Posts Tagged ‘Attitude’

TearOne of the changes I’ve noticed about myself in recent years is that I’m far more sentimental or emotional than I used to be. It doesn’t take a lot to get to me. Thank goodness nobody else but my dog is with me in my “man” cave when I see some sappy commercial or moment on TV that makes me tear up. It might be something in the news or a commercial designed to tug at the heart or some random thought that comes to mind that consumes me. I even cried one evening a few weeks ago about something work related. That may have been a first for me in 40 years of employment.

Is it normal for people to get more emotional as they get older? Do we become more reflective and aware of substantive matters of the heart? Is it some other change within that has nothing to do with age or gender? Am I too stressed and suffering the emotional consequences? I don’t know.

It isn’t that I mind being more sensitive. That can be a good thing. I just wish I understood the change better. Any thoughts on the matter?

I sure hope I don’t have to start calling my “man” cave a “wuss” cave soon.

CalvaryI have intentionally saved for last in this series on thankfulness that for which I am most eternally thankful. It’s hard to rank the objects of my thankfulness and some may think that valuing one over the others is unnecessary. However, I place those involving relationships higher than others, and there is no more important relationship any of us can have than one with the Creator of the universe.

For those who know me and for anyone who has explored this blog much, it should come as no surprise that my Christian faith is important to me. That’s why I choose to clearly post a page here about what I believe. But for anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, faith is not just a set of beliefs – it is a relationship. It defines who we are, what values we hold, what priorities we ascribe to all of life’s concerns, how we live, and the worldview by which we see and interpret all that happens.

Christian faith is an affirmation of the truth of the Bible and all it teaches about God, humanity, sin, Christ, salvation, eternal life (or death) and much, much more. It is a reasoned and reasonable trust and confidence in the One who did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is a voluntary surrender of one’s will to the lordship of Christ.

It is impossible for me to imagine life without faith, nor would I want to do so. It is the core of who I am and why I exist, even though I fail miserably at living out that faith more often than I care to admit. Fortunately, my hope for the future and what comes after this life is not in myself or what I can do for God, but in what He has already done for me in Christ.

The Bible teaches that faith, itself, is a gift (see Ephesians 2:8-9). Thank you, God, for my faith and for being its source and focus.

I’m Thankful For My Health

Posted: December 1, 2013 in Attitude
Tags: , ,

healthEveryone experiences health issues from time to time – some more than others. I consider myself fortunate that I am rarely sick. Outside of a little cold now and then, it is highly unusual for me to have any health issues at all. At nearly 57 years old, I’m 5’10” tall and weigh 145 pounds. I don’t run as often as I used to, but I still walk at least five miles a day, jogging some from time to time. I’m on target to accomplish my health goals for this year and look forward to setting some different goals for 2014.

There have only been two health issues of concern since the year 2000: (1) a series of heart atrial fibrillations for about a decade (that ended overnight when I gave up my stressful PhD pursuit), and (2) melanoma in 2000 that was removed with no recurrence. Every annual checkup, blood test, and biometric exam yields great results. I’ve lived with the ringing in my ears for so many years now from tinnitus that I don’t even notice it unless I’m in a very quiet room. All in all, I won’t complain.

I have my parents and a very healthy family line to thank for good genes, and I’m grateful for that. Not everyone is as fortunate. My 79-year-old parents still go to the local YMCA nearly every day to work out on a treadmill for a while. They are both very active with Mom volunteering and taking care of a huge, old home while Dad takes care of their 60-acre farm. I think that’s awesome.

Having good health also requires taking reasonable care of myself – an ongoing goal that demands regular attention, even though I certainly enjoy the occasional decadent food choice that tastes oh, so good, and at times I test my luck with a too-busy schedule for too many days running. I track my calories daily and make sure I don’t overdo it. I’m more mindful now than ever of the value of recording everything I eat and drink to get familiar with what is healthy and what is terribly costly in terms of calories. It’s amazing how few calories healthy foods have compared to the poor choices of processed or fast foods. I am convinced that the single best thing anyone can do to really get a handle on losing or maintaining a desired weight is to record everything consumed and the caloric consequences. It’s very eye-opening.

I weigh myself every morning to make sure I am at or below my target weight of 145 pounds, and if I’m over it even by ounces I do not eat a meal until I can weigh in under the goal at some point in the day. I haven’t missed a daily weight goal since July, 2012, including the typical holidays where much is consumed. I made sure this past week that I entered Thanksgiving Day a couple of pounds below my goal so I could enjoy the foods of the day without weighing too much the next morning. I’m down about 25 pounds from my highest weight in the spring of 2012. Any weight I would gain would just go to my gut, so I have no interest in doing that. I have several daily vitamins and supplements I also take without fail.

Since wearing my Fitbit Flex in September, I have not had a single day without accumulating at least 10,000 steps, nor any seven-day period with less than 80,000 steps. I track my sleep to make sure I average at least six hours per night – more than any year in recent memory, although my body is telling me lately that it isn’t quite enough.

There is certainly more that I could be doing. I could be better about stretching, other regular exercises or weight training. I could run more often and will set a 2014 goal for that. I could space throughout the day what I eat rather than concentrate most of it in a single meal. I could get more sleep and will set a 2014 goal for that, too. Still, I’m happy with my health and with being able to do whatever I choose to do. I know I’m not the spring chicken I used to be, but I can’t expect that.

None of us are guaranteed another day in this life, so I won’t take anything for granted. I have joked a number of times that I have every intention of living to be 100 because I think it would be awesome to have that birthday party. Who knows if that will happen or not, but I’ll keep plugging away expecting it until I have a reason to think otherwise.

Good health is precious. I am thankful for others around me who promote it, for genes that contribute to it, for the desire to work at staying healthy, and for working at a company that offers constant healthy behavior incentives and rewards to encourage the right lifestyle. Every day of good health is a gift.

Thank you, God, for my health.

I’m Thankful For My Dog

Posted: November 30, 2013 in Attitude
Tags: , , ,
Callie, 2 months old, 5 pounds, June 2010

Callie, 2 months old, 5 pounds, June 2010

Those who know me well and those with whom I’m connected on Facebook are very familiar with my love for my dog, Callie. I’ve always been a dog person from as early as I can remember. Most of my nearly 57 years have seen a canine companion at my side.

When my previous dog, Bonnie, passed away, I promised my wife one full year of not having a dog just so we could experience all the seasons, travel and life experiences without the added responsibility of a dog for a year. We ended up going for two years before we found Callie. It was a long two years where I went every week without fail to a pet store or animal shelter to look at pups. It was on one of those weekly visits that we saw Callie in a bin with her more aggressive sibling. She fell asleep in minutes cuddled up with Linda, and I knew at that moment who our next companion would be. We’ve had her for 3.5 years now and she is a treasure.

always by me, if not always awake

always by me, if not always awake

Of all the dogs I’ve had in my life, I’ve never had one with whom I shared a relationship like I have with Callie. When I am home, we are inseparable (unless Linda is cooking in the kitchen, in which case Callie hangs around her in hopes of some food dropping on the floor). When I go from one room to the next, she goes with me – even to the bathroom. When I go to bed, she either lays on the floor by me or crawls under the bed below me and usually stays there until my alarm goes off. When I’m in my favorite recliner at the end of my sectional sofa in the basement, she is on the next section beside me or trying to get between my laptop and me.

No day is complete in her mind unless we throw the Frisbee in the back yard and take a long walk. It helps that I have a daily step goal of at least 10,000 steps (about five miles). Callie is guaranteed to get in 2-4 miles a day walking with me, depending on how many steps I need to reach 10,000 for the day. Her other favorite ritual is to have me chase her around the basement yelling, clapping my hands and roaring at her while she dashes in a big circle around the room. I hope the neighbors can’t hear me.

No return home is complete without Callie being at the door waiting for me and then nearly bursting out of her skin with excitement when I arrive. She goes nuts, whether I’m returning from a full day at work or a short shopping trip. It serves as the appropriate bookend to my leaving for work when she will sit at the door watching in stillness as I drive away until I’m out of sight. My wife tells me that Callie whimpers and whines if I go out into the yard or to the car to do something without her for a moment, disappearing for a while from her sight.


always ready for a walk or run

Callie is pretty good at obeying me. She quickly learned the basic commands and does them for me – come, give, sit, stay, down, up, get your ball/bone/chain/Frisbee, etc. – using either my spoken commands or hand motions. She may or may not perform when others give the commands. She’s a smart Border Collie, Labrador mix (a Borador) that we haven’t trained nearly as much as we could have. I had visions of using her as a therapy dog and she would be a sweet dog for that, but we didn’t train her enough to keep her as settled down and under control as a therapy dog would need to be visiting the sick or elderly. She is perfectly behaved around my 2-year-old granddaughter, although the wagging tail is about face-high to my granddaughter right now, but that will change soon.

From the first days of having her when she was two months old, I’ve intentionally tried to socialize her by walking her toward other people and dogs. She knows no stranger and is willing to befriend anyone or any dog unless they give her a reason not to do so. On those walks, she’ll gladly run with me for as long as I want to run as long as it’s not too hot outside – she doesn’t handle summer heat very well for long. Otherwise, she’ll walk with me for as long as I want to be out.

Some people let their dogs lick them and some don’t. I do, and Callie gives me more kisses in a day than probably all of my previous dogs did combined. If I’ve slept on my couch and am waking up, Callie hops up, lays down on my chest, puts one paw on either side of my head and kisses until I stop her. In that position she’ll also take one paw and gently stroke my face a few times which is sweet, but I have to stop that quickly for fear of a claw leaving its mark.


time to share some drive-through French fries

Callie is a trusting dog and would let me wash her, brush her, check out some injury or treat her if needed without putting up a fuss. The back seat of my PT Cruiser is covered with a dog hammock where she willingly rides whenever and wherever I ask, running to her door to jump in whenever I say “Let’s go for a ride.” We usually share a large order of French fries whenever we go through some fast food drive-through, but that isn’t too often for health and calorie reasons.

As I started writing this post, she was taking a nap beside me with one paw stretched out to touch me. Now she’s laying on my feet. Typical.

Not a day goes by that I don’t look at Callie and marvel at how a human and a dog – two incredibly different species – can not only coexist but actually have a genuine, deep, loving relationship with one another. That may sound freaky or weird to some, but to me it is an incredible joy and gift that brings happiness to every day in spite of the hassles of cleaning up after her, letting her out many times a day, vet bills and occasional sickness. Some days a nice hug and time with Callie is just what the doctor ordered for me to relieve some stress and make things right.

I don’t know if God plans on having dogs in heaven when he brings about his re-created heaven and earth the Bible speaks of at some point in the future. I don’t see why not since animals were a part of his perfect creation to start with. Why wouldn’t a perfect re-creation have them as well? If that’s the case, I know which of all my animals past and present I’d like to scamper around with for eternity – Callie. Whether or not that happens, I am incredibly thankful for the years we enjoy each other now. There is a reason why dogs are known as man’s best friend.

Thank you, God, for my dog.

friendsMy Facebook profile says that I have 353 friends. My LinkedIn profile claims 614 connections. I think we all know the number of true friends among those is barely double digits. I am thankful for many great relationships with colleagues past and present, with so many people from my years growing up in Winchester, Kentucky that I’m still in contact with, and with those other friends from churches and elsewhere gained along the way that are truly special people in my life.

There is a difference between being an acquaintance and being a friend. With acquaintances, you may go long periods of time without contact and be just fine with that. In fact, cold as it sounds, you can take or leave most acquaintances. You’re cordial when together and perhaps enjoy the company, but they really aren’t an ongoing part of your life, so if circumstances change and you never meet or cross paths again, it doesn’t really matter.

Friends, of course, are different. You think about friends and anticipate the next time you’ll be together. Friends build on histories together and have key events that get remembered, shared repeatedly, and woven into the fabric of their combined life story. Friends enjoy being together whether there is a lot of talk and chatter or whether there is mostly quiet. With friends, a good time isn’t defined by what happens as much as it is by who is present. Friends expect you to be yourself even with your oddities and shortcomings. Friends forgive you; they don’t hold grudges. Friends come to your aid of their own accord when you’re down or down on your luck. They give without any expectation of return. They comfort you, challenge you, defend you, encourage you. Friends make you laugh at life and at yourself. The thought of a good friend brings a smile to your face.

I count myself fortunate to have friends that go back to high school days. I may not see them in person very often, but Facebook has been an avenue of keeping those relationships alive. I’m thankful for friends I’ve had since college – relationships formed in that critical period of life that have withstood the test of time. I’m thankful for dear friends I’ve gained through churches where I’ve served on the ministerial staff or been a member. I’m thankful for the added bonus of some work relationships turning into friendships that outlive working together at a company. I’m thankful for those special, closest friends where conversations just seem to pick up wherever we left off regardless of how much time has separated our being together.

We don’t need a lot of friends in our lives, but we do need some. I am thankful for all the special people in my life that I call friend.

Thank you, God, for my friends.