Monday, February 28, 2011
It's a laugh not typically associated with such a small child, a hearty, sustained belly laugh and honestly, it is quite a heart warming sight to see.
It reminds me of the healing power of laughter. This world, can be an overwhelming place for people...even when life is seemingly going good. I have always found relief in humor and laughter.
In NOT taking things and myself so darn seriously. I've known folks who can't laugh at themselves...I don't envy them at all. It is simply my opinion but I think it's so self-repressive to feel so defensive and closed that you can't find humor in the silly things we all do.
I know, some folks struggle with their self image, their self worth and the mere notion that anyone would tease or poke fun (even light heartedly) at them in jest (including themselves) is unimaginable. I'm glad I don't feel that way today...I need to laugh, a lot, daily. I'm afraid I'd be in tears all the time if I didn't!
Speaking of laughter, I watched a silly movie last night on TMC. It was called: Taking Woodstock and while it's not some super serious, accurate portrayal of how that historic Music and Arts Festival came in to being, it is a cute, light-hearted and yea, funny account. I enjoyed it.
I rarely watch movies...I just don't sit for long periods of time do anything other then read. I'll sit and read but won't watch TV or a movie or talk...I have to be moving around. I'm sure I looked half as funny as the movie pacing back/forth, putting a golf ball back/forth across the living room floor!
I am of the age that I remember Woodstock when Walter Cronkite and others spoke of it on the news. It happened just a few weeks after 2 members of the Apollo 11 Crew walked on the Moon for the first time. Yet I was much too young to actually go.
As a teenager, Woodstock began to take it's iconic place in history and the famous movie of the same name was released. It was a must-see film for folks of my generation.
Anyone who has seen the original film will laugh at this film because they have used the same split screen film techniques that were pioneered in the original documentary. It almost feels to me that it is a continuation of that film...it's just cool and I like it.
I have to add one more thing about the movie. They have a character in this film, Vilma who is a transvestite, Korean War Vet who is simply one of the BEST characters in any film I've ever seen. I truly love this character...and the funny thing is even though this film has much humor, it has some really serious messages to pass along as well.
Like I said: It's cool and it was FUN...
Sunday, February 27, 2011
At the age of 43 years of age, I was ready to throw in the towel on life. I wanted to quit..as a matter of fact i wanted to quit SO badly that I had even tried to expedite the process...and end my life myself.
But much like everything else I was doing at that stage in my life, I failed at suicide just like I had failed at everything else...just like I had failed at life, at living. I had no idea what I was going to do. I was at a crossroads, the MAJOR crossroads OF MY LIFE, the day AFTER I was supposed to die.
What a terrible mess and you know what? I had nobody to blame BUT myself. This is what the kind of life I had led all of my life, had brought me in the end. I was reaping, what I had sown. What had I sown?
Deceit, Anger, Fear, Selfishness, Self-Centeredness, Drug/Alcohol Addiction, Lies, Insecurity and I had done all this under the assumption, in other words MY assumption that I was in charge. That I knew what to do and when to do it. I sought no guidance from others, I sought no relationship or anything else from God...I actually MOCKED GOD.
I actually had said F**k GOD...I can do better. Boy was I EVER wrong about that. Well my best efforts took me from the very top of our society, from a life of wealth, an amazing, lucrative Job, a wonderful Wife, 2 great kids, Travel, Cars...you name it....to NOTHING. I lost it all and then I lost myself. I could not live...I could not die.
I had no idea what i was going to do. On that day, in June of 2006 I surrendered. I could not fight it any more. I knew that I was powerless over my addiction/alcoholism, that my life was unmanageable.
I began a journey toward a life built on spiritual principals of humility, service to others and seeking a power greater then my-self...seeking a god.
Well it has been a rough road at times but deep down, I knew that something out there was FOR ME...I didn't really know what it or he or she was but by now I KNEW it was THERE FOR ME.
That is how my journey to the Lord began. Today I made a simple statement to the entire world that the god of my understanding, that my Higher Power, my god of choice was indeed: God our Father whose Son Jesus Christ died for my sins and yours on a cross at Calvary. Those two with the Holy Spirit...that is my God.
These days it is imperative for me to NEVER pretend to be something I am not. No, I am what I am...
I'll admit I didn't really WANT to be a Christian..."Oh man, please let me be ANYTHING but THAT!!" But it has been critically clear that I am a follower of the Lord Jesus. No doubt about that. I was originally starting to feel a tinge of embarrassment about it then BOOM, it just stopped.
It was time I that I made a commitment to who and what I had become....I needed to say that in a way that made sure I had no allusions about the path that I had chosen.
So I was baptised this afternoon in front of, I don't know some 60 - 70 people or so at an indoor pool just north of the town of Coldwater. So all the avoidance, the tap dancing that I had been doing here on Shell Shock serenade if OVER...
I'm not kidding, it was of the most profound and important experiences of my life. I was so moved by what happened in my heart this afternoon that even 5 hours later I still feel the intensity of it all as if it has just happened.
After some internal debate (once again I was hesitant to share info about my baptism!) I decided to share a picture of me hugging Pastor Shayne right after I came up out of the water.
It wonderfully captures the most incredible look on my face... a friend has commented about it saying this: "
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Ever since I was a wee, little one...I have loved the water. It was just part of my life. The earliest pictures of me almost always have me swimming, playing in the lake, sitting on a boat...It was a natural part of my life. Water, it seems to me now, has always had a significant part to play in my life.
And so it continues....
Long ago...when I was still a boy but desperately trying to act older then I was and already feeding a raging addition to alcohol...I was in a situation no 12 year old should ever find themselves in...frankly nobody, no matter the age should have been in that place, on that night. I was violently attacked by three grown men. I was blindsided, I was out numbered and I never had a chance. One of the obvious results of the events that followed that night is that I was severely beaten.
The events themselves are a blur of images, snippets of light, sound...smell, I can still smell my fear, really...I still can. More has been revealed to me in the 36 years since it happened but one of the things I've always remembered about that incident was after it was over and I had dragged myself out of there to another, safer place, I looked up into a mirror in a bathroom as I splashed cool, healing WATER on that battered face with those swollen eyes and for the first time ever saw the "Thousand Yard Stare""...I was so damaged.
WATER...there it is again...water. Healing water.
Over the years, as my my back and left hip have deteriorated and the pain has increased...I've often found relief in water. A Hot shower, the running water bringing temporary relief to that miserable pain that never seemed to quit. A whirlpool or just soaking in a tub, floating in the lake or the surf in Florida or a hotel pool. Water is still my safe place...a sacred place for me.
As a teenager, I spent the Summer here on the Island staying with my Grandma at the old cottage...my routine was often to get up before dawn, fish, clean fish then bath in the lake...every day. I jumped into the water to essentially start my day, everyday of the Summer...that routine followed me into my "real life" of school then work as I got used to an early morning shower to start my day.
When I was young, my family traveled a great deal. And we always stayed at hotels/motels that had a pool...it's just what we did. My father liked to take a sauna or steam then a swim at the end of his day. So When my kids came along and we traveled...yep, we stayed at motels with a pool.
I realize everybody uses water in their lives...I know, we as human being absolutely require it to survive. But it just seems to me to have an extra significance to me and it always has...
Tomorrow afternoon, water once again plays a critically important role in my life. Once again, I go to the water...this time willingly as a man, a human being with all my flaws, pain, hurts and sorrow...I'll go into the water to die and be re-born and demonstrate how my life has been changed forever.
Take me to the water....
Friday, February 25, 2011
I guess it isn't unusual to feel weird when you have made major change in your life. I have a notion that I'm feeling way more out of my comfort zone then any one could detect from any perceived change in my behavior. Translation: I'm not acting any differently...
Doesn't make much sense? I mean that I don't think anyone would even know I am a Christian if I hadn't said it so clearly last night. I have been trying to live by certain spiritual principles since I got sober back in the Summer of 2006. I don't feel any different except that I've realized my Higher Power is God...the Christian God: Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
I think the changes I have experienced have been mostly internal in terms of providing some clarity to what had actually happened to me and has been happening to me for these last 4.5 years. I have always feared that becoming a "Christian" would divide me from others, based on the hypocrisy I thought I had witnessed in the past. I did not and do not want that to happen. I don't want to be separate from my fellow brothers/sisters on this planet....we are all the same people under the skin.
I don't believe that is what my Creator wants either. I think I'm just reacting to some of my old stereotypes I had about Christians...the funny thing is I have not seen the behavior I expected with folks at the church I attend. They are REAL, sincere, honest, loving people who have embraced me as a friend. I am very grateful for that.
They haven't asked for $$, commitments or anything of me and I've inquired about it...it isn't the focus of this church's mission in life. I am impressed but you know what? Who cares...these people and this church doesn't need to impress me....they do wonderful work and they are amazingly good people. I feel privileged to be a part of that community today.
That is a huge deal for me...I've never felt like I fit in anywhere, with anyone yet I have never felt so accepted and comfortable. And please realize, they know I am in recovery...some know quite a few details of my alcoholism/addiction and the behaviors that went with it. Bottom line...they know I'm come from a hard-core place, I have lived hard and did my best to die-hard (me and Bruce Willis, hehe!) and they aren't intimidated. Nope...they love me.
That folks...blows my mind. BOOM..I mean really blows my MIND. Acceptance, whoa...I've never felt it before...it's wonderful.
I am rattling on here and I want to close but no worries...this topic will pop up again...and again, I'm sure.
I have a good friend, who is in recovery and is a Christian as well. He is the fellow I turned to when I started to have the feeling that what I was feeling inside of me was the Holy Spirit and the love of the Lord. I didn't know what to do. I really wasn't sure what was happening to me or sure if I wanted this to happen. That is obviously a critical realization....
He has often said (and I'm going to botch this para-phrase so sorry Glenn, my brother!): When he was first in recovery, people were talking about not drinking, change, spiritual principles, yea even God and he could sense that there was an answer for his recovery, somewhere in all this but he just hoped...really hoped that the answer WASN'T GOD.
And you know what? The answer most certainly was GOD. I am also experiencing that kind of feeling too. I want to stay sober...I love the changes in my life, I actually LOVE LIFE today. I will do ANYTHING to continue, ODAAT this kind of life...I just wish the answer hadn't been GOD. Let it be anything else: a Diet, Yoga, Running, Eating 2 freaking pieces of Rhubarb PIE a day...whatever...just not GOD!
But it's GOD, he was always there, even when I denied and rejected him repeatedly. I am alive today because he loved me enough to save me from myself. I can pretend that it wasn't him but I am not into playing games anymore with my life.
I am a recovering alcoholic/addict, my name is Thom and I Follow...it's what I do...er, it's what I AM.
I suppose that I've changed...yet, I'm still me, same guy with the same wry smirk and strange sense of humor. I am the same person, deep down that I always was only I hope better. I try to focus lesse on self more on service to others...it doesn't come easily for me. My natural tendancy is toward self-centeredness.
I struggle to put others first but I try. I guess I feel strange having come out publically as a Christian I suppose I'll get over it. I have a meeting starting so I have to run I'll pick up this trainj of thougvht later....
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I now know that it is time, time for me to stand up. After the Fall, after admitting and accepting defeat....I knew the time had come to surrender. I had been beaten...I was left alone...defeated in every way possible.I brought it on myself and I am ultimately responsible for the life choices that I made. I thought I knew it all.
It wasn't a passing folly of youth...NOPE, I was nearly 44 yrs old. I had lived, successfully for a long time. I'd had many positive things happen in my life: my career, I married the woman of my dreams who I really cared deeply about, I had two great kids, a not too "dysfunctional" family thing going. We had $$, a really nice home...all the material things were great...awesome.
It wasn't enough...I lived by my own rules...those rules, as they were were solely motivated by my selfish desires. I lived for me...if it didn't' screw things up, hey you could come along but this was MY story, MY destiny...you were WITH me and it was all about ME.
That was the beginning of the END. And the END came swiftly and I fell apart...daily, I flew to pieces until there wasn't anything left.A shell of a human being...begging, wishing for the end. I could not live with booze...I couldn't even ENVISION life without it. I stood at a crossroads...the intersection between life....and death. And I chose death...
But God had a different idea.That was supposed to be the last day of my LIFE. The funny this is, in a way it most certainly was the last day...of THAT life. I did die that day...I didn't know it then but on that day, that very first day, my self died. And it's died every day since...without even knowing anymore then that at the time...I picked up my cross and followed Jesus. To have life, I must deny myself, take up my cross...and FOLLOW. (Para-phrased from:LUKE 9 23-25)
It's been some since then, nearly five years now but I truly look at that as the day I accepted the Lord. It just took awhile for me to realize it...
So folks, all those people who thought, "Thom quit the drinkin', now he's going to find religion"...well I did find God or he found me or he was there all along and I woke up, WHATEVER....I believe...and I Will FOLLOW.
(MUCH more to come...)
I thought Tuesday would be "car" day and Wednesday would be free for visiting...er, no. The car had some issues, had to spend the better part of the early day doing that stuff but hey, it worked out well and I love the new Juke.
It's funny but I thought it would be easy to get back to Holland and visit more frequently then I have. It's less then a 2.5 hr drive and I am retired so I figured, shoot I'll be back there all the time. Ah, nope, it hasn't worked out that way at all. Life catches up and it's busy.
So I have to be satisfied with what I can manage...
traveling really affected my routine of course as well. I had hoped to blog more "from the road" as it were but a combination of lousy driving weather, ill health and the car issues imposed themselves on the time I needed to blog so i ended up with only a couple of short posts.
I do hope to change that in the future when I travel but I guess it wasn't a bad first stab at it...
I did get to see a couple of old friends in recovery which is always nice. And thought I think I'm going to save this subject for a full post tonight or perhaps tomorrow, I have to chuckle because a few folks who have known me for awhile made some interesting observations to me yesterday concerning some comments here and a Social network site (FB) regarding my becoming a "Soldier of God", etc...
I laughed because one friend read a post and saw the comments and told me her reaction was "What in the world happened to Thom?!". I find that reaction priceless and yes, precious...they know me so well.
A last little tidbit about coming home. I was hoping that whole Ice Storm thing had just been a bad dream....unfortunately, it wasn't!
Wow, the damage around here is just incredible. The house and out-buildings here were not damaged but countless centuries old Oaks, Maples, Cottonwoods and Sycamore trees, some that were surely standing here on Iyopawa Island when the native Pottawatomies were still inhabiting this place in the Summer...well they didn't fare so well.
Thousands of limbs are down or torn off of the trees, the debris is everywhere. It's going to take time to get everything cleaned up. Some folks are just today getting their power back on...this storm happened Monday!
So we were fortunate about the power, not so fortunate about the trees yet, we didn't have any whole trees come down which could have been really awful so I think I'm grateful for what we got. life indeed, goes on.
Any how, time to clean up and go searching for a country road to drive the new THANG on as I go find some grub, until later....
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
OK wow, that was an interesting day (so far). There were so many sticks and large limbs, I can't even begin to describe it. Incredible. This property has been in my family since the late 1930's. There has been the cottage then since 1995 my parents home here that entire time. before I moved here permanently a few years ago, I spent every summer or part of every summer here on the island. Never, EVER have I seen this.
I had to use the plow to move limbs out of the yard/street and push/drag them to our lot across the road. As if that wasn't enough, I'm fighting some respiratory CRAP that had me running a temp. this morning! Some times I have to wonder what the deal is when all this crazy stuff happens. Like the truck not starting and needing to hit the Starter to get it going!
I used to think I was cursed...I'm not kidding. I really did, I felt like I had this permanent Black Cloud hanging over me. My life was so heavy, so dark, sad, lonely...you name it. I just accepted that bad stuff was going to happen. Now that was the saddest part really..excepting a negative circumstance...I can't fathom that today. Just the opposite now, I expect good things to happen and you know what? They usually do!
OK, I'll promise to not write about the weather anymore today (unless we get hit by a tornado or something!)...
It just blows my mind because today was a big day, I had a lot of business things going on. I have an even busier day tomorrow and Wednesday so it was not a good time to spend hours out in the freezing rain moving sticks around! But this stuff NEVER seems to happen when I have lots of extra time on my hands. Of course I rarely have a lot of extra time so maybe that's the rub.
Anyway, it's snowed a few inches since the ice storm so I'll just be happy if the truck will start and I can plow before I leave tomorrow. I know, ODAAT...
The limbs, chunks of ice and branches were hitting the house all night long. It was surreal and yea, a tad on the spooky side. Needless to say dawn brought a small amount of comfort but I now have an incredible mess out there to clean up. The pictures just don't really capture how bad it is and how much stuff is down.
Some huge limbs, 10-12" in diameter...NO kidding, are down by the road. Everything is coated with ice so i don't see how it can be chainsawed at this time. This is much more then I can clean up on my own with my physical issues. Not sure what I'm going to do...
Oddly, stuff is still hitting the house as I type. Currently it is still raining/freezing rain so there isn't much I can do now...roads are covered with ice so I'm not going anywhere today. I think I'll lay down for awhile, since I obviously didn't sleep much at all last night.
So I'm off to the land of (sweet) dreams as it were...
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Honestly it never fails! My previous post was...HEAVY, to say the least. Those posts are very hard on me to write but I discovered they are necassary. I can't avoid writing those because I am getting emails from folks who can relate, who appreciate it. Wow, that makes it much more meaningful, eh...even worthwhile to keep sharing.
But after such an emotional, even traumatic morning at church plus sharing my feelings here on shell Shock, I felt completely wrung out, drained...yep, even though I'm glad I did all that it really takes it's toll plus those things are weighing very heavily and vividly I may add...on my mind and in my thoughts.
And then in the short time it takes to watch a 30 second TV commercial, running during the Daytona 500 I nearly fall out of my chair, convulsing with laughter. Yep and of all products, it was Budweiser Beer, a BUD commercial that lifted me up on a wave of laughter...it's just amazing how those kind of things will happen to me. I'm told this first aired during the Super bowl but I missed it.
I'm not sure if anyone out there saw the movie Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe but the best scene in that wonderful movie is when the band is on the tour bus. The lead singer has just royally screwed up and everybody is upset with him. Then with all the tension building, the situation like many in real life is rescued by a song...that is the video above. I would suggest watching that 3 minute scene before watching the BUD version:
Now I was not very fond of BUD or BUD products when I was drinking, nope I was a MILLER guy, then a COORS LIGHT guy followed after my first trip to England/Europe by becoming a traditional Dark European Style Ale Guy or Guinness Bloke. But BRAVO to Anheuser Busch Company for making me laugh today when I was hurting...hurting a great deal inside...CHEERS!
Hold me closer Tiny Dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today...**
By Elton John from the album: Madmen Across The Water