Cool Stuff

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hang on!





Well it is 10:15pm on this Monday evening...February 28, the last day of this, our shortest month of the year. I would say that the year, 2011 has really started off pretty well. And considering that we have just completed the second full month, the year itself is moving along rather quickly as well.

What can I say. After a lifetime of searching in all the wrong places, for all the wrong things...My Life's Spiritual Mystery has not only been solved but resolved...for all eternity. I cannot, for even a brief moment think about that simple fact without feeling profoundly moved, almost to tears.

And to know now, with certainty that GOD has a plan for me: To put me in this position to write about my experiences here on Shell Shock, even as hard and painful as that can be is truly an absolute blessing. I am so grateful to be able to use those experiences in some positive way.

Last Summer I would have to admit that I didn't really see any of this coming. Oh sure...I felt like I was making some spiritual progress, I was doing my best to be of service to others, working on my recovery and generally taking care of business. But I hadn't a clue such a profound change would occur and I would know in my heart that I was indeed SAVED.

Cool stuff! It's just that I am still feeling a bit blown away and giddy, like I am living a dream! Oh well, how often do you get to experience such a wonderful transformation?

There have been other interesting stuff happen in these 2 months. The Ice Storm that hit a week ago yesterday...the incredible lake erosion that pushed our shoreline back close to 8-9 feet like a fault line from an earth quake in our yard.


Of course, I was able to purchase a new Nissan JUKE...a dream vehicle for me. After all the financial wreckage I had created, to be able to re-build and establish some credit, especially in this awful economic downturn we have been experiencing as a country.

I am almost afraid to think of what the next 10 months may bring if the first two were like this!

Oh well, I guess the only way to find out is....hang on!

Go Ahead, Just LAUGH

I had the video above linked to my FaceBook Page earlier this morning. There isn't much to it. It seems that the father of the child (they say it's an 8 month old little boy) who is just off camera, just got a rejection letter from a job interview. The baby is playing with the rejection letter, tries to tear it but can't. So the father helps out by ripping it in half and the wee one laughs....so they do it again..and again.

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...

Just Saying...




Shell Shock Serenade, this blog I am posting on at the moment has really been a wonderful outlet, resource and a place where I have been able to step outside of myself a bit and just let others know who I am. I was a borderline recluse before I sobered up and social interaction did not come easily for me. It has gotten better over the years but I still could use all the help I could get to learn how to be accessible to others, not just strangers but my own friends/family. I had become an expert at keeping people at arms length.

The reverse of that has been the tendency and I shared this here to almost spill too much personal information. I know I've made some people uncomfortable in conversation because they simply weren't expecting the level of openness that I have gotten used to in therapy, with my friends in recovery and now on here at Shell Shock.

It's difficult and it has taken time for me to learn (yes LEARN) how to just be ME. I always pretended...I really did, I was whoever I needed to be at that moment to get what I needed or wanted, from you, from my employers, Doctors, friends..whoever. So there have been some awkward times in the last few years as I've not really known how to act or react in certain situations.

It is getting better but I would say that the awkwardness I just described has been more pronounced recently..yep, it's probably the hardest part of my life for this transition because I have gotten more comfortable in my own skin, my relationship with GOD has me feeling much more settled about who I really am as a person.

So I'd like to say to those of you who know me personally or just from the blog, if I have in any way made a situation seem awkward or weird because of my openess but such heavy topics as drug/alcohol addiction, rape/sexual assault, dishonest behavior, etc. please accept this apology...my intention certainly isn't to upset people..well, in a way it is but NOT offend folks and particularly in personal, face to face situations.

I ask that if you are one of those people who have been uncomfortable in my presence, just stop a second, step out of yourself if you can and imagine what it is like for a fellow like me to come from that terrible place of addiction/sexual abuse, etc and find such an incredible life. How would you expect a person to act?

I'm asking you to cut me a little slack as I continue to grow into this new self and know that I am aware of how strange and awkward my story can be to some folks. I really have a strong belief, a faith that I would not be in this place, writing in such a public forum about these things if it wasn't going to achieve some positive result, somehow. And plese know that I consider the feelings of others very much when I speak or write though some times hard, difficult things need to be said. I cannot, in good conscience avoid some topics, it would nullify the whole reason I write SSS. I won't apologize for what has happened to me or sharing that to anyone, I just can't and honestly, I shouldn't have to...

Sorry, the reader won't realize this until I tell you but I just got finished laughing my fool head off because I thought this was going to be a SHORT POST this morning! No such luck, folks...so sorry.

A couple more thoughts come to mind...

First of all, I have a running conflict in my heart and in my head every time I sit down to write because I feel strange writing about ME all the time. My life, My feelings, MY thoughts, MY grandkids...you get the picture. I realize the point of the blog was to capture the life of a person in recovery and do it on a day by day basis. And I chose the subject i know the best to focus on: ME.

But even though this subject matter can be heavy and isn't always complimentary, it can feel like bragging about myself. That is NOT what I want to portray here at all. And I really hope it isn't coming across that way, if it is I am sorry and have some work to do...

I pray that it doesn't come across as me just being self-absorbed, what i'm really trying to do in actuality is let my story demonstrate certain lessons I have learned about life. Often the examples I give from my life are NOT flattering and are of the "what NOT to do variety".

I guess the second thought I have concerns topics, flow, subject matter, etc. of the posts in the blog. In trying to just capture what this life is about, I do not sit and think about what the best stories are to post, in other words what sounds or "works" best. I post what is going on w/me right now. And that can come across as obsessive because I usually focus on certain things in my life and you can have 4 or 5 posts in a row on the very seem thing. It ends up seeming as if my life isn't very diverse...fact is I am usually working through an issue that is significant to my growth somehow. I've decided that even though i'm posting about my daily life I'm leaving out the obvious day to day stuff like "went to the kitchen, got a soda" and "had to take a pee" kinda thing.

An example would be how the last week of posts have primarily been about the subject of my acceptance of Christianity. One post after another about how my spiritual life is affecting me. See I don't give any thought to:"Gee the reader is probably sick of hearing this stuff,etc...'. Because that isn't the point of the blog...

I know a lot of people in recovery from alcohol/drug addiction...are personalities, behavior, emotional/mental state have all been impacted by our behavior and substance abuse plus the kinds of lives we lead to support that behavior. What am I getting at here?

That we can be MESSED up people to some degree, even in recovery. We can get obsessive about things, believe me! Especially when you sober up and realize that you could have DIED from this stuff and your life depends on you getting better...Trust me, that will get you really focused on this recovery Sh*t in a hurry, believe me!! So I feel strongly that it is important that readers see what it is really like when a person is fighting for their life, One Day At A Time in recovery.

Recovery, growth, self-improvement, vigorous self-evaluation on a daily basis HAS to be a focus for people like us or we drink and use again...and if we do that, often we DIE as a result. It's a accepted fact of life and proven out every day on the streets. That is the reality of those of us in recovery...if we forget, let down our guard for a second, we may end up repeating the past.



[Pictures By Tracy Padmos and Randy Kruger]



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Perhaps It's A Trend!


I have to talk a little Boiler Basket Ball...holy smokes, I don't know how they did it but they sure took it to SPARTY today. They out-rebounded MSU on their home floor and beat them by 20 points, 67-47! JJ had 20 pts and 17 boards, incredible plus he added 7 blocks. This young man is an All-American. frankly I think he and E'Twaun Moore both are but I would be shocked if either one of them won it.

Moore finished the day with 17 points while LewJack had 16. It's been that trio that has really solidified itself into great team leadership.

I have been a Purdue Basketball and Football Fan ALL my life. I am conditioned...and I mean conditioned to be skeptical. I am starting to believe (and I know in my heart of hearts I shouldn't say this!) that they could really do some damage in the Tourney. We'll see...

Well, my friends...it has been the end of a special kind of day. I'll never forget it and how I felt. Baptism, as I understand it is a symbolic act yet I cannot really describe what has happened to me physically. Something deep inside of me, jumped up today and I have have a sneaking suspicion that it will remain that way for some time.

I feel good about life. Big deal right? Uhhh..I never just felt generally good about my life...your life maybe, never ever MY life! So I'm thinking it's a trend...

Today I Died, So I Can LIVE!

Photo:Tracy Padmos

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: "I think maybe that is a peek at what the "peace of God, which transcends all understanding" looks like". I think perhaps he is right.

Today, because of the relationship I have with my Creator...I am at peace for the very first time in my life. I know that I am alright, that life itself is not trying to devour me shred by shred like I used to think it was! I truly felt that...but no longer, NOPE.

I feel so much gratitude today for the life I have and the wonderful people I share my life with today. Thank You...

A Toughie In Sparty-Ville


Purdue has really had a Murder's Row type of schedule the last few weeks...of course that really is just part of playing in the Big-10.

At Illinois, Wisconsin/Ohio State at Home then Indiana (their biggest Rival) all in a row now followed by a game on ESPN National TV at Michigan State. Wow, that is rough schedule...

But 'ya gotta play 'em so what are you gonna do, huh?! Currently they are a game back of OSU, who is still in first place in the league. They play IU today in Columbus so i would expect them to maintain their league lead no matter what Purdue does today. Of course anything is possible...but Indiana beating Ohio State at Home in Value City Arena? It isn't likely but we can dream!

I think the Boilers can go in there and win but I would expect State to really come out hot today and try to take it to the Boys In Black (BIB) so it's kind of a scary game in my opinion. I love the way Purdue has really come on late in the season, their 2 seniors JuJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore have really stepped it up as has Junior Point Guard Lewis Jackson.

It should be one of those tough, B-10 battles in the paint, lead by two very tough Defensive teams. I'm just hoping what we've seen from the Boilers in the last few weeks has been legitimate and they go in there and kick some tail.

Anyway, Go BOILERS! I'm going to be a little busy this afternoon: I am heading out for the swim of a lifetime...

A Whisper...

I walked out to get the newspaper this morning about 4:45a. It felt like I was on another planet. Everything is still encrusted with ice...a world in white yet since it was still dark everything kind of "glowed" a silvery, grey. It is foggy & frosty and feels cold but it's deceiving because the temperature is rising. So once again, all the frozen chucks of ice are constantly breaking off the trees and falling to earth. It's a symphony of sound: creaks, cracks, snaps, pops...and whispers.

No wind, just whispers...like the sound of knowing with out seeing, of seeing with out hearing, of feeling without touching...it's a certainty, an accepted fact that GOD is always..was always here.

How do you even begin to explain what it is like...what it feels like to live an entire life while intentionally turning AWAY from the LIGHT. To seek out the dark places, to embrace them, to challenge them, attempt to defy them them yet ultimately...surrender to them and choose a "life" that focuses on death...my own death. How does one CHOOSE death. I shudder to realize that person was me...

And then, that very same world turns upside-down and everything is suddenly so different. I don't even begin to comprehend the changes that were & are taking place yet somehow I know it's right. I just sensed that I needed to hang on with all my might. The "Faithless" one, was actually exercising incredible Faith but as usual I was the last to know!

Life today is all about turning TOWARDS the LIGHT. I can do that...today. I believe that it is probably next to impossible to describe to someone what it feels like to go from a place of no HOPE to one of known GLORY in the blink of an eye. And it is all in the SAME physical place, here where I sit...today, right now in this very instant. I find that fact absolutely MIND-BLOWING...

Love...Love is the whisper that says I'm OK...Love is a whisper that tells me it will be alright...Love showed me that the true path to salvation lead straight through the death of my old life and to the beginning of a new life firmly based in HIS grace, HIS forgiveness...Yep...HIS Love.

How is that for a Mind Blowing experience. eh?!




Saturday, February 26, 2011

Soon

Time to shut off the world for a couple of hours and sleep, sleep, sleep. I am ready...ready for a new day..the new dawn of a new life. I find I often am enthusiastic about little things in life where I didn't use to be in the past. That is an indication that life is improving.

I'm excited about tomorrow and what this new day will bring to my life. Perhaps nothing, no outward change. Perhaps EVERYTHING will just seem different, I haven't a clue really. I trust it will be what it's suppose to be no matter what I think or feel about it this evening.

I was never one to get into big, demonstrative acts in my life...so this could be kind of interesting, couldn't it?! I would say a a baptism, held at an indoor pool for a bunch of people qualifies as kind of an attention grabber kind of an act, wouldn't you say?! Huh, yea! Just a little....Ach, well I asked for it...I mean literally ASKED for it so I suppose it is true that one should always be careful what they ask for...because you just might get it!

I don't feel nervous, I'm not even a touch antsy, I feel excitement more then anything else. I do, I'm really excited though I know nothing on the inside really will change...or will it.

Now for me, it's off to bed and my book...night owl..er, uh...all!


NEVER ALONE



I have a cold...or some sort of respiratory crap rumbling around in my chest, causing me to wheeze and growl like a junkyard dog. Yet I feel surprisingly good this evening. It is cold here in S. Michigan with some snow showers. It's "good" snow though...light, fluffy, powder. The kind that is ALMOST no issue to shovel....almost.

Sitting at PawPaw's (My Grandfather's) desk, in the glow of a single lamp (plus laptop screen glow light)with a nice, hot mug of strong, black coffee. My thoughts at the moment keep leading me back to one word that also describes the dominant emotion I feel right now as well: Gratitude.

I am thinking of my friends...and how grateful I am to have them. I know the true meaning of friendship today because of them. They are special people, I am fortunate to know them and have them in my life.

Not all that long ago, I had NO real conception of friendship. I didn't know really what it meant. Of all the acquaintances and friendships I had during my past, only two were what I would call true friends and they are my friends to this day. It just so happens they are married to each other and with out them, I'm not so sure I'd even be here right now...

[RVO/JVO: I love you two more then you'll ever know....Well, now that I'm talking directly to you: Yea, the rumors are true...I suppose I'm that Jesus Freak Jim and I always made taunted and made fun of...Rhondi, break it to him easy when you tell him! Hope to see you both soon - T]

But after those two incredible folks... I had NOTHING, no true friends. And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be critical...I wasn't a very nice person myself. I really didn't want to waste time cultivating relationships, JEEZ...who the hell cared...I just thought about me, myself and I. I didn't want to take the time or effort to blow smoke up somebody else's ass...too much work for minimal return. I actually THOUGHT that way?! Incredible huh? I was a total DICK and didn't much care if you thought so...as long as it didn't interfere with my partying...

Today it is different. People care about me and I really care about them. I used to view relationships as a commitment (a dirty word back then, haha!) and therefore a hassle. I was really missing the point. I saw NO benefit in it, just the negative side...people were NEEDY, they wanted part of my time. Which partially was cool except they always wanted the part I wasn't willing to give up!

I will admit that I get emotional, that I AM emotional right now as I think about the several people who have been so important to me as I tread this often dark and scary, unknown path to Spiritual TRUTH. With out your love, guidance friendship and concern...I'm not so sure I'd have been able to stay the course.

I used to revel in the fact that I was a LONER. The Lone Wolf, an individualists who did things HIS way and listened to no one. Why in the world I was ever proud of that I'll never know. The reality was I was a LONELY soul, afraid, unsure of who he was or where I fit into the grand scheme of life...

Not only lonely but in the end, totally ALONE. My best ideas, my very best intentions nearly killed me. They left me hopeless, lonely, afraid...tied to bed, in a cold, dark hospital room totally alone. Hardly the the image of myself I had conjured up and had held onto so unrealistically for all those years.

Today and this I know, one call...one text and someone will be here if I am in need. I mean I call and they are there for me. And it's reciprocal...I'm your friend, if you need me, I'm there...My friends care...how do I know this? Because they show me every day. Because they are here...every time I need them.

As far as me being alone...I'll never be alone again. Today I know that as alone as I felt during those darkest of days , I truly was NEVER alone.

The choice was always mine. I thought I believed that something was "out there" but I just didn't know what it was. And I figured that whatever it was wouldn't want to have anything to do with a person as bad as me...Today I realize with no doubt what so ever that GOD was always with me just as he is today. And that all I ever needed to do was stop fighting it, denying it and believe.

So I did and now things have simplified even more: I believe...I FOLLOW.

Take Me To The WATER....


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

What I Am NOT



A small list of what I am not would include the following:

I am Not: Perfect, Special, Privileged, Always right, Better then anyone else, Smarter then anyone else, Entitled...just to name a few.

I also am NOT GOD. I am not a spiritual expert...eh, no way anyone would mistake ME for that! I wouldn't even go so far as to say I'm a spiritual beginner...I don't know what I am other then a follower of God. He leads/I FOLLOW. I believe and I know deep down I cannot do this (live a worthwhile life) on my own, I need guidance and I'm not too proud to admit it and ask for it. That really is what I can do...I can ask for guidance and live by that example, today.

Why would I? Because I tried living life my way, with myself as the sole priority and it was CHAOS. When I renounce self, as I try to do today...my life just happens to be much better then it ever was.

I experience a sense of calm these days that I never had before. Why wouldn't I? For the first time in my life I don't feel like I have to take care of everything for everybody, all the time...PERFECTLY. For the first time I can just be myself..goofy, awkward, geeky, questioning, thinking out loud, laughing, with a strange sense of humor...just me, that is all: Just ME. And that calmness I experience. At nearly 49 years of age, I am regularly experiencing SERENITY in my life for the FIRST time.

I have moments where I truly feel serene...I still have trouble believing that, serenity?! What the Hell was that?! I had never really even used that word in my life before recovery...never even used it...EVER! So I certainly never experienced it either. Bid deal, you say. Intensity is SO much more interesting, much more fun. Er...perhaps...perhaps NOT! Not when the adrenalin throttle is stuck to the damn floor every second of your life. Huh-uh, not fun!

That was me...thrill-seeking Thom, I never knew when to quit...ever. I drove people nuts because of that...in fact, I still can if I don't watch myself. I hold on too tight, I flog the crap out of everything I do...or say or think...it never stopped and that most definitely pushed me to the very edge of sanity. you add booze/dope to that mixture: explosive doesn't come close to describing how unstable I was.

That was my counter-balance to serenity...so you can imagine why feeling calm and serene seems so unusual, so unique and what a pleasure it is to not feel like my entire ASS is on fire 24/7!

I am not the GUY who is special. I don't have all the answers..oh, I'll do my best but I won't pretend today to be someone I am NOT. Who I am is the guy who will just do his best to be a human being...the best ME I can, warts and all. It is truly important for me today to remain humble...not to put myself down..NO. I have no need to humiliate myself anymore today then I already have in the past. That's over...that nightmare eh

I trust, with all of my heart that there is a plan for me today. So all I really need to do is show up, deny myself, pick up my cross and FOLLOW....Simple, eh? But never EASY.

(This story will be continued...)

What I AM


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'm Still ME

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 FOLLOW...

Christ on the Cross
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...)

The Way IT is RIGHT Now...

I'm a home...Yep, just spent the better part of 3 days in my hometown of Holland, MI and it was really awesome to get back and hang out. I miss a lot of things in that town. Unfortunately it was more business trip then for visiting since I mainly went to pick up a vehicle I ordered in late October.

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

Shakes OUT

It's getting rather late, almost time to turn in. Another visit to Holland almost complete. This time was different, a visit to see my son and stay at the home he shares w/his fiancée and two wonderful dogs...I really enjoyed myself and look forward to Spring then Summer...I still kind of feel like Holland, MI is my home.

That is starting to be a bit of an issue. I've felt torn about it and ready for something to give yet it doesn't, things just keep the way they are.
It isn't really anything against Coldwater, it's that I just like the way things are here, it's different..I could envision splitting time between the two cities again like I initially did. I have to be able to manage that kind of lifestyle (with a cat) and be able to afford the travel. It all sounds good but the reality is much different.

I'll see how it all shakes out, obviously but it sounds nice and I like having that option as a potentialIt's finding a place to stay that will be interesting and crucial to my plan.

Well I need to turn in...The Boilers beat Indiana in basketball at Bloomington tonight: 72-61. Now we play at Michigan State this weekend...the B-I0

The Remedy

I've been really sick the last few days..respitory. crud mainly and just feel near death. Good Chinese food always makes me feel better. For me it doesn't get much better then China Inn Holland, MI.


A Dogs Life



Bow.....Wow! Wow is right.....It's been a while since I've been around dogs and now i, visiting my son and he/his fiancée Ellie have two wonderful dogs....It makes me realize that even though I've had a cat for years now, I'm very much a dog person. I love dogs...

I'm back in my old home town this morning so I'm basically on vacation, that means I have funner stuff to do then post, haha! I'll write more fully with dog pics later but I will post a quick one I took for FaceBook this morning.

Speaking of FB and it's amazing I have not posted on that phenomenon yet, I watched the Social network with my son Ian last night. It was very good. I would not be upset if I were the powers to be a FB, I thought it was an incredible portrayal of how businesses are built, it doesn't matter if you Old Man Rockefeller/ Standard Oil or Bill Gates/Microsoft to the kids and these were KIDS that are building FaceBook, Google and the like...

Happy Wednesday everyone...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BACK in BLACK

Sometimes in life there have been times that I have had to make important decisions. That is life right? Yep, it sure is and I just never had an issue doing that, thats what you have to do so do it, so I did.

But when My life came crashing down as a result of my alcoholism/addiction I changed. My whole way of living changed. At first, I did nothing, i was afraid. Everything I had touched had turned to shit in a short period of time, I felt like I was shell shocked...sound familiar?!


Slowly, I started to learn new ways of thinking, feeling and believing...of LIVING. I learned to live a different kind of life. I became more...careful, more contemplative, thoughtful and tried hard to be less compulsive. I worked hard at those things, I failed a lot. I often fell on my face...hell, I was growing up for the first time in my life...at age 43.

I felt confused most of the time, mostly I tried to do my best to follow a philosophy of life that focused on humility, changing my behavior, finding and making amends for the hurt and emotional damage I may have caused. I really tried to do my best and I felt that the group of folks I was working with certainly were on to a better way of living then I was.

But I still had to live, each day. For a long time things were kept simple in my life...that was by design.

I slowly came around to a new way of living...I felt a bit out of my league yet I knew I wasn't alone, the first time in my life I EVER remember feeling that way...NOT alone. God was there...

The bottom line today is I took another step. For most people.....er,..Baah, no big deal. For me, it was a BIG deal. Huge, I was making a major financial decision, a positive financial decision, for the first time in a couple of years. And nothing BLEW up and I'm still here. And I'm visiting my son in Holland, MI tonight, in his new place.

Times are changing, they always are and always have been and you know what? I am NOT alone, NOPE. And I am not afraid.

Goodbye Red...Hello BLACK! I'm Back:In Black...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Un-Comfort ZONE

I have issues...no, they haven't all gone away just because I've tried to make some major changes in my life. I try to hard, I want to make things happen now instead of letting things happen in their own time. Inpatient...ah, YEA! Just a little, er...maybe a lot, hehe!

I think it's kind of a wanting to be god thing..I want to control what happens and when it happens. I don't relax so well and really don't do "letting go" well at all.

An example: I have to get up very early tomorrow and leave. I noticed just a few minutes ago it's snowed some since I plowed. I was hoping it hadn't because I really don't want to have to do it before I leave. That means getting up even earlier (already the alarm is set for 4a) and plowing at 5a.

Now that I've seen the snow I'm agonizing over it. See I want to plow now so I don't have to tomorrow and it has me wigging and out of my comfort zone right now. Why? It shouldn't be a big deal but it is some flaw I have in the way Iplan and process and cope with change I guess.

Strange stuff, I know....

ARRGH..



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...

Heavy Ice...Not Nice!

Wow, did we ever get whacked last night with this Ice Storm and it continues today.

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

CHEERS!

Almost Famous
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!

Now everyone:

Hold me closer Tiny Dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today...**


**Tiny Dancer
  By Elton John from the album: Madmen Across The Water