My Two Cents

This is my two cents. You'll get it whether you want it or not. However, I won't charge anyone because it may not be worth two cents.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'm doin' alright, the best that I can

Wow, it's been almost a year and a half since I posted anything here. I guess it's time to take stock at where I am these days.

I started this site to help sort some things out in my life. I also wrote more in my own journal. I think it helped a lot. In reading it, I could take a little bit of a distant view at how I was feeling, what I was thinking, what I was doing. I've now been at my job for slightly more than 17 months. It's a job. It doesn't excite me, it's really not anything I envisioned myself doing yet it's become a routine. I don't know how long I'll stay at it.

I know that I like to keep the status quo as long as things aren't going badly so I don't see myself going out and looking for anything else. Something would have to pop up and grab my attention. I guess I'm in this job for the long haul and that's OK. I've got a good supervisor and some good people with whom I work.

I also just moved. After two and a half years in a house that was "temporary" I'm basically living in a boarding house. Great husband and wife own the place, it's clean, it's comfortable, it's close to the school and less than 25 minutes to work. My boat is stored about three miles away so location is great and, honestly, I'm fine living in this place. Would I like to have my own home? Sure, I wish a had a job that supported that and a little better life style.

However, I don't need much in life and I've got a job and the little things in life that make me happy, mainly the ability to hunt and fish.

As Bruce Hornsby wrote in Jacob's Ladder, "I'm doin' alright, the best that I can." Although I may want tomorrow to be better than today, as long as it's as good as today I'll take what I can get.

Jacob's Ladder (Bruce Hornsby)
I met a fan dancer down in southside Birmingham
She was running from a fat man selling salvation in his hand
She said he's tryin' to save me
But I'm doin' alright, the best that i can

Just a pair of fallen angels tryin' to get through the night
Step by step, one by one, higher and higher
Step by step, one by one, climbing Jacob's ladder

Comin' over the airwaves the man says I'm overdue
Sing a song, send money, join the chosen few
But mister I'm not in a hurry, and I don't want to be like you
All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today

Step by step, one by one, higher and higher
Step by step, one by one, climbing Jacob's ladder
All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today
Step by step, one by one, higher and higher
Step by step, one by one, climbing Jacob's ladder

Friday, March 4, 2011

She was a friend to me when I needed one

Great opening line to a great song by Jackson Browne and something to which I'm really relating to right now.

I've finally found a job. I haven't had a full-time job (at least a paying, full-time job) for nearly four years and it's been very stressful and trying at times.

I'm very fortunate to have some great friends who have carried me through these times. Joe and Bob are the best friends I have and have been for many years. Some of the things they've done for me, they realize how much it means. Many of the things they've done for me I don't think they do.

Both have families and I feel very much a part of their families. I've know their kids and their pets all their lives. I follow what their kids do and take pride in the things they do well.

Last year, Bob's son drew a picture of his family tree and it included me. Two weeks ago, I stayed with Bob's entire family following his father's funeral. When Bob's wife was getting the kids ready to go, their four-year old daughter announced she wasn't going because she was coming home with me.

A few weeks earlier, I was at the funeral of another friend's father and I got to revisit many friends, including my fishing partner, Marko, and Boli, who's fathered had passed away after a bout with ALS. Although it was a sad occassion, it was also a celebration of Boli's dad's life and it was great to be with those friends and family. That was true of both funerals.

Those four guys are as close to me as my own family and they, and their families, mean the world to me.

One person who really came into my life a couple of years ago is J. Although we've know each other for many years, J and I really hit it off a couple of years ago and have become really good friends since then.

I stayed with J when I went to Boli's father's funeral. I was there to see the Packers in the NFC wildcard and championship games, as well as on my birthday, at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Without my mom, I really don't feel like I have a home any longer but J's house has become a place where I've been able to retreat to and spend some time by myself. The relaxation, mentally, I get there has been wonderfully refreshing and something I don't think I can ever explain to anyone how much it has meant to me. J has looked after me and cared for me when I need it most.

I cannot thank her enough nor ever even attempt to repay what her friendship has meant to me over the last two years. She really was a friend to me when I needed one, and I hope she knows how much I appreciate her.

That Girl Could Sing
Jackson Browne

She was a friend to me when I needed one
Wasn't for her I don't know what I'd done
She gave me back something that was missing in me

She could have turned out to be almost anyone
Almost anyone, with the possible exception
Of who I wanted her to be

Running into the midnight with her clothes whipping in the wind
Reaching into the heart of the darkness for the tenderness within
Stumblin' into the lights of the city and then back in the shadows again
Hanging onto the laughter that each of us hid our unhappiness in

Talk about celestial bodies
And your angels on the wing
She wasn't much good at stickin' around
But that girl could sing, she could sing

In the dead of night she could shine a light
On some places that you've never been
In that kind of light you could lose your sight
And believe there was something to win

You could hold her tight with all your might
But she'd slip through your arms like the wind
and be back in flight back into the night
Where you might never see her again

The longer I thought I might find her
The shorter my vision became
Running in circles behind her
And thinking in terms of the blame

But she couldn't have been any kinder
If she'd come back and tried to explain

She wasn't much good at saying goodbye
But that girl was sane

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's not supposed to be easy

My thoughts often evolve (or devolve, in some cases) from a totally unrelated matter. The last couple of days on my runs, my thoughts have come down, at the end, to how hard it is to finish my runs and why I do it.

Although for many, a two-mile run is pretty simple, when you're still carrying 255 pounds, it's not. But, I look at the work and time I've put into taking off over 125 pounds and I've come a long ways. It hasn't always been easy.

Still, as I was struggling on my run yesterday, I got to thinking about how easy it would be to quit and just get in a good, long walk. I couldn't get loose and, just a half-mile into the run, I was already feeling tight. However, I thought about how winning and losing are habitual and I hate losing. Quitting is losing.

I've been fortunate to be part of some highly successful programs. From a state championship in football in high school, to a pair of national championship in hockey in college to another national hockey championship as a staff member, I've seen and experienced what it takes to be successful.

Vince Lombardi was right when he said "Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."

When you quit, it becomes easier each time. I've found this out. I've tried working to lose weight before and given it up. This time, I just decided to go back to what I had learned before, that it takes work to achieve your goals and it's not easy. But the end result is worth all you've done.

If lifting, running, etc., was easy, it would probably be called a funout instead of a workout and obesity in this country wouldn't be the problem that it has become. I learned a long time ago that nothing worth having comes easy, but there's a definite reward of self-satisfaction when it finally comes.

It feels great to hear the compliments I get from people who knew me two-plus years ago and can see how far I've come. However, the feeling I get from knowing that I've done it on my own is the best feeling.

I've made my choices in life. Some good, some bad but all my own and I'll live with them. In the words of John Mellencamp, "This is my life, it's what I've chosen to do. There's no free rides, no one said it'd be easy."

The hard times, the struggles and the work we do helps us to enjoy our successes and the good times that much more. I've learned many lessons the hard way but I've learned them, worked at them and can appreciate things more because of what I've gone through.

Minutes to Memories
John Mellencamp

On a greyhound thirty miles beyond Jamestown
He saw the sun set on the Tennessee line
He looked at the young man who was riding beside him
He said I’m old kind of worn out inside
I worked my whole life in the steel mills of Gary
And my father before me I helped build this land
Now I’m seventy-seven and with God as my witness
I earned every dollar that passed through my hands
My family and friends are the best things I’ve known
Through the eye of the needle I’ll carry them home

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams that we had planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can

The rain hit the old dog in the twilight’s last gleaming
He said son it sounds like rattling old bones
This highway is long but I’ve know some that are longer
By sunup tomorrow I guess I’ll be home
Through the hills of Kentucky ‘cross the Ohio River
The old man kept talking about his life and his times
He fell asleep with his head against the window
He said an honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind
This world offers riches and riches will grow wings
And I don’t take stock in those uncertain things

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams that we had planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can

The old man had a vision but it was hard for me to follow
I do things my way and I pay a high price
When I think back on the old man and the bus ride
Now that I’m older I can see he was right

Another hot one out on highway eleven
This is my life it’s what I’ve chosen to do
There’s no free rides no one said it’d be easy
The old man told me this my son I’m telling it to you

Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams that we had planned
You are young and you are the future
So suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday night lights

As I sit here at J.J.'s Clubhouse in St. Louis Park, following a 56-6 football loss to Totino-Grace, arguably the best high school team in Minnesota this year, I think about how much Friday's mean to me.

Since I've been working with Benilde-St. Margaret's football, which I have since the fall of 2006, Friday's are a hard day for me to get anything accomplished because I look forward to the game that night.

I'm fortunate. We've got a great staff and, as were are now, we always adjourn to the local tavern after the game and, win or lose, we always have some laughs.

(Moving on, it's now Saturday and I'm now waiting for our first volleyball match of the day)

When it comes to "team" there is no sport like football. It makes for a closeness among teammates, and on the staff, like no other sport does. You have to rely on others around you constantly and the trust which is built carries over to off-field relationships.

Last night, we had a lot of things to "discuss" after suffering a 50-point blowout. Yet, we could laugh about a lot of things, poke fun at each other and still leave at the end of the night feeling OK.

Knowing that you just got your ass handed to you, but coming out of it all feeling OK (maybe not great but OK) and knowing that things will get better should be a metaphor for life. It's one of those lessons that sports should really teach us, especially the kids, all about.

I've always said, if you can't laugh at yourself, you can't laugh at anyone else. Being able to do that has me feeling better now, about football and about life.

Friday night lights, I love it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A peaceful, easy feeling

A few weeks ago, I was able to get away for 11 days, see friends and family, do some fishing and just get away and forget my troubles for a little while. I have to thank my friend J for much of it.

I posted a picture (above) I took of the sunset over Lake Superior from the cabin J was staying at back home. Our friend, L, is using the picture as her Facebook profile picture these days. I noticed it a short time ago and just seeing the picture made me feel very peaceful.

Although I have some great friends with whom I share some good times, this picture was taken on a night with very few people, two of whom I haven't seen in many years and their husbands, whom I'd never met. I was also with J and Walldo, and we just sat, talked, ate, drank and laughed our asses off. As you can tell from the picture, it was a beautiful evening and just a fun and relaxing night.

I look at that picture and realize how fortunate I am to have friends with whom I can spend that kind of time. When I'm having my bad days, I like to remember these times. It reminds me that the good times far outweigh the bad and that I have some of the greatest people in my life that anyone could ever have.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Time to make something happen

"Well, you can wish in one hand and dump in the other and see which one fills up first." -- Grandpa Gustafson (Burgess Meredith) in Grumpy Old Men

That quote came into my head over the weekend and morphed into something larger on my two-mile run this morning, in conjunction with the song Right Now by Van Halen, which was running through my mind.

Lately, I seem to be wishing for a lot of things to be happening in my life but, I wonder, am I doing enough to make those things happen.

I once said, in a speech at a banquet "You can't necessarily do or be anything you want. But you'll never know if you don't try." It's advice, right now, that I need to take to heart.

I've been working towards some things but, in all honestly, probably not doing enough to make those things happen for me.

I was thinking, on my run this morning, that it took me way to long to get serious about losing weight but, once I did, I lost 130 pounds and am still losing more. I know I can do the things I want to right now, but I have to put more effort into doing those things, rather than wishing for them to happen.

So, with that, it's time go get after some things in life.

Right Now (Van Halen from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge)
Don’t wanna wait til tomorrow,
Why put it off another day?
One more walk through problems,
Built up, and stand in our way, ah
One step ahead, one step behind
Now you gotta run to get even
Make future plans, don’t dream about yesterday, hey
C'mon turn, turn this thing around

Right now, hey
It’s your tomorrow
Right now,
C’mon, it’s everything
Right now,
Catch a magic moment, do it
Right here and now
It means everything

Miss the beat, you lose the rhythm,
And nothing falls into place, no
Only missed by a fraction,
Slipped a little off your pace, oh,
The more things you get, the more you want,
Just trade in one for the other,
Workin so hard, to make it easy, whoa,
Got to turn, c’mon turn this thing around

Right now, hey
It’s your tomorrow
Right now,
C’mon, it’s everything
Right now,
Catch that magic moment, do it
Right here and now
It means everything
It’s enlightened me, right now
What are you waitin for
Oh, yeah, right now

Right now, hey
It’s your tomorrow
Right now,
C’mon, it’s everything
Right now,
Catch that magic moment, and do it right,
Right now
Right now, oh, right now

It’s what’s happening?
Right here and now
Right now
It’s right now
Tell me, what are you waiting for
Turn this thing around

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Yes, it's a great song by U2 but I've been wondering about it for the last couple of days. More to the point, I've been wondering about what I've been looking for.

Professionally, I'm not sure what I want to do. I once thought a career in sports, basically in media relations, would be my life. It may still be where I'm headed again, but I got burned out on it about a decade ago. However, I miss the people and I've still stayed close to sports and maintained my contacts.

Life revolves around sports still and, it seems, it always has. I've found other passions -- hunting, fishing, good beer -- but things always seem to come back to sports. I recently came back from my annual fishing trip, our 21st annual trip (God, where does the time go?) and had a wonderful time as always. The time spent with my best friends is always great but it was coupled with the best fishing we've had in those 21 years.

I came home only to have my high school baseball team, seeded second in the section, lose its first playoff game and the season came to an abrupt end. I've been in a bit of a funk for the last three days because of it. This year's team was one of the best groups of kids I've ever had to work with and I'm looking forward to the Legion season getting underway this weekend.

I went most of the winter without a hockey team to work with and that was really hard. Anyone who has read my blog posts, knows I was struggling with some issues earlier this year and not having games to prepare for, to work, a team to be with, was a part of those issues. It gave me too much time to dwell on things rather than just plowing ahead and getting things done like I usually do.

The other thing I had issues with was relationship issues, or lack thereof. In that regard, I really don't know what I'm looking. I mentioned that to J the other day, that I didn't know what I was looking for. Along those lines, it seems J reads me better than I do myself. I'm thinking I may need to talk to J to see if she has any advice for me and if I can find any answers along those lines.

I've always let my professional life rule over everything else in life. However, without much in the way of a job, I've found myself wondering what I may have missed in life and what I still want.

I had some good conversations with my two best friends while I was fishing. They both made me look at, and think about, some things a little differently than I have been. If there's one thing in life I don't have to look for it's better friends.

I don't have answers to the questions I have. I don't even know if I'm asking the right questions. I know I'm looking for something but I don't yet know what that is, but I hope to have some answers soon. My friends give me peace of mind and the belief that I will find what I'm looking for.