Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebration in the face of sad news

Two big stories in the news lately come to mind. Obviously, the death of Michael Jackson, and the other one that sticks out to me is the Governor of South Carolina and his recent affair.

I think the thing that stands out to me is the way the world points its finger in judgment. And I find myself doing the same thing, so I guess I'm no better than the rest of the world now, am I?

And that very fact makes me stop and realize... I'm no better than either of these two people either, you know?

The truth is, maybe they're not all that different than you or I, despite having high positions and fame. They're still people. They have things about them that are good, and... flaws. We just happen to notice them more when they're so much in the public eye. And really, we want to drag them 'down to our level' not that I really think there is any level to drag them down to (or up to for that matter).

But because they've been blessed with the talents, abilities, skills, and opportunities to be in the public eye, we also know all about their flaws. And we judge them viciously.

I don't know, really, about whether Michael Jackson ever did the things he's accused of. So I won't try to speculate whether he did. I can't help but think that when it's all said and done he didn't know how to cope with all the stuff that comes with the level of fame he achieved. Who knows what kind of affect it had to be a star at childhood to the point that, maybe he never really got to be a kid.

I guess it really doesn't matter right now. There's a circus going on right now but when it's all said and done, some kids lost their father. There are people who lost a family member, others who lost a good friend. The fact he was famous doesn't change anything, the pain of losing someone close is just as real for them as it is for us. It's incredibly sobering to see it all. So much of the commentary I hear lately is about how there was so much potential and ability and yet the tragedy of it all is how this is a man who in the end was mocked so much.

But that's not so different than real life for everyone else, is it? Loss like that is difficult because it's final. There's no chance now to change things. Michael was working on making a comeback, but it won't happen. That's how it always seems to happen for us because we think there can be that comeback, that those things that are flawed can be improved, but then something happens and it can't be.

And the other story is the whole deal with Governor Sanford taking off for awhile, where his affair with this other lady all comes to light. And again, we see the humanity, how the reality of life is pretty much the same whether you're famous, whether you've got power, or you're just an ordinary person.

I hear the venom from people on both sides of the aisle. I see the world shaking their heads at this guy. I hear people on the radio saying they can't imagine how someone could do such a thing. There's contempt because this was a guy who was all about family values and look what he did. And yet... if you get down and examine the lives of all the critics (including you and I), how many of these critics have their own secrets and sins that just haven't been brought to light? Who are any of us to compare and criticize?

None of us can really understand why he did what he did. I mean, how can a man with such power (some considered him a potential candidate for President) throw it all away by doing something so stupid? But have we ever considered that if a guy in his position does what he does despite all of the risk, there have to be some powerful emotions and factors at play that we cannot begin to imagine?

This is in no way trying to justify anything that either of these men may have done. I just know that... I know how it feels to have screwed up, I know how it is to feel the weight of peoples' judgment, much of it earned.

And I know what the grace of God means to me. Something that's taken a long time to really begin to appreciate.

Maybe that's what this is about in the end. The weight of the world's judgment comes down on these two figures, but to me it just shows that here are a couple of men who, despite their talents and fame and power, we see their flaws. We see men who know pain, whose failures are there for the world to see. We can go on and on about how they should have done things differently, that there's no real excuse for things that were done, and we'd probably be right.

And yet, the failures and the flaws are there. Just like they are there for you and I.

And maybe in the end, these stories are something to celebrate. Because they point out something about the reality of the human condition, and that is, that it is deeply flawed. Our sins and our weaknesses bring us all short, whether we are ordinary people living ordinary lives, or lives of power and prestige. And no, the fact that everyone fails and has flaws is not the part that is to be celebrated.

The celebration is that our fate, our end does not have to be determined by the mistakes we make, no matter how terrible. God saw those flaws, those weaknesses, those sins that are part of us. And instead of pointing the finger like we're so prone to doing, he did something about it. He sent his son.

What incredible hope! THAT is the celebration... because at least for me these things remind me of my own sin... and remind me of the incredible Grace God has given me. And all of a sudden... life is good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bike to Work Day

Wednesday is Bike to Work day in Denver. I'm kinda liking the idea, it's intriguing I must say.

When I got my bike, I had this image of commuting by now. Back then it was about 15 mile trip in to work, and there was one day I dropped my work truck off and had hauled my bike out and rode it back. But that was pretty much it for the bike to work thing. Okay, a lot of that has to do with when things changed with my job to where I was no longer on salary but straight commission, and pretty much prior to deciding to do the work from home thing.

You know... biking to work is pretty easily done when you work at home. "Yeah, I'm all Green, I bike to work." All I gotta do is go down the drive way and back up.

Pathetic huh?

That all kinda falls hand in hand with this whole plateau I'm on right now, come to think of it. I don't know if the changes at work and going self employed have a part in it all or what. It's an interesting thought if I wanted to dig a little deeper. But I don't.

Although.... all day Wednesday I'll be about 4 miles from here installing a new phone system. I could bike there. And let me tell you, it's an easy ride. ALLLLLL downhill. Coming back... different story. Yikes!!! Good thing buses in this town all have bike carriers on them eh?

A bike's not really a great service vehicle. But you know what I want to do for a service vehicle? I'm dead serious here: Smart Car! I have test driven the things and even at my size... they're awesome. But the biggest thing about them to me, and the total appeal is the billboard value of the things. Imagine having one of those things wrapped with a well designed logo and all that. Those puppies get attention. Okay, they're not great for carrying a ladder (though it could be kinda cool looking)... though I am taking a good look into those fold up ladders, because if they would work.... it might be a great way to go. Not as green as a bike, I know, but still not too bad. And definitely not as sweat-causing!

I am excited about doing this installation. This is the first big deal for Barnabas Communications. I've done a lot of little odd jobs here and there but not making great money... kinda the thing where I was about ready to fire the sales guy (a little scary to do when you're a one man operation). But then this was something that got referred to me, and it turned into something much bigger than I expected, and now I'm in the middle of the project and I'm pretty psyched about it. It's kind of fun, you know?

Actually, building this business is fun. Coming up with the plans and concepts and structure of it all... I've even got my logo! Right now I'm back and forth between running like a chicken with my head cut off at times trying to make sure I've got everything covered on the job I'm doing, and then stopping, stepping back, and saying okay, how does this need to happen and what do I need to do to make this go? And I think that I've had times I've been so terrified and really doubting if I could do it because after all, I wasn't exactly selling a ton of stuff where I was before now, was I? And yet, here I am now getting to do the kinds of things that I've always believed should be done, and putting it all into motion now, and it's exciting.

And the thing that amazes me is that as I talk to people about what the business is all about, I can tell they like it. They really seem to believe I've got something good. And I find myself asking, why couldn't I get people to agree with me when telling them about what I'm doing working for other places? And I think the reality of it has come home... people have always agreed with me, and I just didn't know it. That ultimately, in the end, I didn't totally buy into the company or the product or something like that. But now, I've been able to take some new ideas, and implement them. No longer is there the "we can't afford to do it that way" or "that will never work." I know it WILL work, and I'm finding myself amazingly passionate and even articulate about it when describing the concept to people... and they believe in it!

My wife has been amazing about it all. When I knew things were about to change at the other company and I'd no longer have a regular income, I started putting down my ideas on paper. When it happened, we sat down and talked it over. I knew relying on that position for a regular income wasn't going to work. I also knew that in this economy, doing a job search would take some time and income would dry up a little while. And I also knew that what I wanted to do wasn't being done by anyone else, and as we looked at the numbers we realized it was a very viable possibility. I'll admit that for a few weeks when the income was just a trickle, there are those times of thinking, is this really the way to go? It's a challenge when you're not producing the kind of income you were and everyone has to cut back to beans and rice for awhile to get by, and as a guy, that's the kind of thing that's real easy to get down on oneself about. But Janiece has been incredibly supportive, maybe even a bigger believer than even myself. And while I know this one job is not IT, it's the ice breaker I was looking for and I know it's the beginning of something very successful. And that's exciting.

The only thing I'm wondering though is... how professional would it look for a really big guy (see the last post to see what I think about how big) to show up to work on the phones wearing bike shorts.

Kinda makes you shudder huh?

Maybe the 'up and down the driveway' thing is enough to suffice for bike to work week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Unexpected Motivation

I'd mentioned the stuff about sleep in the past. Lately the whole sleep thing seems to be okay but even after manipulating mattresses around, I find myself waking up with back soreness, it's as though the different slopes in the bed are enough to create some strain. So it leads to a conclusion, gotta get a new bed. Well, that's well and good except that budget can be pretty tight while you're trying to get a new business to take off. But sometimes when it bugs you enough you start thinking okay maybe it's time to break that resolve of not using credit.

I find myself wondering if the back thing is another of those chicken or the egg things. I tend to wear the outside of my heels down, and all of my shoes are in that condition right now, and when that happens I know my back starts getting sore. So... is it my bed creating the problem, or is it my shoes? One creating the problem and the other just making it worse... At least shoes don't cost as much as a bed, that's one good place to start.

Of course, it's silly to even ask either of those questions. The real thing is....


Okay, so anyway, the other morning I woke up about 5 and after a little tossing and turning it became clear... I'm not going to fall back asleep. Okay, good time to get out and ride my bike or something. So I set out, and after a mile and a half or so it's like ow, my back's fussing too much, time to turn it around and head home. But then, part way through the day, I'm realizing hey... my back isn't hurting. What's up with that? The only thing I can think of is, bike ride. I realized that by the time I got home it wasn't hurting. Hmmmmmm..... So, next morning, I went out and did the same thing, and my back's feeling fine then. I don't know if maybe the bike riding is stretching it all out some? So now I'm getting out each morning for a short bike ride. So in some ways the back thing is good for me cuz it's getting me back to being out more regularly.

I know I find myself getting caught up in all the stuff of life and it makes an easy excuse to not get so involved in exercise. Too little time, you know? So this whole thing is a good wake up call.

That and, did I mention, I'M TOO STINKING FAT!!!

I'm a real fan of Dave Ramsey and his approach on finances. The one thing though that he says about getting yourself out of all the financial ick you create in your life is a lot like what they say about addictions and such, that you never really do anything about stuff until you get just too sick and tired of the circumstances. Then you develop what Dave calls "Gazelle Intensity."

So maybe I'm getting too sick and tired of the fact that I'M TOO STINKING FAT!!! and maybe that's the beginning of my Gazelle Intensity.

Although......... What doesn't help is something like Friday night. My wife and I decided we needed a date night. Some time back we had bid at a silent auction on gift certificates to this place that's not as well known yet, and won the bid. This was a good time to use that. It's this little place called Bistro One. It's one of those places that, as I looked it up to see what their menu was and all it just seemed... too trendy? One of those places that really focuses on having a modern and fancy decor, but I wasn't sure how I'd like it.

We walk in, and it's sort of an Art Deco, black and white decor but it just seems noisy or something. And I wasn't sure how I was going to like it all to be honest.

But then the food arrives. And Oh. My. Gosh. Very, very few times in my life have I ever found myself so surprised and amazed at just how good the food is. For an appetizer we got a cheese plate. They had 5 different cheeses with sauces and such. Like Gouda cheese with tiny chopped up strawberries. I never would have thought the taste combinations would be so good but it was all amazing. Then we got Ribeye steaks and they were simply amazing. They just melted in your mouth and the taste was astonishing. And I think I've had some pretty great steaks in my life, but this was incredible. The steaks alone were enough to satisfy your hunger, and my wife is not a big eater at all, but there was just something about the experience that we had to get desert, and even the desert was incredible. Service was top notch, food was incredible... this is a place that's still just getting started out, it's not even 2 years, and I know restaraunts like that are struggling a bit more in this economy, but I sure hope this one can continue to make it because it's just... too good to fail.

Probably not the kind of thing that helps a diet be successful, though truth be told lately it's been more like, "what diet?"

So I suppose it's good to wake up this morning and be sore and so aware of the fact that I'M TOO STINKING FAT!!! because it helps offset the feeling you get when eating such an amazing meal Friday that leaves you thinking, do I really need to be on a diet?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weddings and diets

Quick trips to weddings don't always make a good mix for diets. Everything is sandwiches, sandwiches, cake, more sandwiches and chips. And more sandwiches. It's not just the stuff at the wedding but on the trip as well.

That said, it doesn't have to be a disaster. I'm hoping I ate in moderation enough to not have it be said disaster. There was some GREAT barbeque at the rehearsal dinner. And enough things that you can pick things out that are not as bad for you.

It was good getting back home though. For just long enough. We took off Monday morning for the 7 hour drive and left sunday noon to come back. It was enough to touch base with folks and see the home town, see how much things have changed (and how little overall they've changed) and it made for a nice trip.

The wedding was nice as well. I think it was kinda a big deal in the family, as I grew up with 3 brothers, so we didn't have any of the girl's side of the wedding to be part of. Ame (was supposed to be Amie but my brother was a basketcase when they asked what her name was to be and he misspelled it) is the oldest of all the kids between us (if you don't count my stepkids anyway) so it's the first wedding for any of us.

And having watched this, I'm realizing that with 3 daughters and 2 stepdaughters... the future costs ahead of us are terrifying. So I think we're creating a policy -- we pay for the justice of the peace and we'll buy airfare to anywhere they want to elope. Nice and easy. I like it that way.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wonder what a difference a year makes....

We leave this morning to go to my niece's wedding back in Nebraska. Last time I was in Nebraska I was about 40 pounds heavier. So I'm wondering how noticable it will be, mainly because I've been at this level for so long now that that's what I see.

I'm not expecting much notice though. Mainly because it's been a year since everyone's seen the kids, and they've all grown so much that that's sure to be what gets their notice.

It will be good to go back for a little while. And it will be good to come home again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The value of sleep

Sleep seems to be one of those chicken or the egg kinda things when it comes to weight loss. As I get it, weight loss comes more easily when you sleep well, but.. I think too it's like sleep comes more easily when it comes to weight loss.

My wife has noticed that I'm having a harder time getting up in the mornings lately. I always wondered about how much the whole motivation thing played in this all, where i'm still on this plateau, so it's like it doesn't come quite as natural to jump out of bed to go on these killer walks (even though the weather's SOOOO much better for it now). But I'm thinking there's more to it lately because I find myself waking up tired more often than I have for a bit.

That has had me a bit concerned, because one thing I've fought through much of my life has been sleep apnea. Essentially that's where you quit breathing while sleeping. There's a longer explanation of it, but anyway I finally went in a few years back and had a sleep study done (which i foolishly avoided for too many years because of the cost) and I can't tell you how tremendous the difference is now since I've done something about it, but lately I know i started to wonder if that was flaring up again or something.

But... I think i figured it out. Thanks to some back pain... lately when I'm laying down i've found that when I turn just so there's a real twinge in my back. And when it's like that, you start noticing things like how uneven the bed is. Or I'll put it this way, I think i've created a divot in the bed. Put it another way... i'm too darn big for it. So when you're laying uneven like that, it has it's effects. And I think that what's happening is while I'm sleeping my body's trying to balance itself against this chasm and so i'm not really resting.

Another point of motivation?