Tuesday, June 26, 2007


So, just for shits and giggles, I figured I'd take off my shirt and frighten the neighbors when I was working on the yard this weekend. Knowing that my pale Irish ass is subject to burning, I took the precaution of using sun screen so I wouldn't fry too bad. I even made sure it was the "sports" kind that doesn't run off when you sweat (It being a balmy 93 deg. here in central Jersey!) and I applied it liberally using a spray on bottle. Only one problem:

It didn't work!

My frikkin' back is red as a baboon's ass! (Hey, no comments about the similarities, 'kay?) Hurts like a SOB too. Had to get up at 2:30 last night to re-apply the aloe and take a couple of tylenol, just so I could sleep. Ouch.

Didn't let it stop me from my morning run though. I'm steadily doing two miles now without killing myself. I think I'm going to start lengthening the distance next week. I could have this week, but my heels are still a little tender and I don't want to push it and hurt myself again. Heel injuries suck. Weight is still going down. Slowly of course, but I'm learning patience. 1-1/2 lbs. per week seems to be my norm now. I'd prefer to drop 10+ per week of course but that's neither realistic, nor healthy, so I'll have to make do. :-)

Work is work . . . crazy as always. The family is good. We're going a bit nuts at the moment trying to square out The Boy's summer schedule (He's got some High School prep things to do, plus he's actually working this summer as a junior camp couselor) This of course means crazy hours for me . . . either getting up an hour earlier each morning and/or taking my lunch hour to pick him up and run him from place to place. It won't ease up come fall either. His being accepted to the "private" HS means I'll have to shuttle him from home, back to the public HS each afternoon so he can participate in their sports programs. Ah well, that's what father's are for, yes? (Though as I recall, my old man made us hitch rides to practice! Different worlds, I guess . . .)

Anyway, off to train today in a far-away office! Just wanted to check in and say hi.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And the Allegories Keep on Comin'!

The allegory continues . . .

On Thursday night, I hit the bouldering wall again. Was having a blast, but I got stupid. I climbed one rock without bothering to put a crash pad (big, fluffy mat) below me. I figured that the floor was covered in 2" thick mats and that would be enough. I got to the top, slipped and fell off of a particularly rough transition and twisted about to make sure I landed on my feet. No problems, right? Well . . . maybe one. See, the mats on the floor are joined together by velcro at the edges. Lucky me, I landed with my full weight -on my heels- right at that seam. I pushed right through and slammed both heels into the concrete floor beneath. OUCH! I saw frikkin' stars! The bruises (luckily no breaks!) went from the center of my foot, around the back of each heel, and up to the ankle. I've been waddling about like a penguin for the last few days.

I had a choice then. I could have sat back and rested the heels for a few days until the pain faded, or I could keep on doing my thing and work through the pain. I chose option #2. Sunday, I went out with a group of friends and did some actual rock-climbing. It was up in the mountains, required lugging a ton of rope and gear up to the top of the cliff, then hiking back down and then doing the actual climbing/belaying. Hurt like hell but it was a blast. Monday I rested, then yesterday I had a buddy invite me to his gym (at an un-godly 5:00 a.m.!) as a guest. We did a "Spinning" class. This is where a bunch of very in-shape folks get on stationary bikes and peddle like lunatics for a full hour to blaring music. It was insanely hard! I kept the pace but I had to actually sit on the seat for most of the class while everyone else was standing, crouching, etc. in different positions. It was the best workout I've ever had in my life. it also killed my injured feet, but what the hell? I'm thinking I may actually join the gym and do this regularly . . . depends on prices and such so we'll see.

So what's the allegory? Well, there are two in my little tale today.

1. Trying to do things without a proper support system will get you hurt. I am learning that I do need other people to be my "crash pads" when things go wrong. I don't have to be invulnerable and unshakable. it's ok to say: "Hey! A little help here?"

2. Pain and difficulty only stop you when you let them. This has been a major issue for my whole life. When things hurt too much I would find rational excuses not to continue doing them. I don't think anyone would say not going climbing on badly injured feet was a BS excuse, but it would have been. I could always find good, solid, intelligent, reasons to NOT do the things that frightened me or made me uncomfortable. No more. My answer now is: "Push through it."

One last thing today, since I've gotta run. I got this link in an e-mail from a friend. I don't normally go for touchy-feely things, but this fit my current state of mind on where I'm trying to take my life. Give it a look. It's not bad advice for anyone . . .


Friday, June 15, 2007


Sometimes, life can get all kinda allegorical and shit.

Told you I was going to the rock-climbing gym, right? Well, I went along because it was something I needed to do for Scouts and the original class was kinda fun. We get there, do the certification check (no probs!) and take turns climbing up and down the wall a few times whilst we belay each other. It was fun, but no biggie. Then, I decide to take off the climbing harness and go over to the gym's "bouldering" area. (not sure what that is? Considerate moi' has provided linkage!!) It's pretty cool looking and it only goes up ten or so feet and you don't need to belay each other. I jump on the simulated boulder and start (trying!) to climb about. Folks, I gotta tell you: it was the most fun I've had in years! Let's be honest - I sucked at it: I'm in a lot better shaper than I was a year ago but nowhere near where I need to be for this kind of event, but damn it was fun! Maybe it was the freedom of it, the getting to climb about like a little kid again without having to worry about drawing strange looks (Look, mommy! The creepy fat man is crawling on the rocks!) from people. Maybe it was the simple satisfaction of being able to do it at all (Last year? no way in hell!) or the adrenaline rush that hit me from using every (and I do mean every - literally!) muscle in my body at the same time. I don't know what it was but I came off those rocks laughing like a five-year-old on a swing and jumping back on them again, even though I knew my arms were gonna give out after two feet. It was a blast.

Talk about a workout too! All of us who went were whooped by the time we left. Even the two young guys (18 & 20 and in great shape) were rubbing at their sore arms. Even so, we all agreed to head back again tonight (we needed to do one more test for the cert anyway) I'm looking forward to it. I may try to get out there regularly. Great exercise, outstanding stress relief, and plain old fun!

So, you're asking: "Where's the allegory, Jim?"

Well, the idea of me scaling large boulders to find my way to happiness through physical challenge kinda fits the inner journey I've been taking, ya' know? I also find it funny that I only found it truly enjoyable when I was untethered -on my own- to climb as I wished that the real joy came through. Tired and sore but happy sorta sums it up for me lately.

See? Allegory!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Comfort Zones

I'm trying to leave my comfort zones. I'm trying to do things that I normally wouldn't. Here's the thing: I've always been fairly insecure when it come to doing physical stuff. Some of it was because of my weight, I'm sure, but a lot of it was just my belief that I wasn't as good at such things as other folks. I restricted myself to the realms of imagination and intellect because I always felt comfortable there. I've met folks in life who are smarter than I, but none so much that it made me feel inferior. Physically though . . . ahh! That be another tale entire!

Funny thing is, I'm really a decent athlete. I can play just about any sport without embarrasing myself, I hold (well . . . held. It's been 15+ years since I did it!) black belts in two martial arts, and I survived for years as a construction worker. You'd think all those things would make me comfortable with physicality, but no. I've always been leery about doing anything where I have to strain and sweat. I've always felt that I wasn't as strong or capable as other folks. Maybe it's a leftover from having four older brothers and being a late bloomer in high school . . . I don't know. "Why" doesn't matter anymore. I'm trying to move past it and just do what I want to do. It's getting a little easier now that I'm getting thinner of course. Running about with an extra 100 lbs. on your waist doesn't really help!

Over the weekend, I volunteered to become a certified belayer (the guy who holds the rope) so that the kids in my son's Troop can go rock climbing this summer. This meant also learning the basics of actually climbing. I spent Sat. morning in a Rock Gym, scuttling up and down walls. This was something I wouldn't even have considered just a few months ago. I have no fear of heights, I just wouldn't have even considered myself capable of such a thing. It was a blast! I don't think it'll become my new pastime or anything but I'll definitely be heading back out to the gym a few more times and I plan on taking a few turns at the real cliffs this summer! Tonight, I'm going to be working with a few other adults to teach the boys how to canoe properly. Since I have no idea how to canoe, this is the sort of thing I'd normally avoid, or at least face with a growing dread as the time approached. I'm actually looking forward to it. Before, even simple things, like jogging, would make me nervous and I'd start looking for excuses to avoid going out. Weird, eh? But then: y'all know I'm no kind of normal!

Whatcha think? Do I have confidence issues or what? :-)

It's funny . . . I've spent my entire life striving to be "something". To hit goals and benchmarks that would let me know I was doing things right. Granted, I missed most of 'em but I hit a few and none of them made me happy or satisfied. It was like each time I hit a goal, I'd just glance at it and start looking for what was next, certain THAT goal would be the one that would make things perfect. (Ok, so I'm a schmuck! What can I say?) Now, all I want to do is make myself better. I want to be healthy and calm. I want to work towards things that are important to me on the inside, not towards the external crap that will show other folks how "good" I am. I just want to take care of my family and enjoy my life without always worrying about how I'm measuring up, ya' know?

I still have goals, but they're personal goals that are important to no one but me. I've made the prime goal a simple one: "Be someone that you like being." That should work, right? ;-)


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hiding in the Words

Here's something I've discovered about myself with the new found "inner peace" (does that sound lame, or what?) Anyway, I figured out that I read far too much. Oh, don't get me wrong: reading is a wonderful thing but I discovered that for me, it was a way to escape real life. I could hide from myself behind the written word. It was not uncommon for me to chew through two or three large novels a week. I read every free moment I had. During commercials, eating lunch, on car trips, on the can (eeewww!) whatever open time I had, I filled it with books. I never tought that was a problem, I just thought reading was fun and a great thing to stretch your mind . . . and so it is.

Unless of course, you are doing it as a way to hide from your life. It's much easier to deal with slaying mythical dragons than it is to think about if the garbage needs to go to the curb (something I still forget regularly, btw!) Inside books I could be who I wanted to be and ignore the person I was really becoming. For someone who reads as quickly and broadly as I, the books were the same as watching TV: mindless entertainments that let me blank out my reality. Listen, I still love reading. It's still the greatest medium humanity ever invented, but I've become much more selevtive about what I read. I read with much greater care and thought. In the last two months I've read only one book. I started another but it didn't really "speak" to me so I put it away. Something I NEVER do. I've read some great books in my time, but I've also devoured a lot of mindless crap along the way. I won't do that anymore. I am trying to devote time to my real life and not the imaginary one. Reading is still great, but it had better be worth the time I'm taking to do it! I finally understand that this is the only life I'm getting and that hiding from it in imaginary worlds is not the way to go.

Probably has something to do with the lack of writing too, don't ya' think? :-)

Jim has been a "consumer" for far too long. Mindlessly consuming books, food, TV shows, music, and magazines without any real thought about why I consumed it, or even if I really wanted it. It was there, so (of course!) I consumed. Don't wanna be a consumer no more! Don't know what that makes me now, but I'll figger it out eventually, I guess. I'm just moving day to day, trying to be more aware of what I'm doing and trying to break free of a lifetime of ingrained behavior patterns. So far, I'm liking it.

I still have a long way to go (Just ask The Wife: she'll tell you I'm still one lazy SOB!) but each day I try to be a bit better. Who knows? One day, I may even be a normal, honest-to-goodness, person!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007



Damn, folks!

I'm really sorry if I worried anyone with my abscence. Quite frankly, I didn't think anybody would really notice so I haven't even looked at my blog over the last month. It wasn't until Lynn hunted me down and chastised me (she didn't really, but I felt really bad about worrying her.) that I even stopped in to see what was up. I appreciate all the concern and I'm sorry if I panicked anyone.

So (you're wondering!) where the hell have I been? Ahhh . . . excellent question! The sad truth though is that I don't really know. My abscence was for no reason at all that I'm aware of. I simply woke up one morning and didn't feel like posting, so I skipped it. Next day . . . the same. Then another day and another and now I see it's been almost two months without a word from me. (How did you all survive???) It's been an odd sort of time lately.

I've been shifting things about in my brain, though I can't for the life of me tell you why or how. There wasn't anything dramatic that happened, or some grand epiphany that brought me to a higher plane of consciousness, or any of that crap but things inside me started changing. Stresses and problems I've been dealing with for years suddenly disappeared and goals I'd been struggling to achieve seemed to lose their importance. It really happened overnight and I don't know why. (sort of a mini mid-life crisis, maybe?) Only it's more of a relaxation than a crisis. I've been in a calm place for the last two months . . . sort of sitting on the bank of the river watching life float by and trying to figure out where I stand in it all, ya know? Usually, these sort of thoughts stress me out and I start looking for dramatic changes to make to fix my "problems". The fixes usually just manage to stress me out even more but this time things went pretty calmly. Instead of looking for external fixes, I (for some reason) started looking inside. I came to a realization that I needed to fix the "me" before I started pushing forward on my dreams. So, that's what I've been focusing on.

For starters, I've been running regularly. I've dropped quite a bit of weight over the last year (51 lbs to be exact! Yay me!) and I'm trying to go a little easier on myself from the "success" standpoint. I am coming to realize (slowly) that a lot of the things I beat myself up over are because of other people's expectations, not mine. There are things I want to do and things I think other folks want me to do. I'm learning to separate the two. I'm also learning to enjoy things for the sake of enjoyment and not for the acclaim they might bring me. That's where my writing is. I haven't written a single word since my last blog post because every time I tried I'd knot up inside; worrying over if it was good enough, marketable enough, polished enough. It was becoming just one more stress in my life that I hated and blamed myself for, so I had to set it aside for a bit. I have to find my peace with writing and do it just because I want to. I'm close to that again (hence, why I'm able to write this wondrous post!) I'm looking at the rest of my life the same way. I'm learning to eat only when I really am hungry. To run because I like the feel of straining muscles and sweat. To stop and look at the sunset when I want to. To tell people "no" when I don't want to take on a responsibility. To allow myself the freedom to dream my own dreams and not the ones everyone expects me to dream.

The Wife is panicking. She think's I'm getting in shape so I can find some young chippie and run off to Hawaii. (Sorry, babe, you're stuck with me!) Really, all I'm doing is trying to get back to being the person that I really am on the inside. I let myself become a grumpy, fat, dis-illusioned old man loooonnnnggg before I had any right to be one. I tried to be someone I'm not because I thought it was the responsible thing to do and it was a huge mistake. I'm not that guy. I'm a lot of things, but that's not one of them! :-)

So, I'll be back around (maybe not every day - work is kinda crazy right now) and I'll let you know how things are going in my life. I have to say, I was really touched by everyone's concern . . . you're all good folks.


I'm sorry if I scared you. Oh, and Lynn: {{{L}}}} Gracias!