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Category: Life (Page 1 of 5)

July 4th, 1976

July 4th, 1976 – July 4th, 2016

It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years.

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In 1976 the United States celebrated its Bicentennial Celebration. It’s 200th anniversary of being an independent country. The Vietnam War ended just a year before. Despite the civil unrest that war caused, it seemed patriotism was at a high in 1976. There were so many celebrations and observation for months leading up to the 4th.

In school we re-examined this key time in our history and studied the Declaration of Independence in-depth. All the fire hydrants in town were painted with patriotic colors and some to look like patriot soldiers. There were ‘76’ flags with 13 stars everywhere. For a young teen, this was a special and memorable time for me.

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On this day 40 years ago on July 4th 1976, I was fortunate to be right in the middle of Operation Sail, which is a special occasion featuring “tall ship” sailing vessels from around the world. The Operation Sail for the Bicentennial was especially large.

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My best friend at the time, and next door neighbor was Joe Danaher. His father John served with the Coast Guard for more than 20 years – including during WWII – and rose to officer status. He remained active in the reserves for many years. As such he had considerable clout and had Joe invite me to go with them to Governors Island to watch The Parade of Ships for the Bicentennial Celebration.

Governors Island went into service in 1776 during the American Revolution and became an Army post from 1783 to 1966, when it became an active Coast Guard station until 1996. It sits right at the divergence of the East and Hudson Rivers – across from the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It affords a commanding presence and view of every ship heading up the Hudson.

We caught a Coast Guard ferry, from Pier 6 in Brooklyn for the short ride to Governor’s Island. Once there, Joe’s father let us roam on our own with directions to meet him at Castle Williams later that afternoon. We explored the 170 acre island from end to end. It was a hot, sunny day, but the ocean breeze kept the temps manageable. In the mess hall, they had set up a veritable smorgasbord of food of all type and ice cream – all you can eat – for free.  We stuffed ourselves and went out to do more exploring.

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Castle Williams where we stood to watch Operation Sail in 1976

When Operation Sail started we were right there at Castle William where the road juts out into the river, and we watched the tall ships, such as the USCGC Eagle, the Amerigo Vespucci (from Italy) and the Gorch Fock (from Germany) among a dozen more tall ships and hundreds of smaller sailing vessels.

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Then the massive aircraft carrier USS Forrestal sailed up and stopped right across from us. On board was President Gerald Ford (a WWII Navy vet), reviewing dozens of mighty modern warships sailing up the Hudson.

USCGC Eagle and the USS FORRESTAL Operation Sail

USS FORRESTAL and the USCGC Eagle Operation Sail

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President Gerald Ford

That night, the fireworks commenced from barges anchored in the river. It remains one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I have ever seen – and I have seen many large events. I remember the colors and the sounds. Most of all I remember the power of the explosions from the mortar rockets was so great I could feel the concussion in my chest as well as my ears.

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The day I spent on Governors Island, July 4th, 1976 is one of my most cherished childhood memories.


Epilogue:

  • President Gerald Ford passed away on December 26, 2006.
  • Governors Island has been open to the public since 2003, as a public park space.
  • In 1967 there wa a massive fire on the USS Forrestal, after a missile misfired and hit a fully fueled fighter jet, which then set off a chain of explosions and fire which claimed the lives of 134 sailors and injured 161.
  • On that ship was Senator John McCain. The missile hit plane right next to his. He was lightly wounded in the event. The pilot of the plane that was hit, Cdr. Fred White, was one of the 134 killed that day.
  • The USS Forrestal was decommissioned in 1993, and was completely scrapped as junk by December 2015.

This Father’s Day Let Me Tell You About My Dad

He was there for me when I entered this world on December 21st, 1961.

I was there for him when he left this world on December 21st, 2015.

He was 18 days away from his 82nd birthday.

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My Dad was a quiet man, a humble man, but my Dad was tough and he was a fighter.

He grew up as a child in World War II Germany. His older brother, Werner (my namesake), died at the age of 13, during the war. He died at an asylum while recovering from meningitis. There are questions about what really happened to him.

Dad’s father (Friedrich – my father’s namesake) died at the age of 39, during an air raid, on February 22nd, 1944. He was on a bicycle trying to ensure his family was safe in an air shelter, when ordinance from an American plane tore off one of his legs. He succumbed to his injuries soon after. My father was 10 years old at the time he lost his father.

Dad told me stories of walking home from elementary school when the children had to run and jump into ditches when American fighter planes would strafe the road they were on. Sometimes, some of the children were killed.

He also told me about seeing the city of Wesel (pronounced Vay-sel), after Allied planes bombed it and U.S. troops took it over. He described how the city was devastated, and almost every building had been completely destroyed. When he talked about these incidents, he was matter of fact about it. He said, “It was war after all. Everyone suffered.”

[He exhibited that same detached manner when I spoke to him the day after 9-11 happen. On that day he stood on a beach at Robert Moses State Park, and watched the smoke emanating in the city from there.]

Because his father was dead, his mother had her hands full trying to feed and care for several children. My father had to go and live and earn his keep on a neighbor’s farm for some time, so my grandmother could care for his younger siblings.

As a young man, he took a job in a coal mine. In one instance he described how a gas explosion killed everyone who had been standing in one tunnel. My Dad was lucky that day; he was sitting down having lunch when it happened. Then there was the day he was working next to a conveyer belt shuttling coal out of the tunnel, when something in the ground shifted. The the conveyor fell over and pinned Dad to the tunnel wall. When he was rescued it was discovered my Dad’s hip was broken. He had had enough of working in the mines and quit.

Dad was always good with his hands and worked as a mechanic. He decided he wanted to take advantage of better opportunities in America. It took two years, but he got sponsored and moved to the U.S.A., and settled in Long Island, New York, where there was plenty of work.


Dad was in the U.S. for about six months when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. The Korean War was over so he was fortunate to serve during peace time. He said his Army experience was a good one. Because he could barely speak passable English the Army sent him to classes in addition to his duties in the motor pool as a mechanic. It was in the Army where he learned to read, write and speak English.

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Dad was an avid reader, and read everything he could. He especially liked science fiction.


Dad had been going out with my Mom’s roommate, but it didn’t work out. My Mom recently broke up with a guy, and Mom and Dad connected. They married June 30th, 1961. This June would have been their 55th anniversary. They did everything together. They loved each fully all the years they were together. Mom still does – and I know Dad does too.

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Dad loved us, and showed it openly when we were young, more reservedly in our teens, and openly again when we were older.

Dad was a big kid and loved to play when he could. He got to live the childhood he never had when I was a kid. He played with us kids when he had some down time. There were times we’d hold his legs down and tickle his feet. He’d go into paroxysms of laughter and kick his legs, sending kids flying all over the living room. He’d play with us in the pool and toss us around. In later years, if he was around he’d always join in when we were tossing a Frisbee around. He loved it. He was wicked in snowball fights, and he took us sleigh riding in the winter.

He played with a lot of my toys in the pretense of showing me “how to use them.” I carried that principle through when my own kids were young. He showed me how to build cool things like trucks, planes and buildings with Lego’s. I was hooked (still am), and that led me to building scale models. He bought me a control line airplane one Christmas. I never remember asking for one, but he spent hours showing me how to fly it. One time trying to get that thing to fly, he gave himself a nasty cut on his leg when the spinning propeller hit him.

From Dad, I learned to enjoy making things with my hands and using tools. Home Depot is a toy store for me to this day. From Dad, I also grew my love of cars, and motorcycles, and how to take care of them myself.


As I said Dad loved to work with his hands. He was also very creative. He made a real stockade fence out of young pine trees. It was six foot high and enclosed the entire back yard. He made a sled out of aircraft aluminum. The thing was a beast and all the other kids feared getting hit by it every time I rode it down the snow hillside.

He built an exhaust system for my mother’s car out of stainless steel. The car most likely rotted away, but the exhaust systems will still be there. He rehabbed 90%+ of our home – with the rest of us helping when needed. He designed, and with my help, built a massive shed to store yard equipment. He built bike carrier racks for paper deliveries out of stainless steel.

He built a stainless steel and wooden cart to attach to a bike to deliver the bulky Sunday newspapers. That cart was later used to haul firewood for the stove, and leaves and yard debris in the fall. Sarah and Zac now use that cart, Dad built 40 years ago, in their own yard.

When it came to cars, he did everything and taught me how to do it all. Complete brake and rotor jobs, , repacking bearings, oil changes, shocks, entire exhaust systems, rebuilding engines, body repair, and on and on. One time I saw him make an emergency gasket from a piece of cardboard. Dad built his own wood chipper from a collection of parts.

There are so many creative things he did and built I can’t count them all.


There were several times Dad took me to the demolition derby at the Central Islip Speedway, and I loved it. In 1977, I saw Star Wars on the first day it came out. I was blown away. I went home and told Dad about how cool it was. I convinced him to go to the theater with me the very next day. He loved it too. It was the one and only time he and I ever went to the theater, just us two.

In the summer, Mom and Dad would pack the tribe into the back of the 1965 Impala station wagon, with our blankets and pillows and we’d all go to the drive-in with our next door neighbors.  It was so much fun and remains one of my favorite experiences as a child.

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Dad also taught me how to swim, and it wasn’t with the little three-foot pool he put up in the back yard. No he took me to the beach with a neighbor friend, and they took me out into the waves in the deep water and pretty much tossed me in over my head and told me to, “paddle like hell.”

After that shock and watching them laugh as I struggled, they helped me get over my fear, and showed me what to do, and kept having me do it until I had it figured out. I’ve loved the water ever since. I was a very strong swimmer when I was younger.


Dad taught me how to ride a bike and drive a car the same way. When I was 15, Dad was teaching how to drive his 1970 Chevy Nova, a manual shift car. As I rounded a corner, I popped the clutch and gave the car too much gas. The car surged forward. In a panic I lost control of the speeding car. Dad tried to stop the car by reaching a foot over to try and stomp the brake, but he pinned my foot to the accelerator in the process.

Somehow I got control of the steering wheel as we left the road onto a grassy median. Miraculously I shot through a narrow gap between a chain link fence and a telephone pole without hitting either. We bounced down on an adjacent street, my Dad’s foot came off the brake, and both of mine hammered down on it. I stood on those manual brakes with both feet. We skidded across the street, onto someone’s front lawn and came to a stop three inches from hitting a maple tree dead center.

I was shook up. Dad never lost his cool. I was done. I wanted to get out of the car and walk home. Dad wouldn’t let me. He calmly told me, “Get back in the driver’s seat of this car. You’re gonna drive this car.”

I did. He got me to back off the lawn onto the street and he had me driving for another half hour before he let me drive home. I love to drive to this day.


When I entered my latter teens and early twenties, Dad and I weren’t so close. It was nothing bad; we just weren’t close – not communicating.

It wasn’t until I got married, and held down a job with responsibility and opportunity, did we seem to get along better. When I became a father myself, we grew even closer.


Dad was an extremely generous man. Whenever anyone needed help with anything, he’d be there for them. I remember as a kid that whenever Dad saw someone broken down at the side of the road, he’d stop and help perfect strangers. He helped friends and neighbors with house projects, fixing cars, and carrying heavy furniture during moves – even as late as the age of 65.


As mentioned earlier, Dad was a fighter and loved Life. He took his health more seriously in his early 40’s when he started walking 3 miles a day – every day. He also weight-lifted two to three times a week – maintain muscle tone.

He had his first brush with cancer about the time he retired from work at the age of 64. Thankfully it was caught early and was removed.

At this time he already had a heart murmur, but he didn’t let that keep him from his exercises. When he was 62, he went on a hike with me and several of my friends to the summit of Mt. Lafayette, in New Hampshire. We maintained a decent pace. I was really proud that my Dad did so well on that hike, when a couple of guys half his age had a hard time. Mom said he talked about that hike often, saying it was one of the best experiences of his life. It makes me smile to think of that trip and that he got so much out of it.


When Dad was 71, he was diagnosed with CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. We were all worried and scared. Dad loved life and was determined to fight. Not only did he do everything the doctors said when he had chemo, he still kept up his 3 mile daily walks.

When he was 74, Dad had a stroke. This devastated us. Dad didn’t even see it coming. He was paralyzed on his left side and his speech was slurred. After a couple of days I was able to talk with Dad. He was very depressed and dispirited. He thought it was all over for him. He couldn’t walk or use his left hand, and could barely speak. He wanted to give up. On the phone with him I told him, “This doesn’t sound like the Dad I know and grew up with. The Dad I know is a fighter, he always figures out a way to overcome a problem. He doesn’t quit until he’s done.”

He later told me that helped him to re-think his situation. Dad became the poster boy for rehab. The physical therapists loved him. He did every exercise they showed him, and he kept working on improving himself. He learned to walk again. When he graduated from a walker to a cane, I got him a custom wood one, to remind him of his hike. He learned how to regain his speech and the use of his left arm. By the time his therapy was done he regained his speech, the use of his left hand and arm and about 95% of his balance and ability to walk unassisted. He started taking his walks again. They just took longer this time.

Dad had a series of remissions and flare ups of the CLL which required chemo. As the years passed, he faced more challenges with cancerous skin lesions which had to be surgically removed. He grew a little weaker in time, but he kept walking, but now it was down to about 2 miles.

Then he had shingles, which weakened him further. His walks were lessened to a mile then to the neighborhood. He began having balance problems, and falling. He still walked, but now had to use the cane all the time and the walks were limited to their block.

On top of all of this he developed respiratory problems by the time he turned 80. His walks were now limited to making rounds inside the house. Then he developed stress fractures in his spine which caused him relentless agonizing pain. Still he wanted to walk. Then came the pneumonia. He wanted to walk, but could only manage a few steps before he was winded.


In December, the doctors told my father his body was shutting down. They told him he was dying. Despite the constant agony, he didn’t want to die. When they put him in hospice, I was on the phone with him. It was my Mom’s birthday. He told me, “I don’t want to be here. Just stand me up and get me walking and I’ll be alright.”

The next day he became unconscious and we were told he would not wake up again. I packed a bag, and with my son Stephen, we jumped in my car and drove 1,400 miles non-stop from New Hampshire to Florida. It took 25 hours.

When I saw Dad laying there unconscious, gaunt and faded, it shocked me. I could not reconcile that this is the same man I feared and respected growing up. This man I always knew to be so strong and capable – laying there so old and weak and wasted away by pain and illness.

When I spoke to him and told him I was there, he moved an eyebrow to let me know he knew I was there. The staff there told us that hearing is the last thing to go. I bent to talk into his ear and said, “Friedrich Erdmann Meyer, I am damn proud to be your son. You’re a wonderful father and the best man I have ever known. You taught me so much about life and I love you with all my heart.”


Dad passed away quietly in the early morning hours on December 21st, 2015. It was my birthday, and the saddest day of my life.

Dad taught me what it means to be a man. He taught me how tough life could be, but also how sweet and enjoyable it is. Most of all, Dad taught me what it means to be a Father.

Dad was a great Father and Grandfather. He dearly loved, adored and cared about all his kids and grandkids.

I loved my Dad from the moment I took my first breath, to the time he took his last. And I still love him, and miss him.

Friedrich Erdmann Meyer

January 8, 1934 – December 21, 2015

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Happy Father’s Day Dad…wherever you are.

 

My Guardian Angel Drives A Green 1968 Dodge Charger

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I woke this morning to a memory of an incident that took place when I was a kid in the 1970’s. I was a 14-years-old and living in Lindenhurst, New York, a blue collar town on the south shore of Long Island.

Having just completed my newspaper deliveries, I was straddling my bike in my driveway talking to my then best friend Joe. His cute brown and white mixed-breed dog, Kilroy stood nearby. As we were talking I noticed this kid, who looked to be seventeen, walking down our block and angling right toward us. He wore a parka, had dark disheveled hair, a scruffy beard, and a serious look on his face.

I didn’t know who he was, but my danger radar was sure pinging. I slid my bike lock chain off my handlebars and lowered it to my side.

I turned to Joe, “You know this guy?”

“No idea who he is but he looks pissed.” Joe said.

The guy walked right up to us, and faced me. He was taller than me, had a wiry build, and was all business. He said, “You beat up my little brother.”

Fear gripped me. I thought I was in for a real ass-kicking.

The day before, my younger sister told me this kid Eddie constantly picked on her and harassed her on her way to and from school. I knew the little punk, and knew he was a trouble maker. When I saw my sister visibly upset by the antics of this asshole, I decided to do something about it.

Earlier on this day, I ambushed Eddie on his way home from school and confronted him about my sister. He was 12 years-old to my 14, and I was a lot bigger than him, but he didn’t care. He took on a wise-ass attitude so I hit him once, then threw him down on someone’s lawn. He started crying, got up and took off running.

Now his older brother was here to exact revenge.

“Your brother was bullying my little sister. He made her cry. What was I supposed to do, let him keep picking on her?” I said.

“I don’t give a fuck what he does to your sister, and I don’t give a fuck about you. Look at the size of you. My brother is only twelve. Get off that bike ‘cause I’m gonna fuck you up,” my attacker said.

At first I froze. I kept the right side of my body from his view and gripped the heavy chain tighter.

“I said get off the fucking bike,” the attacker said taking a step forward.

I swung the chain in a vicious arc trying to connect with his head or face. He flinched just enough so that the lock on the end of the looped chain just grazed his chin. He took a step back, and I jumped off my bike and backed into my front yard. I kept the chain at the ready.

His right hand went into the pocket of his parka, and it came out holding a knife.

Amazingly I kept my cool sizing up my opponent; I figured I’ll keep swinging the chain to keep him from getting close. Just then I saw Joe, stark fear across his face, grab his dog’s collar saying, “Come on Kilroy, let’s go home.”

“That’s right Joe, go home and call the cops and tell ‘em there’s a guy with a knife trying to attack me.” I said.

Me and the attacker circled one another in this deadly stand-off. The unnerving thing is he wasn’t saying anything, I could just see him trying to figure out how he was going to stab me without getting hit with the chain.

Suddenly a green 1968 Dodge Charger roared up the street and screeched to a stop in front of my house. I was thinking, ‘Oh shit, is this another of Eddie’s brother’s?’

A guy of about 20, with curly blond hair poked his head out of the window, “What the fuck are you doing with that knife?” he said to my attacker.

The attacker looked over at the blond guy and said, “He beat up my little brother…”

“Yeah, because his little brother keeps bullying my sister, and makes her cry.” I shouted out.

My attacker looked at me then back to the blond guy, who said to my attacker, “You better put that knife away and get the hell out of here.”

“But…”

“If I get out of this car, I’m gonna take that knife away from you and shove it right up your ass,” the blond guy said.

My attacker looked at the blond guy and could see he wasn’t kidding. My attacker didn’t say another word. He backed away from me while pocketing the knife. Once he reached the street, he turned and ran and was soon out of sight.

“You alright kid?” The blond guy said.

“Yeah, thanks for helping me out.” I said.

“If he bothers you again, let me know, I live just down on the next block.” The blond guy said, putting his car in gear and roared down the street.

I never saw the blond guy in the green Dodge Charger, nor the guy with the knife, again.

I had another run-in with Eddie a few years later, but that’s another story. By the time he was in his 20’s he became a muscle bound thug. When he was 24, he went to jail for rape.

The frightened kid Joe, who abandoned me, grew up and joined the NYPD. That pasty-white Irish-Catholic kid was stationed in Brownsville, Brooklyn, one of the toughest neighborhoods at that time. The last time I saw Joe was just before 9-11. He was still with the NYPD, but had since transferred to the Harbor Patrol. I just know he was there that day showing great care and courage helping people to escape the stricken city.

Although I didn’t give it much thought at that time, as an adult I often wonder what would have happened if the guy in the Charger hadn’t shown up. In every scenario I play out in my head, none of them end well.

Somewhere out there was a young man with curly blond hair in a green 1968 Dodge Charger, who most likely saved me from great harm. Thanks again.

Ninja Reflexes (or Just Lucky?)

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So it was Mother’s Day, and we had a busy but good day. We decided to have a healthy dinner and went to Whole Foods to get some produce and seafood.

In the parking lot a car was parked in the main thoroughfare right in front of the entrance, impeding traffic flow. We went around the car parked in a real parking space. As we walked past the car we noticed there was no one in the driver’s seat but there was a woman in the passenger seat. We’re like, “What the hell?”

I’m walking forward, but looking back at the car while stooping a little to look at the woman to see if she’s okay. I trip on the curb in front of the store entrance. As the concrete rushed towards me, in my head I’m like, “Oh shit this is gonna hurt, “ but then instinct kicks in, and I go with the fall instead of trying to stop it. I tuck my right shoulder down as I fall, I roll across my back, my legs come up and over onto the pavement, and the momentum stands me up straight. Loly is there in a flash, “Werner, Werner are you okay?” I looked over at her, nodded and said, “I’m good.”

George Carlin once did a bit about cats and how they give the impression they’re always cool and in control. He describes how they can run smack into a glass door and be like, “Hey, I’m okay, I meant to do that.” They then go behind the couch where no one can see them and are like, “Fucking me-ow, that fucking hurt!”

That was me going into Whole Foods. I’m feeling pain, but not showing it. Loly’s saying, “I can’t believe you fell like that. It looked like you meant do it, like a Ninja or a stuntman.”

The long and short of it is, I’m okay. The extent of my injuries is a very small graze on my left elbow, and right hand, and a little soreness in my right shoulder. I was up the next morning on my 3 mile hike in the woods. The day after I was painting a facing board on our second story deck, and today I was pulling up old deck boards and installing new ones.

I gotta admit I’m impressed my old roughhousing ways kicked in automatically, and  moreover I’m thrilled and thankful I didn’t get seriously hurt.

A State of Passion

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Last fall I lost all interest in writing creatively. I had no passion left for it. I kept wondering when or how the passion would return. I wondered and thought about that for months.

Finally, I found an answer.

I’ve been going back –rea-reading and listening to CD’s that sparked new ideas, inspired me and provided motivation.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Passion isn’t something that just happens. It’s not something that you wait to come to you. Passion is a state of mind. You can manifest and control passion by the way you think about things; by your physiology in how you gesture and hold your body; the speed and tonality at which you speak, and the energy you exude.

When you are passionate about something you sit or stand up straight, your head is up, and shoulders square. Your voice is strong, and you speak in a fast and excited manner. You have a smile on your face, you are confident when you speak. You gesture with your hands and your body language is energetic. You talk about the subject of your passion in a positive manner, and you are all about potentiality.

Passion doesn’t just happen to you, you happen to it. You create passion for whatever you want to be passionate about just by changing your state.

Unfulfilled Potential

[I wrote this a few months ago, and after re-reading it I decided to put it out there. It somehow seems suitable today.]

In Mid-October, I went to the funeral service of an 85-year-old-woman I had known for 33 years. Alyce was a wonderful woman and I loved her for the beautiful spirit she was. She was loved and adored by everyone in her extensive family. She made a difference in her life with all of the children she helped in her career. Alyce’s positive outlook, humor and caring generosity will always be remembered.

I first met Alyce at her home in Moraga, California, when my friends and I were on a cross-country road trip. She was the aunt of one of my friends, and she opened her house up to us guys, and let us stay with her for a few days. Alyce and I hit it off immediately. She was a very hip and cool adult, who understood us twenty-somethings very well. Alyce was so easy to get along with. She was the best.

During the service, I found myself less sad at her passing, and I smiled through most of the service at the memory of the conversations and laughter we shared, and of the person she was.

I had been in a funk since the middle of September, but wasn’t sure exactly why. I love to write, but had recently lost all ambition to do so. The night after the funeral, I decided to go through some newsletters I’ve been skipping over for the past several weeks. I began leafing through message titles and decided to open one from Live Your Legend from mid-September. What I read in the first sentence stopped me cold.

I thought it was a lead in to a parable or hypothetical story. I did not, could not believe what I was reading. It stated that Scott Dinsmore, the founder of Live Your Legend, was killed in a freak accident on Mount Kilimanjaro. He was hit by falling rocks while hiking with his wife Chelsea.

I stopped reading right away and Googled Scott’s name. To my utter sadness there was story after story about the accident that claimed the life of this incredible young man…a month ago. Scott was only 33, but he had literally touched and changed thousands of lives in a positive way. He lived more, and did more in his short life than most do twice his age.

I’m glad his wife was unhurt, but I was absolutely floored by this news. It saddened me deeply. He had done so much for so many. He was so young and had so much more to offer – but now he’s gone.

Still pondering this, it amazed me that I’m so deeply saddened by the passing of a young man I have never met, but who connected with me in his articles and newsletters. Yet, with Alyce’s passing I was far less saddened by her passing.

Taking a walk later the next day, I realized I felt this way because I know Alyce lived a full life. She reached her potential and fulfilled her life’s purpose. For Scott, I feel his vast potential was left untapped, and his life’s full purpose ended far before its ultimate fulfillment.

There are fewer things in life sadder than incredible possibility and potential to change the world for the better – cut short.

Our Time In The Sun

I was in the Nashua Town Hall on Main Street, waiting for my wife to complete some official business. I stared fascinated at a mural sized picture from the city’s past.

The picture was taken from a high vantage point on a building that no longer exists, next the Main Street Bridge that spans the Nashua River. I figure the picture must have been taken around 1910 or so.

There were work horses on the street walking along side a trolley car that has long since vanished. The weather looked to be warm and sunny. There were lots of people on the sidewalks and street. They were far enough away where their faces were nondescript. The women wore long dark dresses and most of the men were dressed in Sack suits and straw boater hats. Of the things in the picture, it was the people who stayed with me.

After business was concluded in the Town Hall, we walked out onto Main Street. It was a warm, sunny day and we walked down the street toward home. I reveled in the wonderful weather, and thought how good I felt and how much I love and enjoy life.

As we approached the Main Street Bridge, the image of that picture played in my mind. Nobody, not one person from that picture exists here today. None are left on this street where they were all once caught in a photograph going about their lives.

They, like I do now, cannot envision a point in time 100 years from now, where we no longer exist. In a future time where no one remembers you, or cared that you existed, or even has the knowledge about you to give you a passing thought. That you now only exist as an anonymous, nondescript figure in an old photograph.

I thought of all those people I can never know. All those stories lost to history. I tried to imagine their faces. I thought that some of the people in that photograph may have very well felt exactly the way I did at that moment. I wondered about how they lived out their lives. How they lived and loved, laughed and cried and how they inevitably left this world.

I thought how 100 years before, they walked the same place and occupied the same space as I. The same sun had shined upon their faces and cast their shadow onto the sidewalk is it was now doing mine.

Now the sun shines upon them no more. Where do they all lie now? What became of all those souls?

No, try as we might, we just can’t envision a day where the sun will never again shine upon us. A time where we no longer exist – and no one cares that we did.

This is our time in the sun. Live life to its fullest, care about it and enjoy the heck out of it. If your life is important enough to live, it’s important enough to make a record of it. Leave this life completely used up and know that you did exist – and you mattered…

 

Why I Journal

Simply put, I journal so I won’t forget.

“…if your life is important enough to live, it’s important enough to chronicle.”

 

If you’re the type of person who prefers to get out and about instead of just sitting in front of a TV or video game for hours on end, then you will have lots of life experiences. Most will be mundane. A few might be bad, but many will be good and others will be awesome. Whenever anyone has a memorable experience, we don’t forget the overall fact of the experience, however, with the passage of time the details of those experiences fade, alter and are sometimes forgotten.

 

I’ve been journaling on and off since I was nine-years-old. I believe if your life is important enough to live, it’s important enough to chronicle. I also believe it’s only our experiences we take with us when we leave this life – so I want to fill it up with as many experiences as I can.

 

To preserve the details of a noteworthy life experience, I like to journal it as soon as I can – typically within a few days to a week.

 

A few years down the road, when remembering a life event from the past, I can go to my journal and read what I wrote about it back then. I’m often amazed of the details, and even the sequences of events, I’ve since forgotten when reading an older journal entry. It serves to help me create a rich tapestry of pictures in the theater of my mind, which then becomes a full sensory mind movie. The colors, sights, sounds, feelings, smells, time of day, and the weather all come back to me. It’s very cool.

 

The more detail I add to the journal entry, the quicker the whole experience comes back to me.

 

When I journal, I write to three different people.

 

First I write to myself so I can relieve the experiences in immersive detail. Second, I write to someone I know who is interested in and likes what I write.

 

Lastly, when I journal I think of a person 100 years in the future. Most people today could care less about the journal entries of my life experiences – and I’m okay with that. What I do is imagine someone like me, a person interested in history, discovering a 100 year old journal and eagerly begins to read it. This person is keenly interested getting a glimpse what life was like long before they were born. This reader wants to get to know the writer of the journal and see how he lived out his life in a bygone era. As this person reads the journal they learn who the writer was, who they loved, what they did, felt and thought. The reader gets to live in the past vicariously, through the writings of a person who once was.

 

Why do you journal? If you don’t – why not?

 

 

 

Ghost Hunters Halloween Party!

Okay, had to take a break from NaNoWriMo prep to go to an awesome Halloween Party at the Spalding Inn, in Whitefield, NH. The Inn is owned by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of Ghost Hunters fame (on the SyFy channel). 

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Live a Life of Purpose

Many of us feel there’s more to life than what we’re now experiencing — but we have no earthly idea what that might be or how to find it.

We may have cultivated wonderful relationships or built successful careers, but we get a vague feeling of being unfulfilled. There’s a sense that something else is at the controls of your life and you’re simply along for the ride.

That thing we feel is missing? It is PURPOSE.

We all crave to have meaning in our lives. But instead of taking the time to find our purpose, we spend more time planning a vacation or watching reality shows – than we do mapping out our lives.

Your purpose is a combination of your skills, passions and values. It’s your mission in life and identifying it can provide clues to a more satisfying one.

If you love your life and are surrounded with the people you love, then doing work that you love will add life to your years and years to your life.

Don’t get gridlocked by life.

If you go through life dragging through the days, doing work you hate and feeling half-alive, it’s time to break free of the gridlock. If you’re not challenged by your life and feel like you’re just going through the motions, it’s time to seriously rethink your purpose. Here are some suggestions on breaking free from that life gridlock:

  1. Take risks – try something new out of your comfort zone
  2. Unplug for a day or weekend – go on a technology and media fast
  3. Learn something new like a language or instrument, take up dancing or an acting class or go on a photo tour
  4. Challenge the beliefs you have about yourself
  5. When invited to something out of the ordinary, don’t say no. Go with it.
  6. Try something new each day. Eat something you’ve never tasted, walk somewhere you’d normally take a car, go to a museum or show instead of sitting in front of the TV
  7. Take a longer view of your life and write a personal mission statement. It will help you find purpose, make choices and add meaning to your life

Hit the Pause Button.

In the busy hustle and bustle of our lives, we never give ourselves time to think and reflect on who we are and what we truly want. Change it. Hit the pause button on life and take some time for yourself. After all if you don’t take time for yourself, someone will use your time for you.

Living purposefully demands that you focus on what’s important. To make that happen take a 12-hour media fast. Turn off your cell phone, TV, computer and other gadgets, and do a personal re-boot. Sit quietly, breathe deeply. Your heart and mind will stop racing and you’ll have more time to look inward and consider what is most important to you.

Define Your Passion.

What’s missing in your life? What are you curious about? What issues or problems do you feel strongly about? Think about what gets you up in the morning — and keeps you up at night. And this is not about worries and anxieties. It’s about your passions, interests and activities that excite and motivate you.

Make a list of the things that you enjoy doing and believe you do well. What sort of books, magazines, websites and blogs do you read or frequent? What sort of shows to you like to watch? Perhaps you’re good at home improvement projects, or are good at writing or graphic arts. Maybe you have a passion for healthy living or crafts. You see possibilities where others see the same-old-same-old. Perhaps you’re a good listener or problem solver. If you’re not sure what you’re good at, ask your friends and family what they consider are your strengths.

Create a Vision Board.

This is a powerful tool to help you visualize what you want and why you want it. To create your vision board, print out online images or cut out pictures from magazines that inspire you and motivate you into action, make you happy and represent your life goals and dreams. Add quotes and inspiring words that encourage you.

Paste all of these onto a piece of white foam board, or tack them onto a corkboard. Add an inexpensive frame and hang your vision board on the wall of your office, den or bedroom, where you will see it every day.  Take a picture of your vision board and upload it to your computer and use it as a screen saver or wallpaper.

Create a Mastermind Group.

Successful people often have a group of trusted acquaintances with whom they bounce ideas off of, debate issues with and discuss new strategies. All of us should have such a group. Going it alone, without differing views and objective input from others, can keep you stuck. Ideally, you should have one person in your life you can count on just to listen when you need to work through options in your mind — someone with whom you can share your deepest feelings and fears.

You need another person who can be the one to give you the kick in the pants to get you off your butt and get going, spurring you to take action. It can be a simple as signing up for a course to learn to speak Spanish or starting a new business. Finally, you need a wise elder, someone at least 10 years your senior, who can serve as your mentor and provide perspective on your options and decisions.

Take it in Stages.

Finding your Purpose and putting it into action takes motivation, courage and patience. If you have a family to support and a mortgage to pay you can’t just quit and simply drop everything to follow your passion. For others taking such a big step is just too far out of their comfort zone. What to do?

The answer is: Start small. Take baby steps.

Your purpose will evolve and your interests and experiences change. Identify what you are curious about. What is one small thing you could do on a daily basis that takes you closer to your purpose and make your life a better experience?  Tell your spouse or partner why you love them. Show gratitude. Take some time to give someone you don’t know a hand with something, or help a friend with a problem. Change one thing in your daily routine that will bring you more in line with your purpose.

Once these small changes become routine, build on it make another small change that gets you closer to your purpose. Keep building on those changes and you will reach your life’s purpose.

Once you’ve clarified your purpose, you will discover new passions that will add meaning to your life.


This post is an adaptation of the original article written by Margery Rosen, for AARP on Jan. 11, 2012.



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