give not one solitary damn what I think of them. And all the yelling and screaming I did would not change the fact that Donald Trump is our President. Yours and mine. That’s the reality, much as a lot of us hate it. (And a lot of us – all over the world, I noticed – do hate it.)

By the way, just so you know, electing a businessman to lead your country is like hiring a pastry chef to overhaul your transmission. There’s a certain skill set to each job that does not translate to the other. Politics, like it or not, is better left to politicians. Would you honestly be comfortable putting someone in the cockpit of your aircraft who’s never flown before in his life?

That’s exactly what the Trump voters just did. Unfortunately, we’re all on the plane with them.

 

So, what happens next?

One of the few good things to emerge from this messy, embarrassing, completely forgettable election year, is the spirit of revolution, especially among the younger Americans, who were so inspired by the campaign of Bernie Sanders. (I was, too.) They see the need for change, and are ready, willing and able to work toward making change happen.

We need to encourage them. We need to join them.

Women, blacks, Latin Americans, Muslims, the LGBT+ community, and the middle class all have bullseyes on their backs, now. It’s on us all to stand up for their rights, their dignity, and their safety.

Donald Trump and his Republican Congressional cronies dismiss global warming as a myth, a hoax. We need to stand up for the protection of our planet from those who refuse to see the evidence staring them in the face of its accelerating decline.

These and other issues (Supreme Court appointments, health care, Middle East conflicts) will require our vigilance, our intelligence, and our toughness.

For the next four years.

Yes, we have to accept who our President will be, but we do not have to accept his agenda. We can rise up in organized, disciplined, informed, peaceful opposition, and let our singular voice be heard. Not an angry mob, but a determined, unified coalition of like-minded individuals.

I’m a middle-aged white guy with a blog. I will use those advantages to their fullest potential. This is way too important for me to do anything less.

I hope you will join me.

 

Interesting thing happened Wednesday, The Day After.

I was driving my shuttle van, as always, and the skies were cloudy, gray and gloomy. Much like a large part of America, after what had just occurred.

Late that afternoon, the sun began to break through the clouds.

Corny? Cliche? Yeah, sure, but I was taking my inspiration where I could find it that day.

Clouds only hide the light for so long. But, it always wins.

That’s a mighty good thing to remember.

 

Hands to the Task (a set of lyrics)

 

Well, I’ve been around awhile, and I’ve seen a few things change,
But, sadly, I’ve seen others stay the same.
We’ve gone a thousand miles on, what seemed, a forward path,
Still, we ended up right back from where we came.
I used to think that, that was just our fate.
But, just in case it isn’t yet too late,

I think it’s time I set my hands to the task,
And start working to make this world somewhere peace and love can last.
Yes, I know it will be hard, but it’s worth giving everything,
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.

We say, “We need to talk about what’s going on,”
Only talking’s all we ever seem to do.
And we can talk all night and day, but it won’t do any good
If we don’t take that next step and follow through.
Even if that step we take is wrong,
We’ve already put it off for much too long.

I think it’s time I set my hands to the task,
And start working to make this world somewhere peace and love can last.
Yes, I know it will be hard, but it’s worth giving everything,
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.

Black and white, in between,
Men and women, all convene
To edit and rewrite the scene
And show it on the giant screen.
No more inhumanity,
No more inequality,
No more hatred, no more war,
No more hunger anymore,
No more homeless, no more poor.
Isn’t that worth striving for?
I think it’s worth trying for.
I’m all done with crying for…

I think it’s time I set my hands to the task,
And start working to make this world somewhere peace and love can last.
Yes, I know it will be hard, but it’s worth giving everything,
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.
Finally, I see the truth: I receive just as I bring.