If I Die- My Advice To My Boys

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For about the past ten years whenever I travel I tend to freak out before I go. While I never used to be… I am now scared of flying. My family expects this of my now and laugh at my trepidation. I originally told B I was not going to China with him because I had an overwhelming feeling of dread. So now, as I contemplate this trip I have decided I need to leave my sons my thoughts on what I think contributes to living a good life just in case I trip on a yak and fall to my death on Everest. I thought of all of these things off of the top of my head instead of consulting the internet so that is probably why the list is what it is.

For P, A and R… Love CLHD 12/20/15

  1. While most business transactions are no longer done with a handshake honoring your word is still the most important thing you can do.
  2. Look at the important people in your life. What do you admire about them? Why do you like to be around them? Take those qualities and make them your own.
  3. Saying, “Yes, sir” to your date’s father is a good way to begin.
  4. When you know in your heart that what you are doing is wrong have the courage to walk away even if it means leaving your friends behind.
  5. Whether you like it or not there will be a lot of people depending on you when you reach adulthood. Do those things that will earn their respect, love and trust.
  6. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. If it works out it builds character. It it doesn’t work out it builds character and you learn something valuable about the situation and/or yourself.
  7. Mama’s boys are a good thing as long as Mama is in the spot she belongs…behind your wife.
  8. Sharing feelings is often difficult for men. Do it anyway. Better for someone to know what you are thinking than having to spend all their time guessing incorrectly.
  9. Say “I love you” when you walk out the door. You never know if you will walk back in again.
  10. Never put “it” in a person you don’t want to wake up to everyday for the next 20 years.
  11. Having five children with five different women is cruel, stupid and condemns you child to less than a life he/she deserves. Be responsible. Don’t do it.
  12. Honesty truly is the best policy.
  13. Help others out when you can. It’s good for you and its good for the world.
  14. Be A Boy Scout. Be trustworthy, brave, helpful,clean and friendly. Doing these things never hurt anyone.
  15. Chivalry is not dead. Open doors for your girlfriend, wife and older women just because it is a nice thing to do.
  16. Be the kind of boyfriend/husband that every woman wishes her husband was.
  17. Sex is sex and love is love. Don’t confuse the two.
  18. Women are not a prize you discard after you obtain them.
  19. Too many notches in your belt only weakens the structure until it can no longer do the job of holding up your pants.
  20. Remember how you would sit for hours making legos. Find something that you love that much and spend time doing it.
  21. The way you act influences others. Act in the way you want to be remembered if you were to die tomorrow.
  22. Friends are important. Nurture those relationships and don’t abandon them for a girl.
  23. Have enough character to return the guys underpants that were run up the flagpole.
  24. Save for a rainy day. Cardboard boxes fall apart in the rain.
  25. It’s difficult when society says tough guy=real man. Be a tough guy only when you want to be and don’t be stupid about it.
  26. Bar fights are nothing to brag about.
  27. If you are drinking more than two beers a day you are taking away time from things that are really important.
  28. Two of you are a minority in this country. Expect to be stopped by the police for no real reason at all. Talk nicely, be cooperative, and make no sudden moves.
  29. Pick a woman who loves you boldly and completely. Make sure she is your best friend and has your back at all times.
  30. You will have many disappointments in life. Don’t wallow in them.
  31. You are responsible for your own happiness. Don’t put that on anyone else.
  32. Don’t follow orders blindly.
  33. Make a bucket list when you are young and work to finish the list before you die.
  34. You don’t have to change the world but changing your own neighborhood is something to shoot for.
  35. Lead by example.
  36. Don’t wear your pants down to your knees. It isn’t a cultural thing, it isn’t a societal thing…it’s a disregarding yourself thing which makes you look like something you are not.
  37. For goodness sake. No tats on the face. You’ll just look like a thug and most people won’t give you a job.
  38. You don’t have to accept a dare.
  39. It is easy to love in an emergency. It is harder to love in plain day to day living. Love like its always an emergency.
  40. When you are fearful keep going forward and face your fears head on.
  41. Drag racing can kill and often has unintended consequences. Don’t do it.
  42. Decide early on what is acceptable and what is not. Make a list of those things and stick to it. Then update that list every once-in-awhile on a quiet day when you have plenty of time to contemplate.
  43. Things will change with time. Try to go with the flow.
  44. Don’t make a promise unless you intend to keep it
  45. Your EVERYTHING MUST BE FAIR IN LIFE Certificate was lost at birth. You cannot order another one.
  46. Be sure to tell you wife two things you appreciate about her each day and compliment her three times a day.
  47. If you want a happy marriage YOU must be happy.
  48. There is no shame in apologizing. Don’t let your pride in the the way of being the first to do so.
  49. “Boys will be boys” is not an excuse for anything.
  50. There are girls that will love you, there are girls who will use you, and there are girls who only want you to be their baby daddy. Abstain until you know which is which and if you can’t do that ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use a condom or two.
  51. Telling your mother when you are 18 that you are going to be a daddy will make her CRAZY…don’t chance it.
  52. Volunteer your time and resources when you are young. You are often more useful, you will meet some great people and someone is always needed to move the boxes.
  53. Don’t be a bully with your fists or your words. There is someone who will always be bigger and badder than you and karma will ensure you will meet them.
  54. Don’t be afraid to try. EVER…unless it is something stupid.
  55. There are people in life that want to bring you down. Don’t let them succeed.
  56. Canoeing is a good way to forget life’s troubles.
  57. Success doesn’t happen through magical thinking. It takes hard work, dedication and the willingness to be flexible. Do all three.
  58. Teach what you know. Learn what you want to teach.
  59. If you want to learn be willing to listen.
  60. If there is something you are good at work harder to become great at it. Anyone can paint but it takes dedication and lots of practice to be asked to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  61. Enjoying life means you cannot be a couch potato or a video game player. In order to get something out of it you have to put something into it.
  62. Save a life at least once during yours. Throw that starfish back into the water.
  63. You will probably change careers several times during your life. Do what makes you happy but make sure it pays the bills.
  64. Start investing in a job that has a 401 K and max it out every year. There is nothing more terrifying than coming to the end of your working years realizing the money you have saved can fit into something the size of a shoe box.
  65. Gardening is a good way to teach your children responsibility.
  66. Everything in moderation is still a good adage.
  67. If your first priority is to make your wife happy in bed you will reap untold rewards.
  68. Use deodorant everyday. If you don’t you won’t get the girl, you won’t get the job and you will have to shout at the people standing five feet away from you.
  69. Own at least one tie and one good pair of dress shoes.
  70. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who believe in you too. You deserve nothing less.
  71. Everyone has numerous strengths to draw upon. Find yours and improve upon them so that you know they are fully developed when you need them
  72. Read something everyday.
  73. Giving up and giving in too soon rarely accomplishes anything of value.
  74. Spend one day each week refusing to talk or act out of negativity.
  75. Be friends with those who are different races, ethnicities and religions than you. The blessings you reap will be a 1000 times greater than those first few minutes of being uncomfortable and unsure.
  76. The person who acts like they know everything knows nothing of true value.
  77. Real men ask for help (and directions)
  78. Vacations are important.
  79. Mid-life crisis’ are real. Don’t be a jackass during yours.
  80. Don’t confuse status with truth. A luxury car only means big payments and nothing about who is driving it.
  81. Your Dad was a great man. Take the parts you admire and incorporate them into your life.
  82. Make sure that the person you give your heart to really appreciates its worth.
  83. Having common interests is very helpful to sustaining a marriage.
  84. It’s just fine to cry. What you will learn from doing so will enrich your soul more than the tears ever will.
  85. There are times that your life will be beyond hard. Know that I am there in some form holding you tight.
  86. Keep your imagination open and running like when you were a kid.
  87. Never forget to put down the briefcase and play a game of hopscotch
  88. “If you can’t beat them join them” is no excuse for anything that happens afterwards.
  89. Fulfill your dreams before having children so you don’t resent them.
  90. Not everyone will like you. Deal with it.
  91. Be respectful to your elders.

One of the things I love about blogging

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One of the things about blogging that I love is seeing all the people from different countries visit my site and I, in turn, visit theirs. It makes me happy to think that often we are all capable of understanding the emotions that the other person may be feeling even though we may live very different lives and that our shared humanity allows us to connect because we have “been there” before or faced something similar.

I have been fortunate to have traveled all over the globe. To date I have visited over 40 countries. That is because we travel cheap, go where the deals take us and we go in the off season. We also exchange houses when we travel.

The safest I ever felt at night was in Stockholm, Sweden. The happiest I have ever been was in Korea. The place I felt in awe was in the thermal baths in the ocean off the island of Kos. The place I felt the most connected to was Scotland and the place I wished I could stay longer was Ethiopia.

The number of people who have opened their homes and lives to us has been humbling. We have been invited into homes after a meeting during a meal in a restaurant and the next thing we know is we are on our way to something unexpected, special and always memorable. And what I really have learned from all this travel is that people just want to feel understood, appreciated and believe that they have been heard no matter where they live. And really 99% of the world wants the same things: peace, love, understanding, full bellies, reasonable heath care, clean water and hope for the future.

I like to think that all of us bloggers contribute in some small way to world peace and understanding. One can only hope!

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The Perfect Study

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Several years ago I read a study that found that overweight women were consistently judged as younger than they actually were. In addition, and even more important, overweight women were rated younger than their skinny same-age counter parts. Seems that the fat in the face fills in those age fissures that often become as wide as the Grand Canyon when you reach my age.

This study was of interest to me because I am overweight. I am not obese but I have 40 pounds to lose to reach my optimum weight, improve my chances of avoiding knee replacement and probably prolong my life. Yet, as I read this study I realized there was a major flaw contained within it so I want a new study to be done. The perfect study. A study that every woman would pay good money for the results. And it is this:

I want to know exactly how much weight to lose to reach the perfect balance of enough fat to fill in those fine lines while still improving my health. At what point do those lines become caverns when the fat decreases. Is it 24.3 pounds? 18.2? 35.8? What is the optimum fat to filler ratio? Surely there is a way to measure this! I mean if you can invent Viagra certainly this should be a piece of cake. (Of course, we all know that the penis always has precedence over anything else known to man)

In this vein, my girlfriend contends that as women age they become either cows (fat, happy and always have something good to eat on the stove) or goats (skinny, carry carrots in a baggie along with a cup of double expresso at all times, and have a mmmmmmad and hungry look about them 24/7). Somehow, I think if I could learn this mathematical formula I could avoid both and look like a llama (perfect balance of fat to lean, great long distance spitter, soft and cuddly).

So all you scientists out there, I’ve just given you the perfect study that will make you a mint. At just a $1 a pop those huge students loans will be a thing of your past while this llama will be strutting her stuff in front of the pen.

Relatives Unknown

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As a genealogist I find it interesting how we are a snippet of this and a snippet of that from so many of our past relatives. Having taken my DNA and put it on a database (let’s not go there about possible medical consequences…its a blind base) I am constantly finding new people who are in some way related to me. Today another distant cousin narrowed our shared ancestor down to a shared 7th G Grandfather who served in the Revolutionary War. And we each have a small part of him on chromosome 20.

My ancient DNA also surprises me…Siberia for example. And several other well-known ancients.

Recently, I put my children’s DNA into the data base. Because they are adopted they wanted to see if they could locate family and we have. While we will never know how they are related to the matches in the database we do now know of 4th cousins and such even though we will not know what side they come from. For those people who are adopted DNA genealogy is finally a way for them to connect with those who up to know would have been lost to them.

One of my adopted children who was born in Korea found out that he is also 2% Native American and 1% Polynesian. Where does this come from we wonder?  We can only assume it is ancient DNA carried by ancient people as they crossed over now extinct land bridges.

This holiday weekend was spent with my cousin. She brought another big box of family treasures with  her and I am once again scanning all these pictures unto Ancestry.com. A huge find was a tin-type picture of my GG Alexander McMullen. For me it is an amazing find as I had never seen a picture of him before and at this point our tree ends with him.That is him pictured above. He is said to be Scotch-Irish but where the Scotch comes in it seems like I will never know.

That is the beauty of genealogy. It’s a puzzle. And with the addition of one piece it can change the way the entire puzzle is viewed. It mirrors our lives both in looks and in how we perceive things and it is changing every day. That is why I love looking to the past because it influences the future of not only myself but my family as well.

 

Hatred Is Not The Answer-Terrorists

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I’ve been to Paris three times during my life. The first was almost thirty years ago during our honeymoon, the second time was about five years later and recently we went two summers ago. Like most major cities, I have tended to avoid Paris because there are just too many people in too small of a place. I feel the same way about London, Beijing and New York. So when I frequent these places, I am already on edge. But usually then I meet people who have stories to tell, tears to fall and a love of life that is extraordinary and somehow these big cities become almost magical because I am reminded just how similar we all are in our shared dreams and in our desires.

The last time we were in Paris we were traveling with our children. Around the corner from our hotel was a bank of small restaurants and sandwich-to-go types of places. We entered one of the latter. It was a small place and behind the counter were three men who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent and spoke Arabic to one another. When they heard us talking with our distinctive American accents immediately their faces hardened. Then when I went to order for our family all of a sudden the place was CLOSED. They were no longer serving they told us. Yet, after we walked outside all of a sudden they were serving again to the lady who ordered a tomato baguette. So I went back in to order only to be told again that they were not open even though there were more new customers being helped. I was mad and sad about the situation but what was worse is that my children were witnessing this and wondered why they would not let us buy their food. And so I told them this:

“For some reason these men do not like us. I do not know why and neither do you. If I had to guess I would say that they were probably hurt or their relatives were probably hurt in some way by American policies or forces. They are probably still upset or angry by this. Of course, we will never know the real reason and I am guessing only to try to understand why someone would hate us even though we have never ourselves done anything to them. So this is why we cannot hate because hatred begets hatred. Anger creates more anger and people do things to one another that they should not. So I want you remember today not because of what happened but because of how we will handle it. For if we let it, the small thing they did to us will someday make us think that we can do something to someone we think has wronged us. But what is most important here is that we must remember that our lives as human beings are linked together in so many mysterious and interesting ways to people we know and people we don’t. If we allow this link of distrust and anger into the chain of humanity that we carry with us it will only create sorrow both for us and others that we will unintentionally effect by this hostility. So we must smile at those men and show them that we see their humanity even though they do not see ours.”

And so we did.

I wish I could say something changed and one of the men smiled back but that did not happen.

Tonight as I sat and watched the news pouring out of the City Of Lights I was dismayed as I listened to the political pundits demanding retribution, retaliation and encouraging a decrease in our hard fought freedoms (as if that will make things safer!) so the world will be a “better place” and I wished that they had been with us that day in Paris. For while the experience of being hated just because of where you come from was a bitter disappointment; I also know that my children learned a valuable lesson on that street in Paris that day. They realized that hatred is not the answer. I hope that calm heads will prevail in Paris and that human beings throughout the world will remember this truth too as they struggle to find a way through the carnage that they have seen and endured.

Teens & Alarm Clock Hell…266 Days To Fix This

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Somehow, I have become everyone’s personal alarm clock and I don’t like it one bit. Waking up my children has suddenly become a major chore. I don’t know what it is about teenage-hood but the fact is that everything moves slower on them, their ears stop picking up the decibels emitted from my vocal cords and their bones seem to collapse in upon themselves rendering them unable to hoist their bodies out of bed.

It used to be that I could bellow up the stairs and it would work.

“Kids, it’s a lovely day. Time to get up!”

Three minutes later their shiny smiling faces would be standing next to me, sweet sleep still filling their eyes. Now, I have to climb the stairs to hell to bring them down myself. In short, the trip up the stairs feels like being led to the gallows.

With Paul the first exchange of the morning usually goes something like this:

“Honey, time to get up!”

Nothing moves, nothing stirs. Mom walks over to teens bed and shakes him where he kicks his foot striking me somewhere in the thigh. I am still unable to determine if this is a voluntary or involuntary act.

“Paul, time to get up. Come on baby. Let’s go. Move out!”

GROAN. Slight twitch of left toe.

Shake again.

LOUDER GROAN. Slight twitch of right toe and so it goes until each part of his body has twitched but not yet moved.

“Come on baby. Rise and shine!”

“OKAY I AM GETTING UP NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Fifteen minutes later I am still the only one down in the kitchen, the countdown to the bus has begun and I’m starting to burn like the bagel I put in the toaster 5 minutes ago.

In an attempt to remedy this hell of a routine I take taken many paths of desperation including LOUD alarm clocks that could wake the dead but somehow fail to wake my teens. I have cuddled with each child as they snore on. I have rung bells and I have banged drums. I have even resorted to ice cold water spray bottles which have resulted in nothing but an ugly attitude that manages to last into the wee hours of the next morning.

Is there no way out of this hell?

People tell me that I will miss all this when everyone is gone and out of the house but I doubt it. Because by the time the last one leaves the nest we will be retired and probably very weary of this lack of time management on the part of our teens.  Yet, I do hold out hope that the future will bring with it an uncomplicated way to start out my day. And, if it is true about what the experts say about the aging process, I suspect I will still hear, “OKAY! OKAY! I AM GETTING UP!” as I drift in and out of sleep. Only this time, those words will be uttered by a incredibly horny and somewhat naked 65-year-old man. And frankly this will be fine by me because instead of being the bell ringer it will be nice to once again have someone RING MY BELL to wake ME up in the morning.

The Passionate Journey

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Feeling your body under mine

As we ride to far away places

In that custom saddle we created so long ago

I am reminded that the first part of our odyssey

Made me feel warm, safe, and secure

Believing that passion and love would serve us well

For many years to come

Yet, as the journey continued through our ages

To different and strange unexplored lands

I found that as we rode together we

Struggled to stay insync to the pounding rhythm of life and each other

In this saddle we created and shined to perfection together

Oh so many years ago

Then slowly our bodies began to move to different beats

The spark no longer igniting when flesh richcheted against flesh

Our timing aberrant from what had come before

Akwardly and in silence we rode through valleys so deep and low

They threatened to pull us under

As we wrapped ourselves each in our own protective gear

Bracing ourselves and sitting deep in the saddle spooning

No longer astride one another

During this long exhausting ride

The passion for this particular pilgrimage waning

The heat that once kept us warm

Cooling to small embers and threatening

To extinguish themselves all together

As the light faded and disappeared behind the mountains before us

No longer straddling one atop the another on this migration

But one of us down… crawling on the ground

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By some silent force of nature

That was unwilling to give up or give in

But yet we pressed on

Scraping raw our knees

Scooping out our souls

Our sexual natures vanished somewhere within Mother Nature herself

We traveled wearily like this for so long

Lost, together… yet alone

Until in desperation we finally reached out for the reins to steady and guide us

The accidental brushing together of two souls

Once again serving to remind us of all we have endured

And all we have yet to discover

So now we join hands to do battle

Against all that has kept us apart from one another

And we fight Mother Nature to reclaim our sexuality

The passion igniting our bodies and sweeping us together

And once again we quiver deep within one another

Grinding deep within that saddle

As we climb to the pinnacle of our lives

Looking over the ridge to the future that awaits us

Hanging on for dear life together once again

Our devotion rekindled each for the other

In that saddle that was custom made the two of us

In which we fit together so well

No longer afraid

But curious about where we will end up

On this sojourn through married life

Finding Hope…326 Days To Fix This

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Joseph Addison once said ” Three grand essentials for happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”

Lately my something “to do” has been to work on fixing our marriage.

My something “to love” has been trying to reclaim the love that B and I had once shared.

But hope for this relationship…well, I wasn’t feeling or seeing it. Maybe I had cut myself off from feeling hope. Because, realistically, if you have hope you have to go all in and not hold back due to fear, and frankly; I was feeling fearful, scared and the sense of trust to just let go wasn’t there.

This weekend I reclaimed hope and it felt wonderful. I am seeing the glimmers of a future together where last month I saw a black hole. I see a man who is trying like hell and a woman who is too. I see two people exploring each other again and finding that there is much to like and to love. I see two people who are sorry for the wrongs they have inflicted on each other and for words never said that almost mortally wounded their future together. Most of all, I see two people who really want this “marriage thing” to work out and who want our family to remain intact. And if our marriage still bottoms out it wasn’t because we didn’t try like hell.

This weekend hope felt like… moonlight walks around the lake, like long heart-felt talks around a campfire and just holding hands while watching Gracie fish. It felt like sharing a cup of coffee, getting a little grab-ass in the shower, and listening to the frogs croak their love songs throughout the night. Hope felt lovely, new, light and right.

Hope made me recognize that we are doing the hard work to put our marriage first and to make it work in a new way that is better for both of us. Hope has made us both want to jump all in. Sure we have a long way to go, much to negotiate and to learn new ways of communicating but I believe that for the first time we both have hope…and that is enough for now.